Thursday, March 11, 2010

Meet the Reinhardts of Hudson County, New Jersey

I've written a lot about my 4th-great grandfather Charles Haase, my Civil War ancestor. Well, I recently decided to take a second look at his wife's family, the Reinhardts, partially because they're a continuing source of frustration as one of my dead ends, partially because they're one of my only families that found its way out of New York, so they offered something a little different to look into.

Barbara Reinhardt was born in New York City in 1841 to immigrant John Reinhardt and his wife, named in various records and at various times as Magdalena, Caroline, Carolina, Leni, Helen, and Lena. Yeah...that's not at all confusing.

Anyway, Barbara was the third of about seven children so in addition to looking at various New Jersey records that were available where New York records were not, I decided to look into her siblings. Siblings are valuable sources of information. Descendants of siblings are as well. Most of Barbara's siblings are actually fairly well researched except for her oldest sibling, her brother John, so I decided to focus on him.

So, in 1850, the Reinhardts are living in New York City, where John Sr. was working at a porter house, but they were possibly in New Jersey as early as 1852, as their youngest child, Catherine (Kate) is listed as being born there. In 1859, they were living in West Hoboken in Hudson County, New Jersey, where John Sr. was working in a lager beer saloon. It's curious to me why people make the moves that they do, so I wonder what brought John Sr. and his family from New York to New Jersey, but it is here in Hudson County that the Reinhardts would make their mark.

According to my records, most of the Reinhardt children were born in New York, with the exception of Kate and the oldest, John, who was born in Havre, France in 1838 to German immigrant parents (according to his obituary). Le Havre was a common emigration point to New York and I'm not sure how long the Reinhardts were there after leaving Germany and before John was born, but they supposedly came over in 1839, though I've yet to find them on a passenger list (though you'd think a baby on board would be easy to find). I also don't know where in Germany they came from.

Anywho, in 1860 the Reinhardts are living in North Bergen, still in Hudson County. John Sr. is a hotel keeper; John Jr. is a bar keep. In July of 1861, Barbara married Charles Haase in New York, settling in Union Hill in, you guessed it, Hudson County. Charlie Haase, as we all know, fought in the Civil War with a New Jersey regiment. The John Reinhardts were still working in a saloon in 1864. About this time, Barbara's brother John married Anna Margaret Reisenweber and moved out on his own. In the 1870 census for the city of Union in the county of Hudson, he's listed as being in real estate. John Sr. is apparently no longer working.

Now, in the 1880 census, John Jr. is living with his family in Jersey City in Hudson County with his profession listed as ex-sheriff. So this past week I backtracked a bit and a Google search turned up archived New York Times articles that John Reinhardt was, in fact, the sheriff of Hudson County from 1871-74. A search of the NYT archives themselves got confusing because at the same time that John Reinhardt was sheriff, a Jacob Reinhardt was coroner and also involved in many of his cases...yeah, that was fun.

Also, it's noted in The New York Times that in November of 1874, John Reinhardt, ex-sheriff, was dangerously ill with diptheria. So, he was well-known enough for that to be considered news-worthy.

John Sr. was dead by 1880 as far as I can tell, and his wife seemed to split her time between John Jr's in Hudson County and Barbara Haase's, who had moved with her family to Brooklyn. One of my current goals is to narrow down that 10-year window for John Sr.'s death, and try to determine whether he died in Hudson County, where he made his home, or in Brooklyn, where his wife seems to have ended up.

All of my direct family is out of Jersey by 1880, but in the 1895 New Jersey census, John Jr. and his family are still living in West Hoboken.

John Jr., who was my 4th great grandmother Barbara Haase's brother, had his own son, John (my 3rd great-grandfather Edward Haase's cousin), and there's actually some info about him (and his father) in a book called "Genealogical histories of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey" by Cornelius Burnham Harvey, published in 1900, where he's listed as a somewhat up-and-coming public figure in Hudson County.

In John III's biographical sketch, his father (Barbara Haase's brother) is described as "for many years one of the most prominent and best known men in the county, serving as Sheriff from 1871 to 1874, and holding other positions of trust and responsibility." John III (Edward Haase's cousin), for his part, seems to have been involved in real estate as well as also in political affairs, serving as a justice of the peace and notary public (this was written in 1900, when he was only 26 years old). He is described as "public spirited, progressive, and patriotic, taking an interest in the welfare of the community and liberally supporting and encouraging every worthy project." There's even a photograph and everything.

John Jr., Barbara's brother, died in 1898. He actually has an obituary in The New York Times on Jan. 22: "John Reinhardt died at his home, 406 Charles Street, West Hoboken, yesterday from a complication of diseases. He was born in Havre, France of German parents in 1838, but was brought to this country in 1839. He was a Democrat and served as Sheriff from 1871 to 1874, being elected three times. He also held several local offices."

It's been very interesting getting to know my Reinhardt family, but what does this mean for my Reinhardt research in trying to break down that brick wall? It means I'm looking at passenger lists for around 1839, 1840. It means I'm looking to a possible trip across the river to Hudson County to look at local newspaper archives, local municipal record holdings, local cemeteries. If my 5th great grandfather John Reinhardt is there, Hudson County may hold the clues to knocking down that next wall...

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