The Muller Family origins begin in the town of Naumburg, Kurhessen, Germany, located 221 miles north west of Frankfurt, Martin was born in March, 1831 and is the son of Johannes Muller and Elisabeth Rabanus. Censuses indicate that 1853 was the year Martin arrived in New York.
In February, 1854, Martin married Mary Loskant in one of the first weddings ever celebrated in the newly built St. Benedict’s Church in Brooklyn. She, too, was from Naumburg and was born in 1834 to Jacob Loskant and Maria Catharine Wagner. German records indicate that the Mullers and the Loskants were well acquainted in Germany and, in fact, there had already been marriages between the two families. Henry and Frank Muller served as witnesses to the nuptials. These likely were Martin’s brothers.
After their wedding, the Mullers lived for a couple of years in New Brooklyn where they had their first two children. Eventually 12 more children would follow! By 1858, Martin and his family were living in Fosters Meadow. Martin owned various properties throughout the community, but mainly lived in Springfield.
Throughout his life, Martin was a jack of all trades. An 1860 census lists “wheelwright” as his occupation but, according to later censuses, he worked as a blacksmith and a farmer. It is likely Martin saved for years to buy a farm in order to better provide for his very large family and to capitalize on the built-in labor his own children could offer. By 1880, Martin owned a 47 acre farm in Springfield. On it there were 6 acres of potatoes and corn and four acres of rye. He had 2 milk cows and produced 78 lbs of butter a year.
An 1880 census also lists a blacksmith business Martin owned, as well as a wheelwright business owned by an August Muller. Martin kept every detail of his business transactions in a diary which also included meticulous building plans and expenses. In 1894, Martin’s family is described in a newspaper article as “one of the most prosperous German families in Springfield.” This success came from tremendous work but also from Martin’s ability to adapt and diversify so that all his skills could be utilized to make money and, likely, employ most of his sons. Martin and Mary lived a very full life in Fosters Meadow. Martin’s mother, Elisabeth, had immigrated from Germany as did his sister Catharine Stephan and two brothers, Henry Anton and Frank, who was married to Theresa Roeckel. (There are other Mullers in Fosters Meadow, but family connections have not been confirmed of yet.) They celebrated numerous family milestones and sacraments in St. Boniface Church and also participated in the various German festivals, with Martin even winning for best market wagon one year.
The family also suffered immense tragedy. Martin’s diary has a page listing each child’s birthdate and baptism. Several babies were born and baptized but did not survive infancy. A look at the family tree will illustrate the heartbreaking fact that, of the 14 who survived, seven died in their twenties and thirties! How devastating it must have been to lose five sons and two daughters at such young ages. The loss was compounded by the fact that widows and children were left behind and, in the case of one daughter, three children were orphaned by the loss of their Dad as well. Another terrible fact was that fires destroyed Martin’s home and also two of his children’s.
The Mullers were part of the “Double Shot” club. Two children married Rottkamps and two married Gunthers. The families became as entwined as threads on a tapestry and they counted on each other tremendously. Perhaps it was because of the loss of the loved ones they shared or the grandchildren they helped raise together or maybe it was the culture of the farming community of Fosters Meadow. They supported each other by caring for the sick and dying, taking loved ones in, sharing businesses and homes, taking guardianship over children left alone, serving as executors and witnesses, and rebuilding homes and businesses destroyed by fire.
The hardships in life meant that happy occasions were celebrated! There were lots of weddings. One of Martin’s daughters, Annie, was to be married at the “old age” of 35. This caused a great amount of interest in the community and the family spared no expense nor effort to make Annie’s day extra special. However, in a devastating surprise, she got left at the altar. This caused quite a stir and numerous newspapers dedicated space to detailing the unfortunate situation. However sad it must have been for Annie, the details provided in these news clippings have provided our family a beautiful picture of the love and support the family shared as well as amazing details about how a wedding was celebrated in Fosters Meadow, including details of invitations, decorations, and how many sausages and kegs of beer were prepared! *Article is included on this website.
Martin and Mary’s Children
Carolina (1856-1880) married Charles Feist (1851-?), a blacksmith. She gave birth to her daughter, Mary, but died shortly after in 1880. Sadly, her daughter Mary died at 1 month old and is buried with Carolina in St. Boniface Cemetery. Charles remarried and remained in the area with his new family.
Elisabeth (1857-1929) married Albert Stephan (1853-1892). Albert was the child of Martin’s sister Catharine, which meant Elisabeth and Albert were first cousins. Albert was a baker. They had five children)|: John, Martin, Mary, Frank and Elisabeth. Albert died in 1892 and is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery. In 1894 Elisabeth married Jacob Damm,(1842-?) and had three children together: Louis, Joseph, and Ann. The family lived in Brooklyn where Jacob, a German immigrant, was a fireman. Elisabeth died in 1929 at the age of 72 and is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery.
Annie (1858-?) After a very unfortunate experience of having been left at the altar, Annie married Charles Neimeier, a butcher. Together they had one son John.
Theresa (1859-1922) married Joseph Rottkamp, a farmer. Once married they lived on their farm on Springfield Ave in Springfield, for the rest of their lives. Their property would later become the site of Montefiore Cemetery. The Rottkamps became the parents of ten children: Henry, Mary, Louis, Frances, Caroline, Joseph, Theresa, Benjamin, Edward, and Charles. Theresa and Joseph are buried in St. Boniface Cemetery.
John Muller(1861-1892) married Frances Gunther (1865-1932) in 1887. They had 3 children together (Martin, John, Mary). The couple ran a hotel in Springfield. Tragically in May of 1892 John died at just 30 years old. One month later baby Mary died. John and Mary are buried together in St. Boniface Cemetery. Frances remarried. Her new husband, Henry Forthofer, raised her boys as his own and Frances and Henry would have 9 more children together. (Henry Jr, Anna, Theresa, Madeline, Elizabeth, Mae, Cecilia, Frances and Carolina). They ran Forthofers Hotel. Located at Springfield Blvd. and Merrick Rd, it was a popular gathering place for local farmers. Unfortunately, in 1906 a blacksmith shop next door caught fire and spread causing total devastation to the hotel as well as Martin’s home a quarter mile away.
Katherine (1862-1939) married Frank Christbar (1860-1938). They had seven children Martin, Frank, Edward, Theresa, Charles, Mary, and Anna. The family lived in Jamaica (Smith and South St) and Frank had various occupations over the years which included being a driver, hotel proprietor of the Hotel Merrick and a highway inspector. Katherine was an Auxiliary member of Mary Immaculate Hospital, as well as the Third Order of St. Francis and the Ladies’ Altar Society of Presentation Church.
Mary Muller (1864-1937) married Joseph Gunther (1864-1941). They were neighbors as children and used to walk to St. Boniface School together. In 1887, they married and eventually had 13 children (Joseph, Elizabeth, Frank, Edward, Theresa, Anne, John, Frances, Henry, Charlie, Mae, Phillip, and Caroline). Joseph started out with a small farm in Springfield, but then got into the hotel business. For several years he worked at Herman’s Hotel. From 1892-1897 Joseph managed the Central Ave Hotel, at the corner of Central Ave and Fosters Meadow Rd in the town of Hempstead. In 1897 Joseph built his own hotel, “Gunther’s” on Springfield Blvd near Merrick Rd. Sadly, the hotel had a terrible fire in 1901. The hotel and all of its contents were destroyed. The home was one of the largest in the area at the time and the fire one of the worst in the borough’s history. The estimated damages totaled $15,000 and the property was only insured for $4,000. Mary and Joseph are buried in St. Boniface Cemetery.
Louis Henry (1864-1893) married Maria Eva Rottkamp (1869-1921). They had two children together: Frank and Caroline. Tragically, Louis died very young and is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery. In 1899 Maria Eva remarried John Dubon (- 1928), a local farmer, and together they had five more children: Mary, Margaret, Elisabeth, John, Bernard, and Clara.
Margaret “Maggie” (1866-1898) married Joseph Ulrich (-1899) had five children - Elisabeth, Joseph, Mary, Annie and Catherine. Joseph worked as a plasterer. The family suffered a heartbreaking loss when Maggie died in December of 1898 and Joseph less than two months later. Guardianship of the children went to Catherine and Frank Christbar and Maggie’s sister Catherine
Frank (1867-before 1911) married Mary “Minnie” Distelkamp. They lived in Franklin Square and had four children together- Frances, Catherine, Gladys, and Frank. Frank was a successful farmer and became renowned and even written about in local newspapers for his abundant and beautiful crops, especially strawberries and sweet potatoes.
Martin (1868-1908) worked as a carpenter. No records have been found as to marriages.
Edward (1873-1944) married Bernardina Rose (1878-1924). Bernardina came from a highly esteemed family. Her father was quite a local success. Her father bought a farm on 121 acres in 1880 in E. Hinsdale (Floral Pk) At this time only a few other farmhouses were there. Rose built a beautiful home on what would now be Carnation Ave. After 20 years, Rose retired and sold the farm and started on a new venture of erecting business buildings along Jericho Tpke. Although a humble man, he is credited with shaping the entire business district of Floral Pk. Together they had seven children- Joseph, Theresa, Edward, Henry, Frank, Caroline and Bernard. Bernardina and Edward both grew up on local farms and chose that for their family as well. For many years Ed ran a farm in New Hyde Pk and lived on Lakeville Rd. They are buried in St. Boniface Cemetery.
Joseph (1875-1900) worked as a farm laborer and sadly died at the young age of 25. He is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery.
Henry (1877-1905) Henry worked as a farm laborer and died at the age of 28. According to Martin’s will Henry did have children but at this time no marriage records have been found. He is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery.
Submitted by Jeannie Picchioni - Great Great Granddaughter of Martin Muller