Tag Archives: western reserve historical society

Just the facts, Ma’am

I am very impressed by the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS). Unless you’re a history buff, you might not know the term “Western Reserve” refers to the northeastern part of Ohio.

The Wikipedia entry for the Connecticut Western Reserve describes it thus: “the lands between the 41st and 42nd-and-2-minutes parallels that lay west of the Pennsylvania border. Within Ohio the claim was a 120-mile (190 km) wide strip between Lake Erie and a line just south of Youngstown, Akron, New London, and Willard …” The strip of land in Ohio included Cleveland. Hence, names like “Church of the Western Reserve” and “Case Western Reserve University.”

Among the Western Reserve Historical Society’s incredible collections, exhibits, archives and online databases, are the following: local funeral home indexes, Jewish marriage and death notices, biographical sketches, Bible records, Early Families in Cleveland Project, Allen E. Cole African American Collections and more. To see the comprehensive list of databases, click here. To search what’s available in their extensive library catalog, click here.

Each time I see something like “Bible Records Index” or “Early Families in Cleveland Project” my heart beats a little faster. Maybe I’ll find my ancestors there, I think. So far, nothing much has turned up. Why not? For one thing, they were German, so kept to their German clan. Perhaps their names appear in the German newspapers, hard copies of which are available in the WRHS archives library, but not digitized or inventoried by individual names. For another thing, these first-generation immigrants were working men. Furnace operators, barrelmakers, blacksmiths, machinists. The salt (and grit) of the earth. For instance, my great-great-great uncle Jakob Handrich, who immigrated to Cleveland in 1840, appears rarely (often with alternate spellings, Handrick, Hendricks, Henry). If at all. Here’s what I know.

Jakob Handrich Life Events
*Born circa 1822, presumably in Meckenheim
*Arrived July 29, 1840 in New York on Ship Anson, 18 years old, traveling with his parents, 2 older sisters and 1 older brother
*In 1841, Jakob settled in Cleveland, Ohio, trained as a cooper (barrelmaker) and earned $5 per week.
*In 1843, he found work as a blacksmith in a factory “where steaming kettles and machines for steamboats and railways were being built” and earned $1.50/day
*In 1848, he made a journey into the southern states, approximately 2000 miles, including Cincinnati, St. Louis, Mobile and New Orleans
*In 1849, he bought a property ($600 cash) and built a house himself (nicknamed “House Place”) and lived there with his elderly parents until their deaths in the mid-1850s.
*By 1858, Jakob had been swept up in the California Gold Rush and traveled around South America by ship to California. At first, he made a lot of money as a blacksmith in San Francisco, but then the times got bad and he traveled to Sacramento Sutte to dig for gold and try his luck.
*In 1862 he was still in California, and had amassed approx. $12,000 in the bank.
*In 1864, he was in Cincinnati and contemplated returning to California.
*In 1869, he had married, had one son, and lived again in Cleveland.
*In 1870, he went to look for work in Columbus, and traveled between Columbus and Cleveland in subsequent years.
*In 1896 he was laid to rest at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.

Little of the above info turns up in genealogy databases; it all comes from several dozen letters in my family’s possession. I have no birth record, marriage record, proof of children. Only his name on a ship manifest, and his gravestone, where his name appears as Jacob Handrick. Maybe that’s not even him, but it’s as close as I can get. Which leads me to believe there have to be thousands and thousands of others like him. Invisible souls. And he was male. Think of the invisible women–early city directories list only the men of the household, women’s names changed when they married, and so on. Without the letters, the fact that Jakob Handrich ever existed would seem a mere mirage.

Cleveland and its Germans: 1897-1898

At the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland I picked up a book with bios on many early German-American residents of Cleveland. The original was in German, written by Jacob Mueller, and this translation is by Steven Rowan.
The book begins with a quote by Goethe:

America, you have it better
Than our continent, the old,
You have no fallen castles
And no basalt.

The old master Goethe, when he directed the verses above to the United States in his “Delicate Zenias,” could add, “And you do not have great cities with their bustling life and striving, with their splendor and misery, with smoking chimneys and unhealthy tenements.” Much has changed in the meantime. Today, to be sure, one may still look in vain in America for picturesque castle ruins such as decorate the banks of the Rhine, but it is certainly possible to find decayed, ruined cities whose founders and inhabitants once believed their new settlements would be numbered among the most populous in the land in a few decades. On the other hand, there are little places whose names were barely known by any European, at least in the year Goethe wrote that verse (1827), that have grown to great cities. One of these is Cleveland, the Forest City.

The following is a list of people whose biographies were written up in Cleveland and Its Germans: 1897-1898:
Franz Adler
John Aenis
Rud. von Ahlefeld
Hermann Anhäusser
Daniel Appel
Georg F. Arnold
Friedrich Axel
Michael Baackes
Wm. Backus Sr.
Gustav A. Balzer
Benjamin R. Beavis
W. H. Beavis
Jakob Beckenbach
Fred Beilstein
Edward Belz
Joseph Beltz
Wilhelm Beutel
Emil Bierfreund
Jacob A. Blodt
Ed. H. Bohm
Heinrich Born
H. Brockhausen
Frank Büttner
Stephen Buhrer
Karl Burkart
Carl Claussen
Karl J. Cobelli
Georg J. Dahler
Leopold Dautel
Hans Demuth
W. Dertinger
Wm. Dewald
J. S. Dickle
F. H. Dietz
Friedrich Dietz
Kilian Egert
Ferdinand H. Eggers
Leopold Einstein
Adalbert Ernst
John J. Ernst
Franz V. Faulhaber
Jon Feihl
R. H. Fetterman
W. F. Fiedler
O. H. Franke
Christ. Frese
Albert Friedl
John Friedl
Godfrey Fugman
Philip Gänsslen
Albert Gehring
Carl Ernst Gehring
F. W. Gehring
John A. Gehring
Christ. Geiger
Georg Gernhard
John Götz
Amalia L. Groll
Georg C. Groll
John C. Groll
Georg F. Gund
M. Hablützel
Joseph Hackman
Hermann Hamm
Louis Harms
G. L. Hechler
G. Heidenreich
Chas. Heiser
Chas. Herrman
Ed Hessenmüller
Dr. Rudolph Heym
Simon Hickler
C. R. Hildebrandt
Jacob Hiller
Martin Hipp
Jacob Hirt
Joseph L. Hitz
Heinrich Hoehn
W. F. Hoppensack
Bishop Ignatius Horstmann
C. F. Hunger
Friedrich Jampen
David Jankau
Chas. L. Jaster
John Jaster
Nikolaus Jung
Herman Junge
Ernst Kappler
Gustav A. Kärcher
August Kimmel
John Koch
Chas. Koebler
Joseph Krug
Georg Kühn
Theodor Kundtz
Julius Kurzer
Rudolph Lack
Franz C. La Marche
Georg Lambert
H. G. Lambert
John B. Lang
Joseph Lang
Dr. George F. Leick
Isaac Leisy
Otto Leisy
Johann Lendy
Robert Lenz
Rev. Theophil Leonhardt
Henry Leopold
Jul. H. Leppert
Moritz Liebich
August Loew
Carl Lorenz
H. W. Luetkemeyer
Chas. W. Maedje
Christian Maedje
Wm. E. Maedje
F. W. Maier
Jackob Mall
R. B. Martinetz
Friedrich Mattmueller
Adolph Mayer
Edward S. Meyer
Dr. Edward S. Meyer Jr.
Franz Joseph Meyer
John C. Meyer
Dr. Wm. Meyer
Karl Michel
Charles Miller (of Holzhausen)
Chas. Miller (of Baltimore)
John Miller
Conrad Mizer
Arnold Moser
Antoinette Muhlhauser
F. Muhlhauser
C.A. Müller
Gottlieb Müller
Jacob Müller
Jacob G. Mueller
Johann Müller (of Weinigen)
Johann Müller (of Königheim)
C. A. Muerman
Georg V. Muth
Wm Neracher
Franz Neubauer
Felix Nicola
J. H. Niemann
W. Noville
Isidor Nunn
John J. Nunn
Ed. M. Oerl
John Olderman
Robert Opitz
Albert Petzke
Otto Petzke
August Pfaff
Rev. Nicolaus Pfeil
John Piper
John L. Piper
Leonhard Platt
F. Rannacher
John Reich
Daniel Remelius
Friedrich Ries
Emil Ring
Rev. J. H. C. Röntgen
Dr. W. L. Rosenberg
H. G. Rudolph
Herm. Jul. Rütenik
Chas. Sältzer
Johann Schaber
Philip Schäffer
Bernhard Schatzinger
A. B. Schellentraeger
C. C. Schellenträger
E. A. Schellenträger
Dr. J. D. Schenk
Adolph Schildhauer
John Schlitz
F. von Schluembach
F. W. Schmidt
Friedrich Heinrich Schmidt
Johann Schneider
Philip Schreiber
Fred P. Schröder
John Schröder
Christ. Schüpbach
Dr. H. C. Schwan
F. C. Seelbach
Louis Seelbach
Henry g. Slatmyer
George B. Solders
Georg J. Sommer
Jacob Stein
Rev. J. H. Steppler
Gustav Stern
John Stofft
Gottlieb Strasser
August Thieme
Rev. C. A. Thomas
B. Villwock
Chas. W. Voth
H. B. Votteler
Jacob Wageman
John Wagner
John C. Wagner
Fritz Walter
Dr. Gustav C. E. Weber
John c. Weideman
G. A. Weitz
Henry Welf
Joseph Welf
Albert Weske
Rev. Franziscus Westerholt
Friedrich Wick
Carl L. F. Wieber
Jacob B. Wieber
John Wilhelm
Lorenz F. Wilhelm
Hermann Woldmann
Dr. S. Wolfenstein
Wm. Woltman
Philip Jacob Würtz
John A. Zängerle
Dr. Karl Zapp
Jacob Züllig
August Zwierlein