05 November 2018

Discovering the families of James A. Dobbins & Florentina Constantina Fritz

Discovering the families of James A. Dobbins & Florentina Constantina Fritz:

My third great grandparents are James A. Dobbins & Florentina “Florence” Constantina Fritz.  Up until a week ago, I didn’t know too much about them, especially about James — I had no clue who his parents & siblings were.  And other than knowing that he and Florence were married on 24 February 1881 in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri, I only had some very uncertain details about his birth & death dates and locations.  

I did know that James & Florence had three daughters, Susie Florence Dobbins Graham, Laura E. Dobbins Fitzgerald, & Cora Mary Bell Dobbins Bosch Dolan, all born in St Louis.  Susie was the oldest, born 5 December 1881, Laura was two years younger, and Cora was three years younger than Laura.  Susie & her husband, John George Graham, are my second great grandparents.  

I knew a little more about the girl’s mother than I did about their father.  Florentina went by Florence.  She was the daughter of Ignatius Fritz & Florentina Magdalena Binder who were both born in Germany.  According to family records, Ignatius & Florentina had 8 children born between 1847 and 1869: John Fritz, Karl Fritz, Maria Magdalena “Lena” Fritz Hamburg, Florentina Constantina “Florence” Fritz Dobbins, George W. Fritz, Wilhelm Fritz, Karolina Elizabeth “Carrie” Fritz Egner, & Joseph Johannes Fritz.  From what we knew about the family, the oldest son John was born in Germany, and all the rest of the children were born in the US (likely all born in St Louis County, Missouri).  Most of what I know about James & Florence, and about Florence’s parents & siblings come from handwritten records I found in my grandparents’ house years ago.  

Several years ago I found some records about Florentina’s family, specifically the birth record of her father and his siblings, and the marriage record of her father’s parents, in Forbach, Baden, Germany: https://stephsgenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/02/birth-records-for-children-of-ignatius.html & https://stephsgenealogy.blogspot.com/2010/02/parents-and-siblings-of-ignatius-fritz.html.  So I do have some original sources for the Fritz side of the family before they came to America, but for the time period after they came to America most of what I knew about the Fritzes & Dobbins was from handwritten family notes, some stories passed down through the years, & a few census records.  

So as of last week this is what I knew about the Dobbins & Fritz families:

A few years ago I was in contact with Tom Kilwin, a fellow genealogy researcher who’s wife was a descendant of my great great grandmother’s younger sister, Cora Dobbins.  Tom shared three photos with me which I love, because two of them are the only photos I’ve ever seen of James Dobbins & Florentina Constantina Fritz Dobbins.  And the other photo is the only one I’ve seen of my great great grandmother Susie Dobbins as a girl — in it she is pictured with her two younger sisters.  Tom also shared his genealogy information with me about the family.  I was also in correspondence with Karen Graham Meng, my grandpa’s cousin who was also another descendant of Susie Dobbins Graham.  I also kept copies of Karen’s memories and family stories that she shared with me.  From Tom & Karen I learned that Susie, Laura, and Cora were still girls when their mother died, and that their father was absent from the family, so the girls were raised by their mother’s older sister Maria Magdalena Fritz Hamburg, or “Aunt Lena,” who never had children of her own.  
James A. Dobbins

Florentina Constantina "Florence" Fritz Dobbins

Laura, Susie, & Cora Dobbins, St. Louis, Missouri

There was some mystery about what happened to James after his wife died, and the stories passed down through the years cast him in a negative light:  According to the notes I had from Karen Meng, the story was that “Grandpa Dobbins [James A. Dobbins] left Grandma and married a wealthy widow.”  

Also recorded in Karen’s family notes was this memory: 
“There was much bitterness about James deserting his wife and family. James left family and remarried a red-headed woman whose family had attained wealth from being in the shoe business. Susie always felt her mother died of a broken heart although the cause of death was supposedly pneumonia.  There is a story that Susie did see James with his second wife (probably before his remarriage) and James did try to talk to Susie.  He was across the street, could see her and called to her but she would have nothing to do with him.  Her remembrance of him is his bing with a red-headed woman.  James and his second wife moved East, possibly to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”  

Another story of the interaction between Susie and her father after her mother’s death was also recorded in Karen Meng’s notes:  
“Grandma (Susie Dobbins) Graham's dad took off for Texas. The grandparents lived there and they tried to get her.  She was at the grandparents’ house and they said, ‘Here comes your dad.’ (To Grandma, he was dead.) She went down the back stairs and to Great Aunt Georgie. She (Susie Dobbins) would not acknowledge him as a father because she said he killed her mom. She [Florence Fritz Dobbins] died when Grandma [Susie Dobbins] was 14 and they said she died of a broken heart.”  
{This is the only time I’ve seen any information about the family having been in Texas, and I don’t know how “Aunt Georgie” was related, so I assumed she may have been a sister of James A. Dobbins}.

And a note in the genealogy file that Tom Kilwin shared with me stated, 
“James Dobbins left his wife Florence after the birth of their third daughter. The Dolan family story is that James was a Protestant and Florence was a Catholic and the daughters were secretly baptized in the Catholic Church.  When James discovered this he left his family. The Graham family story is that he stayed in the area and lived with a ‘red headed woman.’”  

So, that’s what we knew.  A lot more questions about James than actual facts and original sources.  I was curious about what really happened with James and why he left the family (only because in my past research experience in other family lines, I have found family memories of a father abandoning the family, only to later find sources that prove that the parents actually were divorced or the father actually died and that the family stories were not entirely correct.  I wondered what really happened with this little family.  I had done a little searching for James Dobbins years and years ago, but without knowing anything about his occupation, his parents & siblings, and knowing very little about when or where his birth & death occurred, I had never had much luck finding out anything about him in the past.  And I hadn’t searched for this family in years.  

James A. Dobbins & Florentina Contstantina “Florence” Fritz:

Last week I had a persistent feeling to look for them again, so I did.  At first I just looked up census records for any possible James Dobbins who could have been born around 1860 in our around either Missouri or Indiana.  But with a name as common at James, there were just too many potential possibilities.  The two records that I did find that I knew were for “my” James & Florence were their marriage record, which I had seen before.  It showed that they were married on 24 February 1881 in the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church in St Louis.  The only other clue that the marriage record gave was that it listed both James and Florence as being “of St. Louis Missouri.”  I tried searching for information about/other records from Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, but didn’t have much luck there.  I also found the birth register record of James & Florence’s youngest daughter, Cora.  It gave her birth date in 1886, the address 1228 Vernon Ave, and listed her parents as “Jas Dobbins born in MO, Florence born in St. Louis,” which made me wonder if James was born somewhere in Missouri other than St. Louis.  (I wasn’t able to find the older two daughters in these birth registers). 
James Dobbins & Florence Fritz' marriage record

Next I decided to search for James & Florence in the St Louis City Directories, since I knew that they lived there at least from 1881 when they were married through 1886 when Cora was born.  But I came up with the same problem — without knowing either an occupation or an address in St. Louis where the family had lived, it was hard to narrow down which of the several James Dobbins appear on the City Directories throughout the years may have been our James.  So I started looking for Florence Dobbins to see if she might show up in the Directories (although less likely — often women only appear in the directories either when they were old enough to be working and were not yet married, or in years when they were listed as widows after their husbands’ deaths).  I found only one listing in all the Directory years for Florence Dobbins: in 1891 (ten years after James & Florence were married, and 5 years after their youngest daughter was born, and three years before we know that Florence would later die) the St Louis City Directory lists, “Dobbins Florence wid. James, r. 2403 N. 9th.”  
Florence Dobbins, widow of James, on 1891 St Louis City Directory

In my research so far, I hadn’t found any indication that there may have been a second couple also living in the area at the same time with similar names to James & Florence Dobbins.  I felt that this was likely my James & Florence, but that fact that the Directory listed Florence as James’ widow, indicating that he died before she did, directly conflicted with the family memories that had been passed down about James.  So I wanted to find some more information that could possibly confirm that this was indeed our James & Florence.  I went back to ancestry.com and did a keyword search for the address “2403 N. 9th” through all years of the St. Louis City Directory, and guess who else I found living at that same address throughout multiple different years?  Florence’s family members!  For at least 6 years prior to that Florence’s widowed mother was living at that address.  And in 1887 Florence’s brother in law, Lewis Hamburg, resided there with his family.  Then in 1895 Florence’s older sister, Maria Magdalena “Lena” Fritz Hamburg appears on the Directories at that address for a few years after her husband Lewis passed away.  Florence’s younger brother, George W. Fritz also lived at that address between 1887 and 1891.  And John Egner, the husband of Florence’s younger sister Karolina “Carrie” Fritz, lived at that address with his family in 1889, and again in from 1899 through at least 1904.  (Lena Hamburg also moved to the nearby address, 2401 N. 9th Street, in 1899 and lived there for years, and Florence’s daughters lived there with Lena after Florence’s death).  Looking at google maps, it doesn’t appear that the building the family lived in at that address is still standing: these are the buildings that remain on that street today closest to where 2403 would have been:
Current day street view near 2403 North 9th Street, St. Louis, Missouri 

My wish was granted: this was ample confirmation that I had found “my” Florence Dobbins living at 2403 N. 9th Street in 1891.  Which means that James died before Florence did.  I don’t know where the family stories about James came from (maybe these memories were actually about another man in the family, and they got mistakenly attached to James as they were passed down through the generations?  Or maybe James was indeed unfaithful to his family before his death?)  We may never know the answers to these questions.  Since then, I have done further searching for an exact death date for James Dobbins, and have not yet found a death record for him.  

Next I decided to search for each of the Fritz & Dobbins family members on the St Louis City Directory and chart out my findings to see what other clues the City Directories might have for us.  I was able to find Florence’s parents, and to follow the Hamburgs the the Egners through the years (the families of Florence’s two sisters & their husbands).  But I didn’t have much luck finding James Dobbins, or Florence’s brothers who survived t adulthood: John, George, Wilhelm (William), & Joseph Johannes.  These names are all rather common, and I was having trouble narrowing down which men in the Directories may have been from this family.  So I decided to go to the census records to try to fill in some of the blanks on my City Directory chart, specifically to see if I could find addresses or occupations for some of these men to compare with on the City Directory.  

John Fritz & Albertina Seegar:

I started with Florence’s oldest brother John Fritz.  It had caught my attention that John was the only child in the family that we knew of who was born in Baden, Germany (the rest were likely all born in St. Louis County, Missouri).  And John was 10 years older than the next sibling in the family.  And Florence’s father, Ignatz Fritz, was at least 13 years older than her mother, Florentina Magdalena Binder Fritz.  This all seemed to indicate the possibility that John was actually the child of Ignatz from a previous marriage, and maybe Ignatz’ marriage to Florentina was actually his second marriage.   I found John Fritz on the 1880 Census, age 34 born in Baden, living in St Louis & working as a Confectioner, married to Albertina who was born in Switzerland, with children John, Robert, & Emma Fritz.  

So I searched on the 1870 census for John Fritz and found him as a 23 year old Laborer born in Baden, boarding in the household of Michael & Mary Brown in East St Louis, Illinois.  (Interestingly, on this census record Michael Brown's occupation is listed as a steam boat deck hand, and another resident of the household, F. Wicke, is listed as a steam boat captain.  And on the 1860 census John's father, Ignatz Fritz's occupation was listed as a "River Man."  So that may be how John ended up boarding with these families in 1870).  Anyway, I searched for John Fritz's wife, Albertina, and the only Albertina I could find in the 1870 census who was born in Switzerland was Albertina Seegar, 17 year old domestic servant living with the Fassett family in Ward 2, St Louis City.  (Ward 2 is right across the river from East St Louis, Illinois, where John Fritz was boarding 1870).  I also came across a 23 year old Jakob Seeger also living in Ward 2 in St Louis on the census that year, and wondered if he might be Albertina’s brother. 

Upon searching for more records about Albertina Seegar, I found the passenger list for 70 year old farmer, Jakob Seeger & 50 year old Anna Seeger, from Switzerland, traveling from Bremen, Germany to New York on the ship ‘Laura’ arriving 10 Jan 1866 with his family including Arnold age 25, Jakob age 18, Bertha age 15, Albertina age 12, and Celestina age 8.  I also found an indexed record for Albertina’s birth record in Switzerland: Albertine Seger, born 20 Nov 1852 in Stein, Switzerland, baptized 20 Dec 1852 in the Evangelical Church in Ermatingen, Thurgau, Switzerland, parents Jakob Seger & Anna Peyer, FHL microfilm no. 958745.  I also found cemetery records for John, Albertina, and their three children in the Old Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery in St. Louis.  And found death certificates for two of their children on the Missouri State Archives website, www.sos.mo.gov.  
Passenger List of Jakob & Anna Seeger family

I decided to test out my theory that John Fritz was Ignatz’ son from a previous marriage, so I went back and searched through the same batch of extracted church records where I originally learned more about Ignatz Fritz and his relatives in Forbach, Baden, Germany several years ago.  These records are just full of Fritzes, so I searched for John Fritz the son of Ignatz Fritz, and found him.  Johann Baptist Fritz was born in Forbach on 23 June 1848, the son of Ignaz Fritz & Creszentia Wunsch.  There was also a birth record in 1850 for Marianna Friz daughter of Ignatz Friz & Crescenz Wunsch. 

All these records about John & Albertina all came in a rush, finding all these records within about 15 minutes — a goldmine of information all just waiting to be found.  I believe they really wanted to be found!

I was excited to learn about Florence’s older half brother John, and to find that wealth of records about him and his family.  Afterwards I got back on the hunt for James A. Dobbins, still wanting to find out who his parents and siblings were.  

James A. Dobbins’ parents & siblings:

James & Florence Dobbins’ family doesn’t appear on any Federal Census records because they were married in 1881 the year after the 1880 census, and the next surviving census record in 1900 was after both James & Florence had died.  I wasn’t sure if I’d have any luck finding James on the 1880 census, because there are so many Jameses and I didn’t have many identifying details to help me confirm which one was “my” James.  Because James & Florence’s 1881 marriage record said James was “of St Louis Missouri” and their daughter’s birth record said that Florence was born in St. Louis and James was born in Missouri, I hoped that James was living in St. Louis by the time the 1880 census was taken, so I searched for any possibility of a James Dobbins who lived in St. Louis and was born in Missouri.  {I had noticed from the City Directories that Florence’s brother, George Fritz, worked as a molder, and wondered if this could have been a connection too}.

The only James Dobbins (or any similar spelling) living in St. Louis on the 1880 census was James Dobbins, age 21, working as a molder, boarding with the Herman & Mary Hannibal family at 2222 North Tenth St., born in Missouri, both parents born in Kentucky.  Also living in the same household was a Thomas Dobbins, age 18, apprenticed to a machinist, who was also born in Missouri with both parents having been born in Kentucky.  So I assumed I had found a brother for James.  
Brothers, James & Thomas Dobbins on the 1880 US Census

My next step was to search for James & Thomas on the 1870 census, but I didn’t have any luck finding these two brothers in the same household anywhere on the 1870 census.  So I just searched for James.  I found him living with the family of Wm & Mary Dobbins and their 1 year old son Geo. M Dobbins in St. Louis, and William was a Moulder, so that was a good connection to James’ occupation on the 1880 census.  But William was born in Missouri and Mary was born in Ohio, so that didn’t match the parents birthplaces of Kentucky from the 1880 census.  And 10 year old James was listed after 1 year old George, indicating that he may not have been the child of this couple.  (Plus, William was 29 and Mary was 20, so if her age was listed correctly she was too young to be James’ mother anyway).  I wondered if James’ parents may have died, and maybe he moved in with his uncle & aunt.  
James Dobbins living with the William & Mary Dobbins family, 1870 US Census

My next step was to find out what happened to Thomas.  I found two possible matches for Thomas on the 1870 census.  One was a family living in a Missouri town about 350 miles from St Louis, with two parents born in Kentucky and all the children in the home born in Missouri, but the Thomas in that family was 12 years old and I was looking for a Thomas who was about 8 at the time.  The other possible match that I found was a family in Moreland, Scott County, Missouri (about 130 miles south of St Louis).  This family was made up of John Martin, a 32 year old shoemaker who was born in Pennsylvania, and his 21 year old wife Laura who was born in Missouri, and two children: 9 year old Thomas Dobbins and 16 year old Anna Dobbins, both born in Missouri.  This one felt like it was the right family to me — like the household where James Dobbins was living in 1870, this family seemed to be made up of children who may have been living with a couple other than their parents.  (And once again, the parents were not born in Kentucky).  I wondered if Thomas & James (and Anna) may have been sent to live with different aunts & uncles after their parents died?  
Thomas & Anna Dobbins living with John & Laura Martin, 1870 US census

So I searched for James, crossing my fingers that he would have been born early enough to show up on the 1860 census (since we knew he was born about 1860, and knowing that Thomas would not yet have been alive in 1860).  And I found the record that tied them all together.  In 1860 in Benton, Scott, Missouri (Benton happens to fall within the borders of the Township of Moreland, where Thomas and Anna were living in 1870), was the family of John & Sarah T. Dobbins.  John was 47 and was born in Kentucky, he was a landlord, and was apparently doing pretty well for himself with $3000 real estate value and $600 personal estate value.  The family lived in a hotel (probably that $3000 worth of real estate that John owned).  John’s wife Sarah T. Dobbins was 37 years old and was born in Tennessee.  And all 8 of their children were born in Missouri.  And according to the census, all of the children other than the youngest, 8 month old James A. Dobbins, attended school within the year (even the oldest sons who were young adults at the time).  The children included David A. age 22, William age 19, Mary S. age 15, Nancy E. age 13, Laura J. age 10, Albion H. age 8, Sarah A. age 6, and James A. age 8 months.  Looking back at the two different 1870 census records, I could see that the children had not been sent to live with aunts & uncles, but with their elder siblings: James lived with 29 year old William in 1870 (who was 19 on this 1860 census), and Thomas & Anna lived with their older sister 21 year old Laura in 1870 (who was 10 in 1860 census).  And Anna, who was 16 on the 1870 census, matches up with Sarah A. who was 6 on the 1860 census.  At all fit together so neatly.  
John & Sarah Dobbins family, 1860 US census

I also found the family on the 1850 census living in Scott County, Missouri.  John Dobbins was a farmer with $250 value in real estate, born in Kentucky, and his wife Sarah was listed as born in Illinois.  The five children, David A., John W., Mary S., Nancy E., & Laura J. Dobbins, were all born in Missouri.  (Although this record lists the oldest son, David age 14, at the bottom of the list of children — which could possibly indicate that he wasn’t the child of this couple but may have been a nephew or step son, or it could also just be that they forgot to list him at the beginning and added him at the end of the list).  
John & Sarah Dobbins family, 1850 US census

I did a little searching for each of the siblings, finding some of them in different census records throughout the years, finding some marriage & death certificates for some of them, and finding cemetery records for some.  The most interesting of these is the death certificate of James’ older brother, William Dobbins, which lists his mother’s maiden name: Sarah Howell! 
William Dobbin's death certificate

Florence Fritz’ siblings:

After these great discoveries with the Dobbins family, I returned my attention to the Fritz siblings.  I revisited the Missouri State Archives website and found death certificates for Lena Hamburg, Caroline E. Egner, John Egner, George Fritz, Catherine A. Fritz, and birth records for several of Florence’s nieces and nephews on that site.  And I found two death records for Carl Fritz, so we now have accurate birth & death dates for Ignatz & Florentina’s oldest baby boy who died at age 1.  (Unfortunately, I still haven’t had any luck finding a death record for James A. Dobbins).  

I also came across the cemetery records of George W. Fritz and several of his family members, which revealed that his wife Catherine’s maiden name was Mooney.  With this information, I was able to find Catherine and her family on the 1880 census in St. Louis.  Catherine was 8 years old, living with her parents Thomas & Mary Mooney, and her older sister Mary.  And in 1890 Thomas Mooney was listed as having been a drummer on the Veteran’s Schedule of the census.  In 1909 I found Catherine’s mother on the St Louis City Directory, listed as “Mooney Mary wid Thomas r 5336A Greer av.”  (But it appears that there were many Irish Mooney families in St Louis, and it’s hard to narrow down which of the many other records about Mooneys may or may not have been about Catherine’s family).  
Thomas Mooney in the 1890 Veteran's Schedule of the Census

I also found death records for William Fritz, Florence’s younger brother, and learned that he died on 29 September 1882 in St. Louis when he was 15.  He was working as a laborer, and died of internal injuries from an accident.  And I learned that Florence’s youngest brother, Joseph Johannes Fritz, also died young, at the age of 2.  
Death record of 15 year old William Fritz

After using census records to fill in some of the blanks on my City Directory chart, I was able to find John Fritz and his brother George, and James Dobbins on the St. Louis City Directories.  James A. Dobbins lived at 2222 N. 10th Street and worked as a laborer in 1881.  And in between 1883 and 1887 he worked as a molder & lived at various addresses (moving at least 4 different times within those 5 years).  
Charts of Dobbins & Fritz family findings in St. Louis City Directories & US Census records 

(I had to cut the chart into three sections to make it easier to view online --
I know it's difficult to read, but hopefully it'll work well enough).

I’m really happy that I acted on the impression to search for these families, since they clearly wanted to be found.  I haven’t found such a wealth of records and “new” information while researching my ancestors in the United States in years and years.  Now the information we have about this family is so much more complete.  And we definitely have some more leads — maybe these sources will lead to more information further back on the Dobbins line in the future.

25 September 2018


I wrote a post last year about our really cool research path that led my mom & I to discovering the existence & then discovering details about the life of Theresia Ott, the little sister of my 2nd great grandmother Anna Marie Ott Spohr: http://stephsgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-twin-mystery.html.  We believe Theresia was born somewhere between the Ott family's home town in Bohemia and the port in Bremen, Germany where the family boarded the ship 'SS Weser' and immigrated to America, where they ended up settling for several years in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The ship's passenger list says that Theresia was 10 months old when they traveled to America.  In my previous post about discovering Theresia, I mentioned that the Cincinnati City Directories played a vital role in confirming that Theresia was indeed part of our family, and confirming that the death record we found for her at age 8 was in fact for "our" Theresia Ott.  Well, the City Directories have played a vital role in identifying Theresia for us again, but this time in a different way.

I was looking through some old photos the other day from a few boxes of pictures that originally came from the home of my grandparents, Beverly Frances Monk & Carl John Spohr Jr.  I noticed a little tintype photo of a child in a straw hat.  Like many of the photos in these boxes, there is no name written on the back to tell us who the person in the photograph is, and we had no idea who the child was.  (We weren't even sure if it was a little girl or boy, since young girls & boys back then both wore gowns until they were old enough to be potty trained and until the boys were old enough to fasten the latches on their britches).  But unlike many of the other photos in this collection, this one did have writing on the back.  It's not too uncommon to find an old photo that might have a name and/or address on the back which doesn't necessarily refer to the person or people shown in the photo -- it may list the information of the person who ordered the photo from the photographer, or sometimes of the person who someone was sending the photograph to.  I was intrigued when I noticed that it said "Mrs. Ott" on the back, but it's not the first time we've found a photo with the name of one of our ancestors on the back and still not had any idea who the photo was of.

On the back of this photo it tells the name & address of the photographer in Cincinnati, and then it says: "Date Nov 4, Name Mrs. Ott, Address 45 Miami St City, Size 14 x 17 Bust."  So, we knew that our Ott family lived in Cincinnati, and so far we haven't come across any indication that any other Ott relatives came to the United States.  So that narrows it down to two Ott women that we know of: my 2nd great grandmother, Anna Marie Ott Spohr, and her mother, Maria Anna Strunz Ott (who went by Anna).  Since Anna Marie's married name was Spohr, she would have been referred to as either Miss Ott or Mrs. Spohr.  So we figured Mrs. Ott on the back of this photo was my 3rd great grandmother Anna Strunz Ott.  And we knew from our previous City Directory research that Anna lived at 45 Miami Street.  We also figured that this photo may have been of someone significant to Anna, since she was ordering a rather large 14 x 17 bust print.

I wondered if it was one of Anna's children, hoping that my hunch that it could possibly be Theresia might prove correct.  Or I wondered if it could possibly have been of Anna's youngest son, Louis Christopher Ott, who was about 4 years younger than Theresia.  (I thought it was unlikely that it was one of Anna's older two surviving children, since it was taken in Cincinnati, and appeared to be of a child around 3 or 4 years old, and her older children were born in Bohemia and would have been too old to be the child in this photo by the time they arrived in America.  Oh, and I wondered if the straw hat might give us a clue to the gender of the child, but a Google search for photos from the late 1800s of children wearing straw hats only proved that straw hats were not worn exclusively by one gender.  Interestingly, I found no other examples of anyone wearing a straw hat with a similar striped pattern under the brim).

I got out the only other photo that we know of that shows any of Anna's children when they were young:
This photo, taken in Cincinnati, shows Anna Strunz Ott with her youngest son Louis Christopher Ott,
and her older son Franz Joseph "Frank" Ott.
My mom, dad, and I compared the faces of Anna's boys and the unknown child in the tintype photo.  We all agreed that this child had the same look in the eyes as these boys, and could definitely be a sibling, or possibly a photo of either of these boys at a younger age.

I was thinking that this photo could either have been of Theresia, or of the younger brother Louis, who both lived in Cincinnati when they were around 3 or 4 years old.  But my Dad pointed out that the photo could have potentially been reprinted in the Cincinnati photo studio from a negative, which would make it possible that it could have been a picture of one of Anna's older children that was originally taken before they lived in Cincinnati.  

But last week I happened to start reading a book about photography during the Civil War , which started with a brief introduction overviewing the history of different types of early photography.  I went back and found that passage again, which said, ". . . Bostonian James A. Cutting patented the ambrotype in 1854: collodion glass negatives, which, when backed with black paper, varnish, or metal, were transformed into positive images.  Ambrotypes soon supplanted daguerreotypes in popularity, since they could be viewed more easily; daguerreotypes had to be tilted at just the right angle in order to make a clear positive image visible.  Yet another variation -- the ferrotype or tintype -- recorded images on sheets of iron that had been coated with a light-sensitive emulsion.  Ambrotypes and tintypes, like the earlier daguerreotypes, could not be reproduced.  In that sentimental Victorian age, these one-of-a-kind images of loved ones were treated as revered icons. . . . All three of these direct-image techniques [daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, & tintypes] recorded a mirror image of the sitter or scene; during the Civil War it was not uncommon for soldiers to compensate for this distortion by reversing their weapons and accoutrements, while photographers sometimes used paint to 'touch out' the backward letters on buttons and military beltplates.  The collodion process permitted photographers one other alternative, which by the late 1850s had supplanted all others in the public's love affair with the camera.  From glass negatives, contact prints could be made on paper that had been coated with albumen. . . .  Albumen prints were neither reversed nor unique; indeed, a potentially limitless number of prints could be made from a single negative."  Now I'm no expert in early photography, but this photo we have is definitely printed on metal, and I believe it is a tintype.  If that's true, from the description in this book it seems like this rules out the possibility of this photograph being reprinted from a negative years after it was originally taken.  

So the next step was to determine when this photo was taken.  This is where the City Directories came in handy again.  With our two most likely hypotheses being that the photo was of Theresia or Louis, and estimating that the child in the photo was somewhere around 4 years old, we calculated that Theresia would have been 4 in 1884, and Louis would have been 4 in 1888.  We turned to the city directory to see who was living at 45 Miami Street in those years.  In 1888 a tailor named Henry Duesing was living at this address.  But in 1884 a carpenter named F. Joseph Ott was living there.  Franz Joseph "Frank" Ott was the husband of Anna Strunz Ott.  This family definitely lived there in exactly the correct year for the photograph to be their 4 year old daughter Theresia.  We're convinced that this photo is of her.  

And last night I did a fun little project, photoshopping all the scratches and dust off this photo so we could get a better idea of how the original may have looked.  (I'm not entirely satisfied with how her chin turned out, but that's about as good as I can get right now, since that part of the original tintype was entirely scratched off.  And without any other photos of Theresia to compare to, I just did the best I could with that).  



02 September 2018

Video of Grandma Bev

I've been working on putting together this video of my Grandma Bev for a while now, and was pleased to get it done last week so I could give it to my mom for her birthday.

14 April 2018

Aloys Breinl: Weißgerber or Bräuer?

Weißgerber image, source link
As my mom & I have been researching our Bohemian ancestors, it seemed a little odd to us that my 5th great grandfather, Sebastianus Aloysius Breinl, is sometimes listed as a Bräuer (Brewer) and sometimes as a Weißgerber (White Tanner) on different records throughout his life.  Sebastianus Aloysius Preinl/Breinl/Bräunl/Breunl, was born on 9 April 1780 in house number 210 in Graslitz, Böhmen, the son of Johann Anton Adam Preinl & Rosalia Korb.  Although his name was listed as Sebastianus Aloysius Preinl in his baptism record, he apparently went by Aloys throughout his life, as evidenced by the fact that his name was listed as Aloys (or variations of this name, including Aloysis, Aloÿs, & Alois) on every other source recorded during his lifetime, and during the lives of his children & grandchildren, that we have found for him so far.  Aloys was married to Eva Rosalia Stohwasser on 4 October 1804 in house number 201 in Graslitz when he was 24 years old.  Eva Rosalia (who went by Rosalia) was the daughter of Ignaz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer.  Aloys & Rosalia had 11 children, all born in Graslitz between 1805 and 1826.  Their children were: Johann Anton, Johanna, Theresia, Friedrich [my 4th great grandfather], Aloys, Rosalia (1), Wenzl, Johannas Nepomuk, Elisabeth, Mathilda Rosalia, & Rosalia (2).  And Aloys died on 29 June 1834 at the age of 54.  

Bräuer image, source link

Although changing occupations may not have been that uncommon for our ancestors in the United States, from what we’ve learned about our ancestors who lived in Germany and Bohemia and the guild requirements at that time, it would be very uncommon for this to have happened, especially for someone to have been a master in two different unrelated occupations.

So we decided to sort through all our sources that we had for Aloys to date and see what information they provided about his occupation.  (We wanted to make sure that there wasn’t any possibility that we had accidentally collected information about two different Aloys Brienls living in Graslitz at the same time).  So we also compared the information from each of the sources about his house number, his parents’ names & his father’s occupation, his wife’s name & his wife’s parents’ names, and any other relevant details.  Here’s what we came up with so far:

Aloys’ House Number
Aloys’ Occupation
Aloys’ Parents/Wife
Aloys’ Father’s Occupation
Birth of Sebastianus Aloysius Preinl, 1780 (self) source link
Parents: Adamus Preinl, 
Rosalia Korb
Braxatoris et inquilinus (Beer Brewer Partner & Citizen)
Birth record note says he was married on 4 Oct 1804, died on 29 Jun 1834
Marriage of Aloÿs Bräunl & Rosalia Stowasser, 1804 (self)
none listed
Parents: Johann Anton Adam Bräunl, Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignatz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer
Herrschaft Bräumeister (Manor Master Brewer)
(Marriage date matches date in the birth record note).
Birth of Johann Anton, 1805 (son)
(son born in 488)
Bürger u Weißgerbermeister (Bürger & Master White Tanner)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignaz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer

Birth of Johanna, 1806 (daughter) source link
(daughter born in 210)
Bürger und Weißgerbermeister (Bürger & Master White Tanner)
Wife: Roßalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignaz Stohwasser & Roßalia Dotzauer

(Aloys’ daughter was born in the same house that Aloys was born in).
Birth of Theresia, 1808 (daughter)
(daughter born in 80)
Bürger und Weißgerber (Bürger & White Tanner)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignaz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer

[House No. 80 is the Breinl family house where we know Aloys lived & where a number of his children were born].
Birth of Friedrich, 1810 (son) 
(son born in 80)
Bürger und Weißgerber (Bürger & White Tanner)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignaz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer

Birth of Aloys, 1813 (son)
(son born in 80)
Weißgärber (White Tanner)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignaz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer

Birth of Rosalia, 1815 (daughter)
(daughter born in 18)
Weißgärbermeister (Master White Tanner)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignatz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer

Birth of Wenzl, 1816 (son) 
(son born in 80)
Weißgärbermeister (Master White Tanner)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignatz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer

Birth of Johannes Nepomuk, 1819 (son)
(son born in 80)
Weißgärbermeister (Master White Tanner)
Parents: Adam Bräunl & Rosalia Korp, Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignatz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer
Herrschaft Bräumeister in No. 320 (Manor Master Brewer)

Birth of Elisabeth, 1820 (daughter)
Aloys born in 320
(daughter born in 80)
Weißgärbermeister (Master White Tanner)
Parents: Joh. Adam Bräunl & Rosalia Korber in No. 320, Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignatz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer
Herrschaft Bräumeister in No. 320 (Manor Master Brewer)
(We know that Aloys’ parents lived in house No. 320).
Birth of Mathilda Rosalia, 1822 (daughter) 
(daughter born in 80)
Bräuermeister in No. 80 (Master Brewer)
Parents: Johann Adam Breinl & Rosalia Korb, Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignatz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer
Bräuermeister  in No. 320 (Master Brewer)

Birth of Rosalia, 1826 (daughter)
320 (daughter born in 80)
Weißgärbermeister in No. 320 (Master White Tanner)
Parents: Johann Adam Breinl & Roßalia Korb, Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser, daughter of Ignaz Stohwasser & Rosalia Dotzauer
Bräuermeister (Master Brewer)

Marriage of Anton (son) & Magdalena Weck, 1832
(son married in 80)
Herrschaft Bräuhauspächters
(Manor Brewhouse Renter)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Anton is Bräuermeister born in No. 320 (Master Brewer)
Death of Aloys, 1834 (self)
Herrschaft Bräumeister (Manor Master Brewer)

Died at age 53 (matches with birth record).
Marriage of Friedrich (son) & Amalia Dotzauer, 1836
(son born in 80, son married in 522)
Herrschaft Bräuhauspächters
(Manor Brewhouse Renter)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Friedrich is a Bürgers sohn born in No. 80 (Bürger’s Son) 
Death of Rosalia, 1838  (wife)
(wife died in 80)
Bräumeister (Master Brewer)
Wife: Rosalia Breunl

Birth of Christian, 1839 (grandson)
(grandson born in 320)
Braumeister (Master Brewer)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Anton, Christian’s father, was herschaft Braumeister born in No. 320 (Manor Master Brewer)
Birth of Ludmilla, 1839 (granddaughter) 
(granddaughter born in 391)
Herrschaft Bräumeister (Manor Master Brewer)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Friedrich, Ludmilla’s father, was beirbrauer born in No. 80 (Beer Brewer)
Birth of Joseph, 1841 (grandson)
(grandson born in 391)
Brauer (Brewer)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Friedrich, Joseph’s father, was brauer born in No. 80 (Brewer)
Marriage of Franz Hahn & Elisabetha, 1843 (daughter)
(daughter born in 80, daughter married in 224)
Herschaftlichen Bräuermeister (Manor Master Brewer)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Birth of Anna, 1846 (granddaughter)
(granddaughter born in Bleydstadt No. 99)
Herschaftlichen Bräuers in No. 80 (Manor Brewer)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Friedrich, Anna’s father, was brauer in Bleydstadt No. 99 (Brewer)
Birth of Adolph Thomas, 1849 (grandson) 
(grandson born in Bleydstadt No. 99)
Herschaftl. Bräuers (Manor Brewer)
Wife: Rosalia Stohwasser

Friedrich, Adolph’s father, was brauer in Bleydstadt No. 99 (Brewer), born in Graslitz No. 80

From listing the information chronologically from all these different sources, it’s pretty clear that this is indeed one individual — there are so many details in each of the sources about relationships, house numbers, etc. that there doesn’t seem to be any possibility that we’ve accidentally found records for two different individuals with the same name.  So, why would he have changed occupations?  We contacted Fritz Juengling who is an expert on German guilds, to ask his opinion and he said, “This is a perplexing problem. I cannot see any connection between Brau- and Weißgerber- at all. That someone would become a -meister in two different fields such as these is highly improbable and this designation is really inexplicable. The only thing that I could say is that the term -meister might not have been a guild designation to the person who wrote the documents. Maybe it was simply a loose term suggesting a promotion in a company. But this is only a suggestion from the top of my mind and in no way the real explanation.  That someone would leave a field for which he had trained for so long is also suspect.”

So we were still unsure of why this could have happened. Our next theory at this point is that maybe Aloys was the second or third son in his family.  So the father would likely have had his oldest son(s) be apprentices to be brewers like himself, and any younger sons would have worked as apprentices for other masters to learn other occupations.  But maybe later on in Aloys’ life, after he had already trained to be a Weißgerber, something happened — maybe his father and his older brother(s) died or were no longer able to work as brewers.  But maybe since he had grown up in a brewing family, and knew something about the trade from his father, and had stayed and continued to live there in Graslitz, maybe he would have been the one to take over when there was a need for a brewer???  That’s a lot of maybes.  And we don’t know if it was ever done that way or not.  But we decided that the next step is to search for the siblings of Aloys so we could see if it was even a possible scenario (if he was a 2nd or 3rd son in his family).  We’ve been going through the process of searching for his siblings, and I’ll write an update when we know more.