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Category Archives: People

Finding Alfred

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ALFRED HAYNChristoph Alfred Hayn was Onkel Hayn’s only child. He was named after Onkel Hayn’s older brother Christoph, and his wife’s brother Alfred. Left motherless at age 5, Alfred spent his early years with his father (first in England, then France), and later went to live with his aunt Caroline (the same sister Onkel Hayn lived with at the end of his life ) so he could complete his education at a German school.  We also know from the memoirs that made a trip to the US in 1907, that he was interred at Knockaloe on the Isle of Man during WWI, and that after the war he and a partner were in charge of the Hamburg branch of the family business. But here the narrative stops. Stories circulating within the family are oddly pejorative, and/or completely misinformed – that Alfred had died in WWI, that he was probably mentally retarded, was sickly, and possibly gay. Many of the family photos with his name on the back are clearly of different people, as if no one really knew who he was.

So, I made it my task to “find Alfred.” Every so often I would start a new online search with different keywords, and joined various genealogy sites to gain access to their databases. I found references to the business in Hamburg with his name attached to them, so assumed that his activities in Hamburg are what prevented him from taking care of his aging father. I found no references to a wife. But when did he die? I tried finding his name in cemetery databases, in Google books, you name it, but nothing. Then, last week, after making a few updates to the online family tree, his death certificate popped up. Eureka, I found Alfred! It was like a belated Christmas present. Unfortunately no cause of death was listed, but he died at home in Hamburg in January 1931, shortly after his 51st birthday, and 8 years before the death of Onkel Hayn. So maybe that is him on the photo from October 1930, where he is identified as one of the guests at a family wedding in Switzerland? If so, he certainly did not look sickly, or mentally retarded, in fact he looked happy and congenial. I certainly hope he was, may he rest in peace.

Georg Christoph Hellfeld – the American nephew

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Onkel Hayn gives us very little information about the siblings of my husband’s great-grandmother Catha Hellfeld. We learn that Catha’s brother Ferdinand died in Brazil in his twenties, and brother Georg Christoph was employed for a time in the Le Havre firm, but that is the extent of it. Nothing at all is said of her sister Elise Emilie (though family photos luckily fill in some of the gaps). So imagine my surprise when I discovered that G.C. emigrated to the United States around the same time that his brother went to Brazil, and lived his entire life in the state of New York.

According to immigration records, he arrived at Ellis Island from Le Havre in 1894 under the name of Christophe Hellfeld (I assume whoever filled out the papers at his departure spelled it the French way). The handwritten passenger manifest shows him arriving with 3 pieces of luggage, in contrast to most of the others who had only one, so he probably traveled first class.

Census records show him living in Brooklyn from 1894 to 1920, first as a boarder, then living at the home of  his mother-in-law until her death, remaining in the same house on Putnam Avenue until his retirement in 1929, when he and his wife moved to the little town of Claverack in the Hudson Valley. He applied for US citizenship twice, which he was granted in 1904.

Citizenship document


Piecing together information from old newspapers I was able to discern that he worked in the import business (no surprise there), was an active Freemason, and a member of “society.” Two trips to Europe were also mentioned in the newspaper clippings.

Christoph and his sister Catha

Christoph and his sister Catha


Georg Christoph died at home in 1944 at the age of 76 and was survived by his wife, Lilian Macclinchey, who lived until 1956. The obituary mentions no children.

The Hayn Spouses

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Of the 14 Hayn siblings that survived infancy, only 7 had spouses. They were:

Heinrich (b. 1826), the eldest son – married Catharina Schölles, brother of Johannes Schölles (husband of Henriette, see below), two daughters and a son

Carl (b. 1833), worked and died in Brazil – married Maria Chaves, two sons and a daughter.

Henriette (b. 1835) – married Dr. med. Johannes Schölles – no children

Elise (b. 1839) – married Fritz Kaysser, a friend of Johannes Schölles – five children, plus two stepchildren

Lina (b. 1840) – married Christoph Hellfeld – two sons and two daughters

Wilhelm (b. 1844) – married Marie Ruoff – one son

Hermann (b. 1849), worked in Brazil, died in Europe – his wife’s name is unknown, they married in Brazil, had no children, and she died before he returned to Europe.

The Hofmann sisters

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J.H. Hofmann had two wives, Anna Catharina Hiltebrand, who bore him two daughters and a son, and Julianna Krempel, with whom he had three daughters. If J.H. Hofmann was disappointed about this ratio of male to female progeny he certainly knew how to make the best of it by making sure that his daughters married his most promising apprentices, several of whom became partners in the business.

The memoirs give us very little in the way of information about the sisters, except for when they were born, who they married, where they lived, who some of their children were, and when they died. Below a short recap:

Anna Catharina (1802) – the eldest child and Onkel Hayn’s mother. She lived to be 68 and bore 15 children. Her husband was first an apprentice, later a partner in J.H. Hofmann, Jr.
Henriette (1804) – married A.C. Bauer, an apprentice at J.H. Hofmann. When Onkel Hayn was growing up they had a retail store and lived at the Domplatz near the Grüne Linde. Later the family moved to Sachsenhausen, where Bauer started both a beer brewing and a ribbon manufacturing company, which he operated together with his sons and son-in-law. They had three sons and two daughters. Onkel Hayn does not give us information about when she died, but my research leads me to believe it was in 1867.
Ernestine (1812) – married A.W.E. Haase, also an apprentice, later partner, in J.H. Hofmann, Jr. They had fourteen children but only three lived to adulthood. Ernestine herself died at age 43, a few months before her sister Elise.
Dorothea (1818) – married C. Heinrich Schöffer, the son of J.G. Hayn’s sister Elisabeth Susanna. Schöffer was an apprentice at J.H. Hofmann, and later a partner. They had four children. The family lived in Amsterdam for many years, returning to Schöffer’s birthplace, Gelnhausen, in 1864. Despite bouts with both typhus and cholera she outlived her husband and died in 1893 at the age of 74.
Elise (1822) – married W.P. Schäffer, apparently the only husband who was not an apprentice at J.H. Hofmann. They lived on the Eschenheimer Landstrasse and her husband ran a Chinese import store. Onkel Hayn is not clear about how many children they had. Two sons are named, and a daughter inferred. Elise died in childbirth at the age of 33.

The center of the matrix – Anna Catharina Hofmann Hayn

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As with most family dynasties, there is usually an initial connection from which everything flows, and in the case of the Hofmann dynasty, this person was J.H. Hofmann’s eldest daughter Anna Catharina. Named for both her mother and her maternal grandmother, she was born in 1802 and died in 1870.  Through her marriage with Onkel Hayn’s father she opened the doors not only for their sons, but also for three of his nephews (Heinrich Eysenbach, C. Heinrich Schöffer, and Wilhelm Schöffer), to enter the family business . In addition, C.H. Schöffer became her brother-in-law through his marriage to her younger half-sister Dorothea, and Wilhelm Schöffer married her half-sister Ernestine’s daughter, thus the personal and business connection between these three families (Hayn, Schöffer, Haase) remained strong for several generations.

Unfortunately Onkel Hayn does not give us much information about his mother except these rather disheartening words about how difficult her life had been.

“Was die Eltern, namentlich die Mutter für uns getan hat, läßt sich mit Worten kaum schildern. Wir waren bis zum Jahre 1861 da ich mein 17. Lebensjahr erreicht hatte, 14 lebende Geschwister und es ist mir immer ein Rätsel geblieben, wie die gute Mutter das, was sie leistete fertig bringen konnte, ohne ihrer schweren Last zu erliegen. Bei einer so zahlreichen Kinderschar sind beständig bald körperliche, bald geistige Gebrechen zu überwachen. Anhaltende Pflege und Sorge um das Wohl sovieler Köpfe haben meine Mutter niemals zur Ruhe kommen laßen. Das Leben recht zu genießen, davon konnte bei ihr nicht die Rede sein.”
“Unsere Mutter war 68 Jahre alt geworden, und es ist möglich, daß die Aufregung über den Krieg und die Sorge um unseren Bruder Hermann, der ins Feld zu rücken hatte, ihr Ende beschleunigt hat. Mit der so zahlreichen Familie hatte die gute Mutter in ihrem ganzen Leben eine recht schwere Bürde zu tragen, die sie mit freudiger Ausdauer und bewundernswertem Mute hinzunehmen wußte. Auf ihren Schultern lastete hauptsächlich die Sorge um das Wohl und die Erziehung sovieler Kinder. Wer unsere Familie gekannt hat, weiß, daß mehrere von meinen älteren Geschwister nicht zur vollen Entwicklung ihrer geistigen Fähigkeiten gelangten. Ihr unbeholfener Zustand und ihre ungewiße Zukunft muß den Eltern, namentlich aber der Mutter, viel Kummer und schwere Stunden bereitet haben.”