Survived the War – But Not the Storm

Today is the 115th Anniversary of the tragic 1900 hurricane in Galveston, that took thousands of lives. I thought it was only proper for today’s post to pay tribute to a veteran who lost his life in that storm.


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Johann “John” Karl “Charles” Seidenstricker was an immigrant who proved his allegiance and dedication to his new country soon after his arrival.

Born on September 7, 1842 in Bad Duerkeim, Pfalz, Bayern, Germany, Johann immigrated to America by himself when he was only 18 years old. He arrived in New Orleans aboard the ship Kate Dyer on February 4, 1861, just two months before the Civil War began.

He served as a private in Company F of the 31st Massachusetts Infantry, while they were stationed in Donaldsonville, Louisiana south of Baton Rouge. In December, joined by companies from nearby Fort Pike, the unit was armed and equipped as cavalry and stationed at Carrollton.

0314-redRiverCampaignFrom there, Johann took part in the Red River campaign and was engaged with loss at Sabine Cross Road on April 4, 1864. He re-enlisted during the winter and left on July 21 for furlough in Massachusetts, returning to Donaldsonville in November.

The regiment took part in the operations against Mobile, Alabama and occupied the city after the surrender. Johann remained on duty there until he mustered out on July 31, 1865.

Johann was naturalized in New Orleans on April 30, 1866, no doubt largely in thanks to his service to the country during the war.

Seidenst_edited-1While in New Orleans he met NOLA native Married Elenora Johanna Phillippi (1842-1906). They married on September 10, 1866 at St. Matthew’s Evangelical Church in Carrollton, Louisiana.

Johann, now known by his Anglicized name John,  and his wife moved to Galveston, and raised a large family, which included Charles Louis “Carl Ludwig” (1868-1925), Elenora Johanna (1869-1962), Emma (1872-1958), Anna Elizabeth (1874-1945), Bertha (1876-1946), Frederick Godfred (1878-1946), Henry William (1881-1952), and Maude Louise (1883-1953).

He became an active member of the community, and was eventually elected a trustee of Knights of Honor’s Goethe Lodge No. 2976, one of two lodges of this fraternal beneficiary society in the city.

From 1888-1891, Johnphoto-5 worked as a porter for Rosenfield and Co.

The building where he worked is now part of the historic Strand shopping district, on the second floor above Head to Footsies, The Admiralty and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

In 1900, the couple and four of their children (Bertha, Frederick, Henry and Maude) lived together at 1209 Avenue N, very close to what is now Stewart’s Beach.

ruinsOn September 8, 1900 a hurricane which is still the nation’s worst natural disaster struck the city, smashing buildings and killing thousands of people. John was one of those lost in the tragedy. It was the day after his birthday.

Because of the debris, bodies were found for months, and even years, after the storm. With John missing, I can only imagine his family checking the listings of identified bodies found each day in the local newspaper…praying for an answer.

John’s body was eventually discovered and identified by his son Charles. He was buried on Oct. 20, 1900 in Galveston’s Lakeview Cemetery.

Johanna died November 10, 1906 at her home at 1202 Church Street at the age of 54. She is buried at Lakeview as well.

 

Fun Book Signing Event at the Galveston Bookshop

 

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An immense “Thank You” to everyone who came out to Saturday’s book signing event at the Galveston Bookshop for “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries.”

I had such a great time meeting everyone and learning about their individual interests in history, cemeteries or personal connections with the cemeteries on Broadway. I hope to follow up with some of you to learn more!

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Happy San Jacinto Day!

20150104_125252_DSC_6258Oscar Farish was born on December 18, 1812, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and emigrated to Texas in October, 1835 to pursue his profession of land surveyor. He joined Captain McIntyre’s Company of Col. Sidney Sherman’s Regiment, and participated in the Battle San Jacinto. He was one of the last surviving veterans.Texas-arial-monumentleftside

In 1837 he was elected engrossing clerk of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. Mr. Farish was elected to be the first Clerk of Galveston County in 1856 and was holding that office when he died May 25, 1884.

Farish and his wife rest in Galveston’s Old City Cemetery, one of
locations included in “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries,” releasing in July from Arcadia Publishing, and available for pre-orders on Amazon.

Saving a Crumbling History

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There are many facets to saving the history held within cemeteries; not all of them chiseled in stone.

During a cemetery workday when volunteers were busily cleaning gravestones and picking up trash, I went into one of the old buildings on site to ask a question of one of the men in charge. A new friend greeted me with a handful of crumbling papers and a horrified look on his face. “Look at this! They’re everywhere.”

Sure enough, the original sexton records for the cemetery were scattered across the floor and heaped in a corner. Unfortunately, they had obviously been there through hurricane flood waters, insect and rodent feeding frenzies, and currently had paint cans and scrap wood laying on them. The disintegrating bits of paper had seen better days.

coroner-aMost of the scraps were smaller than a fingernail with only a letter or two visible. I carefully lifted the partial and mostly full pages and stacked them for removal. The heartbreaking realization was that only a few could be retrieved. And yes, even those that I picked up were extremely fragile, and covered in feces. But they HAD to be saved!

It will take quite a while, even with the little stack rescued, to gently separate and scan the papers, transcribe the information, and store the originals in an archival manner.

The exciting thing that I have noticed about the few that I have looked closely at, is that there seems to be no other record of the burial.

The set of cemeteries these records are from is quite unique. I am very familiar with them because I am currently writing a book about them called “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries” for Arcadia Press. It is due out in July 2015, so I am still finalizing research.

Appearing as one large, two-city-block cemetery, it is actually seven distinct cemetery that have been through a number of grade raisings…therefore losing the location many of the burials.

Using a variety of records, including transcriptions over the years, old photos, plot maps from different sextons and additional “treasures” of information like these slips of paper, we can more fully understand the history of our cemeteries and reconstruct who is at rest there.

coroner-7PLEASE NOTE: I AM WORKING WITH THE CITY, WHO OWNS THE CEMETERY, TO RESTORE RECORDS. If you are not working directly with the owner of the cemetery, please notify the correct authorities of your discovery for permission to remove (even temporarily) any paperwork from a cemetery.

So while transcribing the grave markers in graveyards and cemeteries is vital to saving there history, there are other sources I hope you’ll consider including in your research…and OF COURSE share the results with others!

Let me know what surprises you have found in cemetery research!

 

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