My name is Zoe de Crevecoeur Erickson and I have
been researching my family ancestry for many years. I have always been
fascinated by my great-great grandmother, Margarethe. Recently, I was
fortunate enough to meet a cousin, a great granddaughter of Margarethe, or
Maggie as we have decided to call her. Maggie used many spellings of her
first name, however, her name is spelled Margarethe on her birth
certificate. Her last husband called her Maggie and that is how her name is
placed on the 1880 census records in Riverside, California. My cousin,
Polli Jost Turner and I have decided that we should dedicate a website just
to Maggie and her life. If you are a relative, please e-mail us. We would
be delighted to meet you. This website will be an ongoing project, so
please let us know if you have anything to contribute. Please come back and see us.
Margarethe Marie Thomsen was born in Sonderberg, Denmark, on May 27, 1840.
Her parents were Johann Christian Thomsen, a day-laborer and Maria Sophia
Muntmeier. She had a brother and two or three sisters. Peter Mathias
Christian, was born June 28, 1837; Johanna Sophia Marie, born January 22,
1843; Catharine Maria, born March 17, 1846; and Christiane "Jane",
pronounced Yahnuh. This was short for Christi-ana. However, it is possible
that Catharine and Christiane were the same person. Catharina was found in
the 1855 census, but Christiane was not.
Margarethe’s life was one of turmoil. She lived in
the Danish duchy of Schleswig. A duchy is similar to our state. In the
1840’s Schleswig and its neighbor, Holstein were both ruled by Denmark, but
Holstein had close ties to Germany. The majority of the population of
Holstein spoke German, while Schleswig was divided, the north favoring
Denmark and the south favoring German rule. I believe that Margarethe’s
family favored Germany. A month before her death, she received a letter
from her sister written in German. In 1848, Prussia and Denmark were at war
over the Schleswig and Holstein duchies. The war ended in 1851 as a status
quo with Denmark still controlling the Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenberg
duchies. Margarethe recalled later, a cannon ball coming through her house
and landing on her bed. George Barker, an old-timer Banning resident,
remembers something his mother told him. Marguerite once told her (half in
jest) that she didn’t know what her nationality was--her parents were Danes,
but she was born on board a ship, and the ship landed in another country!
According to family stories, Margarethe came from a wealthy family, but
the family ran into some financial problems. At the age of 18, she married
28 year old George Christensen in Hamburg, Germany in 1858. The family told
of George being a sea captain, and one of the family's creditors; but
documents indicate that the story may not be completely true.
Margarethe and George sailed to Australia on the ship Johannes and
arrived March 1859. Gold was discovered in the early 1850's in Australia.
The sea voyage was long and treacherous, lasting three or four months. By
1852, immigrants from Europe and from the disappointing Californian rushes
swelled the numbers trudging the rough tracks to the diggings. George was
listed as a miner on the Victoria Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
The roads were very poor. Diggers, as they were called carried
everything they had in "swags", (a bag slung over one shoulder),
wheelbarrows and on horseback. As gold was discovered in a new field, a
mass exodus would ensue. In the early part of the gold rush, gold could be
found close to the surface of the ground, but by the time, George and
Margarethe arrived, deep mining was the norm. It could take up to eight
months to "bottom" a shaft and often with no results. On January 28, 1860,
Christian was born in Back Creek, in the district of Amherst, in the colony
of Victoria, Australia. (Chris’s death certificate indicates that he was
born 1859?). Margarethe later told her daughter-in-law about a time when
some robbers came. She hid the baby, most likely Chris, under the bed and
ran to the mine to warn her husband.
When the gold rush slowed down, the family sailed for California in March
of 1861, on board the ship Iconium, a 3 masted, square-rigged ship of 549.5
tons. It had been built in 1847 in Alna (near Rockland), Maine. The
passenger list showed that the family sailed as steerage. They arrived in
San Francisco on June 7. Their daughter, Mary was born in San Francisco in
November of that year.
San Francisco & the California Goldfields
It is about this
time that George Christensen ‘disappears.’ There are no death records, due largely to the 1906 earthquake. One family
story is that George, as the ship’s captain was thrown overboard by his crew
on the sail from Australia to San Francisco. George was not a captain of
any ship. The family sailed steerage. He may have fallen overboard or the
entire story is untrue. Without the ship’s log, the mystery will go
For many years,
Margarethe’s second husband was an even greater mystery. We knew that
his last name was Stubbe and according to the 1880
census records, he was Prussian. We believe that he died or
disappeared between 1866 and 1868. Some family
members have said that both Christensen and Stubbe were in the army and were
both killed escorting settlers over the Donner Pass area. It has been
suggested that Margarethe may have lived with one of her husbands in the
Pass as well. Christensen and Stubbe may actually have been killed fighting
in the Modoc Wars. The Presidio in San Francisco was the regional center for
the army at the time. Many soldiers were sent out from there to protect
pioneers. Another story is that Margarethe may have worked at the Army
Hospital in San Francisco. The hospital still stands and is one of the
oldest buildings at the Presidio.
Recently, I heard
from Stubbe’s great-granddaughter. She said that Margarethe’s third child,
Henry Charles Stubbe was born in Chili Gulch, California. This brings up a
more likely possibility. When George and Margarethe left Australia, they
may have gone to the California gold fields. Chili Gulch received its name
from the Chileans who worked the fields in 1848 and 1849. The conflict
arose from a local mining code that called for all foreign miners to leave
the country within 15 days. The “Chilean War” resulted in several deaths
and the expulsion of the Chilean miners from their claims. Mining continued
well into the 1860’s. George
Christensen may have died or even abandoned Margarethe and she most likely
met Stubbe. Unfortunately, the Calaveras County Archives could find no
information on any of the Christensen’s or Stubbes.
Henry Charles’ death
certificate said that his father was born in Germany and the 1880 census
noted his nationality as Prussian. Margarethe had two children by Stubbe;
Henry Charles, born June 25, 1864; and Lulu, born June 25, 1866.
Life was not easy
for women in the gold fields. Some women came with their husbands who would
move from one claim to the next until they felt they had found a claim that
would be productive. So it was living in tents, shacks, abandoned cabins or
sleeping on the ground. We feel that George Christensen died or disappeared
between 1861 and 1863. The cabins usually had a dirt floor and no windows.
By 1864, Margarethe had 5 year old Chris and 3 year old Mary. How did she
support herself between husbands? There were plenty of jobs to be had,
washing and cooking for the miners. Cooks could make as much as thirty
dollars a day and women who took in washing could make twice as much.
However, living was not cheap. A dozen eggs could cost as much as ten
If she stayed in San Francisco during this time, she would have
been involved in two big earthquakes. On July 22, 1864, Mark Twain wrote in
the San Francisco Daily Morning Call, "Last night, at twenty minutes to
eleven, the regular semi-monthly earthquake, due the night before, arrived
twenty-four hours behind time, but it made up for the delay in uncommon and
altogether unnecessary energy and enthusiasm. The first effort was so gentle
as to move the inexperienced stranger to the expression of contempt and
brave but very bad jokes; but the second was calculated to move him out of
his boots, unless they fitted him neatly. Up in the third story of this
building the sensation we experienced was as if we had been sent for and
were mighty anxious to go. The house seemed to waltz from side to side with
a quick motion, suggestive of sifting corn meal through a sieve; afterward
it rocked grandly to and fro like a prodigious cradle, and in the meantime
several persons started downstairs to see if there were anybody in the
street so timid as to be frightened at a mere earthquake. The third shock
was not important, as compared with the stunner that had just preceded it.
That second shock drove people out of the theatres by dozens."
The second earthquake was October 8, 1868. It appears that Margarethe's
family would have been in one of the worst hit areas according to a map
drawn up shortly after the quake.
Hans Fredrick Briand de Crevecoeur
This could be where Margarethe met Hans Fredrick Briand de Crevecoeur.
Hans was born January 27, 1842 in Egelykke (located two miles from
Rudkjobing); Bodstrup Sogn (parish), Langeland, Norre Herred (district),
Svendborg Amt (county). His parents were Hans Bredahl, born 1797 at
Krusmstrup (the Briand de Crevecoeur estate), Rylslinge sogn, Svendborn amt;
and Jensigne Hylleborn Hansen, born about 1811 in Odense. Hans had 3
brothers; Anton Christian, born July, 1845; Waldemar Georg, born 1848 and
Oscar Martinus Otto, born 1850.
Hans and Anton served as soldiers in Denmark and may have fought in the
war of 1864. Hans migrated to the United States with his brother Anton and
served in a New York regiment in the Civil War. Shortly after the war, they
enlisted in the United States Army in New York. Hans was sent to Fort
Boise, Idaho where he served three years in Company H, Twenty-third
Infantry. Some of that time, he spent in the fort’s commissary. He was
discharged as a sergeant on May 26, 1868. When Hans was discharged he
traveled from Idaho to the Army’s Pay Office in Oregon, arriving there in
June, 1868. His entire pay for his three years of service was $612.00.
From there, he traveled to San Francisco, where he met and married
Margarethe, now a mother of four. He may have met her at the Army
Hospital. They were married December 20, 1868. Pretty short courtship.
Together, Hans and Margarethe ran a boarding house. In the 1868 San
Francisco city directory, Hans is listed at 419 East Street.where
Hans and a Thomas Juites were partners in a restaurant. The family most
likely lived upstairs. In 1870, he was
the proprietor of Constitution House at 106 Jackson Street,
The 1871 directory
lists Hans de Crevecoeur as the proprietor of the Scandinavian Home at 22
under the residential listings, however, under the business listings the
address is 222 Washington. Waldemar was
born December 20, 1871.
Because Margarethe suffered from asthma, the family doctor recommended
that she move to the Mojave Desert. In 1872, the family moved to the San
Gorgonio Pass, near the present location of Banning, and began raising
cattle and sheep. The town of Banning was not then in existence. They may
have followed Hans' brother, Anton there. Jeff de Crevecoeur was born in
1874. Hans later moved his stock into the Morongo Valley, about a quarter of
a mile from the later location of the Chuck Warren Ranch. Ben was born in
the house that Hans built there. He is said to be the first white child born
in the area. Three weeks after Ben was born, they moved to a place just
north of the present Morongo Indian Reservation, which had not been
established. Hans started improving the place, and they were getting along.
I believe that Ben was born May 14, 1875. He was the first white child
born in Morongo Valley. Most documents indicate that he was born either May
14 or 15, 1875 or 1876. In 1941, Ben had an Affidavit of Birth drawn up. He
indicated that he was born May 14, 1875. It was signed by Chris
Hans was murdered May 16, 1876. There have been several stories about why
William Gates murdered Hans. About 1962, an 81 year old Burt Jost told the
Daily Enterprise that Hans "ran a sawmill in Water Canyon near the Banning
Bench. He was murdered and robbed of his payroll one day by a man, who
shot him in the back with a double barrel shotgun." This is the only
evidence of Hans running a sawmill.
Sometime in the 1940's Ben de Crevecoeur related a story to 29 Palms'
first historian, Maude Russell. A rich relative from New York City sent out
a spoiled, worthless son, William Gates, hoping Hans might be able to keep
him out of trouble, so he would not disgrace his wealthy father.
Unfortunately, they also sent their Gates a liberal allowance each month, on
the receipt of which, he went to Los Angeles, and got drunk, returning when
the money was gone. He finally stole some $1,600 dollars from Hans and went
to Los Angeles. He was apprehended and Hans recovered $400 of the amount.
Hans had the young man released and brought him back home with him. Soon
after, the young Gates came up behind Hans and shot him in the back with a
shotgun. As he did not fall, Gates came closer, shooting him in the head
with a six-shooter. On trial, young Gates was sentenced to be hanged, but
his influential family managed to get the sentence changed to life
imprisonment. While in prison at San Quentin, he contracted tuberculosis. In
September, 1880, the Governor pardoned Gates and he died a few months later.
Now there are a few problems with this story. Ben was a baby when his
father was killed and this story was related at least 40 years after the
murder. It is unlikely that Hans had $1,600 available to steal. The reason
will become evident in a later paragraph. A witness testified at the trial
that Gates said that he killed Hans in self defense. When asked why, he said
that Hans had threatened his life. No one had heard the threat, but there
was mention of previous trouble between Hans and William. The jury did not
sentence Gates to be hanged, but sentenced to life imprisonment.
May 27, 1876, The Guardian reported that Hans de Crevicour had been
murdered by William Gates. "Gates of good repute, was slandered." This
seems to be the closest we will get to the facts. In the transcript of the
Gates murder trial, the judge instructs the jury concerning the difference
between first, second, third degree murder and self-defense. He even goes
so far as to admonish the jury that slander is not considered grounds for
In any case, Margarethe was alone again with children to raise. Chris,
the eldest was 17 years old, Mary, 14; Henry, 12; Waldemar, 5; Jeff, 2; and
Ben, a newborn. Quite a handful. And, she had more problems. In January,
before Hans was killed, he was sued for non-payment of interest on his
property. The lawsuit continued until December when the state settled on a
payment of $29.05. In January of 1877, the Sheriff reported that he was
unable to find any property.
Christopher Francis Jost
Christopher Francis Jost, born June 12, 1846, in Guysborough, Nova
Scotia, Canada. About 1876, Chris left the Jost family home in Guysborough
and headed for California. Riding a freight train from San Pedro with a
carload of merchandise, he arrived at Summit Station (Beaumont) on March 6,
1877. He was to be storekeeper and paymaster for Rev. Winfield Scott’s
fluming project in the canyon. During that summer, Scott preached the first
protestant services in the Pass area, "he delivered his sermon under a
sycamore at Ran’s Moore’s, and young Jost conveyed those who wanted to hear
the preaching." This was the beginning of the Banning First Baptist Church.
After completion of the fluming project, the store was moved down to the
railroad tracks, becoming the Banning General Store, the first merchandising
business on the Banning town site. Chris stayed on as clerk for a time, after
which he got a contract to deliver 50 cords of two-foot wood for the
wood-burning locomotives of the day.
On January 7, 1878, after leaving the store, he married the widow de
Crevecoeur, and moved to her ranch in the Potrero, to the northeast of
Banning. Chris went into the bee business with a neighbor, buying him out
the following year. Chris and Maggie worked the ranch together until 1888,
when the U. S. Government, wanting to set up an Indian reservation,
dispossessed them. While still at the ranch, Helen Hunt Jackson, author of
the book, Ramona, reportedly boarded with the Josts. In the late
1870’s Ms. Jackson wrote a report concerning the land situation in reference
to the impending Indian Reservation and mentions Chris Jost.
The Government did not give the dispossessed settlers compensating land
until 1892, so in the meantime, the Josts moved into town, buying a home at
the corner of Murray and Hays.
She had four children by Chris Jost. Francis "Frank" Christopher, born
September 7, 1876; Burton "Burt" Cranswick, born June 19, 1881; George
"Marsh" Marshall, born October 26, 1883; and John Jefferson, born March 24,
The Baptist Church was organized February 18, 1883 in Banning’s one-room
school house and was the first American church in the Pass. Chris Jost was
admitted to membership August 19, 1883. Banning’s first baptism included two
of Margarethe’s children, Wally de Crevecoeur and Henry Stubbe. Margarethe
was baptized February 24, 1884.
In 1899, Margarethe filed for guardianship of her granddaughter,
Lorraine, born to Margarethe’s eldest son, Chris. Lorraine was not even 3
years old, when her mother died in 1895. Before her death, Ella asked her
mother-in-law, Margarethe to raise her daughter. In her file for
guardianship, she alleged that Chris had not contributed to Lorraine’s
raising in any way in the past four years and that he was "not a fit or
proper person to have the care and custody of said child." It appears that
she was given guardianship.
Margarethe died at the age of 73 on May 27, 1943. She shares a headstone
with her son, Jeff .
"Chris" Christensen married Ella Barrett on March 29, 1888. Chris, like
his step-father Chris, raised bees and sold the honey. He was also
dispossessed from his ranch in the Potrero. They had three children, 9
grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, at the time of his death. Chris died
Dec. 25, 1942, in San Bernardino, CA; 82 years old. Ella Barrett died June
1895. Both were buried in Sunnyslope Cemetery, Beaumont.
Mary Christensen married Reznor Perry Stewart on December 30, 1880, in
San Bernardino—he was 35, she was 19!) Mary died a few days after the birth
of her son, R. P. Stewart, Jr. at the age of 29.
Henry G. Stubbe married Bertha. A family member, (Florence Lee) remembers
Henry working for the ice company in Hollywood. He died Dec. 3, 1897; 31
years old. Bertha was buried in Banning—her marker says a child was buried
there, too, perhaps Andrew.
Lula Stubbe born June 25, 1866. Died in infancy? Nothing is known about
her. Marguerite’s obituary mentions that eight sons survived her, so we know
that Lula had died at least by 1917. Although the fact that Aunt Florence
never heard her name before seeing it in the family Bible indicates that she
most likely died as a small child before the family came to Banning.
Waldemar "Wal" de Crevecoeur never married. Except for a brief service as
deputy sheriff, he was a rancher all his life. He died October 23, 1938 in
Riverside county, California. He operated a ranch near Beaumont. He assisted
brother Ben in the Willie Boy manhunt
.Jeff de Crevecoeur died in 1889. One family story was that he had
drowned; however, according to Elwood Jost, Jeff accidentally shot himself
in the leg. By the time the family got him to a doctor, gangrene had set in
and he was beyond help.
Benjamin "Ben" de Crevecoeur married Sarah E. Johnson on December 23,
1895. They had three children, of whom only one lived to have children of
his own. They were separated in 1928 with their divorce being final in 1931.
In 1932 Ben married Florence Bennett, "Flossie". Ben served as deputy
sheriff of Riverside, a special agent to the Bureau of Indian affairs, a
rancher, a store keeper, contractor, and constable of Banning. . As a young
man, he made the adobe brick for the "Old Adobe, one of the oldest adobe
houses in 29 Palms. It was demolished in 1947 because it had become a
In 1909, he was one of the central figures in the famous Willie Boy
manhunt. The 1970’s movie, entitled, "Tell Them Willie Boy Was Here",
starring Robert Redford, Robert Blake, Katherine Ross and Susan Clark was
loosely based on the story.
Ben died March 21, 1949. and was buried in the Banning cemetery.
Francis "Frank" Christopher Jost married Jeanette "Jenny" F. Turnbull in
May of 1909. They had no children. Jenny died April 26, 1921 and Frank
married Bertha. Together, they lived in the Jost Hotel. After Bertha died,
he married Margaret. They also had no children. Frank died January 2, 1937.
Frank was buried in Banning, but without marker.
Burton "Burt" Cranswick Jost married Agnes Sophie Petzoldt on May 2,
1906. They later divorced. Agnes died March 15, 1967 in Yucaipa, California.
Burt died November 15, 1972 in Banning.
George "Marsh" Marshall Jost married Emma Augusta Metze. Marsh died May
John Jefferson Jost married Elfrieda Dorothy Krueger. John died May 29,
1946 and Elfrieda died February 27, 1922. Both were buried in Banning, there
is a marker for Elfrieda, but none for John.
For more on Margarethe, go to
It is a biography of her son, Ben de Crevecoeur and more history on
Margarethe and her life.
History of Banning and San Gorgonio Pass, Tom Hughes
Ben de Crevecoeur’s scrapbook
Maude Russell’s papers, including letters written by Ben de Crevecoeur
I would like to thank Polli Turner Jost for all her help. Much of this
material was copied directly from her research on the Jost and Thomsen
families. Also, we both would like to thank Steve Lech, Riverside’s
Lastly, I would like to thank Anne Brandt at the San Bernardino County
Archives, who contacted me every time she found the de Crevecoeur name.
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