Every time I try to add some records to findagrave.com quickly, my research mode kicks in, and I inevitably end up disappearing down a rabbit hole, and this family turned out to be a real mystery.
Albertine Lemanski and Herman Niemoth married in 1887, six years after Albertine immigrated to the US in 1881 (where she was listed as traveling alone on the ship’s passenger manifest at the age of eighteen). In January of 1893, Herman passed away, leaving Albertine with daughter Lillian.
In 1897, Albertine remarried to Carl (Charles) Schoenbeck and Lillian who was not yet one year old when her father dead, also took her stepfather’s name.
It turns out, though, that this was also Carl’s second marriage. It appears, however, that he and his first wife Bertha Riss were divorced. Considering the time period and the fact that he had custody of their three children (Ida, Herman, and Rose Mathilde), it seems possible that she had been unfaithful or run off (or that he simply accused her of that).
What’s odd about this is that Carl and Albertine then lie on their two census records together, saying they were married in 1882 (three years before Carl married Bertha and five years before Albertine married Herman) and Albertine claims all the children as her own on the “children born/children living” questions which is just… it’s so odd. All I can think is that they were trying to erase if not Albertine’s husband then Carl’s first wife. Perhaps the breakup of that marriage was due to Bertha having done something truly scandalous, and Carl was determined to bury that past entirely. Or perhaps the breakup of that marriage was due to Carl and Albertine wanting to be together.
Bertha shows up on later census records working as a dishwasher and claiming to be widowed which is tragic. I thought it was possible this was a name coincidence, but on the 1930 census, both Bertha and her daughter Rose are living in the same boarding house as lodgers. Rose is also styling herself as widowed and is living with two of her three children (in 1920 she only had the youngest with her and listed herself as divorced, so it’s possible her second oldest son chose to go live with her later). In 1910, Rose and her husband and daughter Irene were living with Ida and her husband so something happened in the intervening few years.
Carl and Albertine had one child together, Arthur, in 1900, but in 1913, Carl also passed away fairly young.
I can’t find them in 1920, but in 1930, Albertine was living with Arthur and his wife and two young children. Though she was living with them, she was also working as a janitress. Now this is at the very beginning of the Great Depression so it’s possible she chose at age 68 to go out and work to help her son and his family survive which I hope is the explanation but ugh. Poor Albertine – unlucky in love and then having to do such hard work in her old age.
The Schoenbeck children do not seem to have stayed close to Albertine after their father’s death, and, indeed, Arthur is not mentioned in Ida’s obituary as one of her siblings which seems to indicate some drama.
Herman Schoenbeck died fairly young in 1923 and Bertha’s name is on his death record. Lillian who also died young in 1916 is listed as Schoenbeck on her death record, but the father’s name is a mashup of her birth and step-fathers’ names (Herman Schoenbeck).
However they identified themselves in life, though, Albertine and Lillian were buried with Herman under the Niemoth name. Carl is also at Concordia, but I’m not sure where. I’ll have to be on the lookout for his headstone.
Every time I thought, “I must have crossed my wires,” I’d return to the death dates clearly written on the headstones, the marriage records, and the death records for Albertine and Lillian Schoenbeck which are the same as those on this headstone. Eventually I uncovered the first marriage record and birth records for Carl’s life before his marriage to Albertine and from there tied the Schoenbeck children to their mother.
Please visit my Instagram for any questions or comments on this post!