Johann Hinrich--or Hinrich, as he usually appears in the census and other documents--immigrated from Schleswig-Holstein in 1846, and according to the 1899 Compendium of Biography, he was a "prosperous shoemaker for many years" in New York.
We know he was in New York state until 1855, when he and his family--wife Rosine Klein and eldest daughter Rosina C--moved to Wisconsin. According to my cousin Kathryn, he lived at least part of the time in Eden, New York, south of Buffalo in Erie County. Apparently he's listed in the records of the Evangelical Lutheran church there, although I haven't been able to raise an answer about that from anyone at the church just yet.
Kathryn also had info from my dad that somehow had eluded me: Hinrich had a first wife who came over from Schleswig with him, named Christine Meier. She died in Buffalo in 1853 of "Bright's disease," a chronic kidney condition now known as nephritis. That info is from a death certificate either Kathryn or my father had.
But until recently, I hadn't been able to locate any other information in any online records about Hinrich, Rosine or Christine during their time in New York. With as many as nine years to account for, that seemed odd.
So I posted an inquiry on Ancestry and hoped for the best. Over the weekend I got a reply:
New York, State Census, 1855, Erie, Boston
Image 8 of 33
Years residing in this city or town - 5
Henry Lipker age 51, b. Germany, Shoemaker, Alien, owner of land
Rosina age 32, b. Germany
Catherine age 10/12 - puts birth Aug. 1854, Erie
Boston is another small community south of Buffalo and east of Eden. (Hey, sounds like a good name for a book!) "Henry" obviously is an Angicization of Hinrich, and "Lipker" is both the phonetic spelling of the name as my family pronounces it, and the way the family's name was (mis)spelled in the 1860 US Census. This guy seems to be the only shoemaker listed in the town (and it was a small place in 1860--only 46 pages in the census) and my great great grandfather was a shoemaker.
According to this information, Henry and his family had been living there for five years, his wife is Rosina (same as Hinrich's second wife) and his daughter's birth month matches up with that of Rosine and Hinrich's eldest daughter, Rosina C. Given the German fashion of calling people by their middle names, the "Catherine" in the record could easily be Rosina C(atherine). "Henry Lipker" was still classified as an alien in 1855--Hinrich wasn't naturalized until 1857.
Based on all of that, I'm willing to call this a match. I believe "Henry Lipker" is Hinrich Lübker, my great great grandfather.
Now here's where it gets interesting. There's also a shoemaker listed in Boston (Erie County), New York in the 1850 U.S. Census. He has the right birth year, a wife named Christine (same as Hinrich's first wife) who has the right birth year, and they have a 16-year-old son (!!) named Christian, who came over with them.
This one is less certain, but I'm willing to accept it. And if this IS my great great grandfather, then his having a son named Christian bridges a gap I've had in my tree for years.