Sunday, July 25, 2010

Before I Move On . . .

I have a few pictures that I've not been able to fit easily within other posts -- but I don't want to move onto a new topic without including them. Here are some of my favorites.

This picture is taken at Virginia and Roy Ryan's home at 6385 E. Galbraith Rd. before the porch was enclosed. I don't ever remember seeing my great-grandfather dressed casually. He always looked sharp. I'll have to check with my brother, Tim, to see if he recognizes the car. (Tim just called. He said that G-Grandpa is standing in front of Charles McCafferty's 1953 Green Ford. He also said the car in the garage on the right is a 1956 Buick Grandma had. I have no idea how he does this).

Pictured from left to right starting at the top: Val VDH, Sr., Roy Ryan, Clara VDH, Dolly VDH, Val VDH, Jr., August VDH, Gus VDH, Bob VDH, Virginia, Virginia VDH Ryan, and Evelyn.

The picture above contains Hansen and Ryan grandchildren pictured with Roy and August. From top to bottom, and left to right: Carol, Bill, Roy, Patty, Pam, August, Peggy, Terry, Diane and Jim.

Evey, Mary Ellen and I worked to identify all of the cousins pictured. Bottom row: Kathleen, Evelyn, Chuck, Mary Ellen, Bill, Carol. Top row, it is Diane, Tom Karen, Roy, Jim, Patty, Tim. Lesson learned -- label your pictures!

This picture shows Anna Vonderheide holding her granddaughter Virginia (my mother) with Roy and August. I just hate it that that house was torn down.

Finally, here is a picture of August Vonderheide. His parents made the right decision to come to America.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Anna Moser Vonderheide

The picture to the left was cropped from the family picture of the wedding of my grandparents, Roy and Virginia. It was taken in the yard of their beautiful Wyoming home on Springfield Pike that was torn down to build the Wyoming Board of Education Building.

When Roy and Virginia got married, they continued living in her family home. Virginia's brother Val married Clara Wheeler, and they, too, lived in the family home. Within a couple of years, Virginia gave birth to my mother, Virginia, and Clara gave birth to a daughter, Dolly. Pictured is Anna holding her new granddaughter, Virginia.

Virginia was anxious for her young family to move into their own home. Aunt Evelyn tells me that Roy was only too happy to stay because Anna was a great cook. They rented a home in Carthage before buying their family home in Wyoming. Anna eventually had 8 grandchildren. Here she is picture with the first six.

Pictured from left to right are: Florence, Virginia, Dolly, Evelyn, Val and Jim.

My mother always spoke of such fondness of her grandmother, Anna. Unfortunately, she died at the young age of 54 of uterine cancer. She died on March 7, 1931 when my mother was only 8 years old. She is buried next to her husband, August, at Mother of God Cemetery in Covington, Kentucky. August was a widower for 28 years.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Elmwood Place -- The Move to Ohio

The 1900 Census shows 26 year-old August, 23 year-old "Annie", and 9 month-old Virginia living on Holman St. in Covington, Kentucky. August's occupation is listed as a "shoe cutter". By 1903, the family had relocated to Elmwood Place, Ohio. August went into business for himself, opening the Valley Shoe Store. One of the Vonderheide grandchildren sent me this picture taken in 1903. You can see August looking out the door of the store. I would love to know who the others are -- we speculated that the little boy might have been son, Val, because he would have been three years old in 1903. I don't know who the couple is on the left (August's parents were both dead by then). It could be Anna pictured on the right, but I just don't know.

The family lived above the store. Aunt Evelyn thinks that Anna must have helped out in the store, because she recalls that they had help looking after the children. She also told me that this picture was of his first store location and that his second location was much bigger and a couple of blocks north.

I have a copy of a newspaper article published in 1953 when August was 80 years old. It has a great summary of this first-generation immigrant's accomplishments.
One of Elmwood's most interesting business personalities, Mr. A. H. Vonderheide celebrated his birthday recently. He was 80 years old on September 1.

Mr. Vonderheide was born in Germany and at the age of 7 came to this country with is parents and twin brothers. He had a sister who had passed away before the family came to the United States.

He recalls that his first employer was Mr. B. H. Kroger of the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company and he was the first clerk employed in the first store Mr. Kroger opened. Later he learned the shoe business and was promoted to foreman of the cutters in the sample room of the shoe factory.

In 1903 he bought the shoe store at 5911 Vine Street in Elmwood Place from Mr. John Imwalle and operated a successful business until he retired a few years ago. After his retirement he enjoyed a vacation in Florida.

In the year 1917, during his career as a shoe business man, Mr. Vonderheide, with a few more business men from Elmwood Place, organized the Inter-Valley Building and Loan Association of which he is now the president.

He is a charter member of the Catholic Order of Foresters and of the Elmwood Eagles. He also a past governor of the Elmwood Moose.

Mr. Vonderheide's wife died March 7, 1931. He has two children, Val and Virginia, eight grandchildren, two of them now serving in the United States Navy and two served in the Navy in previous wars. He has 14 great-grandchildren of whom he is very proud. Everyone is wishing Mr. Vonderheide many more hale and hearty years.

August died in 1959 at the age of 85. At the time of his death he was living with his son and daughter-in-law, Val and Clara, in a home they shared at 922 Springfield Pike in Wyoming. At the time of his death, he already had 26 great-grandchildren with more to come. I was 10 years old. So what do I remember? I remember a proud man who loved his large family. I also remember that as each new great-grandchild was born, the gift from Great Grandpa was a savings account booklet in your name with a deposit of $10. (Was there a lesson in this?) Here is a picture of Roy and August (poor quality) that was extracted from a family video from Easter, 1952. Notice the cigar in August's hand.

Here is a four-generation picture of August, Virginia, Virginia and me. What a fortunate heritage I have!

Anna and August

Anna was a beauty. She was the only daughter of Friedrich and Francisca Wocker (see earlier post).
She grew up on the same block as Mother of God Church, living at times with her mother and father at 218 W. 6th Street and at times next door at 216 W. 6th Street with her grandparents. August was living down the street in a house that has since been torn down.

Anna was born on September 23, 1876 in Covington, KY to Friedrich and Francisca Moser. She was baptized on October 1, 1876 at St. Aloysius Church.

I am confused by the marriage record for Anna and August. I have a very clear record for their marriage that states that they were married by a judge on March 2, 1897. I have record from Mother of God Church, written in Latin that is difficult to read.

I know they were married at Mother of God, but I can't read the month, the day is the 9th, and the "dispensation" column to the right says something in Latin that is quite blurry. I know the witnesses were John Casper Deye and Joseph Vonderheide.

Both children, Virginia and Val, were born in Covington. They lived on Holman Street. I know I've posted this picture of Virginia before, but as it is one of my favorites, I'm posting it again.

I'm hoping to get a picture of Val Vonderheide as a child that I can add to this post.

August Henry Vonderheide - The Early Years

August von der Heide (as it is written in German), was the youngest child of Heinrich (Henry) VDH and Catherine Kamphake VDH. He was born in the town of Holdorf, in the former Duchy of Oldenburg, on September 1, 1873. He had older twin brothers and a sister who died as a young child.

There was a lot of turmoil in Germany. By the 1880s, nearly 80% of the town of Holdorf had emigrated, mainly to the United States. As mentioned in an earlier post, it was hard to make a living because of inheritance laws, etc. and most families had nothing to look forward to. They were never going to be landowners and lived in the service of the landowner whose land they farmed.

One historical fact that was very significant was that Germany was not "Germany" until 1871 when all of the German city-states and principalities were unified as one. This process was the result of a series of events that took place between 1848-1871. Here is one source you can check: Scroll down to the section on Otto von Vismarck and the Wars of Unification.

From this same source, I've included a map that shows the unification process over time. Note the location of the Duchy of Oldenburg in northwest Germany.

One of the greatest fears of parents was the mandatory legal service of six years required of all boys when they reached the age of 18. This whole idea of loyalty to "Germany" was a completely new concept. Records of earlier German immigrants always include references to "Oldenburg", "Bavaria", "Pruessen", etc. Even on Census records, immigrants often didn't refer to themselves as coming from Germany.

So off they came to America in hopes of opportunity that did not exist in Germany. August arrived in 1881 when he was only eight years old. New immigrants found comfort in new neighborhoods with other German immigrants who shared their language and their faith.

There were two very large German parishes in northern Kentucky -- Mother of God and St. Aloysius. For reasons I don't understand, the Wockers and Vonderheides were members of St. Aloysius Church, despite living on the same street as Mother of God. I have a copy of August's First Communion Certificate from St. Aloysius. At that time, children did not make their First Communion until the age of 13.

If you could read the printed parts of the certificate, you would recognize that it is in the German language. Obviously, this new family of immigrants had settle in to their new home and church by 1887, when young August made his first Communion.

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:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Charles Moser and Elizabeth

1900 U. S. Census

The 1900 Census almost provides more questions than answers. From this one document, we can conclude the following:
  • Charles and Elizabeth are still living in the family home at 218 W. 6th Street in Covington.
  • They have been married for 13 years.
  • They got married in 1887, two years after the death of Francisca.
  • Elizabeth claims to have had two children, only one of whom is still living.
  • Charles was 47 and Elizabeth was 30 years old when they got married.
  • Charles is listed as a naturalized citizen from Germany who came to the United States 35 years earlier.
  • His occupation is listed as a "cabinet maker", but he has not worked during the previous two months.
  • They have one child, Harry, who is listed as being born in September 1882. It would make sense that this was the one child Elizabeth mentions, but I know for a fact that her entire estate was willed to her son, John E. Smith -- so I'm confused.
By this time Anna was married to August VDH and they were already parents of one-year old Virginia. Her younger brother, Henry, would be 21 years old and is not listed as a member of this household.

I know from Aunt Evelyn's recollections that Anna ended up living with her grandparents next door. But there is ample evidence that her father was clearly in the court of his second wife. The fact that his first wife died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 39 leaving him with young children may say something about their marriage, but I found irrefutable evidence of the tension in the family because of a short article published in the newspaper.

Charles died of pneumonia February 1, 1915. Four days later, this short article was published in the Kentucky Times Star.

I couldn't help but try to find a copy of the will. Sure enough -- not only was Elizabeth the beneficiary of the entire estate, but the will includes this section:
If any one of my children should be dissatisfied or endeavor to contest this will, I direct that $5.00/100 Five Dollars shall be paid him or her for his or her share in my estate.
I guess no one contested the will, because upon Elizabeth's death from diabetes in 1925, Charles children finally got their "inheritance" -- if you believe they were only entitled to $25.

In Elizabeth's will, all of her estate was willed to her son John E. Smith of Ft. Thomas. (I've yet to figure out where John came from). Elizabeth's will included this section:
Item II. I give and bequeath to my three step-children, Fred Moser, Joe Moser, both of Chicago, Ill., and Anna Vonderheide of Wyoming, Ohio, twenty-five ($25.00) Dollars each.
Boy, am I underwhelmed. At least we know that by 1925, only three of the children of Charles and Francisca are still alive. I do not know what happened to the others.

Charles and his second wife, Elizabeth, are buried in marked graves at the Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate (Newport), Kentucky in Section 31. Here are pictures of their markers.

A Tale of Two Houses

I realized when I got ready to write about Anna Moser Vonderheide, my great-grandmother, that I knew quite a bit about her as an adult and very little about her as a child. I knew from Aunt Evelyn that she had been raised by her grandparents, the Wockers, and that she is even buried in a plot owned by her grandparents at Mother of God. But what of her parents? I knew very little.

My search took me over to the Kenton County Library to research many clues I had from scanning their data base online. But I had no idea how interesting it was all going to be.Anna's parents were Charles (Karl) Moser and Francisca Wocker. I've now found "Wocker" spelled six different ways in documents. Charles Moser and Francisca "Wacker" (an example of the multiple spellings) were married August 8, 1867 at Holy Trinity Church in Cincinnati. They moved to Kentucky early on where Charles' occupation was most often listed as "cabinet maker."

They had eight children:
Frederick - 1868
Karl - 1869
Joseph - 1873
Geroge - 1875
Anna Catherine - 1876
Henry - 1879
Stillborn Girl - 1880
Adolf - 1881 (lived four weeks)

The majority of their married life, they lived in this home at 218 W. 6th Street in Covington. It was a two-family and they lived in the unit pictured on the right. It is located just down the street from Mother of God Church. Interestingly, Anna's maternal grandparents, Frederick and Catharine Wocker lived right next door at 216 W. 6th Street.

It appears as if all was not well in the Moser household. Anna's mother, Francisca, died at the age of 39 years old. I was able to find a Death Certificate that listed her cause of death on July 14, 1885 as "cirrhosis of the liver." Note that her last two children really didn't survive very long.

Charles remarried and Anna now had a stepmother, Elizabeth. Note that Anna was the only girl among her siblings, and according to Aunt Evelyn, all was not well. Anna's bedroom was in the uninsulated attic. Her stepmother insisted that she wash her "long johns" daily. By the next morning they would not be dry, but Anna was required to put them on anyway. This practice led to Anna becoming quite ill and her grandparents, living next door, agreeing to let Anna move in with them. Thus Anna, following the death of her mother, was largely raised by her grandparents.

As if knowing that was not enough, I found more evidence of "trouble in paradise". I will discuss that in the next post.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The German Connection

Virginia Vonderheide Ryan was the first-born child of August Henry Vonderheide and Anna Catherine Moser. August (great-grandfather to me) emigrated to the United States from Holdorf, Germany in 1881. He was only eight years old. August had two older twin brothers, Joseph and Henry, who were born in Holdorf in 1870. One sister, Elizabeth, was born about 1872 and died in infancy. I've not been able to find a record of her baptism.

The von der Heides, as the name was written in Germany, were part of a large migration of Germans from northwest Germany to the United States. Germans from this area started leaving around 1830 and continued to leave in great numbers through 1880. In a lecture delivered by Franz-Josef Tegenkamp before the Oldenburg Genealogical Society in 1997, one reads that ". . . if one is to take the three parishes of Damme, Neuenkirchen, and Holdorf, which together made up about 10,000 people, about 8000 left." Of this number, 95% of the emigrants went to the United States. You can read the entire lecture by clicking on

What would prompt people to leave the land of their birth, parents and siblings for a new country with a different language and customs? Actually, there wasn't much of a choice. All of the villages in the southern part of Oldenburg were overpopulated. There was "scanty soil and no fertilizer, little farms on which every farmer had four to six hireling-families. Forty or fifty people lived on one farm, and the farm had to feed them all. People needed to have a second job for having a little income."
The main reasons for emigration were:
  1. The pressure from the farmer
  • the hireling had to help any time the farmer wanted him to
  • the hire-rent was too high
  • the hireling had no chance to have fertile soil
2. Bad harvests because of strong, cold winters
3. Six years of military service required, especially for the hireling-sons
4. The wish of independence and the hope for a better future
Our von der Heides, typical of the time, came to Cincinnati because of "chain migration". Other von der Heides and friends had already emigrated to Cincinnati. They came by way of Baltimore, landing in Maryland on June 30, 1881. From here they made their way to Cincinnati (probably by train) and settled in the Cincinnati area, living on both sides of the river.

Unfortunately, within 8 years of their arrival in Cincinnati, Herman Heinrich VDH, known as "Henry" in the United States, was dead. His funeral was held at St. Paul Church in Cincinnati. For whatever reason, his widow relocated to Covington, Kentucky. There our family history really took shape as my g-grandfather August met and married Anna Catherine Moser. The next several posts will tell the story of Anna and her family.

The Baptismal Gown

One of our most cherished family traditions is a baptismal gown that grandma Ryan sewed for the use of her grandchildren. According to Aunt Evelyn, Grandma was shopping in downtown Cincinnati and saw a baptismal gown in a store window. It cost about $100 in 1949. She carefully looked at the gown and came home and made a similar three-piece ensemble, including a hat.

I was the first one to wear it, followed within weeks by Chuck McCafferty and Bill Hansen. I called Aunt Evelyn this morning to get the current "count". As of today, 88 babies have worn some or all of this outfit at the time of their baptism. Aunt Evelyn also added that Mary Clara is having her third child in August and that Rob and Lydia are expecting their second child in January 2011. So we will soon be up to 90 baptisms! I wonder how long the gown will be able to physically hold up.

Pictured is Lisa Marie Jones held by her mother, Dusty. I was also able to find a picture of Grandma holding Lisa. I'm sure as a first time grandmother that she could never have anticipated that this garment would now be worn by her great-great grandchildren. What a legacy!