30 November 2014

Mary Ann Wilkey and her links to Casino

Mary Ann Wilkey, who lived in Burwood, a suburb of Sydney, died in Casino, a town in Northern NSW. I had never been able to work out why she was there - it was an unlikely holiday destination for a widowed 76 year old woman, if, in fact, people actually took holidays in those days...

Last night I was searching Findmypast for information on the Wilkeys when I came across Mary Ann Wilkey's probate summary. From memory, when I tried to access this record in person at NSW State Records, it was missing, so it was good to have the details summarised.

Mary Ann's will requested that all her real estate properties (four of them) be sold after her death, and that the proceeds of the sales be distributed equally amongst her living children. She also provided some money for Ellen Wilkey (named as Helen), the widow of her son James Arthur Wilkey, and directed that the rest of her belongings be given to her youngest daughter Elizabeth Elsie. She named her son Charles and her son-in-law James Hall (husband of daughter Elizabeth Elsie) as executors of the will.

It was when I got to the section of the probate record stating that Charles and James were made executors that I made a sudden exclamation, startling my husband. It recorded that James Hall was a shopkeeper, in Casino. I'm guessing that it was very likely that Mary Ann was visiting her daughter Elizabeth Elsie in Casino when she died.

It's not the sort of information that changes much, but I'm glad I've finally solved that puzzle!

17 November 2014

Adolph Mondientz and his theatrical career

According to her death certificate, Caroline Beringer was born in Frankfurt. Dying in 1896, aged 38, she was born in approximately 1857. Her parents were listed as Adolf Mondientz, painter, and Charlotte Volker.

I have not yet been able to find a birth record for Caroline, nor a marriage record for her parents. However, FamilySearch has two possible records for siblings of Caroline's: Johann Ludwig Mandientz was born to Adolph Mandientz and Charlotte Eufemia Arnoldine Voelke in 1849, and christened in 1850 in Iserlohn, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany, and Adolphine Franciska Mordientz was born to Adolph Mordientz and Charlotte Euphemia Arnoldine Voelker in 1848, and christened in 1848, in the Evangelical church in Cleve, Rheinland, Prussia.

Ignoring the different spelling of names, which could be explained by illiteracy or transcription errors, I wasn't at all sure if this really was all the same family, because of the vastly different locations across Germany - Frankfurt, Iserlohn and Cleve aren't really close to each other, and I generally assume that in those days people didn't move around too much, considering there were no cars, and getting around took a lot longer than it would now. I had to find something that suggested that the family might have moved around a lot. The best way to find that needle in a haystack was to find out all that I could on the family.

I searched FamilySearch for all the German records I could possibly find on the Mondientz and Volker/Voelke/Voelker families, using wildcards and every possible name variation I could think of. I stay away from the user submitted genealogies on FamilySearch because I never know what those users have based their records on - I need concrete evidence, not hearsay. Here's what I found:

Surname Christian name(s) Event date Father Mother Place of event
MONDIENTZ Louise Emily born 10 Dec 1865, christened 13 Dec 1865 Adolph MONDIENTZ Anna Catharina GEURTS Crefeld, Rheinland, Preussen, Germany
MONDIENTZ Friedrich marriage to Frieda KONCZEK, 11 Apr 1916 (born on 15 Feb 1892, Crefeld) Georg Friedrich MONDIENTZ Auguste PUNGS Evangelisch (Militärgemeinde), Freiburg Breisgau, Freiburg, Baden
MANDIENTZ Johann Ludwig born 28 Dec 1849, christened 12 Jan 1850 Adolph MANDIENTZ Charlotte Eufemia Arnoldine VOELKE Iserlohn, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany
MORDIENTZ Adolphine Franciska born 22 Sep 1848, christened 10 Oct 1848 Adolph MORDIENTZ Charlotte Euphemia Arnoldine VOELKER Evangelisch, Cleve, Rheinland, Prussia
VÖLKER Gottlieb marriage to Anna Barbara BECHTTOLD, 11 Jan 1875 (born on 11 Jun 1844, Cleve, Westfahlen, Germany) none listed Charlotte Euphrosine Arnoldine VÖLKER Frankfurt (Main), Hessen-Nassau, Preußen, Germany

So what can we surmise from that? Adolph and Charlotte had at least three children together - Adolphine Franciska, Johann Ludwig and Caroline Mathilda. Charlotte had a child, Gottlieb, before she married Adolph, possibly as a single mother, or perhaps Adolph was the father but just not listed because they weren't yet married. If I could see the original record for Gottlieb's birth it might have an annotation on who the father was thought to be - I've seen that before. Of course, because I am in Europe, I can't actually get access to the microfilms of the originals through the Church of the Latter Day Saints, but would probably have to find which archives the actual originals are held in and travel there to see them. As for Friedrich Mondientz and Louise Emily Mondientz, I needed more evidence to connect them to my Mondientz family.

Google was the next step. A google search of Mondientz brings up many listings of people currently alive with the surname Mondientz, but I needed historical records, and the best option for that is Google Books. And Google Books revealed some listings for an Adolph Mondientz who worked in the theatre in Germany. I decided summarise the information I found, interlinked with the known events for my Adolph Mondientz, to see if they matched up at all:

Year Place Event Source
1848 Mühlheim a. d. Ruhr Hr. Mondientz: Dekorationsmaler und Theatremeister.
As a performer: Mondientz, Väter, Intriguants und Charakterrollen.
Almanach für Freunde der Schauspielkunst auf das Jahr 1848, Volume 12
Sept 1848 Cleve, Rheinland, Prussia Birth of daughter Adolphine Franciska FamilySearch
Dec 1849 Iserlohn, Westfalen, Preussen, Germany Birth of son Johann Ludwig FamilySearch
1850 Dortmund Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient und Dekorationsmaler.
As a performer: Mondientz, chargirte Rollen, Väter.
Almanach für Freunde der Schauspielkunst auf das Jahr 1850
1856 Cleve and Arnheim As a performer: Mondientz, Väter und Bariton-parthieen. A. Heinrich's Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 20
1857 Coblenz Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient.
As a performer: Mondientz, bedeutende Aushülfsrollen.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 21
about 1857 Frankfurt Birth of daughter Caroline Mathilda Caroline's death certificate
1859 Offenbach Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient.
As a performer: Mondientz, Komische Charakterrollen, Intriguants.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach
1860 Düsseldorf Hr. Mondientz: Souffleur der Oper.
As a performer: Mondientz, zweite Väter und chargierte Rollen.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 24
1861 Düsseldorf Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient des Schauspiels.
As a performer: Mondientz, zweite Väter.
A. Heinrich's deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 25
1862 Crefeld Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient.
As a performer: Mondientz, Väter und chargirte Rollen.
Kinderrollen: Marie Mondientz.
Deutscher Bühnenalmanach, Volume 26
1864 Crefeld Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient, Dekorationsmaler.
As a performer: Adolph Mondientz, Väter und chargirte Rollen.
Kinderrollen: Fanny und Emma Mondientz.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 28
1865 Crefeld Hr. Mondientz: Inspicient, Dekorationsmaler.
As a performer: Mondientz, alte Diener.
Kinderrollen: Fanny und Emma Mondientz.
Deutscher Bühnen-Almanach, Volume 29
Dec 1865 Crefeld Birth of Louise Emily Mondientz - I don't know that she's actually a relation, but the place fits... perhaps Adolph had been widowed and then remarried and this was another daughter? FamilySearch
1866 Crefeld Mondientz, Inspicient. Ferdinand Roeder's Theater-Kalender

So, this would explain why his known children were all born in different places. Not sure why he moved so much though - unless he had itchy feet!

Caroline's death certificate said that her father was a painter. Was this his day job, and theatre was his hobby? A hobby in which he could use his skills from work, as a dekorationsmaler (decoration painter)? And who were Marie, Fanny and Emma Mondientz? Were they his daughters? Younger sisters? Nieces?

Searching through Google Books, I found one other useful item, in the "Intelligenz-Blatt der freien Stadt Frankfurt, Part 4", p.1346:

Der Unterzeichnete fühlt sich gedrungen, allen Denen, die ihm ihre Theilnahme bei dem Trauerfalle, der ihn betroffen, auf so wahrhaft menschenfreundliche Weise beweisen, insbesondere auch den resp. Mitgliedern des Frankfurter Stadttheaters seinen herzlichsten, tiefgefülhtesten Dank auszusprechen.
Bockenheim, im Oct 1858.
A. Mondientz, Mitglied des Bockenheimer Sommertheaters.
Roughly translated, this Mr A. Mondientz from the Bockenheim Summer Theatre is offering his heartfelt thanks and appreciation shown to him on his recent bereavement, particularly by the members of the Frankfurt City Theatre. Who died? I am guessing it was his wife Caroline. This would then fit with Adolph remarrying (to Anna Catharine Geurts) and having another daughter, Louise Emily, whilst working in Crefeld in 1865.

So, if we assume this is my Adolph Mondientz, and I think there is enough circumstantial evidence to make a case for it, it is interesting that Adolph's grandson (via his daughter Caroline Matilda), George Augustus Beringer, was in the silent movies in America, although he went by the name of André de Beranger. It always seemed an occupation quite unlike any of his other relatives, until we learn of his Grandfather Mondientz's apparent passion for the theatre, and then it doesn't seem nearly so unusual.