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Our German Immigrant Ancestors

--- How Our German Ancestors Came to America ---

Our ancestors the Franzes came from a textile-manufacturing city in Germany named Forst, in a region called Niederlausitz(1) The proper pronunciation of Niederlausitz is "neederLOWZitz." (Close) (that is, Lower Lausatia).

(By the way, don't be afraid to click on the footnotes. Believe me, you won't lose your place.)

In the late 1800s, Forst was a very industrial place. Here is a picture of it at that time:

[ Forst in the 1880s ]
(courtesy Brandenburgischer Informations--Dienst Umwelt)

Forst (German for "forest") is on the River Neisse(2); The proper pronunciation of Neisse is "NICE-ssa." Actually, the real German spelling of the river is Neiße, where the letter ß (the "ess-tset") is pronounced and usually transliterated as "ss."
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this river is today the boundary between Germany and Poland, but in those days (the 1870s and 1880s), there was about as much German territory to the east of Forst as there was to the west of it. Here you can see Forst in south-central Germany.

[ The German Empire in the 1880s ]
The German Empire in the 1880s
[Click the picture to enlarge it.]

[ Kaiser Wilhelm I ] [ Chancellor Otto von Bismarck ] Lower Lausatia was a region that had enjoyed very little independence in its long history; it was usually a possession of either Saxony or Prussia. In the 1800s, it was under Prussian control. In 1871, all of Germany was officially united into one large empire (also under Prussian control), an empire more than twice the size of the current Germany. This empire, known as the "Second Reich,"(3) The "First Reich" was the defunct Holy Roman Empire of medieval fame, which was never holy, never Roman, and most of the time not an empire.
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was ostensibly ruled by its emperor of the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty: Kaiser(4) "Kaiser" is the German form of "Caesar."
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Wilhelm I (the grandfather of Kaiser Wilhelm II, or "Kaiser Bill," of World War I notoriety). The actual ruler, however, was Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the "Iron Fist." On the left you see Kaiser Wilhelm; on the right is Bismarck. Pretty serious gentlemen!

Germany was at this time still feeling the effects of the "great depression" that had swept Europe and the United States in the mid-1870s. To respond, Chancellor Bismarck inaugurated a significant change in German domestic policy: He reversed his earlier reformist programs and allied himself with the conservative parties at the expense of the liberals, signifying his opposition to any further evolution in the direction of political democracy. He blamed the socialists for two assassination attempts against Kaiser Wilhelm, and he banned the Social Democratic Party in 1878. From 1879 onward, the landed elite, the major industrialists, the military, and higher civil servants were determined to forestall any further rise of social democracy. Bismarck nursed a furious, uncompromising hatred for socialists and anarchists, whom he called

    a host of enemies bent on pillage and murder. . . . They are the country's rats and should be exterminated.

Though Bismarck at the same time introduced such progressive social legislation as accident and old-age insurance and socialized medicine in order to woo the workers away from political radicalism, workers were not won over, and many of them considered the government increasingly repressive. Peasants and small artisans had limited choices:

  • continue to suffer;
  • continue to suffer but take it out as much as possible on the Jews in the resurgent anti-Semitism that would become state policy in the 1930s under the Nazi Third Reich; or
  • try their luck in America (in the 1880s there were hordes of Germans leaving for the United States).
[ Brochure giving tips for German immigrants to America ] The Franz family chose the third option. They might also have been enticed by promotional literature (usually published in the United States by industrialists seeking low-wage labor or by steamship lines seeking more human cargo for their steerage holds) about the great opportunities in America--promising lots of land, lots of work, and lots of money. The brochure on the right gives practical suggestions for immigrants after they arrive. (You can enlarge it by clicking it.)


[ Louis Franz ] [ Ernestine Kulisch Franz ] Louis Franz had presumably lived in Forst all of his life up to that point. His wife, Ernestine Kulisch Franz, was evidently born in Berlin, and we don't know when she moved to Forst, about 75 miles to the southeast.(5) In the 1930 U.S. census, their daughter Anna listed the birthplace of her mother, Ernestine, as Berlin, not Forst.
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In 1884, Louis was 38 years old, and Ernestine was nearly 37. Here are pictures of them, probably taken not long afterward (you can click on either picture to enlarge it). They had four children, two girls and two boys, all born in Forst: Emma Franz, 10; Hermann Paul Franz, 8; Anna Martha Franz, 6; and Julius Adolph Franz, 2. You can see documentary evidence of the births of all but the oldest child by clicking here.

In the spring of 1884, Louis went on ahead to America to get a situation there so that he could then send for his family. Somehow he traveled from very landlocked Forst all the way to the coast and then to England, several hundred miles, presumably to connect with the most available passage to the United States. As Jean Nudd at National Archives explained to me,

    a lot of Germans went to England before they came to the U.S.; they left a German port and stopped in England, sometimes for just a day or two and sometimes for a few months or years.
[ The SS City of Chester ] Indeed, according to the manifest of the ship Louis finally sailed on--the R.M.S. City of Chester (see the picture)--the ship had more Germans and Irish in steerage than any other nationality (there were also Poles, Russians, Danes, Hungarians, and French--hardly any English). The City of Chester was an 11-year-old 4,560-ton Inman Line single-screw two-cylinder, three-masted, two-funnel steamer, rated at 15 knots. The ship was 444 feet long and 42 feet wide, accommodating 132 cabin passengers and 1,310 in the steerage; it would serve as a passenger cargo ship for different owners until it was finally scrapped 23 years later. You can click on the picture to see a more dramatic version of the ship, going at full steam, an 1880 oil-on-canvas painting by Antonio Jacobsen (1850-1921), currently at Rehs Galleries in New York City.

[ Manifest of the RMS City of Chester  ]
Portion of the R.M.S. City of Chester manifest
(click to enlarge)

At the Castle Garden processing center (Ellis Island would not be in operation for another decade), Louis was recorded on the ship's manifest as a German immigrant. According to the ship's manifest, he slept in the forward lower steerage, and he had a traveling companion: Gustav M. Kurze, German farmer aged 39. Two pieces of luggage were noted for the two of them.

On the manifest he was listed as a "farmer," even though our family tradition has him as a power loom machinist. As archivist Jean Nudd told me,

    it's always possible that the manifest was wrong and that since the men above him on the list were farmers, the recorders did not bother to write "machinist" when they got to him. It is also possible, but very unlikely, that Louis started his profession as a power loom machinist only after getting settled in the U.S.(6) I believe that Louis was a power loom machinist before leaving Forst, because that city had been a center of textile manufacturing--even rivaling Manchester, England--and today the city hosts a textile museum. For further information, see the official Forst (Lausitz) site and the textile museum page.
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The manifest also recorded his name as "Louis A. Franze" rather than "Louis Franz"; we can feel fairly confident that this is our ancestor, however; his age would have been 38, as recorded on the manifest. Perhaps the middle initial stood for Adolf, since that became the name of his second son. Louis and Gustav and the rest landed at New York City on April 21, 1884.

[ A Bremen travel advertisement ]

We can safely speculate that our Louis Franz found himself a situation in Connecticut over the following few months and then sent for his family. (We don't know what happened to Gustav.) Somehow Ernestine managed to get herself and the four little children to the German port of Bremen, a few hundred miles northwest of Forst. Here is a Norddeutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) travel advertisement for traveling from Bremen to America.(7)

This picture and the following two pictures are from the Deutsche Auswanderer-Datenbank project.
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[ The North German Lloyd waiting area in 1871 ][ German emigrants waiting to board a vessel in 1880 ]


On the left is the North German Lloyd pier at Bremerhaven, the port of Bremen. The ship S.S. Donau (pronounced "doan-ow," the German word for Danube), which Ernestine and the children were to travel on, was registered with the North German Lloyd company. On the right is a typical group of German emigrants in the 1880s waiting to board a vessel.

[ The SS Donau ]

Finally, Ernestine and the children boarded the Donau, a 16-year-old 3,073-ton single-screw two-cylinder 600-horsepower two-masted one-funnel iron-hulled passenger cargo ship, rated at 14 knots. She was 347 feet long and 40 feet wide at the beam. She had a crew of about 100 and accommodated 60 first-class passengers and 700 steerage-class passengers.

Imagine Ernestine traveling in steerage--without her husband and with four small children--with so many strangers and cargo in such a small and presumably noisy space in a ship that would sink just a few years later.(8)

In 1889--5 years after the Franzes came over--the ship was sold to H. Bischoff in Bremen, where she was converted to strictly a cargo ship. On a voyage from Hamburg to Philadelphia in 1895, she caught fire in the North Atlantic at latitude 31°N longitude 20°W, and she sank. All aboard were rescued by the British steamer S.S. Delaware. Fortunately, she was by then strictly a freighter and not so loaded with passengers that everyone might not have been rescued. If she had sunk during the 1884 crossing, and if the Franz children had not been among the rescued, I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading this.
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According to the North German Lloyd advertisement, the voyage would have taken 8 or 9 days. According to the manifest, Ernestine and the children disembarked at Castle Garden in at the tip of lower Manhattan, New York City, on September 25, 1884.

[ Manifest of the SS Donau  ]
(click to enlarge)

Actually before any of the steerage passengers were able to disembark, officers from the New York State Board of Emigration Commissioners (Castle Garden) Boarding Department boarded the ship and subjected the immigrants to a routine quarantine inspection.(9)

Much of the following information about the facilities and routine at Castle Garden is from Ancestry Magazine, Vol. 21 (2), 1 March 2003.
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The officers ascertained how many passengers were aboard the Donau and how clean the vessel was. After the ship docked, a New York City constable on "Castle Garden duty" along with agents from the Landing Department transported the immigrants on tugboats and barges to the depot pier. The immigrants were then marched into the castle for medical examinations; anyone found sick was put on a steamboat bound for quarantine on Ward's Island or Blackwell's Islands.

    Cripples, lunatics, the blind, and others who might become a public charge were only admissible under a bond.
[ Castle Garden in 1906 ] The Franzes and the other immigrants were then directed into the rotunda of Castle Garden, where they could sit on wooden benches. At any one time there could be as many as 3,000 immigrants crowded into this area. Clerks of the Registering Department at either English or foreign-language desks interviewed the immigrants, recording their names, nationalities, old residences, and destinations. Many immigrants had relatives and friends who had come to meet them, and we must assume that Ernestine and the children would have been met by Louis. Castle Garden's Information Department, whose staff included qualified interpreters in 14 foreign languages, including German, handled such reunions.

Other services were provided by the Castle Garden railway agents (who would sell tickets to various destinations in the U.S.), Forwarding Department (who would forward letters, remittances, and telegrams waiting for immigrants), the Letter-Writing Department (who would write letters for illiterate immigrants), a Western Union Telegraph Company branch office, the Exchange Brokers (who would change foreign money into American currency), the Labor Exchange (who would help immigrants find work; perhaps this is what Louis had used in the spring to find his position in Connecticut), nearly a hundred licensed boarding-house keepers for those who would stay in the city, a well-provisioned restaurant, several bread stands, and washrooms.


[ Democratic Party poster for 1884 ]

When the Franzes arrived in America, there were only 38 states (so the flag looked a little different), with the defeated Confederate states only recently readmitted to the Union.(10)

Still to be admitted to the union were North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii. Most of these were U.S. "territories" at that time--except Hawaii, which was an independent kingdom.
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Republican Chester Alan Arthur from New York was President, but a Presidential Election occurred soon after the Franzes arrived. James G. Blaine ran on the Republican ticket, Grover Cleveland on the Democratic ticket, Benjamin F. Butler was the Greenback-Labor candidate, and John P. St. John was the Prohibition candidate. Here is the poster for the Democratic Party ticket, featuring Cleveland and his running mate, Thomas A. Hendricks.


[ I Want My Pa! (Grover the Good) ]

Allegations that 250-pound bachelor Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child in his youth had produced the chant "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?" (Cleveland had acknowledged the child and was supporting it while expressing doubts in private that he really was the father.) The Democratic response to the chant was "Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha."

New York clergyman Samuel D. Burchard made the following remarks at the Fifth Avenue Hotel just 2 weeks after Ernestine and the children had arrived in the country:

    We are Republicans, and don't propose to have our party identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.
Many New York voters--particularly Catholic voters--took exception to these remarks and went for Cleveland, giving him just barely enough votes to take New York, which had just barely enough electoral votes to make him the winner. He was the first Democrat elected in 28 years.

This was the year that Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn was published. The Kentucky firm Hillerich and Bradsby introduced the "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat, but there were few professional baseball teams. The first roller coaster opened at Coney Island. Quaker Oats began to be distributed in cylindrical cardboard canisters. The Northern Pacific Railroad had just been completed, running from Lake Superior to Puget Sound. There were now some 250,000 of Thomas Edison's electric light bulbs in use--but most homes were still using kerosene lamps. Horses and carriages still abounded on New York's streets. The Statue of Liberty would not arrive from France for 2 more years.

The Franz family settled in the small town of Broadbrook, north of Hartford, Connecticut. There were lots of textile mills in that part of the state, and that is where Louis Franz worked as a power loom machinist.

One more child, whom the parents named William (not Wilhelm) Franz, was born in 1886. At that time Emma was 12, Hermann 10, Anna 8, and Julius Adolph (known as just "Adolph" and later as "Ed"), 4. All but young Adolph attended school in Broadbrook, and all of them were learning English much faster than their parents were. At some point the Franzes all became citizens.

At one point, the family moved to Rockville, Connecticut, where Louis worked in the mills along the Hockanum River. Unfortunately, he died in 1891 at the age of 45. Emma, 17, Hermann, 15, and Anna, 13, needed to leave school and go to work in the textile and paper mills. Perhaps widow Ernestine stayed at home with young Adolph ("Ed"), 9, and William, 5.

At the age of 20, in 1893, Emma married Frederick Dicks, a British immigrant. Emma's first of five children, Arthur, was born a couple of years later in Rockville.

Brother William died at the age of 10, when Emma was 23, Hermann 21, Anna 19, and Adolph 14. At some point mother Ernestine remarried, to another German immigrant, William (Wilhelm) Stoetsel. She was known as Mrs. Stoetsel (or "Grandma Stoetsel") the rest of her life.

[ Anna Martha Franz, ca. 1898 ]

Anna rode a bicycle with her friends to her mother's farm on her Saturday afternoons and Sundays off. She was a "Gibson Girl" with her clothes (click on the little thumbnail picture to see).(11)

According to the Sylvan Learning Center's Eyewitness to History, "the pen-and-ink drawings of illustrator Charles Gibson came to represent the spirit of [the turn of the century] in America. His illustrations [in] popular magazines . . . influenced and reflected attitudes, behaviors and mores in this country. . . . The 'Gibson Girl' became a model for fashion mimicked by women and admired by men. . . . With her hair piled atop her head and a waist so tiny as to defy belief, the Gibson Girl represented a serene self-confidence that could surmount any problem. The envy of all who knew her, the Gibson Girl remained aloof of her surroundings but not to the extent of haughtiness. She was at once remote and yet accessible."
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Anna worked in the mills that did not pay big wages or give much time off.According to her daughter, she maybe made 5 cents an hour working 10-12 hours a day.(12)

This would be about $1.25 an hour at today's rate.
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Somehow she always had enough for her board and room, laundry, and savings. She always had enough saved to go home to see her mother at times, and she was around when her nephew Arthur was born.

In 1898, Hermann, by then 23, fought in the Spanish-American War.

According to the 1900 census, Emma and Frederick Dicks--ages 26 and 27, respectively, and married 6 years by then--were living in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, with two children--Arthur, 4, and Florence, not quite 2--and Emma's recent-veteran brother Hermann, 24 and single. Frederick was recorded as having been born in England (his parents also born in England), a naturalized citizen in the U.S. for 9 years, occupation loom fixer. Both Emma and Hermann were recorded as aliens living in the U.S. for 15 years. Hermann was recorded as a weaver. The Dickses rented their home.

One of Anna's friends in the knitting mills was co-worker Jennie Luckingham, a year and a half her senior. Jennie became engaged to Hermann (and they married in 1903, when he was 27 and she nearly that age).

The mill machines were dangerous. Anna lost the tip of her right index finger in one of them.

Eventually Anna left Connecticut. She had already been speaking unaccented English for years, and after she stopped making regular visits to her mother, her fluency in German began to fade.

[ Frederick Wilson Hawes, ca. 1908, about the time of his marriage to Anna ] [ Anna Martha Franz, ca. 1908, about the time of her marriage to Fred ]

Anna worked as a waitress in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and later in New York City. It was there that she met and was charmed by dashing Frederick Wilson Hawes. After his divorce to his first wife, Maria, was official, Fred and Anna were married in June 1907, when she was approaching 30 (fairly late for a woman to be married in those days); he was 34. Here are thumbnail pictures of each of them about that time (click the thumbnails to enlarge them). The one of Anna, taken in 1908, shows an expression that was common among those who had to pose for slow-exposing film. To me it also suggests a woman who wonders what in the world she has gotten herself into.

Fred was working for the Customs Service in New York, a post he acquired through his acquaintance with President Theodore Roosevelt. (Fred's is another story.) He held this job for only a couple of years before he became restless and wanted to try something different. (It is also possible that Anna did not like being in the same city as Fred's ex-wife, Maria, and his two young children.) Anyway, they left New York and, after a visit to Anna's mother and siblings in Connecticut, went to Illinois, where Fred started selling magazines for the Curtis Publishing Company.

The 1910 census finds Fred, age 37, and Anna, age 32, in Decatur (1st ward), Macon County, Illinois, about 150 miles southwest of Chicago. The two were roomers in a household, apparently a rooming house (or "hotel"), at 120 East North Street. Enumerator Frank L. Hays listed Fred as a "Com Traveller" (commuter traveler? commissioned traveler?--no doubt standing for what we know as a traveling salesman) in the "Books & Period. etc." (books and periodicals) industry. The household was run by George D. Steele, 44, born in Illinois, listed as the "Head" of the household; his wife of less than a year, Eunice, 41, also born in Illinois; and Eunice's Scottish mother, Margaret Martin, 88. George was listed as an insurance adjuster for circuses, and Eunice as an owner of a hotel (no doubt the rooming house at 120 East North Street). Along with Fred and Anna, there were at least six "roomers" (tenants)--probably more, listed on the next sheet. The six we know about include M. C. Wudiner, 33, from Virginia, a "Com. Traveller" like Fred, working for the "Ad Dept." of a drug company; M. C.'s wife of less than a year, Abby, 24, born in Illinois; Leonara McMahon, 37, from Wisconsin, whose mother had been born in Germany, married but not with her husband of 7 years (who was born in New York), possibly a demonstrator [the record is barely legible] of toilet articles; Charles McMahon, 15, Leonara's son or stepson, born in Wisconsin; J. B. McMahon, 12, Leonara's son or stepson, born in Wisconsin; H. W. Bell, 37, born in Illinois, single, a drug company merchant; any other tenants in the rooming house were probably listed on subsequent sheets.

According to the census record, Fred and Anna had been married 3 years. Anna had given birth to one child, but there were no children living. What!? To repeat: Anna had given birth to their first child (I don't know whether a boy or a girl), who had died. This new information startled me; my sister and I had never heard of an earlier child. Here is the relevant portion of the census record itself (you need to click it to see what's what):

[ The 1910 census  ]
(click to enlarge)

But by the time the census was taken (on April 20, 1910), Anna was expecting another baby. Anna accompanied Fred on one of his sales trips to Detroit that year and barely made it back to Chicago in time to deliver their second child, Frederick William Hawes, on August 11. (This baby lived until 1992.)(13)

As an adult, he dropped the k from his first name, making it Frederic.
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It wasn't long before Fred became restless again. With the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the virgin frontier fields of the Canadian prairie regions were experiencing a great influx of settlers, most of them wheat farmers. Fred must have been excited by the interest in this "new frontier," so he accepted a position with the army to hunt caribou in northern Saskatchewan. After all, Fred's maternal grandparents had been born in Canada.(14)

Fred was in the Canadian Army?
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Anna and toddler Freddie joined him in a homestead cabin in the woods of Saskatchewan. The closest village was Henryburg, north of Prince Albert. Anna and young Freddie fed and watered their two oxen, Duke and Ben, breaking the ice to give them water, while Fred went off on hunting expeditions. Anna was 35 years old in 1913, little Freddie not quite 3, when she gave birth to their third child, Thomas Franz Hawes, in these remote Saskatchewan woods. The baby was stuck for two days in the birth canal!! A neighbor who spoke only French and a drunken doctor finally arrived to help with the delivery.(15)

My Uncle Tom had indentations along his upper ears for his entire life, evidence of his difficult birth. My sister Christine has remarked about this: "Can you imagine such a thing? Anna Martha was one tough lady!"
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In 1914, when 37-year-old Anna became pregnant again, she insisted that they return to civilization. It is possible that she was uncomfortable as a native-born German whom Canada, now in the World War, would regard as an enemy alien, but we can be certain that she was weary of living in the wilderness with few neighbors, none of whom spoke English. Fred, now 41, was persuaded, and they returned to the States with sons Fred Jr., 4, and Tom, 1.

They settled in Fred's hometown: Henryetta, Oklahoma.(16)

Indian Territory had become the State of Oklahoma 7 years before.
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There his widowed mother (Harriet Wilson Hawes, 62), his younger brother Jim, Jim's wife Bertha, and their two children, Olive, 3, and Jimboy, an infant, were living.(17)

Jimboy was the nickname of James Frederick Hawes.
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Olive had had polio as a baby, and she learned to walk with a crutch. Harriet had only another couple of years of life, but Anna was still able to get quite a bit of experience with a difficult mother-in-law; in the ordeal, she and sister-in-law Bertha became close friends.

Fred and Anna's fourth child, Jane Ernestine Hawes, was born in Henryetta in February 1915. Anna took a trip with baby Jane to New England to see her mother and siblings.

At some point Fred and Anna bought a big red Stevens open touring car. Here is how their daughter Mary decades later described this car:

There were curtains that could be attached by a type of wing nut when it rained or snowed. Plastic had not been invented yet, so they must have been made of leather and either celluloid or isinglass. There were stored [when not in use] in pockets on the back of the front seat. The kind of windshield wipers we now have were not around. The driver moved a handle and swept a blade across his side of the windshield every so often. Guess no one drove far or fast then? The car had an "Ooga" horn, too.(18)
These quotations of daughter Mary are from reminiscence correspondence she had with her daughter Christine Edmands Barrett in the 1970s and early 1980s. Christine gathered them together in December 1984 and published them as Life Writings, by Mary Anna Hawes Edmands Ashbrook.
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The Hawes family enjoyed camping trips with the Stevens touring car. Fred and Anna's fifth child, daughter Mary Anna Hawes, was born in June 1917, and when this baby was only 3 weeks old, Fred insisted on taking a huge camping trip in the touring car with his entire family-including infant Mary in the back in a basket-on the mostly unpaved and ungraveled, dusty, rutted roads(19) This was 9 years before the "Mother Road," Route 66, was commissioned from bits and pieces of existing roads. In 1926 only 800 miles of the entire Chicago-L.A. stretch was paved. Years later, Fred wrote about this trip: "No auto camps those days; we camped all the way; roads fierce, especially in southeastern Utah; many days only a few miles a day, and one day just five miles."
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available at that time, across Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and the 5-year-old States of New Mexico and Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, and then on to Mesa Verde, eastern Idaho, and Yellowstone. On their return, the doctor, who had OK'd only a short trip to Colorado, used extremely colorful language to denounce Fred's irresponsibility. (Mary weighed less at the end of the long trip than she had at the beginning; her mother kept her alive with Eagle Brand milk.) That gives you a bit of an idea of the personality of Anna's husband, Fred, my Grandpa Hawes.

The 1920 census lists the Hawes family--Fred, age 46, Anna, age 42, young Fred, age 9, Tom, age 6, Jane, age 5, and Mary, age 2--as living in Okmulgee County, Henryetta (4th ward), Oklahoma. Fred owned his own real estate business, and the family owned their own home free and clear. Anna was listed as a naturalized citizen.

By that year, however, Fred had already begun to be restless again. He decided that he could be a success raising poultry, and he began persuading Anna that they should get a farm someplace and convert it into a chicken ranch. Anna consented, but only with the caveat that there would be no further moves. If Fred were to become restless again, he would need to move on his own, without her and the children.

With the rigors of the Saskatchewan wilderness in her mind, she had some requirements for the chicken ranch. According to Mary:

Mother had given specific instructions as to what she wanted and did not want. . . . [S]he wanted no more of [Saskatchewan]. As she told me many times, the "orders" were a good road, neighbors, electricity (or the possibility of it very soon), running water, a telephone, and much more.(20)
In all of Mary's reminiscences, Anna is referred to as "Mother" and Fred as "Dad."
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It actually did not take Fred very long to find the right place. He explored everywhere from New Jersey to California before he found the 16 acres with a large old farmhouse on Waunch's Prairie, less than 3 miles from Centralia, Washington, a fairly conservative town of just over 7,500 people.(21) According to the 1920 census.
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Lewis County, in which Centralia was the "hub city," was a location about as close to perfect as it would be possible to find, according to local booster George Dysart:
Opportunity knocks but once in the East, but  . . . here she keeps up a constant clatter. She is fairly screaming to attract the attention of the capitalist and the homeseeker. . . . There are more opportunities to the square inch in Lewis County than in any other place in the world. . . . Here is a domain containing 2,600 square miles of undeveloped wealth.(22)
Quoted in John McClelland, Jr., Wobbly War: The Centralia Story (Tacoma, WA: Washington State Historical Society, 1987), p. 4.
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In the previous decade, Centralia had been the fastest-growing place in the State of Washington. Not only was the town a center of the timber industry, but, with its location halfway between Seattle and Portland, it was the division point for the Northern Pacific Railroad, where the train crews changed.
The N.P. displayed its confidence [in the solid economic base and vigorous growth of Centralia] by building the biggest and most elegant brick passenger and freight depot anywhere between Portland and Tacoma. The sound of railroading was something Centralians endured without complaint, day and night, as hissing steam locomotives rumbled into town from the north and south, dozens of times a day, alerting everyone to their arrival with penetrating whistle blasts and a clanging of bells that sounded like a cathedral town at high noon when two or more engines were in the yard at once, which was often.(23)
Quoted in ibid.
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Here's how Mary described the move to Centralia:
[Dad] came back with pictures and promises, so Mother packed all their possessions to go into a railroad car, including [the] big red Stevens touring car! All of us went along in Pullman cars.

A strange lady came by [in the train] to talk to Mother, Jane and me and said it was too bad the little girl was cross-eyed, meaning me. No one had ever noticed before! Mother said she was hurt and a bit insulted, but it was the truth.

The Hawes family made this move in April 1920, apparently right after the census recorded them still in Oklahoma.

In his research for the perfect location, Fred could not have escaped hearing about Centralia in the news, because in November 1919--just 5 months before the move--this little town became the site of the notorious Centralia Massacre. But that is also another story. This is supposed to be a story about the immigration of our German ancestors.

After a year or two on the chicken ranch, Fred became restless again, of course. When Anna told him that she and the children were going to stay put this time, however, he decided to settle down with them. After all, Anna was a very good cook.

It wasn't long after the move to the chicken ranch on Waunch's Prairie when Anna's younger brother, Adolph "Ed" Franz, 4 years younger than Anna, 9 years younger than Fred, visited from the East. Ed and Fred went off to town and got drunk. When they returned to the ranch from the binge, Ed attempted to murder Fred with an ax, wounding him severely. Anna saved her husband by deflecting a mortal blow. Fred spent several months in the hospital. Ed was committed in the state insane asylum for several months before being allowed to return to the East.

While Fred was in the hospital, Anna's niece Florence Dicks (daughter of Anna's and Ed's older sister, Emma Franz Dicks and her husband, Frederick Dicks) came out from Connecticut to help on the ranch. She stayed for a year.

Fred always called his wife Ann, even though all her friends called her Anna. Fred enjoyed teasing his wife. He would tell people that when he had met German-born "Ann," she had sauerkraut coming out of her ears.

Can you believe that Dad called her friends from church "the Giddy Girls of Gomorrah," and the Auxiliary of the Spanish-War Veterans "the Girls of '98." Whether Mother resented that or not, her friends met often at our house.
Anna had her own way of telling a story to children:
Once upon a time in the wild, wild woods of Germany, a band of men and their Captain were seated around the campfire. The men said to the Captain: "Captain, tell us a story." So the Captain began as follows:
Once upon a time in the wild, wild woods of Germany, a band of men and their Captain were seated around the campfire. The men said to the Captain: "Captain, tell us a story." So the Captain began as follows:
Once upon a time in the wild, wild woods of Germany, a band of men and their Captain were seated around the campfire. The men said to the Captain: "Captain, tell us a story." So the Captain began as follows:
Once upon a time in the wild, wild woods of Germany, a band of men and their Captain were seated around the campfire. The men said to the Captain: "Captain, tell us a story." So the Captain began as follows:
Of course, the recursion never got that far, even with the very small children, before the listeners stopped listening.

When the Great Depression hit, the Hawes family never went without meals. That is one of the benefits of living on a productive farm. The economics of poultry husbandry dictated some serious changes, however; from a chicken population averaging 2,500, Fred and Anna were forced to cut back 99 percent, keeping a remnant for themselves of 26 hens. The slaughter must have been horrific, and it must have gone on for quite a spell. The Hawes lunches and dinners must have featured chicken fairly consistently. Daughter Mary remarked years later how she had never regained an appetite for chicken meat, though she liked eggs all her life.

The Hawes family--mother, age 52, father, age 56, and the four surviving children, ages 19, 17, 15, and 12--are recorded in the 1930 census as owning and living on a farm in the Skookumchuck precinct near Centralia, Lewis County, Washington. They owned a radio set. Anna's mother's birthplace is recorded as Berlin, not Forst.

In 1934, Anna, age 56, took son Tom, 21, and daughter Mary, not quite 17, with her to attend son Fred's graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After the ceremony, they went to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to visit Anna's sister Emma Dicks, 60 and suffering from diabetes; Emma's husband, Frederick Dicks, 61; brother Hermann Franz, 58; Hermann's separated wife, Jennie, 57 (who was still a good friend of Anna, because they had worked together in the Connecticut mills in the 1890s), and, of course, Grandma Stoetsel (Anna's mother, Ernestine), 86.(24)

Grandmother Stoetsel had moved from Rockville, Connecticut, to Woonsocket, where her daughter Emma lived, a few years before, after her second husband, William (Wilhelm) Stoetsel, had died.
To close this footnote, click the number again or click (Close)

There were lots and lots of nieces and nephews, descendants of Emma and Hermann, and I've listed them for you here (password-protected).

Brother Ed (Adolph Franz, 52) was there, too, but he and Anna were no longer on speaking terms (after the attempted ax murder in the early 1920s).

Daughter Mary remembered her Grandmother Stoetsel (Ernestine) as very old and that she no longer spoke English.

Smiles, pats, and kisses were the only way we could communicate. At that time Mother had not seen her since Jane was a baby, and she never saw her again. . . . New England was so far away.

Ernestine died in 1939, at the age of 92, having outlived her first husband--our ancestor, Louis--by 48 years and her second husband by a few years. [ The western branch of the Franz family in 1938 ]

On the right is a thumbnail picture of the western branch of the Franz family in 1938; you can click it to enlarge it and see who's who in it.

I am indebted to Jean Nudd at the National Archives (Northeast Region) in Pittsfield, MA, for much of the information about the Franz family immigration--including the ship manifests and relevant census records. I still need to follow through on her suggestions for tracing back within Germany the Franz and Kulisch lines: She has suggested checking out the LDS (Mormon) site, to see what records they might have microfilmed for Forst (their International Genealogical Index might list the Franz and Kulisch names in 1846 and 1847). She also suggested checking the famous Cyndi's List under Germany as well as the Rootsweb's World GenWeb project to see if anyone has done work on transcribing records online from that part of Germany. I'm including the links here in case someone in our family wants to do this research before I have a chance to get to it.

In the meantime, Ina has written in her excellent German to the officials of the city of Forst for information about Louis and Ernestine and their respective backgrounds there. She pointed out to me that, with such a French name--Louis--and a surname that also sounds like a German with a French background (the German word for "French" is französich), our Protestant Louis Franz might have been descended from French Huguenots who escaped repression in France in the late 1600s. Many of them emigrated to Germany then, and many of them were artisans, including textile artisans. Ernestine's maiden name, Kulisch, has a Slavic ring to it; her ancestors might have come to Germany from Poland or further east. This still needs further investigation.

The following two links complete this story for now:

  • Where did the Franz family really come from? This is my 1990 justification for determining the location of the specific Forst that our Franz ancestors came from; I originally wrote this following a visit to the most likely Forst, in Communist East Germany just after the Iron Curtain had been penetrated.
  • See a list of the Franz descendants (password-protected). This link lists the approximately 200 descendants of Louis and Ernestine Franz, our ancestors who decided to leave their homeland and try their luck in the United States; since the list includes many living individuals, it is password-protected.



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