On April 15, 1843, Jacob Eicher applied for a passport to travel with his family from the Alsace area of Europe to America to make a new life for himself. Having been born in 1787, Jacob, at age 56, was quite a bit older than many of our first settlers in German Township. Perhaps the decision to immigrate at this time was made because his son, Joseph, was now of military age.
Jacob and his second wife, Barbara Stuckey, sailed from the port of Le Harve on board the ship Cotton Planter. On board the ship with them were some of Jacob’s children, Magdalena (23), Joseph (18) and Christian (13), from his first marriage to Catherine Klopfenstein; and his children with Barbara, Ann (6), Elisabeth (3) and Christina (1). Hopefully, Magdalena helped her stepmother care for the three little ones on the voyage. The Cotton Planter docked in New York Harbor on May 31, 1843 and the family then proceeded west to Wayne County, Ohio.
The Eichers seem to be a family that was always searching for "greener pastures." After only four years in Wayne County, in 1847, Jacob purchased 40 acres of land in German Township, Fulton County, Ohio. He paid Henry Hicks, a land speculator, $120 for the property but did not move immediately. In fact, the exact date of Jacob and Barbara’s arrival in German Township is not known. What we do know is that in the 1850 Census, Jacob’s son, Joseph and his wife, Elizabeth Beck, were living there. Perhaps he was sent ahead to prepare the land for his parents’ arrival. Sometime before 1855, the elder Eichers did arrive, because that year, their son Christian died and was buried in Johnson Cemetery.
By 1860, Jacob and Barbara are found in the censuses for German Township. Living right beside them are Jacob’s son John and his wife Catherine who have moved into the area. Both Jacob and John are listed as farmers. Since Jacob was now 73, perhaps John was helping him farm. But now the "wandering bug" had struck son Joseph who was no longer in German Township. Instead, he and his wife Elizabeth had moved to Gratiot County, Michigan to be near Elizabeth’s father, Christian Beck.
Jacob Eicher lived in German Township until his death in 1869. He was buried in Johnson Cemetery. By 1870, Jacob’s son, John, followed in the family tradition and moved on again. Records seem to indicate that he eventually settled near his brother, Joseph, in Gratiot County, Michigan. The Eicher family was like many other early pioneers in German Township. Some family members stayed and some moved on, but all helped to make the area what it is today.