WILHELM EDUARD LOUIS BLAU was born on October 16, 1837 at 8:00 p.m. in Frankenhausen, a village on the south slope of a small wooded mountain range, the Kyffhauser, in the Thuringia state of Prussia. His father, Johann Lorenz Blau was a master linen weaver. His penmanship workbook shows that he was educated and had a very clear handwriting as a teenager. The workbook also contains his youthful drawings of animals and of people in typical German dress of the mid nineteenth century, clearly showing his artistic talent. As a youth in Germany he learned his father's trade of linen weaving. Germany was not a unified nation in mid-nineteenth century and there were perpetual military actions between the various German states. It was law that at age 17 a young man went into the military. However, the oldest son in a family was exempt. The eldest son was also the only child in a family who could inherit from the father. Eduard was the third son in the family, however the first born son died at age four months. 

Wilhelm Eduard Louis Blau's birth record in the Lutheran Church of Frankenhausen, 1837

Setting Sail To America

He told his children that his older brother, Carl, had been in the military. After Carl's military experience, their mother vowed no other son of hers would go into the military. As Eduard was approaching the age of mandatory military service, he and his older brother immigrated to the United States. They went to the northern port of Hamburg and on March 15, 1854 sailed on the ship Gutenberg. The Hamburg embarkation list does not show Eduard's name, but does show the names C.J. Blau and Doris Blau from Frankenhausen. Who Doris was is unknown.

Drawing made 1850, age 13

The Gutenberg Lands in New York

The Gutenberg landed in New York on May 24, 1854. The list of passengers disembarking does not show Doris Blau, but does show Eduard Blau, linenweaver, age 16 and Johann Blau, linenweaver, age 18, both from Frankenhausen. The disembarkation list shows they had one piece of baggage. Sometime after arriving in the United States Wilhelm Eduard Blau Americanized his name to Edward William Blau. He told his children that upon his arrival in the United States he went to Milwaukee . Railroads were being developed in the 1850s and Wisconsin was a new state, having entered the Union in 1848. A large number of Germans and other northern European immigrants settled there. Edward told his children that while walking down the street he saw a man painting a cow on the side of a dairy wagon. He boldly told the man he could paint a better cow. His boldness was rewarded by his being given the job. He worked in Milwaukee as a sign painter and a piano and organ tuner and technician. No one with the name Blau is listed in the Milwaukee City Directory during the years 1854-1861, nor is there any mention of a Blau in the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper during that time. It is not known how long his brother Carl stayed in the United States. Carl eventually returned to Frankenhausen where he is found in tax records in 1880.


Milwaukee To Columbus

After the disembarkation list in 1854, the next record of Edward in the United States is the 1860 census of Muscogee County, Georgia taken in July. His marriage license in Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia is dated September 13, 1860. Why and when he moved is not known. No one knows how long he was in Columbus before he met LEONORA PARISH, who was age 15 when they married. Edward continued his occupations as sign painter and piano and organ technician in Columbus. With his training in linen weaving, he must have made a firm decision to change directions because Columbus was a center of textile industries. His first child, Ida, was born in 1861. In 1863 his first son, Eddie Otto, was born. Both were born in Columbus. Edward and Leonora lived with her mother Sarah Parish.

Leonora Parish Blau


Civil War

Ironically, having left his homeland because of unsettled conditions there, he found himself in an area of civil war over issues about which he probably did not have strong feelings. He did not become involved in the Civil War until August 3, 1863 when it was mandated that all able bodied men in the Columbus area contribute to the war effort. He entered into the Confederate Army in Columbus as a private in Company F, 19th Battalion, Georgia State Guard in the Arsenal Division, manufacturing war materials for the Confederate Army. Columbus was one of the major manufacturing centers for the Confederacy, including making boats for the Confederate Navy. Edward was involved in the manufacture of uniforms, no doubt making use of his childhood training.


On September 3, 1863 Edward purchased lot 196 in Girard, Russell County, Alabama, just across the river from Columbus (Russell Deed Book 26, p 216). The lot was on Marshall's Mill Creek on Albert Street (the name was changed to 5th Avenue about 1885). It was a short distance to Bridge Street and a wooden covered bridge over the Chattahoochee to Columbus. The Edward Blau family remained in this house until his death. His son Eddie Otto died in May, 1864 and was buried in a plot owned by Leonora's sister, Isabella Roman, in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus.

Edward In The Battle of Ezra Church

Edward was shown on the muster-in rolls as early as August 3, 1863 of Capt. Julius Brands' company of the Columbus City Guards. The Civil War was coming closer to home as Sherman's army began its approach to Atlanta with the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge, near Dalton, on May 8, 1864.  All able bodied men were sent to Atlanta. Edward was sent to General Walthall's Division. He was wounded in the foot on July 28, 1864 at the Battle of Ezra Church in Atlanta. He was sent to the hospital in Columbus and worked in the shops, until he was sent to join the forces in Macon. The Confederates were in retreat to Thomasville, where his wound bothered him, then he continued on to Savannah where he was engaged in battle, retreated into South Carolina and was captured. When he was released, Edward walked from Savannah to Columbus. While he was a captive, the Union army in Alabama did not receive notice that the war was over. The Union army came through Girard and on Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865, a week after Lee's surrender, captured Columbus in "the last battle of the war." Union troops were right by the Blau house but were unable to cross the river over the Dillingham Street Bridge due to planks having been removed by the Confederates, who then set fire to the bridge. No damage was done to the Blau house.


After The War -  Music

Brother Gustav - Uncle Gus - Arrives

On August 28, 1866, Edward's younger brother Franz Gustav Blau, age 24, immigrated, arriving in New York on the ship Teutonia from Hamburg, and joined Edward in Columbus. The arrival records show Gustav's occupation as "printer." They worked together in sign painting and in tuning pianos and organs. Franz Gustav was known to Edward's children as Uncle Gus. In records he appears as F.G. Blau or as Francis Blau. One advertisement in the Columbus Daily Sun (December 4, 1872):

Edward Buys And Sells Property

While continuing to live in Girard, Edward was active in the life of Columbus. He purchased lots 46, 47, 56, and 57 in "City Village" on the northern limits of Columbus on August 14, 1867 (Muscogee Deed Book N, p 210). On October 11, 1867 he purchased the north half of lot 48, fronting on Troup Street in Northern Liberties (Deed Book N, page 9). Troup Street was changed to Third Avenue about 1885. On January 11, 1868 he purchased lots 54 and 65 in Northern Liberties, adjoining the north common of Columbus, and adjoining his other lots (Deed Book N, p 205). On May 28, 1868 he sold lots 56 and 57 of City Village (Deed Book N, p 351) and on June 15, 1868 he sold lots 64 and 65 of Northern Liberties (Deed Book N, p 360).

The 1870 census (Russell, p 156) showed the value of his real property at $2500. His personal property was valued at $800. The household contained 4 adults and 5 children. His occupation is shown as "painter." Sarah Parish (shown as Sarah "Cornish"), age 56, lived in the household. Ida is 8, Adde is 5, Charly is 3, and Edward, Jr. is shown as 1 and "nameless." Also in his household were Isabella Roman, age 34, with two children: Isabella, age 7, and Daniel, less than a year old.

Isabella Roman

Isabella Roman was an older daughter of Sarah Parish. She had married Peter Bennck Roman and had a daughter, Sarah Margaret Roman, born on December 23, 1871, who died September 25, 1887. It is not known what happened that Peter was not with his wife at this time, or when he died, though presumably after March, 1871. Isabella, widow of Peter Roman, was born November 13, 1835, and died March 31, 1886. When Eddie Otto Blau died, the Romans purchased a plot at Linwood Cemetery. He was buried in an unmarked grave in their plot. Peter is not buried in the plot, but Isabella and daughter Sarah are.



Blau's Brewery

At the encouragement of other Germans in the community (but without any financial encouragement) Edward and Gustav started Blau's Brewery in Girard in 1870. In February, 1871 the Germans in Columbus received word of the defeat of France by Germany, beginning the unification of the German states into the German Empire. The Columbus Daily Enquirer (February 4, 1871) tells of the celebration of the local Germans at Blau's Brewery on the hill in Girard, with speeches, fireworks, singing, and free flowing beer:


The German Sangverein (Glee Club) held a festival at Blau's brewery in Girard Thursday night, the principal object of which seemed to be to give expression to their satisfaction at the capitulation of Paris. There were some twenty-five or thirty persons present. In the course of the evening a very fine display of fire-works was given on the hill; a number of national concert and comic airs were sung; a collation and much lager were disposed of, and several short speeches made....The festival broke up at about 11 o'clock, when the party returned home full of good humor, good supper, and good lager."

The Springer Opera House 1871

Later that month Edward Blau was one of the amateur singers performing at the opening of the Springer Opera House in Columbus:

The Episcopal Concert

Some six or seven hundred persons were present at the inauguration of Springer's Opera House on Tuesday evening by our Episcopal friends...Messers Blau, Pond, Wells and Coart very creditably furnished the masculine tones in the several choruses..."

(Columbus Enquirer,February 23, 1871)


Newspaper articles in the Columbus Daily Enquirer show that Edward and Gustav were involved in the musical life of Columbus after the war. Both led a German chorus, the Gesang Verein. Edward also sang as a solo performer and was involved in fund raising concerts to benefit Confederate veterans, widows, and orphans:


 A number of lady and gentlemen musical amateurs, in conjunction with the Columbus Gesangverein, will give Prof. Chase a complimentary benefit at the Opera House tonight." 

(Columbus Enquirer, April 13, 1871)



During the evening the audience was favored by two songs from the German Glee Club -'In May,' led by Mr. M.M. Meyer, and the 'Frog Song,' led by Mr. Blau. Both of the choruses were capital, and displayed the fact that many of the most cultivated gentlemen's voices of the city are to be found among our German population. The 'Frog Song' was rendered more amusing by the appearance in frog costume of Messrs. Kaiser and Ilmer, who noted their parts naturally as if they had recently been resurrected from the bottom of one of the brick-yard ponds."

(Columbus Enquirer, April 13, 1871)



The concert Monday night, by Prof. Chase and amateurs, in aid of a monument to Confederate dead in Columbus was well attended and complete success....The German Glee Club again sustained themselves well in a couple of choruses."

(Columbus Enquirer, April 26, 1871)





Through the 1870's

He may have made a visit to Germany in 1873. The passenger list for the ship Minnesota, arriving at New York on May 27, 1873, shows a Wilhelm Blau, age 36. The 1873 City Directory lists "Edward W. Blew, painter".

Things did not go well economically with the brewery. On October 20, 1873, Leonora Parish Blau had Edward deed the house to her, however the deed was not recorded until 1926 (Russell County Deed Book 162, p 43). The Columbus Enquirer gave notice that he had painted a sign for them and recommended his work as sign painter and piano tuner:

Something Nice.

Mr. E.W. Blau has just completed for us a neat gilt sign for our agency at Opelika. It is a nice piece of workmanship, and shows that he executes with a masterly hand. We don't know a better man to recommend to our people as a first-class sign painter than Mr. E. W. Blau. Besides he is a deserving gentleman, and worthy of the patronage of the people. Mr. B. is an excellent musician and is prepared to repair and put in tune pianos, organs, &c. We have tried him and know whereof we speak. Our people should give him their work and not to others, who are no better and are not near so deserving. Patronize home folks is a good motto, especially when they are as good, if not better, than strangers." 

(Columbus Enquirer-Sun, December 11, 1877)


In 1878 "the Gesang Verein met every Tuesday in the Gunby Building. Businessman Phil Eifler, a locksmith, was elected president, while Edward Blau the director, tuned pianos for the J.W. Pease Co." (History of Music In Columbus 1828-1928 by Katherine Hines Mann, 1967, p 169.)

In the 1880 Census of Russell County (ED 151, Sheet 1) he is shown as a painter with eight children, six in school. Also living with them is his mother-in-law, Sarah Parish, age 68. Edward remained in Girard and worked for Pease Book Store and Piano Company at 1140 Broad in Columbus. He sold and repaired pianos and organs. 

Death In Childbirth

Leonora Parish Blau died in childbirth on June 23, 1881. Edward bought a plot at Linwood Cemetery in Columbus where she was buried. The plot has no number as it is in the "Old Cemetery" portion.


The Children Of Leonora Parish and Edward Blau

1. Ida Eugenia Blau, born December 29, 1861 in Columbus; married John Poitevent Golden on October 31, 1882; died July 13, 1939.

2. Eddie Otto Blau, born February 14, 1863 in Columbus; died as an infant in Girard on May 22, 1864.

3. Ada (Addie) Bertha Blau, born April 4, 1865 in Girard; died December 21, 1873.

4. Charles Herman Blau, born July 16, 1867 in Girard; married Isabel (Belle) Eva Gaither on November 7, 1892; died February 5, 1962.

5. Edward William Blau, Jr, born October 31, 1868 in Girard; married Mattie Love Gaither in 1887; they were divorced about 1902; died October 9, 1945.

6. Tina Belle Blau, born September 26, 1870 in Girard; died May 17, 1889.

7. Lorenz Gustav Blau, born November 9, 1872 in Girard; married Montarie Elizabeth Coulter on June 19, 1907; died July 31 , 1954.

8. GEORGE GAFFORD BLAU, born December 26, 1873; married Ola Castleberry on January 24, 1894; died February 12, 1957.

9. Effie McDougall Blau, born January 3, 1876 in Girard; married Lorenzo Garland Biggers on August 10, 1904; died March 18, 1967.

10. Leonora May Blau, born March 18, 1878 in Girard; married Dr. John Pickney Norris on July 8, 1903; died September 6, 1987.

11. Richard Ernst Blau, born November 23, 1879 in Girard; married Ramoncita del Escobel on November_ , 1905; died November 14, 1928.


Emma Cobb Massey Blau

















A New Beginning


A Wedding Present From Germany

Edward married a young widow neighbor, EMMA COBB MASSEY, on July 1, 1883 (Russell Marriage Book 1872-1886, page 388). She was born in Chattahoochee County, the daughter of Savannah House and Isaac Cobb. Edward's youngest sister had married a piano and organ builder. When his father retired, he apparently joined his son-in-law in building pianos and organs. As a wedding present, they sent Edward a family made piano from Frankenhausen. It was an upright with 85 keys.

[In 2000 the piano case is in good condition and has no name on the fallboard. It has a carving of two cherubs, one playing a wind instrument and the other playing a stringed instrument. On each side of the carving is a silver candle holder. Attached to the top back of the piano is a carved eagle. In 2000 the piano is not functioning The piano action (typical of the period: being "birdcage" style) was manufactured by L. Isermann and bears the serial number 4046. Isermann opened the first piano action factory in Germany in 1842 in Hamburg, and was in business until his death in 1898, about which time his grandson merged the company with F. Langer & Company in Berlin. When Edward William Blau died, the piano went to his oldest child, Ida Blau Golden. It passed to her daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Golden Skardon, who gave it to her son, John Norton Skardon, who upon moving to Japan in 1989 gave it to George G. Blau, III.]

When his father died in 1890, the family in Germany sent Edward five pianos as a token of his inheritance though German custom was that younger sons did not have inheritance rights. No trace of those pianos has been found, presumably they were sold.

The 1900 Census (ED 140, Sheet 19) shows he has four daughters still at home. In 1906 he applied to the State of Alabama for a pension for his Civil War service. Included is his affidavit telling what he did after his service had been questioned because he gave his unit as Company B, Arsenal Battalion and his name did not appear as in that unit. 

In the 1910 Census (ED 182, Sheet 21) Lorenz, Montie and their daughter Leonora were in Edward's household along with his daughter Agnes. In 1914 he was a tuner with Arthur Piano and Organ Co., 1209 First Avenue between 12th and 13th streets in Columbus.

Edward William Blau Died 1924

Edward William Blau died in Girard on May 6, 1924 at age 86 (Columbus Enquirer, May 7, 1924, p 6).

 Emma Cobb Blau then lived with her daughter, Roseline, until her death in Columbus on December 13, 1937 at age 79 (Columbus Enquirer December 14, 1937). Both were buried in the Blau family plot in Linwood Cemetery.


Children Of  Emma Cobb and Edward Blau

12. Roseline Henrietta Blau, born October 7, 1887 in Girard; married Harry Lee Garrett on June 30, 1909; died August 25, 1987.

13. Agnes Bertha Blau, born August 15, 1892 in Girard; married Ralph E. Moseley on August 15, 1911; died February 16, 1920.


Blau Family Bible kept by Leonora Blau Norris; Oral History of Leonora Blau Norris at Columbus College; photos collected by Leonora Blau Norris.

Muscogee County property and marriage records; Columbus Enquirer; Columbus City Directory; Census Records; Alabama Civil War Pension Records; Georgia Death Records; Linwood and Riverdale cemetery records; Russell County property records

Hamburg Passenger Records; Frankenhausen Church Records

Other References

Mahan, Katherine: Showboats To Softshoes: The Musical Development of Columbus 1828-1928. pp 43, 67.

Martin, John: History of Columbus, Georgia, Part 2: 1845-1865. pp 125, 172.


Links to Ancestors and Topics


Johann Lorenz Blau - father of  Wilhelm Eduard Blau

Johann Wilhelm Blaue - father of Johann Lorenz Blau

Georg Wilhelm Blaue - father of Johann Wilhelm Blaue

Johann Peter Blaue - father of Georg Wilhelm Blaue

Other Blau family in Germany

Maternal Ancestors of Wilhelm Eduard Blau

American Blau persons of similar name not related


Frankenhausen        Sachsenburg                  Pronunciation of the name         Occupations

Leonora Blau Norris' Oral history excerpts          Frankenhausen and Sachsenburg Church Records

Note: Living persons have been deleted from the on-line version of the Blau Family History. Family members wishing to make corrections or additions to the on-line data, or who wish to correct or add new marriages or births to the printed data may e-mail me. Printed copies of the family history which contain information on living persons is distributed to family members only.

George Blau