Christian Kenzig and Elizabeth Wagner

Christian Kenzig and Elizabeth Wagner

By Harold C. Amacher

Wanda Snarbach married Harold Amacher, the son of John Amacher and Carrie Kenzig2. John was born in Switzerland, but Carrie was born Christian Kenzigin the United States, the daughter of Christian Kenzig1 and Elizabeth Wagner.

The Kenzigs were immigrants from Switzerland. Christian, shown here, had been born January 7, 1829. He married Elizabeth Wagner in 1853, and the following year, the couple came to America. Christian was 25 and Elizabeth was not yet 21.

Christian and Elizabeth came over in sailing ship, the U.S.S. Regulator, from Havre, France, captained by A. B. Day, Master. Regulator's passenger list consists of 503 passengers, all farmers, from France, England, Wurtenburg, Savoie, Bade, Alsace, and Suisse.

The two names appear on consecutive lines on the twelfth page, C. Kaenzig and E. Wagner. Why Elizabeth used her maiden name even though they had been married for a year is puzzling. If the accommodations for a married couple were more expensive than two single tickets, then Elizabeth may have done this as an economy measure. Yet the pair of names on the next two lines suggests another married couple.

Elizabeth Wagner Kenzig, 1910, Age 77 The penniless couple arrived in New York on August 4, 1854, and settled in Cleveland. As his family grew, Christian worked first as a laborer, then a milkman, and later a teamster.

The earliest record of Christian Kaenzig I ever found in Cuyahoga County is in the Deed Room of the County Administration Building on Lakeside Avenue in downtown Cleveland. This picture is of Christian Kaenzig. On Sept. 21, 1866, Christian bought a lot bounded by Pittsburg Street and Irving Street. Although he frequently bought and sold real estate in this area- I found thirteen transactions in the Deed Room between 1866 and 1888, he kept this first lot all his life. Here he built his family homestead and his cartage business.

There are other, earlier records; The Cleveland Directory for 1857 lists a milkman named Christopher Kansich living at 67 Orange Ave. This was in the same area as 408 Broadway, but I am not really sure that this is Christian.

There are entries under various spellings KANSIT (1865), and KENZEG (1866), but the entry for the year 1870 shows a C. Kenzige, laborer, living at 408 Broadway. From this address, I can trace Christian and Elizabeth Kenzig through the public records to today's descendants. Although I could never find them in Cuyahoga County in the 1860 Census, they are in the 1870 and following censuses. A look at Christian's signature, shown here, makes the confusion about the spelling of his name understandable.

So, from the time they came over from Switzerland in 1854, 1 am not really sure where Christian and Elizabeth spent the years until 1866. In 1905, many of Cleveland's street names and house numbers were changed. Pittsburg Street along here became Broadway and the house number was changed from 408 Pittsburg to 2421 Broadway.

When Christian died in 1911, the property was inherited by his son, John Kenzig. John lived at 2421 Broadway until 1928 when he sold the property to be torn down to make room for the railroad rightaway for the Terminal Tower.

Signature In 1880 Christian purchased the plot in Woodland Cemetery where he and his family are now buried. He also bought a share in a brewery owned by Louis Lezius at 371 Broadway. The brewery then became known as "Lezius and Kaenzig".

By the time John Amacher came along, Christian had bought out Lezius and had moved the enterprise across and down the street to 522 Broadway, where business was conducted as the "Kaenzig Brewery". Christian was listed as the manager and Mrs. E. Kaenzig was the "brewer".

In the Cleveland City Directory for 1885 and 1886, the Kaenzig Brewery is on the "Official List of Breweries," along with Gehring, Leisy, and Carling.

The earliest local record I have found for John Amacher is in the City Directory for 1882 where he is listed as a "beer pedlar" whose residence was at the same address as the brewery.

I happened on a book published by the Ohio Historical Society called "No Strength Without Union" by Raymond Boryczka and Lorin Lee Cary. This book is a history of the labor movement in America, and it contains a few pages about German (not Swiss) brewery labor practices in the 1880's which may explain why John lived at the brewery.

The German brewers maintained twenty-four hour discipline by obliging their workers to reside either on the brewery premises, in specially selected tenements, or in the foreman's house. The working schedule was 14 to 18 hours a day, 6 days a week plus another 6 to 8 hours on Sunday. The industry was made up of small local breweries which produced batches of beer for a handful of nearby saloons.

Kaenzig's brewery venture was short lived and generally unsuccessful. Christian ran into trouble with his creditors, and had to suffer the indignities of a Sheriff's sale in August 1885. Even though Elizabeth bought most of the property at two-thirds of the appraised value, the business could not be saved.

By August 1888, Louis Lezius had bought back the real estate for $14600 and Christian was back at 589 Broadway as a teamster.




DETROIT - John W. Stroh, chairman emeritus of the Stroh Brewery Co., and, grandson of its founder, died yesterday in a suburban hospital. He was 91. Stroh was named president of the Detroit-based brewery in 1950, l00 years after it was founded by his Grandfather Bernard Stroh. John Stroh assumed the chairmanship in 1967, and was named chairman emeritus in 1982. John Stroh was the fifth family member to head the company. Peter W. Stroh, his nephew, now is chairman. While John Stroh headed the company, Stroh Brewery grew from a local operation to the country's third-Largest brewery, behind the St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Inc. and Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Co.
This obituary appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sept. 29, 1984 at the time I was typing these notes. Noting that Bernard Stroh started his brewery about the same time that Christian started his, I couldn't help but think about how close I came to being an heir to a brewery fortune.

If only Christian had had management training - -

If only Elizabeth had been a better brewer - -

If only John had peddled faster - - -

The 1900 Census shows that Elizabeth bore 14 children, 10 of whom were still alive at that time.

I can identify twelve children born between 1856 and 1881; six girls in a row, then five boys and one more girl.

In the Kaenzig family plot in Woodland Cemetery there are two small stones, one marked CK and the other LK. Maybe these stones mark the graves of the two babies I couldn't find in the records.

The first Kaenzig baby was born on Leap Year Day in 1856. She was named after her mother, but was called Lizzie2 all her life. She grew up to marry Louis Steiger, an immigrant from Bavaria. Lizzie died of tuberculosis at age 46 after the birth of her fourteenth child. The Stieger branch is by far the largest of Kenzig's descendants.

Mary2, the second daughter, was born Aug. 14, 1857. She married Adam Mueller, a cigar maker from Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. There were two daughters, Ida and Emma. Emma died when she was only six, so Ida's two granddaughters are the only living descendants of Mary Mueller.

Carrie Kenzig Amacher John Amacher married Caroline Kaenzig2, shown here, the third daughter on Feb. 20, 1883. Carrie's younger sister, Emma, had already been married nearly a year at the time.

There is not much to say about the fourth daughter. Lena2 was retarded. She never went to school, nor learned to read, and never married. She lived quietly with the Kaenzig family until her parents died, then she stayed with the house her brother John inherited until her own death in 1925.

Emma2, daughter number five married Jacob F. Richter. They had a family of eight children, two of whom, Edward W. and his sister, Lillian Evans still (1984) live in Macedonia.

Kittie2 seems to have gone by several names. On the 1880 census, the Kaenzigs had a daughter of the correct age named Phoebe, but in 1870, she was simply Kate. As a working girl - a bookkeeper - she was listed in the 1881 City Directory as Kittie. Elsewhere she was Katherine. She married John G. Spring, but as far as I have been able to discover, they had no children.

The first Kaenzig boy was named Charles2. He married Jane Ann Lamb and they had five children, two of whom are still alive in 1984, Anna May Rak and her sister, Betty Fiedler.

Betty Fiedler tells me that her father went to work when he was only 14 peddling beer for Christian. Jane Ann was older than Charles, but he had to wait until he was 21 before he could get married.

Charles was good with horses and might have become a veterinarian if he had had a chance to go to school. As it was, he became "barn boss" for Leisy's Brewery.

The next boy was also named Christian2, so I must now refer to the father as "Schweizer Christ" like his family did. The son was born in March 1870, but he died of diphtheria just before Christmas, 1876, at the age of six.

John2 was born Sept 3, 1873. He married Cora Neitzel and they had two boys and a girl. John stayed with his father and worked as a teamster with him until Christ died. After John sold the Broadway property, he bought a farm in Medina. John's three children were Elizabeth3, John3, and Carl3. John and Cora's great granddaughter, Ashley Skoda,, a 19 year old student at The University of Dayton, Ohio explains that her grandfather
Carl married Gertrude Klien and had four girls Karen4, Carol4, Betty4, and Bonnie4, all of Medina. Carl did many things such as build the family house, he was an electrician, a musician, and had made the first color television in Medina.
The next boy was born Dec. 29, 1875. He was called Coony2 from his very first day, but his real name was Conrad. Coony died at the age of four, killed when a wagon tongue fell on him in April 1880.

The next and last boy was also named Christian2. He married Mary Olenik and had three sons; George3, William3, and Chris3. He died at the early age of 41, of a ruptured appendix.

Rose2 was the baby of the family. She was born Dec. 1881 and on April 7, 1904, she married a rigger named William E. Breckel. They had two children, Lorene3 and John E3.

I am indebted to Lorene because she is the only person I ever met who has distinct recollections of my great-grandparents. She was only seven when they died, but she and her family lived in the Kenzig household. Lorene permitted me to copy the photographs I have of her grandparents has spent many hours telling family anecdotes to me.

Elizabeth Kenzig died Sept. 23, 1910 at the age of 77. Christian died the following year on Sept. 11. He was 82. On his death certificate, his occupation was listed as horsedealer.

Christian and Elizabeth had 43 grandchildren and at least 150 great-grandchildren that I can count.


Two different times Lorene Larbig told me this story on the telephone. The second time, I had my tape recorder ready. I have tried to transcribe her story exactly as she told it. Lorene sounds semi-literate here, but that's really not true; she is a very articulate and fascinating speaker.

Conrad, he's the one that got killed, I remember my mother telling me that in the yard where they lived on Broadway off 22nd or 23rd - well, they had these wagons with the long shafts that they hitched the horses to?

And my grandfather was going out to buy some horses one day and this little boy wanted to go along with him, but he wouldn't take him.

And the little boy didn't know what to do with himself. He was playing around that wagon and he knocked that thing down on him and it killed him.

And my grandfather came home and found out about it and he blamed my grandmother for it and he chased her around the yard with a chain and wanted to hit her with it because it was her fault.

He blamed it on her that the little boy got killed. And if he had taken the little boy with him, the little boy would still be alive.
The interesting points are these: Lorene was born in 1904, her mother Rose was born in December 1881 and Coony was killed in April 1880. The impact of that tragedy is still remembered after 100 years.

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March 22, 2000
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