Franz Froehlich, our earliest Froehlich ancestor to immigrate to America, was born on January 17, 1823 in Bundenthal, a small town in the modern day state of Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. He was the youngest son of Johann Froehlich and Magdalena Leininger. While in Germany, Franz was a cobbler, or shoe maker, as was his father. He had at least five siblings - Johann George, Peter, Balthazar, Maria Catherine, and Catherine. Balthazar, also a cobbler, stayed in Germany and married Francisca Breiner, the sister of Franz’s wife Magdalena. Catherine, like her brother Franz, immigrated to America, but settled in New Orleans. She was married to Ludwig Leiser. It is currently unclear what became of the other siblings.
On April 2, 1845 at the age of 23, Franz went into the Royal Bavarian Army. He was in the service for six years and was involved in the war against Denmark in Schleswig in 1849. His ranks were Second and Top Cannoneer. Franz was discharged on April 1, 1851. His discharge certificate states that he was 5’-11” tall with blonde hair, eyebrows and beard, a prominent forehead, grey eyes, a large nose, large mouth, broad chin, and a healthy, oval shaped face. He had a stocky build and had no distinguishing marks.
Soon after being discharged from the military, Franz married Magdalena Breiner, also from Bundenthal, the daughter of Friederich Breiner, a local farmer, and Catherina Eva Hof. They were married on April 30, 1851 in the Roman Catholic Church of Bundenthal. Witnesses were Magdalena’s father and Franz’s brother Balthazar. Magdalena Breiner was the youngest of seven children. She was born on November 1, 1823 in Bundenthal and had a twin brother Joseph. Her older siblings were Maria Anna Jacobina, Johann, Barbara, Friederich and Francisca.
Franz and Magdalena Froehlich had at least two children while still living in Bundenthal. Their first child was Peter, born January 22, 1852. It can be assumed that this first child died soon after birth as their second child, born February 24, 1853, was also named Peter. It is not clear whatever became of the second son Peter, as no other records for him, either in Germany, or in America, have been found thus far.
Sometime between the birth of their second child and the latter part of the 1850’s, Franz and Magdalena immigrated to the United States. Franz found employment working in a sugar factory in Brooklyn, NY. Franz saved what he could, and with some of that money bought a single cow. He would milk the cow in the mornings and evenings and sold the milk to supplement his income from the sugar factory. He saved enough to buy a second cow, and finally a third. Information found in the 1860 Census supports this family story. We find Franz, living in Brooklyn, listed with his wife and two of their children, Mary and George. Franz’s occupation is listed as a milkman.
With enough money saved, Franz and Magdalena were able to buy farmland. The farm was in the East New York area of Brooklyn, near Bushwick Avenue and Broadway. A Batterman’s department store was later built on their farm land. While in Brooklyn, the couple had three children, Mary, George and Frank. On December 10, 1863, the family bought 31 acres of farmland in Fosters Meadow from Joseph Hoffman for $3141.25. That land is located in what is today known as Cambria Heights and is divided by the Cross Island Parkway, north of Linden Boulevard. This was the same land that their granddaughter Elizabeth and her husband Henry Wulforst purchased and farmed in the early 1920’s. In Fosters Meadow, they became parishioners of St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church. Franz was on the building committee responsible for soliciting funds for the construction of a new, larger church built in 1869. They had three more children, Caroline Pauline, Jacob and John in Fosters Meadow.
In the 1880 Census, Franz Froehlich is listed as having rheumatism. He died on June 19, 1881 at the age of 58. Magdalena Breiner Froehlich died on April 8, 1906 at the age of 82. They are both buried in the cemetery located behind St. Boniface Church in Elmont.
The eight children of Franz Froehlich and Magdalena Breiner:
Peter (The First) Froehlich, b. January 22, 1852 in Bundenthal, Pfaltz, Bayern (Germany). Died before 1853.
Peter (The Second) Froehlich, b. February 24, 1853 in Bundenthal, Pfaltz, Bayern (Germany). Remaining history currently unknown, but most likely died as an infant or young child.
Mary A. Froehlich, b. 1858 in Brooklyn, NY, d. 1930, buried in Cemetery of the Holy Rood, Westbury, NY. Married Charles Hummel on January 25, 1881 in St. Boniface RC Church, Elmont, NY.
George Froehlich, Sr., b. October 15, 1859 in Brooklyn, NY, d. April 30, 1941, buried in St. Boniface RC Cemetery, Elmont, NY. Married Caroline Rottkamp on January 16, 1883 in St. Boniface RC Church, Elmont, NY.
Frank Froehlich, b. August 27, 1862 in Fosters Meadow, NY, d. January 20, 1915, buried in St. Boniface RC Cemetery, Elmont, NY. Married Elizabeth M. Rottkamp on March 2, 1886 in St. Boniface RC Church, Elmont, NY.
Caroline Pauline Froehlich, b. August 7, 1863, d. March 8, 1926, buried in St. Boniface RC Cemetery, Elmont, NY. Married Henry Franz Wulforst on February 26, 1889 in St. Boniface RC Church, Elmont, NY.
Jacob Froehlich, b. August 9, 1865, d. November 26, 1952, buried in Cemetery of the Holy Rood, Westbury, NY. Married Christina Pasker on June 25, 1889 in St. Ignatius Loyola RC Church, Hicksville, NY.
John A. Froehlich, b. March 5, 1867, d. November 27, 1943, buried in St. Boniface RC Cemetery, Elmont, NY. Married Theresa M. Rose on January 29, 1885 in St. Boniface RC Church, Elmont, NY.
Submitted by Steve Herman