My great-great grandmother was Augusta Lindemann Stutzmann. The family of her husband, Rudolph Stutzmann, is chronicled in the anthology, Schlegel's American Families of German Ancestry and in the Stutzmann family summary, they briefly address Augusta's family as well. It was here that I first learned of the General Slocum disaster, as the book says that Augusta's sister Hulda was a victim. I've written of the disaster before but just as a quick reminder, the General Slocum was a paddleboat, and on June 15, 1904, it set sail from New York City with 1,358 passengers, mostly women and children from the German-American community, most from the Lower East Side, who were out on a fun church outing. The ship caught fire and more than 1,000 of those on board died - only 321 people survived. It was the largest non-war related loss of life in the whole United States until 9/11. You can read more about it on the New York Public Library website here: http://www.nypl.org/blog/2011/06/13/great-slocum-disaster-june-15-1904
Anyway, according to Schlegel's, Hulda, who was only 28 at the time, died that day, but I couldn't find a death certificate for her anywhere. I couldn't find any proof to back up that story or find out what really happened to her. On top of that, a lot of the information in Schlegel's had proven to be inaccurate, so maybe it didn't get that fact about Hulda right? She wasn't in the 1905 census, so she probably had died before then, and in 1900 she was living with a family, the Feldhusens, as a servant. They lived on the Lower East Side, and I had found the names of the mother and the son on a list of the dead from that day - a list Hulda's name wasn't on, but I thought maybe she had accompanied the Feldhusens on the trip and was among the missing - but still, why would she not have a death certificate???
So today I went to the Genealogy Federation of Long Island conference at Bethpage Public Library. In addition to hosting various speakers and presentations, there were different vendors and genealogy organizations there set up at tables. One of these groups represented was the German Genealogy Group, which, along with the Italian Genealogy Group, has an awesome website for any New York City genealogy research, even if your family isn't German or Italian. But on the banner behind their table I noticed that it said they had a General Slocum passenger list manifest in their database. So I decided to ask if they could look for Hulda for me. A kind older gentleman whose name I didn't get but who was so helpful looked up Lindemann for me. No luck. Looked up Hulda for me. Two hits, but neither had a last name even close to Lindemann. He asked me how old she would've been. 28, I told him. Well, one of the Huldas in the list, Hulda Wolbern, had been 28. Are you sure your Hulda never married, a woman with the group asked me. I hesitated.
No, I wasn't sure.
Schegel's never listed her as being married. But I knew the Stutzmann-Lindemann family account, while an awesome place to start, was pretty inaccurate. Had I been searching for Hulda all these years under the wrong name???
Turns out that, yes, I had been. I couldn't even wait until I got home - I used my phone to go on the FamilySearch website and found a Hulda Linderman Wolbern buried in Lutheran Cemetery in Middle Village who had died June 15, 1904. Linderman. Practically Lindemann. And buried in the same cemetery as my Lindemanns. This was her. I had found her. I feel so so so excited to have finally found her and at the same time, just so sad to know she died in such a terrible disaster and probably suffered a terrible death. I plan to order her marriage record and death record immediately. I'm hoping both will shed some light on where the Lindemanns came from in Germany, because that is a line that has been a huge brick wall for me for a long time. I wonder how explicit her death record will be. Or if she was one of the missing. I found another birth record on FamilySearch today - I discovered Hulda and her husband had a son, Henry, in 1903. Here was a cousin I never knew about. How sad, I told my husband, that he lost his mom when he was just one. My husband asked me if the baby had been on the ship with her, since the outing was for mothers and children. My heart sank. A death certificate search revealed that yes, one year old Henry Wolbern died that day as well. I found and lost a cousin in the space of 10 minutes, and as the mother of young children, my heart is just breaking for Hulda and her baby boy.
Let us remember all the lives that were lost that day. Let us remember all our family members, however long they've been gone - they aren't just names and dates, they were people who lived and who loved.
And thank you to the gentleman with the German Genealogy Group who helped me put this mystery to rest and for helping me find my little cousin who died that day because everybody deserves to be remembered.