Why Newark? Maybe it's a Repository for my Research?

by Glenn Geisheimer


Why a web site on Newark? I’m asked that question quite frequently. Maybe it’s a repository for my research. I don’t really know.

When you do genealogy work, you collect a lot of information. Some of it is personal data and some is general historical data. The Old Newark web site would fall into the latter category. I needed a place to store the data that I was collecting as I tried to unravel the mysteries of past generations.

In Part 2, I mentioned that my family lived in Newark for over 100 years. Actually only parts of it did. My father’s paternal side (his grandfather) arrived in Newark in 1866 (age 16) and his maternal side (his mother) in 1883 (age 2). My mother’s maternal side (her mother) arrived in 1917 from the hills of Maryland and her paternal side (her great-grandfather) was here by 1853. It’s my mother's paternal side, which I’ll focus on here.

My grandfather (my mother’s father) had been dead for many years before I caught the genealogy bug. Since he was the oldest person in the family that I knew, I often wish he were alive today to discuss what he knew. Opportunities lost that never can be reclaimed. My mother did have a short family tree that he had put together. It’s a start, I figured. A problem quickly arose; the tree only went back as far as his father. I asked my mother about this and she said that my great-grandfather was an orphan and no one knew his father. A mystery to be solved!

I love a mystery even if it drives me nuts. Here is the story of what I did and how much information is out there.

My first stop would be the New Jersey State Archives to search for all information on the Frielinghaus name (I was lucky it was an unusual name) and in particular, the birth certificate of my great-grandfather. Most birth, marriage and death information before 1880 is not in the form of a certificate, but only a line in a ledger book. To add further problems, most of the time a lot of the columns are not filled in. But at least there is information. Vital information prior to May 1848 is hard to come by, the best avenue for that is church records. The vital information between May 1848 and May 1878 is indexed so checking for this information is relatively easy. Misspellings, bad handwriting, and blurry or light sheets can make this a little difficult. But, it’s there and we can thank the WPA for the indexing.

Finding my g-grandfather’s birth listing was easy. It quickly revealed my gg-grandfather and mother. I had the link back a generation, now to find information on them. As unusual as the name Frielinghaus is, my gg-grandmother’s name, Decker, is very common in New Jersey and to make matters worse, her first name, Elizabeth is even more common. Needless to say my search in her direction is next to impossible. Time to focus on my gg-grandfather, Daniel Frielinghaus (he had the same name as my great-grandfather).

Going through the index books for births, marriages and deaths revealed much information, although there were some leaps of faith I had to make that were later confirmed. I quickly found his marriage record to Elizabeth Decker and his death record. I found Elizabeth’s death record and a strange entry, a marriage certificate for a Peter Frielinghaus and a Mary Theurer. Who was Peter? Since the marriage came after Elizabeth’s death I figured (leap of faith) that it was probably Daniel but how to prove it was the question.

That old standby, a will, showed that Mary did indeed marry Daniel but why did he use the name Peter in the marriage listing? The will also revealed that Mary had a daughter, which Daniel adopted. This showed that the marriage was the second for both of them. I also assumed that Peter was his middle name. I also found Mary’s death record. The rumors did prove right; my g-grandfather was indeed, basically an orphan. He was 6 when his mother died, 10 when his father died and 12 when his stepmother died.

A new set of problems, what did a 12 year old orphan do and where were the interments of Elizabeth, Daniel Sr., and Mary? This is where my mother’s cousin steps in to sort out some of the problem. First we’ll deal with Daniel Jr. After his father died, his stepmother sent him to Fuerst Institute in College Point, Queens County, Long Island; my cousin has a button from his uniform. What happened next is family legend. He was supposed to have gone to Alsace (his mother’s birthplace) to college and then return to Newark. So far, I’ve not been able to find any information to support that, only the start of his
listings (mid 1880’s) in the Newark City Directory. I met my mother’s cousin at Fairmount Cemetery and he showed me the plot that Daniel Sr. is buried in. A search of the records in the cemetery office revealed that his second wife, Mary Theurer, purchased the plot. Buried in the plot was Mary, her first husband, her second husband Daniel and three others.

Mystery solved? No, there were more avenues to follow. First, a search of the City Directories revealed that Daniel was a brewer by profession and was part owner in two breweries. The first brewery was with Frederick Rumpf on S. Canal Street and the second with Frederick Traudt on Springfield Avenue. The City Directory also showed that Lyon’s and Sons purchased the brewery from Frederick Rumpf and Daniel.

Next, a search of the 1860 Federal Business Census showed more information on the Rumpf and Frielinghaus Brewery.

A search revealed his Declaration of Intent to Naturalize, which renounced the King of Prussia. The index also revealed a Robert Frielinghaus.

The 1860 and 1870 Federal Censuses revealed the makeup of his family at that time.

Further vital records research revealed Mary Frielinghaus’ first marriage, the death date for her first husband, and the marriage of the adopted daughter Mary.

Another avenue brought me to the Essex County Hall of Records. A search there revealed deeds and mortgages for Daniel Sr. and sheriff sales of property left to Mary Frielinghaus by Daniel.

Luck and the internet presence that I spoke of before helped me solve the "Peter" mystery and where my gg-grandfather originated. Someone in Germany, surfing the internet, found my personal genealogy site, emailed me and provided me the missing link back to Germany. A MAJOR stroke of luck since I could never find the ships records for his journey. As with German tradition, Peter Daniel Frielinghaus was born to Peter Daniel Frielinghaus in Lennep, Rheinland, Prussia. The Robert mentioned before turned out to be his brother.

The moral of the story is that there is a lot of information out there to enable you to piece together your ancestor’s life. You just have to know where to look and how to look.

To see the above information in a life story form that is different, less confusing than the above and a listing of the documents that I acquired, please click here.

For a listing of avenues for genealogical research, click here.

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