Elizabeth Barbara Nilkowski

I have posted several pictures and stories of my female ancestors. Another of these strong women was my second great-grandmother Elisabeth Barbara Nilkowski, who was known as Barbara.

I don’t know too much (yet) about Barbara’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 recorded as Johan Nilkowski and Maria Schild.

On 4 November 1886, Barbara married Christian Fasel in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Her first son, also named Christian, was born on 24 August 1887 in the same town. His birth record reported that his father, a miner, had died on 8 June 1887. Barbara was widowed at age 22, just a few months before her first child is born.

Sometime before January 1889, Barbara married Gerhard Linnemann. Over the next ten years they had six children: Gerhard Bernard (1889), Wilhelm Julius (1890), Rudolph (1893-1896), Georg Adolf (1895), Elisabeth Maria (1897), and Rudolph (1899-1901). Two of their sons (both named Rudolph) died as young children.

In August of 1904, Barbara traveled from Bremen to the America to meet her husband who had arrived in 1903. Barbara and her five children sailed for thirteen days on the SS Cassel to Baltimore. The family photo above apperas to have been taken shortly before their departure.

There are few records about the Linnemann family during their early years in the US. They spent time in West Virginia before settling in Monessen, a steel town south of Pittsburgh. By 1915, Barbara’s son William had moved to Chicago, and children George and Elisabeth had married.

Barbara with her daughter Elisabeth and grandchildren Agnes and Frank in Monessen, circa 1920.

In 1918, her husband Gerhard committed suicide while the family was out for a walk. This tragic event happened as two of her sons were serving in World War I, and just a few weeks after their second grandchild was born. Barbara had to endure yet another heartbreaking loss and was widowed again at age 53. The newspaper article stated that Gerhard had been injured in a coal mining accident several years earlier, and had “seemed irrational as a result” and would “take to spells of anger and brooding.”

Barbara stayed in Monessen and lived with her sons Christian and Gerhard, both of whom never married. A few years after her husband’s death, Barbara worked as a “steward” (probably a waitress) at the Turner Hall, a German social club in Monessen. Her son Christian worked as a steward there as well. On 30 July 1935, Barbara died in her sleep of a heart attack at her home on Second Street in Monessen. She was buried next to her husband in Grandview Cemetery.

Barbara was known as “Mem” to her daughter’s children. Below are a few snapshots of her from our family memorabilia. I have yet to find a picture of Barbara smiling, but thinking of her life and losses, she may have become a pretty tough woman.


Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Zivilstandsregister [Civil Register], Rudolph Linnemann (1893-1896) and Rudolph Linnemann (1899-1901); Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, email from Norbert Silberbach.

Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Geburtsregister [Births], no. 784, Christian Fasel (1887), no. 11, Gerhard Linnemann (1889), no. 1133, Wilhelm Linnemann (1890), no. 494, Georg Linnemann (1895), and no. 644, Elisabeth Linnemann (1897).

“Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1964,” digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 December 2019), entry for Gerhard Linnemann, age 41, arrived 18 December 1903 aboard the Oldenburg from Bremen; citing National Archives microfilm publication T844, RG 85. This database has erroneously indexed Gerhard as Geheat.

“Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1964,” digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 December 2019), entry for Elizabeth Linnemann, age 39, arrived 31 August 1904 aboard the Cassel from Bremen.

Pennsylvania Department of Health, certificate of death no. 69108 (1918), Gerherd Lenemann, Bureau of Vital Statistics, New Castle.

Pennsylvania Department of Health, certificate of death no. 67541 (1935), Barbara Elizabeth Linneman.

1920 U.S. census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Monessen Borough, Enumeration District (ED) 152, sheet 2-B, p. 147 (stamped), dwelling 22, family 38, Elizabeth Linneman household; digital images,  Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 May 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1666.

Gerhard Bernard (1889), Wilhelm Julius (1890), Rudolph (1893-1896), Georg Adolf (1895), Elisabeth Maria (1897), and Rudolph (1899-1901).


Sentimental Sunday – Happy Birthday Mom!


My mother was born today in Bauschlott, Germany. I looked for some birthday party pictures like I posted for my Dad, but don’t have any scanned. I’ll have to check her picture stash the next time I’m home.

This is a picture of  Mom around 1950 in Stein, Germany. The picture was taken while she was at school in kindergarten. When her mother (my grandmother, Elise Gegenheimer) saw the picture, she was mad that my mother wasn’t wearing any shoes! I always loved this picture and the story that went with it. Happy Birthday Mom!


Thankful Thursday – Opa’s Birthday

Yesterday would have been my maternal grandfather’s 100th birthday! Adolf Emil Haberkern was born on 11 September 1919 in Stein, Baden-Württemburg, Germany. He was the son of Karl Haberkern and Emma Sidonie Lindenmann. Opa, as he was known to us, married my grandmother in 1942 (Oma would have been 100 earlier this year), they arrived in the United States in 1952, and he died in 2009 just shy of 90 years old. Opa was gentle and funny and loved his family – especially his grandchildren. Below are a few of my favorite pictures of my grandfather. Happy Birthday Opa!

June 4 weddingcrop


Fall 1972



Treasure Chest Thursday – German Gesangbuch


For those of you who know me, you know that Thursdays are my favorite day of the week – choir and handbell choir rehearsals! I love being a part of the thriving music program at our church. A few years ago, my parents gave me the most wonderful little book as a gift. It is a German Gesangbuch, or hymnal, that belonged to my great-grand uncle, Christian “Christ” Linnemann.


The first page is printed with “Ach bleib mit Deiner Gnade.” According to Google Translate, this means Oh stay with your grace.


Christ’s name is written on the back of the first page. The first two pages appear to have been repaired with some white tape that covers the end of his name and part of the next  page. The following page is printed with “Widmung” which means dedication, but nothing is written on that page.


The Evangelisches Gesangbuch is a Protestant hymnal. This edition was published in 1897 in Dortmund, and reads for Rheinland and Wesfalen. Christ was born in the state of North Rhein-Westfalia, so it appears to be an edition from that area of Germany.

There is a table of contents which lists times of the Christian year (New Year, Sunday, Advent, Easter, Ascension, etc.) and page numbers with hymns. There are also sections for morning, midday and evening.


The hymnal’s binding is very tight, so I am careful not to open too far and damage it (see my earlier post on caring for a Family Bible).


Each hymn has the first verse with the music, and then the following verses without the music. At the end of the book is an index  of composers (translated as song poet, which I LOVE!). I plucked out some of the hymns on the piano, but do not recognize any of them. They appear to be more chant-like (many of the composers were born in 1600s) and not the familiar Presbyterian hymns that I am used to singing.

Christian &  Elizabeth Linneman
Christan Fasel Linnemann with his sister Elizabeth Linneman Speck, circa 1920.

Christian Linnemann was my great-grandmother’s oldest brother. He was born in 1887 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany as Christian Fasel. His father died shortly before he was born and his mother later married Gerhard Linnemann. Uncle Christ never married, and my father remembers him sitting quietly and reading his Bible, or maybe this Gesangbuch. His mother’s religion was Catholic on Christ’s birth record, but when his sister Elisabeth was born, she and her husband were both Protestant (Evangelishes). The Linnemann family came to America in 1904 when Christ was 16 years old.

I am so thankful to have this Gesangbuch. Do you have a special family heirloom that you treasure?


Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Mamas out there! I thought I’d post a few pictures of moms and kids from our families.

My mother with her mother, Elise Gegenheimer Haberkern, in Stein, Germany, 1945.

Agnes, Cork, Jeff, summer 1945crop
My father with his brother and mother, Agnes Speck Cubbage, on the North Side of Pittsburgh, 1945.

Scan of picture
My great-grandmother, Maine Swank Cubbage, with her daughters Marian, Marge and Babe, and most likely her daughter-in-law Happy Griffith Cubbage, Monessen, Pennsylvania, 1930s.

My husband’s great-grandmother, Mary Kelovcy Simko, with children Mary, Susan, Michael and Walter, circa 1930.

image 2011-4-2 0025crop
My great-grandmother, Elizabeth Linnemann Speck, with either Agnes (1915) or Frank (1918) in Monessen.

Linneman (front) around 1904
My great-great-grandmother, Barbara Elisabeth Nilkowski Linneman, with her children Christian, Gerhard, George, William and Elisabeth, in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 1904.