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

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