Piecing bits and pieces together, I believe I have found the family of my third great granduncle, Christian Fritz.
Looking at Madison County Cemetery Records, I find the following two people:
Name: Fritz, Christian R.
Died: 09 Feb 1910
Notes: h/o Mary E. (Hurt)
Name: Fritz, Mary Ellen
Born: Sep 1840
Died: Sep 1925
Notes: (nee Hurt), w/o Christian R.
It’s known Christian was born after his brother Benedict. Benedict was born in October, 1826. An 1827 birth would make sense for Christian.
The death information for his wife doesn’t quite line up with this from the Blakesburg Excelsior, Thursday, February 26th, 1925:
Mrs. William Shea returned home from Dexter, Iowa, last week, where she had been called to attend the funeral of her aunt, Mrs. Christian Fritz.
Is it possible the transcript incorrectly states September when it should be February?
I may have to turn to Find a Grave and hope someone can photograph the gravestone for me to find out more.
Here’s their son’s grave listing:
Name: Fritz, William Benedict
Born: 12 Jul 1864
Death: 13 Feb 1951
Notes: h/o Emma (Schumacher), s/o Christian R. & Mary E. (Hurt)
It looks like Christian named his son after his own father Benedict or brother Benedict. The cemetery being in Dexter matches with the newspaper quote above placing Fritz family in Dexter, Iowa.
William Benedict isn’t the only name match. The 1920 Census for William and Emma lists a daughter named Gertrude. I’ve also found her birth index listing, under Iowa, Births and Christenings Index, 1857-1947:
Name: Gertrude Alice Fritz
Birth Date: 12 Jul 1912
Birth Place: Iowa, United States
Father’s Name: Wm B Fritz
Mother’s name: Emma Shumaker
FHL Film Number: 1065288
This could of course only be a coincidence, but follow these descending lines and similarities appear:
- (Christian’s father)
- Christian Fritz
- William Benedict Fritz
- Gertrude Alice Fritz (born about 1913)
- Benedict Fritz
- Benedict Fritz
- Gertrude Fritz (born 1871)
- Alice Shea (born 1894)
If William Benedict and Gertrude were cousins, which looks very likely, then it’s possible William would have named his daughter after his cousin and her daughter.
I checked Find a Grave, and found memorial pages for Christian’s son Albert, and for Christian and wife listed simply as “Albert’s father” and “Albert’s father’s wife”. I’m curious why they are listed that way, but the transcripts for the cemetery list them by name. Once I’ve compiled detailed information on Christian and Mary, I’ll be getting those Find a Grave memorial pages updated, and requesting photos for the Fritzes in that cemetery.
The final bit of vital information for now is that on the 1900 US Federal Census, it says Christian immigrated from Austria to the US in 1854, a year later than the account on Benedict. It’s possible the person who provided this information for the census had the year wrong. Also notable is that it says Austria, and not Germany (which could potentially mean Austria).
Mary Ellen is listed on the 1900 US Federal Census as having been born in Ohio. From the 1887 publication, “Portrait and Biographical Album of Wapello County, Iowa”:
… after landing in New York City [Benedict] proceeded to Cleveland, Ohio, where his brother Christian had previously located. Upon arriving he found that the latter had left there…
There are many coincidences and items that line up perfectly for this to be Benedict’s brother. Even the contradictions, such as the immigration year, are close enough to be accepted as slightly incorrect information on a census paper, which is known to happen with dates on censuses. Considering names including William Benedict and Gertrude Alice, the location of Dexter, Iowa, and dates nearly matching, I feel certain that this must be the correct Christian.