Johann "John" Klafehn was born on 14 April 1853 to Tagelöhner Joachim Klafehn and Hanna Rath in the former hamlet of Schlackendorf near Jördenstorf, and was baptized at the Lutheran church in Jördenstorf on May 1st. He had seven siblings, and his father was a "Taglöhner" (day laborer) who worked on various families' estates in the area. At some point between 1866 and 1867, the family had moved to the tiny hamlet of Alt Pannekow, according to the 1867 Mecklenburg-Schwerin census. However, both 14-year-old Johann and his oldest brother Friedrich/Fred (listed as "Fritz" in this census) were not living at home at the time the census was conducted. Fred shows up in the census living on another family's estate where he was working, while John has not been found in the census. His exact whereabouts at this time are thus uncertain, although it is assumed that he must have been living and working on a different estate, which for his age was unusual but not unheard of at the time.
John does not show up in any passenger lists from when he supposedly immigrated to the United States. At one point, he had apparently stated that he "stowed away" to America in the Fall of 1870, this decision stemming from a desire to avoid being drafted in the freshly sparked Franco-Prussian War. Him not appearing in any passenger lists supports the theory and his own statements that he had immigrated to the USA illegally in fear of getting drafted. Upon arrival, he settled in Rochester, NY, which is where he lived until sometime during the year of 1871, when he decided to move to the western town of Sweden, as "Brockport" is listed as his hometown in Rochester's Zion Lutheran Church records at the time of his 1873 marriage.
John married Friedrike Johanna Christine Reamer of Glasow on 15 December 1873 in Rochester, NY and had initially moved to farmland owned by Alvin Kenyon on Monroe-Orleans County Line Road in the hamlet of Morton, ending up on the west side of Redman Road in Hamlin. The couple had four children together, the last dying two months after she was born and also seemingly causing the death of her mother, who died two days after her birth. Following this, John remarried to Caroline Wilhelmine Christiana Schwartz of Moltzahn, Borrentin, Pomerania on 31 December 1879 in Hamlin and moved shortly thereafter to East Hamlin on Walker Lake Ontario Road. They lived the rest of their lives together here and had fourteen children.
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