Johan Joseph Ohlhaüser1

(8 September 1798 - 17 December 1869)

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Relationship3rd great-grandfather of The 3 Tracys
Family Group:Ohlheiser
Trees14 Generations of Our Ancestors
Our Ohlheiser Family Pedigree
Descent from Joseph Ohlhauser - c. 1757

Some Background

Johan Joseph Ohlhaüser was also known as Joseph Ohlheiser. The photocopies made of the original church record for the 1798 baptism of Joseph's and Anna Maria's son Joannes Josephus clearly show the surname of both father and son spelled as Ohlhaüser. Based on this baptismal record (which recorded the names in Latin), his baptismal name (in German) was Johan Joseph Ohlhaüser. Typically at this time in Gemany a child was baptised with two names, a given name and a call name; the given name honoring a saint (here that was Johan); and a secular, call name (here, Joseph), the name by which a person was generally known. So the name he would have used for himself, and used by his family and acquaintances in Spechbach, would have been Joseph. The 1838 Baptismal record for his own son names him simply as "Joseph" Ohlhaüser. And "Joseph Ohlheiser" is the way he clearly signed his Declaration of Intent (to become a U.S. citizen) in 1851. It seems that at some point Johan Joseph sometimes also went by the name of Joseph J. Ohlheiser. In America, to differentiate him from his son Joseph, he is occasionally referred to as "Sr" and his son as "Jr"; this was commonly done to be able to differentiate between older and younger persons in the same family with the same names... even though they may not have been technically Senior and Junior (or even directly related to one another). In this family history both his given name and his call name are used in order to help differentiate among the three generations of Josephs – both the father and the son of Joannes Joseph are also named Joseph.4,5,6,7
FatherJoseph Ohlhaüser1,2,3 (c. 1757 - 23 Dec 1830)
MotherAnna Maria Hönig1,2,3 (c. 1768 - 14 Feb 1828)

Birth - Marriage - Death

ChildJohan Joseph Ohlhaüser was baptized as Joannes Josephus on 8 September 1798, in St. Martin Roman Catholic Church, Spechbach, Margraviate of Baden, Holy Roman Empire. A birthdate of 25 Mar 1797 is found (without a source provided) but this is inconsistent with the Baptismal date in November 1798 (for which there is a record), as normally there would not have been a lapse of 18 months between the birth of a child and the child's baptism.
     Johan Joseph's God Father was Nicholas Kramer.1,8,9
GroomHe, 21 years old, married Maria Katharina Merz, 20 years old, daughter of Johann Georg Merz and Magdalena Meyer, on 11 January 1820 in the Evangelisch (Methodist/Protestant Church), Spechbach, Grand Duchy of Baden. Joseph and Katharina started their family when they were quite young, 17 and 16 years old respectively. They had three children, Georg Peter, Katharina Margaretha, and Johan, in the four years prior to the recording of their marriage which took place just 10 days after the birth of Johan.10,11
WidowerHe became a widower at 26 years of age when his wife Maria died in January 1825. Joseph was left with four children to raise, the eldest Georg Peter was 8 1/2 years old, and the youngest, Catharina who was not quite two years old. Katharina Margaretha was 6 1/2 and Johan was five years old when their mother died.12
Second MarriageOn 24 April 1825, in St. Martin Roman Catholic Church, Spechbach, Grand Duchy of Baden, Johan Joseph Ohlhaüser, at the age of 26, married second, Maria Eva Heckler, who was 27 years old, daughter of Rudolph Heckler and Clara Breiner. Joseph had recently become a widower upon the death of his wife just 3 - 4 months before this marriage. The promptness of this marriage so soon after the death of his first wife was undoubtedly influenced by the young ages of his four motherless children but it also raises the question as to the date of the death of their mother... she may have died several months earlier that the date we have recorded.13
DeceasedHe died on 17 December 1869 in 27 Owasco St, Auburn, Cayuga Co., New York, at the age of 71. He was shown as a member of the St. Alphonsus Parish.14,13,15
InterredHe was buried in North Street Cemetery, Auburn, Cayuga Co., New York; His grave is located next to that of his daughter Catherina (O.) Hahn and her husband, Mathias Hahn.16

Children with Maria Katharina Merz:

Children with Maria Eva Heckler:

Some Life Events of Interest

Joseph Ohlheiser filed his Declaration of Intent to become a U.S. citizen on 12 March 1851, in Erie County Court, Buffalo, Erie Co., New York. Johan Joseph, now signing himself as Joseph Ohlheiser, from Sheldon late of Baden, in completing his Declaration of Intent to become a citzen of the United States, renounced forever all allegiance to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty whatsoever, particularly to the Grand Duke of Baden. The naturalization process generally required a minimum of five years of residency. His spouse, Maria Eva, and any of his children under 21 years old, living with him, would have been automatically naturalized under his citizenship.17


On 18 May 1846, Johan Joseph Ohlhaüser at the age of 47, and Maria Eva Ohlhaüser, 47 years of age, with their children Johann, Catherina, Margaretta, Rosina, Johan and Joseph emmigrated from Spechbach, Grand Duchy of Baden, to America.
     The note in Johan Joseph's papers providing this date in May is clear that this was the date Johan Joseph and Maria Eva "left Germany". But it is not clear as to whether that means this was the date they left Spechbach, Baden, or the date they sailed from France. Their arrival in New York was eight weeks later 18 July 1846.
     They sailed on the American ship "Queen Victoria", Capt. Charles A. Ranlett, Master, carrying 284 passengers out of the port of Havre, France, a point of embarkation for many families emigrating from the Baden-Württemburg area in Southwestern Germany during this time frame. The Queen Victoria was a three masted ship of 712 tons with an 18ft draft, built in 1839 for transatlantic transportation.
     According to oral family traditions, Joseph and Eva arrived in America with seven of the family's eight children. However, the ship's manifest includes only six of the children... Joseph's eldest son Georg Peter, 30 years old, is not listed among them and is said to have arrived in America later, circa 1850; and Joseph's eldest daughter, 29 year old Catharina Margaretta (from his marriage to Maria Katharina Merz) remained in Spechbach. Margaretha had married Johann Eisele and their first child was born in 1840.
     Johann Joseph's family initially settled in Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York; the geography of Wyoming Co. is very similar to that around Spechbach. Within a couple of months of their arrival, Joseph purchased two parcels of farmland from Philip and Catharine Gath and Henry and Catharine Heisier. A community of German immigrants had grown up in Sheldon by the time the Ohlheisers arrived... very possibly there were others from the Spechbach area of Baden that were already living there. The record shows Joseph's surname as Oldheisier. Considering the similarities in their surnames, it may be that Henry Heisier was somehow related to Joseph?18,19,20,21


Joseph was a Farmer both in Baden and in New York22

Land and Property

Property AcquisitionOn 21 August 1846, Johan Joseph Ohlhaüser bought a piece of property in Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York. Joseph (whose name was recorded as Joseph Oldheisier from Gemany) purchased a total of thirty-seven and one half acres of land, lying in lots nine and ten, in the fourth range, township number nine, of Sheldon township. He paid $1000, apparently in cash ($2.66 per acre), to the sellers, Philip and Catharine Gath and Henry and Catharine Heisier (?), all from Sheldon. The transfer deed was recorded 15 February 1847.23
Property AcquisitionJohan Joseph Ohlhaüser bought a piece of property in Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York. Title for 25 acres of land was transferred to Joseph Obheiser, of Sheldon, by Francis Granger and Oliver and Laura Phelps. This was for an additional 25 acres abutting on the South his other property in Lot number nine... "being the same Land contracted said Obheiser on the 21st Feby 1848". According to the indenture, he paid $150 for this property... such a low price indicates that it possibly was either an artificial value (the amount of $1 has been used in more recent times to represent money having changed hands in order to make a contract legal without disclosing an actual sale price); OR, the 1848 contract referred to in the indenture may have included some other form of remuneration; OR, it is also possible that the acreage had a low value because it may have been "landlocked." All of this is pure speculation as to why that low dollar ($6.00 per acre) amount for 25 acres. Joseph paid just under $27 an acre for the earlier purchase of the adjoining acreage.24
Property TransferOn 19 June 1848, Joseph and Maria Eva Ohlheiser sold the twelve and one half acre piece property Joseph had purchased in 1846, in Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York, to Ferdinand Fontaine, also of Sheldon. The price given in the indenture is $125 ($10 per acre).25
Property TransferOn 23 August 1855, Joseph and Maria Eva Ohlheiser sold to Jacob Jüly of Buffalo, twenty-five acres of property Joseph had purchased in Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York in 1846. The price given in the indenture is $700 for 25 acres ($28 per acre).26
Property TransferOn 23 August 1855, Joseph and Maria Eva Ohlheiser sold another twenty-five acre piece of property Joseph had purchased in Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York in 1846 to Jacob Jüly of Buffalo. The price given in the indenture is $1400 for 37.5 acres ($37+ per acre).27
Property AcquisitionOn 10 January 1856, Joseph Ohlheiser bought a fifty acre piece of property in Colden, Erie Co., New York, from his son John, paying $700. According to the description in the warranty deed and the 1880 map of the township of Colden, Erie Co., this property was located at what is the northern "part of lot fourteen in the eighth town and siscth (sic) range of (the township of Colden) according to Joseph Ellicott's survey." Another fifty acres in the southeast corner of the same lot fourteen is shown on the map as belonging to a "J. Olheiser," but whether the initial "J" refers to Joseph or John isn't clear. It may be that both lots were the property of Joseph as he said that he owned property in Colden when he was enumerated for the census the previous year.28,29
Property AcquisitionOn 4 August 1864, in Colden, Erie Co., New York, Joseph Ohlheiser, Sr. was the seller in a real estate transaction between himself and his son Joseph Ohlheiser, Jr. The 50 acres was "Known and distinguished as the middle part of Lot number fourteen in the eighth town and six range of said township (Colden)."30

Residences and Censuses

Until 1846, Johan Joseph Ohlhaüser lived in Spechbach, Grand Duchy of Baden. A small farming community south-east of Heidelberg.
He and Maria Eva Ohlheiser appeared on the 1850 Federal Census of Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York, enumerated 19 July 1850. Johan Joseph's family was listed with the surname of "Old Hegser.". Their children Margaretta, George and Joseph were listed as living with them. Also recorded as living with them were 2 year old Martin Old Hegser and 1 year old Frank Old Hegser, their grandchildren, the children of their married daughter Rosina and her husband Frank Simmons. Except for the two young boys who were born in New York, the rest of the family was born in Germany. Their son Joseph was shown to have attended school within the year.
On the previous day, the 18th of July, he completed an agricultural enumeration which showed him owning 46 acres of land (36 of which were improved) that he valued at $600. His farm animals consisted of one horse, four milk cows, four working oxen, five sheep and four swine with a total value of $200. He valued his farm equipment at $30. He had on hand 25 bushels of wheat, 100 of oats, 40 each of barley and Irish potatoes, and only 4 of Indian corn. For his livestock he had 8 tons of hay. He also had 15 pounds of wool, 200 pounds of butter and 100 pounds of maple sugar.31,32
He appeared on the 1855 State Census of Colden, Erie Co., New York, enumerated 28 June 1855. Joseph appears on this census in a household consisting of himself and two servants, 51 year old Adam Smith and 54 year old Catherine Smith. Joseph and Adam are listed with the occupation of Farmer. Joseph arrived in Colden the previous year and owned land, apparently next door (or very close) to the farm of his son John and John's family as Joseph is listed on the lines immediately after John's family. Joseph's house was built of plank (John's next door was built of log.) Joseph is noted to be an alien; his Declaration of Intent to become a U.S. citizen had been filed in 1851, so he may not have been eligible to file his application for citizenship until the next year, 1856, five years after that declaration..22
Joseph and Maria Eva Ohlheiser appeared on the 1860 Federal Census of Colden, Erie Co., New York, enumerated 7 August 1860. Their son Joseph, Jr., was listed as living with them. All three were born in Germany. Eight year old Joseph Simmons, born in New York, also appeared in the listing for this household. It isn't clear who this Joseph belonged to as two of Joseph's and Maria's daughters married Simmons brothers.
     Joseph's occupation was that of a farmer. Their real estate was shown having a value of $2,600 and their personal estate a value of $1,000.
     Their son John is shown living in the next household with Barbary Spade, 4 Ohlheiser children and two younger Spade children.33
Joseph and Maria Eva Ohlheiser appeared on the 1865 State Census of Auburn, Cayuga Co., New York, enumerated 9 June 1865, They were living with the family of their son-in-law, Martin Simmons, and their daughter Margaret. Joseph's age is recorded as 69 years and his occupation is laborer; he was born in Germnany and has been married twice. Eve's age is recorded as 67 years; she was also born in Germany, was married once, and was the parent of 6 children (we have the names and birthdates for only five).34


Church AffiliationIn 1847. In Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York, Joseph Ohlheiser was listed as member of the Sheldon Roman Catholic church parish. He was baptised in St. Martin's Roman Catholic church in Spechbach. His first marriage, to Maria Katharina Merz is recorded in the records of Spechbach's Protestant Church as are the christenings of their four children. Joseph's second marriage, to Maria Eva Heckler, took place in St. Martin's Church and subsequent family baptisms had taken place there as well. It appears that Joseph, and most of his family, continued in the Catholic faith after his arrival in the United States and until his death. A map of Sheldon dated between 1850 and 1856 shows the location of property in the name of J. Oldhiser, between the villages of Strykersville and Sheldon Centre, across the road from a schoolhouse and the road on which the Catholic church was located.12,35


Joseph Ohlheiser prepared a will dated 30 December 1862, in Colden, Erie Co., New York. Joseph acknowledged the differences in the dollar amounts of his bequests to his children by noting near the end of the will that some of his heirs would have received a share of what would become his estate or would have received other considerations "above" others.
In writing his will, Joseph (Johannes Joseph) did not name an executor or administrator. This led to a paper-filled, but less than two month, process to have the will recognized by the courts and have his widow appointed as administrator.15

Sources - Citations

  1. [S507] Johannes Josephus Ohlheiser, Photocopy of Church Register 1798 Spechbach, Paper Files of Sean C Tracy, Tracy Home Office.
  2. [S660] "Deutschland, Heiraten 1558-1929", online at Family Search: ; GS Film No: 1189287; Indexing Proj. Batch No: M93482-1; Citing: Spechbach, Heidelberg, Baden Evangelisch; accessed 31 Oct 2014.
  3. [S250] Peter Carl Ohlheiser, Heidelberg Travelog - 1987, Paper Files of Sean C Tracy, Tracy Home Office. Summary of visit to Heidelberg and Spechbach Germany highlighting visit to St. Martin's Roman Catholic Church and with Margot Ohlheiser at the Ohlheiser Family Home (built between 1648 and 1700) in Spechbach; supplemented by photographs of relevant locations.
  4. [S850] Joseph Ohlhauser and Maria Anna Honig marriage, in Liber Matrimonialis pro. Parochia Spechbacht Catholica 1783: Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy, Tracy Home Office, names dates place.
  5. [S250] Heidelberg Travelog, Spells the name as Ohlhauser.
  6. [S504] Certificate of Declaration of Intent, Liber 7, pg 195 vols. (n.p.:, unknown publish date). Name if filled in as Joseph Woolheiser in two places, but is clearly signed in a different hand, "Joseph Ohlheiser" in German script.
  7. [S872] Charles F. Kerchner Jr., “18th Century PA German Naming Customs,” Web Page, 18th Century PA German Naming Customs: ( ); Accessed: 29 Aug 2016.
  8. [S657] Jane Williams, Compiler, Lee/Ayers/Williams/Ryan Family Tree, online at:; (RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project), accessed 8 Sep 2009, gives birth year as 1797 without indicating a source for the date.
  9. [S250] Heidelberg Travelog, Notes time between birthdate and date of Baptism.
  10. [S660] Germany Marriages, 1558-1898, online at:, gives date, location and all parents' names.
  11. [S514] New York Marriages, 1686 - 1980, index: Gives names of John's Father (Joseph Ohlheiser) and Mother (Catharine Mertz), Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  12. [S657] Lee/Ayers/Williams/Ryan Family Tree, 8 Sep 2009.
  13. [S657] Lee/Ayers/Williams/Ryan Family Tree, 8 Sep 2009, gives date, location and Parish.
  14. [S854] Melissa Anne Royston Hahn photographer, Grave Marker for Joannes Joseph Ohlheiser, Photograph, 24 Nov 2015, North Street Cemetery, Auburn, Cayuga Co., New York, Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy (Tracy Home Office), shows age and date of death.
  15. [S508] Joseph Ohlheiser will (30 December 1862), Joseph Ohlheiser Will, vol. 7; ppg. 247-252, Paper Files of Sean C Tracy, Tracy Home Office.
  16. [S657] Lee/Ayers/Williams/Ryan Family Tree, 8 Sep 2009, gives location.
  17. [S504] Declaration of Intent, Signature as Joseph Ohlheiser.
  18. [S871] Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York 1820-1897, Ship Queen Victoria; Microcopy Series M237; Roll 63; Frame 118; (Washington D.C.: National Archives) Digitized by - subscription database, pg. 003, Nos. 123-130.
  19. [S519] Journal of Joseph Ohlheiser (Juniata, Nebraska), information extracted by Harold Russell Ohlheiser, on 23 July 1970. Notes, Paper Files of Sean C Tracy (Tracy Home Office). From the hand-written notes of Harold Ohlheiser: "Information was taken from a small (3"x5") brown leather covered book called a 'Ledger' which was with the papers of RJO Sr. (Robert J. Ohlheiser, Sr.). In front cover of the ledger is written: 'Joseph Heiser, South Wales, Erie Co., N.Y.' and undoubtedly belonged to J.O. Jr. (Joseph Ohlheiser Jr.)."
  20. [S518] Unknown, Map of SheldonTownship, Wyoming Co., New York (n.p.:, 1850 - 1856), Photocopy of the map was made by Carlton Ohlheiser during visit to Library of Congress in 1987, locates J. Oldhiser property in Sheldon on map dated 1850 - 1856.
  21. [S657] Lee/Ayers/Williams/Ryan Family Tree, 8 Sep 2009, gives July date and name of vessel.
  22. [S515] Joseph Ohlizer household, 1855 New York State Census, ErieCo., New York, population schedule, Town of Colden, Enumeration District Election District of the town, Sheet 24, dwelling 211, family 211, Salt Lake City: Family Search.
  23. [S523] Wyoming County - Deeds: Liber. 11; Page. 84; Town 9; Lot 9/10; Range 4;, Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy, Tracy Home Office.
  24. [S523] Wyoming County Deeds: Liber 59; Page 144; Town 9; Lot 9; Range 4;, Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy.
  25. [S523] Wyoming County Deeds: Liber 13; Page 258; Town 9; Lot 10; Range 4;, Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy.
  26. [S523] Wyoming County Deeds: Liber 40; Page 378; Town 9; Lot 9; Range 4;, Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy.
  27. [S523] Wyoming County Deeds: Liber 40; Page 384; Town 9; Lot 9/10; Range 4;, Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy.
  28. [S516] Warranty Deed. From John Ohlheiser to Joseph Ohlheiser; Liber 296, pg 72 of Deeds; Erie County (N.Y.) Clerk's Office. Paper Files of Sean C Tracy, Tracy Home Office. Typed transcription made from original deed/document included in the papers of Robert J. Ohlheiser (grandson of Joseph Ohlheiser, one of the principals) Copied by Evelyn Ohlheiser Kohl, 7 April 1981.
  29. [S517] Illustrated Historical Atlas of Erie County N.Y., Map of Range 6 COLDEN Township 8 (New York: F.W. Beers & Co, 1880).
  30. [S618] Warranty Deed From Joseph Ohlheiser and Mary Eva his wife to Joseph Ohlheiser Jr., Digital Files of Sean C. Tracy, Tracy Home Office.
  31. [S521] Joseph Old Hegser household, 1850 U.S. Census, Wyoming Co., New York, population schedule, Sheldon, Sheet 23 (printed) 45 (by hand), dwelling 369, family 369. Washington: National Archives. Includes two grandchildren, sons daughter.
  32. [S522] Joseph Old Hegser, Owner of Farm, 1860 U.S. Census, Non-Population Schedule 4 Schedule 4. - Productions of Agriculture, Sheldon, Wyoming Co., New York. Sheet 471, Washington: National Archives.
  33. [S510] Joseph Ohlhiser household, 1860 U.S. Census, Erie Co., New York, population schedule, Colden, Sheet no. 130 - written in space provided; 348 stamped in opposite corner, dwelling 1068, family 1054; Washington: National Archives.
  34. [S855] Martin Simmons household, 1865 New York State Census, Cayuga Co., New York, population schedule, 2nd Ward - Auburn, Sheet 13 Line 42, dwelling 71.
  35. [S518] Unknown, Map of Sheldon.
  36. [S852] "Deutschland Geburten und Taufen 1558-1898", online at Family Search: ; GS Film No: 1189287; Indexing Proj. Batch No: C93482-1; accessed 11 Jul 2016.
  37. [S658] "Deutschland, Geburten und Taufen 1558-1898", online at Family Search: ; GS Film No: 1189287; Indexing Proj. Batch No: C93482-1; accessed 31 Oct 2014.
  38. [S657] Lee/Ayers/Williams/Ryan Family Tree, 8 Sep 2009, date and place.
  39. [S1103] Deutschland, Baden, Erzbistum Freiburg, katholische Kirchenbücher, 1678-1930, online at Family Search:; Citing: Baptism, Spechbach, Heidelberg, Baden, Deutschland, 7, Erzbischöfliches Archiv Freiburg (Archbishop's Archives), Germany; accessed 23 June 2018.
Last Edited23 Jun 2018

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