My grandmother remembered her grandparents– Charles F. Buehler and Mary Moritz– as a kind, happy couple who always had a silver dollar to slip into her hand when she was on her way home. She also remembered they would talk in German when they didn’t want the grandchildren to understand them. When my grandmother knew them, they lived in a big house on Belair Road just north of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The most intriguing thing about her grandparents (the fact that baffled her friends) was that she only had “one set” of grandparents and they were both her mother’s parents and her father’s parents! Huh? Of course, she actually had the regular number of grandparents, but the other 2 passed away long before she was born. Charles F. Buehler and Mary Moritz were married in 1895 and each had children from their first marriage. Charles’s son (already grown in 1895) married Mary’s daughter (also grown) in 1901, and my grandmother was the last of their many children.
Another characteristic my grandmother mentioned was that the Buehlers were notoriously close-mouthed about the past, i.e. Anything Interesting We Want to Know. They did not count on a great-granddaughter who had access to the census, and an obsession. In 1910 the enumerator asked the head of household an interesting question– “Number of marriages”. Mary Moritz Buehler answered as expected, two. Charles F. Buehler answered THREE.
Charles Frederick Buehler and Mary Moritz
It’s taken me many years, but here is what I found.
Charles F. Buehler (or Carl F. Buhler or Karl F. Buhler) was born in a town called Murr, outside Stuttgart, Germany, where his family had lived since the 1600s. He married a girl there, Dorothy Fredericke Ziegler (nicknamed Ricka) whose family had been in Murr just as long. Here is their family group sheet:
For those of you who can count, their first child was born in 1876, but they were married in 1878. My first thought was that their son Charles William had a mother who died, and this would account for the 3 marriages. I checked the civil registrations in Germany and discovered that he was in fact, the illegitimate son of Carl and Ricka. He was born in his grandfather Ziegler’s house, seen here in the present day:
No matter what your families have told you, children have always been born out of wedlock. In Germany in the 19th century it was common. A war might interfere with a timely visit to the church. Sometimes a couple had to have permission from the town to marry, and to pay a fee– to prove they could support themselves. If they couldn’t get permission, they often lived together as man and wife anyway, until they could marry. In any case, Carl and Ricka did marry, and had 4 more daughters together, 3 who survived to adulthood.
In the early 1880s, the family– the large, extended family–began to talk about leaving for North America. Ricka’s older sister Minnie had a married a man named Karl Vogel. Karl had already been to America once, with his mother, in the 1870s. He came back to Murr– perhaps to marry Minnie– and by 1882, the Vogels emigrated to Maryland, along with other Ziegler siblings.
Carl Vogel’s family:
You were expected to apply for permission to emigrate. For some reason (I have yet to discover) Carl F. Buehler left without telling anyone. The minister of their church noted in the Familienbuch that Carl snuck away in April of 1886, and his wife and children left without saying goodbye in June. I have not found a passenger list for Carl F., but I did find his wife and children with their father/grandfather, Gottlob Ziegler, on a ship in June of 1886. In addition, Carl’s wife Ricka, their children and Gottlob Ziegler are in the Wuerttemberg, Germany Immigration Index (meaning they applied to leave). Carl is not.
Once they arrived in the United States, they settled in Baltimore, Maryland. All together, those who left Germany were: Carl Vogel and Minnie Ziegler, Carl F. Buehler and Ricka Ziegler (and children), Minnie and Ricka’s father Gottlob Ziegler and their siblings Frederick Ziegler (b. 1862), Louise Ziegler (b. 1865), Caroline Ziegler (b. 1867) and Bertha Ziegler (b. 1869). Frederick remains in Baltimore, marries and has a family. Louise Ziegler disappears from the public record until 1930, where she reappears, unmarried, and eventually purchases the Vogel house following Minnie’s death. Caroline and Bertha Ziegler disembark and disappear into the ether. I swear I will find them someday!
Frederick Ziegler’s family:
Ricka only spent 3 years in America. She died on November 9, 1889 of septicemia (blood poisoning) following a miscarriage she had 3 weeks prior. It was, no doubt, a horrible, painful death. In the end, Carl found himself with 4 motherless children, age 12 and under.
There was a family story that claimed Charles F. Buehler and Mary Moritz had met on the ship coming to America and that both of their spouses died on the journey and then they married each other. That is not true, as Mary Moritz came with her family from Prussia more than a decade before the Buehlers. But maybe the ship is where Carl met the widow Christine Geotting. 8 months after Ricka’s death, Carl married Christine. I doubt it was a love story, though I can’t know what their feelings actually were. I do know that a man had to work and he needed a wife to help raise his children and run his household. July 20th, 1890 they became man and wife. By March of 1895, the marriage was officially dissolved, though it actually ended many years before. Thanks to court records, we can hear the rest of that story in the words of those involved.
Testimony of Karl F. Buhler, the Plaintiff, in this case:
1 Q. State your name, age, residence and occuption
A. Karl Buehler or Buhler, forty-one years of age; 1015 Point Lane, Street Paver
2 Q. Do you know the parties to this suit?
A. Yes. I am the Plaintiff and my wife is the Defendant.
3 Q. When, where and by whom were you married to your wife, Christine Buehler, the Defendant, and look at this paper, here filed as Plaintiff’s exhibit No. 1 and state what it is?
A. It is a copy of my marriage certificate from the minister who married us; we were married in this city on the 20th of July, 1890, at the residence of my brother in law, Karl Vogel, No. 1115 Somerset Street, in this city.
4 Q. After your marriage where did you live with your wife?
A. 1027 Point Lane.
5 Q. How long did you live with her?
A. Three months.
6 Q. How did she come to leave you and what was the direct cause?
A. I found out from her own words that she came from Florida and that before she was married she went with single men, and of course we quarreled, and she treated my children three girls and one boy, bad, and left on the 28th of October, 1890.
Charles F. Buehler and his “3 girls, one boy” after their time with Chistine Goetting. L-R Bertha Buehler Biedermann, Charles F., Ricky Buehler Baliko, Charles William, and Louise Buehler.
Karl Vogel, a witness of lawful age, produced on behalf of the plaintiff, having been first duly sworn, deposeth and saith as follows, that is to say:
1 Q. State your name, residence and age and occupation?
A. Karl Vogel, thirty-nine years of age, 1512 Spring Street; cabinet maker.
2 Q. Do you know the parties to this suit?
A. Yes, I know them both, I am his brother-in-law. [from his first marriage– he is not related to Christine Goetting]
3 Q. Were you present at the marriage of Karl Buehler to Christina Buhler, and if so, when did this marriage take place and where?
A. Yes, they were married at my house 1315 Somerset Street and I was present when they were married, by Pastor Timotheus Stiemke.
4 Q. What was the conduct of the Plaintiff towards his wife, how did he treat her?
A. He treated her good and worked hard for her.
5 Q. Do you know the circumstances connected with his wife deserting him on October 28th, 1890?
A. All I know is Mr. Buhler came to see me that night, and told me his wife had gone away without cause.
6 Q. Was the abandonment final and deliberate and has it continued uninterruptedly for more than three years, and is there an reasonable hope of a reconciliation between them?
A. It was final and deliberate and it has been more than three years and they will never live together again.
Q 7. Do you know if any issue was born as a result of this marriage?
A. I know there was no children.
8 Q. Where has Mr. Buehler resided for the last 2 years?
A. He has lived here continuously for more than 9 years.
Though the court ran an article in the Daily Record 4 weeks in a row, Christine Goetting never responded to the complaint against her. The divorce records go on to say that she is believed to be residing “somewhere in the State of New York” since she left Baltimore. Other testimony to the same effect is offered by a friend named Agatha Heidrich. The court granted the divorce on the 23rd of March, 1895.
On June 30th, 1895, Charles F. Buehler married Mary Moritz– known in family lore as “The Widow Lutz” and this time it was a love story. Mary Moritz Lutz worked in her mother-in-law’s grocery store, following the death of her husband. Mr. Buehler shopped there, and admired her. She was probably the impetus for his filing for divorce. They were together for 35 years, and had one child together–Albert Ernst Buehler, born in 1896. The back of a family photo indicates she was loved by her step-children as a mother: Ricky Buehler Baliko wrote she is sitting with “my dear Mother and Father”.
L-R: Alexander Baliko, Mary Moritz, Charles F. Buehler, Ricky Buehler Baliko
It’s a happily ever-after kind of story–but what really went on between Charles and Christine? Such a short marriage, and such an abrupt abandonment– was there more to it?
I bolded certain phrases in the divorce testimony of Charles F. Buehler and Christine Goetting. Charles F. testifies that “he found out she came from Florida and that before she was married she went with single men, and of course we quarrelled.” Is being in Florida her sin? Going with single men before they married? Or is that just a polite 1890s talk for a bigger problem?
Ever curious, I decided to see if I could find Christine Goetting Buehler in New York. I found an interesting record in the birth index for New York City, and sent for a copy.
On March 30, 1891, Christine Goetting Buhler is living at 406 West 5th Street in New York City. There, she gave birth to a son that she named John Buhler. She named his father as Charles Buhler, and said he was a seaman (which would explain why she was alone in New York– Charles could be conveniently on a boat on the other side of the world-forever). Baby John is born only 8 months after Christine and Charles were married. Though John could be Charles Buehler’s son, it is also possible he is not– and Charles knew he was not– and that was the actual nature of the quarrel about “single men”. A baby born March 28 would have been conceived in early July. We know Charles’s track record– his first child was born illegitimately and he married the mother and stayed with her many years. This pregnancy shouldn’t matter, unless he thought it wasn’t his. Late October– the time of this quarrel– is exactly when Christine’s condition would have become obvious to others. This is speculation based on circumstantial evidence. He also mentions Christine treated his children badly. Perhaps that was her personality– perhaps a larger crisis was at play in her life. Christine never returned to Baltimore that I know of. I cannot say with certainty that John Buhler was or was not Charles Buehler’s son. I can say that I doubt anyone besides Christine, Charles and perhaps Carl Vogel, knew he was a possibility.
I have not figured out what happened to Christina and baby John. If the baby died, I have not found a death certificate. If Christina remarried, perhaps her next husband adopted John. I searched the World War 1 Draft records for a boy born on March 28th, 1891– but none turned out to be John–and I followed many leads back through the census. Maybe a cousin will turn up on Ancestry DNA someday.
There is a NYC marriage record for a Christina Buhler in September of 1893. The name could be a coincidence. If not, Christina was comfortable telling necessary lies. Though she says she is a widow, she claims this is only her second marriage. Also, in 1893, she would be legally still married to Charles. In addition, she would be fudging her age by a couple of years. Christine Buhler and Ernst Sautter remain married for many years. In every census they appear childless. Here is that certificate: