A number of my German immigrants came to southern Wisconsin around the middle of the 19th Century. One of the first to arrive was Frederick Ostenberg from Elberfeld, Kingdom of Prussia. Frederick was born in 1816 and was the son of Heinrich Dietrich Ostenberg (b.1785, d.1860?) and Elizabeth Strackbein (b.1790, d.?). Elberfeld is a village in eastern Germany in an area historically known as the Rhineland. By the time Frederick was born, the Rhineland was under the control of Prussia which, by then, had become the most powerful of the German Principalities. Heinrich and Elizabeth reportedly had five children of which two would come to America and three would stay in Germany. To date, no other information about the life of the Ostenbergs in Elberfeld has been found.
Frederick and his father, Heinrich sailed for America in 1848. There is a "Fr." and "D." Ostenberg of the right age that sailed on the ship George Washington, arriving in New York in June of 1848. Since Elizabeth was not listed on the voyage, it had been assumed that she died in Germany sometime prior to that time. However, there is an Elizabeth living with Frederick and listed as 81 years old in the 1860 Federal Census. It is unclear, at this time, if she came over separately or perhaps the Fr. and D. Ostenberg listed on the George Washington are not the correct ones. It should also be noted that another son, Charles, along with his wife and four children, came over the next year. Those ship's records have not been found but it could be conceivable that Elizabeth came to America with them. Regardless, it appears as if Elizabeth was in America and lived into the 1860's.
The two brothers settled in Dane County Wisconsin and both can be found in the 1850 Federal Census. Frederick, possibly a border, was listed right below Charles and family in the town of Blue Mounds. Their father, Heinrich has not been found in the 1850 census but he is listed in the 1860 mortality schedules and noted to have died in the Town of Cross Plains in Dane County. Both Frederick and Charles would raise families and farm in Blue Mounds. Charles, along with a number of his children (including some grown) would leave Blue Mounds in 1876 and head to Nebraska and settle just west of Omaha. He and his descendants would have a large presence in that area.
Frederick married Elizabeth (Ann Elizabeth) Bilse (b.1835, d.1892) in June of 1853. She was 20 years his younger and was from the Bilse family that came as part of a wave of settlers to an area known as Germany Valley in Blue Mounds. In addition to Elizabeth, John Bilse and Gertrude Bilse, probably siblings were also living with the Ostenberg family for a time in the 1850's and 60's. Elizabeth was the daughter of Christian Bilse and Martha Elsbad. It is unclear if Christian ever came to America but his brother Henry did settle in Blue Mounds. Henry (or Heinrich) and family sailed from Brennen to New Orleans in 1852 on the ship Uhland. Listed with them, was an Elizabeth Bilse, age 16. There was more then one Elizabeth Bilse in Blue Mounds but based on the age, this could be the one who married Frederick Ostenberg. If so, she traveled to America with her uncle (she is listed one line removed from the Henry Bilse family in the passenger list).
Frederick, who was known as "Fritz" and Elizabeth farmed and raised six children. Their children were:
- John (b.1856, d.1899); married, had at least two children and was noted to have died in Verona, Wisconsin.
- Mary (b.1858, d.1931); married Henry Kahl and farmed in Blue Mounds.
- Anna (b.1859)
- Amelia (b.1861)
- Augusta (b.1863, d.1935); married Henry Becker and farmed in Blue Mounds.
- Katrina (b.1865); married a man named William Malone.
- Matilda (b.1867); married Henry Opsal and farmed in Blue Mounds. Matilda was admitted to the Dane County Asylum and spent the rest of her life there.
|The gravesite of John Ostenberg, the only son of|
Frederick and Elizabeth who died at the age of 43.
|Mary and Augusta Ostenberg. These daughters of Frederick and Elizabeth would|
both marry boys from nearby farms and live out their lives in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.
|Frederick "Fritz" Ostenberg and Elizabeth|
Bilse are buried at Union Cemetery in
Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
Research Notes: The information for this report came from some on-line family trees, census records and other vital records.
This is one of a series of short biographies of individual ancestors. These are undertaken, from time-to-time, when enough information becomes available about an individual.