Eleanora Wissig was one of my 3rd great-grandmothers. She was born 22 July 1835 in the Duchy of Nassau (in modern-day Germany). She immigrated to the United States before 1856 and lived in St. Louis, Missouri, where there was a large German population. She married my 3rd great-grandfather, (John) Adam Roth, 22 November 1856. He was wounded, suffered internal hemorrhaging, and passed away 5 November 1867. Eleanora married her second husband, Frederick Kunz, on 26 October 1871. I found their death dates last month: Eleanora died 1 April 1908 and Frederick died 7 June 1903.
Until recently, our family tree has shown that Eleanora and Adam had two daughters — Lissette and Augusta — and Eleanora and Frederick had three daughters — Dora, Lydia, and Martha. But in the last few weeks I found that there were five additional children. Eleanora had ten children! Twice as many as previously known.
This week’s prompt for 52 Ancestors is Ten. This is the story of how I discovered my 3rd great-grandmother had ten children.
While writing about Eleanora’s daughter, Augusta Wilhelmenia (Roth) Eigenmann, for a 52 Ancestors prompt, I noticed a few document gaps in their timelines. This is a family line that I haven’t spent much time with, so I decided to get to know them a little more.
First, I looked at the 1870 census that was already attached to Eleanora in Ancestry. (I share a tree with my parents, who have been doing family history for as long as I can remember, so there are lots of records I haven’t looked at yet.) Eleanora had been a widow for about 2 1/2 years when the census was taken. I found Eleanora listed with Augusta, age 4, and Lissette, age 7. But there were two others listed: Charles and Doris. Charles was listed as the oldest at age 12, Doris was the youngest, being listed as just a year old, with Augusta and Lissette in between. This led to some questions:
- Who were these children?
- Were they Eleanora’s?
- What happened to them?
After some work, including searching census records for Eleanora’s children from her second marriage, I was able to locate the family in the 1860, 1880, and 1900 censuses. (My 2nd great-grandmother wasn’t coming up in searches before because the census takers wrote her name as Auguste with her stepfather’s last name. Eleanora and Lissette’s names are written and indexed in a variety of ways.)
In the 1860 census, Eleanora is found with her first husband, Adam Roth, and a 2-year-old named Carl. Carl is a German version of Charles and the birth year of Carl matches that of Charles in the 1870 census, so I believe they are the same person.
In the 1880 census, Eleanora is listed with her second husband, Frederick Kunz. The children living with them all have the last name Kunz: Charles, Lissette, Augusta, Dora, Lydia, Martha, and Susie. But Dora is not the same person as Doris, their birth dates are too different (1868 and 1872) and would have been daughters of different men. This census led to two more questions:
- What happened to Doris?
- Who is Susie?
In the 1900 census, Eleanora, Fred, and Lydia are living in the same household. Lissette, Dora, and Martha are also living in St. Louis. Augusta, my 2nd great-grandmother, was living in Macon, Georgia, with her family. But it just so happens that this census asks two questions of mothers:
- How many children has the person had?
- How many of those children are living?
Eleanora is listed as having 10 children with 5 being alive in 1900. This information, while useful for the statistical purposes of the time, is invaluable for finding previously unknown family members. For me, there is something sweet about finding children that have been lost and forgotten.
Based on these census records records and finding some additional records, I have come to the following hypotheses:
- Charles, Doris, and Susie are Eleanora’s children along with 2 other unknown children, accounting for the five previously unknown births reported in the 1900 census.
- Doris was probably close to 2 years old in the 1870 census. That census was taken in early June which means that Eleanora must have been newly pregnant with Doris when Adam died 5 November 1867. She may not have even known she was pregnant yet. This would put Doris’ birth in June or July of 1868.
- Doris died before 1880. I have found a death index entry for a Doretha Roth who died in 1871, but no other information is listed, so I haven’t been able to connect the two yet.
- Charles and Susie died before 1900. I have found burial records for several Charles Roths and a Susanna Kunz, but the records offer no family relation information. There is a commonality in burial place for one of the Charles records, Susanna, Eleanora, Adam, Frederick, and Lydia. But only Lydia has a headstone and the cemetery only records Lydia, Eleanora, and Frederick’s burials.
- It’s possible that Eleanora lost an infant or small child in each of her marriages. There are gaps within both sets of children where an unknown child could fit in.
The search for Charles, Doris, Susie and the other 2 children has run into record gaps, cemetery relocations, and language barriers. Eleanora, Adam, and Frederick all emigrated from Germany, although Adam came as a child. They most likely spoke German and read the local German newspapers; I do not speak or read German. If overcoming the German-language barrier weren’t enough, there is also the barrier of the alphabet used at the time. The German language was written in the Fraktur alphabet, a Gothic calligraphic script, pictured right. Currently, I’m waiting on some death notices published in a German newspaper from the St. Louis County Library. I’ll have to then see how difficult they are to decipher before planning my next steps.
Update: Since originally writing this, I discovered one of the unknown children in the place I probably should have looked first: the family files. I pulled all the files related to this family. In the general Roth file, I found a piece of paper with two lines of text:
ROTH, Georg; born 21 Dec. 1860; son of Adam ROTH & Eleonora WISSIG; died 5 Oct. 1865; buried the following day — 1865 # 517.
The date stamp was 9/16/2008, almost exactly 10 years ago. The website printed at the bottom doesn’t work anymore, but the title at the top, St. Marcus Burials, led me to the unindexed digital microfilm images for the church records. After some browsing, I found the entry.
Second Update: Right before I was planning on publishing this post, I received the newspaper clippings from the St. Louis County Library. The clipping for Charles Roth didn’t offer any family information, so it isn’t useful in proving he was the child of my ancestor. But the clipping for Susanna Kunz did! After transliterating and then translating the notice, I was satisfied that Susanna and Susie were the same person.
Here is the clip and the (rough) translation.
Susana Kunz our dearest beloved daughter and sister, died on the 1 December, in the morning 8:30 o’clock after suffering hard at the age of 8 years and 6 months. The funeral is here today afternoon at 2 o’clock at mourning house No. 1027 Park Avenue [aus statt], where Friends and Relatives courteously invited. The mourning survivors, Friedrich Kunz, Elenora Kunz, parents, together with siblings.
Now on to find the answers to the rest of the questions above and child number ten.