The Happs – innkeepers in Dorfprozelten

Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.

For my own interest I’m summarising the inn-keeping genealogy of the Happ family in Dorfprozelten. The approximate time frame of direct descendancy is c1740-1940s.

Generation 1: Adam Happ c1690

Generation 2: (Johann) Martin Happ (Fass) and Johann Happ (Anker) c1740-1770s

Generation 3: Johann Martin Happ II (Fass) and Nikolaus Happ (Anker)

Generation 4: Eva Catharina Happ/Ulrich/Kunkel (Fass) and Michael Happ (Fröhlichkeit) 1830s-1860s

Generation 5: Jakob August Ulrich (Fass) (step-brother to my George Kunkel who emigrated to Australia) and Maria Antonia Happ/Staab (Fröhlichkeit) (three siblings, Anna, Raimund and Julius emigrated to USA) c1860-

Generation 6:  Sophie Staab/Bohlig (Fröhlichkeit) c1900 – c1940s

While the Fass continued in other hands, the Happ family’s management of it came to an end with multiple deaths due to Lungensucht in 1868. I can find no translation for the word but it seems to be a highly infectious lung disease. Jakob August Ulrich was the first to die on 19 June 1868, followed by son Karl on 1 July 1869, wife Elisabeth on 20 August 1868 and finally his mother, Eva Catharina Kunkel, on 15 October 1868. There were children who survived: Josephina (b 1852), Maria Augusta (b 1856), Lothar Jacob (b 1858), Bertha (b 1860), Ernestina Veronika (b 1863) and Georg Jacob (b 1865). All except Maria Augusta and Ernestina Veronika emigrated to the United States in the 1880s. Who took care of them in the intervening period is unknown. I wrote about their lives here and here.

A sad end to the long association of the Happs and Das Goldene Fass guesthouse in Dorfprozelten. What tragic news it must all have been to my ancestor George Kunkel when the news finally made it across the world to him. 

The Fass guesthouse was sold on 1 October 1967 to the Raiffeisenbank and the old building was demolished. In autumn 1971 a new bank was built on the site. The Anker and the Fröhlichkeit are still part of the village’s built heritage.

In Georg Veh’s book on Dorfprozelten is this poem[i], written by Agnes Bohlig, the wife, and co-innkeeper, of 7th generation Happ innkeeper, Philipp.

In der “Krone” da is gut wohne        In the Krone is a nice place to stay

Im “Stern” da sitze nur die Herrn     In the Star only the men sit (a reference to its table for the seamen’s union?)

Im “Anker” hocke die Kranke            In the Anchor the sick sit/crouch

Im “Fass” da is mers zu nass           In the Barrel it is….too wet (defeats me this one)

And nuff “die Fröhlichkeit”                  And in the Happiness

Is mer der Weg zu Weit.                 the road is too far.

I’m quite sure my translation is not accurate and there are vernacular expressions here, … even my huge German dictionary and Reverso are defeated. Feel free to jump in and correct me…it would help make sense of it all.

I am indebted to Georg Veh and the published local history for providing me with so much background information on my family in Dorfprozelten, and being generous with access to it.

[i] Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002. Page 216.

The Happ family emigrants: Part 1

Translation: If you would like to read this post in a different language you can click here.

Some time ago I set up a Facebook page, The Dorfprozelten Diaspora, for those whose ancestors came from this Bavarian village. New members to the group are asked for their link to the village and who their ancestors were.

The village of Dorfprozelten is situated on the River Main which formed the boundary between Bavaria and Baden.

The village of Dorfprozelten is situated on the River Main which formed the boundary between Bavaria and Baden.

Two weekends ago a new member, Keith, joined the group and to my delight it seems likely that we are distant cousins. Keith’s family had a German certificate which was translated as “some sort of acknowledgement for having conscripted others, not his own conscription record”. This document indicated his great-grandfather had been born in Dorfprozelten.

We’ve still got to achieve further verification via death/marriage certificates but so far the indications are that Keith and my Dad share a 5th great grandparent, Adam Happ. Admittedly, at this distance it seems such a tenuous connection but thanks to the wonderful German record-keeping and the oft-lauded local history, Dorfprozelten Teil II by Georg Veh[i], it’s actually possible to link families up over three centuries, and to track their history.

I’ve “fixed” my header photo for these posts so you can see what the village looks like in context.

Meanwhile in Bavaria

A postcard of Das Goldene Fass mid-20thC. Kindly provided to me by Georg Veh, local historian.

Das Goldene Fass before its demolition for a bank in the 1960s. Image kindly provided by Georg Veh.

The Happ family were one of the early inn-keeper families in Dorfprozelten, and their ownership dates back at least to circa 1750 when (Johann) Martin Happ ran Das Goldene Fass. This Martin’s son, another Johann Martin Happ II, inherited it from him, followed by Johann Martin II’s daughter, Eva Catharina later Ulrich and Kunkel, my own 3xgreat grandmother.

Meanwhile just across the street, Martin’s brother, Johann Happ was running the Gasthaus zum Anker. Johann and Martin’s father was Adam Happ but his occupation is unknown. The Anker passed from Johann to his son Nikolaus Happ, then was transferred to the family of Johann Anton Zöller…who knows why…perhaps it’s part of the German text I’m struggling with.

Die Fröhlichkeit in 2003.

Die Fröhlichkeit in 2003.

In the 1860s, Nikolaus’s son Michael Happ established a new guesthouse called Die Fröhlichkeit, built from the local pink sandstone taken from the cliffs adjoining the village. Michael is documented as an economist as well as a guesthouse keeper, which I think is quite interesting…how did it come to be that he was an economist at that time? Where had he studied? Other references in Veh’s book indicate that Michael was fairly well off and also served as Bürgermeister (mayor) from 1856-1863.

Michael Happ married Catharina Zöller and had the following children who survived to adulthood: Anna Apollonia (1835-1892) emigrated to USA; Maria Antonia (1840-1915) who took over the guesthouse; Julius (1844-1923) emigrated USA; Ernst (1847-1865); Corbinian (1849-1905) and Raimund (1852-) emigrated to USA.

In such a small village as Dorfprozelten everyone would have known each other, and I assume, also known their relationships. This interests me especially because Anna Apollonia was almost exactly a year younger than my 2xgreat grandfather Georg Matthias Kunkel so not only would they have known each other, they may have played together and also attended school together.

Emigration to  America

Siblings Anna and Raimund Happ emigrated to the USA and newspaper notices of 30 August 1869 indicate their imminent departure from their home village.

Unmarried siblings Raimund and Anna Happ....Beobachter am Main und Aschaffenburger Anzeiger: 1869,7/12

Unmarried siblings Raimund and Anna Happ….Beobachter am Main und Aschaffenburger Anzeiger: 1869,7/12

Anna and Raymund/Raimund arrived in New York ex Bremen on the ship Main (ironic since that’s the river on which they had lived in Bavaria), on 4 October 1869.

Anna and Raymond NYM237_319-0091 (2)

Year: 1869; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 319; Line: 27; List Number: 1150. From Ancestry.com

Initially I couldn’t help wondering why Anna didn’t stay to take over the running of the inn. However, the discovery of Anna’s marriage to another Dorfprozelten emigrant, Franz Michael Scheubner, made it apparent why she had decided to leave her home village.

Anna Happ marriage 1869

The marriage occurred in New York on 24 October 1869, shortly after Anna’s arrival. It is indexed in the New York Marriages 1686-1980 under Scheibner, a further reference to Veh’s book clearly correlated to Scheubner rather than Scheibner: his parents were Sebastian Scheibner and Anna Maria Rheinthaler and Anna’s are also correctly shown as Michael Happ and Catherine Zöller.

Like many Germans, Franz Michael was more typically known by his second name, Michael, and this is how he appears in records in the US, other than his immigration record. He arrived in New York on the ship Union, on 8 May 1869, aged 30, and this document[ii] uses Franz, probably because this is how his baptism was recorded.

So now my question is why Anna brought her younger brother, Raimund, with her when she emigrated, rather than why she herself emigrated.

Life in America

It seems from all the records I’ve found that the couple lived in Manhattan through their life together.

In the 1870 US Federal census[iii], Michael and Anna were living in New York Ward 17, District 21. Michael was shown as a cook. Their surname has been misindexed as Scheibner.

By the 1880 Federal census[iv], Michael and Anna had two children, Frederick Scheubner aged 4 and Kathe aged 1 (probably Catherine after her mother) and were living on the east side of 16th Street, Manhattan. There were plenty of Bavarians living close by but it’s interesting that Michael showed their origins as German. Michael was working as a cook in a hotel and had dropped 7 years from his age.

Despite my best efforts and searching across multiple sites, I have been unable to locate any of the Scheubner family in the 1890 Federal census or the 1892 New York census. I am assuming that it has been mis-indexed, though even using wildcards or first names they have still eluded me. As it’s not my direct family I’ve had to put it aside for now rather than spend more time on it.

I have had more joy with City Directories. In the 1879 New York City Directories Michael Scheubner (a cook) is registered as living at 191 Orchard and in 1888 at 104 1st Street and was a cook. In 1894 he is registered as Mich’l Scheubner and he has an eating house at 61 Grand (see below) and a residence at 48 Grand. In later directories (1902, 1903 and 1906) he is at 61 Grand.[v]

On the 1900 census I found a Michael Scheubner living with his wife Katie at 61 Grand St between Wooster St and West Broadway, Manhattan[vi]. Michael is 50 and lists his birthdate as August 1849 (rather than July 1838) and arrived in the USA in 1870, having been there for 30 years. Katie, his wife, is also German-born and enumerated as aged 30, even though she supposedly arrived in 1869 and had been in the US for 31 years….obviously some error there. They had been married eight years (soon after Anna’s death in 1892?) and had two children, but neither was alive. Michael is working as a cook, which is why it’s tempting to think he’s the right man.

I’m curious, too, whether it is this Michael Scheubner who is a 38 year old (est YOB 1839) passenger on the Weser to New York in 1877. He is a cook and an American citizen. Is this our guy going back to Germany to see family, then returning?[vii]

Oops forgot this before...the Manhattan residences of the Scheubners.

Oops forgot this before…the Manhattan residences of the Scheubners.

And deaths in America

I knew from Dorfprozelten Teil II (page 229) that Anna Happ (Scheubner) had died on 14 February 1892 in the USA, though there is no mention of her married name. Indexes on Ancestry record her death on 12 February 1892, aged 56 in Manhattan.[viii]She died the day after her 56th birthday.

It seems it may be “our” Michael who died in 1905, also in Manhattan, aged 63[ix]. Michael is rather more prone to providing variable dates of birth.

I have done preliminary searches for the children Frederick and Kathe (Catherine?) Scheubner without success. Throughout this research I’ve been cross-referring between Family Search, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and Archives.com.

Please join me for Part II of this story as I reveal what happened to Raymond and his brother Julius in the USA.

For the record, this is my 600th post to this blog…whew!

FYI: When reading German references I particularly like the Reverso online dictionary. You can even use it to translate sentences.

——————

[i] Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II. Veh, G, Benedict Press, 2002. See pages 41, 143-144, 198-199, 192-193, 213-214 , 229, 23-239 for the families mentioned in this story.

[ii] Year: 1869; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 310; Line: 27; List Number: 457.

[iii] Year: 1870; Census Place: New York Ward 17 District 21 (2nd Enum), New York, New York; Roll: M593_1038; Page: 208B; Image: 420; Family History Library Film: 552537. From Ancestry.com

[iv] Year: 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, NewYork; Roll: 887; Family History Film: 1254887; Page: 221A; Enumeration District: 420; Image: 0307. From Ancestry.com

[v] Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[vi] Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Roll: 1080; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 0012; FHL microfilm: 1241080.

[vii]  Passenger Lists of vessels arriving at New York, 1820-1897 , Affiliate Film Number: 410 , GS Film Number: 000295774 , Digital Folder Number: 004680490 , Image Number: 00869. Familysearch.org

[viii] Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.Original data: Index to New York City Deaths 1862-1948. Indices prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group and the German Genealogy Group, and used with permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. Certificate 5447 can be ordered.

[ix] Ibid certificate 18960.

Finding the Fass in Dorfprozelten

It’s all been about the Germans for the past week as I unravel mysterious old documents or hunt through the newspapers. I still haven’t located the departure of my George Kunkel even though I’ve found quite a lot of his compatriots. I’m sure he’s there somewhere but I may have to trawl through page after page, which could get a bit tedious, not to mention hard on the eyes.

A postcard for Das Goldene Fass, owned by the Happ then Kunkel families. By the time of this photo  it was in other hands,  however I doubt much changed over the years.

I’ve known a little bit about his family’s business in Dorfprozelten am Main, thanks to the wonderful village histories[i] and the generosity of the local historian[ii].  The family owned and ran an inn or Guesthouse in the village for over 100 years. It was called Das Goldene Fass or The Golden Barrel. It seemed that it was indeed a lucrative business given the taxes they were paying: 800 gulden in 1818[iii].

Given this background George Kunkel was atypical among his emigrating peers many of whom were day labourers or in poor-paying jobs. It seems likely, given some of his occupations in Australia, that he shared his older half-brother’s trade as a Metzger (butcher). Family anecdote that he left to avoid military service seemed quite possible, as did the anecdote that he jumped ship given that Dorfprozelten is on the River Main, where a dominant industry is the barges up and down the river. One possibility is that George Kunkel left Bavaria when his older half-brother Jakob August Ulrich inherited/took over the Fass guesthouse circa 1853 when his father died.

My research in the German newspapers last week overturned all my prior thinking on this family, and therefore also on George’s reasons for emigrating. References are not particularly easy to find but I was very pleased with my discoveries.

The first was finding George’s father’s name, Adam Kunkel in the Intelligenzblatt von Unterfranken und Aschaffenburg’s Allgemeines Register, page 34 (Public Register) for the year 1846. Among the approx 2400 names is this one:  Kunkel, Adam Liquidation, 338, 4619, b.

Plainly the business was on shaky ground and on the verge of bankruptcy, or perhaps it was just Adam himself who was in financial difficulty –much would depend on his legal standing in relation to the guesthouse. The Fass had actually belonged to his wife’s family, the Happs through the previous century so how Catherine felt about all this we’ll never know.  I’m sure the numbers after the entry have some significance but as yet I don’t know what they are.

A few years later, on 26 April 1849, he appears in the Aschaffenburger Zeintung…. with this notice. This time the link to the guesthouse is clearer.

My literal translation is confusing but my best guess is that this was some form of creditor’s meeting in neighbouring Klingenberg. Patching words together to make sense of it is hazardous but for now this is my best guess. Notice: On Saturday 12 May at 11am Adam Kunkel, married of Dorfprozelten, belonging to the Guesthouse Fass with Amgriff (surrounds?) in 3 to 4 years interest eked out (??), interested parties are invited to attend in the parish rooms, a public auction in the said place….(Sorry but I just can’t figure this out accurately –feel free to enlighten me!).

The next entry is again in the Intelligenzblatte von Unterfranken und Achaffenburg for the year 1852, page 32[iv]. Once again there were many other entries. Adam’s reads as follows:  Kunkel, Adam zu Dorfprozelten, Gasthaus Versteigerung, 2 20 b, 31 427 b. My understanding is that this says Adam Kunkel, auction of Guesthouse. It’s pretty clear that the business remained in financial difficulties.

It’s around this time that Adam’s step-son Jakob Ulrich marries Elisabeth Firmbach and takes over the Fass. It’s also within the timeframe I estimate for George Kunkel’s departure. In 1848 Europe had been in the throes of revolution and Bavaria was part of this unrest, largely due to the people’s dissatisfaction with the King’s mistress Lola Montez. There were also moves to German unification. Whether these political factors affected the viability of the Fass Guesthouse is of course unknown, but it’s not illogical to think that during periods of economic and political instability people don’t tend to travel or holiday elsewhere.

Only a year after the last notice in 1852, Adam Kunkel died, aged only 55. I don’t have his cause of death but it makes me think I should follow this up.

Jakob Ulrich managed the inn until 1868 when suddenly the remaining family fell ill. Jakob died in June, son Karl in July, his wife Elisabeth in August, and finally his mother Catherine Kunkel nee Happ and later Ulrich, in October 1868. Before her death Catherine would see her family’s inheritance auctioned off as advertised in this notice. The guesthouse was taken over by an August Ulrich, possibly a cousin of Jakob’s. The surviving children of Jakob and Elisabeth progressively emigrated to the United States, settling in New York state.

What does it all mean? This advertisement post-dates the death of Jakob Ulrich and the sale of the family guesthouse.

Some of these newspaper references were easy enough to find, others required rather odd search terms. It’s possible there’s more still to find, but these gems have certainly reframed my family’s story in Bavaria.

Concurrent with this research I was reading The Lieutenant by Australian author, Kate Grenville (kindly sent to me by a friend). It’s an excellent book, by the way, but this section (page 152) spoke to me in the context of my German research and the limitations of my high-school German:

“But language was more than a list of words, more than a collection of fragments all jumbled together like a box of nuts and bolts. Language was a machine. To make it work, each part has to be understood in relation to all the other parts.”

ENDNOTES

[i] The most useful of these is Dorfprozelten am Main Teil II, Veh, G. Benedict Press 2002.

[ii] Those gifts didn’t drop easily from the tree but took multiple letters and visits to obtain, so do persevere with your challenging European ancestors.

[iii] Veh, G. Op cit page 192.

[iv] Grenville, K. The Lieutenant. Canongate Books, 2010, page 152.