Sunday, September 18, 2016

A New Daughter of Union Veterans of the Civil War

One will never know unless one is willing to hunt it down but some of us have ancestors dating back to the Civil War, if not earlier.  For years, all I heard was that my ancestors were fairly recent immigrants to this country.  Never did I hear that I had a great great grandfather drafted into service in this bitter War between the states.  That would mean that he was alive and living on American soil in the mid 1860's.
In fact, Johan Jacob Stoebener was very much alive and living on Fell Street in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.  At the time of his marriage to Anna Marie Christofel in 1853, he listed his occupation as "miner".  He later moved ahead to become a "founder" and boiler maker most likely in Vulcan Iron Works  ( ) established in 1849 to manufacture locomotives and steam engines.

This being his second marriage (his first to Apollonia Veiock while living in Vorderweidenthal, Germany), he and Anna Marie raised two daughters of their own; Mary and Elizabeth.  Mary grew and married Henry Kropp while Elizabeth married William Lentz, became mother to Mary Lentz who became mother to my dad, Robert Henry Protz.

Johan Jacob's story of military involvement was brief but heroic none the less.  In the fall of 1862, Pennsylvania was called to organize a large body of militia to defend both the state and the Union army in the bloody battles fought in Northern Virginia.
Samuel P. Bates wrote in his History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers ( to tell of the organization and service of the Pennsylvania Militia of 1862 (vol 5, pg. 1147-1148).  He told of how then Governor Andrew Curtin issued a proclamation calling on the people of Pennsylvania to arm and prepare for defense.  According to the proclamation, all businesses were to be closed at 3pm so that proprietors and customers alike could form companies and regiments throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to be drilled and instructed as necessary.  All able bodied men were enrolled immediately for the defense of the state and provided with 60 rounds of ammunition.  Sixty thousand men were called and directed to move to the state capital.  Meanwhile, the enemy from the South pressed forward threatening the Pennsylvania border.  Jacob became part of Regiment 19, Company K and became prepared to do battle.

On September 16th and 17th, the Battle of Antietam raged but saw the rebels defeated and retreating.
The "Emergency" as it had been called was declared over and the militia regiments were ordered to return home where they were disbanded.  The longest period of service for any of the men being one month.
Surely his wife, Anna Marie and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were relieved if not over-joyed to welcome their father home.  Jacob continued to live and work in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania until his death in 1897.  He and Anna Marie are buried in the City Cemetery of Wilkes-Barre.

Johan Jacob Stoebener.....our Civil War ancestor and link to the DUVCW.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Fathers Day Post - #5 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - My dad, Robert Henry Protz

My dad, Robert Henry Protz, was born April 28th, 1919 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  At the age of two, his parents, William C. and Mary Lentz Protz divorced on the grounds of  "desertion".  Mary obtained and maintained custody of Robert (Bob) as well as her older son, William, Jr. (Bill) born in February of 1918.  The little family lived in Detroit, Michigan along with Mary's mother, Elizabeth and her oldest brother, Walter, who worked as a bank clerk.
Mary, having received the sum of $17,000 in the divorce settlement, was able to maintain a home at 6747 Shaftsbury Road. 
 By 1934, Mary had become ill with Tuberculosis and was admitted to the East Lawn Sanitorium where she died on May 11, 1934.  Bill and Bob were 16 and 15 years of age respectively.  The boys were taken to Manitowoc, Wisconsin by their father and step-mother, Helen Kochman where they continued their schooling.  My dad played football and participated in drama activities while at school.  He later attended St. John's Military Academy for one year before being accepted to Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin where he completed one year prior to returning home in 1939 to work in the family business, National Tinsel Mfg. Co, also in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  War was coming and Bob enlisted on the 6th of August 1941 at Camp Grant in Illinois.
Bob achieved the rank of Private and then Staff Sargeant and was a gunnery instructor in the 2126th Army Air Force Base Unit of the United States Army.  He received an honorable discharge on the 13th of December, 1945 from his unit at Base Randolph Field in Texas.  Bob was not wounded physically during his wartime service but it is most likely that he suffered from PTSD as he experienced nightmares and delusions about his wartime service throughout the remainder of his life.  Bob saw service as part of the American Defense in the American Theater and received a Victory Medal and in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre winning two bronze stars and a Good Conduct Medal.
He self reported having flown in the first plane to fly over Hiroshima, Japan after the bomb was dropped.  The mission of the flight was to photograph the destruction below.  
Bob met Elynor Edith Krings, most likely prior to his discharge while attending gun sight school at Sperry Gyroscope in NY.  Elynor volunteered at the Stage Door Canteen where servicemen enjoyed food, conversation and camaraderie at no charge.  He wrote to her from Las Vegas where he was stationed for a time.  The two married in January of 1948 and had their first child in March of 1949. Their second child, came along later in 1953.  Bob loved fishing and spending time at his summer cottage on Shelter Island in New York.

Bob worked as Executive Vice President of National Tinsel Mfg. Co. living in Garden City, New York until his retirement around 1981.  Bob and Elly moved to Sarasota, Florida in 1982 where they lived until his death in March of 1996.  He and Elly are both interred at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#4 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks; Elsa Wilhelmina Hedrich Spatz Kerner Haegemann

Elsa, my great grandmother, was born on the 21st of June in 1879.
Her mother, Luise Wilhelmine Spatz, was unmarried and living in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany where she was a hat and accessories maker for women in the well to do town of Baden.  Luise was the daughter of Johann Jakob and Anna Maria Herold.  She had been born in 1858 and we know that she was 21 years of age when she had her first and perhaps her only child, Elsa.  Luise Wilhelmina was unmarried.  No one knows if she hid her pregnancy but we do know that she travelled across the river to a nearby town, Mannheim, to be delivered by a mid-wife named Katherina Mussig in the woman's apartment.

Continuing to search for the whereabouts of Elsa in her early years was nearly impossible until a researcher in Germany discovered that she had been adopted and raised by Luise's older sister Elizabeth and her husband Ernst Wilhelm Hedrich.  Elsa showed up in New York City in 1894.  She had arrived at the age of 15.  Family legend has it that Elsa learned that the mother she thought was her mother was really her aunt and left home in a fury, stowing away on one of the many boats bound for the United States.  Since no passenger records have been found for her, this is a real possibility.

On the 31st of May in 1898, Elsa had her first child, a girl she named Rose.  Rose's last name is listed on her birth certificate as Kerner although a marriage to Louis Kerner is not recorded until the 22 of November in 1898.  Elsa was then 19 years old.  Was Rose his child?  My own mother told a story that Elsa was young and "wandering the streets of New York" although by the time of Roses's birth, she had been there for four years.  Had she been a "girl of the streets?"  Where did she stay?  Who was she with?  Did Louis,  a Jew, marry her out of pity and compassion?  Was he the real father?  How will we ever know?
What we do know is that by 1907, Elsa's eye was wandering and she left Louis to marry George Frederick Haegemann.  The marriage certificate reveals that the couple were married by a "Pastor" and not a Rabbi.  Interestingly enough, Elsa stated for the record that this was her "first" marriage.  She already had had two children, reportedly fathered by Louis.  In addition to Rose, Martha had been born in 1899.  Martha died of diptheria in 1901 and was buried in Mt. Zion, a Jewish cemetery. Years later, in 1927, Louis would be buried in another Jewish cemetery, Montefiore in Springfield Gardens in Queens.

No divorce certificate seems to exist for Elsa and Louis and according to my mother, Louis "let her go" to be with the younger and more exciting George.  My mother reported that both of these men remained active in Elsa's life.  Louis was also a loving grandfather to my mother, as was George.

I remember my strong and feisty great grandmother.   She was a loving woman who loved to watch boxing on television. According to my mother, she saved not only her life but mine as well.  Elsa had become a nurse and my mother supposedly had been stillborn until Elsa took charge during the home birth and breathed life back into her lungs.  Years later, I had had my tonsils out removed and this loving woman
stayed with me in the hospital, nursing me back to health after I had hemorrhaged unexpectedly.  

I also remember the pride she took in her appearance and the
lovely, oval fingernails that she massaged regularly.  She insisted
that rubbing the nails made them grow.  The mole on her right
chin has been passed to my eldest son who has an identical
mole in the identical spot.

I lost my great grandmother on Christmas Eve in 1965.  She died
at the age of 86.  I think she must have led a very complicated but interesting life.  She certainly left us some wonderful memories! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Researching Works Up an Appetite!

I recently spent a week doing research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake.  My niece was with me and we both have German roots.  In fact, all of our research was focused across the pond in Deutchland.  What would two girls of German origin be thinking about towards the end of a long day of research?  Food!  German Food!  No problem!  Salt Lake City has Siegfrieds!

Siegfried's is an authentic, German Delicatessen!  Almost within walking distance at West 200 South, Siegfrieds excites from the moment you enter.  The aroma of all that good German food took me back to my Great Grandmothers kitchen.  It was hard choosing amongst all the wonderful offerings but we settled on the Weiner Schnitzel.  I think it was a mere $8 and took two dinner plates on my tray!  As the photo shows, I chose spaetzel and red cabbage to go along with it.  Oh, My!  Siegfrieds is not a "fancy" place, you get on line, give your order, get a tray and proceed to a table.  There are no table cloths, no candles, but the food is scrumptious.  We even decided to go back again!  Just couldn't get our fill of those delicious German delicacies!  

Another treat for us was that upon entering the LDS FHL, we were offered a business like card that gave us entry to the Cafeteria on the lower level of the LDS Church Office Building.
A short walk through the gardens of Temple Square, the Cafeteria is a busy and crowded place but the food is wonderful!  There are ample choices to select from, a soup bar, a salad bar, a sandwich bar not to mention the various other "a la carte" foods available.  And so reasonably priced!  It is no wonder that they are so busy.
The walk across the square was a delightful respite from hours of research.  I especially appreciated and enjoyed being able to remain in the LDS atmosphere.  Being surrounded by busy researchers and other LDS workers helped to keep our minds focused on our task.  We went to the
Cafeteria every day for lunch and never had the same meal twice.  If you are able to get a pass to go, I strongly recommend you don't miss it!

There are other restaurants in Salt Lake City, but these were the two that stood out for us!
Happy Researching!  Have a great time at Convention and Bon Appetit!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mary Elizabeth Lentz - #3 in #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Mary Elizabeth Lentz, my paternal grand-mother, was born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on the 15th of August in 1887.  She was the daughter of William Lentz and Elizabeth Stoebener Lentz.  Mary was the fifth child born to the couple, her sisters were:  Anna, Louisa and Catherine and brother, William Frederick were born before her.  The true "middle child", Mary had five brothers born after her; George, Robert, Albert, Henry and Walter.  One can only imagine that as the older children matured, married and moved on, Mary was left behind to help raise her younger brothers.

In the 1900 census, Mary, being 12 years old, was listed as a "student".  Her older sister, Catherine (Katie) was just 15 but already working in the local Lace Mill.  Her brother, William Frederick was 19 and employed as a "dry goods shipping clerk".

Mary was an active participant in her church; St. Paul's German Evangelical Lutheran Church.  She sang in the choir of the German speaking church as did many of her brothers and sisters.  Mary was also working by this time and in the 1910 census, is listed as being a "forelady" in the Lace Mill which was most likely the Scranton Lace Factory.  She was 22 years old at the time.  Mary most likely moved up into this position after having "worked the line" for some time.  Her mother, Elizabeth, was widowed in 1909 and as the family was so large, the older children needed to work to help support the younger ones.

In 1917, on the 2nd of January, Mary married Wilhelm Friederich Charles Protz, a business man who had immigrated from Germany to the city of Wilkes Barre in 1903.  Wilhelm (William aka "Bill") worked for Woolworth and later for Kresge which is where Mary's oldest brother was a manager.  Most likely, Mary's brother brought "the new guy" home for a meal and the two met.  The couple, who honeymooned in New York City, soon re-located to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where "Bill" was establishing a business.  

By the year, 1920, Mary and "Bill" were listed in the census as residing on Clairmount Street in Detroit, Michigan.  They had had two children while in Milwaukee; William Frederick, age 1 and ten months and Robert Henry, age 8 months.  Bill listed his occupation as "toy manufacturer" when in fact, he had started the National Tinsel Mfg. Co. in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  Bill is also listed as a "roomer", keeping an apartment on South 11th Street in Manitowoc and is listed there as well in the same census.  Interestingly, he lists his marital status as "single".

Bill filed for divorce in November of 1920.  According to the divorce certificate, the reason given being "abandonment".  Mary, according to an article in the Manitowoc Herald News, contested the divorce but refused to move back to Manitowoc.  One can only speculate that Mary preferred Detroit as her mother and several brothers were living there as well.  Because Bill was known to travel frequently, she would be left alone for periods of time.  I would imagine that she felt somewhat overwhelmed raising two small boys and looked to her mother for the assistance, support and companionship that was not available from her husband. She did, however, finally accepted the terms offered and by January 17, 1921, their divorce was finalized.  Mary retained custody of the two young boys and received a $17,000 settlement.

In the 1930 census, Mary is listed as being "head of the house" at 16747 Shaftsbury Road.  She is the owner of the home which was valued at $15,000.  The family had a radio set.  William, Jr. was 11 at this time and Robert, 10.  Mary had provided housing for her 73 year old mother, Elizabeth and for her youngest brother, Walter, who at 29 was working as a bank clerk.  

Mary, who contracted tuberculosis, died while living in Detroit.  She had been hospitalized at the East Lawn Sanitorium where she died on May 11, 1934.  She was interred within the main mausoleum at Roseland Cemetery.  The boys were "orphaned" at ages 15 and 14.

My niece and I were able to visit Mary's grave in the summer of 2013.  While Mary rests within the mausoleum, her mother, and two brothers rest directly outside in a family plot.  Walter, the youngest brother, had a standing order, until he died,  that geraniums be planted on the graves every spring.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

William Lentz....#2 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

My Great Grandfather,William (aka Wilhelm) Lentz was born in May of 1853, most probably in Mecklenburg, Prussia although this area later became Germany.  He had two older siblings; Henry, born in 1842 and Lena (short for Caroline), born in 1845 and two born after him; Frederick (Frank) born in 1855 and Elizabeth born in 1860.  Lena listed her place of origin as Mecklenburg in census reports.

According to a number of census readings, William immigrated to the United States in 1856 at the age of 3.  It is assumed that he did not travel alone although no passenger record can be found.  

In 1876, he married Elizabeth Stoebener, daughter of Jacob and Anna Marie Christoffel Stoebener.

In the census of 1880, William and Elizabeth (Lizzie) with Lentz spelled as Lence, were living at 152 Fill Street.  William listed his occupation as "carpenter".  Interestingly, Elizabeth's sister, Mary, had married Henry Kropp and those two were living at 151 Fill Street with Jacob and Anna Marie Stoebener spelled as Stevener.  Jacob was listed as a "boilermaker" and Henry was working as a "butcher".  William and Elizabeth were raising their first child, Anna (age 3).

The couple went on to have nine children, of which eight lived.  Louisa (born in 1879), William Frederick (born in 1880), Katie (born in 1884), my paternal grandmother, Mary (born in 1887), George (born in 1889), Robert (born in 1892), Albert (born in 1895) Henry (born in 1897) and Walter (born in 1901).  Little Anna, the first to be born in 1876, died in 1885.

IMG_0219.JPGAt the time of the 1900 census, William and Elizabeth lived at 145 Park Avenue in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.  William continued to list his occupation as "carpenter".  He could read, write and speak English but had been out of work for six months.  William owned the home they were living in although it was mortgaged.  He was a "naturalized citizen" which I believe means that he was automatically made a citizen upon his own fathers' gaining citizenship.

William died at the age of 57.  He was a patient in the Hospital for the Insane Retreat in Luzerne, Pennsylvania at the time of his death on the 22nd of November of 1909.  He had been hospitalized for 27 days.  Cause of Death was listed as Organic Brain Disease and Arteriosclerosis.
Williams obituary listed his siblings as well as his children but no mention was made of Elizabeth, his wife, who survived him by twenty years.  Had there been a divorce?  It is unknown at this time.

William was laid to rest in Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.  Plot 1625 N 1/2.  I visited his grave with my niece in the summer of 2013.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Utah Calling!

Any gathering of like minded people is certain to be a joyous affair.  The opportunity for genealogists to gather and meet up in Salt Lake City, Utah in February 2015 will be no different.  While some travelers may know one another, most will arrive among strangers.  Inevitably, however, strangers will connect and leave as friends.

Since I have had the good fortune to have experienced a week researching ancestors at the Family History Library, I know firsthand that it is a truly remarkable place. 
The library itself is situated directly across the street from Temple Square.  The Square is filled with incomparable gardens and the fragrance of whatever is in bloom.  The time spent wandering among the ponds, flowers, streams and statues will refresh even the most troubled soul.  Somehow, the mind, heart and soul become rested, cleared and renewed.

Many of those enjoying the gardens are present to experience the same refreshment.  Joining with others, gathering for conference meetings or for library research enables us to reach out among the living even as we each reach into the past to connect to those who came before us.  No matter who we are, we now lead our ancestral lines, traveling steadily onward until we too are led by those who come after us.  Yes, we are connected in our homes, our towns, our states, our lands.  

Eventually, through our sometimes tedious explorations, we may find our connections reach even deeper.  Researching the past can sometimes lead us to a name we may share with another researcher, a town we have in common, even a child on a passenger list that we had no former knowledge of.
Researchers connect in all sorts of ways.  Cousins find cousins, children find great grandparents, countries of family origins are found.

So, come to Utah!  I invite you to make the journey!  Bring your questions, research the answers, explore the resources available, connect with others who, like you, have an insatiable appetite to know their roots and above all......leave refreshed and more knowledgeable than when you came.  Leave inspired to continue your work.  Leave fired up to support the genealogical community and all of its endeavors.  Leave having explored, connected and refreshed!