|Birth: ||unknown, Germany|
|Death: ||Oct. 20, 1871|
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Interred October 22, 1871, age 30. This narrative contains some age discrepancies which will be tightened up with more research. His life seems to have gone from Traben-Trarbach Germany, to Allentown Pennsylvania to New York City and to the grave young.
My long-missing great great grandpa, found March 28, 2014. None of us knew even his name. His daughter, who clung to his surname all her life and gave it to all three of her sons probably never recalled him, as he died when she was about age four.
What little is known currently:
Son of Johann Peter Clauss and his wife, Dorothea Moog. He came to the states and lived with his elder brother Charles Edward in Allentown, and later lived with and was buried by his elder brother Henry Otto in NY.
Rudolf came to the United States in 1858 following a huge fire in his hometown of Traben-Trarbach. His elder brothers had come before him. It is known Charles came in 1847. In March 2014, I found a record of a "Rudolf Claus" whose ship, the Constitution, left Antwerp, Belgium for the US, arriving August 14, 1858. Antwerp would make sense, as his brother had gone to school in Belgium; perhaps he did as well. Also, Antwerp is the nearest port city from Traben. This traveling boy was only age 13 by ship records. (I believe he was actually 17 - was he made underage to avoid a higher priced ticket or the oath of allegiance, or was this a "German to English" problem?) Rudolf's occupation on his travel documents was written as "his brother" implying he traveled with the man listed on the passenger list above him who was shown as living in the U.S. as a merchant. That man was an "Edouard Clauss", age 31, who's the right age to be Charles Edward Clauss, the eldest brother who settled in Allentown in late 1857. "Edouard" had two trunks, and young teen Rudolph just one box, and the two journeyed together in steerage. Perhaps elder brother Charles felt Allentown was the best place for his little brother Rudolph to build a future, or maybe he hoped to use his brother's help to get his brush-making business off the ground, which began that very year. Also, with the Clauss family hometown having had that devastating fire in 1857 which wiped out much of the medieval town, perhaps Rudolph's educational or occupational choices would have been limited at home.
On the 1860 census, he may be seen living in Allentown, Pennsylvania with his two elder brothers Charles (with whom hed travelled) and Henry Otto. The brothers were then brushmakers. He is shown as "E. R. Clauss" age 16. (I believe this age should be more like 18 or 19.) While "E. R." seems a bit off, his wife has interment records showing she was the wife of "Rudolph E. Clauss" so it is a mere transposition of his initials.
In 1866, he appears in the May 29 Lehigh Register newspaper as one of the planners of a large fair to benefit the Columbia Firehouse (perhaps motivated by the effect of fire in his own life). Two years earlier, Columbia had purchased their first carriage. Organized in 1852, Columbia was volunteer company No. 4 in Allentown, in 1881 at 714 Hamilton (which was later home to a large drugstore and also to Wetherhold and Metzger's first shoe store until they moved across the street). The fire company was later at 10th and Court streets. Columbia was a very well-respected institution in its day, enjoying the membership and support of two of Allentown's mayors - E. B. Young (who was also treasurer) and Werner K. Ruhe.
In July of 1866, Rudolf's daughter Emma A. Clauss (my great grandmother) was born to Amanda Bear. It is not yet confirmed Rudolf and Amanda were married. It does seem likely though; one living family branch had heard that Amanda and Rudolf lived "in the country", and offended visiting family by having them remove their shoes at the door. Besides the humor, the story suggests they cohabited, and in those days, that was likely because of marriage.
And then, change: in 1870 he appears in New York on the census, living alone in the 22nd Ward, a doctor, born in Prussia. It was only four years since he had been in Allentown; perhaps he was a medical student and called "doctor", but he does not appear as a graduate of the same medical school his elder brother Henry attended in NY. This fact doesn't mean, however, that he did not attend there, it may mean he did not yet graduate. This 1870 census did not ask for marital status so it's not known if he were still married if he ever had been officially married. His wife Amanda is alive and living in her parents' home in Allentown, raising the couple's four year old daughter. Again, on that 1870 census, marital status was not asked, but she is shown with her maiden surname there, and by 1880 her status was recorded as "single". Still, the census takers sometimes made assumptions and may have assumed since she was a young Bear daughter that her last name must be Bear. I suspect that the couple remained married until Rudolf's death because Amanda is recorded in cemetery records in Allentown as Rudolf's wife. Her burial was probably overseen by her only daughter who may have wanted the record to reflect both her parents, married. In any case, the 1870 census in NY is our last look at Rudolf alive.
Passing on October 20, 1871 in Manhattan, on October 22, 1871 he was laid to rest in his brother's family lot. He appears on the state death index, certificate number 99990. There, and in cemetery records, he is "Rudolf Claus."
May 19, 2014, New York finally sent me Rudolf's death certificate, after nearly 60 days of waiting. Yes, I had wondered why so young a man died... stroke and cardiovascular issues run in his descendants, but he was only 30. Did he perhaps stay active with a fire company and perish in a blaze? And will a death certificate from 1870 be very accurate anyway?
Probably. Rudolf died from the same series of events that plagued my paternal grandpa (but my damaged grandpa survived it) - he had a strep infection that led to sudden "acute" rheumatism aka rheumatic fever, which often attacks the heart valves. The primary cause of death was listed as "acute rheumatismus" with "valvular disease" listed as secondary. Bingo, doctor... that would be A. Lewis Smith M.D. on the DC. Dr. Smith says Rudolf suffered from the former three weeks, and the latter two weeks reflecting how the rheumatic fever led to the valve issues.
The death cert tells us more, though there is no listed informant so its accuracy is hard to judge, but- it states Rudolf had been a NYC resident six years. 1871 minus six years is 1865. We know he was in Allentown in 1866 so six years is too long, but it surely suggests he was not new to the city, making me wonder how long he could have lived with Amanda assuming the couple was in Allentown only, and never in NYC.
A further light is shed by Rudolf's address. I don't know NYC well at all, but doing a search of how to get from his address of 318 West 39th Street to his brother Henry Otto's address of 263 West 38th shows us you could walk it in about one minute. This could not have been chance, and very possibly Rudolf didn't pass alone even though the attending doctor had visited the day before Rudolf's passing and not the day of it. Having a doctor brother probably helped, but what Rudolf could have used no doctor gave him - antibiotics against the strep that started the cascade to rheumatic fever and then damaged heart valves. In any case, my guess is that Henry Otto was there, and very possibly was the informant.
Still, it seems that both these addresses were Henry's, probably one his office and the other his home. The 1886 Medical Directory of the City of New York lists Henry Otto's address as the same as at which Rudolf died. I am not clear on whether this was Henry's home or office, but believe it was his office, as most of the listings seem to be the graduates' professional addresses since they list office hours. Regardless, it again suggests that Rudolf and his brother were close to one another and that Rudolf probably did not die alone. The time of Rudolf's death was noted as 5 in the morning. Henry's office hours in 1886 began at 7 in the morning; he probably would have been up by five. Imagine the tension of Rudolf's impending passing: a doctor dying attended by another doctor and probably hovered over by his brother, yet another doctor.
A picture of the building in which Rudolf passed is not going to be easy to find; a new building (housing a printing operation) went up there in 1915. Still the actual building he died in was sold less than a year before Rudolf's death, and in the December 7, 1870 New York Times it was described as "a four story brick tenement and lot 25 x 98.9, and is situated on the south side of the street, between 8th and 9th avenues. The house rents for $1850 per annum, The price realized at the sale yesterday was $17,700." One tends to think of a tenement as being a residence, and it is referred to as a house, but all of this is suggestive, not conclusive.
In 1879 a man named Heflich who worked as a garment cutter advertised his availability and listed it as his address. Indeed, it's the garment district, but this was probably his home, especially since he requests being contacted there on the 2nd floor, not a likely place for a shop. Ditto Mr. Schmidt in 1880, the surnames telling us that Germans were not uncommon there. 1893, a boy uses the address to find "a situation as an errand boy to make himself useful" - probably his home. What's more, several such ads requesting a live visit give explicit directions on how many times to ring the bell (once, three times etc), suggesting multiple tenants sharing one bell. In May of 1895, John Laughland dies, and it is his home address.
Interestingly, Henry Otto bought real estate nearby not even a month after Rudolf passed: 250 West 8th Avenue, and it has the same dimensions as the property Rudolf died in, but it is not the same building with another address, as they are about oe mile apart.
Lastly, the death certificate says Rudolf was married, so even though he and Amanda were not living together, it seems they were still considered married. But if he were in NYC even close to as long as six years, maybe five, he would barely have seen his wife and daughter. Was his union by that time in name only to support his child? We may never know.
Rudolf, you have plagued and puzzled me for years. I am glad to have some knowledge of you now and record a bit about your life. Hopefully more will yet be found.
Charles E. Clauss
Henry Otto Clauss
Amanda E Bear Clauss
Emma Amelia Clauss Ettinger (1866 - 1941)*
Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery
New York, USA
Plot: Family Lot 1, Map 3/a, owned by Henry O Clauss Sr.
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Mar 28, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 127050257
Added: Oct. 20, 2014
Added: Jun. 27, 2014
Very glad to find Emma's mystery-dad today, and sorry we did not know your name, but hopefully now you will be remembered.|
Added: Mar. 28, 2014