Immigrant Frank Gerbing was born in 1831 Vieselbach, Germany to my fourth great grandparents Friedrich Gerbing and Martha Nicolai. He was their oldest child and the oldest sibling of my third great grandmother Louisa Gerbing. The Gerbing family left Germany in 1852. I do not know the date of entry of any of the Gerbings into the United States because they sailed to the port of Quebec City.
This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is At the Courthouse. I had a lot of options with this prompt! I decided upon Frank Gerbing.
The first record for Frank in the United States I could locate was for his marriage at St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church of Chicago. These church records were saved by Reverend Wunder from the Chicago Fire, put on microfilm, and are now online at Family Search. On January 1, 1856, Frank married Eva Elisabetha Schuttler, daughter of Martin and Anna Katharina. She was born in Brenzbach, Hesse Darmstadt, Germany.
Frank’s sister, Louisa, my aforementioned third great grandmother, had married German immigrant Johann Schuttler in 1853 in Chicago in the same church. Johann was born in Wachenheim, about 20 miles from Brenzbach. Are Johann and Eva Elisabetha related? How are they related?
Frank and his wife Elizabeth had 5 children-
Frederick, b. 1856, married Margaret Cronin and Anna Straus
Louis, b. 1857, married Anna Margaretha Wagner
Charles, b. 1860 and d. 1876
Dorothea (Dora) b. 1863, married Jacob Knauss
Elizabeth, b. 1866
Frank shows up in the Chicago City Directory of 1861 as a policeman. That is when I turned to newspapers. Frank Gerbing appears in the most newspaper articles I have ever found for anyone in my tree. I will just touch on some of the highlights and lowlights in the Chicago newspapers.
The Chicago people in my tree were NEVER BORING.
In October 1865, he was listed as a Voting Inspector in the 14th Ward, First Precinct. In 1867 he was appointed a Republican Committeeman. On June 5, 1867, he was promoted to Police Sergeant.
By 1877 Frank Gerbing was Lieutenant of the Lake Street Squad. While there, he and other members of his squad, according to newspaper articles, were accused of being intoxicated while on duty. Also in 1877, he was specifically named as being the homosexual lover of one of his ex-subordinates by that ex-subordinate’s ex-wife as part of a blackmail scheme.
While the Lake Street Squad was under investigation for corruption, he was transferred to the Webster Avenue Police Station. Then in 1879 he was intentionally made to resign from his police duties by then Democratic Mayor Harrison when he went on a firing spree of all of the Republicans on the Chicago Police Force.
In early 1880, Frank was arrested for embezzlement from the Policemen’s Benevolent Association. Frank subsequently paid the money back and the suit was dropped. Since Frank was no longer a police officer, he wasn’t on the force during the Haymarket Labor Riot like the other Chicago policemen in my tree.
Frank then worked as a mason like his father Friedrich Gerbing. He died in 1891 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. His wife passed away in 1901.
If Frank was my direct ancestor, I believe I would never be able to stop researching his life on the Chicago police force!
Frank’s grandson, Francis J. Knauss (a son of Dora and Jacob Knauss), was born in Chicago, and was a lawyer in Colorado who rose to be the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court.
Frank and his grandson were likely at the courthouse many times.
Cousin Frank Eckebrecht’s research
Uncle John’s research
Vieselbach, Germany Church Records
Hamburg Passenger Lists
Chicago City Directories
St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church Records
United States Federal Censuses
Brensbach, Germany Church Records
Chicago birth, marriage, and death indexes
Chicago, Illinois Voter Registration Records
Denver City Directories
World War I and II Draft Registration Cards
U.S. Social Security Death Index
Lieutenant Frank Gerbing on Google
Francis J. Knauss on Google
Next: Women’s History Month and the ABCs of My Genealogy Year 2