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.

American records:

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:

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:

Suggested research:
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." 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. -- 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:
Mary-Ann Vandaveer
Paulinenstr. 18,
74172 Neckarsulm, Germany,
Phone: (49)-7132-989265,
Fax: (49)-7132-989264,
Note: If you are calling from the United States or Canada please dial 011-49-7132-989265;
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