German Immigration and family research. To My Grandsons:
PART A: In 1865 the United States completed an epic conflict that changed the face of our history. The civil war ended and America was trying to figure out how to once again become a united country. Arguably our most famous president was assassinated and we hadn't learned how to make a light bulb or a telephone. My great, great grandfather, Carl Frederich Blase was 23 years old.
What happened to make Carl Frederich decide to move to America just 16 years later? The Unification of Germany had been achieved with the formation of the German Empire in 1871. Family rumors had it that one of our Blase relatives (or Englebrecht on Nellie's side) worked under Otto Von Bismarck, who as the Prussian Chancellor, was the architect of this unification. I have done some research of Von Bismarck's staff and have yet to find a member with the name Blase or Englebrecht. Perhaps some spelling variation will lend better results. In any case, it sounds like Germany has a bright future, why would Carl decide to pack up his family and take what must have been an incredibly difficult journey, leaving his home and relatives behind to come to America, a barely settled country?
Well, a short discussion of German history is necessary to understand what was probably the motivation to come to America. The onset of a worldwide depression in 1873 caused the prices for agricultural and industrial goods to fall precipitously. Germany's net national product declined for 6 successive years. This agricultural depression must have been devastating to Carl Frederich Blase family as he was a farmer.
The family picture below is circa1890/91. The General Werder passenger ship record of 1881 shows a group of 6 sailed on that boat under the name BLASE. So who are the 2 extra people? First, Mary is shown with her husband John Holder. They married in Alton Illinois and while the marriage date is unknown, their first born was in 1891. At the time this picture was taken they lived in Alton Illinois, where John started working for the railroad. Mary & John are both buried in Springfield Illinois.
Could Mary be pregnant as she stands behind her mother?
My current information points to John Holder as the sponsor for Carl Frederick Blase & his family to come to America. The child in the lap of Carl Frederich is his daughter, Marie Lena Emma Blase, also born in Alton Illinois in 1888.
Katherine Ilsabein Steinmeier's first marriage to Henry Steinmeier begot 2 children and Carl Frederich had a son from a prior marriage - Heinrich (Henry) F. Blase, pictured.
We now know all 8 people.
As both first marriages occurred in Germany, perhaps the desire to leave sad memories of deceased spouses behind is what motivated them both to move to America. Was Mary "promised" to John Holder? That happened a lot in those days.
I have not information on just how John Holder or Carl Frederich Blase knew each other. Perhaps a relative introduced them? Perhaps they exchanged letters or post cards and John wrote of how times were good in Illinois? For actual newspaper ads from 1867, see the post "Illinois the Garden State"
But this is just the end of the beginning for the Blase family in the United States. Carl Frederich learned something after he settled in America. I believe it is something he could not have anticipated and there was a second recorded trip from Bremen Germany.
In 1891 when Carl H. Blase Sr was 10 years old, his Father and mother must have decided to go back to Germany. They stayed for 10 years and in 1904, when their son was 23, they once again boarded the General Werder and sailed for the United States. The blog post "I remember Grandpa and Grandma", or search tags "General Werder" discusses the first trip from 1881.
The ships log on this second one indicated that a doctors certificate had declared both Carl Frederick and Ilsabein as senile, traveling under the care of their 23 year old son. It also indicated they had $5000. Calculate that in 1904 dollars!
So what happened? Why was there a second trip? A simple visit or a family death certainly doesn't take 13 years!
Visit Blog Post : Lincoln's Home if you want to read on.
Visit Blog Post : Illinois, the garden state of America