The family of a Dubois County native that moved to Jackson County in 1961 when she was a teenager was recognized Thursday night by the Jackson County History Center.

Sharon Barnett of Seymour was one of five people picked to receive awards because of their family’s history in Jackson County. The awards were presented during the center’s seventh annual Pioneer Society dinner at Woodlawn Family Funeral Centre in Seymour.

In Barnett’s case, her family received a Founder Family Award because her ancestor, Bernhard Heinrich Kamman, lived in Jackson County in the years between 1821 and 1850.

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“He only lived here about six years, so I wasn’t sure we were eligible,” she said of her great-great-grandfather, who was born in Prussia and came to Cincinnati before heading west.

Officials with the Jackson County Pioneer Society, however, said the family was eligible, so Barnett started compiling the information she needed for her application with the help of researchers at the history center’s genealogy library.

She said Kamman started his trip to America with his wife and four sons, but two of his sons died on the voyage, and his wife jumped overboard two days before the ship was to land in Baltimore.

Kamman and his two remaining sons moved to Jackson County. Bernhard Kamman applied for citizenship in 1843, and he also married a widow from the Sauers area, Mary Elizabeth Voelker Turmail, that same year, Barnett said.

“She had six children from a first marriage,” she said. “The Kammans had a daughter and possibly a second child.”

Barnett said Bernhard Kamman worked in the pork houses of Louisville and Cincinnati in the winter for extra money and made wooden shoes.

The family eventually decided to leave Jackson County and move to the southwestern part of the state, she said.

“His reason? It was too flat and too wet to make a living,” Barnett said. “Also there was too much malaria in the summer and fall, and all was sick from it.”

That was in the fall of 1848.

Two of Bernhard’s grandsons, George and John Henry Kamman, made it back to the Seymour area about 50 years later from Warrick County, Barnett said. George practiced medicine, and John Henry was a lawyer.

Barnett said even though the Kammans moved away, some other family members remained in the area.

“I always knew my mom had family here,” she said.

A representative of each of the other families receiving awards told similar stories about their ancestors with the exception of John Heller, a Founding Family honoree. Heller, representing Johannes Heller, lives out of state and couldn’t attend the dinner.

The other Founding Family honoree was Philip Wilhelm Schwein, represented by longtime Brownstown businessman Thomas M. Schwenn.

The Settler Family Award (1851 to 1880) recipients were Johann Heinrich Klosterman, represented by Max Leroy Klosterman, and John Heinrich Tiemeyer and William F. Pollert, both represented by James Wayne Rebber.

There were no recipients of the First Family (1820 and before) and Builder Family (1881 to 1910) categories. The list of First Family honorees is 21, while the Founding Family list grew to 21 with those announced during the dinner. There are six Settler Families, including the three new ones, and three Builder Families.

Besides the food provided by Stahl’s Cafe and Deli in Ewing, one of the highlights of the evening was a performance of mainly old-time music.

Freetown native Larry Wayt, playing the guitar and singing vocals, led the group, which also featured Jim Wendel from Metamora on the harmonica, Bill Davenport of Louisville, Kentucky, on the mountain dulcimer and Eric Jarboe of North Vernon on the hammer dulcimer and fiddle. Wayt now lives in Richmond.

Each of the musicians gave brief talks about the instruments they were playing.

At a glance

Founder Family (1821 to 1850)

Bernhard Heinrich Kamman, represented by Sharon Schulte Barnett

Philip Wilhelm Schwein, represented by Thomas M. Schwenn

Johannes Heller, represented by John Heller

Settler Family (1851 to 1880)

Johann Heinrich Klosterman, represented by Max Leroy Klosterman

Johann Heinrich Tiemeyer and William F. Pollert, represented by James Wayne Rebber

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7051.