Thursday, July 6, 2017

Johann Jacob Gossart and Maria Louise Saar: Evidence and Handwriting Lead to Immigration and Potential Parents

Johann Jacob Gossart has been a mystery in the family for many years. Commonly referenced as Jacob Gossart in U.S. Census, it is believed that Jacob immigrated from the area of Achtelsbach in Germany in the early 1850s or late 1840s. Family stories said that Jacob’s wife, Marie Louise Saar was a servant girl who worked for the Gossart family (multiple spellings include Gosart and Gossert). Louise and Jacob fell in love, and it was unsure whether his family sent him to America and she followed, or she was sent to America and Jacob followed.

The lore continued with stories that Jacob ran off twice, the first time Louise chased him on a stagecoach (suckling an infant the entire time) and found him somewhere in the midwest and brought him back. The second time Jacob left his family and rumors include that Jacob ended up in the Northwest running into issues with the law.  Elusive as he might be, determining Jacob’s lineage has proved just as difficult.

A search of immigration records for Jacob and Louise led to two potential findings that included an analysis of the ship manifests handwriting. When taking into consideration the family story that either Jacob or Louise preceded the other in immigrating to the U.S. a search was conducted for each individually.

The first finding was an interesting entry for a Louise Saar immigrating to the U.S. in 1852.1 The ship’s manifest for the John T. Lucy (or John & Lucy) dated 2 August 1852 as indexed listed Louise Saar, 79 years of age, clearly an unlikely candidate at first glance. However,

John Lucy Ship Manifest Listing Louise Saar, Age 79 or 19

analyzing the record, one may challenge the indexed handwriting when reviewing additional numbers from the same manifest. The potential is the indexed seven could be a one putting Louise’s age as 19 not 79 with a birth year of approximately 1833. As the comparison shows, the seven is usually distinctive with definitive up-down-up, u-like, appearance. The number one is less repetitive, sometimes being straight up and down and other times, having the more European look with “top” having an upward slant from left to right before connecting with straight up and down portion.
Handwriting Sample for the Number 7 (Top) and Number 1 (Bottom) from Ship John Lucy
Bottom Right Image is Entry from Louise Saar Line

The second entry involved additional analyzing the handwriting from the manifest for the ship John L. Bogert. Jacob Gossart, age 30 years old2 is listed, which if the Jacob of interest, would make him about ten years older than the U.S. census entries.
John L. Bogart Ship Manifest Listing Jacob Gossart, Age 20 or 30

However reviewing how the numbers were written for other passengers relative to how they were indexed, the age may be twenty rather than thirty which would suggest Jacob’s birth year to be approximately 1832, in line with the census information.

John L. Bogart Manifest Handwriting Sample for the Number 3 (Top) and Number 2 (Bottom)
Bottom Right Image is from Jacob Gossart Line

If the handwriting analysis is correct, these records represent the likely immigration records for Jacob Gossart and Louise Saar which were previously missed due to focusing on the indexed ages. The threes are straightforward with a slight top to bottom initiation at the top. The twos are more unique and varied, the top right image shows similar start to a three but a definitive loop and tail at the base. Comparing that to the bottom, one could interpret the bottom two right images as fancy twos or a three.

An attempt to provide additional circumstantial support for the analysis was undertaken using another passenger with similar potential for a 2 to be interpreted as a 3 (middle bottom photo above being either 26 or 36). A search was conducted for the passenger, Rosina Durr (or Dunn)2 since the family had unique names. An 1860 U.S. Census record for the Doerr (Duerr) family3 was found matching the family in the ship manifest, however the names were Americanized. It was interesting to note that the age of Rosina per the census was off by ten years, in that Rosina was 10 years younger in the census than the ship manifest similar to Jacob Gossart. For Rosina, the indexed record of the ship manifest was 36 rather than 26.

The first evidence of Jacob in the United States after immigrating is a listing in the 1855 Philadelphia City Directory for a Jacob Gossart living at Coates bel Nixon.4 According to the immigration records, Jacob and Louise arrived within a month of each in 1852, it is assumed they married between arrival and 1854 when their first child, Indeman, was born in November 18545 according to a baptismal record. Jacob and family were found in the 1860 US Census living in the 19th ward of Philadelphia, PA. Jacob is a laborer and his birthplace listed as Wirtenburg. He is living with his wife, Louisa and sons Inder (Indeman), Jacob, and Edward. All three children, according to the census, were born in Pennsylvania6, with Indeman and Jacob being baptized in 18577 and Edward being baptized in 1862.8

Jacob and Louise eventually settled in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area where according to the US 1870 Census they lived in Plains Twp, Luzerne Cty, PA.9 He was employed as a stable boss. The real estate was valued at $150, about $2600 in today’s dollar.
1. Indeman Gosart was born on 17 Nov 1854 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He died on 31 Oct 1927 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA. He married Rosa Jones in 1887 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA.
2. Jacob Gosart was born on 07 Oct 1856 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He died on 22 Nov 1918 in Courtdale, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA. He married Amelia Geiser in 1874 in Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA.
3. Edward Gosart was born on 06 Nov 1858 in Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 25 Dec 1937 in Jessup, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, USA. He married Cecelia Jane Flynn in 1880.
4. Albert J Gosart was born on 06 Feb 1861 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 22 Nov 1908 in Livermore, Alameda, California, USA. He married Sarrie Gosart in 1887.
5. Charles Gosart was born in 1863 in Pennsylvania, USA. Date of death unknown. He married Lavina Lillie Martin on 22 Jan 1895 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA.
6. Louisa M Gosart was born on 05 Jan 1867 in Pennsylvania, USA. She died on 23 Jul 1948 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA. She married Edward J Smith on 30 Apr 1891 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
7. Emma Gosart was born on 07 May 1875 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. She died on 26 Feb 1939 in Wilkes Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA. She married William George Worth in 1898 in Luzerne, PA.

In Portrait and Biographical Record of Arizona: Commemorating the Achievements of Citizens who Have Contributed to the Progress of Arizona and the Development of Its Resources, Jacob’s son A. J. Gosart had a biographical sketch which provided some information on his father Jacob:10
"His father, Jacob, led an interesting life, and when a young man came to America from his native land of Germany. He was a gold-beater by occupation, and in Philadelphia earned a fair competence by the exercise of his trade. The severe strain of constant confinement told on his none too robust organization, and he died in Wilkesbarre, PA., when a comparatively young man."

A review of the 1880 Census finds that Jacob is no longer listed with the family, however Louise lists herself as married denoted by the slash mark in the second column after listing her “Relationship” as wife.11 This suggests that Jacob has either passed away or as family stories suggest, he may have left the family sometime between 1870-1880.

1880 U.S. Census Line for Louisa (Saar) Gossart


The obituary for Louise from The Wilkes-Barre record 23 Mar 1898, page 8 of 12 provides some additional insight into Jacob’s death:12
Obituary for Louise (Saar) Gossart in Wilkes-Barre Record

The newspaper states that Jacob died twelve years prior to Louise, which was about 1886 at the age of 56, though no records have been found to confirm this event.  There was little information to help determine the parents of Jacob. Jacob’s birth date was estimated at about 1831 from the few records discovered such that a search of German Births and Baptisms led to two potential records:
Jacob Gossert13
Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898
birth: 28 Jun 1829 Eisen,​ Oldenburg,​ Germany
residence: 1829 Achtelsbach,​ Oldenburg,​ Germany
parents: Jacob Gossert,​ Louisa Alt
Johann Jacob Gossert14
Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898
birth: 24 Feb 1830 Achtelsbach,​ Oldenburg,​ Germany
residence: 1830 Achtelsbach,​ Oldenburg,​ Germany
parents: Jacob Gossert,​ Louisa Ruppenthal

The closest date being the 24 Feb 1830 entry that identifies the parents of Jacob Gossart as Jacob Gossert and Louisa Ruppenthal. The birth and residence location of Achtelsbach being the same for Louise. The first record was for Jacob Gossert born 28 June 1829 in Eisen, Oldenburg to Jacob Gossert and Louisa Alt. The second entry was for Johann Jacob Gossert born 24 February 1830 to Johann Jacob and Louisa Ruppenthal in Achtelsbach.

The first entry was ruled out as further research found a marriage record for that Jacob dated 11 June 1856 in which he married a Katharina Philippina Alt. The age of Johann Jacob is aligned to John Jacob found in the U.S.

A final piece of evidence that may lend support to family stories regarding the connection of the Gossart and Saar families was found in the birth record for Maria Lousia Saar. The record lists the Taufzeugen as Johannes Saar and Louisa Ruppenthal, possible the same Louisa Ruppenthal listed as Jacob’s mother. Johannes Saar may be the brother to Peter Saar, identified as Jean Charles.

Baptismal Record for Maria Louisa Saar Listing
Godparents: Johannes Saar and Louisa Ruppenthal

The importance of reviewing the actual records versus relying on an index cannot be overstated.  The importance of using family stories to guide research is critical to examining details in fresh ways. The immigration records for Jacob and Louise had not been located for years based on the indexed information, where time and improving research skills led to a re-analysis of previously rejected records. Analyzing the handwriting helped potentially identify the ship manifests for Jacob and Louise based on the story of them immigrating separately from one another. Additionally, ensuring a thorough review of the record for all names has led to further evidence of the identification of Jacob Gossart’s parents through the identification of the godparents of Louise Saar.



1 New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2754-DTD : 15 April 2015), Louise Saar, 1852; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm
2 New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/2754-7P4 : 15 April 2015), Jacob Gossart, 1852; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm.
3 Year: 1860; Census Place: Rochester Ward 6, Monroe, New York; Roll: M653_783; Page: 561; Family History Library Film: 803783
4 Vol. 1855 A. McElroy & Co, Orrin Rogers (Firm), and E.C. & J. Biddle (Firm), McElroy’s Philadelphia City Directory.
5 Ancestry.com, Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 (Name: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date:  2011;), Database online.
6 Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census (Name: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date:  2009;), Year: 1860; Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 19, Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1169; Page: 227; Image: 231; Family History  Library Film: 805169
7 Ancestry.com, Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 (Name: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date:  2011;), Database online.
8 Ancestry.com, Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985 (Name: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date:  2011;), Database online.
9 Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census (Name: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date:  2009;), Database online. Year: 1870; Census Place: Plains, Luzerne,  Pennsylvania; Roll: M593.
10 Portrait and Biographical Record of Arizona: Commemorating the Achievements of Citizens Who Have Contributed to the Progress of Arizona and the Development of Its Resources. Chapman Publishing Company, 1901.
11 Year: 1880; Census Place: Wilkes Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1149; Family History Film: 1255149; Page: 558C; Enumeration District: 114; Image: 0440
12 The Wilkes-Barre Record, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Wed, Mar 23, 1898 – Page 8
13 Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NHYS-YYZ : 28 November 2014), Jacob Gossert, ; citing Eisen, Oldenburg, Germany; FHL microfilm 1,053,721
14 Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N6W2-Q3X : 28 November 2014), Johann Jacob Gossert, 07 Mar 1830; citing ; FHL microfilm 493,233

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