Josephine Guellbert (Gilbert) #52Ancestors

Adolph & Josephine Frueh Family

Josephine Guellbert Frueh – seated front row left

Last week for my #52 Ancestors post I wrote about my father’s maternal grandmother. In keeping with my female ancestors these last couple days of Women’s History Month I’d like to share a bit about my dad’s paternal grandmother.


Josephine Guellbert (Gilbert) is my family’s princess and the pauper story with a twist but I’ll get to that in a minute. Josephine was born in Moir France on 20 May 1849. I’m sorry to say I don’t know who my great grandmother’s parents were. The family legend says Josephine was the daughter of a wealthy family in France. Wealthy enough to employ a gardener. (I’ll bet you can imagine where this is going!) Josephine fell in love with the lowly gardener much to her parent’s disapproval.


As happens so often when parents object to young love, Josephine eloped with the gardener. In July 1868, nineteen year old Josephine married Adolph Frueh in Neuilly France. Outraged Josephine’s parent’s disown her. This rift ran deep. There is not a morsel of information handed down about Josephine’s family. On top of this tumultuous family conflict there were constant skirmishes between France and Germany. The border between these two country’s changed frequently. All out war loomed in the future.


During this time Adolph’s brother, Henry Frueh, emigrated from Germany to northwest Ohio establishing a brewery. He encouraged family members in the old country to join him in this new homeland. In 1889 fearing war and the possibility of their oldest son being pressed into the military Josephine and Adolph packed up their eight children and set sail for the United States. My grandfather, Camillus was among the children. He was Josephine’s seventh child. Camillus was just six years old 31 December 1889 when they arrived in New York City. Sadly Josephine’s oldest son, Theodore, the one they tried to keep from military service died during their passage across the Atlantic.


The family made their way to Ohio settling where Adolph’s brother Henry lived. Hopefully having family nearby eased the transition a bit. Adolph took up his previous trade gardener/florist and in 1893 Josephine gave birth to their ninth and last child.


Josephine Guellbert

Josephine Guellbert Frueh

Interestingly the 1900 census states Josephine doesn’t speak English even though she had been in this country ten years. I wonder if that’s because she didn’t care to speak English. Obviously she would be fluent in both French and German. You know I can’t find that she was ever naturalized but Adolph was in 1898.


From here Josephine’s life is somewhat of a mystery. When Josephine passed away 10 June 1926 in Lima, she was living with her youngest daughter and Adolph was living with one of their sons. I can’t find Josephine in the 1910 or 1920 census nor can I find Adolph in 1910. Yet in the 1920 census I find Adolph living with this son and listed as divorced. This split was a tender subject with my aunts (Josephine’s granddaughters) and the divorce not acknowledged by one. Much more research is needed here.


I can’t help but wonder if Josephine’s parents regretted their decision to disown her. Did they miss their grandchildren? Did they know she moved to America? Or did Josephine ever regret her decisions? I may never know but will work continue to work on it. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Wow! This is such an interesting story. Did Josephine have any siblings that you know of? If so, I wonder if she stayed in contact with them over the years. Perhaps they relayed information about Josephine to her parents.

    • Jana – Thanks for reading and commenting! I agree this is probably the quirkiest family history story I have. I haven’t done much research on Josephine at all and really need to! Like all genealogists so much to do I need 36 hours in a day! LOL!!
      Thanks again for stopping by!

  2. If Adolph and Josephine were married in 1898 when Adolph became a naturalized citizen, Josephine would have become a citizen along with him. It’s not until 1906 that this detail would have shown up in the naturalization records, and not until the 1920s that women could become naturalized on their own. Great story! Perhaps researching all the siblings’ families would get you some more information on this family. Best of luck!

    • Elizabeth – Thanks so much for your comment and tips! I’ve not spent much time researching Josephine and need to. I appreciate your help!


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