Bernard Rottkamp was born on November 17, 1822 in the village of Grossender, in the province of Westphalia, Germany. It is situated in the center of Germany, just south of Eissen, where the first known Rottkamp, Christopher was born in 1666. Bernard’s parents were Joannes Conrad Rottkamp and Anna Maria Gockelen. (1) In order to establish the reasons why Bernard may have chosen to move to the United States, a brief history must be provided of Germany at that time. This brief synopsis must necessarily begin with the French Revolution of 1789, an event which had implications not only for France, but in the rest of Europe as well. At the time of the Enlightenment and later the French Revolution, the area that is now Germany was split between Prussia, the Hapsburg Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. The area had previously been marked by the rule of the Prussian monarch, Frederick the Great. Frederick’s forty-six year rule has been one of the most successful in German history. However, only two decades after his death in 1786, his glorious empire was all but destroyed by the might of Napoleon. After his rise to power, Napoleon almost totally excluded the Hapsburgs from Germany, dissolved the Holy Roman Empire and annexed Germany west of the Rhine.
After Napoleon’s failure in Russia and eventual defeat, Prussia was granted a large part of the territory in Westphalia and the Rhineland in order to protest against future French aggression. Many historians refer to the period from 1815 to 1848 as a transition period of German history. The period between 1830 and 1848, the time in which Bernard made his move to the United States, was called “Vormarz” or “pre March”, which is the period before the revolution of 1848.
In Germany during this time, life expectancy was extremely low with one quarter of all children dying before the age of one. Epidemics were running rampant within the country: influenza, cholera and typhus all provided ample reason to want to leave the country. With the new commercialism in the country and the end of common land, there was now a new social stratification where land became a much bigger commodity. With land scarce, opportunity in Germany was greatly limited. German immigrants sought a haven from the repression that existed within their country.
In the United States, the victory over Britain provided opportunity for everyone. With its new independence, the people of sought to establish a country free of tyranny and persecution. To this end the Constitution was written and adopted as a body of law that was never to be violated. By 1825, New York City had become the most populous city and the leader in commerce, finance, manufacturing and culture in the United States. By the 1840’s New York City had become the focus of huge amounts of immigrants from European countries. (1) (Research courtesy of Peter Nevenglosky who is a great great great grandson of Bernard and his great grandparents were Joseph M. and Barbara (Krumenacker) Rottkamp). (2) Bernard Rottkamp left the port of Bremen, Germany on March 29, 1847 for America on board the “Brig Roland”. After a difficult and “long” period of journeying in “steerage” for 36 days, he arrived at the port of New York on May 4, 1847. His immediate job or jobs are not known. On a census form from 1850, it shows that he worked on an established farm of an earlier German immigrant named Conrad Buhre in Westchester County. We know this area by a more contemporary name of Throgs Neck.
Bernard met a young lady by the name of Caroline Engel, from New York City and they married on July 20, 1851. Her parents were Charles and Mary (Tennies) Engel. Together they had 14 children, 6 boys and 8 girls, of which 10 were married. Bernard’s initial farm was 20 acres in Newtown (today’s Elmhurst), Queens County. It was located along Hoffman Blvd. (today’s Queens Blvd) at about the intersection of 57th Avenue. In 1861, Bernard sold this farm and purchased a farm on Central Avenue in Fosters Meadow (present day Linden Blvd., Springfield Gardens). (2) (This research was done by Ed Wesnofske of the Elizabeth Rottkamp/Frank Froehlich branch of the family) Bernard died on July 19, 1891 and Caroline on January 31, 1910 and are buried in St. Boniface Cemetery in Elmont, N.Y.
The first son Charles born 1852 and first daughter Sabina born 1853, both died at birth. The next daughter Sahra born in 1854 died in 1872 at the age of 18. There is no record of the reason for her death.
The fourth child Joseph was born June 21, 1856 in Elmhurst, Queens, New York. He married Theresa Maria Muller and they had 11 children of which 9 of them were married. Those 9 were Henry, Mary, Frances, Caroline, Joseph, Theresa, Bernard, Edward and John. Joseph and Theresa are both buried in St. Boniface Cemetery in Elmont, NY.
The fifth child Mary was born on March 6, 1858 and married Jacob Felton and together they had 9 children. Seven of those nine children may have died at childbirth, since there are no dates of birth or death for any of them. They were Sara, Caroline, John, Jacob, Frank, Anna and Bernard. The two that married were Louisa and Elizabeth.
The sixth child, Henry, (my great grandfather), was born on May 1, 1859 and married Mary Theresa Wulforst. Together they had 11 children, with 8 of them getting married. Their first child Caroline was born on December 25, 1884 and died on May 9, 1885. I never did hear why she died at such a young age. The married children were John, Mary, Henry, Bernard, Jacob, Joseph, Alois and William. The two that never married were Frank and Ann. John, Henry and Bernard married three March sisters, Amelia, Clara and Elizabeth. In 1924, Theresa bought 100 acres of land on Carman Ave. in Hicksville and 7 of her sons, Joseph, Henry, Bernard, William, Jacob, Alois and Frank bought between 10 and 20 acres each from their mother and by 1925, 6 of them were farming within a mile of each other. Frank never farmed his land he rented it to his brother Joseph. The six of them farmed there from 1925 until 1940, at which time Bernard and Alois moved their farming operations to N.J. and William went into other lines of work. Their son John farmed the land owned by his parents on Hempstead Turnpike. in Elmont, NY.
The seventh child John was born on November 28, 1860, married Elizabeth Haslach and they had 10 children of which 8 married. The 8 that got married were Josephine, Elizabeth, Caroline, Ida, Marie, John, Rita and Dolores. John and Elizabeth were buried in St. Boniface Cemetery, the same cemetery as his parents and many of his siblings.
The eighth child, Anton was born on March 13, 1862 and married Clara Schmitt and they had 16 children of which only two boys and three girls married. They were George, Emma, Anna, Clara and Philip. The eleven children that never married were, Henry, Frances, Joseph, Albert, John, Jacob, Frank, Mary, Bernard, Anthony and Caroline. Caroline died shortly after birth when she was only 11 days old.
The ninth child Caroline, born on November 5, 1863 married George Froehlich, who’s parents were Franz and Magdalena (Breiner) Froehlich. They had 11 children of which 10 married, with one, John, dying at the age of 2 1/2. The married children were Elizabeth, Frank, Mary, Caroline, Anne, Joseph, George, Clara, Jacob and Bernard. Caroline and George are both buried at St. Boniface.
The tenth child, Elizabeth was born on November 13, 1866 and married Frank Froehlich, the brother of George. They had 14 children of which 13 married. Mary, born on June 30, 1888 died on January 5, 1890. The married children were Caroline, Anna, Elizabeth, John, Joseph, Jacob, Frank, Clara, Bernard, Mary Frances, Anthony, Matilda and Teresa.
Child number eleven, Maria Eva was born on October 19, 1868 and married Louis Muller. They had two children, Frank and Caroline, both married and then Louis died on December 1, 1893. Maria then married John Dubon in 1899 and they had 6 children, Mary, Margaret, Elizabeth, John, Bernard and Clara and all of them married. Their last child Clara, born in 1909, was born 19 years after Maria and Louis’s first child Frank in 1890.
Child number twelve, Louise, was born on September 29, 1870 and died on April 3, 1886. I haven’t any record of why she died. The thirteenth child Bernard C. was born November 20, 1872 and he married Mary A. Jacobs. They had 8 children and 7 of them married. They were Bernadine, John, Joseph, Thomas, Anthony, Cecelia and Bernard. The eighth child, Frances may have died at childbirth, since there isn’t any record of her death.
The fourteenth and last child was Anna C., born on January 5, 1875. She married Jacob Jacobs and they had 5 children, Bernard, John, Amelia, Raymond and Loretta, all of whom married. As you may have noticed four names were very popular in many of the families. The name Mary was used 8 times, Caroline 8 times, Bernard 9 times and John 10 times. Each of the families had at least one of their children with these names.
Submitted by Jerry Rottkamp
of the Henry and Theresa Rottkamp branch of the family.