Friday, September 2, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments - Neppl Family From Germany to America

The Neppl family is my focus this week as I am preparing a power point on German research and want to include them as a case study. My great grandmother was Louisa Clara Nepple, daughter of Franz Nepple and Mary Shaffer.
Franz (Frank) Nepple is noted to have come from Germany in 1875 and settled in Carroll County, Iowa. His seven siblings also came at variously noted times, but I never pursued looking for immigration information on any of them. Through census work I was able to validate some of the family information. The following published material is more focused on the Neppl descendents living in America from about 1867 to 1985.

The Neppl Family Book, contains 488 pages of information on the Neppl, Neppel, Nepple, Family Tree, compiled by Margaret Underberg Gaulin, first edition 1985, second 1987 and enlarged edition 1989. I made numerous efforts to contact the author for further information, but have never heard back from her. She wrote the book for her mother Johanna Neppl Underberg in honor of her 60th wedding anniversary. My grandmother and uncle had copies of the book, and my uncle lent me his for a time. The book is not available publicly that I have found. While it has a good index, it is not easy to follow the family connections. What I did was enter the information into a personal database, so if someone contacts me about the family I can more readily find information on possible family connections. Now I am working to verify the information and add documentation to the events included.

The author makes the following comments about the Neppl family:
The genealogy of the Neppl (Nepple, Neppel) Family is very interesting as through the efforts of our uncle, Msgr. Alois Neppel, and his friend Father F. S. Sturm, we can trace the history of the Neppl Family almost to the 16th century. Father Sturm made careful investigation in the places of birth of our ancestors, looking up documents and baptismal records so that we have the following history as given herewith: Johann had a family of eight children who all came to United States over the years, settling in Carroll Co, Iowa. These children used the spelling of the German name as Neppel, Nepple, and Neppl. (John Nepple, Catherine Neppel, Joseph Neppel, Jacob Neppel, Franz Neppl, Marie Neppel, Andrew Neppl, Alois Neppel)

The book contains information from the work of the two men, both Catholic Priests, who visited Germany to discover the details on the family at the local parish in Unterried, Bavaria, Germany. I have a copy of the original typescript from their work, which provides a few more details. The information was originally compiled by Fr. John J. Neppel from data given him by Mgsr. Alois Neppel and Fr. F. X. Sturm. Fr. John was a nephew of Mgsr. Alois Neppel. This is found on page one of the book in a condensed format. It goes back six generations from the father of Franz, Johann Neppel to Nicolaus Neppl born about 1640 in the parish of Lann (Lam) Schwarzenbach. Basically it provides data connecting the generations with a few of the places where they occurred.

I started by doing a search of the surname on under
New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
The following was found for the youngest sibling under Neppl with 18 hits:
Alois Neppl, arrived 28 May 1876.
Age 14, male.   
German, born in Germany.
Port of departure Bremen, Germany and Southampton, England.          
Destination United States of America, port of arrival New York.   
Ship Name Oder, traveling in Steerage. 

The next finding was for the third sibling and second son, with his wife, under a search for Neppel with 66 hits:
Joseph Neppel, arrived 24 Mar 1877.
Age 28, male. 
Anna Neppel, age 20.
Both German, born in Germany.
Port of Departure Bremen, Germany and Southampton, England.
Destination United States of America, port of arrival New York.
Ship Name Oder, in Steerage.

I searched for Nepple and as a soundex, but no other known family names were observed. Then I searched using first names, with other information added.

The last finding was for three brothers, a sister and a future sister in law listed under the surname as Mapel. Reading the digitized record the name appears to be spelled Mopel.
Catherine Mopel,  Jacob Mopel, Franz Mopel, Andreas Mopel, Walburga Geiger.
Arrived 1 Mar 1875
Catherine age 30, female, wife
Jacob age 27, male, peasant
Franz age 19, male, peasant
Andreas age 18, male, peasant
Walburga age 24, female, wife
All German, born in Germany. 
Port of Departure Bremen, Germany.
Destination United States of America, port of arrival New York.
Ship Name Mosel.
They traveled in Steerage with many other people from Germany. The list does not note who is traveling together, but this appears to be a family group. While the women were not officially married until they reached the United States, they perhaps had prearranged marriages.

This passenger list was a serendipity moment for me as it included my great great grandfather. Most of the people I find on passenger lists are traveling alone or with friends. To find this family unit was significant. Now I have located six of the eight siblings. The two missing are the oldest brother John and the younger sister Marie. John, who married Walburga Geiger, has an arrival date listed in census records as 1874, a year before the other four came as a group in 1875. It is possible that he earned enough money to send for this first group and then the other siblings. Alois came in 1876 and Joseph and his wife Anne came in 1877. Marie was noted as the last of the siblings to leave Germany. She may have stayed to care for their parents until after their deaths, before embarking on the long journey in about 1899. She and Alois never married. The others all had very large families.

Now I am off to discover more about the family in Germany. I had a great time finding online information about the places they are noted to have lived in, as well as some great pictures. It sure makes me want to take a trip to their homelands to discover the unique cultures and history of those places. Do you have some unfinished family history work that might bring serendipity moments to your research? This weekend has free access to their Immigration records collection. With the holiday on Monday maybe you can find some time to do a little exploring.


  1. The information that Susan has found sounds quite accurate to me. I have had family go to Germany and visit our original town where the Neppls are from. I have the book she describes. I have never met anybody with the three Spelling's that I am not related to. I have also been able to find them or their parents in the Neppl, Nepple Neppel book. It is pretty amazing!! My father was Wilbur, the second oldest of 11 of Henry and Lena Neppl

    1. That comment above was from me, Jean (Neppl) Kelly. I forgot to put my name on it.

    2. Jean, it is so nice to read your comment. Yes you are in my database. Did you happen to get any pictures of the family of Franz and Mary Schaffer Neppl? We share them as gr. grandparents. Susan

    3. Have you done DNA testing? I have done it through Ancestry DNA and FT DNA.

    4. Picture of Henry and Lena with family on Carroll County, Iowa genweb. There are also some transcribed news articles about the Neppl family. Have you seen these?