I am fortunate to have a family full of storytellers with long memories. What this means for me, though, is that my genealogical research primarily entails proving or disproving these stories. One story, on which I am currently working, is about my great great grandmother, Louise Reisenberg (or Risenburg).
Louise’s story, if I remember right, is as follows. One day, a sixteen year old Louise was working in the field on her family’s farm, she heard God tell her to leave her home and her family and go to America. She went back to the house and told her parents what God had told her to do. Her parents believed that she should do as God commanded and sold a cow to buy her passage to America. Louise didn’t speak a word of English, so she found a German family on the boat who were heading to Toledo, Ohio and she went with them. In Toledo, she got a job to support herself and married Frederick Schroeder.
Proving the story has been difficult, but I do believe that it is true based on what I have found so far.
Louise Reisenberg was born in Germany in November of 1860.1,5,6,8,10,11 She came to America in 1882, and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on the Hermann on April 19th of that year, at the age of 21.1,5,6,8 From Maryland, she went on to Ohio, where she met Frederick Schroeder. Fred and Louise married on May 8, 1882 in Lucas County, Ohio.2 Louise was a carpet weaver.5 Fred and Louise had six children: Emma W., born circa 1883; Elizabeth A., born January 1885; Henry F., born circa 1887; Bertha Amelia, born March 30, 1890; John F., born October 1892; and George Herman, born September 21, 1896.3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12
Fred died sometime between 1896 and 1900.3,4,5 By 1900, Louise had been naturalized and could speak English.5 By 1930, she was living with her daughter, Bertha, and her son-in-law, Lloyd Bersticker. She lived with them until she died in 1955.10,11
Most of the story couldn’t be directly proven with facts, but I feel that the facts support it. A sixteen year old Louise could have heard God, and her parents could have sold the cow. It may have taken some few years between the initial voice of God and setting off for America. It also would have taken about a month for the actual voyage. It seems likely to me that a non-English speaking young lady would have found a family to travel with that spoke her language. I also have to wonder if maybe this family had connections to the Schroeders in Toledo. Louise arrived in Maryland on April 19th and married Fred on May 8th, so maybe the family arranged it or suggested it. Louise certainly did have a job as a carpet weaver.
Louise Reisenberg Schroeder is one of my ancestors about whom I am dying to know more. She’s always been a bit of a mystery and I’m glad to have uncovered what I have so far.
1. Baltimore, Maryland Passenger Lists Index, 1820-1897, FamilySearch.org.
2. Lucas County, Ohio Marriages, 1789-1997, Vol. 3, p.379, FamilySearch.org.
3. Ottawa County, Ohio Births, 1841-2003, Vol. 1, p.324, no. 94, FamilySearch.org.
4. Ottawa County, Ohio Births 1891-1908, Vol. 2, p.245, no. 382, FamilySearch.org.
5. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Benton, Ottawa, Ohio, p.12B, Ancestry.com.
6. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.9A, Ancestry.com.
7. Genesee County, Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925, Vol. 2, p.335, FamilySearch.org.
8. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.4A, Ancestry.com.
9. Lucas County, Ohio Marriages 1920, Vol. 39, p.483, FamilySearch.org.
10. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.12B, Ancestry.com.
11. 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Toledo, Lucas, Ohio, p.7B, Ancestry.com.
12. The Blade Correspondent (Toledo), 5 October 1964, Obituary, Emma Damschroeder, found a copy in my grandparents’ box not cited.