Even more John Etzel research!

"New York: Welcome to the Land of Freedom" (1887).  Library of Congress. IMAGE SOURCE

This week, I have been spending the majority of my research time working through one particular family unit from my mother's side of the family - John (Johann) ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria (Schumacher) ETZEL (1837-1894).  Here are quick links to previous installments -part I (from 2013), part II, part III, and part IV.

Research Goal: To locate information about John ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria SCHUMACHER (1837-1894) prior to their listing in the 1860 US Federal Census in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Context: John Etzel  is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family.

John and Maria (I believe she went by the name Mary) had two daughters:
  • Rose Etzel (about 1856-?).  Married Louis Oberly (or Oberle) in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
  • Elizabeth Etzel (1858-1923).  Married Edward Musser Luden in 1885.  Elizabeth Etzel is my 2nd great-grandmother.
Here is what I know about John ETZEL and Maria (Schumacher) Etzel's whereabouts based on the paper trail of census documents, birth/death records, and newspaper articles:

  • 1854 - John (Johann) Etzel emigrates from the region now referred to as Germany, arriving at Castle Garden in New York on 21 July 1854.  I still do not know *exactly* when Maria Schumacher arrived, since she passed away prior to the 1900 census in which year of immigration is noted.  
  • 1854 - John and Maria marry in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio.
  • About 1855-1856, daughter Rose is born in Cincinnati.
  • Some time prior to abt. 1858 (year of daughter Elizabeth's birth), John and Maria move to Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
  • 1860 - living in Reading, PA- North East Ward (US Federal Census)
  • 1870 - living in Reading, PA - Reading Ward 9 (US Federal Census)
  • 1880 - living in Reading, PA - South Moss Street.  Daughter Rose lives at home.  Daughter Elizabeth, listed as a servant, living in a boarding house about 1 1/2 miles away on Walnut Street, Reading.
  • 1894 - Maria passes away on 14 December 1894
  • 1900 - John Etzel living in Reading, PA on 5th Avenue in the household of Edward M. Luden and wife Elizabeth Etzel Luden (John's daughter and my 2nd great-grandmother).
    • *Interesting note here!  Edward M. Luden and wife Elizabeth lived on 5th Avenue in Reading...from what I can tell this is the house in which he was born, and the same property in which brother William Henry Luden launched his candy business (with his mother's encouragement and business acumen, from what I can tell...and even possibly her recipe).  Edward Luden's mother owned several properties around Reading which were divided among her children upon her death in 1896.  Have you heard of the candy bar "5th Avenue"?  Did you know this was originally a Luden creation?  Neither did I until today.  Hershey's purchased Luden, Inc. in 1986 and thus the bar eventually became a Hershey product.  The "rumor" is that my 2nd great uncle, William Luden, named this candy after his childhood home address...on 5th Street, Reading, PA.  Way cool.

But I digress.  Back to Etzel.

As mentioned above, I'm searching for more information about my 3rd great-grandfather and his wife...specifically their place of birth and potential immediate family members.  Using the indexed passenger list record I found on the Castle Garden website, I tracked down an actual digital image of the document.  What I discovered was seriously surprising...

Steam Ship BERTHA, arriving New York 21 July 1854, SOURCE

 Starting at the top, you'll see Johann Etzel, age 28, male, farmer.
Country (or locale - city, state) to which he belongs: "Schillgrippe"
Country to which he intends to go: "Cincinnati"

Listed in the same group of passengers - all from this "Schillgrippe" - are an entire family of Schumachers :).

Father, Johann A. Schumacher, 52
Mother, Maria Schumacher, 52
Anna, Michael, Maria, Rosina, Adam, Johann, and Asila Schumacher.
Since they appear to be traveling in a group from the same home town - to the same destination of Cincinnati - could this be MY Maria Schumacher that John Etzel married just a few months later?

I was very excited to see this "Schillgrippe" listed as a hometown...yet I cannot find any information about it online or in the German gazetteer I usually use for old place names.  In later census records, John and Maria both state they were born in Baden (1860), Bavaria (1870), and Prussia (1880).  Keep in mind...the reason each census is a little different is because the location referred to that exact place at that exact time.  For example.  Their hometown must have been located in a region that was considered Baden in 1860, Bavaria in 1870, and Prussia in 1880, etc.  The historical maps of Germany are one confusing mess for those unfamiliar with its history (and that would be me!).

My next step is to try to locate naturalization documents for John Etzel.  I can also try to locate information  (marriage or death records) for the other Schumachers listed in this passenger document to determine a connection to my Maria.

OK.  Lots here, and I can already feel my mind melting.  Stay tuned for the next installment in this Etzel research rabbit trail...where I will show how a random newspaper article helped me connect my Etzel family to another Etzel family living in Reading, Pennsylvania (but never in Cincinnati).  The adventure continues!


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