Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Glassworkers - Part 1

From what I've been able to piece together, the glassworking trade was key in determining where my paternal grandfather's ancestors lived. My 2nd great-grandfather, Nikolaus Kuhn (Nicholas Kuhn in the Americanized spelling), was born in November 1848 in Germany, reportedly at Wallerfangen.

According to the Porcelain Marks & More website, 
Nicolas Villeroy … set up an earthenware factory in Vaudrevange (today called Wallerfangen) on the River Saar in the year 1789. He successfully applied decorations onto tableware ...” 
I wonder if it's possible that Nikolaus' glassworking career could have started in that very factory?

In 1886, Nikolaus and his family immigrated to America, with a destination of East Liverpool, Ohio – a city that has been known as the "Pottery Capital of the World" and as "The Crockery City." After East Liverpool's chief industry of pottery began in 1839-40, both the population and number of potteries grew rapidly. Between 1880 and 1890, the population nearly doubled, and Nikolaus' family would have been part of that growth.

Nikolaus' daughter Clara Edith and son Albert were born in July 1893 and March 1894 respectively at Fostoria, Ohio – Fostoria Glass Company had opened there in December 1887. Nikolaus became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in November 1893 at Tiffin, Ohio – home of the Tiffin Glass Company. Both Fostoria and Tiffin are in Seneca County, with Tiffin being the county seat, which likely explains why the naturalization occurred there.  

The 1900 U.S. Census records Nikolaus as living in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, working as a china decorator. He died four years later in Monongalia County, West Virginia, at the young age of 55 or 56, with his death record indicating he was a glass cutter.

Several of Nikolaus' children settled in Morgantown, West Virginia, where sons Mathias and Albert continued the tradition. Mathias was a glassworker per his marriage license in 1899, and was a glass blower at Seneca Glass Company in 1918 per his WWI draft registration. Albert was a glassworker first in South Connellsville, Pennsylvania, per his 1917 WWI draft registration, then at Seneca Glass Company in Morgantown by 1922 per his marriage license. By 1942 when he registered for WWII, he was employed by the Morgantown Glassware Guild.

The oldest son of Nikolaus was Adam, my great-grandfather, who settled in Moundsville, West Virginia. I'll continue with his story in my next blog post, Glassworkers - Part 2.

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