A courageous Ihmsen in New York - Louisa Friederike Ihmsen


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All their life long there is a lot written about famous "big" people. The common "small" people though usually only leave little traces. Still, I managed to get a small glimpse of such a life after more than 100 years. 

Louisa Friederike Ihmsen saw the light of life on April 1, 1822 in the village of Luechtringen in Westfalia. Her father was Johann Carl Friedrich Ihmsen, her mother his 2nd wife Catharina Friederike Stahl-Ruediger.

Toward the end of the 1840s Louise Friederika decided to find her luck in America and she emigrated to New York.

There may have been several reasons for her emigration. Her mother, whom she probably had to care for, had died in 1847. Now she was free. In 1846/47 there had been big crop failures in grain in Hessia, so that there was a big famine. There were also revolutionary eruptions in 1848 in Hessia against which police and military reacted with great harshness. This generally insecure situation probably brought her to the decision to turn her back on home. Maybe she had heard that her step-brother  Heinrich intended to emigrate. Why she did not leave Germany together with him is unknown, also, whether New York really was her original destination. It is also unknown, if she had information of her relatives in Pittsburgh, who, at that time, were economically well off.

A shiplist with her name could not be found (yet?). It is proven though, that she was in New York in 1850. There, on August 31 she married a certain Johann Glattner who was born in Reichenstein in Silesia. The marriage certificate shows, that he had been unmarried until that date and was a painter by profession. Friederike Louise came from Marburg, Hessia. Both lived at 13 Bayard Street, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. No further information could be found about Glattner.

• Most likely Johann Glattner died shortly after the marriage. Friederike probably married 2 years later again, although a marriage date could not be found yet. She gave birth to a son by the name of William in October 1853, whose father was Michael Joseph Harth. He came from Zimmern in Bavaria and was born March 31, 1822. It is unknown, when he came to America. Anyway, Friederike applied for citizenship of the United States in 1856, where she handed in her declaration of intent on May 13 under her maiden name of Ihmsen in the Court of Common Pleas. As witness she named Joseph Harth. Both were living now at 21 Clinton St. Lower East Side, Manhattan. Two years later, on June 14, 1858 she received her certificate of citizenship. The same day Joseph Harth also received his certificate in which she acted as witness, also under her maiden name. Strangely enough, on both, hers as well as his registry card her name is written in the male version - Frederick.

With Joseph she had at least 4 more children, as can be seen in the Mormon database at www.familysearch.org. August was born 1857, Johann Robert on Sep. 22, 1859. The godparents here were Johann and Maria Schneider from 219 Rivingtonstreet. The family lived at that time at 5 Norfolkstreet, Manhattan. Anna M. was born Aug. 14, 1861, now at 67 Clinton Str., and Lena in 1864. Only William and Lena could be found in the following censuses, maybe their siblings died as children. To verify this further research is necessary.

Friederike earned her living as a midwife, living in 1859 at 38 Clinton St. as Glattner, Frederika as can be seen in a city directory. Her name also appears on a list of nurses in New York. The census of July 3, 1860 for 1st Division, 10th Ward, New York City lists: Joseph Hart, 38 years, Grocer, personal estate of $ 200, Frederika, 38 years and William, 6 years. From a financial point of view they must have been a little better off than many others in their surroundings.

On April 04,1869 the newspaper "New York Herald" reported a court case before judge Beford and clerk Hackett at the Court of General Sessions. A certain Charles Surratt declared himself guilty of having stolen $ 40.00 from the purse of Frederika Glattner. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail at the state prison.

• Whether Joseph Harth died, or both separated is not clear. The name of Joseph Harth at least can be found after 1870 in New York, though it is not clear, if it is "our" Joseph since he works as "Engineer". Judging by age he could be the following person listed in the 1880 Census, now Brooklyn, Kings Co.: Joseph Harth, 58 years, Engineer. He is living with his sister Eliza, 49 years, who keeps his house, daughter Lena, 16 years, as well as his son William, 26 years, house carpenter. He and his sister came from Bavaria. They are living at 69 Montrose Avenue.

• Anyway, on Dec. 28, 1869 Friederike married again. The husband is Wilhelm (William) Gundlach from Gadebusch in Mecklenburg. He is 29 years of age, 18 years younger than his wife, who at the time of marriage was 47. By profession he is cabinet maker. When William came to the United States is unknown, but on February 18, 1865 he receives his certificate of citizenship from the City Court, Kings Co., New York.

In the Censuses of 1870 and 1880 both are listed, he as cabinet maker, she as midwife, he with a small fortune of $ 1,000.

Various city directories between 1878 und 1890 list his name. The last time her name could be found was 1878 as Nurse, after that only William is listed, up to 1883 at 21 Clinton St., then 1886 at 33 Cheever Place 3, and 1888 - 1890 at 350 East, 89th Street. It is not clear if here streets in Manhattan or in Brooklyn are meant, these names appear in both regions. He probably married again for a second time since in the census of 1900 he is listed under the last address with wife Margreta. She is 64 years of age and was born June 1835. She immigrated to the US in 1863. They were married 19 years then. The house they live in belongs to him but is mortgaged. Friederika probably died in 1881 at the age of 58, at least a death entry could be found for May 12, 1881. Strangely enough this was not for the name of Gundlach, but for a Friedericha Glattner in Manhattan, and not, like expected, in Brooklyn. If this person really is "our" Friederike still has to be checked. Further has to checked more closely, whether she really lived in Manhattan or Brooklyn. It is a mystery, why she continues to appear under the name of Glattner, although she was married without a doubt to Harth and Gundlach.

As midwife Friederike surely would not have made a fortune. Many of the women who sought for her help and services most likely did not have the money to pay her adequately. This is probably the reason why she first married Joseph Harth, and then Wilhelm Gundlach. This was probably a reason for survival that made possible for her an adequate but not extrvagent live-style. If with this her dream of life, however it may have looked like, had come true can be doubted. If one considers the social and political situation at the same time in Hessia, life probably was better in America than her old homeland. By the marriage with William Gundlach she probably had some years of a certain financial security, if one considers his small fortune of $ 1.000 listed in the 1870 Census. Ten years later, in the census of 1880, everything looks different again, since there is noted that William had been unemployed for 3 months during that year. The reason for this cannot be seen in the census, it may have been some sickness that made him unemployed, or problems with an employer. The 1900 census though tells us, that during that year he had been employed.





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Letzte Änderung: 07.11.2011 (©Hans Ihmsen)