Just a Small Girl

When Johanna was small, she experiences two life changing events within four months. At the age of six, her mother died and her father emigrated to the United States, leaving her in Baden (now Germany).

Previously overlooked in the family notes and found in newly indexed German church records, Johanna Barbara Friederika Eigenmann was the only known child of Friedreich Eigenmann and Barbara Müller, born 10 June 1874. She appears to have been named for her parents and her paternal grandmother. The family lived in Karlsruhe, Baden, where Friedreich worked as a cooper.

Sadly, Barbara passed away 9 December 1880. A few months later in March 1881, Friedriech sailed to America. It’s not known if his emigration was long-planned or if it was a reaction to Barbara’s passing. If the emigration was planned, two things strike me as possibilities: the whole family might have gone had Barbara not died and, depending on their economic situation, they may have been saving to go for many years.

Whether it was planned or reactionary, Johanna was left in Baden. It must have been hard for her to loose both her parents within a few months. At her small age, did she understand why both parents were suddenly gone?

Johanna was probably left in the care of a relative. There were numerous aunts, uncles, and grandparents she could have lived with, but my best theory is that she lived with her paternal relatives because of where she was buried almost eight years later.

Johanna passed away on 25 January 1889, at the age of 14. During his life in America, Friedreich recorded life events of family back in Baden in his diary, indicating letters must have been exchanged as late as 1919. His diary says that Johanna died of a spinal injury. She was buried in the same cemetery as her paternal grandmother and namesake, Johanna (Renk) Eigenmann.

Johanna’s death record indicates that Freidriech is in America and Barbara is deceased.