Sunday, July 18, 2010

Friedrich Theodore Wocker and Katharina Bohm

Researching the "Wockers" over the years has been quite a challenge. I've found the name spelled Wocher, Voge, Walker and three or four other variations. It took me a long time to figure out that the Wockers, who share a lot at Mother of God Cemetery with Anna and August Vonderheide and Pat Ryan, were the grandparents that had helped raise Anna after her mother's death at age 39.

Once again, Aunt Evelyn had a story for me. To understand the story, you have to see what the grave markers look like for the Wockers. As you can see in the picture, there is a cross mounted above Friedrich's marker -- but it wasn't always that way. I had heard that Friedrich, my ggg-grandfather, had given a lot of his money to the Church for safekeeping. The story was that the money was lost and that this angered Friedrich so much that he stopped going to church. He felt betrayed.

When he died, supposedly "out of the Church", an urn was placed above his grave marker instead of a cross. Repeatedly, the urn kept falling off the grave marker. Finally, my grandfather Roy Ryan, formed a concrete cross that was identical to the one placed above Katharine Wocker's grave. He made it so identically that he was able to get the permission of the Cemetery Board to replace the urn with a cross. As I took this picture today, you can see that it is still solidly in place. The family interpreted that to mean that in his death all was forgiven and he, in fact, was in good standing with his God and Church.

I had to find out more about this financial problem with the bishop. At the time, the Diocese of Cincinnati included northern Kentucky and John Purcell was the Archbishop. I was able to find this description of the crisis online in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
The serious financial disaster that clouded his last years was the result of circumstances for which he could hardly be responsible. Giving all his time to the spiritual management of the diocese, he left the material part altogether in the hands of his brother, Father Edward Purcell. He received deposits from people who were mistrustful of the banks, which were unstable institutions until the general government adopted the national banking system during the War of Rebellion. The large amount involved represented the accumulation of compound interest. This financial disaster crushed out the lives of the archbishop and his brother. The crash came in the autumn of 1878, and the archbishop died five years later. His brother had passed away in the spring of the preceding year.
My brothers all attended Purcell High School, named in honor of this early Cincinnati bishop. His story is pretty interesting. You can read all about him at this link:

Friedrich and Katharina held one more surprise for me. I discovered that they were married on November 25, 1855 at Old St. Mary Church in Cincinnati. Her maiden name was Bohm or Boehm without the umlaut. Census records say that Friedrich was Prussian and Katharina was born in Bavaria. To my knowledge, they only had one child -- Francisca. This means that at least three branches of my family were living in Cincinnati before 1860.

Friedrich also fought in the Civil War on the Union side. He served for one month in an Ohio unit and for over a year in a Kentucky unit. I may have to submit the paperwork to find out about his role in the Civil War. He is listed as a "cabinet maker" while living in northern Kentucky.

Today I went to the library after discovering in an index that there was a Death Notice published for Maria Anna Katharina Wocker (nee Bohm) in the April 6, 1892 edition of Volksfreund, a German language newspaper published in Cincinnati. If you look at it carefully, you can see the difficulty of changing German names to English. For one thing, the German language does not use a "ck" but has another letter in their alphabet that is pronounced like "ck". They also have the umlaut, two dots above a vowel as in Bohm that translated to English script becomes Boehm. You can also read that Katharine's funeral was held at St. Aloysius Church (Kirche) in Covington and that she was survived by her husband and four grandchildren.

Additional Notes about Friedrich (Frederick): I knew that Frederick had served in the Civil War as a Union soldier -- once for a month, and later for 1 1/2 years. I looked up information on his unit -- the 106th Ohio Infantry Unit. Here is some of what I found.

Organized in September, 1862, under Colonel George B. Wright, it immediately moved into Kentucky. This Regiment was known as the 4th German Regiment, and was immediately under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Tafel. It operated in Kentucky, mostly against Rebel cavalry, during the fall of 1862, and at Hartsville, December 7th was overwhelmed by a force of the enemy and obliged to surrender. The men were exchanged in January, 1863 and returned to Ohio. In March the Regiment was reorganized and entered the field again, operating against guerillas during the summer of 1863. In May, 1864, it marched to Bridgeport, Alabama and continued on garrison duty. During Hood's movement north it operated along the Chattanooga and Nashville Railroad. It was finally mustered out June 29, 1865.

You can read more about the unit by checking this site:

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