Historical newspaper finds

One of my absolute favorite resources on Ancestry.com is their historical newspapers collection. It’s vastly incomplete, but there are plenty of gems to be found in what articles are archived there. In particular, there are many years of the Waukesha Freeman available, and this is where I found this bit I want to write about today.

However, if you want to search for our Struck relatives, be prepared to spend a LOT of time scrolling through reports of the various tragic events that have befallen Waukesha-area residents. Many people have been struck by cars, trains, lightning, other people… not to mention all the reports of baseball players being struck out!

  So I was really excited to find this particular article in the Waukesha Freeman, dated April 28, 1921.

The family had long believed that my great-grandfather Frank Struck had travelled from Germany to America on his own as a young man. However, when I found the ship manifest on the Ellis Island website, I discovered that he had arrived with two of his sisters: Wilhelmina and Ida. His sister Wilhelmina had married back in Germany, to August Birkholz, and came to America with three small children in tow. The original ship manifest (the Wittekind) from 1895 shows us quite a bit of info.

It can be hard to read a poor Xerox copy of old fashioned handwriting, so I’ll transcribe it as best I can:

Friedrich Birkholz – age 30 – male – married – laborer
Wilhelmine Birkholz – age 30 – female – married – house (as in keeps house)
Carl Birkholz – age 4 – male
Helene Birkholz – age 3 – female
Emma Birkholz – age 2 – female
Albertine Ziemann – 54 – female
Caroline Ziemann – 54 – female – married
Ida Struck – 26 – female – single – (occupation illegible – maybe school?)
Franz Struck – 20 – male – single – (occupation may read shoemak[er], his profession in America)

Incidentally, all are listed as travelling to Waukesha whereas most of their nearby shipmates were headed for LaCrosse. And Wilhelmina’s husband being listed as Friedrich isn’t terribly unusual; Germans had a long tradition of giving their children multiple middle names, and of using the different names variously as their “official” and/or proper name as opposed to their common name used among family.

It was knowing some details such as Frank, Ida and Wilhelmina’s ages that made me sure this ship was theirs. I also knew about Wilhelmina’s marriage to August Birkholz (although I hadn’t realized it took place prior to their emigration). But I had no clue who Caroline and Albertine Ziemann were until finding this Waukesha newspaper death notice.

You’ll notice that the Carolina who passed away in 1921 would be the correct age for the Caroline travelling on that ship – both would have been born in 1831. Why she was listed as married but without a husband on the ship (perhaps widowed?) and why she has the last name Ziemann is a mystery – unless it was an error of the ship employee who wrote their names on the manifest?

And who was Albertine Ziemann, the one mystery person remaining in this group? I’m not quite sure, but I do have a strong clue that she was also a relative: Frank’s son Walter Struck remembered a trip to Omemee, North Dakota in 1940 with his father where they visited Frank’s cousin August Ziemann. So my best guess is that perhaps Albertine was related to these cousins, and quite likely to Frank’s mother Caroline.


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