Are Henrietta Bahle and Rachel Bahle one and the same?

Jacob Bahle was a German immigrant to the Pittsburgh area who fought in the American Civil War and worked as a general laborer for much of his life. He married in 1860 and raised at least nine children in the Deutschtown neighborhood, an enclave of working class Germans on the north shore of the Allegheny River. Jacob and his wife spent many of their years at 832 Perry Street.[1] A search of available record groups revealed census schedules, probate indexes, Civil War pension files, Pittsburgh city directories and death certificates for Jacob and his wife. Many of these documents include the same address, informant, surname or list of children. While Jacob Bahle’s name appears almost universally in these sources, the name of his wife is listed variously as Henrietta or Rachel. Never are both used together as if one is a middle name or nickname. Are Henrietta Bahle and Rachel Bahle, who lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from approximately 1860 until 1921, one and the same?

The earliest identified source that includes Jacob Bahle and his wife is the 1870 U.S. Census. Jacob Baily [sic], aged 37, worked in a cotton mill while his wife Henrietta, aged 26, kept the home. Henrietta was born in Ohio to foreign-born parents.[2] Ten years late the 1880 U.S. Census would likewise indicates Jacob Bali [sic] and Henrietta were living in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. While this census would indicate Henrietta was born in Pennsylvania, it is consistent with the enumeration ten years prior in that her parents were born in Württemberg. She again kept the home while her husband Jacob remained employed in a cotton mill. By now they had five children, including George, John, Charles, Jacob and Annie.[3]

On 22 June 1898, Jacob completed a form as part of his Civil War pension application that asked the question, “Are you married?” Jacob’s answer reads, “Yes, wife maiden Rachel Schauffer.[4] This is the earliest known record that names Rachel instead of Henrietta. The informant writes that Victor Scriba, a Justice of the Peace, married Jacob and Rachel on 22 October 1860. The form names their children, including George, John, Jacob and Annie as seen in the 1880 Census. Additional children named include Joseph, Mary and Anthony [Andrew?]. Without the date of marriage, it would be simple to assume that Jacob’s wife Henrietta was deceased and that Rachel was a second wife. However, knowing that they had been married for 38 years at this point helps build the case that Rachel and Henrietta are the same person.

Two years after filing for his pension, Jacob Bahle’s family was enumerated in their home at 832 Perry Street in Pittsburgh for the 1900 U.S. Census. This time, it wasn’t Rachel living with Jacob but Henrietta. She and Jacob were enumerated as being married for 40 years. She was born in Ohio and as in 1880, her parents were born in Germany. In the household are 12 people, including two sons, Joseph and Andrew, daughter Annie, her husband Jacob Mauer, their children and three boarders. [5]

The 1900 Census would be the last in which Jacob and Henrietta were enumerated together. On 14 September 1908, Jacob Bahle died of uraemia at the age of 76.[6] The informant on Jacob’s death certificate was Mrs. Henrietta Bahle of 832 Perry Street. He was buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Ross Township, just north of Pittsburgh.[7] His obituary, appearing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a day later, likewise names his wife as Henrietta Bahle (nee Shauffer).[8] This surname is similar to that listed in the 1898 pension application, with a spelling variation of Schauffer (note the “c” missing in 1908).

Just one week after Jacob’s death, on 21 September 1908, a request for a widow’s pension was filed. This time, the name on the record was Rachel Bahle. In an affidavit sworn before a notary, Rachel indicated that Victor Scriba, a justice of the peace, married her to Jacob on 22 October 1860. The name Henrietta does not appear in the document. However, consistent with other documents is the address at 832 Perry Street and Jacob’s death date of 14 September 1908.[9]

Pittsburgh city directories are universal in accepting Henrietta as the wife of Jacob, such that the 1909, 1916 and 1918 directories include her as the widow of Jacob and the address of 832 Peralta Street.[10] In 1920, the census enumerator found Henrietta and not Rachel living alone in the rear apartment of 832 Peralta. Her daughter Annie Mauer was living in the front apartment. Again, she’s enumerated as being born in Ohio to parents who were born in Germany.[11]

The elderly woman who lived at the rowhouse at 832 Peralta Street died at the age of 78 on a cold and rainy Sunday, 6 March 1921.[12] The name on the death certificate reads Henrietta Bahle.[13] No middle name or initial was used and no mention of Rachel. Her daughter Annie Mauer served as the informant of her death, indicating Henrietta’s father was John Schnauffer and her mother name unknown. Her obituary appeared in the Pittsburgh Press the next day under the same name, the wife of the late Jacob Bahle, nee Schuaffer, with no survivors listed.[14]

While Henrietta had died, this was not the end of Rachel in available records. The probate record of Jacob’s wife names her as Rachel. Incredibly, it includes an alternative name, but not the one this search expected. “Rachel (or Rachael) Bahle”, as printed in the Allegheny County Proceedings Index, included her date of death of 6 March 1921. The executor William Rosemeier filed his account of her assets with the probate court on 10 November 1921. It was Rachel’s name in the filing.

It’s not uncommon for someone to have a nickname or use a middle name, but it’s rare for it to be unexplained through most of one’s documented life, switching back and forth in legally binding documents with little rhyme or reason. Regardless, there is sufficient direct evidence to state that the woman who lived much of her life at 832 Perry (or Peralta) Street with Jacob Bahle used both names. Was she Rachel Bahle or was she Henrietta Bahle? She was both.

Sources:
[1] Perry Street north of the Allegheny River was renamed Peralta Street shortly after the 1907 annexation of the City of Allegheny by the City of Pittsburgh and the creation of duplicate street names. The addresses of 832 Perry Street and 832 Peralta Street refer to the same house. For a discussion on street names and naming in Pittsburgh, see George Thornton Fleming, Pittsburgh, how to See it: A Complete, Reliable Guide Book with Illustrations, the Latest Map and Complete Index (Pittsburgh : William G. Johnson Publishing, 1916), 47, “Streets and Street Names”; digital images, Google Books, (https://goo.gl/EMlVX3 : accessed 22 Mar 2016).

[2] 1870 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Allegheny, p. 32 (penned), family #249, Jacob Bahle household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2016); NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1290.

[3] 1880 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Allegheny, p. 44 (penned), enumeration district (ED) 24, household #426, Jacob Bahle household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2016); FHL microfilm 1255087, image 553.

[4] Jacob Bahle (Pvt. Co. H, 6th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, Civil War), pension no. 931,333, Case Files of Approved Pension Applications …, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Record Group 15 Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[5] 1900 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Allegheny, enumeration district (ED) 33, sheet 14, family #318, Jacob Bahle household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2016); NARA microfilm publication T623, Roll 1355.

[6] “Jacob L. Bahle,” The Pittsburgh Press, 14 September 1908, online index and digital index (https://www.newspapers.com/image/142146533/ : accessed 25 March 2016), citing print edition page 3, column 1.

[7] Jacob Bahle, Saint Mary’s R.C., Troy Road, Ross Township, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1777–2012 (www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 March 2016); Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bureau of Archives and History, Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards, 1929-1990, Series 1.

[8] “Jacob L. Bahle,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 15 September 1908, online index and digital index (https://www.newspapers.com/image/86157218/ : accessed 25 March 2016), citing print edition page 6, column 2.

[9] Declaration for Widow’s Pension, 21 September 1908, Rachel Bahle, widow’s pension application no. 904,770; combined with Jacob Bahle (Pvt. Co. H, 6th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications …, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Record Group 15 Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[10] R.L. Polk, compiler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, City Directory (Pittsburgh: R. L. Polk & Co. and R.L. Dudley, 1909), 139; also subsequent years by the same title: (1916) 485, (1918) 469; U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com ; accessed 25 March 2016).

[11] 1920 U.S. census, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Pittsburgh, enumeration district (ED) 694, sheet 5A, family #133, Henrietta Bahle household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 March 2016); NARA microfilm publication T625, Roll 1526.

[12] “The Weather,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6 March 1921, online index and digital index (https://www.newspapers.com/image/85516420/ : accessed 25 March 2016), citing print edition section 1, page 6, column 5.

[13] Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, “Pennsylvania Death Certificates, 1906-1963”, No. 22419 (stamped), Henrietta Bahle entry, died 6 March 1921; indexed database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2016); citing “Pennsylvania Death certificates, 1906–1963”, Series 11.90, Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/).

[14] “Henrietta Bahle,” The Pittsburgh Press, 7 March 1921, online index and digital index (https://www.newspapers.com/image/145649602/ : accessed 25 March 2016), citing print edition page 24, column 5.

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