Monday, June 11, 2012

Fritz Frye/Frederick Frey

According to the Ancestral File portion of Family Search, Frederick Frey was born in Wurttemberg, Germany on August 14, 1825, and he died on June 10, 1873. His wife is listed as Magdelena Weisler, born in Baden in 1822. The couple had a son also named Frederick Frey, born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1856. The 1870 U.S. Census for Erie County, Ohio, lists a Frederick Frey who was employed by the Railroad. He was age 41, and his wife Magdalina was 43. The couple had a son, Frederick Frey, Jr. who was 14.

The tombstone for Fritz Frye is found in the G.A.R. Lot of Oakland Cemetery. Mr. Frye's tombstone indicates that he served in Company F of the 107th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System states that Frederick Frey had risen to the rank of Sergeant at the time of his military discharge. A biographical sketch about the grandson of Frederick Frey, which appeared in Hewson Peeke's A STANDARD HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY, OHIO gives a summary of the military experience of Frederick Frey, who was also known as Fritz:

The family was founded in the United States by his grandfather, Frederick Frey, who emigrated to this country from Freiburg, Germany, in 1849, with his wife, and, settling at Sandusky, engaged in following the trade of shoemaker. The outbreak of the Civil war found him so engaged and being possessed of patriotism and a love for his adopted land he enlisted in Company F, One Hundred and Seventh Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with which he served until the close of the war. He enlisted as a private, but soon won promotion to sergeant of his company, and as such participated in many hard-fought engagements, including the bloody battle of Gettysburg in which his regiment was nearly annihilated. At the battle of Chancellorsville he was captured by the Confederates and removed to a Southern prison, from which he was subsequently taken to the notorious Libby Prison and there confined for six months. After experiencing all the hardships' and privations connected with imprisonment there he was aided to escape by one of his comrades and succeeded in making his way back to the Union lines, where he rejoined his regiment. He was in bad physical condition, owing to the experiences through which he had passed, and was sent home because of disability, but as soon as he had recovered again rejoined his comrades at the front and continued to fight valiantly until Appomattox closed hostilities. Mr. Frey then returned to Sandusky and resumed his business, but did not live long thereafter, dying June 11, 1873, his death having been probably hastened by the intense rigors of army life.

An obituary which appeared in the June 12, 1873 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that Fritz Frey died while at this job at the warehouse at the Cincinnati, Sandusky, and Cleveland Railroad. (The Cincinnati, Sandusky & Cleveland Railroad had originally been known as the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, and went to become part of the Big Four.) He had been handling some lumber at the time of his accidental fall. The article said that every attempt was made to resuscitate Fritz Frey, but without success.

So why are there variations in spellings of Fritz Frye/Frederick Frey's first and last names? Fritz has historically been a nickname for the name Frederick, and since spelling was not consistently uniform in the nineteenth century, Frey and Frye are variant spellings for the same person's surname. Always keep an open mind when doing family history research. The longer I do genealogical research, the more I don't rule anything out! By comparing census records and military records, with information from Family Search and the newspaper account, I was able to reasonably determine that Fritz Frye and Frederick Frey were the same individual.

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