Category Archives: Blog

1908: Value of Life

Germans Say We Hold Life Cheap

Found on

The article above is in reference to the school fire in Collinwood, Ohio that killed many children. The fire happened on March 4, 1908 and one hundred seventy five lives were lost. Almost all killed were children and most were German immigrants. The investigation into the origin of the fire was not conclusive, but rather determined that the building was unsafe in the event of a fire.

People in Germany were outraged that a tragedy like this occurred and accused Americans of not holding the value of human life dear.

If you scroll through the article above, you will come upon the next article, which is about a lynching that took place in Texas on March 9, 1908. It does not mention the name of the person who was lynched, only that he was “negro” and accused of trying to rob and kill a white man. It does not say whether he was tried and convicted, just that he was lynched in an “orderly” fashion.

You can venture to say that the Germans were right and that the value of all life to Americans was not held high in 1908.




July 19, 1916: The State of the World 100 Years Ago

In case you were under the impression that things were better in the olden days, a perusing of the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer from 100 years ago today will change your mind.

Just this one page covers blacklisted Americans, prisoners of war, immigration and political refuge, escaped convicts, three murder/suicides, drug overdose, shootings at the Mexican boarder, war, a train wreck, a crazed man on the loose who believed he must die in order to bring a message to the Almighty, and an indigent father sentenced to the workhouse.
100 Years Ago Today_The_Cincinnati_Enquirer_Wed__Jul_19__1916_

Franz Heinrich Walkenhorst: A Work in Progress

I have been working on this family for years – 17 to be exact!

Until this year, I thought my ancestors were descendants of Casper Heinrich Walkenhorst. It even said as much on my great, great-grandfather`s death certificate.

But something never added up: Frank Henry was never listed on the census, even though his older sister, Mary, had been, as well as all younger siblings born to that date. It was perplexing because he would only have been about 8 in 1860.

As the years went by, more and more records have been transcribed. Things surface daily, it seems at this point. Whereas, a decade ago the search was very rigorous.

I searched everywhere for Frank Henry – the street directories, the census files, the passenger records, military records – you name it. He just was never listed until the 1880 census when he was married with a family of his own.

Things were confused and compounded because in the Walkenhorst family, just about every male had the middle name of Heinrich – and most of them went by the name Henry Walkenhorst.

So, things had to be sorted out according to profession. There was a carpenter, a blacksmith, a mason, a whitewasher and a cigar maker. These were the main Walkenhorst men in early Cincinnati.

Casper was the carpenter. Joseph was the blacksmith. George was the cigar maker. Franz was the mason. Johann was a whitewasher/laborer. Sounds pretty simple, but that took years to figure out! They had many children among them, including even more men that went by `Henry Walkenhorst`.

Still, Frank Henry (born in about 1852) was the son of Casper according to his death certificate and absolutely nothing could be found to substantiate that – when it should have been easy.

They came here in 1858, some just before, some just after. All of the main men popped up in the Cincinnati Williams Street directory in 1858, 1859, and 1860, remaining thereafter until their deaths.

So, there should have been an 1860 census that definitely listed Frank Henry in Casper`s household. There was not. Casper was there with his wife and three daughters – no Frank Henry. I thought they must have hired him out, but he was only eight…still, maybe.

A passenger record was what I really needed. I looked and watched, waited for years. Then finally in 2016 – voila! I found the passenger record for Casper…..Casper Talkenhorst, which in a rare find also listed his family members – wife and daughter, both Catherine. No Frank Henry. Dates of birth matched for everyone listed. Place of origin matched. Even the occupation for Casper, a joiner (carpenter). And! They were even listed next to a family coming to Cincinnati. It was them. But, where was Frank Henry? That should have clinched it.

That little boy would have been a baby during migration. No way he was travelling alone. No explanation.

So, I kept searching.

Finally, I figured it out. Frank Henry was not the son of Casper, as it turned out. Casper was his uncle, who took custody of the children of his brother, Franz Heinrich (the mason), when he died in 1870. Only in 1870, Frank Henry was 18. So, Casper did not take legal custody of him. It was in spirit for him, though legitimate for his younger siblings.

The reason I know this is because when Casper died in 1882, his wife was named as the legal guardian of two children who had previously been listed on the 1870 census among their other children.

To legitimize this further, Frank`s sister and cousin were both named Caroline and were born a year apart. Each can be found in the separate households in the same year. (That sounds lame and confusing, but was one of the key points in legitimizing all of this, trust me!)

Then, low and Behold, I finally found Frank Henry at the age of 18, living on his own in a household of stone mason apprentices and his occupation was the tell-tale `Teamster`, which would be his identifier throughout the rest of his life. On that 1870 census his name was recorded as Frank Walkenhart.

The same week, I also finally found Frank Henry on the 1860 census. He was eight, living with his parents Franz and Catherine (his mother`s name was Anna K., K for Katherine, I presume) and his siblings, Caroline, Augusta and Anna. Their last name was listed as Wagenhorst – not a far stretch and I had searched for every variation possible of that name. I think it must be that is has only recently been transcribed. I don`t know why else I didn’t see that until now.

So, the mystery was solved.

But then there was his new-found legitimate family to solve.

I had spent years researching Casper, his wife and their children. I had never known about the actual father: Franz Heinrich, and his wife Anna K.

They were a whole new can of worms.

As it turns out, Franz Heirich and Anna K. had NINE children, in all. Anna K. and most of the children died, presumably of cholera. This happened between census years and so they would never had been found out if it weren’t for cemetery records cross referenced with birth and death records and addresses from the Cincinnati Williams Street Directory and Census files.

The cemetery records were both invaluable and not very informative, in themselves. However, by reading between the lines, it was revealed that people were buried in the same graves and in the same plot as the Casper Walkenhorst family. The cemetery records were the first thing I had back in 1998. They just didn’t make a whole lot of sense until other records surfaced to collaborate. There were names and dates of death with no ages, for example. No information given about family relations, just simply `child`. People buried in order of death, but not within an immediate family – cousins buried in grave 4-296-1 and -2. Things like that. I have a whole database if you are ever interested!

One thing is for sure, Casper Heinrich and Franz Heinrich Walkenhorst were very close, even if I don`t yet have a document proving they are even related. They migrated the same year and from the same place. They lived practically next door to one another throughout the years, even as they changed addresses yearly. Their children, their wives and they themselves are buried together. That says `brother` to me.

After Franz Heinrich`s wife, Anna K., and their children died, Franz remarried to a woman named Louise Nienaber – just a few months later.

Franz Heinrich and Louise had two children, one of which was born after Franz Heinrich died. In the space of three years, Franz and both of those children died, leaving Louise, now with no biological connection to Frank Henry or his surviving siblings (Elizabeth and Frederick).

Incidentally, Franz Heinrich`s second wife, Louise, went on to marry William Roettcher (a month after her two children by Franz died.) With William, she had two more children. Louise and her second husband, William, lived until 1913 and 1916, respectively. Strange how so many died young and, yet, some survived until old age.

I will reiterate and try to simplify that: 6 children, one wife and one husband died in the course of nine years. Four children, a step-mom and her husband survived.

Louise Nineabar Walkenhorst helped with the research in that she lived in close proximity to the Walkenhorsts and had ties to surnames that ended up in the Walkenhorst family, namely Kuhn, which was the surname of Frank Henry`s wife.

It took over a decade, but the mystery of my great, great grandfather is solved!

I am the daughter of Roger, son of Elizabeth, daughter of Albert, son of Frank Henry, son of Franz Heinrich Walkenhorst. We came to Cincinnati from Osnabrueck, Lower Saxony, Germany in the mid 1800`s. Our tree is here:

Next up: Finding the Walkenhorsts of Osnabrueck

The Biography of Louisa Holtgrewe

(The Cincinnati Strongman’s Sister)
1863-1899 – 36 Years Lived

Louisa Holtgreive was born in Königreich Hannover (the Kingdom of Hanover) in the
year 1863. Her parents were Frederick Joseph Holtgreive (Fred) and Elizabeth Schawe

Louisa’s mother had eight children in all, but only Louisa and her two brothers, Henry
and Frederick, survived childhood. Those three children gave her and their father 25
grandchildren. Though many children in those days died young of illness or accident,
by the time Fred and Lizzie were living out their old age in the next century, they were
surrounded by many loved ones.

Louisa’s father was a farmer who was also a skilled carpenter and notorious for his
strength. They lived in the northern part of present day Germany.

In 1871, the Kingdom of Hanover was conquered by Prussia and Hanover became a state in the German Empire. Louisa was seven years old. When the empire was being formed,
there was much unrest. People began emigrating to avoid the draft, to escape the
antiquated caste system, and to find work and opportunity in a trade industry.

In 1884, when Louisa was twenty years old, the family migrated to the United States.
Louisa traveled with her younger brother, Frederick, and their parents. Her older brother,
Henry, followed separately a couple of years later.

They left Bremen, a port city on the river Weser, which led to the North Sea. The
Holtgrieve family’s journey began by first getting to Bremen. Their exact origin is not yet
known, we just know that they lived “near Hanover”. So, they could have walked,
traveled by cart, steamboat or train to get to the port. Once there, they likely had to wait
for some time before actually boarding their ship.

Full Story: Louisa Holtgrewe and Family

Louis P. Gross and Valentina R. Schacht

Valentina R. Schacht was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1870. She was the youngest daughter of Andreas (Andrew) Schacht and his wife, Eva, who were immigrants from Bavaria. The name ‘Valentina’ is Latin and means ‘health and love.’

Andreas Schacht and his wife, Eva, migrated from the Kingdom of Bavaria and settled into the 17th Ward of New York City sometime before 1860. Andreas worked as a Butcher. Eva was about to give birth to their son, John.

The couple lived in a neighborhood among other families that were headed by men whose occupations included a baker, a holder, a lager maker and a morocco case maker who were all from Wurtenberg, a porter from Ireland, a cabinet maker and his apprentice, and a lager beer saloon owner from France.

Andreas was saving his money and already had three hundred dollars. After John was born, the young family began preparations for a move from New York City to the growing City of Cincinnati, Ohio. The reason for the move is unknown. Perhaps it was because Cincinnati was becoming such a German settlement and they would feel at home or maybe they had family members there. (Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances. See notes at end and articles pertaining to another butcher in New York in 1860 named Frederick Schacht.)

The family moved to Cincinnati between 1861-1867. Katie was born in 1867 in Cincinnati. Andreas Schacht died before 1870, just before or after Valentina was born. The circumstances of his death are unknown. In 1870, Valentina was born and Eva was listed as a widow in the Williams Street directory at 383 Court Street.
After Andreas’ death, Eva and the children lived at 26 Jones Street in Cincinnati. Eva supported her family with the help of her son, John, by working as a laundress while he worked as a painter.

The family moved very frequently during the years between 1878 and 1907.

Eva worked as a laundress, confec., grocery and was listed as a widow.

From 1879 to 1884, John’s job changed frequently and ranged from huckster to car painter to laborer to wheel maker to machine hand.

In 1880, Katie worked as a servant, a nurse, in the household of Maurice & Henrietta Doob (?) at 336 Richmond Street. She was 12 or 13 years of age.

In 1890-91, The Williams Street Directory lists Eva, widow of Andrew, Valentina, and Katie at the same address – 38 Fiftheenth Street. This is the evidence that ties Valentina to Eva and this family. The census reports only show Valentina in the household, in 1880 when she is listed as “Dena.” This is perhaps a transcription error on the part of the census taker, as they probably called her “Tina.” (Valentina’s death certificate lists her father as “Unkown Schacht”, which is the verification of her maiden name.)

In February of both 1883 and 1884, there were terrible floods in Cincinnati. In 1884, the Ohio River peaked at 71.1 feet. As you can see from the following pictures and articles, many families were devastated. They lost their homes and belongings and many had to be rescued from the roofs of their homes.

It is not known how Valentina and her family were directly affected by either of these floods, but they all survived. She was about to turn twelve years old when the first flood hit.

Only a month after the 1884 flood subsided, there was a major riot in downtown Cincinnati. The angry mob burned the courthouse after hearing an unfavorable verdict of “manslaughter” in the case of a man who killed his boss in order to rob him of $285.

By 1890, Valentina and her family had relocated to 38 Fifteenth Street in Over the Rhine. John moved out to be on his own, but Katie and Valentina still lived with their mother. The girls supported themselves and Eva by working as tailoresses and were listed in the Williams Street Directory.

John’s address in 1890 was 26 Buckeye. This address was associated with a man named William Schacht and a baby named Katie Schacht, who both died there fourteen years prior, in the year 1876. At this time a relationship is not known.

Around this time in 1890, Valentina met Louis P. Gross, who worked as a safe maker and lived nearby. He was a boarder at the corner of Fourteenth and Race Streets. Louis Gross was the son of Joseph Gross and his wife, Henrietta Louisa, whose origins were also in the Kingdom of Bavaria. Born on April 4, 1868, Louis was the second to youngest of seven children. His family lived in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio where his father worked as a locksmith.

The couple married and moved to 1609 Moore Street. She was about nineteen and he was twenty-two years old.

Valentina gave birth to their first child in 1892. They named him Alfred J. Gross. In 1893, Norma was born and in 1899, Ethel was born. Valentina and Louis had three children in between Norma and Ethel, but each child died at birth or at a very young age.

By 1901, Louis was working as a range maker. Usually, stoves were built in Europe and then shipped to the states in parts. A range maker would assemble the parts into the beautiful iron stoves that served the dual purposes of a range and a furnace.

Walter was born in 1902. Marcella was born in 1904 and Arthur J. was born in 1906.

Sometime before 1910, the family moved to 1347 Pendalton Street. By then, Louis’ occupation was listed as an ironworker, which was likely the same or similar to a range maker. Later, his occupation was listed as a Stove Mounter and his place of employment was the William Miller Range Company.

According to family lore, (via the husband of the daughter of their son, Walter Gross):

“She remembers her father talking affectionately about Louis and Valentina. Louis made iron stoves for a living, but his love was plants. He befriended the gardener at Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, which has a great collection of exotic plants from around the world. Walter painted a picture of his mother as a jovial person who loved children. He said that when their priest complained about the children playing on the grass she left the Catholic Church. Obviously a strong personality. “

Valentina probably spent a typical day cooking breakfast and seeing Louis off to work. Then she may have taken the kids to school before going to shop at Findlay Market for fresh food. She washed the clothes in a tub and hung them out to dry. She did the sewing and cleaned the house. She minded the children when they returned from school and prepared dinner.

By 1917, the family lived at 9 Estelle Street. Alfred was twenty-five and Norma was twenty-four years old and neither still lived at home. Alfred worked as a salesman at the southwest corner of Elder and Race Streets and lived nearby at 303 Seitz Avenue with his wife and children.

Ethel who was eighteen, Walter who was fifteen, Marcella who was thirteen, and Arthur, who was eleven years old, still lived with their parents. Their street was located on the left as you rounded the corner coming up the steep Auburn Avenue from Downtown Cincinnati. Their house overlooked Over-the-Rhine and the Downtown Cincinnati skyline. It had been built in 1900.

Louis was employed as a stove mounter at the William Miller Range Company and he and Valentina eventually moved to 2139 Burnet Avenue.

Louis and Valentina eventually moved to a nearby house located at 2139 Burnet Avenue, which had been built in 1916, and continued to live there for the remainder of their lives.
On October 24, 1929, at the age of sixty-one, Louis died at home of Angina Pectoris (chest pain due to coronary heart disease.) He was buried at the Vine Street Hill Cemetery in Clifton Heights.

Valentina continued to live at 2139 Burnet Avenue for five years until she was taken to Jewish Hospital where she died at 5:45 p.m. on March 2, 1934 at the age of sixty-three. Her funeral was held at the Weil Funeral Home on Reading Road. Valentina was also buried at the Vine Street Hill Cemetery.

Possible relatives of Valentina include the following:

New York: large trial for Frederick Schacht who was a butcher and who used a meat cleaver to murder someone who had been tormenting him. See many articles on (Coincidence that this very public trial happened just before Andreas and family moved to Cincinnati. They seemed to be established in New York. Andreas worked as a butcher, which is a steady job. Why up and move to Cincinnati? Perhaps a relation to Frederick Schacht was a stain on their reputation? More research needs to be done to establish a connection. Need to verify the proximity of Frederick’s butcher shop to the address of Andreas Schacht.)

Anthony Schacht lived with his wife, Martha, and their two children, John and Catherine, in Greene, Hamilton, Ohio (Cheviot.) They were farmers.

Fred W. Schacht lived with his wife Emilie, and their daughter, Louisa M., in the 11th Ward of Cincinnati.

Ameila, the widow of William Schacht, and her children, William who was a lithographer, Gustave, and Louisa who was a domestic, lived at 88 Buckeye Street. William Sr. had died in the Civil War.

(1920) William Jr. later married Cordeillia (Della) and was the Vice President of an automobile company/truck factory. Their children were Helen and Norman. They lived next door to Della’s brother, Charles. Della’s sister, Charlotte, lived with them. Their son, Norman, later married Virginia Ashbrook. He was the assistant manager at his father’s company.

Gustave later married Minnie Bickler. They retired in Florida and are buried at Spring Grove Cemetery, as is the rest of this family.

Mary, the widow of William Schacht, lived with her son, John, who worked as a driver. They lived at 26 Buckeye Street. Both mother and son are buried at Vine Street Hill Cemetery.

Eva, the widow of Andrew Schacht, lived with her children, Katie and Valentina, at 38 Fifteenth Street.

Mrs. Catherine Schacht was a boarder at Henry Bertram’s in Mill Creek.

Amelia Schacht, also a widow, lived with her daughter, Mary L., and her daughter’s husband, George A. Shiner. George and Mary’s children were Cordelia A. and Lillian E. Shiner.

Catherine Schacht, also a widow, sent her children Marcella, Henrietta, Martha, William, and Joseph to live at Saint Joseph’s Orphanage while she gave birth to their brother, Charles. By 1930, the children had returned to their mother’s care and the family lived at 53 E. McMicken.

1870- In the same year that Valentina was born, big news hit. In the city of Chicago, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was blamed for the fire which lasted for four days in the early part of October 1871. The city suffered extensive damage, but the residents there vowed to rebuild. Their goal? To out-do Cincinnati! At the time, Cincinnati was bigger and claimed to have the commerce of London, the charm of Paris, and the culture of Munich.

Where Cincinnati had relied on the canal routes of the time for trade, the new Chicago took advantage of innovative railroad technology and was ultimately successful in surpassing Cincinnati.