At Play In The Archive
My great-great-grandmother was named Franzisca, but went by the nickname Fanny. I’ve been unable to find out anything at all about her family of origin, which has been frustrating. I’m not even altogether certain that the woman pictured here is Fanny Spielmann, but the provenance of these images and the other folks in them make me think this is she, so I’m going with it. I really have no idea what I’m doing where genealogy research is concerned, but I’ve gotten pretty good at picking faces out of old photographs and correlating them with random clues.
Several sources indicate that Fanny was born in December 0f 1871 in Austria, but I don’t know the exact date or location. According to the 1900 US Census, Fanny and Herman were married in 1891, and both of her parents were also Austrian. As described here, Fanny eventually bore eight children. My great-grand-aunt Hilda was the last Spielmann child born in Europe; all the kids who came after her were born in the USA.
Great-great-grandmother Fanny boarded a Norddeutscher Lloyd ship called the SS Trave in Bremen on June 8th, 1897 along with Herman and their children at the time: Margarethe (my great-grandmother, age 6), Ernst (age 4), and Hilda (age 2). They arrived in New York on June 17, 1897. The next time you feel annoyed at having to shepherd small children through a transcontinental flight, look on the bright side–at least your flight doesn’t last for more than a week.
On the ship’s manifest, the entire family is identified as Austrian, with a last residence of Wien, Austria (which my husband tells me is Vienna). The record indicates that they paid for their own passage, were planning to stay at 535 6th Street in New York, were not polygamists or cripples, and that Fanny was in possession of “$5!”
Herman is listed as a bookkeeper on one page of the manifest, and as a clerk on another. Ironically, Fanny is listed as having an occupation of “none”, which any mother would tell you is hogwash. Herding three little kids around a ship, I’m betting that she was more occupied than most.
Here are some images of my great-great-grandmother, the lovely and busy Franzisca “Fanny” Spielmann. If you know anything at all about her parents or her girlhood in Austria, please do leave a comment.