Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Six Siblings Immigrate to America: The Holthoefer Family (Fearless Females Day 2)

As part of Women's History Month, Lisa Alzo has created 31 blogging prompts which you can find on her blog, The Accidental Genealogist. If you're participating in the Fearless Females blogging challenge this month, let me know & I'll hop over & read your posts!



The prompt for March 2nd is: Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

Post a photo of one of your female ancestors:


Five Holthoefer Siblings,circa 1900, Detroit, Michigan
(back row left to right) Franceska (Holthoefer) Adam, Caspar J. Holthoefer, Marianna (Holthoefer) Petri 
(front row left to right) Elisabeth (Holthoefer) Keine, Anna (Holthoefer) Rolf
(Photo courtesy of Mildred Hunt Collection, by Robert Yagley)

Who is in the photo?

This is a photo of my immigrant ancestor, Franciska (Holthoefer) Adam, and four of her siblings. The five siblings were children of Johann Franz Holthoefer (1804-1870) and Maria Catharina Schulte (1807-1850). The family was raised in Serkenrode, Westphalia, Germany. 

The mother, Catharina, died on February 21st, 1850, just 16 days after giving birth to her eighth child. That baby girl would die the following year, and and an earlier baby had died just before his first birthday. With at least five children still at home, the father, Johann Franz, probably desperately needed a mother to help raise his children. Nine months later, he remarried and had an additional six children with his second wife.

Starting a few years after the 1850 death of their mother, the six surviving Holthoefer children began to immigrate to America to settle in Detroit, Michigan. 
  • 1853 - Joseph (1830-1888) was probably the first of the siblings to immigrate. He witnessed a friend's marriage in Detroit in 1853.
  • 1853 or 1858 - Caspar J. (1835-1918) shows both years as his year of immigration on the 1900 and 1910 censuses respectively. 
  • 1856 - Francisca (1833-1907) immigrated at the age of 23 in 1856 without any other family members
  • 1858 (or earlier) Marianna (1838-1911) was in Detroit by 1858 where she was a witness to her sister, Francisca's, marriage
  • 1867 - Elisabeth (1842-1905) married in Helden, near Serkenrode, in 1864 - she and her husband immigrated in 1867
  • 1867 or 1868 - Anna (1845-1919) married in Detroit in 1870 - her census records claim she immigrated in 1867 or 1868
When was it taken? 

Of the six siblings, Joseph (died 1888) was the earliest to die. Since he is missing from this photo, it was likely taken after his death. In fact, I wonder if it wasn't taken when the family got together for his funeral! Elisabeth died in 1905, so it had to have been taken before then.

Why did you select this photo?

Franciska "Frances" (Holthoefer) Adam was my great, great grandmother. Before last summer, I only knew her maiden name and I suspected that Caspar J. and Joseph Holthoefer of Detroit were her siblings. But, then I was contacted by several other Holthoefer descendants who were working on a Holthoefer Family book! They asked me to join them, and I did. Through that project, I was able to see a photograph of my great, great grandmother for the first time.

Oh, and why did I include her as a Fearless Female? She crossed the ocean by herself at the age of 23 in 1856. That sounds pretty fearless to me!

Special thanks to my co-contributors of Holthoefer Family History: A Historic Guide to Discovering Your Past from Serkenrode, Westhalia, Germany to the Early Years in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan: Robert J. Yagley, Helen (Thornton) Holt, Marsha (Anderson) Aragon, and Pamela Holthoefer. 

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