Fearless Females: Honoring a Female Ancestor

The Fearless Female prompts were created and posted at The Accidental Genealogist – this prompt is: March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor… Tell us about who you’ve selected and why and then post a link to what you’ve created.

I created a fold3 memorial page for my 2nd great-grandmother, Theresa (Kiebel) Langeneck Schmidt.

fold3 memorial

Theresa is the one of the first immigrants I ran into on my family line. There are only four of my 2x great-grandparents who were born in another country, including her. Because of that, I tend to treasure them as they are rather mysterious to me and tend to be more fun (and frustrating) to research.

Theresa first came over to Pennsylvania with her parents sometime between 1907-1910 (when her youngest sister was born and when she married in PA in 1910). Shortly after she married Frederick Langeneck, my great-grandfather was born (7 months after the marriage – makes me wonder if it was a forced marriage because she was pregnant). They moved back to Austria-Hungary after that. The family story is that Frederick had to go back to fight in World War I on the Austria-Hungary side. We believe he died over there in 1916 and I have found documents stating that a Frederick Langeneck did die there, but it turns out there are several Langenecks there and Frederick is a common name, so I need to confirm that. Either way, Theresa returned in 1920 with her ten-year old son, my great-grandfather, and went to Michigan where her parents and siblings lived.

When Theresa and her son returned to the United States, she came with $16 dollars and had to wait until a relative came and received her at Ellis Island. She was held as an LPC , a likely public charge. Because she was a widow with a child, she was likely considered to be a possible burden on society. It was likely a male relative who had to come and claim her and show she wouldn’t be a burden, that she had family to help her. The two stayed at Ellis Island for at least 9 dinners, so a bit over a week while waiting for someone to come and get them.

In 1921, she married Michael Schmidt and had two more children. She died young, in 1934, of heart disease.

Theresa, as it turns out, is a family name. Her mother’s name was also Teresa and she named her first daughter Theresa. My great-grandfather then named his first born daughter Theresa (although we called her Betty). I can’t get further back on her mother’s line to see if it continues because the German documents are difficult for me to read. I hope to be able to get further on that line someday soon though!

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2 Comments

  1. I hope her time on Ellis Island was not spent worrying. I hope she knew exactly who was coming and when. That would be so stressful!! I was like you with my French family in Quebec. I don’t speak French so I had quite a learning curve. I’m quite adept now. Best of luck learning a little German. 🙂

    • Nichelle Barra

      I’ve been learning some German since I found those records! I’ve gotten a bit better but German is very different from the Spanish I learned throughout school! 🙂

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