Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Getting to better know the Zellers of Frostburg and Chicago

The Zellers are on my Dad's side, his mother's father's family. They go back to Germany and you could probably guess as much. When picking which family to look into and explore next they got overlooked by me until recently. I guess that because I heard so much about them growing up, their lives seemed an open book with not much left to explore. Of course I was wrong. There's always so much more to learn! Silly me. And the best part of this has been comparing what I thought I remembered about the Zeller, especially the group who moved from Frostburg, that little mountain town in Western Maryland that gets written about so often here, to Chicago in either 1884 or 1894, I'm still not sure which. So let me tell you what I found out.

Charles William Zeller (1829-1901)

There he is, the first of our Zeller folks to land in America. Charles William Zeller. Born in Wuerttemburg, Germany in 1829, he came to the states about 1851. We haven't a clue as to why, other than the usual reasons such as escaping poverty or persecution. He landed in Western Maryland and Mom's genea-sense says that he probably had relatives there or east of there near Hagerstown or Frederick. There were Zellers in both those locations just about the time he came and one could easily imagine him visiting them and then working his way in a westerly direction along the National Road, ending up in Frostburg, a town just on the brink of boom due to coal mines. Prosperous times were ahead and Charles was there and ready.

His occupation was as listed on the 1860 and 1870 census was confectioner. He brought his candy and baking skills with him from Germany to little Frostburg and opened a successful shop. Checking some history writings for the area I found that he was one of very few confectioners when he first opened the door of his shop but as time went on competition grew fierce. It seems that Frostburg had a sweet tooth back then.

The 1880 census gives hints to the family circumstances. Charles, age 51, doesn't own a candy shop anymore but is listed as working for a coal company. That's hard to imagine. How must he have felt about closing his shop and then needing income, going to work for a coal company, which was hard dirty work. It doesn't say he was a miner so I'm thinking that he had an office job. This census page is hard to read and names and jobs are abbreviated so one is left trying to figure out what's what, but it clearly says that Charles "works for coal co." and his son "mines coal". That gives me a hint as to the logic of the enumerator.

About 1884 Charles moves his family to Chicago. They are there in the 1900 census and Charles is a baker again and 71 years old. All of his children are living with he and Anna Mary, except my great grandfather Gustav Zeller who stayed in Frostburg, and Gottlieb who died in 1889.

So here's my purpose in this post. Once you read this you'll understand what I'm up to but let me save you some time and just go on and tell you what's happening. There are few descendants of this couple who married and even fewer who had kids. This family unit is highly unusual in that regard because the other ancestral family groups in this time period were busy growing families that had a dozen or more offspring. So this post is a way of reaching out to any cousins who descend from this family. If you slipped through the cracks in our research, I really want to connect with you, and I'm hoping that if you google names you'll find this post and email.

Charles and Anna Mary had these 11 children:
 Charles H. Zeller (1855 - 1837)
  Gustav William Zeller (1858 - 1927)
   Gottlieb Zeller (1861 - 1889)
    George W. Zeller (1862 - 1931)
      Frederick Zeller (1869 - after 1940), he and John are twins
       John Zeller (1869 - 1945), he and Frederick are twins
        Henry Zeller (1870 - 1886)
         William Zeller (1872 - 1906)
          Daniel Zeller (1875 - 1828)
           Annie Mary Zeller (1878 - 1944)

Gustav William is my great grand father and we know tons about him. If you want to see what he was about just type his name in the search box right under the surname graphic to the right.

At a tangent let me say that in about half the census listings Charles is listed as "Charles J" and not Charles William, so that's confusing. Also, Charles William died in 1901 at the age of 72 and Anna Mary died in 1906 at age 72 as well. The kids in Chicago pretty much lived with them until right after their parents died. By the 1910 census they are scattered... well not really because they continued to live with each other from time to time, as you'll see.

Let's proceed now and I'll list the children of Charles and Anna Mary and share the bones of what we know about them. First there was Charles H. Zeller (1855 - 1837). In the 1900 census he's living with his parents at 5248 Dearborn in Chicago and working as a machinist. He married Christina Long (1851-1930) on 8 March 1906 a few months before his mother died. Christina was born in Germany, as were Charles' parents. In the 1910 census he and Christina are residing at 7001 Calumet. It says that he is living on his own income, whatever that means, but to me it sounds like he might have investment or an inheritance he put to good use. He's still married but they have no children. In the 1920 census he and Christina own the house at 7258 Calumet and they have two renters. He's listed as a retired engineer. In the 1930 census he's widowed and living as a renter at 518 E 70th Street and renting for $58 per month. He's retired, it says. Charles H. and Christina never had children so there's no hope of finding a living descendant on this line. Charles is buried in the family plot at Oak Woods Cemetery.

Mom thinks Gottlieb Zeller (1861 - 1889) died in 1989 at age 28. In the 1880 census he's 19 and living with his family in Frostburg in Western Maryland and working as a coal miner. He too is buried in the family plot at Oak Woods Cemetery. Wonder why he died? At some point I'll have to try for the death certificates for this family.

George W. Zeller (1862 - 1931) is another one of the family who married. In the 1900 census he's living with his family at their home at 5248 Dearborn in Chicago and working as a barber and single. On March 20, 1906 and before his mother died but just a couple of weeks after his brother Charles H. married, George marries Karloine Jansen. I seriously can't find him in 1910 and I've looked high and low. Did he and Karoline move away, perhaps back to Germany to visit family? He and Karoline are just invisible to me. In the 1920 census he's single and renting at 4138 Cottage Grove Ave. He's manager in a barber shop and owns it. By the way I should point out here that his brother and my great grandfather owned very successful barber shops in Western Maryland. In the 1930 census he's listed as a retired barber living with his brothers John and Frederick at 7229 Champlain Avenue. He owns the building and has two renters who pay $65 a month to him. The building is worth $5000. His death listing indicates that his mother's name was Mary Browning born in Stuttgart, Germany and his father was born there as well. He died at the age of 68 and is buried in the family plot at Oak Woods Cemetery.

Now for the twins, Frederick Zeller (1869 - 1932) and John Zeller (1869 - 1945). Let's consider Frederick first. I'll get to them in the next post.
My great grandfather Gustav Zeller (1884 - 1927.)

The URL for this post is:

No comments:

Post a Comment