Ancestor Stories and the Age of Pandemics

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Sterngard Friegen
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Ancestor Stories and the Age of Pandemics

#1

Post by Sterngard Friegen »

Lani wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:15 pm
It's official - Hawaii is shut down. The governor has ordered "any individual who arrives from international areas or the continental U.S. will be subject to a two-week quarantine. It applies to all travelers, whether Hawai`i resident or visitor, and regardless of the mode of travel."
That's how my father's father got off the Island following a cholera epidemic in Asia. He had come to Honolulu as an indentured servant from Germany. His family was from Austria -- teamsters driving wagons of beer -- but he couldn't break into the job. So he went to Germany and became an apprentice carpenter.

One day he passed by a travel agent's window and saw a sign, in German, inviting Germans to visit the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. Catch was, they indentured themselves for 7 years. (Asian and Hawaiian laborers refused to work in the sugar cane and pineapple fields so Europeans, mostly Germans, were imported.) I'm not sure which German magnate was advertising his trip -- probably Spreckels or Kaiser -- but he signed on, became cabin boy on the trip in a three masted schooner around Cape Horn and landed in Honolulu.

Once he made it to Honolulu he worked on a sugar plantation building houses and furniture. The other indentured servants, who were ordinary laborers, had it rough. They looked to him as a leader. After all, he could read and they couldn't. (It turned out he could read and write both in German and Yiddish.) The indentured servants revolted -- petit treason -- and my grandfather led them. The revolt was quickly subdued and they all went to jail. My grandfather wrote postcards home to his mother -- in Yiddish -- and the jailers wanted to read them before they went out. But the language wasn't German.

Finally they figured out it was Yiddish. In the mid 1890s there was exactly one Jewish family on the Island of Oahu. They owned a hardware store and the owners had three eligible daughters they wanted to marry off. So they translated the postcards, discovered he was a nice Jewish boy, bailed him out, paid off his indenture and set him up earning a dollar a day in the hardware store. He ignored the hardware store owners' daughters and went down to Waikiki Beach to surf.

Then the cholera hit in Asia and the Hawai'ian Territorial Government needed coast guardsmen to keep ships from docking until they were quarantined an additional 21 days when they arrived from Asia. After the cholera threat was over, each coast guardsman would be given 640 acres of land, many of them the land they had guarded.

My grandfather guarded Waikiki Beach, because of his familiarity with it (and the Pualanis -- he was blonde, blue eyed and quite handsome). After the plague ended he worked the land for 18 months, received vested title and then immediately sold it to Kaiser and skipped to San Francisco, just ahead of a shotgun marriage from the hardware store owners.

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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#2

Post by Lani »

Great family history! There is an area in cooler upcountry Maui full of very Germanic looking homes built many decades ago. Many of the descendants speak English and German.
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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#3

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

Lani wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:28 pm
Great family history! There is an area in cooler upcountry Maui full of very Germanic looking homes built many decades ago. Many of the descendants speak English and German.
Moar Stern Stories! With pics of handsome grandpa! :geezertowel:
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The 19th Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1878, yet it was not approved by Congress until 1919 – 41 years later.
- https://legaldictionary.net/19th-amendment/

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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#4

Post by Sterngard Friegen »

Tiredretiredlawyer wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:30 am
Lani wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:28 pm
Great family history! There is an area in cooler upcountry Maui full of very Germanic looking homes built many decades ago. Many of the descendants speak English and German.
Moar Stern Stories! With pics of handsome grandpa! :geezertowel:
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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#5

Post by TexasFilly »

Stern, I thoroughly enjoyed your story and the picture is wonderful! Thanks!
I love the poorly educated!!!

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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#6

Post by Tiredretiredlawyer »

Oh, YES!!!!! AND a cyclist!!!!!! Sekrit Stuffs!
My mother's family is from Germany. Her paternal greatgrandparents settled in Stuttgart, Arkansas. My mother remembered a few of the German words they spoke.
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The 19th Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1878, yet it was not approved by Congress until 1919 – 41 years later.
- https://legaldictionary.net/19th-amendment/

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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#7

Post by Sterngard Friegen »

So, grandpa, Charles David Friegen, took the money he got from the sale of Waikiki Beach (he was the first legal owner of what is now perhaps $500 billion worth of real property), which was even then a small fortune, and he booked passage first class on a ship to San Francisco. Quite different from his days as a cabin boy*, freezing his arse off as the schooner went around Cape Horn.

He arrived in San Francisco, which was then pretty much the center of the world west of Philadelphia, and enjoyed himself. This was a time when chow mein was invented and men were being kidnapped into service aboard ships plying the Pacific trade (Shanghaied); San Francisco was a happening town. And, to keep true to this thread, there were a lot of epidemics going on all the time. It was a perilous age.

But he bored quickly. He missed the afternoon showers and the cooling evening breeze from Honolulu and the perfect weather. And the pualanis. He told me he especially missed the beautiful Hawai'ian princesses who were grand nieces of (now deposed) Queen Lili'uokalani.

So, off again to Honolulu, again traveling first class, with lots of dosh in Bank of Charles David (his pockets). Unfortunately for him, he had tipped off too many people of his imminent arrival and he was met at the harbor by the hardward store patriarch with his three daughters and a shot gun in tow ("Pick one") as well as some pretty mad Hawai'ian people for selling their beloved Waikiki Beach.

Needless to say, after setting up at the only hotel on Oahu at the time, he quietly slipped out and returned to San Francisco, where he would soon thereafter meet his wife, my future grandmother on my father's side, Fanny Miller. By coincidence, she had lived the next town over from his in Austria and had made the journey to America through Ellis Island. And then she took the train across the country to San Francisco.

At that was just the beginning of his adventures . . . Remember the Great Earthquake of 1906? He was building a house on Nob Hill as it happened.

Moar soon.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________
* There is one beloved fambly heirloom from my grandfather, a small step stool with the wood held together by a process of rabbeting. Grandpa made this on the voyage from Hamburg to Honolulu.
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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#8

Post by TexasFilly »

Love the rug!

Please keep the stories coming!
I love the poorly educated!!!

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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#9

Post by Somerset »

Sterngard Friegen wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:53 am
Tiredretiredlawyer wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:30 am
Lani wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:28 pm
Great family history! There is an area in cooler upcountry Maui full of very Germanic looking homes built many decades ago. Many of the descendants speak English and German.
Moar Stern Stories! With pics of handsome grandpa! :geezertowel:
A fixie back before fixies were cool!!

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Re: New Diseases - Coronavirus

#10

Post by kate520 »

My great-grandparents came to SAN Francisco from northern Italy at around the time your ancestor did. My Noni Maria, who died at 92 when I was 12, cleaned homes during the day, offices at night. I never met my g-grandfather. He started a trash hauling company. They worked hard day and night for several years while also raising a family. The settled in Cow Hollow.

When the earthquake hit in 1906, both home and business survived relatively unscathed. By chance, they’d picked the most solid part of the city, built on rocks. His business was the only trash company that survived, and he hired his competitors and bought their trucks and together they cleaned up the city, literally.

Noni Maria and her sister opened a neighborhood ‘restaurant’ on their landing in the back courtyard and fed people. They accepted no payment then, but were payed back in spades as time went on.

Now that half of my family owns 6 apartment buildings in and near the Marina and Cow Hollow. Not too shabby for immigrant trash haulers.

I wonder, Stern, if our ancestors ever crossed paths?
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Ancestor Stories

#11

Post by Suranis »

Thread for stories of your ancestors and :geezertowel: 's regenerations.
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Re: Ancestor Stories

#12

Post by kate520 »

:lol:
I’ll move some over in about two hours unless foggy does it first. I’m in class right now...in my jammies!
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Re: Ancestor Stories

#13

Post by Suranis »

I dont have any specific stories of my ancestors. Sadly it seems a lot of them were just famous for being blind drunks, though as my mother says they never harmed anyone but themselves. But I know a bit about my Family history.

My family name originated in an area of south Galway, and moved down to where we are with the Earls of Desmond, the Fitzgeralds, who we were vassals to. We were one of the first families to accept Henry the 8ths money for land deal, where they Sold their land to the English crown and were immediately granted it back. It solved a legal problem for the English crown, because legally the Brits had no claim to Irish lands like they did in England. After Henge "granted" their own lands back, they did.

We were involved with the Siege of Limerick, and Lord O'Shaughnessy was one of the "Wild Geese" Lords who signed a peace treaty with King John and were allowed to go into exile in France. Of course the English king immediately broke the treaty of Limerick. but hey, what else was new.

After that it gets murkey. I'm fairly one of my ancestors were in Napoleons Army at Waterloo as its kind of a family legend, as is the fact my family were in France at one point. My great Grandfather wound up as the Steward of Castle Hewson in Limerick, and he bought the land my family farmed from the Hewson family sometime around the 1900s.

Incidently, Paul Hewston, otherwise known as Bono, claims he is related to the Hewson family of Limerick to give himself some aristocratic cred, but like a lot of what Bono says that's a fucking lie. He has nothing to do with them.

Oh my granduncle Jack flew with the RAF during the Battle of Britain.
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Re: Ancestor Stories

#14

Post by Foggy »

I had great-great-grandfathers who fought on both sides of the Civil War. Actually, I only know about two of them.

The one who fought for the Union came home with a bullet in his arm. It was never removed and he was buried with it. At one point he commanded a regiment of freed slaves. If I had joined his law firm in Scranton, PA, I would have been the fifth generation of my fambly to be in the firm. My Uncle Dick (nickname "Wombat") was the fourth.

The one who fought for the Confederacy was a doctor. I know a lot more about him, because his wife saved all his letters and they're in a museum in Virginia somewhere (and I have copies). I don't know why Virginia - he was from Mississippi and served in a Mississippi regiment.

I wrote a paper about him for an English class in the previous century. I'll try to find it and post it. Interesting guy. He and his wife were given two slaves as a wedding present.

More later.
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Re: Ancestor Stories

#15

Post by Dan1100 »

Suranis wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 1:36 pm
I dont have any specific stories of my ancestors. Sadly it seems a lot of them were just famous for being blind drunks, though as my mother says they never harmed anyone but themselves. :snippity:
Sounds like we might be related. :lol: Any of them move from County Kerry to Philadelphia to skip out on their rent?

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Re: Ancestor Stories

#16

Post by Suranis »

Dan1100 wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 1:53 pm
Sounds like we might be related. :lol: Any of them move from County Kerry to Philadelphia to skip out on their rent?
Naa, we are all Limerick people :)
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Re: Ancestor Stories and the Age of Pandemics

#17

Post by Sterngard Friegen »

Thanks to Foogie for moving things over and getting this thread started and organized.
:notworthy:

I will continue Grandpa Friegen's story later. It takes him through the San Francisco Earthquake, includes a Stanley Steamer, the Great Depression and Jackie Robinson. And my Pop, of course.

Grandpa was born in 1877 in some place in Austria that was part of the Holy Roman Empire and from time to time contested by Poland and Belarus or some such. His fambly, as I wrote above, were teamsters, driving beer wagons. Funny thing is my name in German means "beer maker" or "beer bottler" by some definitions. And my first cousin, once removed (his mom is my full double cousin), owns the Sierra Nevada Brewery. Beer makers -- that's us. (Me? Beer drinker.)

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Re: Ancestor Stories and the Age of Pandemics

#18

Post by Sterngard Friegen »

Continuing the pause. This is not part of the history, thankfully.

Three years ago, when my Father was still alive, I started to research census records and newspapers in San Francisco and the surrounding counties. There was a man with my grandfather's first and last names who was arrested fairly frequently for running a hotel which was also a disorderly house. And for selling liquor without a license. I took this information to my Father who was really offended. While grandpa was a stubborn old mule, a criminal he never was. After my Father's reaction I redoubled my efforts and determined there were two Charles [Friegen]s in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties at the time. Much to the relief of my Father. He died somewhat contented at age 100 after I had cleared his father's name. (My grandpa died at 89, after an accident, so I think there may be the Lazarus Long gene in my fambly.)

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Re: Ancestor Stories and the Age of Pandemics

#19

Post by MsDaisy »

My mother was a Sullivan, 20 plus years ago we had a patient come in for his regular check up who’s name was also Sullivan, and since we’re all related somehow I mentioned that my mom was a Sullivan and sure enough, my grandfather was his uncle. (There’s LOTS of Sullivans around here, you can't throw a rock and not hit one.) When he came back for his 6-month check up he brought me a notebook full of research papers copies of old articles and census data his niece put together documenting the family back to the first, Darby O’Sullivan that landed in Montross VA in November 1607. I looked at some of it but didn’t really have much time or interest to spend a lot of time with it at the time.

In 2016 I met another Sullivan with who I shared the same Great Grandfather (my great, his 2X great). He was very much into genealogy, and kept going on about Darby the 3rd who married Ann Fugate and directed me to this 2009 article in the Patawomeck Tides written by the Tribal Historian.

Long story short my 6X Great Grandmother Ann Fugate was the 3 times great granddaughter of Pocahontas through her daughter Ka-Okee making Pocahontas my 9X Great Grandmother and Chief Powhatan my 10X Grandfather. :-D

https://www.nps.gov/jame/learn/historyc ... s-2009.pdf
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Re: Ancestor Stories and the Age of Pandemics

#20

Post by kate520 »

:o
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Re: Ancestor Stories and the Age of Pandemics

#21

Post by MsDaisy »

kate520 wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:39 pm
:o
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Imagine that! :dance: :blink:
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