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William Hegner was born in 1820, in Wiedingen, Amt Sigmaringen, Germany.
No record has been found to indicate just when he emmigrated to America
Anna Mary Romans was born 2 June 1828 in Stundwiller, Alsace Lorraine,
France, the daughter of Antoine Romens and Marie Barbe Fischer. On
30 June 1830 the Romans family docked in Baltimore, and found their way
to Columbiana Co. Ohio.
William Hegner married Anna Mary Romans 22 Apr. 1847 in St. Philip Neri
Catholic Church, Dungannon, Columbiana Co. Ohio, and their first four children
are born here. Anna Mary's family, including a brother and
sister, migrated to Fond du Lac Co. WI ca. 1854, and William and Mary followed.
The Hegners resided in the Town of Ashford, Fond du Lac Co. WI for 10
years, before tragedy struck the family. While returning home from
the local village, after celebrating the birth of his newest daughter,
William's horses bolted and he was thrown from the wagon and killed.
Mary was left with 7 surviving children, the oldest was Elizabeth, age
15, and the youngest was Sarah, only seven days old. With the
aid of relatives and neighbors, the family managed to survive until 1872,
when Anna Mary Hegner died.
On her deathbed, Anna Mary Hegner pleaded with the local priest to take
her two youngest daughters, ages 7 and 9, under his charge, and oversee
their care personally. It was at this time, that the priest
was attempting to secure a religious order of nuns, to establish a boarding
school for the children of his parish. Anna Mary's death put
additional pressure on him, to complete this quest, and so a short time
later, when two nuns arrived in New Cassel to establish a new religious
order and school, Father Michels presented them with two boarders,
ready and waiting to be placed in their permanent care.
Four of the five remaining Hegner orphans were also under age 18, and
had a guardian appointed for all. They were placed with various farm
families in the area, and in this area of large families and struggles
to survive, some of their experiences as orphans were not pleasant.
Oral family history indicates that the family that Philomena Hegner was
placed with, treated her as a slave, and would lock her in her room when
they went to barn dances or other social events.
Theresa Hegner, the second youngest, was placed in the boarding school
with her youngest sister, and raised by the Sisters. She immediately
asked to join the religious order, but was told she should re-apply when
she was a little older. But Theresa never waivered, and was soon
recorded as the first new member of School Sisters of St. Frances, a religious
order that Theresa would remain with, and eventually become Superior General.
*** St. Philip Neri Catholic Church records,
Dungannon, Columbiana Co. Ohio
*** He Sent Two, a History of the School
Sisters of St. Francis.
***Stanislaus...with feet in the world, by Barbaralie Stiefermann,
OSF published 1990