The Bremermann, Briegleb, and Bartenstein Families


< br> Clara Briegleb Bremermann (8/23/1863--10/18/1916), wife of Eugene Wolf, was the product of a convergence of two family lines, one from Bremen and the other from the Thuringian-Bavarian border.

Clara's great-great grandfather Luhr Bremmerman was born in Bremen in August 1712 (baptized on August 14) and, at age 31, married (October 9, 1743) a woman whose identity has yet to surface. Their son, Harm Bremermann, was born about 1756, eventually marrying Anna Myerdirks (b. c. 1760). Their son, Luhr Bremermann, was born in February, 1782 (baptized on February 7), ultimately marrying Metta Elisabeth Schumacher, a native of Rotenburg an der Wümme, fifteen miles east of Bremen. Luhr and Metta's son Gerd Bremermann** was born in Bremen in October, 1814 (baptised on October 29). Gerd was 23 when he boarded the ship "Elise," which arrived in New Orleans on December 22, 1837. The passenger list indicates that "G. Bremermann" was a 22-year-old "merchant" from Bremen, with a final destination of St. Louis. He is listed as one of the nineteen passengers in the "cabin" (as opposed to the 172 in "steerage"), suggesting that his Bremen-based family was a family of some means. Marriage records from St. Louis indicate that "Gerd Bremermann" married "Johanna Clara Briegleb"--who went by by "Clara" perhaps, as we shall see, because her mother was also named Johanna--on March 22, 1844.

Gerd's wife Clara Briegleb was a native of Coburg on the Bavarian-Thuringian border. Born on May 23, 1822, she was the eighth of ten children of Johann August Briegleb of Coburg, and Johanna Wilhemina Heine of the village of Effelder in the Eichsfeld region of Thuringia. Her siblings were Emma Briegleb (1808-1866), Ida Briegleb (1810-1859), Johann Friedrich Briegleb (1812-1865), Christiane "Cristel" Briegleb (1814-1878), Ferdinand Julius Briegleb (1815-1838), Anna Johanna Briebgleb (1818-1855), Friederike Briegleb (1820-1870), Auguste Briegleb (1823-1875), and Caroline Briegleb (1825-1827), who died when she was still a toddler. Clara's father was impeccably educated, having studied both theology and philosophy at nearby Göttingen University, where he won a gold medal for an essay he wrote in 1799.* In 1805, he published an epistola in Latin explicating one of letters of the Roman poet, Horace. He ultimately served in pastoral roles in nearby Untersiemau and Weißenbrunn vor'm Wald. His name appears in the Adress-Handbuch des Herzogsthums Sachsen Coburg und Gotha für das Jahr 1839 as pfarrer (pastor) of Weißenbrunn vor'm Wald. In 1820, he published a children's book--Lauter Wahre Geschicten für Kinder--under the pseudonym Ernst Gottschalk, which translates, cleverly enough, as "earnest servant of God."

The academic bent of Johann August Briegleb seems to have come from his mother, Josephe Cristian Sabine Bartenstein (21 Dec 1745-20 Sep 1802). She was the daughter of Lorenz Adam Bartenstein (28 Aug 1711-25 Feb 1796), a Lutheran pastor, educator, and ultimately--following in the footsteps of his father, Adam Bertenstein (5 Oct 1675-18 Jul 1726)-- Direktor of the Casimirianum Gymnasium (founded in 1605 and popularly referred to by local students as the "Casi") in Coburg. A product of the "Casi" himself, Lorenz then went on to study theology, mathematics, logic, physics and natural law at the University of Jena. After serving as a court tutor for a number of local counts, he made his way to Coburg and was named Rektor of the Casimirianum in 1743 (fifteen years after Goethe's father graduated from there in 1728), though he continued to be sought after as a tutor by the local aristocracy. According to the Wikipedia article dedicated to him, Lorenz Adam Bartenstein was an active scholar; "in addition to newspaper articles on mathematical problems in the Coburg Intelligence Journal, he published educational writings and numerous programs for teaching mathematics, religion, Latin and a simplified instruction on the Greek language. From 1743 to 1751 he published 180 occasional poems on both happy and sad occasions." Lorenz' son-in-law Johann Christian Briegleb would eventually also serve in the same capacity as Rektor of the Casimirianum, as would Lorenz' grandson, Johann August Briegleb. In short, the Briegleb connection to the Casimirianum gymnasium in Coburg is perhaps best understood as an extension of the Bartenstein dynasty there.




Tragically for the Johann August Briegleb, his wife Johanna died on February 12, 1829, at age 42. At that point the children ranged in age from 20 to 5, the youngest having pre-deceased her mother two years before at age 2.

Clara's oldest brother Friedrich Briegleb led a particularly colorful life. Following in his father's footsteps, he studied theology (1830) at the University of Jena in Thuringia only to be imprisoned briefly (1835) for "political agitation." During his incarceration, he produced a book, Die Coburger Liederhandschrift (The Coburg Song Manuscript), that would later become an important source for the study of the early nineteenth-century music culture of eastern Germany. As Otto Holzapfel has observed, it is "one of the first attempts to associate repertory with region, and it therefore occupies a very significant position in the intellectual history of German folk-song scholarship." One of the conditions of Friedrich's release from prison was that he emigrate to America. He and his brother Ferdinand seem to have crossed the Atlantic in July, 1836. Friedrich ended up on a farm in Saint Clair in Franklin County, Missouri, on the Missouri River, later becoming a teacher at a boy's school in St. Louis. Friedrich's sketchbooks, which were passed down through the generations of his family, contain drawings of scenes not only from the two villages--Untersiemau and Weissenbrunn--where he grew up, but of the farm in St. Clair that was his first stop in America.






Friedrich's forced departure from his homeland seems to have unleashed a veritable wave of Briegleb immigration to Missouri: Ferdinand, Ida, Christel, Anna, Friederike, Clara, and Auguste all left Germany between the years 1836 and 1840. Only Emma, the oldest, stayed behind.*****

Clara made the crossing from Bremen to New Orleans, arriving on November 19, 1839. Her name appears as one of the 151 passengers of the Nimrod (captained by Eugen Laun) as one of four Briegleb sisters: Ida (24), Friedericke (19), Clara (17), and Auguste (15). Three and a half years later, on April 20, 1844, she married Gerd Bremermann. The 1850 census identifies "G. Bremermannan" as a 36-year-old merchant from Germany, living in St. Louis with his 30-year-old German-born wife "Clara" and two children--Joh[anna], age 6, and Ernest, age 5. Ten years later, in the 1860 census, Gerd's birthplace is specified as Bremen and Clara's, "Saxony." By then the couple had produced four children, all of whom were born in Missouri: Johanna Bremermann (age 14), Ernest Bremermann (age 12), Helena Bremermann (age 3), and Robert Bremermann (age 1). With them lived two other "Bremermanns" from Bremen--Henry Bremermann (age 40) and Conrad Bremmerman (age 15), probably Gard's brother and nephew--both listed as "merchants." Rounding out the household were Caroline Schick (40) and her daughter Emma (10), both from Germany, who worked as servants for the Bremermann family. Gerd appears on an 1863 tax assessment list as a "Wholesale dealer" on Main Street in St. Louis with taxable property estimated to be worth $100,000, on which he could expect to pay $5,000 in taxes.

Gerd died in St. Louis on October 1, 1867, just short of his fifty-third birthday, and was buried in the Holy Ghost Cemetery.**** The appropriate entry in the 1870 census lists Gerd's widow "Clara" (age 47) as the held of household, with her son Ernest (24) supporting the family as a store clerk. Gerd and Clara's oldest daughter Johanna is not listed; she had moved out when she married Gustav F. Seebold on January 6, 1864. But Helena (13) and Robert (11) are listed, along with Charles Bremermann (9) and Clara Bremermann (7), both of whom were born between after the 1860 census but before their father's death in 1867. Clara Bremermann, Sr., died at age 51 on July 20, 1873. At the time of the 1880 census, Ernest (age 33) is listed as the head of the Bremermann household at 928 Winter Street, employed as an "engineer." Helen (22) added to the family income by plying her skills as a music teacher, while Robert (20) worked as a store clerk. Charles (18) and Clara (16) were still in school.

The 1876-77 catalogue of Washington University in St. Louis lists four of the Bremermann children as students in its preparatory schools. Founded in 1853 by William Greenleaf Eliot, the university housed a school for boys (the Smith Academy, which Eliot's grandson, T.S. Eliot, would later attend), founded in 1854, and a school for girls (the Mary Institute, named for Eliot's late daughter Mary Rhodes Eliot, who had died at 17), founded in 1859. "Robert G. Bremermann" appears (p. 23) as a "Preparatory Scientific class" student in the "Academy;" he would have been eighteen at the time. His fifteen-year-old brother "Charles M. Bremermann" is listed (p. 19) as one of the students in the "third class" of the Academy. In the same catalogue, "Helen A. Bremermann," age sixteen, is listed as a "second academic class" student at the Mary Institute (p. 34), along with her thirteen-year-old Clara Bremermann (p. 37), a member of the "first preparatory class." All four are listed as residents of 928 Winter Street. Clara would later work as a school teacher in St. Louis and Denver. When she married Eugene Wolf on July 20, 1883, she could not have known that his life would be cut short by Tuberculosis on July 30, 1901. She was not quite 38 at the time and had three young children to support.



Eugene Wolf and his wife Clara Bremermann




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* The information about Johann August Briegleb's accomplishments and his three sons' emigration to Missouri comes mostly from the genealogical notes of C. F. Briegleb of St. Clair, Missouri, a grandson of Fritz Briegleb, the third of Johann and Johanna's children.

** "Gerd" is a short form of Gerhard. In the 1860 census entry, it is incorrectly written as "Gard."

***SLCDR Volume 1, p. 736.

**** The Holy Ghost Cemetery--where Guvtav Wolf was buried in 1860--was established in 1846 as the first German cemetery in St. Louis. It is located at 7153 Gravois Road, just east of Grand. It was also known as "Picker's Cemetery" (and then "Old Picker's Cemetery") after Frederick Picker, the pastor of the "German Evangelical Church of the Holy Ghost" in St. Louis from 1843 to 1855. Reverend Picker is, in fact, the one who married Gerd Bremermann and Johanna Clara Bregler and recorded the deed in the book of marriages.

***** This information comes primarily from the genealogical notes of C. F. Briegleb and the Briegleb tree.