|Birth: ||Aug. 18, 1894|
Departement du Bas-Rhin
|Death: ||Dec. 26, 1919|
Albert Jessel, aged 17, 5' 6", brown eyes, dark hair and in good health, worked hard to save up $76 for his new life. He left his rural family home in Dieffenbach, Alsace which was then occupied by Germany and said goodbye to his parents, brothers and sisters, including his favourite, 6 yr old sister, Maria Barbara Jessel, giving her an embroidered handkerchief which she kept as her most treasured possession.
In March 1912 he boarded the SS George Washington at Bremen, accompanying a family of five returning to their home in San Francisco, California, headed by his Uncle, Emile Wehrle, a vintner. He arrived at New York and Ellis Island on the 18th March 1912.
Later, on 12th April 1912, the SS George Washington radioed to the Titanic warning that it had narrowly passed a large iceberg. Titanic sank close to where SS George Washington had radioed its encounter.
Albert made it to 340 Precita Ave, San Francisco, along with the Wehrle family. In 1913 Albert started a bakery at 2042 Mission St, now a hotel and clothing company. He joined the US Army in 1914 hoping to be able to fight and free his old homeland from the German occupation but technically as a German émigré he was not allowed to fight when America joined the war. He then worked as a baker on the Military prison at Alcatraz until he left the Army and set up a rooming house in Belden CA. When checking for a train time at Belden Station, he was shot and injured. Two men playing cards were preparing to bet using a gun as an item to sell for a stake. The young railway worker had trouble removing the gun from the holster and it went off, the bullet hitting and passing through his card playing friend and into the stomach of Albert. Albert made a dying statement to ensure no charge of murder would be raised and died later in a hospital in Oroville.
His wife, Katherine, wrote to the family in Alsace to tell them of the sad news. She wrote a second letter saying she was to undergo an operation but never wrote again in reply. Her name is lost to us and all the family knows is that she was German.
His sister, Maria, survived the First World War and in 1940 escaped as the last person to get on the last boat from St Malo in Brittany as the Germans attacked the town.
Whilst sleeping on the boat, Maria’s bag with all her possessions was stolen - along with her treasured handkerchief with the embroidered cyclist and initials in the corner. She survived World War II living in London and as a lone mother, taught herself English and survived bombed buildings and prejudice to bring up her only son.
Maria went back to Alsace for her 100th birthday, where she was partying till midnight and stayed near her Great Grandfather’s house, next to her old house and the window she waved her brother, Albert, off from 94 years earlier, using that handkerchief.
[Written by Kevin Dontenville, Maria’s grandson.]
San Francisco National Cemetery
San Francisco County
Plot: Section NAWS Site 479-A
GPS (lat/lon): 37.80065, -122.46502
Imported from: US Veteran's Affairs
Record added: Mar 04, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 3531264