Tuesday, February 3, 2009

my mysterious grandmother

My family is full of mystery which is very frustrating because most of them are going to remain unsolved. This is hard because I'm pretty curious and can't stand mysteries which is why I generally read the endings to books about three chapters into the story. At any rate, my family has stories that have no endings which really can be maddening.

One of the big ones is who is my grandmother on my dad's side and what was she like? I know very little about her. I know her name was Frieda Angermeier (though I have seen it spelt Angomier, Angirmeier, and Angermeier) and that she was probably Jewish. She was married to my grandfather sometime around 1914 (when my dad was born) and they had three boys. In 1920,Frieda and Randy (as he seemed to have been called back then) lived in Dallas (according to the US Census) but later that year had deposited the three boys in an orphanage and disappeared after separating. Who was she? What happened to her? Where did she go? No one ever spoke about her. I did a lot of digging and found her entry to the United States through Ellis Island. I found small clues on the ship's passenger manifesto.... that she had a sister name Kathi Hauerwas who in 1910 lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico (before it was a state!) and that Frieda originally was from the Augsburg area in Germany. Her father's name was Frederich (who my father was named after) and the street that he lived on there was listed. She was 17 when she came to the US and it appears from the manifesto she might have traveled by herself. (No one else on the list is from the area she is.) and she was visiting - not immigrating.
I also found an earlier ship's list that included a Julia Angermeier also from the same area and was slightly older, who was a maid so I have conjectured that she is a relative as well. But nothing else. Vague rumors from and old conversation with one of my aunts (from my mom's side) that Frieda lived in El Paso Texas in the '60's.

One of my cousins I met when I started doing this research sent me a xerox of a photo of her. He doesn't know anything either. We think it's Frieda and her mother and it's dated 1906. Was this the young Frieda? Very faintly written in pencil (among others in Swabish) is Mrs. R. Wederstrandt. My grandmother.

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