We know little about my husband’s grandfather, Henry W. Fritz. He was born Heinrich Fritz on 24 March 1896 to Emile and Karolina Grau Fritz in Bischweiler, Alsace-Lorraine, Germany. He also had a sister, Louisa Fritz. It is not known if she was older or younger than Henry. The family’s language was German. Henry arrived in the United States in 1913, with his final destination listed as Peoria, Illinois. At that time he was sixteen years old. Passenger records indicate that he was going to a friend, Albert Schertz in Edelstein, Illinois (near Peoria). Albert was twenty-five years old, born in Nebraska, but raised and lived in Illinois (across the river from Peoria). It is unlikely that Henry actually knew Albert.
On 5 June 1917 Henry registered for the WWI Draft. He was listed as twenty-one years old, living in Alta, Illinois as a farmer employed by Charles Graze. He was single.
Henry filed a Declaration of Intention for citizenship on 7 June 1917 in Peoria, Illinois. At the time of filing Henry was listed as 21 years old, working as a farmer in Alta, IL.
In 1920, Henry was listed as a roomer in Peoria, Illinois, working as a blacksmith. In January 1921, he enlisted as a private in Hq. Btry 3rd F.A. He was honorably discharged in Kentucky in January of 1922 after fulfilling his term of service.
Upon his return home, he married a widow, Emma Bishel Fandel, in March of 1922. It is known that Henry had known Emma for a few years, since he was present in 1918 when her husband was killed on a hunting trip. Henry and Emma had one child, a son, born in November 1922. Henry worked as a machinist all of his life. He and Emma raised one of their grandsons for a few years, but otherwise, lived a solitary, simple life. Emma died in 1973. Shortly after, Henry went to live at the veteran’s home in Danville, Illinois. He died in Champaign, Illinois in October of 1980 and is buried at the Danville National Cemetery in Danville, Illinois.