Blumenthal in Banat

Established 1770

Frey, Stengel, Prügel, Hanz, Hupp, Schuch, Elva, Petendara

Families of Blumenthal

by John Frey


- AUGUST 2008

by John E. Frey

     Since my retirement in 1995 I have been on a journey of discovery of my family.  This journey has led me to some improbable places and yielded discoveries of my Donauschwaben ancestors and cousins of whose existence I had been totally unaware.  It has also brought me into contact with some wonderful people whose help has been essential.  Foremost among them is Jody McKim of Acworth GA, whose intrepid tracking, wide knowledge and unfailing interest has given me clues every step of the way.  This story starts with a visit to Jody’s home. 


     On Friday 1 August Mary and I flew to Atlanta, GA and drove to nearby Acworth where we met our friend Jody McKim, founder of the Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hand (DVHH) and a leading expert on the history and genealogy of the Donauschwaben.  Her mother’s family comes from Mercydorf in the Banat (in SW Romania).  She has been to the Banat three times and has helped me a great deal in sorting out my Frey family history.  Jody has been especially helpful since she lives near Atlanta where my grandparents had lived for a short while and where my father was born.  She and her husband Sammy Love were gracious hosts during our stay.


     My grandparents, George Frey and Elisabetha Stengel Frey immigrated from Blumenthal to Atlanta in October 1904 with 3 children, Eva (4), Josef (3) and Katharina (11 months) joining a friend, Franz Prinz.  Shortly thereafter they moved to Tallapoosa, Haralson Cty., GA where Prinz must have resided since he is listed there in the 1900 US census.  It is likely that the family worked in vineyards founded by the group of Hungarians miners brought in from PA in 1887 to establish the vineyards.  Josef Frey, Georg’s father visited them in Tallapoosa in June 1905 and returned to Blumenthal, taking his grandson Josef with him.  In December 1905, brother-in-law Josef Simon also visited the family in Tallapoosa.  It appears that the Frey family spent most of 1905 in Tallapoosa.


See Immigration information for those mentioned in this article:
Passenger Records:
A-K | L-Z


     Another brother-in-law, Anton Guss, visited the family in Atlanta in April 1906.  My father, Albert Frey, was born in August, 1906 and was baptized at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Atlanta indicating that the family lived in Atlanta during 1906.  His godparents were Albert Klapper, who owned a small furniture factory in Atlanta and Anna Prinz. My grandfather, a cabinet maker, may well have worked for Klapper.  There is a family story that Elisabetha was afraid of the snakes in the vineyards in Tallapoosa and for that reason the family moved to Atlanta.


Shrine of Immaculate Conception, Atlanta


     The day after our arrival, Saturday August 2nd, we drove to Tallapoosa where a pre-planned meeting with a couple, Kevin & Nancy Bennett whose relative owns a grand 3-story house known today as "Keys Castle" located in the Slavic community of Nyitra.  Originally it was built for the Catholic priest Francis Janiscek who ministered the Hungarian community of Budapest.  The home is vacant, up for sale and in state of disrepair, with broken windows and falling plaster inside. 

John & Jody
- on the steps of the former home of Father Francis Janiscek in Nyitra


     We also visited the Budapest community and the old cemetery with an arch over the entrance inscribed with the word “BUDAPEST.”  There were about 20 graves visible, many of them with headstones, but all overgrown with weeds. 

View: Headstone Transcriptions, Photos & Notes

John & Mary at John Knapp's grave

     There were no visible remnants of the town; the fields which had once been vineyards were overgrown with trees and shrubs and here and there we saw several trees with a grape vine growing on them.


     We made it a point to locate a woman who may have information about the old vineyards and the Budapest community, who Nancy Fredenberg had developed a lead on back in 2006 when she visited Jody.  

     At a house surrounded by woods on Budapest Road we located "Juanita and Kenneth Davison known as "Packrat” and “Skeeter.”  Neither of them were originally from the area, but very interested in the history of the Hungarian community.  We learned there are 8 wine caves scattered in the forest which had been dug out the ground and could still be visited. “Packrat” took us for a walk through a thickly wooded area to the largest of these wine cellars.  Although the entrance was overgrown with vegetation I was able to look into it and observe that it was quite large inside. 

     Juanita's daughter who now owns the land where the wine cellars are located, also inherited with the property an old trailer filled with artifacts about the Hungarians, including old local newspapers.  Juanita gave us two of the newspapers, one dated February 1969 contained an article about the Budapest community and the old Catholic church that once stood beside the cemetery.  The basement of the abandoned church had housed a moon-shiners’ liquor still which caught fire and burned the church to the ground.  The article included a picture of the old church.  Among the treasures found in this old trailer was a large framed map of Haralson County dated 1896, and they pointed out the Budapest community which is several miles from Tallapoosa.







     After lunch we visited the historical museum in Tallapoosa where we learned a bit more about the Hungarians.  The docent gave us a copy of a short dissertation, “Hungarians and Winemaking in Haralson County,” written by a student, Glenda Hannah, for a history course at Tift College in Forsyth GA. In 1970.  Tift College was a private liberal arts women's college which merged with Mercer University in 1986 and was closed in 1987.


     We enjoyed dinner with Sammy and Jody at The Old Mill restaurant that evening and retired for the evening at our motel.


     Heinrich Stengel (1830-1892) is the ancestor of all of our Stengel and Frey cousins.  His first wife, Magdalena Jacob had a child, Marianna Stengel, born 21 Jan 1859.  Alas - 4 days later Magdalena drowned in a well, apparently having committed suicide as a result of post partum depression.  Heinrich married Katharina Prügl several months afterward, and together they 11 children, one of whom was Elisabetha, (1881-1968) my grandmother.

     Marianna, her stepsister, married Andreas Knapp in Blumenthal.  They immigrated to Cincinnati in 1907.  It was at this time my grandparents moved to Cincinnati.  Marianna and Andreas Knapp established a family in Cincinnati, and had a grand-daughter, Dottie Knapp Kampman, whom I discovered on the internet with the help of Jody. On Sunday 3 August we drove to Cincinnati to meet our newly-found second cousin.  We arrived at 4 PM and met Dottie, husband Don and daughter Katie at their home.  We had a joyful reunion of our two families after 100 years of separation.

     The first evening we had dinner at German restaurant where we met several more members of the family including Pauline Reisz Blum (1930- ), her son Steven and brother Ron Reisz.  We returned to the Kampman’s for desert and met Dottie’s brother John Knapp and sister Rheta Knapp and Dottie’s other daughter, Betsy.

     On Monday morning we went to the Cincinnati Public Library where we searched the city directories from 1906-1912 for traces of our grandparents.  In the 1907 directory we found a Geo. Frey, cabinet maker who lived at 1700 Logan St. and in the 1911 directory a Geo. Frey living at 726 Clinton. In the 1911 and 1912 directories we found Andreas Knapp living at 2013 Mohawk Pl. which is a scant 500 m along the Central Parkway from 1700 Logan.  This strongly suggests that my grandparents moved to Cincinnati to be near the Knapps. 

     We found all of these locations in the map file at the library: 1700 Logan in Vol.3 Sheet 209; 2013 in Vol. 3 Sheet 229; and 726 Clinton in Vol. 1 Sheet 229. I found the first 2 locations on Mapquest, but was unable to find 726 Clinton, indicating that the street has probably been renamed.  We then drove to the first two locations and found the buildings still intact, although the building at 2013 Mohawk was boarded up.  Many of the buildings in the neighborhood had been demolished or were boarded up. Some of them had been rehabbed.  We also checked out the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church about 250 m from 1700 Logan, and found that church had been demolished, but that the bell tower was still standing.

     These findings are consistent with the fact that my aunt Marie Frey Schmidt was born in Cincinnati on 7 Feb 1908.  It is believed that my grandmother, Elisabetha, returned to Blumenthal with 4 children [Eva (9), Katharina (6), Albert (3) and Marie (1)]  between March and November 1909, because she delivered my Uncle Georg in Blumenthal on 17 Nov 1909.

     I also knew that my grandfather, Georg, stayed on in Cincinnati for a year by himself.  The 1910 Federal Census lists a George Frey as living as a boarder in the Mary Prayenhofen household.  The Cincinnati Population Registry lists Geo. Frey living at 726 Clinton St.

     In the afternoon we drive up to the overlook on Mt. Adams where we get a marvelous view of the Ohio River, We have lunch at the Mt. Adams Bar & Grill.  In the evening we take Dottie and Don out to dinner.

     On Tuesday we met Dottie, Don and Katie.  Part of the morning we spent checking out an apartment for Katie’s boy friend who was planning to move to Cincinnati.  We drove up to the Mt. Adams neighborhood and got a wonderful view of Cincinnati and the Ohio river from an overlook.  After lunch we went to the Cincinnati Art Museum in Eden Park.  That evening we had a dinner party at a restaurant in Newport KY to celebrate the 96th birthday of Don’s mother Mildred.  Dottie’s son and grandson joined us.  All in all we spent 3 wonderful days with Dottie and her family.









Dottie Knapp Kampman, (2nd cousin, granddaughter of Marianna Stengel) husband Don & Mary.















Steeple of St. John's Church in Cincinnati near where my grandparents lived.  Only the steeple remains.





     On Wednesday we drove to West Lafayette IN to visit Bette and  John Stengel, now 85.  John is my second cousin; he lives in a VA retirement home.  He has had several strokes and is confined to a wheel chair and can no longer speak.  It was a pleasant but sad reunion. We then went on to Chicago where we had a big family reunion and attended the wedding of Ian Frey, my brother George’s grandson, and Bonnie Marek. 

     On Thursday I investigated some of the places where my father had lived when he arrived in Chicago in 1925.  The story he told was that he initially  lived with an aunt but had a falling out with her and as far as I know never saw her again.  I discovered that this aunt was my grandfather’s sister, Rosa Frey Guss (1874- ) who had married Anton Guss in Blumenthal in 1892.  Their daughter, Katharina (1892- ) married Kilian Them (1886-1976) in Blumenthal.  The Thems and Rosa Frey Guss  immigrated to Chicago in Nov. 1911 and lived at 1426 W. 21st Pl. (now a parking lot). Anton Guss followed a month later. 

     The Thems had 3 children, Rosa (1913- ) Peter Anton (1915-79) and Kilian Francis (1919-95) all of whom were baptized at St. Paul Catholic Church on the corner of 22nd and Hoyne at 2127 W. 22nd Pl.  The Thems had moved to 2058 W. 23rd St. by 1925 which is across the street from the church.  I visited the locale on Thursday following our arrival in Chicago.  The building at that address is still standing as is the old church, a beautiful structure built in 1887 by the German immigrants who settled the neighborhood in the mid 19th century.

     I have 2 photographs of my father taken shortly after he arrived in Chicago in July,1925.  In one photo he is standing in a backyard next to an older woman, possibly his aunt Rosa who would have been 51 at the time.  The other photo, taken at the same time, shows him on a sidewalk standing between a girl, about 12 (possibly Rosa Them who would have been 12 at that time) and a boy, about 5 (possibly Kilian Them who would have been 6 at that time).  There is a 1920-vintage sedan in the background and a row of 2- and 3-story houses behind them.

     I obtained baptismal and confirmation certificates for the 3 Them children plus one for Gayle Catherine Them, the daughter of Peter Anthony Them and Sophie Kuharzyke.  The first 3 were baptized and confirmed at St. Paul, while Gayle was confirmed at Our Lady of Help of Christians at 832 N. Leclaire  near the new residence of Peter and Sophie at 4952 W. Walton.

     This is as far as my search has taken me to date.  My ultimate intention is to discover the descendants of my Them cousins and reunite the two branches of the family which have been split apart for 8 decades.

[Published at 21 Sep 2008]


















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