Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Is Frederick Waldschmidt My Uncle?

Frederick Waldschmidt of Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania
Frederick Waldschmidt
In a previous post, I mentioned that I am still searching for records to identify the parents of my great-grandmother, Alice Laubersheimer Huber. Oral history from family indicates that they are Fritz Laubersheimer and Caroline Waldschmidt, but I have no proof.

The 1899 passenger record that I believe is for Alice shows an "Elise Laubersheimer" of the right age traveling to her final destination of "Pittsburg, Pa." The record indicates that her passage was paid by her uncle and that she was planning on joining her "uncle: Fred. Waldschmidt" in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

Since I was hoping that this connection between Alice and Frederick would lead me to her parents, I searched for more information on Frederick. A biography and the photo above appear in the 1897 book "City of Allegheny, Pa: Illustrations and Sketches of the Banking, Wholesale and Manufacturing Interests and the Representative Professional Interests of Allegheny County":

"Frederick Waldschmidt, alderman, was born June 26, 1848, in Elsass, then a part of France. He was educated in the public schools of his country and began a business life in connection with a manufactory of boots and shoes. He was a soldier in the army of France, in the Franco-Prussian war, and for valor on the battlefield, was made a sergeant-major. After his arrival in this country he engaged in the insurance and real estate business. Before coming to Allegheny he served as tax collector, justice of the peace and borough treasurer of Glenfield borough, Allegheny county. Since residing here he has served in council. Mr. Waldschmidt was married January 17, 1878, to Magdalena Teutenberg. He is one of Allegheny's substancial [sic] citizens, and enjoys the confidence of many who are honored by his acquaintance. He is secretary of the Allegheny building association, and a director of the German National building and loan association, and not only takes great interest in these organizations, but is one of the best posted men on building association affairs in the United States. His office is at 157 Ohio Street. Mr. Waldschmidt is a member of Voegtly's Church."

Frederick died on April 15, 1918, and I found a great clue on his Pennsylvania death certificate. It states that he was born in Gerstheim, Alsace, France, and that his father Daniel was born in Goersdorf, Alsace, France. Since many French records are online, I hoped that I could find Frederick's birth record and, by browsing other years, see if he had a sister named Caroline Waldschmidt.

In the online Bas-Rhin Archives, I found Frederick's French birth record for June 26, 1848, in Gerstheim to parents Daniel Waldschmidt and Elisabeth Frauenfelder:

I also found birth records from Gerstheim for two sisters, Salome (1845) and Madeleine (1846). Additional siblings were born in Boofzheim, France: Salome (1856), Sophie (1858), Auguste (1860), and Edouard (1862). No Caroline. There is a gap of eight years between Frederick's birth in 1848 and the second Salome in 1856, so there could have been another move during that period. I browsed nearby towns and haven't found anything yet.

So I still don't know if Frederick Waldschmidt is a relative, but I will keep looking in the hope that it leads me to the names of Alice Laubersheimer's parents.

Two notes:
  1. There is an Illinois death record for a Daniel Waldschmidt that shows he is another sibling of Frederick since their parent names match. Daniel's birth is shown to have been in "Straussberg, Germany" in 1854.
  2. The Pennsylvania marriage license application of Alice's half sister, Anna Laubersheimer, shows Anna's parents were Phillip Laubersheimer and Fredericka "Wallsmith." So, while I've always assumed they had the same father, it's possible that they share the same mother who married another Laubersheimer.

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