Joseph Froehly, 1834–1904
Joseph Froehly was born in Ferrette, Alsace, France, on 1 February 1834, the last of seven children of Simon Froehly and Maria Anna Schmitt. Joseph and his brother Frank immigrated to the United States in 1854, apparently on the ship Brandywine landing in New Orleans.
Despite their German surname, French was their first language and they were drawn to cities where French was spoken. It may have been yellow fever in New Orleans that motivated them to move upriver to the St. Louis area, settling in Venice, Illinois. In Venice, they owned and operated a wagon and blacksmith shop making farm wagons and buggies to order. They also did horse shoeing and repairs of farm machinery.
On 29 July 1860, Joseph Froehly married Mary Rosina Müller at St. Liborius Roman Catholic Church in St. Louis with Rev. Schweihoff officiating. Mary was born 8 December 1840 in Serralbe, Lorraine, France, the daughter of Mathias Müller and Johanna Nicholass. At age five, Mary immigrated to the United States with her parents, settling in Venice, Illinois. They, too, spoke French as their first language.
Joseph Froehly was one of two laymen among the first five trustees of Venice’s first Catholic Church. It was incorporated 29 September 1871 as St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church of Venice. He was one of six men elected to Venice’s first Board of Trustees when Venice incorporated on 28 June 1873.
Life changed dramatically for the Froehlys on 19 March 1884, when Joseph Froehly’s wagon factory burned down. The insurance company refused to pay. The building belonged to him but sat on land deeded to his wife. The insurance company alleged that the policy was void, that he could not insure something on land he did not own. He lost in court. (Mary Froehly et al., Respondents, v. North St. Louis Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Appellant, 32 Missouri Appeal Reports at page 302 et seq.) That year, Joseph and his family moved to St. Louis and appeared for the first time in Gould’s St. Louis City Directory. In St. Louis, the 1900 census described him as a “doctor of rheumatism.” Gould’s Directory continued to describe him as a wagon maker.
Joseph and Mary made the move to St. Louis with seven children, all born in Venice. All but one died in St. Louis.
Known children of Joseph Froehly and Mary:
- Rose E., 17 January 1863–3 July 1950
- Isabelle, 1865–24 October 1944
- Agnes, 1867–11 December 1943
- Aloysius, 6 July 1869–7 September 1943
- Cecilia C., 1872–15 December 1931
- Bertram Louis Julius, 10 January 1875–26 May 1940 in Bronx, New York
- Mary, 10 February 1877–27 April 1915
In St. Louis, Joseph and his family first lived at 2609 North 9th St. They moved to other addresses, then purchased a permanent home at 1821 North 20th St. in 1892. Joseph died at home on 3 March 1904. Mary remained in the same home, dying there on 20 September 1913. They both are buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.
(Sources include the U.S. census, Gould’s St. Louis Directory, church records, death certificates, family interviews, cemetery records, court records, ship’s manifest, and newspaper articles.)
Written by Susan Froehly Teich
© 2019, St. Louis Genealogical Society
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Last Modified: 15-Nov-2019 10:40