|Louisa Steubenrauch||Joseph Gross||Henrietta Meier|
Joseph Gross was born in the Kingdom of Bavaria (Königreich Bayern) in the year 1820. It was a beautiful place, rich in culture, but it was politically unstable during the early part of that century. He decided to emigrate, setting the course for the lives of his decedents by settling in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The 1850’s were a peak time for German emigration. The Holy Roman Empire had expired in 1806 and that left a collection of principalities that would spend the next 65 years working out the details that would eventually allow them to unify in 1871 to form the country of Germany.
Napoleon had been defeated in 1815 and the French Revolution that had enhanced the conflict of the classes came to an end. The people were left with over population, economic depression and marriage restrictions among other reasons that leant to the desire to emigrate.
During those years there was much unrest and conflict. The aristocratic landowners and the tradesman were at odds. The principalities disputed about the right to rule the region. The two main contenders were the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Kingdom of Prussia and citizens were being required to take up arms.
Many favored the unification of the principalities and were not likely to resist. Simultaneously, more than half of military-aged men emigrated illegally to avoid compulsory enlistment.
The specific reason for Joseph Gross to migrate is not known, nor is the specific year. Most immigration records for this time no longer exist. There are some passenger logs, however it’s difficult to glean whether the passenger is the exact match to the person you are researching. In most cases there is only a name and date of birth, sometimes an occupation. There are some possible immigration matches for him – one in 1846 aboard the Ship Adams, another in 1846 aboard the Ship Adario, and one in 1854 aboard the Ship Minna.
Having only been settled in 1788, Cincinnati was less than 70 years old around the time that Joseph arrived. It was the sixth largest city and more and more of its residents were emigrating from the areas that would become Germany.
Joseph arrived in the United States and settled in Over-the-Rhine, a Germania district situated on the north side of the canal. Residents of this district were mainly German immigrants who walked over bridges spanning the canal to work in the downtown area.
Franklin Pierce was the President of the United States from 1853-1857, then James Buchanan from 1857-1861. Slavery was a topic that divided the country and events were brewing that would ultimately lead to the Civil War that spanned 1861-1865, during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
Joseph married Louisa Stubenrauch in Cincinnati between the years 1850-1855 . She was also from Bavaria.
Around this time, Joseph worked on the same block as Frank Stubenrauch, who was a butcher. Perhaps Joseph was a patron and met Louisa in this way. There were few, about four, other Stubenrauchs in town. They arrived sometime in the mid 1850’s and made their living as butchers, cigar makers and laborers. Some registered for the civil war draft. But, there is no evidential link between Louisa and any particular Stubenrauch. This is because she arrived and was married between census years.
In 1856, Joseph & Louisa welcomed their first born, twin daughters, Johanna and Louisa. Joseph was thirty-seven and Louisa was thirty years old when the babies were born. That was somewhat older than the typical first-time parents of this time period. Typically, people of similar station as Joseph and Lousia married in their mid-twenties.
Joseph Sr. first appeared on record in 1857 when his name appeared in the Cincinnati Williams’ Street Directory. He was listed as a finisher, working at 516 Main Street, about six blocks south of the canal. Later he worked in a foundry on Elm Street. This likely meant that he would clean and assemble foundry moulds to prepare them for pouring metal. Finisher continued to be his title from 1857 to 1862. After that he was listed as either a locksmith or a safe maker.
Four years after the twins were born, came their brother, Joseph Jr., in 1860.
At this time, Cincinnati had five horsecar lines and over 150,000 residents. The Gross family lived in the 12th Ward of Cincinnati. This was on the northern part of Pleasant Street, between Race and Elm Streets, a half-block north of Liberty and just north of the Miami Canal (now Central Parkway). Pleasant Street began at 14th Street and ran north, ending at Findlay Market, which had opened in 1855. There were many breweries being built around Over the Rhine at this time.
Louisa died between the years 1860 to 1864. Unfortunately, the death records for this time period were destroyed in the 1884 Hamilton County Courthouse fire. So the circumstances are unknown. There was a death announcement In the Daily Gazette that stated a woman, Mrs. L. J. Gross, died on a Friday evening at 9 o’clock, November 25, 1864. She was in the 39th year of her age.
Joseph was left with his twin girls and young son. They were eight and four, respectively.
Not long after his wife’s death, Joseph married Henrietta Meier . There were several people with the last name Meier who lived on Pleasant Street during this time. Perhaps Henrietta was a niece of a friend. It cannot be known how they met, but Henrietta became his wife and the surrogate mother to his three children.
Henrietta was also from Bavaria and had migrated at the age of nineteen in 1846 with her mother, Margaret. Upon arriving in Cincinnati, Henrietta took a job working for a white lead manufacturer. White lead was the most important pigment used in paint, plaster, and make-up.
She was listed on the 1850 census as a twenty-two-year-old laborer for Stephan Conkling in the 9th ward. His company was listed in the Williams’ Street directory at South Court Street, East of Broadway.
In 1860, Henrietta was on the census in her mother’s household. Both Margaret and Henrietta worked as washer women in the 5th ward. The spelling of Henrietta’s last name varied by source and variations included Meier, Meiers, Meyer, and Meyers.
Henrietta married Joseph when she was thirty-two and he was forty-five. In the years that followed, they had a daughter, Margaret , who was presumably named for Henrietta’s mother, born in 1864 and three sons. Nicholas was born in 1865, Louis in 1868 , and Henry in 1869.
The year that their youngest child, Henry, was born also marked the year that the first professional baseball team in the United States of America was established – the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Soon, baseball became a national pastime.
By 1870, Joseph had become a Locksmith and the family had moved to 434 Linn Street in the south half of the 18th Ward. This was south of Findlay Street and north of Liberty Street, on the opposite side of the Miami Canal from Pleasant Street. The value of Joseph’s personal estate was $350. Other men in the neighborhood included a streetcar conductor, a day carpenter, a cabinet maker, an express man and a porter-in-store. The mothers in the neighborhood kept house and there was one family with a domestic servant.
The twins were thirteen years old in 1870. Johanna went by the name Hannah and she and her sister, Louisa, worked as domestic servants. Both girls were listed dually on that census report- once in their father’s household and once in the household of their respective employer. In their own home, their occupation was reported as “seamstress.”
Hannah worked in the household of Henry Bremeda, who was a paper manufacturer from Pennsylvania. Louisa worked on the same street, but in the household of Ira M. Ried, who was a deputy sheriff.
Joseph Jr. and Margareth attended school that year. The young boys, ages one, three and five, were at home with their mother.
Henrietta died on July 7, 1873 at quarter to six in the evening. Her death announcement in the German newspaper, Cincinanti Volksblatt, follows:
Henrietta died of consumption, also known as tuberculosis. She is buried at Carthage Road Cemetery, now called Vine Street Hill Cemetery, according to her record at the Cincinnati Health Department (filed under “Henrietta Grass”.) However, there is not a listing for her in the Vine Street Hill burial records. The nearest church was St. Peter in Chains, which was less than a mile from their home, walking along the canal.
Joseph was left with three children from his first marriage and four from his second, all ranging in age from four to seventeen. The children remained close throughout their lives, based upon their proximity. Two of the youngest sons stayed close with the oldest daughters despite their different biological mothers. Perhaps Hannah and Louisa helped to fulfill a role that was lost to their siblings, having been so young themselves when they lost their own mother.
There was a cholera outbreak during this time in Cincinnati. The cases were perplexing because they were mainly solitary occurrences with the victims never having been in contact with one another and coming from clean, well-kept houses with proper drainage. It was later suspected that a change to the Millcreek for the city’s water supply was the cause.
Joseph’s family moved frequently during the 1870’s. In 1871, they lived on Elder Street. In 1873 they lived at 476 John Street, near the corner of 4th Street. In 1876 they lived on Livingston Street, near Findlay Market again.
Daily life included the use of lanterns and candles as the source of light in the home. Thomas Edison, who was born in the year 1847 (in Ohio, incidentally), didn’t invent the light bulb until 1879, not that the average American family would have electric lighting in their home until many years later.
By 1880, the family lived at 522 Walnut Street, directly across from Fountain Square, then called Probasco Square, and the Tyler Davidson Fountain, which had been erected in 1871. This was closer to Joseph’s new job.
There were five families in their building. One was that of blacksmith who was listed as insane. He had a wife and two adult sons, one a lawyer and one a civil engineer. There were two tailors who boarded with a cook and his wife. There was an oil refiner who lived with his wife and their daughter who was a tailoress. There was also a merchant tailor and his wife.
Margareth was listed next to her father as the keeper of the house and her elder half-brother was listed beneath her. (Usually children were listed in order of birth.) Joseph Jr. was a baker. Nicholas was “at home”, Louis was an apprentice to his father at “locksmithing” and Henry was “at school”.
Hannah and Louisa worked as servants in the household of George P. Bassett, a banker with a wife and four children who lived in Mt. Auburn on McGregor Avenue.
Hannah would soon marry Edward Koch, who in 1880 was a clerk at the corner of 5th and Vine, on Probasco Square. Louisa would marry Henry Richmond, who emigrated from England in 1879. Louisa had her first child in Ohio and then the twins and their husbands moved to Bellevue, Kentucky and raised their families there. Hannah had one boy and Louisa had four girls.
Joseph worked at 88 and 90 Elm Street near Canal in Over the Rhine for many years and then at the Hall’s Safe and Lock Company beginning around the time he moved to Walnut Street. It was located on the corner of Pearl and Plum.
In 1885, the family including, Joseph Sr., Margareth, Nicolas, and Henry lived at the south east corner of Bank and Coleman.
Joseph then moved to Moore Street in 1888, which was back in Over-the-Rhine. Joseph continued to work until 1888 and stayed on Moore Street until 1889. Then in 1891 he boarded on Walnut Street.
In 1893, he moved in with his son, Joseph Jr., on Carlisle Street where he died on June 8th at the age of 72. His cause of death was listed as “Insanity Apoplexy”, likely a stroke in his brain that caused delirium. He is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in St. Bernard. Section: 6 Subsection: A Grave: 1267
After Joseph died, Nicholas and Henry joined their older half-sisters in Bellevue, Kentucky. Nicholas, a carriage painter, later moved to Northside. Nicholas never married and the words “the old bachelor” were written on the back of a photo of him. He served in the military and is in military dress in the photo. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1887.
Henry, a gas fitter then electrician, moved to Clifton, at 1910 University Street (the same building where I once lived, 86 years later) Across the street was Meckelenburg Gardens, a German restaurant and beer garden where Henry frequented. The establishment served as a place where German immigrants could maintain their heritage while learning about the American political process. The patrons created a mock town called Kloppenburg and held mock elections.
Henry later moved to Dayton. He married a lady named Cecilia and they had seven children. He could speak English, but apparently used German at home and his grandchildren remember sitting on his lap and listening to him speaking in German.
Hannah and Louisa remained in Bellevue, Kentucky throughout their lives.
Louis continued to live at various addresses in Cincinnati. He was a safe maker, iron worker, then a range maker. He and his wife, Valentina, had nine children in all.
Joseph Jr., once a baker at the Cincinnati House of Refuge, a home for juvenile offenders, then an insurance collector, eventually turned to farming and moved to Harrison Avenue in North Bend. He and his wife were married for over 10 years before they had three children.
Margareth was last known to live with her father in 1886 at the south east corner of Bank and Coleman.
Joseph Gross, Sr., was a typical immigrant from the German region who came to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio. His children were productive and prolific members of society who contributed greatly to the culture of the area. Many of their decedents still live there today.
(c) Laura Stolk 2014