One of my goals for 2016 was to try to find connections to Henry Fritz here in the United States. Heinrich “Henry” Fritz came to the US in 1913 from Alsace-Lorraine. The family story is that he came here by himself, knowing no one. Henry was born in 1896, so he was sixteen years old when he arrived. His papers indicate that he was coming to Peoria, Illinois to his friend Albert Schretz.
The next time I can find Henry is in 1917. Both his Draft Registration and his Declaration of Intention (to become a citizen) are from 1917 and he reported that he lived in Alta, Illinois and his employer was “Chas Gratz”.
I have searched for any “Fritz” in the area during the time that Henry arrived and have not been successful. I have located a Grau family (Henry’s mother was Karoline Grau). It seems likely that there must have been some reason that Henry traveled to Illinois upon his arrival to the US. It is probable that he had some family here. I have not located any Fritz family, so I started looking for his mother's family, the Grau family, in Illinois. Karoline’s parents were Conrad Grau (born in 1804) and Katherine Ruch (born in 1821).
I found a record for a Konrad Grau, born in Germany, who was naturalized in Lacon, Marshall County, Illinois on the 8th of January in 1883. It doesn't seem likely that this would be the Conrad Grau that was born in 1804, as he would be about 80 years old at the time, but it is a possibility. If his wife had died and he had sons here, he may have come to the US.
I also found a burial record for a Conrad Grau born on the 12th of June in 1845 and died on the 20th of August in 1866 and is buried in the Martin Cemetery in Marshall County, Illinois.
Konrad Grau (Conrad Graw) served in the 64th IL Regiment during the Civil War.
35 miles away in Long Point, Livingston County, Illinois I found the family of a Henry Grau, born about 1848. I suspect that Henry and Conrad (b. 1845) were brothers, and possibly brothers to Karoline Grau Fritz (born 1860). They would have had a different mother than Karoline as her parents, Conrad and Catherine, didn't marry until 1852. But Conrad was 17 years older than Catherine, so it could be that he had been married before.)
I have found no records to indicate that Henry had any connection with the Grau family. My next clue and search was based on his Passenger Records. From that I learned the following:i
from Passenger Records at Ellis Island-arrived Feb. 3, 1913 on ship Rochambeau:
name: Fritz Heinrich
last permanent address: Bischweiber, Germany
nearest relative: mother-Karolina in Bischweiber, Germany
final destination: Peoria, IL
person going to: friend-Albert Schretz at Edelstein by Peoria, IL
place of birth: Bischweiber, Germany
So who is Albert Schretz? I found that he was Peter Albert Schertz, born in 1887 in Nebraska. He was the son of Peter W. Schertz, born in Illinois. Peter W.’s parents were John Schertz, born in Alsace, and Magdalena Engel, also born in Alsace. So there’s the possible Alsace connection. Now John and Magdalena had been in the US since at least 1848 (when son John Schertz was born). So Henry could not have known “Albert Schretz” as a friend! Perhaps his grandparents were friends or relatives to Henry’s grandparents?
What I learned is that John Schertz and his wife Magdalena had three sons: John, Peter W. and Joseph F.
Peter W. Schertz had the following children (mother unknown at this time):
Clara, Roy, Gertie, Albert, Carl, and Earl.
All this is to say that I really didn’t meet my goal of learning who Henry Fritz knew when he came to the United States. I still only have some clues.