I am researching the VON ELIAS (just Elias in America) surname. My great-great-grandfather was Nicolaus Elias ca. 1833 and d.post 1920. He may have possibly had a brother named Balthasar (ca. 1827 - d.1878). Both Nick (as he was known here) and Balthasar lived in the same county (Manitowoc), bordering townships (Liberty, Eaton) in Wisconsin in the mid 1860s and 1870s. I cannot find anything on any web site showing either of these gentlemen before they came to the U.S. It is estimated that they came over in the mid-late 1850s and spent time in Detroit, Michigan. Family lore has it that Nick said he came from "Prussian Royalty" but fled to the U.S. to avoid military service. Any help with this would be appreciated; I don't have the name of a town or even real firm birth dates (the ones I have are extrapolated from census records in the U.S.) - it would be great to know where I should start.