Frederick Johann Baumbach

1983- by William George Baumbach

The purpose of this paper is to catalogue the life of my great- great grandfather Johann Federick Baumbach. There are many gaps in his story. He lived most of his life in America, a stranger in a foreign land. There is no one left alive who (at least to my knowledge) knew the man. His military record is incomplete and begs for understanding. The records that he kept in the family bible are at a variance with the birth and death records kept by the City of New York. The question as to why he immigrated needs to be answered.

I have attempted to first catalogue the records of his life that have been located. Second, to shed some light on his military career. Third, to gain some insight as to the reasons for his imigration. and last to formulate new investigative lines that would shed a further understanding of this man's life and times.

My hypotheses are by there very nature speculative. My conclusions are based on a perponderance of circumstantial evidence. I have noted the facts where they exist, I have drawn parallels to similar, contemporary situations, and often I have just guessed at the conclusions. It is my hope that this effort will lead towards an investigation culminating in a true picture of my ancestor.

A Concise History of the Baumbach Linea

The author, William George Baumbach, was born on July 2, 1951 in Bay Shore, N.Y. He is the eldest of five children born to George J. Baumbach, Jr. and Ann Irene McLaughlin (born Cummings). William lived in Lindenhurst, N.Y. until the age of 16, when he, along with his family moved to Dallas, Texas. He was married on October 4, 1975 to Rebecca Oleta Hord of Silver Spring, Md. William is a printer; he and his wife have two son- Keith Tobin (b. August 18, 1976) and George Grannon (b. September 11, 1978).

George Joseph Baumbach, Jr. was born on May 15, 1925. He is the eldest of two children born to George J. Baumbach and Margaet Sandhaas. George is a Navy veteran of the second world war and lived in Lindenhurst, N.Y. until 1967. On June 10, 1950, he married Ann Irene McLaughlin (know to her friends as Nancy) in Richmond Hill, N.Y. George is a chemical engineer; he and Nancy presently live in Blacksburg, Va.

George Joseph Baumbach was born on February 2 1897 in Boston, the eldest of eleven children born to Frederick Martin Baumbach and Caroline Winkler. Before his retirement, George, a successful businessman, was a textile executive and then a home builder. On June 26, 1919 he married Margaret Sandhaas. They presently make their home in Sanford, Florida.

Frederick Martin Baumbach was born in New York City on May 1, 1868, the third child of Frederick J. Baumbach and Karoline Rosenburger. Frederick Martin was a grocer in Corona, N.Y. On March 15, 1896 he married Caroline Kunigunda Winkler in N.Y.C. Frederick Martin died June 2, 1937.

Frederick Johann Baumbach, who is the subject of this paper, was born in Geingen, Germany on March 3, 1839. He was the fourth child of Johann Martin Baumbach and Barbara Fischer. In 1854 Frederick and his brother Carl Georg emigrated from Germany. On August 4, 1860 he married Karoline Marguerita Rosenburger of Albany, N.Y. They had five children. Frederick enlisted in Seventh New York Volunteers on August 4, 1862 for a period of two years. His unit saw a lot of action, most notably at Centreville, the Maryland Campaign, the Battle of Stone Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. After undergoing the "mud march", the unit spent the winter of 1862-3 in camp near Falmouth, Va. Frederick deserted the army at Falmouth on April 26, 1863, the night before the army marched on the Chancellorsville Campaign.

Karoline died August 2, 1872 almost two months after the birth of their fifth child. The child Helene lived on 23 days after her mother's death. On June 12, 1875 Frederick married his German-born housekeeper, Louisa Remeiser, a widow (nee Meyer). They had at least five children. Frederick was by trade a cabinet-maker in N.Y.C. where he died on May 15, 1893.

Johann Martin Baumbach (II) was born January 8, 1795, in Langenbrand, district of Neuenburg, Germany. He was a teacher in the town of Unterreichenbach. He married Barbara Fischer of Unterreichenbach, the daughter of a shoemaker. About 1839 Johann and Barbara moved to Giengen, becoming citizens of Giengen in 1848. In 1869 they moved again; this time to Liebenzell. In 1843, the church records note that he won a prize of 5 florins for his singing. Johann and Barbara had five children, 2 died young, a daughter married a teacher in Giengen and the two boys immigrated to America. Johann Martin was the son of Johann Martin Baumbach (I) and Magdalena Bohnenberger.

Johann Martin Baumbach (I) was also a teacher in Unterreichenbach. This is all I know of him.

Frederick Johann Baumbach

Johann Frederick Baumbach was born in 1839 and died in 1893. His life is shrouded in mystery. There is no one alive who knew him. He was an immigrant from rural Germany who settled in the German ghetto of New York City. There is little known about him that is not masked with ambiguity. Born Johann Frederick, most of the American records of him refer to him as Frederick J. of Fred Baumbach. His own personal records he kept in German and the official New York records indicate a man not familiar with the English language.

From the church records in Germany, we know that Frederick was born in Giengen, a small town in the Black Forest of South West Germany in the state of Wuttenburg.

Germany of the 1840's and 1850's was a turbulent place. The Nation was still a confederacy of city-states, baronies and larger kingdoms and dukedoms. These states were nearly all ruled by hereditary despots and ranged from the enlightened to the feudal. In 1848-49 there were popular uprisings int he various German states. Their goals, prompted by the French Revolution, were liberalization of the monarchies, democratization, unification of Germany and an end to feudalism. In 1849 these reforms were reversed when a reactionary counter-revolution crushed the liberals. However, feudalism was at its end. These disturbances prompted massive migrations to the United States. The 38'ers were, for the most part, liberals, intellectuals and radicals from Germany seeking political and economic freedoms. Between 1846 and 1853 almost 600,000 Germans immigrated to the United States. After 1849 there were major economic changes taking place in Germany. There was first a major potato famine. Then industrialization and the demise of the feudal trade guilds led to a surplus rural population. From 1850 to 1860 the population of Germany rose by over 3 million. Germany could no longer feed its own people. From 1849 to 1858 the percentage ofpeople working in agrarian skills dropped from 51% to less than 45%. Poverty was rampant and whole villages became dependent on a government dole. The towns and governments became willing to pay the expenses of emmigrants rather than pay for their welfare. In 1853-54, almost 400,000 people emmigrated from Germany. The overwhelming majority of these people were tradesmen, farmers and artisans from southwest Germany; and over 350,000 of these souls came to America. Frederick and his brother, Carl, were part of this influx of humanity seeking their fortune in the New World.

They arived in the City of New York in 1854. Over 19,000 of their fellow immigrants in this migration also came to stay in this city. The effects were staggering. Massive ghettos were born and the toll in human misery was high. Nativist movements in the U.S. attacked the "invader" as disease ridden filth. Thousands who slept on the streets never survived their first winter here.

There is little record of Frederick for the first few years he was here. His brother, Carl, now Charles, died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis in New York. Frederick, now 19, and only in America 4 years, was on his own. Two years later, Frederick married Karoline Rosenberger of Albany, New York. The New York City directory lists him living at 163 W. 32nd Street. Their family Bible has an entry in German stating that on February 10, 1862, their first child, George Frederick, was born. According to the city directory, young Frederick was a furniture maker.

The next record we find of Frederick was on August 4, 1862, when he enlisted in the United States Army Seventh N.Y. Volunteers for a period of 2 years. Why would a young foreigner living in the German ghetto of New York City with a young wife and a six month old son leave to join the army? Lacking any direct knowledge, the evidence seems to indicate that the reason was simple- for money. Before the draft act of 1863, the Union had a hard time maintaining its strength of men under arms. At that time in New York, combined Federal and State bounties for enlistment amounted to several hundred dollars.

The Seventh N.Y., known as the "Steuben Rifles", under Col. George von Scharck, was over 90% German-American and had been organized 16 months before in New York City. The unit had already seen much action under the Department of Virginia. In May of 1862, it was reassigned to the Army of the Potomac, later under Maj. Gen. Hooker. The unit was part of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Army Corps, Right Grand Division. After many battles, the Seventh N.Y. encamped outside Falmouth, Va. from January 24, 1862 until April 27, 1863. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, preceeding encampment, over 240 of the 7ths men were casualties; killed or wounded- almost 1/2 of their men. The winter was severe and camp conditions harsh. At camp, mutiny over pay, food and terms of enlistment was threatened several times and finally broke out in one Pennsylvania regiment. However, the 7th was due to be mustered out of service in April of 1863 and there was no trouble. There was, however, considerable discontent among the men who had enlisted for 3 year terms as they felt they would be discharged with their unit. They were informed, however, that on the 24th of April the 3 year men would be assigned to the 52nd N.Y. Volunteers, the Sigel Rifles, another German unit. Before the muster out, the entire unit was ordered to march to Cancellorsville on the 26th of April, 1863. The 3 year men deserted in droves from the 26th until the battle was begun. Among the deserters was Frederick. Lacking a description list of deserters, one can only guess that he, along with the other 3 year men, felt that they were treated unfairly. His military records indicate that while he enlisted for 2 years, the records were changed 4 months later to show him as a 3 year man. Contemporary accounts say that the desertion rate of 3 year men from Falmouth was very large, that many simply went home after their units were reassigned.

The next sign of Frederick is again in the New York directory. He is listed as a cabinetmaker on 4th Avenue in 1863. His next child, Margaretha Karoline, was born on September 16, 1865. He and Karoline had 3 more children:

Martin FrederickMay 1, 1868
Heinrick KarlMay 12, 1870
Helene HenriettaJune 7, 1872

Karoline Rosenburger, the daughter of immigrants and the wife of one, died on august 3, 1872, not quite 2 months after the birth of her daughter. On August 26, 1872, the child followed her mother into death.

The 1870 census shows him living in brooklyn with his wife and 2 children and mother-in-law. They were citizens of the United States and operated a candy store worth $800.

On June 12, 1875, Frederick married a widow, Louisa Remeiser, nee Meyer, born in Germany and 27 years old.

At this point, the record is confused. The bible entries show four children born of the second marriage:

Frederick WilliamOctober 28, 1877
Margaretha WilhemenaOctober 18, 1878
Emma MariaApril 18, 1879
Frederick AlbertMarch 10, 1881

There is a notation by Frederick at the end of this list; translated it reads, "all these children are dead".

Extensive research in New York by my father shows evidence only of Emma Maria who died at age 2 1/2.

The 1889 census shows Frederick unemployed with his wife, his four children, his mother-in-law, her [wife Louisa] daughter, Louisa, and two other daughters, Annie age 5 and Emma, age 1, all living together on 40th Street in a tenement.

New York City has birth or death certificates on these children of Frederick and Louisa:

HenriettaAugust 5, 1875 
GeorgeOctober 27, 1876October 29, 1876
MinaOctober 17, 1877December 3, 1877
Louis Albert 1 month at death, April 4, 1881

From 1881 until Frederick's death on May 15, 1893, I have no records. His widow remarried and was known to the Baumbachs as Grandma Grebbs.

My studies indicate that Frederick was the typical "poor immigrant" of the 1800's He lived in a tenement all his life, clinging to the old language and neighborhoods and most likely in realtive poverty. It was for his children to break out of the ghetto and move to the American mainstream. Real understanding of his life awaits study of the 1890 census, the "Descriptive Book" of the 7th N.Y. Vol. and locating the Grebbs family.


1. Files of George J. Baumbach, Jr., including:

A. various birth, death, and marriage certificates of Frederick, Karoline, and their children
B. correspondance from Freidrich Wollmershauser including copies of church records from Stuttgart, Germany
C. the military records of Frederick Baumbach
D. A family tree and photographs
E. Translations of transcriptions from the bible of Frederick Baumbach
F. personal notes and rememberances
G. census records of 1870 and 1880
H. N.Y.C. directory records 1846-1890
2. Richard O'Connor, The German Americans, Little, Brown & co., boston, 1968

3. J. Siebermacher, Die Wappen des Preussischer Adel, Band 14, Bauer & Raspe, Nurnburg, 1973.

4. Alfred Davenport, Camp And Field Life Of The Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry, Dick & Fitzgerald, N.Y., 1879

5. The War Of Rebellion, The Official Records Of The Union and Confederate Armies, GPO, Washington, D. D., 1889

6. Ella Lonn, Foreigners In The Union Army and Navy, Louisiana State University Press

7. G. Loving, ed., The Civil War Letters Of George Washington Whitman, Duke University Press, 1975

8. Dyer, A Compendium Of The War Of Rebellion

9. Pfisterer, New York In The War Of Rebellion

10. Dornbusch, Military Bibliography Of The Civil War

11. Haje Holborn, A History Of Modern Germany 1840-1945

12. John Snell, The Democratic Movement in Germany 1789-1914, University of North Carolina Press, 1976

aAdditional Notes by George Baumbach, 1998 Knightdale, NC. The author, William George Baumbach, brother of George Allan Baumbach (, lives with his wife Becky and son George Grannon "Grant" Baumbach in Wylie, Texas. Their son, Keith Tobin "Toby", died in 1997. Our mother, Nancy McLaughlin Baumbach, passed away in 1996 in Dallas, Texas, having been a resident of Blacksburg, VA, St. Michael, MD, and finally of Leonard, Texas, where she was buried. Grandparents George J. Baumbach, Sr. and Margaret Elizabeth Sandhaas moved from Sanford, Florida to Blacksburg, VA, where George Sr died in 1986. Margaret passed away in 1989 in Maryville, TN at my home, and she was buried alongside her husband in Blacksburg, VA.

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