About PetersPioneersWilliam and Theresa Fassnacht and Elizabeth Lavo Koch Family

Betty and Gerhard Becker, Coni Calligaro, Richard Drueke, James Griffin, Carmen and Bernhard Hampl, Mary Kay Drueke Groening, Father Dennis Morrow, and Kurt Rosenbaum have made contributions to this family history.

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William Koch Born in 1827

Unknown Koch German Flag
Xavier Koch
 
Unknown German Flag
Wilibald (William) Koch
1827-1905
Unknown Gerster German Flag
Johanna Gerster
 
Unknown German Flag

German FlagAndelfingen, 1827-1853. William Koch was born Wilibald Koch in Andelfingen, Württemberg, Germany, on December 2, 1827. The king of Württemberg was Wilhelm I. Württemberg is now part of Baden-Württemberg.

St. Willibald was born in Wessex, England, in 700. He was a cousin of St. Boniface, patron saint of Germany, who ordained him a priest and appointed him bishop of Eichstätt, in Franconia, the site of Willibald's most successful efforts as a missionary. He was the son of St. Richard the King and brother of Sts. Winnebald and Walburga. He died in 781.

William's parents were Xavier and Johanna Gerster Koch. The parish church in Andelfingen was St. Cyriakus.

Wilibald's Wanderbuch
St. Cyriakus Church, Andelfingen, 2007.

Andelfingen is four miles west of Riedlingen. Riedlingen is on the Danube River in the district of Biberach. It is 180 miles south southeast of Frankfurt and 120 miles east northeast of Basel, Switzerland.
Wilibald's Wander-Buch
Front cover of Wander-Buch issued by the Kingdom of Württemberg on April 28, 1845, to Wilibald Koch, ropemaker from Andelfingen.

William was a ropemaker. On April 28, 1845, he was issued a Wander-Buch by the Kingdom of Württemberg. A Wander-Buch is a passport and work record for a journeyman. His Wander-Buch contains entries from master ropemakers in cities and towns where he worked between 1845 and 1853. The general area was southern Germany and northern Switzerland, with some work in north western Austria.

Traveling journeymen were not paid for the work they did received free room and board. They had to wear clothes that were easily recognizable and functional: a very broad-brimmed hat and very wide trousers in the ankle area. Their few personal belongings were wrapped in a piece of fabric that was hung from their walking stick, which was carried over the shoulder. They walked from city to city as they had no money for transporation. They had to appear "clean" so as not disgrace their trade.

There were no photographs, so the bearer of the Wander-Buch was described in detail. The description of Wilibald was as follows: average height, oval face, blond hair, ordinary forehead, blond eye brows, blue eyes, ordinary nose, full cheeks, good teeth, round chin, straight legs, clean skin. A medical examination in 1852 indicated that he had no contagious skin diseases and had been inoculated for smallpox.

There are many songs about journeymen, both folk and classical.

When a journeyman had worked a certain amount of time, he was eligible to become a master--a full-fledged member of the ropemakers guild. This was easier said than done. The guild was a sort of cartel that controlled the number of masters. In any event, after eight years as a journeyman, Wilibald decided to go to America and changed his name to William.

31-Star US Flag 1851-1858Grand Rapids, 1853-1858. In May 1853, William, 25, emigrated from Württemberg. The U.S. flag had 31 stars, the most recent one being for Oregon. The President was Franklin Pierce.

William settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he continued to work as a ropemaker.

According to his obituary, William moved in 1855 to a new house at 109 California Street (803 California Street NW after 1912), at the corner of Straight Street. It "was the first to be built in that locality. At that time it was practically out in the woods, only a trail leading to it from the main part of the town. Mr. Koch often used to tell about seeing deer and other wild animals in back of the house."

On January 25, 1857, William Koch, Jr., was born to William Koch and Theresa Fassnacht. He was baptized at St. Andrew's Church on June 3, 1857.

On April 5, 1858, the bridge across the Grand River at Bridge Street in Grand Rapids, and several factories along the east bank were destroyed by fire. According to the 1891 History of Grand Rapids," the conflagration, near midnight, was a dazzling sight; the flames ran quickly from end to end of the bridge, and it became a continuous sheet of flame across the river, a distance of more than 800 feet. A foot bridge was soon thrown across, over which, for a time, hundreds of persons passed daily" while the bridge was being rebuilt. William's obituary reports that he was employed to make the two enormous ropes from which the foot bridge was suspended.

Regina Theresa Fassnacht Born in 1823

Eva Margaretha Kappler German Flag
Leonhard Fassnacht
1791-1854
Michael Fassnacht German Flag
Theresa Fassnacht
1823-1888
Franz Hauck German Flag
Maria Anna Hauck
1792-1869
Maria Eva Uihlein German Flag

German FlagKönigheim, 1824-1853. Regina Theresa Fassnacht was born June 17, 1823, in Königheim, Baden, Germany. Königheim is on the Brehmbach River 27 miles southwest of Wurzburg, 70 miles southeast of Frankfurt, and 140 miles north of Riedlingen. Baden is now part of Baden-Württemberg, in the Main-Tauber district.

St. Martin Church
St. Martin Church, Königheim.
Königheim panorama
Königheim panorama. Source Königheim Web site.
St. Martin Church
St. Martin Church, Königheim. Built between 1752 and 1756 in the baroque style by architect Michael Anton Mueller, a student of Balthazar Neumann.

Theresa was the second child of Leonhard and Maria Anna Hauck Fassnacht. In 1821, a brother, Richard, had been born. In 1829 a sister, Maria Anna, was born.

31-Star US Flag 1853-1858Grand Rapids, 1853-1858. In 1853, Theresa emigrated from Königheim to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The U.S. flag had 26 stars, the most recent one being for California. The President was Franklin Pierce.

<i>Fanny</i> passenger list
Fanny passenger list: R. Fasnacht, 32; T., 28.
Castle Garden, New York, May 5, 1853.

Theresa traveled with her brother Richard from Antwerp, Belgium, via the bark Fanny, to Castle Garden, New York. Theresa, 28, and Richard, 32, arrived on May 5. Richard was listed as a laborer on the ship's passenger list. Antwerp is 310 miles west northwest of Königheim.

On June 13, 1854, Theresa's father, Leonhard Fassnacht, died at age 63 in Königheim.

On January 25, 1857, William Koch, Jr., was born to William Koch and Theresa Fassnacht. He was baptized at St. Andrew's Church on June 3, 1857.

St. Mary's Church, 1857
St. Mary's Church, 1857. Source: History of St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., 1907.

William and Theresa Marry in 1858, Have 4 Children

William Koch, 30, and Theresa Fassnacht, 34, were married on Tuesday, April 13, 1858, in St. Mary's Church.

In 1857, St. Mary's Church was established to meet the spiritual needs of the German population in the Grand Rapids area. The original church building was replaced in 1873 by the current building, a Gothic-style structure. The first pastor was Father Mathias M. Marco. The Kochs were among the founding parishioners.

Richard Fassnacht, 36, and Mary Koch, 34, were married on Wednesday, April 14, 1858, in St. Mary's Church. This was the day after William and Theresa were married. Richard and Theresa Fassnacht were siblings. The relationship between William and Mary Koch is probably the same.

Grand Rapids, 1858-1888. Following their marriage, William and Theresa lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On July 13, 1858, August J. Koch, Jr., was born to William and Theresa Fassnacht Koch.

In 1859, Johanna Fassnacht was born to Richard and Mary Koch Fassnacht.

On June 28, 1860, Christine Koch was born to William and Theresa Fassnacht Koch.

The 1860 census shows William and Theresa living in the 5th Ward. William was working as a ropemaker, the same profession listed on his passport issued in 1845 in Wuerttemberg.

Third Michigan Infantry Regimental Flag
Troops of the Third Michigan Infantry Regiment received this regimental flag, hand embroidered in white floss with an eagle on both sides. Source: Michigan Historical Museum.
After the fall of Fort Sumter in mid-April of 1861, and following President Lincoln’s first call for volunteers, the local militia companies in Michigan began organizing themselves as the focal points for the regiments which each state would supply to the federal service. William, age 33, joined the Third Michigan Infantry Regiment and served as a Sergeant in Company C. Company C was known as the "Old Grand Rapids" or "German Rifles." He was part of the original group which left Grand Rapids on June 13, 1861. The regiment was lead by Colonel Daniel McConnell and Company C by Captain Adolph Birkenstock. The regiment was attached to:

  • Richardson's Brigade, Tyler's Division, McDowell's Army of Northeastern Virginia, to August, 1861.
  • Richardson's Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to October, 1861
  • Richardson's Brigade, Heintzelman's Division, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1862
  • 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to August, 1862
  • 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Army Corps, to March, 1864
  • 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corps., to June, 1864
Also serving in the Third Michigan Infantry as regimental bandleader was Joseph Schickell. Twenty years later, Joseph's nephew, Cris Smith, would marry William's daughter, Christine.

In 1863, Francis Xavier Koch was born to William and Theresa Fassnacht Koch.

On March 8, 1869, Theresa's mother, Maria Anna Hauck Fassnacht, died at age 77 in Königheim. She had been a widow for 15 years.

The 1870 census shows William and Theresa living in the 5th Ward. William was working in a furniture store.

William Koch first appears in the Grand Rapids city directory in 1870. His occupation is furniture upholsterer in the Lincoln Block on West Bridge Street.

1875 Grand Rapids Directory
1875 Grand Rapids Directory ad for the undertaking business of William Koch.
The 1872 city directory shows William's occupation as furniture and undertaker and working on the north side of Bridge, between Scribner and Turner at 45 West Bridge Street (335 Bridge Street NW after 1912). (This was a few doors down from the Franz Berles grocery store. Franz' daughter Elizabeth Berles, married William Peter Drueke in 1882).

The 1872 city directory shows that the Kochs were living at 109 California Street (803 California Street NW after 1912), at the corner of Straight Street. This was nine blocks west of the Grand River and six blocks south of Bridge Street.

St. Mary's Church, 1907
St. Mary's Church, 1907. Source: History of St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., 1907.
In 1873, the original St. Mary's Church building was replaced by the current building, a Gothic-style structure. It was built by Father John George Ehrenstrasser, who became pastor in 1870.

Christina Koch Smith
Christina Koch Smith.
On June 17, 1880, Christine Koch, 19, and Cris J. Smith, 28, and were married in Grand Rapids. Following their marriage, they lived in Grand Rapids with the Kochs at 109 California Street. Cris was a musician. Cris Smith had a maternal uncle, Joseph Schickell, who served with Christine's father in the Third Michigan Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

In 1882, Cris and Christine Koch Smith had a daughter, Rose Viola.

In 1883, the business operated as Koch & Koch (William, Jr., and August).

On May 19, 1883, August Koch died at home at age 24. He was buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

On April 3, 1887, Christine Koch Smith, 26, died. She left a husband Cris and child Rose Viola. Cris and Christine had been married only six years.

In 1888, Alexander F. Zugelder, 19, son of Theresa Fassnacht Koch's sister Maria Anna Fassnacht Zugelder, immigrated from Königheim to Grand Rapids to study for the priesthood. Grand Rapids was a new diocese and had not yet established its own seminary, so he attended St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee and the Grand Seminary at Montreal.

William Widowed in 1888 at Age 60

Grand Rapids, 1888-1889. Upon the death of his wife Theresa, William, 60, was left a widower.

In 1888, the funeral business operated under the name Koch Bros. (William, Jr., and Frank). This only lasted one year.

In 1889, Cris and his daughter Rose Viola moved two blocks east and two blocks north from the Koch home to the Hauser home at 105 Gold Avenue (151 Gold Avenue NW after 1912). Cris' sister, Rosa Wilhelmina Schmitt had married Charles Andrew Hauser in 1882, and they lived with Mary Augusta Schickell Schmitt, the mother of Cris and Rosa Wilhelmina. Rose Viola referred to Rosa Wilhelmina Schmitt Hauser as "Tante" and Charles Hauser as "Uncle Charlie." The Hausers had no children of their own.

Theresa Dies at Age 65

On August 3, 1888, Regina Theresa Fassnacht Koch died. She was 65 years old and had been married to William for 30 years. She was buried at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.
Drueke Koch tombstone
Portion of large tombstone in Mt. Calvary Cemetery for:
--Regina Theresa Koch, Died Aug. 3, 1888, Aged 64 years.
--Wm. Koch, Dec. 2, 1827 - Oct. 19, 1905.
--Elisabeth Koch, Died Oct. 18, 1911, Aged 69 years.
Underneath what is shown in the photo, in large letters, are the words: DRUEKE - KOCH.

Elizabeth Born in 1842

German FlagGermany, 1842-1852. Elizabeth Lavo was born in Bavaria in 1842. Elizabeth may not have known who her parents were because they are not identified on her 1889 marriage certificate.

Grand Rapids, 1852-1889. In 1852, Elizabeth emigrated from Bavaria to America. The year is based on the 1900 census.

1890 Grand Rapids Directory
Pieta statue donated in 1879 by Father Ehrenstrasser and Elizabeth Lavo for the new St. Mary's Church. It is located near the north rear entrance.
In 1879, Elizabeth Lavo, together with Father Ehrenstrasser, pastor of St. Mary's Church, donated a Pieta to the new Church. Her donation is cited on page 103 of the History of St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. published on the occasion of the Church's golden jubilee in 1907.

The 1880 census shows Elizabeth as a servant and housekeeper for the Schenkelberg family in Grand Rapids. Clarence Schenkelberg and his wife Theresa were grocers, along with Clarence's brother Casper. Their address was 27 Turner Street. The Schenkelbergs were among the original parishioners of St. Mary's Parish.

William and Elizabeth Marry in 1889

Marriage License

1890 Grand Rapids Directory
1890 Grand Rapids Directory ad for the undertaking and livery businesses of William Koch.
On July 2, 1889, William, 61, married Elizabeth Lavo, 47. They were married by Father Bernard Goossens at St. Andrew's Cathedral. Witnesses were Albert Dumsky and Amelia Daun, both of Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids, 1889-1905. Following their marriage, William and Elizabeth lived at the funeral home at 45 West Bridge Street.

In 1891, William Koch, Jr., died at 34, leaving his wife Anna and a child Mamie.

In 1893, William and Elizabeth attended the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Jane Drueke Biggins had in her home in Wilmette a tumbler from the Exposition with the name Koch on it.

Mary Kay Drueke Groening has a walking stick with "Wm. Koch 1893" etched on the top end of the stick.

On June 19, 1894, Alexander F. Zugelder, a son of Theresa Fassnacht Koch's sister Maria Anna Fassnacht Zugelder, was ordained at age 25 at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Grand Rapids. He said his first Mass at St. Mary's Church. Fr. Zugelder had immigrated from Königheim to Grand Rapids in 1888. He served as a pastor in four Michigan towns: Cadillac for eighteen months, Provemont for four years, Beaver Island for six years, and Beal City. He was transferred to Beal City in 1905.

Father Zugelder and family
Photo taken in 1894 at the time of Fr. Zugelder's ordination or first Mass. Back row: Father Alexander F. Zugelder with two unidentified girls. Front row: Rose Viola Smith.
Father Zugelder and family
Photo of Rose V. Smith, her two surviving Koch and Smith grandparents, her visiting father, her "adopted" parents Tante and Uncle Charlie, and Father Zugelder. Possibly taken in 1894 at the time of Fr. Zugelder's ordination or first Mass. Standing: Charles A. Hauser, Rev. Alexander F. Zugelder, Cris J. Smith. Sitting: Rosa Schmitt Hauser, William Koch, Mary Augusta Schickell Smith, Elizabeth Lavo Koch. Kneeling: Rose V. Smith.

In 1896, William entered into a partnership with Charles F. Stein. The funeral home at 45 West Bridge Street and the livery business at 11-15 Scribner both became known as Koch & Stein. William and Elizabeth moved back to 109 California Street (803 California Street NW after 1912).

In 1898, Otilia Leuchtweis, granddaughter of Theresa Fassnacht Koch's sister Maria Anna Fassnacht Zugelder, immigrated to Grand Rapids from Königheim at age 9. In the 1900 census, she was living with the Kochs. In the 1910 census, she was living in Beal City with her uncle, Father Zugelder, and attending college. Otilia's mother, Mary Magdalena Zugelder Leuchtweis, had died in 1893, when Otilia was only four years old. Otilia's father, Michael Joseph Leuchtweis, remained in Königheim when Otilia emigrated.

In 1899, the funeral and livery business became Koch & Co. Charles Stein dropped out of the partnership.

In 1900, William entered into a partnership with George J. Egeler. The business became known as Koch & Egeler.

Koch & Egeler
Koch & Egeler, 13 Scribner, Grand Rapids, circa 1900-1901. Source: GR Museum - Camera Shop photos, No. 2233.

In 1902, William Koch was listed in the directory without an occupation. It remained this way until his death except that in 1904 he is associated with Fred W. Platte. The 1900 census shows Fred W. Platte, 36, undertaker, living at 483 Second Street in Grand Rapids. The 1910 census shows Fred Platte, 46, undertaker, living at 116 Gold Street.

William Koch
William Koch.
Koch home on California Street
Koch home on California Street. Woman on right is Elizabeth Lavo Koch. Person on left is unidentified.
Elizabeth Lavo Koch and unknown person
Elizabeth Lavo Koch and unknown person (close-up of people in photo to left.).

In April 1905, William suffered an attack of severe pleurisy from which he did not recover. He had been in ill health since winter.

William Dies at Age 77

William Koch died of heart disease on October 19, 1905. He was 77. He was buried alongside his first wife Theresa at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

Drueke Koch tombstone
Portion of large tombstone in Mt. Calvary Cemetery for:
--Regina Theresa Koch, Died Aug. 3, 1888, Aged 64 years.
--Wm. Koch, Dec. 2, 1827 - Oct. 19, 1905.
--Elisabeth Koch, Died Oct. 18, 1911, Aged 69 years.
Underneath what is shown in the photo, in large letters, are the words: DRUEKE - KOCH.

Grand Rapids Newspaper, October 20, 1905
CLAIMED BY DEATH
William Koch, Pioneer Undertaker of Grand Rapids
He Came to This City Half a Century Ago
First Worked as Ropemaker and Then as Upholsterer--Served in Old Third Michigan Infantry
   William Koch, for more than fifty years a resident of this city, and Grand Rapids' pioneer undertaker, died yesterday at his home at the corner of California and Gold streets.
   Mr. Koch was a native of Germany and was born at Andelfingen, Wurtemburg, on Dec. 2, 1827. As a boy he learned the ropemaker's trade in Germany, and when he came to America, settling in Grand Rapids in April, 1853, he followed for a while the business of ropemaking. After the disastrous fire of 1858 which burned a number of factories near the river and destroyed the only bridge across the river at that time, an old wooden structure at Bridge street, he was employed to make the two enormous ropes from which a footbridge was suspended until the old bridge could be rebuilt.
   Machine made rope soon came into the market, however, and Mr. Koch then turned his attention to upholstering, being the first to set up an upholstery shop in the city.
Served in the Civil War
   At the outbreak of the Civil war he entered the Union army and served through the entire war as a member of Company B, Third Michigan Infantry. He was in the battle of Bull Run and took part with his company in many of the most important engagements of the war.
   After the war he started an undertaking establishment on West Bridge street, continuing in the business until last winter, when he retired on account of ill health. Last April he suffered an attack of severe pleurisy and since that time had been a constant but uncomplaining sufferer from heart trouble.
   The house at the corner of California and Straight streets, in which Mr. Koch had lived for 50 years, was the first to be built in that locality. At that time it was practically out in the woods, only a trail leading to it from the main part of the town. Mr. Koch often used to tell about seeing deer and other wild animals in back of the house.
   Mr. Koch was twice married and is survived by a widow and by two children of the first marriage.
   A man of great will power, outspoken, energetic and of absolute integrity, Mr. Koch will long be remembered by his business associates and friends. He was an active church member, being one of the original thirty-three members of St. Mary's Catholic church. He was also an active member of the Old Settler's association of Champlin Post, G. A. R. and of Arbeiter, Germania and Schwaben societies. Though always avoiding publicity, he did a great deal of charity in a quiet way and was ever ready to come to the assistance of his friends. The funeral will be held Monday.

Obituary

Elizabeth Widowed

Grand Rapids, 1905-1911. Elizabeth was widowed upon the death of her husband William. She had been married to William for 15 years. She continued to live in their home at 109 California Street (803 California Street NW after 1912).

In 1906, William's granddaughter, Rose Viola, 24, married William Francis Drueke, 22, at St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids.

Elizabeth Dies

Elizabeth Lavo Koch died October 18, 1911. She was buried alongside her husband and Theresa Fassnacht Koch at Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

Drueke Koch tombstone
Portion of large tombstone in Mt. Calvary Cemetery for:
--Regina Theresa Koch, Died Aug. 3, 1888, Aged 64 years.
--Wm. Koch, Dec. 2, 1827 - Oct. 19, 1905.
--Elisabeth Koch, Died Oct. 18, 1911, Aged 69 years.
Underneath what is shown in the photo, in large letters, are the words: DRUEKE - KOCH.

William and Theresa: 4 children, 2 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren

William Koch 1857-1891  m. Anna S.
  • Mamie T. Koch
August J. Koch 1858-1883

Christine Koch 1860-1887  m. 1880 Cris J. Smith 1852-1932

Francis Xavier Koch 1863-1045  m. 1896 Mary Magdalene Sippel 1869-1956
  • Leona M. Koch 1896-1984  m. Mickey A. Shea 1897-1970  m. Charles D. Catlin 1890-1979
  • George V. Koch 1898-1956  m. Lucille H. Ervin
    • Patricia A. Koch  m. Arnold Thomas Kloosterman 1920-1981
  • Emily Marcelle Koch 1904-1964  m. Casper M. Droste, D.D.S., 1895-1971
    • Donald C. Droste
    • Emily M. Droste

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