My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

HOMETOWN TUESDAY -- Cincinnati, Ohio, Part I

On August 7, 1846, my great-great-great-grandfather Martin Horst arrived in New York City, along with his father Johann Eckhard Horst (1802-1852), step-mother Elisa Geiss (1817-1852), older sister Anna Elizabeth (1827-1877), younger brother Carl (1835-1900) and two half-sisters, Wilhelmena "Mina" (1843-1885) and Maria (1845-UNK). Martin was just 16 years old. He and his family had arrived on the ship Gladiator, landing in New York Harbor as thousands had before them and hundreds of thousands would after - as immigrants hoping to start a new life in America. In fact during the 1840's more than 1.7 million immigrants arrived in the United States, almost three times as many as had come the decade before. Martin and his family had left their home in the village of Omer-Ohmen, in the Grand-Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt, at the time a member of the German Confederation.

The Horsts stayed briefly on the east coast. On September 28, 1847, Martin became a naturalized citizen at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Maryland. At some point soon after this the family travelled to Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, where they would settle down.
from the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848
Fontayne and Porter Daguerreotype
(more about this photograph in panorama tomorrow - don't miss it!)

The History of Cincinnati, Ohio
[The following information is taken from, an online encyclopedia of Ohio and its history.] 
"In 1788, Israel Ludlow, Matthias Denman, and Robert Patterson purchased eight hundred acres from John Cleves Symmes along the Ohio River at the Licking River's mouth. Symmes had purchased two million acres of land from the Confederation Congress in 1787, hoping to become rich by selling land to others. Denman provided the necessary cash; Patterson found settlers; and Ludlow surveyed the land to make sales and also establish a town. They named the town Losantiville, a convoluted contraction of the idea that this was a "city across from the mouth of the Licking River." 
Law and order remained absent from Cincinnati during its early years. The settlers (around 700 total by 1790) organized a court and hired a sheriff, but the soldiers at nearby Fort Washington routinely had to establish martial law in the community. This became especially common as tensions increased with local Native Americans, especially the Shawnee Indians. Contributing to the lawlessness, many residents grew corn, which they distilled into alcohol and sold to the soldiers. Despite the lack of order and the various safety concerns, hundreds of settlers continued to flock to the town. They believed that they could make their fortunes providing the soldiers and people traveling down the Ohio River with supplies.  In 1803, the city had roughly one thousand civilian residents. It continued to grow, reaching nearly ten thousand people by 1820. Cincinnati had emerged as a major city, primarily due to its strategic location on the Ohio River. 
"Pork Packing in Cincinnati"
from 1873 Vienna Expo
 During the nineteenth century, Cincinnati continued to grow. The Ohio River provided Cincinnati residents with numerous business opportunities. Hotels, restaurants, and taverns quickly opened to meet the needs of settlers traveling westward on the Ohio River. Steamboats were manufactured and repaired in the city. Farmers brought their crops to the city to send down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, one of Ohio's major markets.  
The Miami and Erie Canal made the trip from western Ohio to Cincinnati much easier and less expensive for local farmers. In the early 1800s, Cincinnati developed into an important meatpacking center. Farmers brought their livestock to the city, where it was slaughtered, processed, and sold to western settlers or shipped to various markets. Beginning in the 1830s, ethnic Germans began to settle in Cincinnati. During this time period, Cincinnati was becoming the pork-processing center of the United States. Because of Cincinnati's association with meatpacking, the city became known as the "Porkopolis" of the United States.
Some residents opposed the activities of others in the city and actively campaigned to reform the community. The temperance movement targeted the Germans and the Irish, who were alleged to be well-known for their heavy drinking. Ohio abolitionists utilized Cincinnati to campaign against slavery. Located directly across the Ohio River from Kentucky, a slaveholding state, Cincinnati abolitionists published newspapers and anti-slavery tracts, hoping to convince their slaveholding neighbors to free their slaves. Participants in the Underground Railroad also smuggled runaway slaves across the Ohio River to potential freedom in the North.  
Not all white Ohioans supported the abolitionists. Many of these people feared that, if slavery ended, they would face competition from the freed African Americans. Race riots sometimes occurred, especially if whites feared that African Americans were gaining too much power or were infringing upon white opportunities. In 1829, one such riot occurred in Cincinnati, because Irish immigrants disliked competition from the African-American community.  
During the Civil War, most residents supported the United States, but a sizable number of people went south to fight for the Confederacy. Cincinnati served as a major recruiting and organization center for the United States military during this time. The city's businesses thrived, as they provided supplies to the soldiers and housing for both the soldiers and their families. Various charity organizations also were present in the city to help soldiers and their families."
Germans in "Zinzinnati"

1855 Cincinnati Riots
Published in Illustrated London News 1855
"Beginning in the 1830s, large numbers of Germans began to settle in Cincinnati. Many Germans lived in the area of Cincinnati known as Over-the-Rhine
Because of violent episodes like the one that occurred in Cincinnati in 1855, German immigrants tended to establish their own communities. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many native-born Americans feared outsiders. Some of these people objected to the immigrants' religious and cultural beliefs, while others believed that the foreigners would corrupt the morals of United States citizens.  
These people also contended that the quality of life within the United States would decline, as there were not enough jobs to employ the millions of people migrating to America. Many native-born Americans hoped either to limit immigration or to force foreigners to convert to American customs and beliefs. It would take several generations before the immigrants became truly accepted by the vast majority of white Ohioans." (from
"German immigrants were responsible for developing industries that are considered "native" to Cincinnati, such as meat packing, the machine industry and building trades.
Albert Stein, a German engineer, planned Zinzinnati's water works in 1817. Frederick Rammelsberg of Hanover introduced machine production of furniture. The brewing industry in Zinzinnati, and across the United States, was a creation of German-American businessmen. The famous Christian Moerlein Brewery was started here in 1853.
Local banking grew out of the thriftiness of the German population. Germans established mutual savings societies and credit unions, and loaned money at interest at their weekly meetings. These meetings were frequently held in a tavern over a glass of beer, and with a staff that consisted of a part-time secretary. 
Baking is yet another industry that Germans established in Zinzinnati. There were also many small baking establishments operated by German-Americans in various Zinzinnati neighborhoods. In fact, there were so many German bakers that they even formed their own singing society - the Baeckergesangverein." (German-American Heritage Teaching Guide, Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, University of Cincinnati)
Over-the-Rhine Neighborhood

Miami & Erie Canal
[taken before 1920 when it was used to build city subway, later paved over]
"The completion of the Miami & Erie Canal in 1828 became the catalyst for making Cincinnati the central trading hub west of the Appalachian Mountains. The canal linked the Great Lakes with the Ohio River, and all the Ohio farmland in between. The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was full of saloons, beer gardens, restaurants, and theatres that catered to tastes ranging from legitimate theatre to burlesque. OTR was also a power center where corrupt Republican Party head "Boss" Cox ran the city through deals and schemes hatched at beer halls like Wielert's, still standing on Vine St..
1841 Lithograph of Cincinnati
Miami and Erie Canal in foreground
The canal that helped grow the city also gave Over-the-Rhine its name. Immigrants from Germanic countries began arriving in Cincinnati in increasingly large numbers starting in the1830s. In German, the district was called "├╝ber'm Rhein." Although Germans were among the city’s first settlers, they constituted a small percentage of the population until the city’s rapid growth in the mid-1800s. When the Germans began arriving in Cincinnati in larger numbers, starting in the 1830's, the area north of the Miami & Erie Canal was mostly gardens and farmland. The Germans transformed it into a bustling neighborhood. It developed such a high concentration of German-Americans that traveling over the bridges spanning the canal became known as "going over the Rhine," a tongue-in-cheek reference to Germany's Rhine River. At its peak of population, Over-the-Rhine was home to more than 45,000 people, roughly 75% of which were first or second-generation German-Americans." (from
Six million dollars was spent in the 1920's to use the bed of the canal to build a downtown subway in Cincinnati. The surface was later paved over to form Central Parkway as funds ran out before the Cincinnati Subway was completed.

NOTE:  Over-the-Rhine was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 with 943 contributing buildings. It contains the largest collection of Italianate architecture in the United States and is an example of a 19th-century intact urban neighborhood. Its architectural significance has been compared to the French Quarter in New Orleans, the historic districts of Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC and Greenwich Village, NY.

[Next Week in "Hometown Tuesday" - The Horsts in "Cincinnati"]

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