The human geography in that neck if the woods is no less interesting. The entire
By the time my family showed up
Joseph Emmerich was born in a small but historically significant Bavarian village in August 1855. Though Seinsheim sits in a fertile wine growing region he and his forebears were traditionally stonemasons and bricklayers. According to tradition they participated in the renovation of the large medieval cathedral of Würzburg nearby. (Seinsheim had excellent records extending back to the early 1500’s but, sadly, everything was destroyed when the USAF firebombed the area at the end of WWII).
When Joseph was 17 his family got wind of a forthcoming military appointment. So, naturally, he booked it for
Joseph drops off the map until 1880 when he surfaces in rural
Louise Breitenwischer was born in March 1862 in
To be fair her grandmother was also born to a single mom. The village moral authority of 1815 could not have looked kindly upon “inconnu” or “unknown” scribbled in under “father’s name”! The great-grandmother in turn was born in exile— their family dislodged from their Rhenish border-town by Austrian troops coming to the aid of Monarchists during the Reign of Terror in the 1790s. It was not easy for them.
Within a five year range of 1882 things looked pretty bad for Louise. Both her parents, her remaining grandparents, and most of her aunts and uncles all died from alcoholism, alcohol related accidents or tuberculosis. The City of
But there’s no hand up like a “hand-out.” Louise’s brother Frederick had saved $500— a handsome sum for 1882. He gave her the money so she would have a chance to get out, get married, and have a good life. (As an aside, Fred and his family came out alright— this particular anecdote was passed to me by a descendant, a daughter of one Busch Stadium organist and her husband a certain Cardinals player/Hall of Fame broadcaster).
And so it was that Louise got on a boat in the fall of 1882. It wound its way over 300 miles up the
They had two kids, one of whom was my great-grandfather. Joseph held numerous jobs from mason, to restaurant proprietor, to shoe repairman, to farmer. He did well enough to sit on the building committee for the new Catholic Church in Effingham in 1896. Sadly, that building was destroyed fire (suspected arson) in April 2008.
I didn’t go through Effingham on my way home from