52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Lucky

Last week, I examined some of the hardships that my 4th great grandmother, Anna Krieg Althauser, faced first as the wife of a neglectful and disagreeable husband and then as an impoverished widow. Her strength of character served her well in trying times, and I couldn’t be more impressed with her actions. This week, I will continue her story by highlighting a little bit of good fortune that changed her life and the lives of her children.

Difficult Circumstances

As was covered in the previous post, Anna’s husband died at the young at of 44 on 9 July 1852. At the time of his death the ages of their children were: Pauline 19, Andreas 17, Jakob Friedrich 12, Johann Jakob 9, and Wilhelm 6. Anna was now completely without a support system. Not only had her own parents immigrated to the United States fifteen years earlier and died there, but all of her siblings and their spouses resided in Ohio. Both sets of Anna’s grandparents (Andreas Krieg and Ursula Fiand/Johann Georg Mörch and Anna Maria Göltzlin) had been dead for many years. None of her father’s siblings lived to adulthood. A few first cousins were still living in Opfingen, children of her mother’s younger brother and older sister, but records do not indicate if they were in the position to help Anna.

Not even her husband’s relatives were able to provide assistance. Both of Jakob’s parents, Jakob Simeon and Anna, were deceased, and as Jakob was their only child, there were no brothers or sisters-in-law for Anna to lean on. Like Anna, both sets of Jakob’s grandparents (Simon Althauser and Judith Schumacher/Johann Sutter and Sophie Buchmüller) had died decades before. One of Jakob’s aunts was still living as were some of his first cousins, but again, based on the research I have done so far, his relatives did not come to her aide, either.

Without an effective kinship network to rely on, Anna was literally on her own, and she and her children were dependent on the good will of the towns people and alms.

But her luck was about to change!

Lucky Circumstances

Anna kept in contact with her parents and siblings post immigration. She knew they had settled in Cincinnati and had begun their new lives in a foreign country where they did not speak the language and were not familiar with the customs. I do not know if Anna wished that she and Jakob had immigrated with them in 1837, or if at the time, she was content to remain in Germany with her husband. But it makes me wonder if she regretted staying behind, or if it was Jakob who did not want to leave Baden.

She would have been informed of her father’s death between 1840 and 1850, as well as the death of her mother Barbara on 25 July 1849 of cholera. After Jakob’s death, other than her children, her siblings in America were her closest living relatives. Knowing her struggles, Anna’s siblings (I am unsure which ones) encouraged her to immigrate to Cincinnati. The only obstacle was the price of the tickets as of course, if she left Opfingen, her children would be coming with her. Not only would she have to pay for her ticket, but somehow find the money to pay for 5 others.

But here is where luck played a part! When Anna’s immediate family immigrated, they sold everything they had to cover the cost of their tickets. After living in the US for fifteen years, they had prospered, and together, her siblings were able to come up with 160 Taler (or Thaler, German silver coins), a little over a third of the total price of the tickets. A friend of the family and fellow immigrant from the German states, Johannes Hoffman, just so happened to be returning to his home town in Prussia in 1853. He generously agreed to bring the 160 Taler to Anna before his return journey home.

Anna knew of this plan and probably helped to arrange it. Once she could be assured that Hoffman would deliver the money to her, she petitioned the Grand Land Office of Baden for permission to immigrate to the United States. The rest of the travel money needed, about 150 Gulden, would be supplied by the village of Opfingen. At first, I was surprised that the community would help her to immigrate, but it seems that it was more practical for it to shell out a one-time fee rather than have 6 people dependent on the town coffers for an indefinite number of years.

Anna’s children and their birth dates.

Anna was very fortunate to find a way to escape her present predicament. She was not only fortunate that her siblings were able to help pay for her to leave Baden, but it was also lucky that Johannes Hoffman was sailing back to the German states at just the right time. Lastly, she was fortunate that the village of Opfingen had enough money to cover the rest of her travel fees. This little bit of luck allowed her to essentially start over in a new land with her relatives and children, and it provided her children with opportunities that they might not have had if they had remained in Baden.

Immigration

On 8 September 1853, Anna and her children were approved for immigration, and after Anna and her children purchased her tickets and received their passports (both of which were needed to travel across France), they were ready to travel to Le Havre! They likely had to bring their own provisions for the journey, and although I am not sure how they traveled, they probably used France’s train system. Le Havre was a popular destination for German immigrants who lived in western Germany.

Anna and her children boarded the Helvetia, a packet ship bound for New York City. The Helvetia pulled out of Le Havre on 30 October 1853 with 391 passengers including the Althausers. As the ship left, and Anna and her children saw Europe slip away, I wonder if they were sad or if they knew that none of them would ever see Baden or their hometown again. Again, Anna showed her incredible bravery in the face or a challenge. I can’t even imagine how intimidating it would be to travel thousands of miles to a new country with children (although most were over 10 years) and not being able to speak English. If she was nervous or scared, she didn’t let those emotions change her mind.

After almost a month at sea, the Helvetia arrived safely in New York harbor on 28 November 1853. The New York Times reported that there were only two deaths on board, the ship doctor and a small child. Fortunately, Anna and her five children all arrived healthy. New York was not the Althauser family’s final destination; they soon left the city and traveled west to Cincinnati where they were presumably greeted by Anna’s siblings and their spouses.

Post Immigration

1860 Census, Cincinnati, Ohio

Anna settled in a house on Western Avenue in Cincinnati. Her two youngest sons, Johann Jakob and Wilhelm, both attended schools in town, the older sons found trades, and Pauline married a immigrant from Bavaria, Joseph Beck. By 1870, Anna was ill with cancer, and she and Wilhelm began living with Pauline and her family. Anna succumbed to cancer on 27 February 1877, and the funeral took place on 1 March. She was buried at the Spring Grove Cemetery on 3 April 1877 at 3:00 in the afternoon.

Anna’s legacy as a strong woman stayed with her descendants. She created a bright future for her children, and her actions changes all of their lives for the better. Andreas and Jakob Friedrich both worked in the distillery business in Cincinnati and Louisville respectively. Wilhelm became the foreman of the largest distillery in Tennessee and later owned a lumber business. Johann Jakob became a carpenter and Pauline’s husband seemed to be a man of many talents, working at different times as an engineer and distiller. It seems all of Anna’s children were devoted to her; several grandchildren and even some great grandchildren were named for her. Such an amazing woman deserves to be remembered for many more generations to come.

 

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