Johannes Riedemann & Bertha Schumacher
Johannes Riedemann Undated photo of Johannes Riedemann. (later John) was born on September 1, 1866 to Johannes Riedemann and Elizabeth Fehr in the small village of Hertingshausen in the Hesse region of central Germany. The entire area had been annexed by Prussia just a few months before, and local politics were changing rapidly. Years later, Johannes would describe his country of birth as “Hesse,” but by the time he was six years old he was living in the German Empire. The family may have been affected by these political changes, but it’s hard to say.
At least two of the Riedemann children moved to the United States during the 1870s, and Johannes and his father joined them in about 1880 after the death of Johannes’s mother. While the elder Riedemann joined his son Henry in Dakota Territory, 14-year-old Johannes settled with his brother Nicolaus in Philadelphia, where they became bakers. An 1885 city directory lists them at 812 South 16th Street in South Philadelphia, but by 1890 they were living at 2045 West Diamond Street in North Philadelphia. Johannes became a US citizen on September 22, 1887, and around this time he changed his name to John.
Bertha Schumacher was born on December 26, 1873 in Hecklingen, a village about six miles east of the Rhine River in the Baden region of southwestern Germany. She was baptized at a local Catholic church (possibly St. Andreas) on December 28 in the presence of her parents, Meinrad Schumacher and Maria Krummer. Bertha’s father was a shoemaker as his name implies, and I suspect he came from a long line of tradesmen on his mother’s side.
Like the Riedemanns, the Schumachers might have been affected by Germany’s unification. Today, Baden is on the French–German border, but when Bertha was born Germany controlled the nearby disputed region of Alsace, and years earlier the entire area had been on the periphery of the Franco-Prussian War. Perhaps these circumstances contributed to the family’s decision to leave.
On May 15, 1885, 11-year-old Bertha Undated photo of Bertha Schumacher. appears with her father and three of her siblings on immigration records in New York City, where they arrived from Bremen aboard the SS Rhein. The family was probably processed at the Castle Garden immigration center in what is now Manhattan’s Battery Park. They soon moved to Philadelphia, where Bertha’s mother joined them.
An 1887 city directory lists Meinrad at 1512 South Alder Street in South Philadelphia, across the street from Moyamensing Prison. In 1890, Meinrad is listed again at 1027 Jefferson Street in North Philadelphia, and by 1891 the family was living at 2030 North 7th Street.
Johannes and Bertha must have met in North Philadelphia in the early 1890s. They married in 1893 when Johannes was 27 and Bertha was 20. They went on to have four surviving children:
- John Henry Riedemann was born on December 13, 1897. He worked in the family bakery for some years before joining the armed forces during World War II. Sometime afterward he married Oklahoma resident Marie Stanley. He had no children before his death in 1989.
- Walter Joseph Riedemann was born on September 24, 1901. He also worked in the family’s bakery during his early adulthood before becoming a salesman. He married Marion Wilson in 1925 and had two children: Walter Joseph and Mary Noel. After his wife’s death in 1936, he married a second time to Marion Rey Gery Stokes. He died in 1988.
- Alberta Teresa Riedemann was born on November 4, 1907. She married carpenter John Joseph Idell in 1936 and had four children. She died in 1979.
- Elsie F. Riedemann was born on April 26, 1909. She worked as a nurse at Misericordia Hospital (later known as Mercy Catholic Medical Center) before her death in 1940. She did not marry or have children.
The family lived at 2045 West Diamond Street until about 1907. In 1899, Johannes is also listed with a business address at 3919 West Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. This might have been a bakery where he worked.
In 1900, the census records both Johannes and Bertha on Diamond Street with their son John and Bertha’s sister Theresa. Five boarders were also in the house: 21-year-old Lizzie Brown, 28-year-old Adolph Gruber, 20-year-old Charlie Intie, 17-year-old Joseph Kopp, and 20-year-old William Patzold. At least four of these boarders were bakers like Johannes, and I suspect all of them were his coworkers. One of them (Intie) did not speak English.
Johannes definitely owned his own bakery from about 1906 onward, possibly before. The first address associated with this business is 2040 West Ontario Street in the Nicetown–Tioga neighborhood, which appears next to Johannes’s name in a 1908 city directory. In 1909, the Diamond Street address disappears, indicating that the family probably moved into a space in or near the bakery. The Riedemanns are not recorded in the 1910 census. Around the same time, Johannes became the first president of the Master Bakers’ Business Association of Philadelphia, where he was apparently an active member.
Unfortunately, he A page from Johannes’s (John’s) will, possibly written by Johannes himself. did not live to see his business succeed. Johannes died on December 27, 1911 at the age of 45 after suffering from “uraemia” (kidney failure) and was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. He left everything he owned to Bertha, including the bakery and a “lot” in Upper Township, New Jersey. The properties were worth at least $1,600 (about $44,000 today).
The Master Bakers’ Business Association was having a meeting the day Johannes died, the minutes of which were printed in a trade publication in January 1912.
A motion was unanimously passed to send our former and first President, John Riedemann, a bouquet, with New Year’s greetings from the Association. Shortly after the motion was passed the sad news of his death, at his late residence, 2040 Ontario street, was recieved, which will be a hard blow to his family and the Association, as he had always been an active member of the Association and highly esteemed by everyone.
At the Philadelphia Bakers’ Banquet on February 14, 1912, Johannes was mentioned again. An ad for the Riedemann bakery that appeared in a 1915 charity cookbook. It seems Johannes’s name was attached to the business even after his death.
One of the first things done was the drinking of a silent toast to the memory of their departed President, John Riedemann, who had been the master spirit in the organization since its formation, and who was very highly esteemed.
The same publication reports that attendees of the Association’s monthly meeting received a letter from Bertha thanking them for “the kind remembrances sent her in her hour of affliction.”
Although Johannes’s will gave Bertha permission to sell the family business, she continued to run the bakery after his death. Soon, however, she moved it (and the family’s home) to 2036 West Tioga Street, two blocks north, where the store remained open until at least the late 1920s.
Bertha died on September 17, 1921 after suffering from “carcinoma of omentum” (probably ovarian cancer) at the age of 47. She was buried near her husband in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Johannes Riedemann’s and Bertha Schumacher’s entries on my Ancestry.com tree (requires a subscription). A few additional sources (mostly Philadelphia city directories) are visible here.
Johannes Riedemann’s and Bertha Schumacher’s pages on FamilySearch (requires a free account).
Ancestry.com. U.S., Passport Applications, 1795–1925 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Roll #: 299; Volume #: Roll 299 - 01 Oct 1887–30 Nov 1887. Link (requires subscription)
Ancestry.com. Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558–1898 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Link (requires subscription)
Ancestry.com. Bertha is listed on this ship manifest as a nine and a half; in reality, she was probably 11. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820–1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. Year: 1885; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820–1897; Line: 24; List Number: 560. Link (requires subscription)
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, U.S., Marriages, 1852–1968 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. Marriage Records. Pennsylvania Marriages. Various County Register of Wills Offices, Pennsylvania. Link (requires subscription)
Ancestry.com. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., Marriage Index, 1885–1951 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Index, 1885–1951.” Index. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2009. Philadelphia County Pennsylvania Clerk of the Orphans’ Court. “Pennsylvania, Philadelphia marriage license index, 1885–1951.” Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Link (requires subscription)
“United States Census, 1900,” The Riedemanns appear here with five boarders, all German, Austrian, or German-American bakers. Two of the five boarders were illiterate. database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3WN-YB3 : accessed 18 January 2021), John Reidemann, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 818, sheet 5A, family 90, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,474.
Death Certificate of John Riedemann; Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, PA; Pennsylvania (State). Death Certificates, 1906–1968; Certificate Number Range: 119351–121125. Link (requires subscription)
Find a Grave, database and images (Accessed 18 January 2021), memorial page for John Riedemann (1866–27 Dec 1911), Find a Grave Memorial no. 91226890, citing West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Crypt Tonight (contributor 48494116). Link
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1683–1993 Johannes’s will was initially dated September 30, 1897, but he added some notes on December 9, 1911—less than three weeks before his death. The witnesses were his sister-in-law Theresa and another man named David Lavis. [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Pennsylvania probate record; Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Link (requires subscription)
The National Baker, Vol. 17. United States, National Baker Publishing Company, 1912. Link
Ladies of the Ladies’ Aid Society of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Practical Recipes Cook Book. Mrs. C. Eugene Schwartz, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, 1915. Link
“United States Census, 1920,” Bertha appears here with her children and her mother, living in or near the family bakery. 18-year-old Walter is working there. database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF1F-8QY : 15 January 2021), Bertha Riedemann, 1920.
Death Certificate of Bertha Riedemann; Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission; Harrisburg, PA; Pennsylvania (State). Death Certificates, 1906–1968; Certificate Number Range: 083501–086500. Link (requires subscription)
Find a Grave, database and images (Accessed 18 January 2021), memorial page for Bertha Riedemann (1878–1921), Find a Grave Memorial no. 91226887, citing West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by B Silvey (contributor 47095779). Link
Obituary of Bertha Riedemann; A PDF of a clipping is viewable here. The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 19, 1921; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.