Friday, March 22, 2013

Fearless Female - Elisabeth Barbara Nilkowski

I have written and posted pictures about some of the Fearless Females on the branches of my family tree. Another of these strong women was Elisabeth Barbara Nilkowski, my great- great-grandmother.

I don't know too much (yet) about Elisabeth's childhood. From her marriage record I have learned that she was born on 15 April 1865 in Alt Muensterberg which was at the time in West Prussia in Germany (that area is now in Poland). Her parents were Johan Nilkowski and Maria Schild.

On 4 November 1886, Elisabeth married Christian Fasel in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Her first son, also named Christian, was born on 24 August 1887 also in Gelsenkirchen. His birth record states that his father Christian had died on 8 June 1887 (I do not know how, but he was a miner). So Elisabeth was widowed at age 22, just a few months before her first child is born.

Sometime before January 1889, Elisabeth married Gerhard Linnemann. Between 1889 and 1899, Elisabeth and Gerhard had six children in Gelsenkirchen. Two of their children (both named Rudolph) died as young children.

Gerhard Bernard (1899)
Wilhelm Julius (1890)
Rudolph (1893-1896)
Georg Adolf (1895)
Elisabeth Maria (1897)
Rudolph (1899-1891)

In 1904, Elisabeth travel from Bremen to the America to meet her husband (who left in December 1903). The picture above was probably taken in the year before they left. I don't have many details about the Linnemann family during their early years in the America. They spent time in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and settled in Monessen, PA.

By 1915, her son William had moved to Chicago, and the remaining Linnemans had moved the Monseen. Children George and Elisabeth had married. In 1918, her husband Gerhard committed suicide while the family was out for a walk. This strong woman had to endure yet another tragic loss and was widowed again at age 53. The newspaper article stated that he had been injured in a coal mining accident years ago and had "seemed irrational as a result" and would "take to spells of anger and brooding".

Elisabeth Barbara with her daughter Elisabeth and grandchildren Agnes and Frank in Monessen

In 1920 she was working as a Stuart at Turner Hall in Monessen, as was her son Christian. Elisabeth (who also went by Barbara) lived with her sons Christian and Gerhard, both never married, for the next 17 years. She died in her sleep of a heart attack in 1935 at the age of 70 and was buried next to her husband in Grandview Cemetery in Monessen.

Elisabeth was known as "Mem" to her grandchildren (her daughter's children). Below are a few snapshots of Elisabeth from our family memorabilia. I have yet to find a picture of her smiling, but thinking of her life and losses, she may have become one tough woman.


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