29 March 2012

Susanna Koenig Fredrich: Ancestor Biography

Susanna Koenig Fredrich, date unknown
The child Susanna is holding is a unidentified grandchild.

The parents of my great grandfather, Johann August Fredrick, were a brick wall for the past five years.  So, it is exciting to be able to share what I know about his mother, Susanna Koenig Fredrich. 

It was three days after Christmas in a small town in the province of Posen, Prussia when Susanna Koenig was born on the 28 December 1808.  She was born near what is now Schubin and Bromberg, Poland.  This was during a period of unrest with the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation being dissolved during the Napoleonic Wars, two years prior.  This was a time of upheaval throughout Europe.  The Kingdom of Prussia was a large piece of the new German empire. 

While Napoleon was in charge he abolished serfdom.  During serfdom, it was the nobility's role to protect; the clergy's role to pray; and everyone else worked.  Susanna's family would have been workers.

These changes were only in effect as long as Napoleon was in power.  Most of his changes were reversed upon his defeat.  Serfdom was brought back to many areas.  I imagine Susanna's family was impacted by these changes during her early years.

Susanna Koenig married Christoph Fredrich in 1828, at the age of 20.  They had seven children, (two sons and five daughters) all born in Prussia:
  • Wilhelmine, born 18 September 1832
  • Henriette, born 29 October 1834
  • Amalia, born 1843
  • Johann August, born 8 January 1845
  • Ottilie, born July 1851
  • Auguste
  • Wilhelm
Susanna and Christoph were married until Christoph's death in 1861.  She never remarried.

Four of Susanna's children, Henriette, Amalia, J. August, and Ottilie, immigrated to Manistee, Michigan, United States, as did Susanna.  J. August was the first, coming in the early 1870's.  He was one of the early settlers of the area.  Her daughter, Henriette, who was married to John Zobel, immigrated in April of 1872.

Source:  Susanna Fredrich; Scandinavian passenger manifest, 21 October 1872, p107; in Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935; C-4511 to C-4542 (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada), Roll C-4527.

Susanna and her daughters, Amalia and Ottilie, arrived in Quebec, Canada on 21 October 1872.  Susanna was 63 years old at the time.  They travelled on the ship, Scandinavian.  They left Liverpool England; Londonderry, Ireland and traveled to Quebec, Canada.  The destination to which passengers were ticketed was Manistee, Michigan.  A study of German emigration shows that political conditions plus, the government encouraging emigration during this time were main factors why people left for America.

Source:  1880 U.S. Census, population schedule, 3rd and 4th Ward Manistee, Manistee, Michigan, enumeration district (ED) 165, p 9, dwelling 70, Susan King; digital images, ancestry.com (: accessed 6 February 2011)

The first census Susanna is found in is the 1880 U. S. Census for Manistee, Michigan.  She is listed as Susanna King.  Koenig is King in English.  She is living with her daughter, Ottilie Guhse, and family.  On the same page is her other daughter, Henriette Zobel.

She is still living with the Guhse family in the 1900 Census for Manistee, Michigan.  She is 91 years old and can not read, write or speak English.  Susanna was in the United States for 28 years and never learned to speak English.

Source:  Manistee Daily News, (Manistee, Michigan), 4 November 1906, microfilm owned by Manistee Public Library, Manistee, Michigan..

Susanna Koenig Fredrich died at the age of 97 on 4 November 1906 in Manistee, Michigan.  I would love to be able to talk to her, I would have so many questions for her.  The changes she lived through would be so interesting to hear from her perspective.  She lived through serfdom, wars, and the industrial revolution.  She left adult children in her homeland and traveled to a foreign country.  She is a woman to be admired.  I only wish I had known her.


  1. Very interesting and rewarding find! Great job!

  2. Thanks, Bob. I hope I can find more about the family in Germany.

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