Wednesday, April 30, 2014

“Nun danket alle Gott” (now we all thank God)

After my Grandmother Ohnmacht passed away my Grandfather Ohnmacht moved to New Jersey and worked in Uncle William Ohnmacht's bakery. He left New York because he couldn't get a job in any of the bakeries in New York. I also think that he was broken hearted and needed a change. They sold the house that they owned on Hawthorne Street. My mother, Tillie was seven years old at the time and her brother, Al was 14. It must have been very traumatic for my mother to loose her mother and then right away pickup and move to New Jersey. She remembered that she couldn't take every doll that she had and could only bring one or two of them.

After working with my Uncle William for a few years they returned to New York and moved to Lindenhurst. He purchased a home on North 7th Street in Lindenhurst where he lived with his daughter, son and new wife Wanda. Wanda according to my mother was a terrible stepmother. At times she felt like she was Cinderella. I don't know how or when Gottlieb met Wanda but I do know that the family urged him to remarry because of his daughter, Tillie. They felt she was to young to go without a mother. Over time many of the family members became disenchanted with Wanda and so it came about that Wanda left my Grandfather in 1933. On the day that she left my cousin Adolph played the song "Now thank we all our God" over and over again. He also raised the flag. My Grandfather died on October 18, 1935 and left a will stating that "To my second wife Wanda, because she left my bed and board over two years ago, I give only five dollars ($5.00)." Wanda contested the will and received half of the estate as settlement.

""Now thank we all our God" is a popular Christian hymn. It is a translation from the German "Nun danket alle Gott", written circa 1636 by Martin Rinkart (1586–1649), which in turn was inspired by Sirach, chapter 50 verses 22–24, from the praises of Simon the high priest. It was translated into English in the 19th Century by Catherine Winkworth."

Little Germany & The German Community

When my Grandparents came to America they settle in German neighborhoods. My Grandfather Gottlieb Frederick Ohnmacht immigrated to the United States in 1893. He met and married my Grandmother by 1899. Before they were married my Grandfather lived at 332 West 40th Street and my Grandmother lived at 345 7th Avenue according to their marriage certificate. So how did they meet.

 They lived approximately a 16 minute walk away from one another. Why did they settle in the neighborhoods that they had chosen to live in before they got married. Perhaps they moved to the area because they knew someone who lived in the area or maybe it was close to where they worked. They weren't close to  St Mark's Evangel Lutheran, 339 East 84 St., New York, it was necessary to take a subway to get to the lower East side and Little Germany. A trip that would take today 28 minutes to make via subway. "In 1845, Little Germany was already the largest German-American neighborhood in New York; by 1855, its German population had more than quadrupled, displacing the American-born workers who had first moved into the neighborhood's new housing, and at the beginning of the 20th century, it was home to almost 50,000 people. From a core in the riverside 11th Ward, it expanded to encompass most of the 10th, 13th, and 17th Wards, the same area that later became known as the Jewish Lower East Side."

They were  married by a minister by the name of  J. Ressber who was the Minister of the Gospel who lived at 126 West 35th Street, New York. The marriage probably took place at City Hall. By 1910 her friend, Ottillie Jaeger was living at 464 Amsterdam Avenue all the way up on the Upper West Side of New York. The picture to the left was taken on their wedding day.

My Grandmother was Catholic and my Grandfather was Lutheran. They decided that the sex of the first child born would determine what religion they would adopt for the family. My Uncle John was the first child born to the family and therefore they decide to raise the children according to the Lutheran religion. German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Paul was located near where they lived in 1900. They rented an apartment at 339 West 40th Street and the church was located at 315 West 22nd Street. "In 1897, a tract was purchased on West 22nd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues. The German architect, Francis A. Minuth, was commissioned to design the third and present building. On July 4, 1897, the cornerstone was laid, and only seven months later, on February 13, 1898, the church was officially opened – debt free!" It is a today a 10 minute subway ride  from their address to the church. By 1910 they were living at 2222 8th Avenue which was about 16 min ride on today's subway.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A New Home

There was a time prior to the Great Depression when the Ohnmacht family was doing better financially. There were plans to buy a home. I think this was a photograph of the property that the family was considering purchasing. My Aunt Gertrude is seen standing in front of the for sale sign. The property was located at 15 Metropolitan Avenue, the town is unknown. These plans took place between 1920 to 1922. The house was only inhabited for approximately a year.

 My Uncle John had drowned in July 1921. His death certificate states that the family was living at the time at 2222 Eighth Avenue in New York City. At the time of John's birth they were living at 339 North 40th Street in New York City. Prior to that address they lived at 235 West 49th Street according to the 1900 Census. By 1910 Census they were living at 8th Avenue till sometime after John's death when they moved to the new house. The longest that they lived at anyone address was between 1910 and 1921 at the Eight Avenue address.

At the time of my Grandmother Ohnmacht's death the family lived at 130 Hawthorne in Brooklyn. Today I believe the house is still standing as seen in the photograph found below. My mother remembered a large porch but at the time she was seven and probably the porch seemed larger. There is another photograph taken around the same time of a porch with a group of my Aunt's friends. This very well could have been a picture of the original house and later replaced by brick homes.

To possibly solve the mystery I could send for the 1930's photograph of the Brooklyn address. This might show me what the house looked like prior to 2014. New York City Archives

Ottillie Theresa Ohnmacht Graduation

Ottillie Theresa Ohnmacht or Tillie as she was known by her family and friends was the fifth child born to Gertrude and Gottlieb Ohnmacht on March 23, 1915. It is interesting that on January 12, 1915 the United States Congress rejected the proposal for women to vote. It is hard to believe that it wasn't that long ago that women won the right to vote, certainly during my mother's lifetime.

I use to think this photograph was of my mother Ottillie when she graduated from grade school. Now I know that it is a picture of my Aunt Gertrude. According to the 1930 Census my Mother was still attending school at 15 in Lindenhurst. I have her school ring and there is the year 1930 engraved on the ring. My Mother enjoyed school and wanted to continue but many girls in those days did not go to high school. Also financially impossible due to the Great Depression. Her girlfriend Louise Nicholas did graduate from high school and went to work for Babylon Milk & Cream full time.

If this was a photograph of my Mother the flowers that she is carrying in the photograph would have been from her friend Louise Nicholas. It was the custom to receive flowers on the day of your graduation and so both friends picked flowers from their gardens and sent them to one another. It was also the custom of the day that you wear white to your graduation. Here you can see my Aunt in her vintage hi-top white button boots. The boots is what gave me a clue that it couldn't be my Mother, she would have graduated in 1930's rather then 1910's, by 1930 women were no longer wearing hi-top boots.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Alfred Gottlieb Ohnmacht

My Uncle Al was born on December 21, 1908 at home 2219 8th Avenue in New York City to Gottlieb and Gertrude Ohnmacht. He was the fourth child and the third son born to the couple. I think that it is fortuitous that the Model T was made popular the year he was born. My mother and Uncle are seen in this photograph with what looks like a Model T in the background.  "The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie and Flivver) is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from 1908 through 1927. The Model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile came into popular usage."

My Uncle was wearing knickerbockers, a short pair of pants worn by boys until they reached puberty when they graduated to long pants. This was the custom after World War I. I would imagine that this photograph was taken somewhere in the early 1920's. My Uncle's beanie  or felt hat was popular from 1920 to 1940. The beanie or skull cap got it's name from the slang word for head is bean and the beanie covered your head. My mother Tillie Ohnmacht was around five or six in the photograph. The picture looks as if it was taken in the Spring or Fall.

She is wearing a large bow in her hair typical of the period. The family was still living at the same address according to the 1920 Census. By 1930 Census they were living in Lindenhurst on 608 Ruthford Street. After my grandmother, Gertrude Grossholtz passed away the family moved to New Jersey and then to Lindenhurst. Uncle Al was working at the time but it is hard to determine what the census taker wrote under occupation, it could be glassier. On July 16, 1931 Al Ohnmacht had married Martha Virginia Conrad or my Aunt Margie. From 1939 till 1942 they lived in Nassau County at 33 Manor Road in Lake View, Oceanside. By 1942 Al was listed as an engraver.

Uncle Al enlisted in the Army during World War II and was listed as a Private when he was released from military service on November 19, 1945. Part of his service he was stationed in France repairing Army vehicles. He had a diary which he kept while he was stationed in France but one day my mother caught us kids laughing about the entries and she destroyed the diary. What I remember from the entries that we did read it talked about life in France during the war. The shortage of stockings and how the French women drew lines down the back of their legs to give the effect of stocking seams.

During the war my older brother, Joseph Alfred was born and my Aunt Margie and Uncle Al were his Godparents. The photograph to the right was taken on the day of his Christening. After that they lived in Farmingdale until they were robbed and they they traveled around the country living in California for part of the time. They settled in Florida and lived in Clearwater until they passed. We missed not having them around while I was growing up but they did come to visit us a number of times over the years and I remember we would celebrate Christmas in July when they came for their visits. We would set up a small tree in the basement and play Christmas music while opening stocking gifts. We would also play Mitch Miller records and sing along to them. One thing my Uncle and Aunt could do were yoddle and whistle a tune.

What made my mother's relationship with my Uncle so important is that she lost most of her family at such a young age.  Tillie's brother, Al was her only family after her father died when she was 17 years old. She lived with my Aunt and Uncle until she was married,

Alfred died on April 16, 1988 after he had a stroke that placed in the hospital. Margie died a few years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer on January 1994.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ottillie Jaeger

Ottillie Jaeger was born On October 31, 1878 in Alsace Lorraine." Ottilie is a female given name stemming from the medieval German boy's name Otto and meaning "riches", "wealth" or "prosperity". It has never become very popular in modern culture and has remained very low on popularity rankings only reaching its peak in 1880 when it reached almost 600th position in the US. Ottilie is a much more common first name in German-speaking countries."

 She came to America with my Grandmother, Gertrude Grossholtz and arrived on October 14, 1895 aboard the ship Le Gerciogne. By 1910 she was living at 464 Amterdam Avenue in Manhattan with her future husband, Frederick Christian Solz who was 40 years old and was born in Germany around 1870. He had immigrated from Germany in 1881.
At that time Frederick was listed as working in a delicatessen. Ottilie married Frederick Solz on June 13, 1916 in Manhattan. In 1925 Ottilie returned to France probably to visit family. She sailed back to America on the Suffren leaving from Le Havre, France. She was 46 at the time and her husband Frederick traveled with her.

Ottilie and Frederick continued to live in Brooklyn and they ran a boarding house in the 1930's and 40's. At one point my grandmother's relative George Grossholtz lived in Ottilie and Frederick's boarding house and was listed as a nephew in the 1920 Census he immigrated to America in 1911 when he was 16 years old and was born in 1894 on August 10th, according to George's World War II Draft Registration Cards in 1942. George was born in Neuhausel, Alsace, Germany and immigrated to America from Antwerp, Belgium leaving Belgium on October 15, 1910 and arrive on the Vaderland on October 15, 1910.  On September 8, 1921 he petitioned for Naturalization. At this time he was married to wife Grace who was born on February 16, 1901 in Munich, Germany. The couple had two children, Grace Josephine born April 20, 1921 and George Joseph born July 23, 1922. In 1921 they lived at 1692 2nd Avenue in Manhattan.  He died in August 1971 at age of 77 and his last place of residence was Suffolk County, New York.

My mother was named after Ottilie when she was born. Her Godmother was Ottilie Solz a wonderful women who remained friends with the family until her death. When my sister, Barbara Ann Koferl was born my mother asked her godmother, Ottilie to be the godmother.

They returned a number of times to France to visit relatives, Ottilie had a brother, Joseph Jaeger who owned a farm in Neuhaeusel at 47 Neuhaeusel 67, France. When Frederick died Ottillie returned home to France to live on her brother's farm for the rest of her days. Her last know resident in the states was 234 Berkeley Place, Brooklyn. She died at the age of 87 on July 2, 1966. She is interred at the cemetery in Neuhaeusel.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gertrude Grossholtz

Gertrude Grossholtz was born in Alsace Lorraine in Germany in 1879. She was 17 and worked on a farm when she decided to immigrate to America. She left her home and family and traveled to Le Havre, France. I wonder about her trip did she take a train and then a ferry to get to Le Havre. When she boarded Le Garcione what did she carry with her a favorite broach as seen in the photograph, earrings and necklace. Gertrude traveled with her friend Ottillie Jeager. What did these two friends experience on their voyage?

Le Garcione was launched in 1886 and was part of the French Line. Gertrude boarded the ship and was assigned to the ladies aft compartment. Gertrude might have shared a bunk with another single woman. Once aboard she might have done some exploring and discovered there were five decks. I don't know what deck she was on but I would imagine it was one of the lower decks.

The trip took between seven to ten days to cross the Atlantic Ocean, quite a difference in the twenty-two days it would have taken prior to steam engines. Captain Buedlon is depicted in the photograph found below. I don't know if she was considered steerage or not. If she was she would have been seen by a doctor before leaving Le Havre. The Doctor would determine if she was fit for travel. The meals were simple but good. Gertrude would have eaten her meals with the rest of her class in a simple dinning saloon unlike the one depicted in the photograph below.  In October you could get hurricanes or squalls. The weather could toss you around in your bunk or if you dared to go  anywhere else in the ship during these terrible storms. A smell of oil would penetrate steerage making you sick from it.

Gertrude arrived at Ellis Island on October 14, 1895. She was ushered into the large hall were she was asked numerous questions and given an extensive examination which would test her for seventeen diseases. She was one of the lucky ones who did not Receive a calk mark for deportation. "Generally, those immigrants who were approved spent from two to five hours at Ellis Island. Arrivals were asked 29 questions including name, occupation, and the amount of money carried. It was important to the American government that the new arrivals could support themselves and have money to get started. The average the government wanted the immigrants to have was between 18 and 25 dollars. Those with visible health problems or diseases were sent home or held in the island's hospital facilities for long periods of time. "

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grandfather Ohnmacht's Bakery Shop

My maternal grandparents were long time bakers and they owned two bakeries in Manhattan. My grandfather came to this country in 1892 from Germany. I can only imagine  what life was like during this time.

The interior of the bakery was typical of the period. The walls were covered with wall paper.  A high tin ceiling  with large fans and light fixtures. There were wooden tables and chairs for the customers who were enjoying a cup of coffee and a pastry. The long counter was wooden with a marble top were food could be prepared and served. There were cabinets behind the counter which displayed breads and pastry. The school clock on the wall displayed the correct time and the customers who were working relied upon the clock so that would return to work on time. The pans on the counter were used to make the tarts.

The women depicted in the photograph who is serving the food is my grandmother, Gertrude who spent much of the daytime cleaning and serving food. The floor was tiled and shined as proof of her labor. The cabinets show signs of being polished often. The man standing directly across from her with the mustache is my grandfather, Gottlieb Ohnmacht. They were married in 1900 and the photograph was taken some where within a ten year span of that date.

I can imagine myself walking into the bakery. Opening up the door the store bell would ring as it was jarred into life. Immediately the smell of fresh baked goods would encircle you and your mouth would begin to salivate. Mohnbrotchen (Poppy Rolls), Hefekranz (Yeast Braid), Butterhornchen (Butter Crescents), Haselnussring (Hazelnut Ring), Nusskipfel (Nut Crescents), Streuselkuchen (Crumb Cake) and Apfelkuchen ( Apple Cake) to name a few of the plentiful breads and cakes waiting to be devoured. Many of the customers were having coffee with whip cream in it along with their tart or roll.

When my mother Ottillia was a young girl around five years old she could look out her tenement window and see the bakery. When she was ready for breakfast she would peer out the window and my grandmother would  be watching from the bakery window.  Gertrude would quickly go to the apartment to feed her daughter breakfast. After breakfast Ottillia would join her parents in the bakery. At this time in the 1920's they lived at 2219 8th Avenue which is now Frederick Douglas Blvd. Today there is a Chocolatier at this address.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I never knew my Grandparents...

As far as I know this is a photograph of my father's parents or my grandparents on my paternal side. I know very little about my grandfather. Henry Joseph Koferl was born in 1866 and his wife Anna Maule was born in 1882. As far as I can tell they were never married because there are no marriage records for them. I do know that each of them were married previously and both of them had children from their first marriage. My father, Joseph Henry was born on November 16, 1915 and was the only child born from their relationship. They lived in New York City and my Grandfather was a jeweler by trade.

 They moved to Lindenhurst some time between 1910 and 1920. My Grandfather for a time managed two stores on Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst. One of them was a cigar store and the other was a jewelers. My father as a small child use to crawl between the two stores through a passageway that existed in the stores. The passageway was accessed through the cabinets that ran along one wall in both stores. This is one of the precious stories that I have of my father's childhood.

Henry Joseph's father, Henry and mother, Amelia Fanrenthal resided in Brooklyn according to the 1870 census. At age 14 he was listed in the City Directory as a jeweler residing at 182 Johnson Avenue in Brooklyn. In 1892 he married Pauline Nieman, they had one son August Frank Koferl who was born in 1893. He died at the age of 56 in Lindenhurst, Long Island on November 5, 1923 after a short illness and was buried in Linden Hill Methodist Cemetery in Queens. My father said that he was fixing the roof of the house and fell. My Grandmother, Anna Maule lived in Babylon till her death on January 19, 1939.

Above are two maps of property in Lindenhurst. One specifically shows the Jewelers shop in Lindenhurst, thats the 1915 map or the top map.