Saturday, October 25, 2008

a small anomaly....

... has caught my attention again. I frequently find that the small blips or anomalies of my ancestors lives grab my focus and sometimes even become obsessions. Alexander Gottlieb Weller, one of my maternal great great grandfathers, immigrated from Wuertemburg in 1832 with his parents, a sister and three brothers, settling in Buffalo, Erie County, New York. By 1850 he is listed as a carriage maker in the household of Jonathan Whitney, blacksmith, as are another blacksmith, a second carriage maker, a painter and a carpenter, he is perhaps an apprentice.

In 1855 he is with his mother and brothers, listed as a carriage maker. By 1859 he marries Catherine Wilson, born in England and is listed as living on Mortimor near Sycamore, a wagon-maker. Their daughter Elizabeth is born that winter (age 6 months at the 1860 census) and in 1861 they have twin daughters, Ida and Harriett. In 1863, another daughter, Emma is born in Illinois but by 1865 they are back in Buffalo where Alexander is in the carriage making business with Alonzo Armstrong. The following years bring more children and a growing carriage making business there in Buffalo.

A normal, upperwardly mobile life... but, what’s with that one child born in Illinois? We know Alexander was in Buffalo in 1860. In 1861, the twins are born there so Catherine is still in Buffalo although he may have already gone to Illinois. Emma is born somewhere in Illinois about 1863 and by June of 1865, the family is back in Buffalo in time for the 1865 state census and Alexander is in the carriage making business with Alonzo as Armstrong & Weller, employing five adults and one boy.

I’ve spent most of today trying to find sources for anything he may have done in Illinois and all I found was the 1863 Chicago City Directory: “Weller, Alexander, carriagemaker, h. 10 Hills.” That was found at but no listing was found for him in other years.

The only theory that occurs to me is the Civil War which began 12 April 1861 and ended 9 April 1865 ... did he take his wife and their three little girls to Illinois to make wagons for the Union Army? ... perhaps making enough money to go into business for himself? But, perhaps he just went to Chicago to try his luck there and returned to Buffalo within a year or so? What do you think?

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