Monday, August 26, 2019

An Anarchist in the Family

A few days ago, on 23 Aug, I received an email from Herr Ulrich D. Oppitz, who has published a biography of Fanny Lili Imle in Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (2019, pp. 529-564). Knowing of my Imle blog, Herr Oppitz sent me a copy of his article, and introduced me to an “oh so interesting Imle,” who I had not previously encountered. Fanny seems to be big news these days. Another Ulrich, the American-German historian Ulrich L. Lehner has also been investigating Fanny's life. Before reporting on the life of Fanny Imle, I must warn my readership of two things. First nearly all that follows comes from sources other than myself. I have done relatively little family research on Imles outside the U.S. Second, nearly all those sources were written in German, and my knowledge of the German language leaves much to be desired.

Born on 2 Apr 1878 in Ellwangen an der Jangst in Germany to Hugo Karl Emil Gottlieb Imle and his second wife, Fanny Keller, Fanny Imle never married. She is, however, said to have had an illegitimate son, Walter, born 22 May 1942. Like his grandfather Hugo, Walter served in the military, dying in Belgorod, Russia, during WW II on 22 May 1942.

Fanny Imle was a champion for women's rights, an economist, a philosopher, and a lay preacher, who dared to assert herself in male domains. In 1897 she began studying philosophy at the University of Zurich, one of the few German colleges that admitted women. At the time, Zurich was a gathering point for advocates of radical liberalism, women's emancipation, and socialist ideas. Fanny Imle often appeared at the public debates and made political speeches. Around 1900, she was very active in the German anarchist movement, publishing articles in anarchist newspapers, but then moved to Social Democracy. After 1904, when she converted to Catholicism, Fanny became involved in the Christian labor movement, writing many articles on working life. In 1907 she obtained a doctorate, and in 1912, became a Franciscan Nun. And she did all this while nearly blind.

One of Fanny’s first books was her 1907 text on labor unions, Die Tarifvertrage zwischen Arbeitgebern und Arbeitnehmern in Deutschland (Collective Agreements Between Employers and Employees in Germany). In 1920 she published Die Frau in der Politik (The Woman in Politics), in which she declared “Gruß den Frauen, Sie flechten und weben / himmlische Werte ins politische Leben” (“Greetings to women, they weave and weave / divine values into political life”). But the book was not what one might expect. By that time, following her conversion to Catholicism, Fanny was fighting against moral decline, arguing for a return to traditional, religiously based norms. She declared that

“Since [August] Bebel attempted, in his book Woman to irrevocably link woman and revolution, millions of misled fellow citizens have been certain that revolutionary violence will free the female sex, and that free woman would do away with the last remnants of bourgeois order, legality, morality, and religion.”

This from a one-time anarchist!

Her change is documented. At the beginning of 1918, the former anarchist Rudolf Rocker (1878-1958) returned from internment in England to Germany and was, until his fate was clarified, imprisoned in in Goch (Lower Rhine). A head nurse in charge there gave him a stack of books, among which were the writings of Fanny Imle. Rocker had met Imle in London and was amazed at the writing. The nurse now told him,

“That was probably during her revolutionary period when she was an anarchist. Oh, she's been through a big change since then. She's a wonderful woman, we're all excited about her. Although she is completely blind, she gives lectures week after week. She now lives in a monastery in Munich.”

In later years Fanny wrote such philosophical tomes as Friedrich von Schlegels entwicklung von Kant zum Katholizimus (Friedrich von Schlegel's development from Kant to Catholicism, 1927), Novalis; Seine Philosophische Weltanschauung (Novalis; His Philosophical Worldview, 1928), and Die Theologie des hl. Bonaventura (The theology of St. Bonaventura, 1934).

Following WWII Fanny lived most of her life in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Paderborn, where many of her books were published and which was 85 percent destroyed during WW II. She died 11 Aug 1965 in Niedermarsberg, and was buried in Paderborn’s Westfriedhof cemetery. It is claimed, however, that in 1997 the grave was "leveled" ("eingeebnet"), whatever that may mean. Fanny's name is not found today among Westfriedhof burials.

Much about Fanny’s life is still unknown. In particular, it is claimed that she wrote her memoirs, which detailed the destruction of Paderborn during WWII, and which appear to have been lost.

Was Fanny part of our Imle family? Yes, according to other researchers. But one must go back a long way to find the connection. All the way back to Hans Joachim (1560-1635) and Katharine (Luthardt) Imle (1565-1635), who were the 7G grandparents of both Christopher Frederick Imle and Fanny Lili Imle.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Imles Under the Skin

Lines of Christoph Frederick
and Johannes Saul
In the United States all (or nearly all) individuals with the surname Imle appear to be descended from Christoph Frederick and Anna Maria (Reichert) Imle, who arrived in the U.S. from Gundelbach, Germany, 15 Apr 1881.

But there are believed to be other U.S. “Imles” with a different surname spelling (see blog of 16 Dec 2015, “What's in a name?”). One family tree shows that on 17 Dec 1812 in Gundelbach was born Johannes Saul Imle, shown by another tree to be the third cousin once removed of our Christoph Frederick. Sometime in the early 1800s Johannes immigrated to the United States (beating Christoph’s arrival by several decades), was married 20 Sep 1835 in Ohio, and settled in Indiana, where he died on 14 Mar 1896. Johannes anglicized his name to “John” with, at various times, surnames  of “Emly,” “Emley,” and “Emily.” (Similar to the German pronunciation of "Imle.") Most of his descendants settled on the name “Emily” though the name “Emly” is also seen.

Gundelbach, birthplace of Christoph
 Frederick Imle & Johannes Saul Imle.
We now have additional evidence supporting this history. Two GG grandsons of Johannes Saul Imle have been in contact with me. The two U.S. first cousins, an “Emily” and an “Emly,” are calculated from still questionable family trees to be my 7th cousins. Autosomal DNA testing now predicts that my Emly cousin and I are 5th to 8th cousins. Thus DNA results give credence to our family trees and show that at least some U.S. Emilys and Emlys are really Imles under the skin.

DNA testing is poor at determining that one's grandfather was a blue-eyed fisherman from Ireland, as suggested in some advertisements, or that one should exchange lederhosen for kilts, as claimed in others. But it can be excellent for confirming relationships and boosting the reliability of family trees. Welcome aboard Emilys and Emlys.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

John Imle Sr., Log Cabins

Page 1 of  John's Journal

Among records collected while researching the Imles are seven digital pages of an incomplete manuscript entitled “John Frederick Imle Sr., Journal.” John Sr. was the son of Frederick Christian and Clara Josephine (Coldren) Imle. An accompanying note states that the record was given me by John Imle Jr., though I don’t remember this. Anyway, thank you John.

My questionable transcription of the exceedingly unclear electronic copy is presented in three parts, here and in the following two blogs. My own comments (primarily the word “unclear”) are shown in brackets.

I was born “at an early age” on or about 1899 just 30 days before the 20th century. The place: a little log cabin one-half mile or so north of the “metropolis” of Ernst, Darwin Township, Clark County, Illinois. Ernst was a flagstop on the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and Cairo railroad (the big four as it was then known) which ran between Chicago and Cairo mainly hauling coal from the southern Illinois coal fields to the industrial area around Chicago. Ernst was named (reputedly) after one Ernst Ruhl* a Former land surveyor who laid out and reportedly acquired large land holdings in its immediate area while it was still Northwest Territory and before Illinois became a state in 1808.
The log cabin of my birth was located on the land purchased by grandfather Imle when he immigrated from Germany in early 1881 with grandmother and six children Mary, [unclear] my father, Christian, Gotlieb, Arthur [?] & Adam. My father was 9 and Adam the youngest was just [unclear] year old. Who built the cabin and who previously owned the land [several lines unclear] that they are all gone!! They would have made an interesting study.
[Unclear line] It was later owned by Uncle Chris Imle and still later by Uncle Billy (Wilhelm) Imle who acquired it in [unclear] from granddad when they married. I was often reminded by my mother of the fact that I had something in common with Abe Lincoln – born in a log cabin! That occurred when dad and mother lived there in their early marriage days – 1898 to some time in 1900 [?]. Grandad and family had by then moved to a new frame house build northward of Ernst sometime in the middle 90’s.
In our [unclear] area and north [unclear] Marshall, I can recall at least five log houses that were still occupied most [rest of paragraph unclear except for scattered words]

*Ruhl was the first recorded owner of our farm ½ mile N of Ernst and on which I lived from 1902 to 1919. Later: Examination of Clerk’s records by Ed & Ernest in 1980 found the more recent owner to have been one York [?].

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


A few days ago, my second cousin Elizabeth (Liz) Smith emailed relatives telling us of the 2 Feb 2018 death of Portia Mary (Mollard) Imle, widow of Ernest Paul Imle Sr. The internet obituary ( tells a lot about Portia's life—her interest in anthroposophy (look it up), her travels, her scholarly activities, the tragic death of her son. [While bicycling, Bill was killed by a drunk driver, who had killed another bicyclist two years earlier.] But her marriage to “Ernesto” is worthy of a few more details, details that Portia provided me by telephone a few years ago.

El Buen Pastor Anglican Church, San Jose
Following the death by cancer of her stepmother, Olga, Portia traveled to Puerto Rico, where she met Ernest. In that country Ernest was known as “Don Ernesto” to friends and colleagues and Portia called him “Ernesto” throughout their lives together. After she returned home Ernesto was sent to the Beltsville Agriculture Research Center of the USDA, where they continued to see each other. In 1947 they were married in Costa Rica, a location selected because it was the home of most of their close friends. In Costa Rica a marriage in a Catholic Church would have simultaneously given them a civil marriage, but since they were married in an Anglican Church, they had to also be married in a Civil Ceremony. Thus, they had marriage dates of both 24 November (church) and 27 November (civil), which was Thanksgiving. Throughout their married lives, Ernesto and Portia celebrated their anniversary on Thanksgiving, regardless of the date on which it fell. They were married on the 27th by the mayor of San Jose. There were insufficient people at the civil ceremony to provide the necessary witnesses. From off the street, they pulled in two people, neither of whom could write, to act as witnesses. The witnesses signed the document with a mark.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Last of a Generation

Mary Frances and I just returned from a family history research trip to the Midwest – Illinois, Indiana, Missouri. The major purpose was to research Tapscotts for a book now being written, but we also did a little research in preparation for the Imle book I still plan to write.

While there we attended Sunday services at Emmanuel, the Imle (Grand Turn) church, which will celebrate its 175th anniversary next year. But like many old country churches, attendance is decreasing. I remember congregations of well over a hundred when I was a child. Only forty or so people were present for the service Mary Frances and I attended.

Marguerite, 19 Sep 1918 - 6 Oct 2017.
After church we had lunch at the Lincoln Trail State Park Restaurant with Millers and Schaefers, long-time Grand Turn families related to the Imles by marriage. It was at lunch that we learned of the recent death of Marguerite Gard (Imle) Irwin, the last of the thirty-two grandchildren of Christoph Frederick and Anna Maria (Reichert) Imle, founders of the Wabash Valley Imles.

Marguerite, daughter of William and Fairy (Gard) Imle, passed away 6 Oct 2017 in Florida. Earlier this year, on 27 Apr, we saw the passing of Marguerite’s cousin Dorothea Rose Maria (Imle) Dunlap, daughter of Herman and Eva Ann (Manhart) Imle. These were the last Christoph and Anna Maria descendants of my mother’s, Mary (Imle) Tapscott’s, generation.
Dottie, 8 Aug 1927 - 27 Apr 2017.

I did not really get to know Dorothea (“Dottie Rose”) well until I was an adult. Dottie and Marguerite were “much too old” for me to consider them close acquaintances when I was a child. In later years Dottie played a key role (along with her cousins Paul Harry Imle and John Frederick Imle) in collecting family history data for the 12 Jun 1981 Imle reunion at Lincoln Trail State Park. Once I developed an interest in family history, Dottie suggested that I combine and expand the family group sheets into one unified volume.

Dottie, I still hope to accomplish that task.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Miller Photograph?

I recently received a number of photographs, obituaries, and other Imle/Miller written memorabilia from my cousins Tahnya Stepp Ford and her mother, Judith Ann Miller Stepp, “the keeper of the photos.” Tahnya and Judith are descendants of Anna T. Imle (see posting of 21 Mar 2017) and Eugene Miller of Clark County, Illinois. Among the photos sent was one (shown below), which could picture Imles and/or Millers.

We can immediately rule out Imles. Numerous photos of the Clark County Imles (Christoph and Anna Maria and their descendants) show no one remotely resembling anyone in the above photo. The best bet is that they are Millers, probably Jacob Miller and his second wife Franciska, one of whose children was Anna Imle’s husband to be, Eugene. Clothing indicates that the photo was taken around 1890, at which time Jacob probably had eight living children: Children from his first marriage with Barbara Hess were Peter (b. 19 Nov 1859) and Mary Elizabeth (b. 26 Nov 1865). A third child Henry born in 1862 or 1863 is last seen in the 1880 census and then disappears. All evidence indicates that Henry died relatively young, probably prior to the date of the photo shown above. Children of Peter’s second marriage, with Franciska (“Frances” or “Francis”) Fisher, were Emma Elizabeth (b. 24 Jul 1869), Rudolph (b. 10 Apr 1871), Margaret Matilda (b. 11 Feb 1874), Theodore (b. 5 Feb 1877), Julius Eugene (b. 28 Jun 1879), William (b. 8 Apr 1883). A daughter Elizabeth died as a infant. Thus there could be five boys and three girls in an 1890 photograph. That a girl is missing is not surprising since Mary Elizabeth married rather young (at age 16 on 21 Sep 1882) and appears to have immediately moved to Posey County, Indiana, where her new husband lived, and then to nearby Evansville.

Assuming that this is a photo of the Jacob Miller family around 1890, we can assign the probable individuals and provide their ages: L to R, back row, Matilda (18), Rudolph (19), Peter (31), Emma (21); L to R, front row, Jacob (56), William (7), Franciska (50), Eugene (11). Certainly, the ages appear reasonable.

Are we right or wrong? Is this a photo of Jacob Miller and his family? Is the date reasonable? Are the identifications correct? Does any reader have this or other photos of the Jacob Miller family? Let us know.

And thanks to Tahnya and Judith Ann for providing a splendid puzzle.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Back to the Imles?

I promise
It’s been a year since I last posted anything on this site. Am I losing interest in family history? No. In fact, that’s the problem. I keep getting sidetracked on other projects. But I will get back the Imle book. I promise.

Wedding of Gottlieb Imle and Clara Schroeder (center), 15
June 1904. Left: Eugene Miller and Anna Imle (not yet married).
Right: Adam Imle and an unknown woman, possibly Clara's
sister Ella, but not Adam's wife to be, Olive Geisert.

Today I got an email from a great granddaughter of Anna T. Imle. (Does anyone know what the “T’ stands for?) Anna was the youngest daughter of Christoph Frederick Imle, who founded the Wabash Valley Imles. Anna was born 28 Aug 1884, after Christoph and Anna Maria (Reichert) Imle had arrived in America. I always called her and her husband Julius Eugene Miller, “Aunt Anna and Uncle Eugene,” even though they were really my great aunt and uncle. Aunt Anna died when I was only twelve. Eugene, a quarter century later.

"Imle" Women, 1916, L to R: Kneeling: Clara Schroeder Imle,
Anna Imle Miller, Alta Finkbeiner Imle. Standing: Fairy Gard
Imle, Clara Coldren Imle, Ida Coldren Sockler, Olive Geisert
Imle, Maria Reichert Imle (Grandma), Emma Schroeder Kern.

I have two group photographs showing Anna Imle. One is a photo of the bride, groom, and attendants at the wedding of Gottlieb Imle and Clara Schroeder on 15 June 1904 in Terre Haute, Indiana. (Gotlieb was Anna’s brother). The other is a photo of primarily daughters and daughters-in-law of Christoph Imle taken at a family reunion on 18 Nov 1916 at the family home near Ernst. Ida Coldren is neither a daughter or daughter-in-law and Emma Schroeder was the second wife of Christian William Kern, who married Maria Christina Imle, a daughter of Christoph Imle. Maria had died well before this photo as taken.