The short life of Louis Joseph Ziegler

Louis Joseph Ziegler and Ellen Lloyd Ziegler were my great-great-grandparents. He was from Kientzheim, Alsace, France and she was from St. Pancras, London, England of Irish parents. Louis and Ellen died in their early 40s, six months apart from each other, leaving 8 children to find their way in the world.

Louis Joseph Ziegler was born in 1855 in Kientzheim, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France. The birth/baptism record says Louis Zickler, son of Joseph Zickler and Elisabeth Biecher. One great-granddaughter of Joseph and Elisabeth says that they owned a weaving factory in Kientzheim, and on the 1866 Haut-Rin census, Joseph is listed as a “tisserande,” a weaver. Records in France mostly say “Zickler” but are occasionally indexed as “Zuckler” or “Zigler.”

Once in America, Louis and his brothers (George and John) use Ziegler, as do his cousins. There are always stories that immigration officials in the USA changed people’s names upon arrival, but that is mostly untrue. These passenger lists are from their original port of departure, and this would have been the name the passenger gave to the shipping company when they bought tickets.

A short history of this Alsace region shows that it was part of France until 1871. After the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Prussia annexed Alsace into what became Germany. After World War I, Alsace was re-instated to France. 

About 77% of the population of Alsace in 1871 spoke a form of Alsacian German, the other 23% speaking French (or both). After the Franco-Prussian War, Prussia gave citizens of Alsace an ultimatum: declare yourself French and move out of  Alsace, or remain in Alsace and become a German citizen, called the “Optanden.” The deadline was October 1, 1872. Men aged 18 or older could then be drafted into the German army. Most of Louis’ siblings were “optants” – opting to claim French citizenship and move out of Alsace. His parents stayed in Alsace.

  • All the brothers and one sister of Louis opted to leave Alsace, which gives some indication that the family did not see themselves as essentially German.
    • Brothers George, Louis, John, all went to America between 1871-1880.
    • Brother Joseph went to Algeria where France has set aside acreage for those from Alsace looking to leave and become French citizens. (It appears that Joseph may have moved back to Alsace later, as his children are born there).
    • Sister Marie Zickler Hermann and her husband opt to go to Clichy, France. Marie’s daughter fought with the French Resistance in World war II. She visited America in 1954.
    • Sister Rosine Zickler Zurbach stays in Alsace (she would have been only 15 when the option had to be exercised, so simply stayed with her parents). Her daughter, Rose Zurbach Hermann moved to California.

Around 1871 or 1872, George the elder brother of Louis and John, arrives in America. By August of 1872, his brother Louis has joined him in America, aged 17. In 1880, younger brother John arrives in America, age 18. Note when John arrives in America, he’s already listed as a cook, so where did Louis and John learn how to cook and take up the profession?

The Manhattan and Brooklyn City Directories tell us of Louis Ziegler’s business and his home address:

  • 1872
    • On August 12, 1872, Louis Ziegler arrives in New York. No occupation is listed on the passenger list. He is 17 years old.
  • 1875
    • There is a Louis J Ziegler in the 1875 NY State census living in Richmond County (Staten Island), NY, as a waiter (age 21), from Italy. I can’t tell if this is “our” Louis or not, but unlikely. No Louis Ziegler (except 1: “physician”) in 1875 NYC directory. No Ellen/Bridget Loyd/Lloyd in the directory; she probably hasn’t arrived yet.
    • Louis Ziegler (“Ziegler and Jonas”) show up in Bonfort’s Wine and Liquor Trade Directory at 91 Grand. They are retailers. We have a photo of Louis standing in front of this building in a chef’s uniform. He must have started his restaurant/bar sometime between 1874-1875.
    • There is a family story that Louis Ziegler worked as a chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. There are a lot of holes in this story, both because the dates don’t match, and because Louis is already running his own restaurant/bar by 1875. The Waldorf and Astoria hotels, originally individual hotels, were not combined until after Louis’ death. The Waldorf Hotel was built in 1893 (Louis dies in 1895). The Astoria Hotel wasn’t built until 1897, two years after Louis died. There’s also a story he worked at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City, but that wasn’t built until after Louis’ death. So, it seems this family story is highly unlikely to be accurate. From city directories, it seems he owned his own restaurant and bar, Ziegler and Jonas, at 91 Grand Ave in NYC as early as 1875 through at least 1890, and was a cook when he died in 1895.
Top: Louis’ parents, Joseph and Elisabeth Biecher Zickler. Bottom: Louis’s brother, George, and Louis with his brother John in their chef’s uniforms.
  • 1876
    • Trow NYC directory – Louis Ziegler, liquors, 91 Grand Street, home is 104 Seventh. (August Jonas, eating house, 91 Grand, Louis’ business partner.). No Ellen/Bridget Lloyd/Loyd in directory.
    • 1876 – NYC city directory – Louis Zeigler (not Ziegler), eating house at 91 Grand Street, living at 104 Seventh. “Ziegler and Jonas” is at 91 Grand Street. This same eating house seems to be in existence at least from 1876-1879.
      • Leonhard Ziegler (Leonhard with an “h”) is also living at 104 Seventh. It’s a coincidence they have the same last name: Leonhard Ziegler was born in Kerhessen, Germany per his passport application.
      • There are 4 other “Louis Ziegler” in NYC: jockey, jeweler, physician, stables; so Louis Zeigler from the eating house is probably our Louis. No other Zeigler/Ziegler living at 104 Seventh.
  • 1877
    • NYC city directory — 2 Louis Ziegler men (liquors, physician) in Manhattan. Louis Ziegler “liquors” is working at 91 Grand, living at 104 Seventh. Ziegler & Jonas eating house at 91 Grand. No other Ziegler living at 104 Seventh. No Ellen/Bridget in directory.
    • 1877 Gouldings NYC city directory – Louis Ziegler, restaurant at 91 Grand, home address is 104 Seventh Ave.
    • Leonardt Zeigler (misspelled, should be Leonhard Zeigler) working at 91 Grand restaurant and living at 104 Seventh. Works with Louis but doesn’t appear to come from Alsace, so likely unrelated.
    • August Jonas, Louis Ziegler’s partner, also at the restaurant address of 91 Grand Ave, living at 89 Delancy.
  • 1878
    • NYC city directory -There is a Louis Ziegler in the 1878 city directory, noted as an “eating house” at 91 Grand (“Ziegler & Jonas” eating house); home is 21 Seventh Ave, in New York City (Manhattan).
    • 91 Grand is a few blocks away from 98 Wooster (where Louis and Ellen say they are living on their marriage license). There is another entry at 98 Wooster (cook) right under it, in the same directory.
    • George Ziegler (Louis’ brother) listed in 1878 city directory as a laborer.
    • In same directory, August Jonas (same eating house address), lived at 89 Delancy. No Ellen/Bridet in 1878 directory (which likely was compiled in 1877 and published in 1878).
  • In 1878, Louis Ziegler and Ellen Lloyd marry. Their marriage certificate says they both were living at 98 Wooster Street. I can’t tell if they are living together in one apartment, or both have apartments at 98 Wooster. They marry in November and their first child is born a few months later in January, so it’s possible they were already living together when they married. In the 1879 Directory, they’re both at 98 Wooster Street.
    • At the time of his marriage, he was a cook. The marriage license lists both of their parents.
    • Wooster Street is in Manhattan, just south of Greenwich Village (looks like SOHO/Greenwich Village area), so they didn’t move to Brooklyn until after they were married. 
  • 1879
    • In January 1879, Louis and Ellen’s first daughter, Elizabeth, is born. She dies in August 1879 in Brooklyn, NY, of cholera (so the family has moved from the Wooster Street address in Manhattan to Brooklyn by Aug 1879). Her death record lists 308 Fourth Street as the address. She’s buried in the Louis Ziegler plot at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens, NY.
    • NYC city directory -, business is listed as “liquors” not “eating house”. There are now two Louis Zieglers in the directory, one as a “cook” at 98 Wooster, and the other with the Ziegler & Jonas business (91 Grand, 21 Seventh). Appears to be both the same man, with a home address and a work address.
    • George Zielger is naturalized. When Louis is naturalized a year later, George is the citizen “sponsor” of Louis.
  • 1880
    • 1880 Census shows Louis Ziegler and Ellen and second daughter and newborn, Kate< living in Brooklyn, NY at 308 Fourth (4th) Street. Lists Louis and his brother George as “coopers” (barrel makers).; (same address as Directory below).  Strange change in occupation, possibly mistake for Louis and accurate for George. Or they’ve gone into business together.
    • 1880 Brooklyn City Directory shows  Louis Zeigler (“ei” not “ie”) home address = 308 4th street, as a cooper with George at same address.  There were two Louis Zielgers in the BCD 1880 directory (the other sold kindling wood and stayed in Brooklyn for many years)
  • He was likely the Louis Ziegler naturalized on Oct 15, 1880. There is a record of a Louis Ziegler being naturalized in Kings County, NY court, with a George Ziegler, his brother, as the sponsor. George had been naturalized a year earlier.
  • 1881 – third daughter, Louisa, born.
  • 1883
    • Louis and Ellen would have witnessed the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge connecting Brooklyn where they lived with Manhattan where he owned his restaurant. The Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time it opened.
    • Fourth daughter, Ellen, born. Her twin, Mary, dies at birth.
    • Phillip’s NYC Business Directory lists him as “Louis Siegel” at 91 Grand, under the Restaurants category
  • 1885
    • Louis Ziegler (cook) at 258 N. 7th, Brooklyn, NY (Brooklyn City Directory). So they are living in Brooklyn, but he still owns his restaurant at 91 Grand Street in Manhattan.
    • Fifth daughter, Lillian, born.
  • 1886
    • Louis and Ellen would have witnessed the erection of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, designed by Frederick Auguste Bartholdi who was born nearby in Colmar, Alsace, France, near where Louis was born.
    • Listed at 91 Grand, under both Restaurant category and Liquors category
  • 1887
    • A stillborn infant is born to Louis and Ellen in Jersey City, NJ. Since Lillian was born in 1885 in Brooklyn, we can conclude they moved from Brooklyn to Jersey City sometime between 1885-1887.
  • 1888 – Sixth daughter, Louisa, born.
  • 1889
    • Louis Ziegler, 202 Columbia Ave, Jersey City
    • Starting in January 1889, newborn children are christened at Saint Paul of the Cross Catholic church in Jersey City. Some of Louis and Ellen’s children marry there later.
    • NYC Business directory – listed at 91 Grand under the Liquors category
  • 1890
    • Son Louis, Jr born.
    • Does not appear in New York City Business Directory under eating houses, but is there under Wines/Saloons (January 1890). This is the final entry for his restaurant in the Manhattan NYC Directory.
    • Brother John marries in Manhattan.
  • 1891-92
    • Louis Ziegler at 208 Columbia Ave, Jersey City. Occupation: cook
    • Brother John Ziegler (cook) at 208 Columbia Ave, Jersey City
    • George “Zeigler” is also listed as a cooper in 1893.
  • 1892
    • Seventh daughter Georgina born.
  • 1893
    • George Ziegler (cooper), 570 Nelson Ave, Jersey City (George’s death certificate says he was a barrel maker – cooper)
  • 1894
    • George, cooper, shows up at 244 South, Jersey City
    • No Louis or Ellen show up in 1893-4 Jersey City Directory
    • Eighth daughter Edna born. Ellen had 11 children, three of whom died at birth or in infancy.
    • About February 1894, Louis Ziegler was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He dies 18 months later.
  • 1895-1896
    • Louis and Ellen show up in 1895/96 at 117 Poplar, Jersey City
    • George Ziegler on 244 South, Jersey City (in Boyd’s directory as “Louis Sickler”)
  • 1895
    • Louis Ziegler died of stomach cancer on August 14, 1895 at age 40. He was ill for 18 months. Occupation at death: cook.
    • Death certificate says he lived in NJ nine years. (From about 1886)
    • Place of death: 117 Poplar Street, Jersey City, NJ
    • Father’s name: Joseph Ziegler, France. Mother’s name: Elizabeth Ziegler, France
    • Buried in Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Queen, NY (Long Island)
      • Buried in CalvaryCemetery in the same plot: Louis Sr, Louis Jr, baby Elizabeth Ziegler 8 months old, baby Mary I Ziegler 1 day old, “infant of Ellen Ziegler” stillborn. Section 3, Avenue 2, Plot B, Grave #8. It seems there is only one grave plot and they allowed 2 adults and 3 babies to be buried there. I have no clue as to why Ellen was not buried with her husband if there was space for another adult burial (Louis Jr didn’t die until 1963).
    • 1895 NJ census shows Louis, Ellen and family living in Jersey City, NJ. (Ward 12, 2nd precinct)
  • 1896
    • Ellen Lloyd Ziegler dies on February 15, 1896 of a stroke, just six months after Louis dies. From Ellen’s death certificate, the family lived at 112 Irving Street, Jersey City. She is buried in Flower Hill Cemetery, North Bergen,NJ.
    • No Louis or Ellen show up in 1896,1897, 1898 Jersey City Directory (Louis dies in 1895 and Ellen dies in 1896).
    • After Louis and Ellen both die within 6 months of each other, the younger children, Georgina and Louis Jr go to an orphanage. The youngest daughter, Edna, is adopted by the Rasmussen family which lived down the street, and her name is changed to Eva Amanda Rasmussen. Mary is taken in by her Uncle George. The older daughters go out to work, boarding in the Jersey City neighborhood. However, the older siblings kept track of the family, and we have many photos of them at family gatherings when they are older, and taking vacations together.
  • 1900
    • By 1900, brother George has moved to Anaheim, California. By 1906, brother John also moves to Anaheim, Californiafor his son’s health, and opens a hotel. Most of Louis’ children stay in the northeastern New Jersey area and marry from there.

Later, several of Louis’ cousins and relations come to America, too, often living near Louis’ children in northern New Jersey or George in California:

  • Louis’ eldest brother, Joseph, married Magdalena Bleu. Some of their children are born in Alsace and later come to northern NJ.
  • Sister Rosine Zickler Zurbach’s daughter, Rose Zurbach Hermann, came to America and settled in California.

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