The Beersdorf family: From Germany to Walker County
by Ruth Baker
Sep 18, 2011 | 1737 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruth Baker
Ruth Baker
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Few ancestral histories have been as well pieced together as that of the Beersdorf family. This has its beginning in Hamburg, Germany, in 1859 and finds its way to Walker County. Charles Beersdorf uses factual dates, love letters, and research of the period to set his stage for the background of his family. He has filled the gaps with fiction that does not detract from the facts that he knows.There was civil unrest in Germany. The people were being persecuted for their religious beliefs. The harbor was full of immigrants waiting for their turn to board ships that would take them to a new life in the new world. The economy was shattered. Men were fighting for the few jobs available. The coal mines and sawmills had closed. The quarreling factions of the monarchy had made life almost unbearable for the citizens of Germany. There was a chronic food shortage causing killings over mere scraps of bread.

The following excerpt is taken from the New York Times edition dated December 23,1866.

“The daybreak of a bright Autumn morning beamed over the magnificent Bay of New York City as the ship conveying some 300 emigrants from the Old World, fired a salute and cast anchor in the roadstead, amid the ringing cheers of passengers and crew...It was sunrise in the New World and a glorious electrifying sight it was, as the sun, about to ascend the horizon, flooded the sky, bay, shipboard, shipping and the surrounding scenery with streaks of gold and purple...All being ready, the emigrants proceeded in a body up the corridor into the interior building, their boxes and baggage being removed to the luggage warehouse, and here they range themselves in order on their seats....”

(This picture could have set the stage for thousands of Italians, French, Irish, Polish, German, and other smaller nationalities of the period who came like a flood into the coalfields of Walker County.)

Sipsey, Empire, Sayre, Corona, and many more of the early coalmining towns are woven into the saga of the family as they move from one mining town to another.

Charles Theodore Beersdorf was born July 2,1934, in Drummond Switch, Walker County, Alabama, to Theodore Roosevelt Beersdorf and Eunice Vinie Barnett Beersdorf. George William, Wanda Nell, and Jerry Wayne are his siblings. He never knew this grandfather Beersdorf, but he became interested in his roots and began to piece the story together. Charles’ father carried the nickname of “Rosy.” It is to the work ethics as well as personal ethics of this man called “Rosy” that Charles attributes the success of his descendants.

“The year was 1929, mid-July. The economy was in shambles and there were virtually no jobs available. The current rate of pay was 10 cents per hour, 80 cents per day, 4.00 per week, 208.00 per annum. Rosy was about 23 years old and had been dating Eunice for several years. In order to better provide for their future, he was constantly looking for better opportunities. This would be his last trip to Little Rock, Arkansas. Even before this trip he would be farming a two-acre plot behind Empire Junior High School. Rosy had no money! He and brother, Euel, hoboed from Cullman, Alabama, through Memphis to Arkansas... The boys had kinfolk there and Rosy asked for and got a job helping Uncle Dailey in the warehouse...The warehouse contained all the usual household items necessary in those days such as stove parts, feed and seeds, pots and pans plus assorted laundry needs, such as number 2 washtubs.

Rosy was moving a stack of tubs when something caught his eyes. He found a stack of $100.00 bills which totaled $1,000.00 in all. This was almost 5 years of salary! Many things flashed through his mind; he could buy some decent clothes, buy him a house in Alabama and marry Eunice. He took a rag out of his pocket and wiped his face and his eyes, and started to the living room where Uncle Dailey was. He handed his uncle the thousand dollars. Uncle Dailey took the money and asked where he found it. Rosy told him and he said, “I knew I had it, but I couldn’t remember where I had put it.”

Rosy retired at the age of 67,20 years before his death at the age of 87. He is buried in Morgan Cemetery in Sumiton, Alabama, beside his beloved wife, Eunice. It is no surprise to know that all of Rosy’s children were successful in their chosen field. None of his descendants are on drugs, alcohol, or in jail. None of the males are abusive husbands, and the females are devoted wives and mothers; why his children all graduated from high school and others got their degrees. These attributes continue in the lives of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

What a wonderful legacy the Beersdorf family inherited through hard work and honesty.