Monday, August 24, 2015

Haack'ing into my German Past

This past Saturday was remarkable!   It was the kind of day that genealogists live for. What started out as a mundane research day -- ended with an incredible story lost to time.  I felt as if I was putting flesh on the bones of my ancestors and making them live again.  I discovered once again, what incredible people walked before me ...

I first came to appreciate my father's German roots, when I went to Madonna Cemetery at Ft. Lee, New Jersey in 2006, to visit the grave of my Italian Grandfather.  I was surprised to find that his grave was just one of three side-by-side family headstones.  The middle headstone was a massive German cross with the names 'Haack and Faller' inscribed below the cross.  The last 10 years have been a quest to rediscover these two ancestral lines of my father's parents.  Here's a refresher on the genealogy:  

  • My Father's (John A Milani) Parents:  Thomasine Ida Halloran &  Andrew Nicolas Milani
  • Maternal Grandparents:  John J. Halloran and Mary Haack
  • Maternal Great Grandparents (Halloran branch):  John O. Halloran and Margaret Meaney
  • Maternal Great Grandparents (Haack branch):  John Baptiste Joseph Haack & Ida Faller
  • Maternal 2x Great Grandparents:  (Haack branch):  Peter Joseph Haack & Anna Marie Walburgis Adams
  • Maternal 2x Great Grandparents: (Faller branch):  Alois Faller and Clara Margaretha Weigel

Earlier this year, I detailed in this blog, that I finally located Alois Faller, my 3x great grandfather, buried in the family plot of the former President of the German Legal Aid Society of New York, Charles Hauselt, in the magnificent and historic Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.  Curiously, Alois' wife Clara, was not buried with her husband at Woodlawn Cemetery.  She is buried in Madonna Cemetery along with their daughter, Ida Haack - the couple's only child.  (See also my 2006 discovery of these ancestors in the story: Eureka! Discovering our Roots in New Jersey.)

Ida Faller married a gentleman by the name of John Baptiste Joseph Haack.  They had two children, Joseph and Mary.  Joseph would become a New York City policeman.  Mary, a.k.a. Nonie, my great grandmother, would marry John J. Halloran, a plumbing contractor, of Irish descent.  Nonie was a New York City public school teacher.  

I have been curious about the first immigrant ancestors of the Milani family that came to the U.S.   I am building a database and a narrative around the essential questions of who they were, where they came from, why they came here -- where they were buried, etc.  These grandparents and great grandparents, each had their own unique story and I want to tell it.  Some were escaping revolution and tyranny, some famine, and still others were looking for steady work in jobs ranging from stone cutter to blacksmith, and from laborer to groomsmen.  They risked all to venture across an ocean and to start anew and their story of courage and perseverance deserves to be told.  

The Haack family represents an ancestral branch I knew relatively little about.  Family lore suggested that the Haack's were jewelers and had arrived from Germany in the mid 1800s, settling in New York City.  So I started there and before I knew what 'hit' me, I was finding web 'hits' all over the place revealing ancestral details that are really quite remarkable.  

Some earlier research had indicated that my 3x great grandparents were Peter and Anna Haack -- both born in Germany.  My 2x great grandfather, their son, John Haack,  was also born in Germany.  I thought I would start with Peter -- believing him to be the first immigrant to the U.S. of the Haack family.

My first hit came relatively easy.  I found Peter Haack's application for U.S. citizenship dated 8 March 1849.  Unfortunately, after many searches, I was unable to determine the timing of Peter Haack's arrival into the U.S.  Immigration and travel records on genealogy sites, detail a number of Haack's who came to the U.S. in the mid-1800's, but I couldn't find one that definitively matched by name, descendants, ship's manifest or timing -- or the exact details of Peter's family makeup or request for U.S. Citizenship.  

Peter Haack applied for U.S. citizenship on 8 March 1849.  Interestingly, his naturalization request asks that he:  "....renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State of Sovereignty, what ever (love the use of 'what ever'!) and particularly to the Grand Duke of Hesse Darmstadt of whom I am a subject."  Darmstadt was the former capital of the sovereign country, the Grand Duchy of Hesse.  Today, Hesse is one of the 16 states comprising Germany.  In 1849, the Grand Duke of Hesse was Louis III.  

As I look at this map, I'm astonished to see that the city of Würzburg, where I lived as a preschooler, is only 90 miles from the home of my 2x Great Grandfather!

I do find it ironic, that Peter's citizenship application date of 8 March 1949, coincides with the revolution of 1848-49 in Germany.  I have not been able to fully research this coincidence, but his arrival is 3-5 years before that of Alois Faller, the future father-in-law of his son John Haack.  You may recall from an earlier blog post, Alois Faller was caught up in the revolution of 1848.  Incidentally, Alois appears to have arrived in the U.S. sometime between 1851 and 1853 -- so I can definitively say, it was Peter Haack, not Alois Faller, who was the first immigrant on my father's side to enter the United States.  How about that?  

'Petrus Josephus Haack' a.k.a. Peter J. Haack was born in 1800 at Valli Ehrenbreitstein to Joseph Haack and Catherine Maurer.  He married Anna Marie Walburgis Adams, at St. Peter Catholic Church, Worms, Rheinhessen, Hessen, Germany, on 20 September 1831.  Anna was born in 1810 and her father was Joanne Baptiste Adams and her mother was Susannae Herzog. 

I tried to find a translation of 'Valli Ehrenbreitstein' but the word valli does not appear to be German.  I can only surmise that it means 'valley' or was just wrongly interpreted from German to English on the genealogical site.  Ehrenbreitstein is a fortress on the mountain of the same name on the east bank of the Rhine opposite the town of Koblenz.  

Could Peter Haack have been born in same town that Herman Mellville mentions in Moby Dick?  
 "...this pulpit, I see, is a self-containing stronghold -- a lofty Ehrenbreitstein..."
or in his Mellville's book, Pierre
 'As the vine flourishes, and the grape empurples close up to the very walls and muzzles of cannoned Ehrenbreitstein; so do the sweetest joys of life grow in the very jaws of its perils.'

Peter Haack was granted U.S. citizenship on 24 Oct 1855.  I was able to confirm this citizenship card below, with Peter Haack's actual citizenship application from 1849.  Unfortunately, I was unable to establish his port of entry and arrival date into the U.S.   As you can see -- both entries are blank on this card and his application does not ask for this information.  

I was unsuccessful finding the Haack's on the 1850 U.S. Census or the 1855 New York State Census.  I tried every letter combination for the word -- from Heck to Haacke -- but no luck finding a Peter Haack.  Moving on to 1860, the U.S. Census listed 5 Haack's living together in New York City, with Peter and Anna as the head of the household, along with three children ranging from 20-28 years old   ... and guess what Peter's occupation was?  Jeweler!  Found him! 
  • Peter Haack, Age 60, Jeweler, with with a personal estate valued at $3000 (about $88,000 today in relative value).  
  • Anna Haack, Age 50
  • John Haack, Age 28, Jeweler, with a personal estate valued at $75
  • Anna Haack, Age 24
  • Josephine Haack, Age 20

Confirming his profession as a jeweler, I then researched the name 'Haack' and paired it with 'Jewelry' in my search engine and came up with a few posting in the New York City directories.  I didn't find anything on the Haacks in the Trow's City Directory, 1848, but in Dogget's City Directory, 1849-1850 -- Eureka!   Peter J. Haack was a jeweler at 110 W Broadway.  

Intrigued by this finding, I wondered what other city directories might hold?  That's when things started to get interesting.  Here is a listing from Trow's City Directory, 1857, for John and Peter Haack, apparently both were 'beer' brewers at 685 Broadway.  My 2x and 3x great grandfathers brewed and sold their own beer?  Now that's mud in your eye!  Keep in mind too -- that John is only 23 years old!  I wonder what they named their brew?  I can think of all kinds of fun names using the word Haack!  

Unfortunately, I could not find a city directory prior to 1857, so I'm not sure when they started in the beer business, but I do know that by 1859, they were no longer selling beer.  In 1859, I found this listing that only includes Peter Haack -- not John Haack:  

As you can see Peter Haack, was a jeweler in business by himself.  But by 1860, Peter and his John were back in business this time at 82 White Street at Haack & Son Jewelers.  Now that's pretty cool.  So John had taken up the family business!  I found a similar listing for 1862 as well.  The following image is from Trow's City Directory, 1860:

But by 1865, father and son were no longer in business together.  The Trow's City Directory, 1865, lists only Peter Haack; there is no mention of John Haack.  Did John leave New York?  Did he strike out on his own -- and if so why?  What happened?  Did he serve in the Civil War after all he would have been 27 years old when the war broke out?  Questions, questions!   .  

At this point, I lose track of Peter.  In 1865, Peter is now 65 years old.  I think he has either retired or has passed away, but to verify this point I go back to the genealogy websites and start searching again for Peter.  I begin too to start looking for family members and especially his wife, Anna.  Sadly, I found this passenger manifest from 1866, indicating that a 56 year old Anna Haack (this was the right age as she was born in 1810) died on board the ship 'Deutschland(see blog post from 26 Aug 15) enroute to the U.S.  Anna had departed the port of Hamburg and was listed as "staying in the USA."  I can find no other Anna Haack in any of the genealogical sites I researched.  Coupling that with the strong coincidence with the date of her birth year, suggests that this was my 3x Great Grandmother.  I can only surmise that she went to Germany, perhaps to visit her family, and upon return to the U.S. she died at sea.  How sad! 

I then find a directory entitled: Jersey City, New Jersey, City Directory,1869.  I find a 'Peter Haack' at 121 Bloomfield Avenue, Hoboken.  Now, the city of Hoboken is literally across the river from Manhattan.  This has to be my 3x Great Grandfather -- but I cannot find anything that will verify that this is him.  In fact, I find no further trace of Peter Haack.  (This is my next big genealogical search!)

Back to John Haack. This is where the story twists.  John resurfaces in 1870 city directory as a jeweler.  But as I looked at the line just below his name, I see that he is now in business in the jewelry firm of  Haack & Diolot at 8 John Street, New York City.  Now this is interesting!   I decided to pair the two names together and do an internet search and the result -- well -- I almost fell out of my chair.  

Who is Diolot??  An internet search turns up a Saintemme Diolot, a Frenchman who was a jeweler and an inventor.  Apparently, he and his partner, John Haack, patented a jewelry piece together -- a scarf-ring!  Who knew?  I went to the U.S. Patent Office website and after a little searching I found this:

Now honestly, I have to admit, that I don't know anything about ring scarfs. The object of the invention was:  

Now that is pretty cool.  But it gets even better ...

As I was researching additional information on Haack & Diolot, I came across this interesting publication: Patent Models Index, Guide to the Collections of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Volume 2:  Listings by Inventor and Residence of Inventory, by Barbara Suit Janssen.  
Excerpted from this publication:

The Purpose of Patent Models

For most of the nineteenth century, the Patent Office required inventors to submit a model with their patent application. Inventors placed great importance on their models and viewed a well-executed model as the key element in obtaining a patent. The inventor would often hire a professional model maker to turn a two-dimensional paper drawing into a three-dimensional miniature machine. The inventor might also turn to other skilled craftsmen, such as blacksmiths, watchmakers, or cabinetmakers, to fabricate models. 
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the U.S. Patent Office Model Room and its four halls showcasing thousands of models was of common interest for researchers as well as a popular destination for inventors, the curious public, and manufacturers seeking helpful mechanical inventions. To the inventor, the idea of investors and manufacturers studying his or her patent model offered great incentive to craft a striking, handsome model that would stand out on the crowded Model Room shelves. Stereoviews of the Patent Office Halls of seemingly endless rows of cabinets filled with models were a popular Washington, D.C., photographic souvenir.
The patent model collections found their present home in 1964 with the opening of the National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History).  

Guess what invention is in the National Museum of American History?  That's right -- the Haack & Diolot Scarf-Ring!!  In the Guide to the Listing by Inventor, on page 62, of the Patent Models Index, you'll find this:  

Saintemme Diolot would partner with my great grandfather at Haack & Diolot from 1870 until 1882.  Saintemme would be awarded another patent in 1874 for an "improvement in ornamental chains or necklaces."  In 1883, they went their separate ways.  John Haack would move just down the street (I believe still in the same building that had many store fronts) to 16 John Street, Siantemme would stay at 8 John St.  After researching many of the city directories from 1870 - 1899, I established compiled the matrix below showing the different work and home addresses of John Haack and Saintemme Diolot:

One of the benefits of finding these New York City directories is seeing both the work and home addresses of my ancestors.  Remember that up to this point I had not been able to definitively prove that the 'Peter Haack' (my 3x great grandfather) living in Hoboken, was my great grandfather.  I was able to prove this definitively when I found the Trow's New York City Directory, 1872, as it listed the address for John Haack as the same address for Peter Haack at 121 Bloomfield, Hoboken, New Jersey.  Eureka! 

I am always amazed at the power of the internet -- how I can sit in the comfort of my home office and access information all over the world.  As I was researching the name 'Saintemme Diolot' I came across an New York Times article dated 7 September 1885.  When I read it -- I slumped in my chair -- my mouth agape.  Three years removed from partnership with my 2x great grandfather, with his business suffering, Saintemme had taken his own life.  In the article below, it mentions that Saintemme wanted to be doubly sure his suicide was successful.  He had finished off a bottle of laudanum -- which is opium -- and then shot himself in the breast in the "woods midway between King's bridge and Fordham."  He left a wife and a child behind.  


I wonder how Saintemme's suicide affected my 2x great grandfather?  How had their business been doing before they dissolved their partnership?  What was the reason the two jewelers went their separate ways?  Was John Haack the stable force that kept Saintemme Diolot grounded and successful?  Unfortunately, all we know is that John Haack continued in the jewelry trade -- apparently, and as we shall find out, very successfully, and for many years -- without another partner.

What do we know about John Haack?  Research has shown that John's full name was:  John Baptiste Joseph Haack.  While John was partnered with Saintemme Diolot in the jewelry business, he married Ida Alexandra Faller, my 2x great grandmother on 29 Nov 1874, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Ida was the only child and daughter of Alois and Clara Faller.  Ida would gain her naturalization in 1895.  They would go on to have two children, a son and my great grandmother, Maria (Nonie) Haack, on 20 Aug 1875 -- almost 9 months from the day of their wedding, (must have been a helluva wedding night!) and Josef Franz Peter Haack in 1887.  Obviously, the difference in age of 12 years between the two children begs the question of whether the couple had trouble conceiving a second child or they took a time out after Nonie?   For what it is worth, I heard she was a handful!  My source will remain anonymous :).  

Part of what compelled me to want to explore the Haack's in more detail was this email comment from my Aunt Nancy Milani (formerly married to my dad's brother Don Milani), who describes the Haack's:

Tuesday, 10/21/2003  8:35:14 PM Eastern Daylight Time:

"Mom's grandfather (Note:  Aunt Nancy is referring actually to Thomasine Halloran Milani's great grandfather Peter Haack) was thrown out of Germany in 1849, along with Richard Wagner, for trying to start the National Socialist Party.  He came to New York and was a partner in big jewelry store, Black, Starr and Frost.  He was a diamond cutter and a fabulous pianist.  Don did a paper on this subject of his great-grandfather, with the assistance of Nonie ... remember, she was a wonderful pianist and multi-lingual. I wish I knew where the paper was today.  Mom (Thomasine Milani) used to refer to it frequently.  She said when Nonie married John Halloran, the old man Haack (John Haack) stood outside St. Patrick's Cathedral pounding on the locked door with his walking stick, screaming:  "You vill not marry a Gottdamned Irishmun!!" (sic)  Nonie's brother was Joseph and he lived with Don and Jack's family.  Nonie's father never forgave "Uncle Joe" for becoming a NYC cop."  
It is true that Richard Wagner was advancing the cause of Socialism in the Dresden uprisings from May 3-9, during the revolution of 1849.  Because of Wagner's role at Dresden, an arrest warrant was issued in his name and  he took flight to Switzerland where he was exiled.  Unfortunately, through all my research on the Revolution of 1848-49, I could find no reference to Peter Haack or his relationship to Richard Wagner.  

It is also true that Mary 'Nonie' Haack and John J. Halloran were married in Manhattan.  But it is unclear if they were married at St. Patrick's Cathedral.  (I will follow-up on this!)   I can verify too that Nonie did in fact marry a Gottdamned Irishmun and their daughter Thoma  married a Gottdamned Guinea too!   I wonder what John Haack would say to that?

And I now come to the end of the story.  I am grateful that God gave me a mind that loves problem solving -- and genealogy is just that.  It requires a dedication to hard, tedious, methodical, analytical and logical thinking -- something I didn't know I possessed growing up. (Neither did my parents.)  It's this kind of thinking and diligence that has revealed to me many genealogical gems.  It's this diligence that paid off in a big way.  I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post that I had paired the words 'Haack and jewelry' together.  Sometimes a search engine responds more favorably to word pairings than it does to single word searches.   And this past Saturday, well all I can say is:  "Oh my God!!"  

I came across a publication entitled:  The Jeweler's Circular, October 25, 1922, a jewelry trade magazine.  In the publication, on page 89, I found the obituary of John B. J. Haack, my 2x great grandfather!  Low and behold -- for the first time in my life I saw a picture of him.  He lived 88 years and worked in the jewelry profession for over 70 years!  He was diamond broker and then turned to pearls "and he became well known for his knowledge of the gem and for his ability to polish and improve it.   For many years he was probably the only pearl improver in the trade in the east and continued in this business until some years ago, when he again became a broker."  He remained active in the business until sadly, his wife Ida passed in 1908.  Both are buried at Madonna Cemetery under the big German cross simply marked 'Faller - Haack.'   What an incredible story.  Rest in peace John and Ida Haack. 

Next up:  Find Anna and Peter Haack's grave site.  

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