My 3rd great grandmother Marie Louise Koppel was born in Koerner, Thüringen, Germany in 1817 and came to the United States in 1866 with my third great grandfather Quirinus Eckebrecht and 5 of their 6 children. Wilhelm Carl Eckebrecht was one of these children.
Great Uncle John and his first cousin Frank Eckebrecht researched the Eckebrecht roots for decades. Some of the information contained in this post comes from their research. They did the hardest stuff before the internet was born.
Marie Louise Koppel
Marie Louise Koppel was born at 1:00 a.m. on August 2, 1817 in Koerner to miller Johann Christoph Koppel and Anna Dorothea Maria Grabe. According to the good folks in the Thüringen Ancestry group on facebook, Grabe is a common surname in the areas surrounding Koerner.
I spent some time examining the microfilms for Koerner that were available from Family Search before the Latter Day Saints discontinued microfilm ordering. I was able to locate the marriage of Marie Louise’s parents in 1816. Anna Dorothea Maria Grabe was the daughter of Johann Christoph Grabe. Her mother was unnamed in the available records, although an indexed record on Ancestry, transcribed by volunteers, says that her mother may have been Sophia Maria Schuts.
*I don’t have faith in indexed records on Ancestry or Family Search in which I cannot see the original document. In this case, as with many of this line of Germans, the original record is not available to American researchers without being a member of the Latter Days Saints or at one of their computers.*
The microfilms contained the first marriage of Marie Louise’s father Johann Chrisoph Koppel and revealed that he was from Rothenberg bei Neustadt, Germany. Which no longers exists on a map. There is a Neustadt about 30 miles away from Koerner.
Johann Christoph Koppel owned at least two mills in 1812 Koerner when he married his first wife Anna Elisabeth Schaefer. One was the Mahlmuhle which was a corn mill. The second mill he owned at that time was called Lochmuhle.
In 1816 Marie Louise’s father married her mother Anna Dorothea Maria Grabe. On that record and on the baptismal records of Marie Louise in 1817 and her siblings, he was noted as the owner of the Reithmuhle.
There is a beautiful genealogy group on Facebook called Genealogy Translations. A translator kindly translated Marie Louise’s baptism for me and then scanned for me a book about the history of Sondershausen area mills!
The genealogy angel in the translations group proceeded to translate the portion of the book for me on the Reithmuhle!
Reithmuhle was the new name of the Lochmuhle in Koerner. Koerner is on the River Unstrut. The Reithmuhle is at the west end of the village on the Heuberg Hill, on Notter Creek and the mill was still there in 1900.
Remember the mills because they come up later.
I found at least 5 other Marie Louise Koppel siblings in the records for Koerner and Clingen. I traced the Koppel line back to my 6th great grandfather Jeremias Koppel alive around 1740 in the Sondershausen area of Thüringen. Of that information, I only know his name and estimated birth year. I know nothing of the life of Marie Louise Koppel’s mother and her parents beyond their names as well.
Johann Quirinus Eckebrecht
Marie Louise Koppel married my third great grandfather Quirinus Eckebrecht on December 27, 1843.
Frank Eckebrecht had this data. It was in my tree on Ancestry. On Ancestry I kept getting a hint for a man named Johann Auerinus Erbeborn marrying on that same date in the same area of Germany to a lady with the same name of my third great grandmother. These transcription indexes are done by volunteers and reviewed by two other volunteers before they are published on Ancestry.
Auerinus Erbeborn comes in second to the volunteer transcription of the ship manifest for his son Grity Eckebrecht for Fritz. Another oldie but goodie was the transcription error from the ship manifest for Augelo Ferarco (Angelo Ferraro.) This is why I do not trust the indexes on Ancestry, ESPECIALLY WHEN I CANNOT SEE THE ORIGINAL RECORD!
I ordered the films the original marriage record was to be on. I never found it. I tried to find the baptism of their oldest child Auguste Eckebrecht to gain information on Quirinus. I think I found it. If I did, it was illegible. There are no baptisms of their other children available through the Latter Day Saints.
According to Frank Eckebrecht’s research, Quirinus was born in 1816 in Grossmehlra, Schwarzburg – Sondershausen, Thüringen to Johann Heinrich Eckebrecht and Anna Elisabetha Dorre. He had at least 5 siblings.
Frank traced this Eckebrecht line back to Wollersleben, Nordhausen, Thüringen and a Christian Eckebrecht, my 7th great grandfather, born in 1660. He was a commoner. Through volunteer transcribed indexed records on Ancestry, again, if they are accurate, I traced Anna Elisabetha Dorre’s line back to my sixth great grandfather named Heinrich Christoph Dorre. Because these are only indexes, I know nothing of this line except names and dates. Where are these original records that are only indexed? I don’t know. They don’t seem to be microfilmed. When will the originals appear on Ancestry for us subscribers? Good question.
On May 25, 1866, Quirinus, Marie Louise, and 5 of their 6 children arrived at the Port of New York on the ship the Jenny. Here the index transcribers have Quirinus named as Oerenuos. They sailed from Bremen on a trip that would have taken 2 and 1/2 to 3 months to sail. The occupation of Quirinus was listed as baker. Uncle John said they left to escape the growing power of the Kaiser.
On the 1870 Census, Quirinus, Marie Louise, sons Carl Wilhelm, Henry, and Edward were living in Chicago’s 17th Ward. Quirinus was listed as a laborer, while Marie was listed as keeping house. Carl Wilhelm was a carpenter, Henry was a laborer, and the youngest Edward was still at school.
In the 13 years Marie Louise was alive here in the United States, she suffered from asthma, according to her death record. She passed away in 1879 and was buried in Wunders Cemetery in Chicago.
Frank’s research data relates that she was the owner of the Rottermuhle in Germany when she passed. My first theory is thus: there was an American misspelling on the estate document and she may have been the owner of the Reithmuhle. Would this mean her parents and siblings were deceased? I cannot locate any records about them in Germany on Ancestry.
My second theory involves Quirinus. Since he was a baker when he came here, he may have worked at a mill, maybe even Marie Louise’s father’s mill, or his father owned a mill as we have seen in Grandma’s other German mill owning ancestors, that sons and daughters of mill owners often marry each other.
The Chicago City Directories listed Quirinus as a laborer in the years leading up to the 1880 Census and in the year’s after it. In 1880, when I found him on the census indexed by an Ancestry volunteer as Kareneus, he was listed as a widower, living with his oldest son Charles (Carl), and again was listed as a laborer. He died in 1884 and is also buried in Wunders Cemetery.
William (Wilhelm Carl) Eckebrecht, as mentioned before, arrived here in 1866. He was born in 1851 in Schwarzburg, Thüringen. In 1870, as stated before, he lived with his parents and was a carpenter.
In 1874 he married another German immigrant named Maria (Mary) WilhemineJohanna Kohlmorgen from Mecklenburg – Vorpommern. She was the daughter of Christian Theodor Kaspar Kohlmorgen and Julie Marie Sophie Hill.
On the 1880 Census, he was working as a harness-maker.
By the mid-1890s, William was a saloon-keeper. I found a newspaper clipping suggesting that William was in the saloon business with his brother Edward. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the saloon. William passed away young in 1899 leaving behind his wife and three children:
Otto Eckebrecht, owned an engraving business m. Viola Legare
Hugo Charles Eckebrecht m. Ottilia Fischer, a Pomeranian German immigrant
Martha Eckebrecht m. Paul Emil Schultz, a Pomeranian German immigrant
Were other Eckebrechts already here before the oldest son Carl Johann Eckebrecht got here? Were there other Koppels already here? The Eckebrechts followed their oldest son to America, making that classic chain migration as I have seen with my other German ancestors. Who did he follow?
I would like to research Marie Louise’s family further. Because her father owned mills, there should be land transfer records there. Also, to be explored is the family of the mother of Quirinus – the Dorres. Cross your fingers records become available!
I have at least three Eckebrecht photos. Two are from the 19th Century and one is from the 1960s. Please email me for copies.
Thank you to those distant Eckebrecht cousins that have sent me messages and encouraged me to keep swapping and sharing data! I have finished posting about all of the immigrant Eckebrechts that we could find. If I find more, I will post about them here! For the descendants of Fritz, there will be one more post about the Multi-Faceted Man.
Koerner baptisms and marriages via the LDS
Indexed Clingen District baptisms via Ancestry.com
Schlotheimer Kurier, Amtsblatt der Verwaltungsgemeinschaft
Indexed Selected Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials from Thuringia via Ancestry.com
Uncle John and Frank Eckebrecht
New York Passenger Lists
Chicago City Directories
Cook County Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes
The immigrants left in this family history challenge are: some of the Italians on my paternal side, more on Louis Kirsch, all of the Gerbings (Eeeeeeee!), Martha Nicolai, and my mystery wagon-guy Johann Schuttler.
Great Grandmother Helen Kirsch Ferraro: Witness in the 1906 Murder Case of Mrs. Louise Gentry
Helen Anne Marie Kirsch was born on September 22, 1887 in Chicago to immigrant parents Louis Fritz Kirsch and Anna Heinzen. She had a younger brother named Albert. Before she married Carmen Ferraro and had 9 children she was part of a murder investigation that involved an international manhunt on 3 continents.
Helen was 19 when she worked as a cashier at an Italian “bootblacking” shop near the County building on Clark Street in Chicago when she had become casually acquainted with a frequent customer of the shop – Frank Constantine. According to newspaper articles at the time, the shop was apparently frequented by Italians. Frank Constantine was described in the Chicago papers as “showy type of man with his money and wore a lot of diamonds, and a man with many girlfriends.”
Frank Constantine was boarder in the home of Mr. Arthur and Louise Gentry on LaSalle Street and was always borrowing money from the Gentrys. While Mr. Gentry was at work on January 6, 1906, Frank Constantine slashed Mrs. Gentry’s throat in a motive involving money. Fleeing the scene of the crime he ran into a neighbor and asked for a hat, to help hide his identity. The neighbor ran inside to get a hat and encountered the dying Mrs. Gentry.
Constantine didn’t wait for a hat. He ran down the street and hailed a cab. Helenjustt happened to be going to dinner and stepped outside to see Constantine drive away in the cab and remarked to her friend that “Mr. Constantine must be leaving town.”
The neighbor of the Gentry’s rang the police. Even though the police were stationed on street corners leaving the city, and at the train station to look for Constantine, he was able to hawk one of his diamonds for cash, purchase a new hat and disappear. With the help of his mother he was hidden in Brooklyn.
Great grandmother Helen and several other witnesses identified Frank Constantine as the murderer. A grand jury indicted him.
A nationwide manhunt ensued for anyone having an “Italian/Jewish face,” and a trademark gold tooth like that of Frank Constantine’s, according to news articles from those days. Illinois newpapers detail country-wide witnesses giving false leads, false arrests, including a story of a local priest that feared he gave the murderer $5 when he was just trying to help a stranger on the road.
In actuality Constantine was probably not even in the area anymore. Local Chicago headlines joked “You may be arrested for murder today…” because of the number of false arrests around Chicago.
In July, 1906 while visiting a sweetheart near Poughkeepsie, NY, Frank Constantine was apprehended by the local Sheriff. Assistant Chicago Police Chief Schuettler, purportedly a friend of the Kirsch family, as the Tribune made it seem, because Schuettler and Kirsch were both German, had hidden Helen’s identity from the press and had been calling her Helen Schrieber for months. Assistant Chief Schuettler sent Helen “Schrieber” to Poughkeepsie alone to identify him.
The press ended up discovering Helen’s true identity while she was there because she dropped a receipt for a prescription in her hotel in Poughkeepsie. The Chicago press went to the Kirsch’s home and pestered Helen’s family. The following is an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune dated July 27, 1906 in which her mother Annie Heinzen Kirsch gives a statement:
Click on the excerpt to make it bigger and easier for reading. The Kirsches ended up leaving their home in the care of a neighbor to stay on the other side of the Chicago while the press surrounding Constantine’s capture calmed down.
Positive he was who she thought he was Helen identified him as Frank Constantine. The next day she sent a telegram to Chicago authorities stating: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the man under arrest here is the man who killed Mrs. Gentry. I know Frank Constantine too well to be mistaken. It is he.” (The Inter-Ocean, July 27, 1906.)
Authorities were prepared to bring him back to Chicago until his roommate at the Gentry house gave him an alibi. Constantine was released. His mother sent him back to her hometown in Italy anyway. There was even a story that Constantine’s mother had him kidnapped to Europe to keep him safe the year before.
Meanwhile, new evidence came to light in an older, similar murder in Colorado. Chicago police finally decided to re-apprehend Constantine when a man that rode a ship with him between Europe and America came forward saying he confessed to the murder of Mrs. Gentry.
Over a year after the murder of Mrs. Louise Gentry and after Constantine had travelled between three continents spending time in Italy and Argentina with the help of his mother, a girl he had loved and left in Brooklyn gave him up to the police. Constantine was apprehended on the docks minutes before he could board a ship to Italy with a ticket his mother had provided.
Assistant Chief Schuettler went to NY to bring him back to Chicago himself. The case had gained so much nationwide attention that passengers on the train Schuettler and Constantine boarded in New York to head to Chicago asked for Costantine’s autograph! He refused.
After several more delays, Constantine trial’s started in September, 1907. Helen was one of the witnesses to testify as to the identity of the killer. Constantine took the stand and testified on his own behalf saying Mrs. Gentry committed suicide because she was in love with him and he was leaving. According to newspaper articles, testimony proved the wounds were too severe to be self-inflicted.
The actual criminal case file has since been destroyed by Cook County so no transcript of this case exists. After 2 and ½ hours of jury deliberations, Constantine was found guilty. In 1908 he committed suicide in prison according to this New York Daily News Article.
Helen probably met Carmen around the middle of 1907, based on the photo dated in August of 1907 that she gave to him. It is possible it was at the shoe shine shop frequented by Italians…