Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Erwina Hagen

Erwina Hagen was born on June 5, 1900 in Austria. Last place she resided in Austria according to the Ellis Island Passenger Record was Bregenz. Bregenz is the capital of Vorarlberg, the westernmost federal state of Austria. The city is located on the eastern shores of Lake Constance, the third-largest freshwater lake in Central Europe, between Switzerland in the west and Germany in the northwest.The city is situated on a plateau falling in a series of terraces to the lake at the foot of Pfander mountain. It is a junction of the arterial roads from the Rhine valley to the German Alphine foothills, with cruise ship services on Lake Constance.

Erwina was only 22 traveling to America by herself. She traveled on the Mount Clay ship which departed from Hamburg approximately one week prior to arriving on December 12, 1922. Built for Hamburg-American Line, German flag, in 1904 and renamed Prinz Eitel Friedrich. Hamburg-New York service. Laid-up 1916-17. Seized by US Government, in 1917 and renamed USS De Kalb. Troop transport service. ID SP 1628. Transferred to United American Lines, in 1920 and renamed Mount Clay. Hamburg-New York service. Laid up 1925-34. Scrapped in 1934.

By 1930 Census she was living in the Village of Lindenhurst on Long Island.  Her husband Adolph Ohnmacht was a cousin of my mother, Tillie Ohnmacht. He was working as a baker and owned his own home which was valued at $5,000. Walter their two year old son was born on February 16, 1928. Eugene, Adolph's younger brother was living with them at the time and was working as a manager of a butcher store. By the 1940 census Eugene had married Anna who had immigrated from Austria and was living on Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn and still working as a butcher. By that time Eugene was naturalized and had immigrated from Germany in 1924.

My memories of Erwina are of a lovely woman with clear blue eyes, snow white hair and a beautiful smile which lit up her face. When my mother gave birth to twins (Stephen and Mary Ann Koferl), she asked to be their Godparents, Erwina and her son Walter who was now 25.

The other memories I have of my Aunt Erwina is the Summer we did not have a pool, my Aunt took us each week to the beach for the day. Mom would make a picnic lunch and we would have a great time at the beach. We would see our Aunt often for she would visit us and spend the day at our house telling stories while helping my Mother with the laundry and mending. She always would bring her dog Ginger who we loved to play with. She also learned how to drive later on in life after her husband, Adolph passed away.

Aunt Erwina and Uncle Adolph owned a bakery in town and they would always bring the best desserts to the house. I remember when the bakery had a fire we received a lot of baked good from their store that they were unable to sell due to the fire. Today the bakery is known as the Black Forest Bakery in Lindenhurst and was sold several times after my Aunt and Uncle owned it.

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