My Bohnerts came from the town of Lahr, in Baden, Germany.Lahr is right across the river from Strasburg but my understanding from letters from German cousins written in the 1960's that most of the family had by then moved to Karlsruhe and Stuttgart to find work.My immigrant ancestor was my great-grandfather Frederick Bohnert, b. 1857 in Lahr.He married Sophia Caroline Gaessler, also of Lahr.Frederick's parents were listed by family papers as John (I am assuming Johann is more probable) Frederick Bohnert, b. 1824 in Lahr, d. 1916 in Lahr, and Magdaline Meier, b. 18 Apr 1831, Lahr, d. 1910, Lahr.
Frederick Bohnert, the oldest of 17 children (this is only hinted at from elder family members, no actual proof or names of siblings exist in our papers), was born on February 24, 1857, in Germany, and his wife, Sophia Caroline Gessler, was born there on March 3, 1859.Their first child, Sophia Wilhelmina, was born on September 29, 1879, at their home in Lahr, Baden, Germany, a city between the Black Forest and the Rhine.Frederick went to New York alone in 1880, found work as a baker, and then brought his wife over.Sophia W. was left in Germany with the grandparents but was brought to New York when she was three.
Two children were born in New York, Lena on March 14, 1882, and Henry on August 11, 1883.The family moved to Neligh, Antelope County, Nebraska in 1883. In Neligh, George was born on March 16, 1887, and Elsie on February 16, 1898.Frederick later owned the Billiards-Pool-Bowling Store, south of the Atlas Bank.
Sophia and Lena worked as operators for the Neligh Telephone Exchange.George did a ten by twenty feet oil painting for Freeman Brothers Shows, titled, "The West," composed of horses with Indian and cowboy riders.The older son, Henry, went to San Diego, California, married Mary Peace, and settled in Los Angeles.The younger son, George, worked installing the telephone line from Santa Ana, California, to San Diego and maintained it.He married Lillian Habstreet of Oceanside, later moving to Medford, Oregon.Sophia married Martin M. Tousgaard, a local farmer, and Lena married James Moore, also a local farmer.
Elsie left Neligh at age twelve with her parents to live in Los Angeles, California.At age twenty-two, she married Wyman C. Graves of Neligh, after he returned from serving in France during World War I. They lived in Neligh three years and then moved to California in 1923.
This is about all I know of the family.I have visited Lahr and the environs looking for cousins who might still be in the area but found no one around Lahr.The letters I have were written to my great aunt Elsie Bohnert Graves who visited Germany a couple of times and kept ties with the family still in Lahr at that time.They were elderly at the time and bemoaned the fact that the younger generation had left home to seek better jobs.Although we went to Strasburg, I did not have time to search there for family.I would love to make contact with anyone who might help me either find current day cousins in Germany/France or who knows more of the history of Fred Bohnert and his parents.