Searching for (Carl) Charles Christian Bischoff's home
in Braunschweig, Germany
Charles Bischoff (b. 11 Dec 1845 Braunschweig, Germany; d. 28 Sep 1925 Arlington, VA, USA) is the only ancestor whose ancestry is totally unknown. And this is despite the fact that he was the only ancestor to return to Germany after emigration, and he made not one but two trips. Only American records have been located, and these confirm that his birthplace is the duchy of Braunschweig; it is thought that he was not from the city of Braunschweig, however. This search has been fruitless to date because most of the church records from this part of Germany have not been microfilmed, and research must take place in Germany itself.
- 1872: Carl Bischoff, age 33 (sic), Male, Farmer, from Braunschweig lands in America on March 15, 1872 aboard the steamship Holsatia, Hamburg to NY (both lists available here). Note that this age is incorrect as Charles would be 26; perhaps the "farmer" designation is incorrect too? Note that the American list in NY is copied from the Hamburg list in Germany, so this reflects one error that was repeated, not two independent errors.
1875: Charles H. Bischoff, age 29, a native of Brunswick, declared his intention to become an American citizen on May 31, 1875 in Washington, DC -- record
1875: Charles Bischoff, age 29, born in Germany, residing in Washington, arrived in Baltimore from Bremen on September 25, 1875 (note: no Bremen records available) -- passenger list
1876: Charles H. Bischoff and Justina Voehl marry on March 4 in the Concordia Evangelical Lutheran church in Washington, DC (no ages, no birthplaces) -- churchbook record (neither of the records for their two children list a birthplace for Charles either)
1880: Charles W. Bischoff, age 34, born in Brunswick, parents born in Brunswick - 1880 census
1882: Charles H. Bischoff and Elizabeth Stiebeling marry on July 16 in the Concordia Evangelical Lutheran church in Washington, DC (no ages, no birthplaces) -- churchbook record (none of the records for their four children list a birthplace for Charles either)
1890: Charles H. Bischoff, a native of Brunswick, age 44, prays to be admitted to become a citizen of the United States on May 31 -- naturalization. No other naturalization records were found in response to my request by the Archivist William Ellis at the National Archives (letter)
1900: Charles W. Bishoff (sic), born Dec 1845, born in Germany, parents born in Germany - 1900 census
1900: Charles H. Bischoff, born at Brunswick, Germany on December 11, 1845, a naturalized citizen of U.S. having emigrated on the Holsata [sic] in March, 1872, from Hamburg applied for a passport - passport application [it was finding this passport application that confirmed Charles was the "33-year old" on the Holsatia rather than the better-matching Charles Bischoff on the S.S.Egypt the same year]
1900: C. C. Bischoff, age 54, residence Washington DC. arrived in New York from Hamburg on September 23 - passenger list -- visited Germany with his son Paul, from his first marriage, perhaps to visit Voehl relatives
1910: Charles C. Bischoff, 64, born in Germany, spoke POLISH (error or clue?), parents born in Germany, parents spoke German, emigrated 1872 - 1910 census
1920: Charles C Bischoff, 74, emigrated 1872, Naturalized 1890, born in Germany and spoke German, parents born in Germany and spoke German - 1920 census
1925: Charles C. Bischoff, died Sep 28, 1925, born December 11, 1845, age 79y, 9m, 17d, birthplace: Germany, Father's name: Henry Bischoff, father's birthplace: Germany, maiden name of mother: (blank), mother's birthplace: Germany - death certificate. Note: this information was filled in by Charles' son Paul, who was not more specific despite traveling back to Germany with his father in 1900. It is assumed that since Paul did not remember his grandmother's name, she was likely deceased by 1900 when he visited; it is not certain he visited Braunschweig, but it is assumed he did. No obituary found for Charles in Arlington, VA or in Washington, DC; Prospect Hill cemetery has no additional information.
Other sources attempted: Arminius (Germania) Lodge - no response; Sangerbund - no response; family of Charles' grandson Charles Bischoff who died in 2000 in Florida - wrote three letters with no response (see note below); legal filings - none for Charles; will - none for Charles; church funeral service record - none found. Other sources not attempted: funeral home (Thomas S. Sergeon funeral home no longer in business), German newspapers in Washington, DC (note: these newspapers are thought to be a good source, but unless they are searchable electronically, it is too huge a task).
Note: name was always spelled Bischoff with two Fs.
No relationship has been found to other Bischoff/Bischof families in Washington, DC; these other families were not from the duchy of Braunschweig (Andrew Bischoff, born 10 Dec 1838, was born in Sonneberg, which is not near Braunschweig).
I am guessing that Charles' mother's name may have been Alma. He named his first two daughters Alma (one by Justina, died at age 2, and one by Elizabeth). The next daughter was named "Anna" surely by Elizabeth in honor of her sister-in-law Anna Damm Stiebeling who treated her like a daughter. Since son Paul did not know his grandmother's name, I am guessing that she had died by the time of his visit to Germany in 1900. Therefore it is likely that Paul's grandchildren will be unable to give much additional information on towns or names, as Paul did not fill in Charles' birthplace or his mother's name -- perhaps the purpose of Paul's trip in 1900 was to visit the Voehl relatives rather than the Bischoff ones. Or perhaps it was a (favorite) sister of Carl/Charles rather than his mother who was named Alma; it seems that Paul would have remembered the story of the naming if it was for his grandmother, but then again, Alma's children did not apparently know either.
German research is impeded as most of the records of the duchy of Braunschweig have not been microfilmed. The attempts made at finding records are as follows:
- Braunschweig emigrants:
Book by Fritz Gruhne on emigrants from the former duchy of Braunschweig through 1871 -- no Carl/Charles Bischoff (but the book ended the year before Charles emigrated) (without city of Braunschweig and Kreis Holzminden)
- Zorge, Braunschweig: The Braunschweig book did have one Bischoff entry: a female from Zorge. There are also 12 Bischoff families in Zorge in 2002. The pastor of the Zorge Lutheran church was written and the email response is there was no Carl/Charles or Heinrich Bischoff in Zorge nor in the villages nearby. There was also a Bischoff entry found on IGI which is for the same Friederike Wilhelmine Bischoff of Zorge.
- Twulpstedt, Braunschweig: the records for Gross Twulpsted and Klein Twulpstedt are microfilmed for civil registration for 1808-1814 births. These were examined to see if a Heinrich Bischoff could be located (since Charles was born in 1845, these are 31-37 years previously (film#949338 and 949339) - no Heinrich found, but he may have been born 1815-1825.
- Volmarsdorf, Braunschweig: the records for 1808-1813 were examined (film#95814) - no Heinrich found, but he may have been born 1814-1825
- Vorsfelde, Braunschweig: the records for 1808-1814 were examined (film#958015 and 958016) - no Heinrich found, but he may have been born 1815-1825.
- late 1700s: Caspar Ludwig Bischoff from Soest Westfalen lived in Braunschweig in the late 1700s, and he was a Kleidermacher/tailer (from the guild records at the City Archives in Braunschweig)
- 1750-1875: general index of baptisms for the City of Braunschweig: Jens Kaufmann was going to check but he never got back to me.
- 17th and 18th century: records for families near Braunschweig were examined to see if there was a pattern of where Bischoff families lived, as a potential starting place for research. These were abstracts of marriages in the Duchy of Braunschweig 1500-1750 for these area: city of Braunschweig, City of Wolfenbuttel, Wolfenbuttel District, Salzdahlum, Schoppenstedt, Gr. Biewende, Cramme, Ufingen, Lichtenberg, Helmsteadt District, Schoningen, Konigslutter, Glankenburg, Gandersheim. All were plotted on a map; Gross Twelpstedt and Vorsfelde had the most. Note that the microfilms were available for these two areas, and no Heinrich Bischoff found on the civil registration for 1808-1814 births (see above).
- 1788-1846 Schoningen, Braunschweig: There was one record found off of the German Bio Archive, (fiche#6002158) that mentioned a Johann Heinrich Christian Bischoff. I have no idea if it is of significance or not. Schoningen is in Kr. Helmstedt, 5-10 km from the city of Braunschweig.
- 1883: city address book of Braunschweig: 10 Bischoff entries -- one Heinrich on Bohlweg and one on Landstr streets. 1847 city address book of Braunschweig: no entries. Charles was born 1845, so it is unlikely he was born in the city of Braunschweig, although he may have lived there and worked as a tailor (or at least apprenticed to learn the trade) prior to emigration in 1872 at age 27.
- 1678: eight Bishoff families in Bahrdorf, four in the Harz Mountains (Zorge, Wieda) and one in Twelpstedt.
- newspapers: "Auswandererlisten des ehemaligen Hersogtums Braunschweig ohne Stadt Braunschweig und Lankdreis Hosminded 1846-1871" examined online and no Bischoff.
- Wolfenbuttel archives: were emailed in September 2009 to request Carl's 1872 emigration file. A German genealogist (see below) had said that several Lower Saxony State Archives have for a number of years evalauted the emigration records and have created lists for several districts, including the Herzogtum Braunschweig. These are now located in the State Archives of Osnabrück and Wolfenbüttel. Osnabruck referred me to Wolfenbuttel; Wolfenbuttel had no file for Carl.
1. 1750-1875: general index of baptisms for the City of Braunschweig - although I do not think Carl was born in the city of Braunschweig, it is good to double-check
2. Auswanderer book for 1847-1875, for both his first and second trips to America: 1872 and 1875 (although, since the Wolfenbuttel archives found no records, it is not expected that any records would be found in these books)
3. newspapers for 1872 in Braunschweig to see if there is an announcement
4. need to narrow down the possible churches in the city of Braunschweig before attempting research; there are 14 different Evangelische churches -- the two Henry listings (Bohlweg and Landstr) may help to narrow down the churches. Even if there is no record for Carl, there may be one for his father Heinrich's death or that of his mother, (assumed) Alma.
5. More research in the State Archives: "The evangelical church records of the former state of Braunschweig from the beginning to 1814 are in the Niedersachsischen Staatsarchiv Wolfenbuttel (state archives in Wolfenbuettel) and may be examined there in photocopy. Duplicate copies for the period 1815-1875 are also archived there." http://www.genealogy.net/reg/NSAC/nsac.html If a church is found then German genealogists would be able to search. The Wolfenbuttel archives (Niedersächsische Staatsarchiv) are the archives repository of Lower Saxony (which includes the former duchy of Branschweig) records. Copies may also be found in individual churches as well as at the archives. To date, no records other than some military ones have been released. Records should include Carl Bischoff's birth on 12/11/1845, his parents' wedding circa 1840s?, perhaps births of siblings, and death records for his father Wilhelm and his mother (whose name may be Alma). Since his son Paul did not apparently remember his grandmother's name, perhaps her name was not Alma, but Alma was the name of a favorite sibling instead.
6. Lutheran Church archives. http://www.landeskirche-braunschweig.de/kirchenbuecher.html -- the state church archive of the Evangelical Lutheran State Church in Braunschweig, with a list of churches and dates of records.
7. Perhaps a German genealogist could research the records for the landing (passenger lists and visa-type documents) of Charles' two return trips. Charles had applied for a passport, but his American records yielded no specific information other than "Braunschweig"; perhaps the German records would detail more specific information on his travel plans within Germany in 1875 and 1900.
Further research is probably required in Germany. The woman I contacted (who had suggested I email the Wolrenbuttel archives) was:
74172 Neckarsulm, Germany,
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