March is National Women’s History Month and +Lisa Alzo at The Accidental Genealogist has presented the genealogical community with 31-derful writing prompts to encourage us to share our female ancestors.
Born around 1836, Catherine’s story is the most intriguing of all my female ancestors. I’ve found nothing on her before her marriage to Franz Bernhardt of Philadelphia. Records claim she was from Hanover, Germany but it’s not clear when she immigrated to America, although I suspect it was before she married. The only indication of her maiden name is on a 1910 death certificate for her son. The name is recorded as “Smidt” but I suspect it might actually have been the more common Schmidt.
What speaks to me about Catherine? She had ten children – five of them died before they were five – and most of those died in infancy. In 1857, she had another daughter die at the age of 21. Just over a year after the death of this daughter, Catherine herself died – of uterine cancer (the “irony” is not lost on me).
I can’t even begin to fathom the toll all this death had on Catherine and her family.
I hope to one day trace her back to her family in Germany. For now I will continue my work in Philadelphia hoping to tie her to family there.