(dedicated to Joan Sambrotto, Genealogist Extraordinaire)
I will never forget how my hand stopped turning the pages when I read the death records of Francesca Müller Neiderlander’s husband and their two children. I could not go on. Thinking the priest made a mistake in recording these deaths, I wrote the information down dryly and put my books away. I paid the babysitter and took a vacation from genealogy when I got home by spending the summer with my kids.
That is, until my colleague, Joan, asked me to finish the job. What happened is that Franceska Müller lost her husband and two children as victims to an outbreak of cholera in Buffalo on the 7th of August in 1852.
The large obelisk monument to her dearly beloveds still sits in the old part of the United German & French Cemetery, all written in German, and the etchings fading fast.
During a horrific summer of cholera which decimated Buffalo families, eight years old Isabella Neiderlander was stricken and died at home on the 7th of August 1852. Hours later, she was followed by the death of her two years old little brother, Frederich Neiderlander. Later, that evening, their father, Frederich Neiderlander Sr., a thirty-one years old cabinetmaker from Alsace, passed away as well.
Francesca Müller Neiderlander lost three family members in one day. The two other daughters, Emma & Caroline Neiderlander, may have been stricken and recovered. Emma remained an invalid all her life with a live-in nurse. Francesca remarried four years later, to Carl Gruner,of Saxony, who was a portrait painter and proprietor of a hotel in Buffalo . They had one daughter that was named after her departed daughter, Isabella Gruner. However, on a visit to his home country, Her second husband, Carl Gruner took ill and died in Germany suddenly, leaving Francesca to manage his hotel business. Yet, Francesca somehow lived to a healthy old age, with a happy second marriage, financial success & raised another family.
In Franceska’s obituary, she was described as a woman who knew loss and hardship but had faith. She read and wrote in German and she helped her second husband with the business of his hotel, The OLD GRUNER HOTEL, on Washington Street in Buffalo. She did well for herself after she sold the old family property which became desirable downtown real estate (where the Niagara Mohawk Tower stands now). She died in her home at 156 Norwood Avenue, Buffalo at the old age of ninety .