Donate to help us uncover the Stoppel Trail!

HCOC is the proud home of the George Stoppel Farmstead, but how did it come to be here? As young men in the 1830s, George and his brother Franz Joseph left Germany for the unknown. Join us as we follow their trail to discover where they traveled, what they did along the way, and where they ended up.

With the help of your donations, we will uncover the Stoppel Trail that brought the Stoppel family to Rochester, Minnesota!


Stoppel Trail

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On November 11, 1813, in the Kingdom of Württemberg (now the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany) Johann George Stoppel and his wife, Magdalena Agatha Spaeth, welcomed the birth of their third son, George Stoppel. George's older brother, Franz Joseph, had been born just two years before on July 14, 1811. As children, they attended common schools and their local Catholic church in Hiltensweiler, near Lake Constance (Bodensee on the map to the right).

At the age of 17, George began learning the cooper trade (the making and repair of casks and barrels) as an apprentice to his uncle, a task that took him three years to complete.

Once we reach our first fundraising goal of $2,000, we can unlock the next step in his journey!

Meanwhile, elsewhere
in the world:

  • 1812-1815, the United States and Great Britain are at war once again in what becomes known as the War of 1812
  • 1813, Jane Austen publishes Pride and Prejudice
  • 1814, Napoleon abdicates and is sent into exile to Elba
  • 1815, Mount Tambora in Sumbawa island (part of present day Indonesia) erupts, leading to...
  • 1816, the "Year Without a Summer", where the Northern Hemisphere experiences unusual cold to devastating effect
  • 1818, Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein
  • 1820, Liberia is founded for freed slaves from the United States
  • 1820, Antarctica is discovered
  • 1824, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premieres
  • 1826, the internal combustion engine is patented
  • 1831, Charles Darwin begins his journey on the HMS Beagle
  • 1833, slavery is banned throughout the British Empire with the Slavery Abolition Act

This is also a period of independence and revolt with Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay all gaining independence and Greater Columbia dissolving to become Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Russia, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece all undergo revolutions in the 1820s followed in the 1830s with revolutions in France, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, Poland, and the Ottoman Empire. This is in addition to several wars around the world between countries jockeying for regional power.

The Kingdom of Württemberg as it existed from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the end of World War I
Image By Ssch - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Stoppel Family church in Hiltensweiler



Having finished his apprenticeship and attained his majority, George traveled to Switzerland to ply his trade as a cooper in 1834. He stayed there for just one year before making his next move. Unfortunately, the historical record is silent on his reason for going to Switzerland or even where in the country he lived. To be sure, since Lake Constance lies at the border between what was then Württemberg and Switzerland, it was no great leap for the young man to make. In fact, Germans made up nearly three-quarters of the population in independent Switzerland in this period.

While George trained to be a cooper, his brother Franz Joseph (who went by Joseph) trained as a bricklayer and stone mason. In 1832, at the age of 21, he enlisted in the German army.

Once we reach our second fundraising goal of $4,000, we can unlock the next step in his journey.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world:

  • 1830-1848, Reformers and radical idealists attempt democratic unification of German people.
  • 1830-1850, commonly known as the Trail of Tears, many thousands of Native Americans are forcibly moved west of the Mississippi River under the Indian Removal Act, resulting in thousands of deaths
  • 1832, demonstrations for the liberalization and unification of German states, known as the Hambach Festival, are held
  • 1834, the Spanish Inquisition, begun in 1478, is officially abolished
  • 1834, Peru experiences a civil war
  • 1835, the Texas Revolution establishes the Republic of Texas

View of Lake Constance
Image © Copyright 2021 PlanetWare Inc.

Procession to Hambach Castle, lithograph about 1832