Thursday, August 18, 2016

John Lewis, Union Soldier and Prisoner of War

A while back I received a gift from a 91-years-young cousin.  He had all the pages of his mother’s scrapbook scanned and copies sent to me.  Among the newspaper clippings was an obituary “Death of Mrs. Samuel Herbert”.  Mrs. Samuel Herbert was born Jane Lewis.  The notice mentions that she was predeceased by her brother, John Lewis, who died in Andersonville Prison.  This was news to me – I had never heard this before.

Jane Lewis Herbert Obituary

What did I know about my 3rd Great-Grand Uncle?  John Lewis was born about 1831-32 in Dutchess County, New York to John Lewis and Esther Hudson.  His parents were born and married in Yorkshire, England and came to the US shortly before he was born.  John had two older sisters, Sarah, and Ann Jane, called Jane or Jennie, my 3rd great-grandmother, who were both born in England.

According to the Portrait and Biographical Album of Livingston County (1888), John Lewis (the father of John)…”came to America with his family in 1831, settled in the city of New York, where he engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes, afterward removing to Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, and engaging in the same business, which occupation he followed until he died.”

On 14 August 1850, John is enumerated in the US Federal Census living in the town of Fishkill in Dutchess County, New York.  He is an eighteen year old shoemaker, living with his parents John and Esther and his married sister Sarah and her husband Phillip Ward.  His sister Jane had married Samuel Herbert in 1848 and lived nearby in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Sometime between 1850 and 1860, John’s father John died and he and his mother moved west to Illinois with his two sisters and their husbands. According to his brother-in-law Samuel Herbert’s obituary the Herbert family came to Illinois in 1857.  It would be reasonable to believe that John and his mother traveled with them, if his father had already died.

On 5 July 1860, John is enumerated in the US Federal Census living in Pontiac, Livingston County, Illinois.  He is listed as a Plastering Mason, living with his widowed mother Esther in the home of his brother-in-law and sister, Samuel and Jane Herbert, along with their children.

In June 1863, he registered for the draft in Livingston County.  He entered the service 5 Jan 1864, with a muster date of 12 Jan 1864 at Joliet, Illinois as a Private in Company K of the 39th Illinois Infantry.  He was about 32 years old.
Draft registration - Civil War

I looked for evidence that John was in and/or died in Andersonville Prison.  I checked  for John Lewis and found 2 possible suspects in the Andersonville Prisoner of War database but no exact match.  There were also a number of John Lewis’ named in the US Army, Register of Enlistments database but again no exact match.  So I wondered did he really die at Andersonville or was he just a prisoner there?  I was suspicious of a newspaper account 30 years after the fact.

I went to  and checked the NARA database of Civil War Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900.  There were two men listed as John Lewis that requested pensions on their own behalf as invalids:  John Lewis, Private, Illinois, Infantry, Regiment 90, Company D and John Lewis, Corporal, Illinois Infantry, Regiment 111, Company H.  Another request was from the mother of John Lewis, Private, Illinois Infantry, Regiment 39, Company K who died at Andersonville Prison on September 23, 1864.  This last one looked promising, but was it really MY John Lewis?

Pension Index

I went to check for Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls.  In the Illinois regiments listing I found over 25 men named John Lewis on the muster rolls, including the three from the pension database.   I was able to see (and save) the Illinois Civil War Detail report on my three suspects.  This detail report includes Name, Rank, Residence, Age, Height, Hair  and Eye color, Complexion, Marital status,  Occupation, Location of birth; when and where they joined; where and when they mustered in and out of service; and remarks including notes about discharge and where they were taken prisoner.    I was able to verify that the John Lewis who died in Andersonville Sep 23, 1864 was my John Lewis.  His report showed that he was born in Dutchess County, New York, a mason and was “taken prisoner May 16, 1864 at Drury’s Bluff, Virginia.”

John Lewis Military Detail

I found the History of the 39th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry (John Lewis’ unit) and saved this excerpt (highlights are mine):

“After the Regiment had been recruited to seven hundred and fifty (750) strong, it left, early in March 1864, for Washington, D.C., and from thence sailed to Georgetown, Virginia, where in was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, Tenth Army Corps. It then embarked, the 5th day of May 1864, with General Butler's expedition up the James River. On reaching Bermuda Hundred, the Regiment took the advance on the march into the interior for several miles, when the entire command was halted, and entrenchment’s thrown up. After remaining for a day or two, the whole column was moved forward to Drury's Bluff. The Thirty-ninth was located on the extreme left of General Butler's command on the 16th of May 1864, when the entire force under Butler was attacked and driven back. The Regiment was at one time completely surrounded by the enemy, but succeeding in cutting their way out, after great loss. To use General Butler's own words, "the Thirty-ninth fought most gallantly, and have suffered most severely". Colonel Osborn, Major Linton, Captain Phillips, Captain Wheeler, Lieutenant Kidder and Lieutenant Kingsbury were all wounded - the latter losing an arm. Captain James Wightman and Adjutant J. D. Walker were killed while gallantly cheering on the men. The entire loss in this engagement, including killed, wounded and missing, reached nearly 200 hundred (200).”   The entire history of the regiment can be found at

John and the other prisoners were taken first to Libby Prison in Richmond Virginia.  His mother may have seen the following newspaper article.

At some point John and his fellow prisoners were transferred to Andersonville.  According to the Civil War Trust web site: “The first prisoners were brought to Andersonville in late February 1864. During the next few months, approximately 400 more arrived each day. By the end of June, 26,000 men were penned in an area originally meant for only 10,000 prisoners. The largest number held at any one time was more than 33,000 in August 1864. The Confederate government could not provide adequate housing, food, clothing or medical care to their Federal captives because of deteriorating economic conditions in the South, a poor transportation system, and the desperate need of the Confederate army for food and supplies.”

This means that John, being captured in May 1864, was sent to Andersonville while it was still fairly new and died when it was near its highest population.

Also from the Civil War Trust:
“When General William T. Sherman’s Union forces occupied Atlanta, Georgia on September 2, 1864, bringing Federal cavalry columns within easy striking distance of Andersonville, Confederate authorities moved most of the prisoners to other camps in South Carolina and coastal Georgia. From then until April 1865, Andersonville was operated in a smaller capacity.”

A sketch of Andersonville Prison by John L. Ransom, author of Andersonville Diary, Escape and List of the Dead. Areas of the sketch are numbered, the labels at the bottom are transcribed below: 1. Head Quarters, 2. Rebel Camp. 3. Hospital, 4. Cook House, 5. Death House, 6. Death Line, 7. The Island, 8. Sutler's Camp, 9. Police Quarters. 10. Hospitals along the Death Line. 11. Market Street, 12. Broad Street, 13. Inside Stockade, 14. Second Line Stockade, 15. Third Line Stockade, 16. Lieut. Head Quarters, 17. Washing Place, 18. Rifle Pits, 19. Astor House Mess.  This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pga.02585

This time-frame of moving of the prisoners suggests that John Lewis was too ill to be moved and therefore died in Andersonville.  The movement of the prisoners and the confusion that must have ensued could also explain why some records I found for John did not specifically state he died at Andersonville, but said “no discharge furnished”.

Here is a report of the conditions found at Andersonville in August 1864, a month before John Lewis died from The Pantagraph, (Bloomington Illinois) 23 Sep 1865, Sat, Page1
“…we respectfully submit the following as causes of disease and mortality. 
1rst. The large number of prisoners crowded together.
 2nd. The entire absence of all vegetables as a diet, so necessary as a preventative of scurvy.
3rd. The want of barracks to shelter prisoners from sun and rain.
4th. The inadequate supply of food and good water.
5th. Badly cooked food.
6th. The filthy condition of the prisoners.
7th. The morbid emanations form the branch or ravine passing through the prison, the condition of which cannot be better explained that by naming it a morass of human excrement and mud.”

Based on the accounts of Andersonville conditions, it would be reasonable to assume that John Lewis died weak, emaciated, malnourished, and sick on 23 Sep 1864.  I assume he suffered, but hopefully someone, perhaps a friend was with him at the end.

According to The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) 26 Aug 1865, Sat Page 1 there were about 500 prisoners who were buried of which no records were kept and so could not be identified.  About 13,000 were identified and given grave-markers.

I still have questions:  Was he able to write or receive letters from his mother and family?  How and when did his mother learn of his death?  

Marker at Andersonville

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Do You Want Responses To Your Inquiry?

Help me help you!

I received this contact yesterday via Ancestry. I do not know if it is referring to a tree connection or a DNA match.

For a quick response, it would be helpful to know what tree on Ancestry (I manage over ten trees on Ancestry) and what person in the tree you are interested in. For DNA connections, I would like the same information.

Here is an real email I received (I couldn't make this up!).  
Tue, Sep 22, 2015 at 8:00 AM:
It seems we are related :) how are you?  I don't know any of my relatives so I'm trying to find them.
Merry Christmas

I have DNA kits at three different testing companies.  I manage a number of family DNA kits.  How do you think I should respond?

This email is slightly more helpful:

Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 12:31 PM:
Dear Bobby,

I am writing to you as Family Finder shows that you are my cousin. If you would like to get in touch with me to share our search results I would be very grateful.

Looking forward to hear from you soon,
Your cousin,

Here is an example of one I can respond to with some real information:

Sun, Nov 8, 2015 at 7:23 PM,
Subject: GEDMatch to KAK48

My mother (Axxx719) and I (Axxx205) have matching regions with KAK48 kit on GEDMatch.
I am interested in trying to identify our common ancestor.

Our ancestors are from Sweden, Finland, and Germany (Prussia, Pommerania). Does KAK48 have ancestors from any of these regions?

Thank you,

Here is one I sent that received a quick response:

Subject:  Gedmatch Connection to [kit numbers]
Hi Grace,

It appears you and Art are a cousin match to my husband Bruce B and his aunt Marion Brennan Enich (MBE97).  They are also connected via paper trail and DNA back to Norwegian immigrants.  Family names include Knutsen/Knudsen, Gunderson and Marcusen.

Would you be willing to see how you all connect?  The family tree is on Ancestry as a public tree Primas Brennan Family

Here are some requests of mine, if you would like to receive a response from me.
  • Use an interest catching Subject like “Gedmatch - Autosomal DNA Match - Raymond Smith”, not “Hello Cousin” or “We Match!”  If you use one of the latter, it’s may go to the spam folder or be low priority to read and respond.
  • Identify the person(s) you are trying to connect with or about.  In the case of DNA matching, do not assume the email is going to the tested person.  I manage many kits for others and need to know who you want to know about.  I also manage trees for other folks, so let me know what tree the person you are inquiring about is found in.  Where you found the tree would be helpful as well.  All my trees are not on Ancestry.
  • Please tell me the name of the tree and where you found it, along with the name of the person in question.
  • Include the testing company, kit numbers and/or names for DNA matching.
  • Give me a brief description of what you are working on/looking for in contact requests. Example: “My mother's family were German Lutherans. My mother was born in Volhynia, and the family was there from the mid to late 1800s up until 1941 when the Russians expelled the Germans.  I am looking for family connections.
  • A pedigree chart in pdf format would be helpful as well as link to an on-line tree.
  • Be courteous and gracious. Say please and thank you.  I am responding in my precious spare time.
  • Avoid sending messages with misspellings, incorrect grammar or abbreviated texting language.  If you are sloppy in your communications, what is your research like?  There are instances of incorrect grammar when I get emails from non-English speaking folks or through a translation engine, which is understandable.

I do not think I am alone in hoping (asking) for better and clearer communication among genealogists.  It would make it easier for us to help each other.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lost and Found

Over the years, I have requested birth, marriage and death certificates.  Occasionally, I receive ones that upon examination, are not my kin.  I cannot through them away, as I know how precious they might be to others.  So I am going to post them here hopefully to be found by their correct kin.

Certificate of Stillbirth

Baby Kerlev/Kerler/Karlov  (handwriting is not very legible)
Born: October 14, 1945 at St Joseph Hospital in Chicago, Illinois
Father: Frank J Kerlev/Kerler/Karlov, 29 years old, born in Urbana, Illinois, machine operator 
Mother: Dorothy Davis, 27 years old, born in Chicago, Illinois, housewife

Marriage certificates

Name of Husband: Osmond Jensen
Residence of husband:  Columbia County, Wisconsin
Name of wife previous to marriage:  Julia Holverson
Marriage date: March 7, 1857
Place: Arris Village, Sauk County, Wisconsin

Death certificates

Anna Katie Cook
White, female, widow, age 31 years old
Name of father: William Shaker
Name of mother:  Christine Heller
Date of birth of deceased: Mar 29, 1866
Birth place of deceased: Hanover, Wisconsin
Name of husband:  William Cook
Date of death: Dec 7, 1898
Residence at time of death:  Janesville, Wisconsin

Louise Melcher
White, female, married, age 43 years old
Birth date: Nov 3, 1898
Birth place:  Madison, Nebraska
Date of death: Aug 20, 1942
Place of residence: 3030 Fulton Blvd, Chicago, Illinois
Husband:  George Melcher
Parents:  Frank Nathan, Wilhelmina Born

Minnie Melcher
White, female, married, age 62 years old
Birth date:  May 18, 1882
Birthplace: Dalton, Illinois
Date of death: Oct 20, 1944
Place of residence:  Wheatfield, Indiana
Husband:  Louis Melcher
Place of death: St. George Hospital, Chicago, Illinois
Cause of death ruptured appendix
Parents:  Jens Larson, born in Sweden; Sophia Wittorp, born in Germany

Louis Melcher
White, male, widower, age 87 years old
Birth date: Sep 16, 1835
Birthplace:  Germany
Occupation:  Railroad Cabinet maker for the Pullman Company
Date of death: Mar 21, 1923
Place of death:  (home) 11825 S Princeton Ave, Chicago, Illinois
Wife:  Albatina Melcher
Parents:  John Melcher, born in Germany; Anna (unknown maiden name) born in Germany

Daniel Ross
White, male
Occupation of deceased: locomotive fireman
Age: 37 years old
Name of Father: Frederick M Ross
Name of mother:  Isabella Ross
Birthplace of deceased: New York City
Name of wife:  none
Condition:  single
Death: November 7, 1898
Residence at Time of Death:  Baraboo, Wisconsin
Cause of death:  traumatic pneumonia, injury to lungs as result of an accident
Place of death:  Janesville, Wisconsin
Duration of disease:  2 days
Place of burial: Walnut Hill Cemetery, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Ragna Westby
White, female, married, age 53 years old
Birth date: Aug 9, 1879
Birthplace:  Norway
Date of death: Oct 15, 1932
Place of death: (home) 3326 Narragansett, Chicago, Illinois
Husband:  Julius Westby
Parents: August Krogfloss; mother not known
Burial:  Perry Cemetery, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Railroad Records - Found!

WOW!! I used the Genealogy Quick Look service to find my grandfather's railroad records.  He worked for the Chicago North Western Railroad in the 1940-50s.

Genealogy Quick Look provides an index to a portion of resources available through the Midwest Genealogy Center as well as inactive pension claims from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. Search the index by name and/or date. If you locate a resource, you will have an opportunity to request it from the source organization. 

First I reviewed the index using the Quick Look form (shown here).  Then I sent an email to the address indicated in the instructions. I received a reply within 2 days from Desiree an Archives Technician at NARA in Atlanta.   She gave me an option to receive the full file which was over 200 pages or an abbreviated version of each file and copy the 25 pages most relevant to genealogical research for $20.00 apiece. 

I chose the $20 file, and received it electronically 30 minutes after I called in my credit card info! (They also allow you to mail in a check and receive paper copies.)

I was amazed at the information that was supplied in the file.  Copies of death and birth records, medical reports, and other family related details. 

Thank you Mid-Continent Public Library and NARA!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Samuel Peyton Clay

A few years ago a “cousin” of mine found this photo on eBay and sent me the link.  I bid on it to keep it in the family.   This is a family portrait of four generations. The family members and their ages are all inscribed on the reverse in ink.   

Four generations of Samuel P Clay Family

The older couple in question is my third great-granduncle Samuel Peyton Clay (brother to my great-grandmother Henrietta Clay) and my third great-grandaunt, his wife Emily Kell (sister to my great-grandfather William Trego Kell).  William T Kell and Henrietta Clay were married three years after Samuel and Emily.  

Based on my research of the family and the information on the back of the photo, it appears that this picture was taken in 1914, shortly before Samuel died.

The notes on the reverse side of the picture indicate that the gentleman in the center is “Mr. Samuel Patton Clay, age 80 yrs,” and the seated woman is “Mrs. Emily Kell Clay, age 76 yrs.” The woman between them is “Mrs. Ella Clay Selby, age 51 yrs."  Mrs. Selby's daughter and her two children are, “Mrs. Emma Selby Funk, 26 yrs, “Pauline Funk, 2 1/2 yrs,” and “Elbert Eugene Funk, 15 mos.”    By researching Emma Clay Selby I learned that I was eligible to join the DAR, which I did! 

I posted the original picture with my contact information on various web sites hoping to find a direct descendant cousin from this family that will cherish it. And I did!  It is now with a descendant of that family.

 Samuel Peyton Clay

Samuel P Clay

Samuel Peyton Clay was the fifth child and third son, born on 11 March 1834, in Bourbon County, Kentucky, to John Ingram Clay (1790-1873) and his second wife, Martha "Patsy" Alice Eldridge (c. 1800-1853).  His parents moved to Clark County, Missouri in 1834, shortly after his birth.  At that time Clark County was uncharted territory. 

Samuel and Emily Kell

He married Emily Kell, daughter of Benjamin Kell and Rhuema Beckner, on 01 Nov 1858 in Clark County, Missouri. Emily was born on 12 Nov 1837 in Indiana. She died on 30 Dec 1916 in Kahoka, Clark, Missouri.

Marriage Record

Samuel and Emily had 9 known children – 7 girls and 2 boys – and one adopted son.
Laura Clay was born in Sep 1858 in Missouri. She died on 03 Dec 1944. She married William P Dow on 07 Mar 1875 in Clark, Missouri.

Ruhama Jean Clay was born on 28 Oct 1860 in Clark County, Missouri. She died on 25 Apr 1923 in Clark County, Missouri. She married Roy Sharts on 25 May 1884 in Clark County, Missouri.

Ella Jackson Clay was born on 24 Jun 1863 in Clark County, Missouri. She died on 18 Oct 1947 in Kirksville, Adair County, Missouri. She married Hiram Selby on 30 Aug 1885 in Clark County, Missouri.

Effie Clay was born on 05 Dec 1865 in Missouri. She died on 09 Jan 1950 in Madison, Clark County, Missouri. She married James Murphy on 23 Sep 1889 in Clark County, Missouri.

Martha Clay was born on 13 Dec 1869 in Missouri. She died on 01 Aug 1896 in Clark County, Missouri.  She married Peter T Briggs on 02 Mar 1892 in Kahoka, Clark County, Missouri.

Marion L Clay was born on 28 Jan 1872 in Clark County, Missouri. He died on 03 Dec 1944 in Kahoka, Clark County, Missouri. He married Adaline V Woodruff on 28 Jun 1900.

Emma Clay was born in December 1875 in Clark County, Missouri. She married Henry Raleigh Fleming on 28 Dec 1898 in Clark County, Missouri.

George C Clay, unknown birth and death dates probably between 1880 and 1900, believed to have died in childhood.

Mary Clay, unknown birth and death dates probably between 1880 and 1900, believed to have died in childhood.

John Shannon was listed as adopted in the household of Samuel Clay in the 1900 US Census for Jackson Township, Clark County, Missouri.  His birth is listed as May 1885 in Missouri. The records show there may be two John Shannons in Clark County in 1900, so as this is the only record of his relationship with Samuel, I cannot make further comment.

Samuel is found on the Civil War Draft Registration Record for Clark County, Missouri.  He is listed as living in Union Township, a 30 year old, white, farmer, married, and born in Kentucky with no previous military service.

Civil War Draft Registration

During the Civil War, Samuel supported the Southern cause and served under Confederate Major General Sterling Price. According to a 1890 Missouri Veterans Schedule as part of the U.S. Census for Jackson Township, Clark County, Missouri it was claimed that Samuel served as a private for 10 months from Sep 1862 until Jun 1863 in Company B of the 16th Missouri Cavalry (6th Provisional Regiment) of the Confederate Army.

1890 Veterans Schedule

In the 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900 US Censuses for Jackson Township, Clark County, Missouri, he is listed as Head of Household and a farmer.   In 1896 a land plat of the county showed he had several land holdings on the west side of the county.  Nearby are related family farms.

Samuel Clay properties

He died at the age of 81 of cancer of the stomach in 26 Nov 1914 in Kahoka, Clark County, Missouri.  He is buried in Kahoka Cemetery in Kahoka, Clark County, Missouri.  His wife Emily survived him by two years.

Death Certificate

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Follow up on Stephen Brennan

In a previous post on Stephen Brennan I mentioned he was one of my “brick walls”.  I am happy to report that there is now a chink in the wall. 

Recently released its indexed collection U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 which has Social Security Applications and Claims from 1936-2007.  I looked up Stephen Francis Brennan to see what I might find.  I found Steve Frances Brennan.

So I sent for the original document.  It only took about two weeks to receive it.  It confirms everything I have on Stephen to date with the only new information being his parents’ names.  Interesting to see his actual signature.

Of course, ever since I found this clue, I have been looking for William and Margaret Brennan with the known children.  I have searched every known combination with and without surnames.   Marion had mentioned that there were Brennan relatives near West Chicago, Illinois.  I found a William and Margaret in the US Census in Winfield which is near West Chicago, but am not able to confirm they are “my” William and Margaret Brennan. Another brick wall to chip away at… 

According to Marion (Stephen’s daughter) this picture is of Margaret (perhaps know as Maggie?) and her daughter Mary.

Anyone recognize them?  Please let me know!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Benjamin Petrich and Pauline Stroech

Will the real Benjamin Petrich please come forward?

I have a 3rd great uncle named Benjamin Petrich (sometimes found as Gottlieb Benjamin) who is the brother to my 2nd great-grandmother Susanna Petrich Stroschein.  He was also married to my 3rd great-aunt Julianna (sister to my 2nd great-grandfather Friedrich Primas).  Are you confused yet? He and I are related two different ways.

Benjamin has been easy to find in on-line research as he left many children and grandchildren in the USA.  The descendants’ story was that he had been married twice in Prussia before coming to the USA and marrying a third time.  My 3rd Great-Aunt Julianna (Primas) was his first wife.

Pauline Stroech was married to Benjamin Petrich and had several children with him before they immigrated to the USA.  For many years, I thought she was the second wife to Benjamin.  Working with a Petrich cousin in Germany caused me to re-evaluate this relationship.

When my great-grandfather Paul Primas came to the US in 1883 he arrived with a Benjamin Petrich, aged 40.  I assumed this was his uncle – his father’s sister’s husband (Gottlieb Benjamin from above).  Now I believe it was his uncle – his mother’s brother (Johann Benjamin Petrich).

Ship Manifest showing Benjamin Petrich and Paul Primas

I have noticed in my German ancestors they re-use names a lot as well as being called by their “middle names” in daily use.  Hence Johann Benjamin was called Benjamin and that is how I find him in the records.  Johann is only found in his baptismal record.

Based on the records I had found, I created this comparison chart:

Comparing the Benjamins

Upon further investigation I found more information to convince me that Johann Benjamin was the man married to Pauline Stroech. 

Johann Benjamin Petrich was born in Pidda (Posen Province, Prussia) on 5 July 1844, the fourth child and first son of Gottlieb Petrich (born 1812 in Turostowo Hauland, died 18 May 1853 in Pidda, Posen) and Johanna Wilhelmine Petrich (born 13 June 1818 in Pidda, Posen, death date unknown but after 1855 when she married her second husband Johann Michael Weidner).  Yes, Wilhelmine (as she is found) was born a Petrich.  I do not know how close the relationship was for the two.  The Petrich families of Posen are a topic for another time.

Benjamin had seven sisters and one brother that I can find records on.  The brother died shortly after birth.  The only sibling known to grow to adulthood is Amalie (married to Friedrich Primas). Several of the girls died as infants or children, the rest I have not found information on yet. 

Benjamin was baptized Johann Benjamin Petrich on 21 July 1844 in Schokken.

Benjamin married Pauline Stroech (also found as Ströch) probably about 1873 or early 1874.  I am still looking for Pauline’s parents and the marriage record.  I also still need to find Pauline’s baptismal/birth record.  There are many Stroech families in the area and they inter-connect with Petrich, Primas and other related families.

The couple had eight children I can find records on:
  1. Hulda born 3 Oct 1874 in Nekla; died 27 Jan 1959 in Los Angeles, California; married Henry Rausch.
  2. Wilhelm Traugott born 12 Feb 1877 in Tischdorf, baptized the same day and probably did not survive.
  3. Ludwig born 11 Aug 1879 in Tischdorf, died 11 Jan 1880 at age 5 months.
  4. Bertha Amalie (found as Mollie in USA records) born 3 Feb 1882 in Nekla, died after 1966 probably in Florida; married Otto Krueger then Richardson.
  5. Pauline Wilhelmine born 27 April 1884, baptized 3 May 1884 in Nekla – note on her baptismal record states father Benjamin Petrich went to America in Nov 1883; died 27 Sep 1966 in Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois; married William H Struwing.
  6. Emily born 16 Oct 1886 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; died 13 Sep 1964 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; married Wiseman then William J Talbot.
  7. Edith Martha born 25 Nov 1888 in Cook, Illinois, died 7 May 1962 in Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois; never married.
  8. Helen C born 18 Dec 1894 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, died 13 Feb 1919 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; never married.

As mentioned earlier, Benjamin left for America on the ship Kaiser with his nephew Paul Primas, leaving Hamburg on 20 Nov 1883 with stop in Glasgow.  He left his wife in Nekla with two small children and he may or may not have known about the child on the way.

Ship departure detail

Note in Pauline's birth record that father Benjamin has gone to Amerika

Pauline left Hamburg 5 Sep 1885 on the ship California with children Emilie (Bertha), Hulda and Pauline who was 9 months old.  They arrived in 21 Sep 1885 arriving in New York, stated destination is Chicago. 

Pauline departure details

Arrival details

Looking at the Chicago City Directories, it shows that Benjamin and his nephew Paul Primas are living on the same street for a time.  Benjamin is at 815 Hinman in 1888 and at 767 Hinman from 1890 to 1893.  Paul Primas is at 753 and 788 Hinman in 1890 and 1891.  After the street re-naming and re-numbering in Chicago in 1909/1911, these addresses are now on the 1700-1800 block of W 21rst Place.  It appears the original houses are still there.

Center house is probably same as when Petrich family lived there

House where Primas family rented down the block from Petrich

I believe that Pauline and Benjamin reunited in the US because they had three more daughters in Chicago – Emily, Edith and Helen.

Benjamin died in Chicago on 24 April 1899.  He is buried in Concordia Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.  Because he arrived after 1880 and died before 1900, there are no census or other records I have found for Benjamin.

1899 Chicago City Directory

Pauline died in Chicago on 17 May 1906.  She is also buried in Concordia Cemetery, as is their daughter Helen who died 13 Feb 1919. 

I cannot find Pauline and the girls in the 1900 census.  There would have been Pauline and 5 daughters as only Hulda was married at that time.  In the Chicago City Directory, Pauline is listed as widow of Benjamin in 1899, but disappears in 1900.  Perhaps they went to stay with relatives or the older girls found jobs working in homes (although I do not find them listed either).  In the 1910 census, the three youngest girls (Emily, Edith and Helen) are living with their older sister Pauline now married to William Struwing.

Benjamin and Amalie, his sister were three years different in age.  If they were the only children of the family to survive to adulthood, it would be reasonable to think that they remained close.  When Amalie was a young widow with a son, she might look to her brother to develop a relationship with him, since her father is already gone.   Amalie (now married to Reiter) is mentioned on the baptismal / birth record of Benjamin’s son Wilhelm Traugott.  There is a special note clipped to the record.  Because it is in German, I haven’t been able to understand what the note says at this point.

Note mentioning Amalie Reiter on Wilhelm Traugott baptismal record

Baptismal record of Wilhelm Traugott Petrich

I have requested death certificates for the members of this Petrich family that I can find documentation on.  I can also go to Concordia and find their grave markers, it is not far. I will keep chipping away to find the secrets until I find another branch of the tree to follow.