When did they immigrate from Austria to the United States?

Piecing together one’s family history is like piecing together a puzzle depicting a landscape. As you fit pieces of blue sky together, you sometimes find you have pieced together a portion of sky from another puzzle, and you have to toss it out. Other times, you’re left uncertain whether the pieces you’ve fit together are part of your puzzle or not.

I’ve encountered a few pieces that may or may not fit my Fritz family history puzzle.

At issue is when my third great grandfather, Benedict, and his brothers, Christian and Johann Joseph, each immigrated to the United States from Austria.

The publication “Portrait and Biographical Album of Wapello County” states:

Joseph came to this country with [Benedict] …

[Benedict] left his native country for the United States in the spring of 1853. The voyage occupied thirty-six days, and after landing in New York City he proceeded to Cleveland, Ohio, where his brother Christian had previously located.

One immigration record (Ancestry.com link) shows a Jean and Benedict Fritz, from Austria, leaving through France to New York.

Benedict Fritz on Waltham Passenger List

It’s likely that these are brothers Johann Joseph and Benedict Fritz. (Johann in English is John, and John in French is Jean.) They arrived in New York on 5 April 1853.

There’s another immigration record (Ancestry.com link) of interest:

Christian Fritz on Miles Passanger List

Here, a Christian Fritz arrived from Germany on 27 June 1854, having originated in Holstein, Germany. This doesn’t sound right because Christian arrived from Austria, not Germany, and he arrived before Joseph and Benedict.

Looking for what matches, the age is right. Christian was (per his obituary) born 14 November 1827, so he would have been 27 on this date.

His job may be listed as “painter” (missing the “t”). It also looks like it could be “farmer”, but the person at the top of the page is “farmer”, and everyone after that person and before Christian has a ditto mark for occupation. Christian does not have the ditto mark, so his job likely isn’t “farmer”.

From what I hear, Fritz oral history back in Iowa states that the Fritz brothers worked as painters when they arrived in the United States. This definitely follows with the occupation listed on the immigration record.

The destination of Iowa makes sense if Benedict and Joseph were living there when Christian immigrated, but in 1854 Benedict had left for California that January, and Joseph was likely in Columbus, Ohio.

Another item of interest is Christian’s wife, Mary Ellen Hunt, was born in Kingston, Ohio. She and Christian married in Monroe County, Iowa. The question here is: did they meet in Ohio, or did they meet in Iowa? If they met in Ohio, this supports the idea that Christian was in Cleavland, Ohio prior to eventually moving to Iowa.

The publication “Portrait and Biographical Album of Wapello County” states:

Upon arriving [in Cleavland, Ohio, Benedict] found that [Christian] had left there, and not being able to find out his whereabouts, went to Columbus, and there engaged as a house-painter, in which he was occupied for the following eight months.

I’ve found a Joseph Fritz who lived in Columbus, Ohio who was a painter. (I strongly believe this Joseph was Benedict and Christian’s brother.)

Piecing these together, it’s very possible Christian immigrated with his job listed as “painter”.

However, the origin place of Germany and the immigration year of 1854 are still incorrect for Benedict’s brother. After all, the biography on Benedict states Benedict and Joseph immigrated in spring of 1853 and that Christian had immigrated before them.

Looking at the 1900 United States Census for Christian, things become a little more complicated.

Name: Christian Fritz

Immigration Year: 1854

Could Christian have gotten his year of immigration wrong 46 years later? If so, that incorrect year carried over into his obituary:

Christian Fritz was born Nov. 14, 1827, in [Lech, Austria]. In 1854 he came to America and after five years he settled in Blakesburg, Wapello County, Iowa.

This unfortunately does not include Christian’s whereabouts during those five years before he settled in Blakesburg.

One possible explanation is that the biography became mixed up. It might be that Christian immigrated after his brothers, and went to Cleavland, Ohio only to find his brothers had left. He could have then gone to Columbus, where his brother Joseph had moved and worked as a painter. This is only speculation, and leaves as many holes as it tries to fill as it disrupts Benedict’s history.

Perhaps one day I’ll fit enough pieces together to know if this immigration record for Christian is part of the same puzzle I’m putting together.

One thought on “When did they immigrate from Austria to the United States?

  1. I believe that Christian Fritz, aged 27, who is not a farmer, is actually a joiner. A joiner is a type of carpenter that fits pieces of wood together rather than use nails or screws.

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