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Emma Amelia Clauss Ettinger
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Birth: Jul. 29, 1866
Lehigh County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Feb. 17, 1941
Lehigh County
Pennsylvania, USA

Emma was something of a force of nature, though her personal beginnings were long murky. No one living knew anything about her parents or upbringing. In a 1914 published story about the Clauss family, the name of her potential father is given as Rudolph Clauss but her mother's name is not given.

In August 2012, I was thrilled to get Emma's marriage license application, knowing such licenses usually list parents' names on them, and while her husband's father's name is listed there... her parent section was blank.

But... based on the censuses of her as a child in the household of Henry and Matilda Bear in Allentown, I had a theory, and that was that this Bear household in which Emma appeared as a four year old, and up til her marriage, was that of her grandparents. I believed her mother was Henry and Matilda's daughter Amanda Bear, and that Amanda had married Rudolph Clauss.

Finally in March of 2014 I was able to retrieve her obituary, and smile with satisfaction when I read that she was born the daughter of "the late Rudolph and Amanda, nee Bear, Clauss".

I am unclear how Emma's parents' marriage ended because the censuses on which mother Amanda appeared were ones that did not ask each person's marital status. Death, divorce, whatever, by the time Amanda's daughter Emma was four, Amanda is at home with her parents and little Emma. Mother Amanda leaves a wispy trail; she is on the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses, always at her parents' home. 1890's is lost so that's it for her, as she died in 1895.

And let's pause for a moment to do a bit of math. If some found info is correct, Emma's mother Amanda was born June 8, 1849, while Emma herself was born July 1866. This would mean the young mother Amanda turned 17 just before she gave birth to Emma, and had been 16 at her conception. Was Rudolph and Amanda's union the result of youthful impulse made legitimate by marriage, or well-planned?

The 1860 census gives us one single glimpse of all the Clauss boys together. The three live in Allentown. It never names Rudolph, but there are three men in the same household, all named as brush manufacturers born in France. (Even though they were from Prussia, it was the Alsace area.) H. O. is shown as the head of the household, age 25, Chas. E whose house it truly is is 32, and then follows "E. R." age 16. This last is, I suspect, Rudolph. Amanda's gravestone or burial record is said to say "wife of Rudolph E. Clauss" so that's about as close as can be. This baby of the Clauss brothers was in Allentown in 1860 so his meeting Amanda and fathering Emma in 1865 is not out of the question. By Emma's birth, Rudolph would have been 22 to Amanda's 17, a likely pairing.

Rudolph's big brother Charles of Allentown might have brought about the introduction of the couple if he knew the Bear family. Charles' obituary does not name his church so it's not clear if he went to Ebenezer where his niece Emma later married and which may have been her Bear family's church. Charles Clauss might also have been the conduit for Emma's later marriage to Charles H. Ettinger. Charles Clauss was active in the Ettinger Brass Band, and while I have no proof my clan of Ettingers was linked to this band, it does seem a bit beyond coincidence, and makes me wonder if the families were linked back beyond where I can currently prove it. In any case, at this time there's no information about young Amanda's relationship with Rudolph, and indeed, not much on Rudolph himself, so Emma's personal beginnings seem vague for now.

Emma's Clauss family's beginnings in the U.S. were always clearer. From the 1914 account of the family, supposedly there were three Clauss brothers from Traben-Trarbach who emigrated from Germany. The young men were Rudolph, Charles and Henry Otto. The boys were the sons of Johann Peter Clauss, a wine merchant on the Moselle. Charles became a successful brush manufacturer in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Henry was a doctor in New York City. I see Charles the brushmaker on the censuses, and I have found Henry Otto, the physician in New York. Rudolph himself, however, with the exception of that 1860 census when the Clauss boys are together, is missing in action, never on another census I can find. The Clauss article says Rudolph had also emigrated to New York, which does not match Emma's marriage license claim nor her obituary stating that she was born in Allentown. Still, she was definitely raised there. And Rudolph may have landed in New York, but it doesn't mean he stayed there.

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, but that age closely matches him to the 16 year old "E. R. Clauss" in Allentown with his brothers on the 1860 census. Further, this Rudolf's occupation on his travel documents was written as "his brother" implying he may 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 E. 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, the Clauss family hometown had a devastating fire in 1857 which wiped out much of the medieval town, so perhaps Rudolph's educational or occupational choices would have been limited at home. In any case, back to Emma's more trackable family.

In 1850 her mother young Amanda Bear is with parents Henry and Matilda Bear... ditto 1860. 1870 she is still with them and suddenly there is a 4 year old Emma Clauss in the home. 1880, father Henry has died, but Matilda Bear heads the house and Amanda Bear is there and so is Emma, here called Emma Bear, age 14. By the 1900 census, Amanda is deceased, but her daughter Emma has by then married Charles Ettinger, and in her new household is the aunt with whom she grew up, her mother's elder sister, Justina "Jessie" Bear, and Aunt Jessie is still there for the 1910 census. The cherry on top: on both those censuses and all she was later alive for, Emma states her father was born in Germany. Everything was suggestive, but her obituary finally gave proof.

In August of 2014, I made contact with my mother's cousin's widow, and she gave me more proof and another smile. After searching blindly many years, I walked into her lovely home and right there on the wall were baptism certificates for Emma and Emma's mother Amanda. It was very satisfying to see I had been right, but the irony of this proof being in the very same city less than a mile from where Emma lived, in the hands of someone I had not met before was not lost on me. Emma's certificate names her as "Emma Emelia". Was the family kissing up? Emelia was the name of the wife of the preacher who did the baptism. Regardless, Emma seems later to have Americanized it to "Amelia" since she used the middle initial of "A". Tellingly, perhaps a portent of her life in the Evangelical church, Emma had been baptized by Moses Dissinger, a fervent, irreverent man of God known for his wicked past and colorful preaching amidst highly emotional congregational worship. More modern Evangelicals would distance themselves from wild Moses, but he was a fireball in his day and it seems right he would lay his hand on young Emma.

Emma A. Clauss Ettinger became the wife of Charles Henry Ettinger. According to a beautiful homemade marriage plaque, they were married June 30, 1891 in the Ebenezer Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania, possibly the church of the Bear family, and Emma's mom Amanda was still alive to see it. This plaque date matches county records stating the same.

It may have reflected their stubbornness or courage, but marrying at Ebenezer Church that year was a risky proposition since the church was on the outs with its governing body, having thrown out the bishop in a large meeting in February of that year. It was ugly enough that the bishop began his own meeting out on the steps of the church that tossed him. Despite where they married, Charles and Emma were charter members of Bethany E. C. Church (Evangelical Congregational), and in later years, charter members of Grace E. C. in Allentown as well. (The only way to reconcile the date conflict - that is, their marrying in 1891 yet becoming charter members of a Bethany which supposedly began 1881 - is to guess that perhaps Bethany had existed but was reorganized later when they became congregational. If, like me, you don't know what "Evangelical Congregational" means, the nutshell version is to say that some Evangelical churches had a dispute with the church governing body over who owned the church property and ran things; the Congregational folks wanted it kept mostly at home, within their own churches.

Where Emma Clauss and Charles Ettinger married, Ebenezer Church, was the first exclusively English-speaking Evangelical church in the city, and the third Evangelical congregation in Allentown, begun 1868 after Linden Street Church and Immanuel Evangelical. But it's fun to note the congregations of the family, as it reflects the rise and fall of the Evangelical movement in Allentown - Ebenezer Evangelical United Brethren Church, 1868-1971, Bethany Evangelical Congregation Church 1881-1988, Grace Evangelical Congregational Church 1901-1990. The family churches kept moving further west in the city, in line with the city's expanding boundaries. And whenever each church began, each closed about a century later. My nuclear family's last contact was when my folks got married at Grace, the church my mom was raised in. All the churches still stand and are now owned by other congregations. All this lay in the future that Emma and Charles would not live to see. They wed during a time of controversy and upheaval, but moved on.

The brave couple became parents to Paul Clauss Ettinger, Henry Clauss Ettinger, and John Clauss Ettinger, as well as one son who lived only about 11 months, Walter Clauss Ettinger, and one other son (Emma reported bearing five children total on the 1900 census, and her obit clarifies they were all sons). That one son's name is not known if indeed that baby was named. The infant was probably stillborn or died soon after birth. Emma's influence on her boys went beyond their names; though it is more common for couples to wed at the bride's church, all three of her grown sons married at their own family church, by then Grace Evangelical near 15th and Turner Streets, all their ceremonies led by the Rev. John A. (better known as J. A.) Smith who was eventually head of the eastern division of the Evangelical Association.

Emma's beginnings, buried though they were to us, were important to her. Never forgetting her roots, she gave each of her sons her maiden surname as their middle name. All her life she would cling to her Clauss surname, signing herself consistently as "Emma A. C. Ettinger".

Family members recall her as a tough little woman who doted on her small black and white bulldog Mitzi (surprisingly a male), a well-trained pooch who fetched newspapers and slippers. Emma kept a tidy home where her grandchildren remember they were careful (and told) not to handle her things. For a while after the death of her husband, Emma helped run the family tin, plumbing and heating business, which had later branched into general contracting, and she oversaw the finishing of work on row homes in downtown Allentown, across from where the Good Shepherd rehabilitation center now stands. She may not have picked it all up from her husband's family; her grandpa who helped raise her, Henry Bear, had been a bricklayer.

Emma also oversaw the building of summer homes for her family at Waldheim, an Evangelical religious community on Allentown's south side. She and Chares Ettinger were charter members there too, and board members there at its inception. Her own home was called "Beth Shean" - inexplicably, Hebrew, which translates roughly to "house of tranquility". Beth or Beit She'an is also the name of a Biblical city, a major stop along a busy trading route in Israel. Supposedly it was one of the Canaanite cities which was not conquered by the Israelites under Joshua. I'm not sure what the meaning was to Emma, but her Biblical nature was certainly peeking out when she named the house she built there in the woods at Waldheim.

One of her granddaughters, my mom's cousin describes her as "scrappy and feisty". She said Emma enjoyed being a builder, and wore pantaloons on the job, this cousin exclaiming "No one was looking up her skirt!"

Emma sounds like a survivor, and someone who may not have known how to have fun. Just the same, a passport application was found for her in September 2010, which was a surprise. The application (made April 29, 1924) indicated Emma intended to do serious travel, listing France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Holland as her planned stops. She intended to get to Europe via the ship Canopie, sailing from New York on May 24, 1924. This is rather an impressive itinerary for a lady pushing age 60, especially in those times. Still serious in her intent, the object of her visit was recorded as an "educational tour". She would not return until September 14 of that year, to New York from Southampton on the ship Cleveland. It seems she traveled with her youngest son John who returned on the same voyage. Their address at the time was recorded as 113 N. 15th Street in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I have seen and photographed the home's exterior - it is a three story end row-home with front porch, with stained glass in a side window on the alley (Webster Street) and a yard behind. City records date it as built 1905, and say it has 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and 2888 square feet inside, rather large for a city row-home.

In February of 2013 I heard another story about Emma which shocked me and made me laugh. Apparently she really enjoyed that trip to Europe, so much so that she tried once more to recruit her youngest boy John to go again. She invited, nagged and finally resorted to repeated aggressive bribery. John was supposed to be pretty genteel and quiet, but after too much from his mother, he finally snapped and told her she could stick the money, uh, somewhere not pleasant, and supposedly Emma finally let it go.

At her end, her health was bad at least a year, and she was stuck in bed the last three months of it. Her obituary tells us Emma suffered a stroke on February 20th the year before she died and had become bedfast by November 2. No one living has told me about Emma's passing. The only story I have heard about it came from my mom, who said when Emma's health began to slide, Emma indicated that when she passed, her dog Mitzi should be put down because no one could love and care for Mitzi as she had. In fact, once she passed, no one could get near her deathbed as the little dog became fierce and drove everyone away. Disregarding this threat, as well as Emma's wishes, Emma's son Henry, my grandpa, scooped Mitzi up and took the dog home with him, and Mitzi had a grand time in his household with four teens.

So our living family knew next to nothing about the Clausses, and claim never to have heard the Bear surname of Emma's mother... except funnily, my mom and one cousin had memory of a fellow named "Piffy Bear" whose real name may have been Ralph. I am still struggling to understand how Piffy may have been related to Emma's mom's Bears.

Though Emma's obituary is good and detailed, no Clauss family obits shed light on Rudolph, as he is not mentioned in conjunction with his brothers. Brother Henry Otto Clauss died in spectacular fashion in NYC and the newspapers cover his death story but not his funeral details. Brother Charles in Allentown has an obit that covers his children and late wife, but doesn't mention Rudolph either. Alas, Amanda Bear Clauss had no obituary, at least not in the Morning Call.

Emma rests with her husband in the mausoleum at Greenwood Cemetery in Allentown. Emma's mother Amanda rests in the same cemetery as Emma's two sons who did not survive infancy, Union-West End Cemetery. Henry and Matilda Bear are there too. And Emma's father Rudolph? As of March 2014, he was still a mystery, no death or burial data found. If he died young and was still in Allentown, he might have passed 1866 to 1870, the latter being the census when Emma was a child and at home with her mother and grandparents with no father in sight. And if he did die young, odds would be that one of his brothers laid him to rest, and brother Charles and his wife and some children are all at Union West End Cemetery. I wondered if Rudolph was there too. I found myself wondering if he gave up brushmaking and fatherhood and may have gone back to Germany.

But finally, in late March of 2014 I found the truth after more than seven years of struggle. I found the obituary of a Clauss descendant in New York who died in 1963. It mentioned the cemetery, which I called, and yes, Rudolph was there. He died 1871, and as I type this, I am awaiting his death certificate from New York, wondering what took him at age 31. And I recognized that for all that Emma clung to her Clauss name, her father died when she was maybe age four, so she probably had no memory of him. 
Family links: 
  Rudolf E Clauss (____ - 1871)
  Amanda E Bear Clauss
  Charles H Ettinger (1866 - 1934)*
  Infant Boy Ettinger (1892 - 1892)*
  Walter Clauss Ettinger (1894 - 1895)*
  Paul Clauss Ettinger (1896 - 1968)*
  Henry Clauss Ettinger (1900 - 1971)*
  John Clauss Ettinger (1903 - 1976)*
*Calculated relationship
Greenwood Cemetery
Lehigh County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Vault 15, mausoleum
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Jun 21, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14665219
Emma Amelia <i>Clauss</i> Ettinger
Added by: sr/ks
Emma Amelia <i>Clauss</i> Ettinger
Added by: sr/ks
Emma Amelia <i>Clauss</i> Ettinger
Added by: sr/ks
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