Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 1 -- A midday visit to Alois Faller at Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY

It's about 11am and I am driving through the concrete jungle of the Bronx looking for Woodlawn Cemetery.  I see it up ahead -- an oasis perched upon a hill overlooking a major highway.  A winding road takes me past the cemetery entrance and up the hill.  My curiosity and excitement are piqued.  Large towering oaks and sycamore trees dot the landscape.  Only the leaves on the trees are missing on this beautiful sun shining warm winter day --

Is this really the Bronx?  I can't believe it.  The Woodlawn website calls the cemetery "...a veritable outdoor museum."  I cannot disagree.  The website goes on:
Woodlawn has been an active, 400-acre, non-sectarian cemetery from its inception in 1863. The cemetery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011 by the National Parks Service. Its celebrated lot owners comprise artists and writers, business moguls, civic leaders, entertainers, jazz musicians, suffragists, and more, including Herman Melville, Joseph Pulitzer, Fiorello LaGuardia, Celia Cruz, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The cemetery’s unrivaled collection of monuments—including over 1300 mausoleums– were designed by legendary American architects, landscape designers, and sculptors. (Click here to see some of the famous people and monuments in the: Woodlawn Image Gallery.)
Back in 2006, I discovered that my grandfather Andrew Milani was buried in a plot at Madonna Cemetery, Ft. Lee, NJ, with a huge German cross bearing the names Haack and Faller on its surface. 

This is 2006 picture taken of the Haack Faller Cross at Madonna Cemetery, Ft. Lee, NJ.
I knew of the Haack's (my 2x great grandparents) but I had never heard of the Fallers.   After a census search I found an Alois Faller, his wife Clara and daughter Ida in the 1860 U.S. Census.  They were  residents of Warsaw, Illinois.  Alois owned more that $20,000 of farm land -- a rich man for his time.  A quick cemetery record search revealed that Clara Faller -- my 3x Great Grandmother and her daughter Ida were buried in Madonna Cemetery along with the Haack's -- but no Alois.  Where was Alois?? ... for the next 7 years I searched in vain.  Alois -- oh Alois -- where art though Alois?   Still no Alois.  On a whim, I decided to contact the New York City Office of Public Records.  I got lucky ... I found the death certificate for Alois and on it was his place of interment:  Woodlawn Cemetery.  EUREKA!  Pretty much as good as it gets in genealogy.  I contacted Woodlawn and after extracting $54 out of me they confirmed that he was in an unmarked grave in the Hauselt family plot.  

Who the hell was Hauselt?  Glad you asked.  Nice segue.  I decided to pair the two names of Hauselt and Faller together while doing internet searches and BOOM -- I was off to the races.   It turns out that Alois was a refugee from the 1848 German Revolution.  

The Hauselt Plot (12 graves sites encompass this area with only 4 of the 12 filled.)  Alois Faller rests in an unmarked grave in the grassy area just  inside the intersection of the two footpaths.)  The Hauselt monument is approximately 12-14' high.

What German revolution in 1848??  That's what I said! Click here for the website that explains  the 1848 German Revolution in quintessential German detail: The 1848ers -- (I took some liberty with the quotes -- inserting parenthetical quotes of my own marked 'REM' or from other articles on this website into the quote below to give it more context and clarity.)
The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed the arrival on American shores of a vast number of German immigrants, who gained a most significant place in American history: "the Men of 1848."
... Having taken such a heroic part in this gigantic struggle for liberation (against Napolean REM), the people had hoped for the establishment of constitutional governments, in which they might have part. But this justified expectation was sadly deceived. (Germany before 1848 was fragmented and retained much of its feudal system.  It was a place of many large and small principalities, many of the ruled by absolute sovereigns; it seethed with territorial  rivalries and conflicting interests.)  The rulers, forgetful that the people had saved their thrones, denied it such right, and opened instead a long period of reaction, which manifested its triumph in dark acts of oppression and tyranny. Dissatisfied by the ingratitude of the sovereigns, many patriots, detesting violence, turned their backs on the land of their birth, hoping to find in America new fields for their abilities. Others, unwilling to submit to the petty tyranny of the rulers, -resolved to resist and became leaders in a bitter struggle for liberty, which, dragging along for many years, culminated in the revolutionary outbreaks of the year 1848. The symbols of that sanguinary year were chosen and denote all those Germans and Austrians, who took part in the long struggle, though their participation dated back to earlier years. Among those men were thousands who had reached the highest pinnacle of intellectual development, men with ideal inspirations, who became in America successful promoters of the ethical, moral and material welfare of the people, and gained also widespread influence in the direction of affairs in our federation of States.
....In all, Germany lost during the so-called "Reaktionszeit" more than one and a half million of her best citizens.
Germany's loss meant for the United States an invaluable gain, as so many hundred thousands of highly cultured men and women came into this country. While the former German immigration had consisted essentially of farmers, workmen and traders, now scholars and students of every branch of science, artists, writers, journalists, lawyers, ministers, teachers and foresters came in numbers. The enormous amount of knowledge, idealism and activity, embodied in these political exiles, made them the most valuable immigrants America ever received. As they accepted positions as teachers and professors at the schools and universities, or filled public offices, or founded all sorts of newspapers and periodicals, learned societies and social clubs, these men inspired the hitherto dull social life of America, that it gained a much freer and more progressive character.

So what does all this mean?  Trust me -- it's not easy to figure out.  But the gist of it is this: -- Alois Faller was a revolutionary.  He and the revolutionaries were seeking such basic rights as freedom of the press, trial by jury and constitutional systems of government in the states, as well as the unification of Germany into one nation state.  He lost and was either forced to leave Germany or left in fear of his life.

Oh it gets better!  I found a German newspaper, Der Deutsche Correspondent, dtd. 18 August 1882 in the Library of Congress with Alois Faller's obituary.  It was written in old German script and I had to have a neighbor, Karen Daurie, who is fluent in German translate it for me  (click here to see the original German Newspaper):

Dr. Alois Faller passed on August 16th, 1882 in the city of New York. Dr. Alois Faller was one of the outstanding members of the local “Rechtschutzverein” (Legal Aid Society) and a well-known and honorable citizen. He was born on January 7th, 1812 in Höhlensteig near Freiburg, Baden, more specifically in the well-known “Zum Sternen” Inn (owned by his father). He had five siblings – all of who he survived.  After completing both Latin School and High School in Freiberg, he consecutively attended the Universities of Giessen, Göttingen and Heidelberg, where he completed his legal studies and earned a Doctorate “cum summa laude”. He then dedicated himself with great success as an attorney in Freiburg, during which time he married Ms. Klara Margarethe Weigel, the niece of Privy Professor Mittermaier in Heidelberg. He later became a court lawyer and University Representative/Officer in Freiburg.  The Freedom Revolution of 1848 and the “Sieg der Reaktion”  took him and others to America. With initial intentions to go west, he first settled in Mascoutah, St. Clair County, Illinois, from where he then proceeded on to Warsaw. Later, in 1860, he settled in New York City, where he worked as a lawyer and notary until his death.  In the last years of his life, Dr. Faller fully dedicated himself to the Legal Aid Society and helped many people attain their rights. His cause of death was a heart attack. 

Oh it gets even better!  I then found mention of Alois Faller in two books.  The first was a compilation of distinguished German-American citizens and reprints the obituary above.  The second book, was the definitive book on the Revolution of 1848 entitled:  Refugees of Revolution, by Carl F. Wittke, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1952, and it contains the following quote: 
Dr. Aloys Faller, a doctor of law summa cum laude from Heidelberg, settled first in St. Clair County, Illinois, as a "Latin farmer," and in 1860 moved to New York City, to return to the legal practice.18
18  Hildegard, Binder Johnson:  “Hans Reimer Claussen,” in  The American-German Review, X, 30-32
A Latin Farmer was reference to a German intellectual -- refugees from the revolution -- steeped in the 'Latin Classics' who took up farming in their new country because they could not find work in their primary area of training and education.

As mentioned in his obituary, Alois would eventually leave Illinois and move to New York City where he practiced law.  I found this interesting mention of Alois' work at the German Legal Aid Society in a University of Michigan publication entitled:  The lance of justice; a semi-centennial history of the Legal aid society, 1876-1926, Maguire, John MacArthur, 1888-  

From pages 46-47: short order it became apparent that one man could not handle the Society's business. Little argument is needed to prove that a one-man lawyer's office is an inefficient office. Every time the lawyer goes to court he has to lock his door and the reception of clients is suspended. Every time he writes a letter his mind and energies are distracted from true legal work and wasted upon mechanical detail. Hence the directors early came to the conclusion that the Attorney must have a messenger and an assistant. The first assistant attorney, Alois Faller, began to serve gratuitously in October, I879. He continued his work as a labor of love for about sixteen months. In I88I the directors voted that from the first of February in that year he should receive a salary of $50 a month.
 ...In 1882 Mr. Faller, the generous and competent assistant attorney, had died.
So who was Hauselt?   Charles Hauselt had been director of the Legal Aid Society.  So Alois knew Hauselt from the German Legal Aid Society!  When Alois died, he must have offered Clara, Alois' wife, one of his 12 family plots in Woodlawn Cemetery!  Alois would be the first to be buried in the Hauselt family plot.

Charles Hauselt's obituary from the New York Herald, 9 February 1890:
....Mr. Hauselt was born in the province of Frauken, Bavaria, May 20, 1828.  He came to this country when twenty one years old as the agent of Doerr & Reinhart, leather merchants, Worms, Germany, and, it is said, the young man's sole stock in trade was one case of leather samples.  He had very little money and this led him to be very lenient toward penniless immigrants when he became an Emigrant Commissioner.  By close application to business, and owned at the time of his death, one of the largest leather houses in New York.  His estate is estimate at over half a million.  ... He was also Director in the Germania National Bank, the Chatham National Bank, the German Legal Aid Society ...

And then I found another New York Herald article on Charles Hauselt.  His funeral was attended by over 2000 people--
On the lid of the casket was placed the decoration bestowed upon Mr. Hauselt in 1886 by Emperor William.  ... The honorary bearers were Carl Schurz, ...
Emperor William and Carl Schurz??  Are you kidding me?  Again from the website German Heritage (click here for the entire article German Revolution of 1848/49)
Carl Schurz remains one of the best-known German immigrants to America. He fought in the 1848/49 revolution as a young man (including Baden where Alois Faller hails) and again fifteen years later in the American Civil War. He was a skilled orator and an ardent supporter of Lincoln, who appointed him Minister to Spain afterbecoming president. Resigning to take up a military career, he fought at Chancellorsville as a division commander in May 1863; in July of 1863, he assumed command of the 11th Corps in Gettysburg. After the war, Schurz became a prominent political figure. He was sent by President Andrew Johnson on a tour of the defeated South, on what would today be called a fact-finding mission.Serving a term in the United States Senate, he advocated a conciliatory policy toward the South. He served as a cabinet minister in the administration of Rutherford B. Hays and late in life took up political journalism. 
It would not be much of a stretch to believe that Schurz and Faller ran in the same circles.

So bringing it all home --

On its surface  my visit to Woodlawn Cemetery seemed a casual affair.  For me though, it was the fulfillment of more than eight years of research to come to know a man lost to history.  I cannot adequately convey my emotions as I stood at the foot of his unmarked grave -- knowing that I had found this great man.  It then dawned on me that he hadn't had a family visitor in more than 100 years!.  I think I made Alois Faller a happy man today.  No man should be forgotten -- it falls to us the ancestors to remember and pray for the dead.  I prayed the Catholic prayer for the dead for Alois.

Epilogue:  It was sad to realize that my 3x Great Grandfather -- and such an imposing historical figure lies in his final resting place without any marking of his grave.  I made a promise to Alois to buy him a headstone -- he will not be forgotten.  Woodlawn Cemetery has a biography program for each of its interments.  I will be providing Alois' obituary for the permanent record.


  1. I am Charles Hauselt's great-great-great niece (I think I got the number of greats right). I stumbled upon your blog when doing a Google search on Great Uncle Charles. How interesting to find out that your 3x great grandfather is buried in the Woodlawn family plot! We never would have known - forgotten by the ages. They must have been friends, because only family members or married into family members can be buried there (I've heard). It's strict! I learned some interesting stuff about my family, too, through your research. So, thanks... how cool!

    1. Hi Amy, thank you for your post. I have much to share with you. I will be sending you a note directly under separate cover. Bob

    2. My email address is If you could send me a note, I'll forward a conversation I started with Charles Wittmack III. I have found many interesting items on Charles Hauselt.