The Family Home Page
Christine Margaret Bender and Herman Borsig were married at the French port of LeHarve on the eve of sailing on a 45-day trip to the new world circa 1866, perhaps to avaoid the mandatory military service of Prussia in its many wars. We don't know for sure. (Note the alternative spelling of Boersig that occurs throughout the records.)
A wedding present of a set of delicate and exquisite hand-blown glassware survived the trip, and has been preserved all these years by my Aunt Rita and her son, Frank Shortman. I took photos of the set (above) when I visited with him in Florida in January, 1989.
Herman Borsig/Boersig was born April 6, 1846 in Petersthal/Baden, Germany. A few months later, the family moved to Hamburg where they settled. Herman would become a locksmith and machinist by trade. It was in Hamburg that he met his future wife, Marguerite Christina Bender who was born on November 30, circa 1848.
They were married circa 1968 in LeHarve, France, where they immediately boarded the ship Helvicia and sailed to New York City. The trip took 45 days. Nice honeymoon! They first lived for a short period of time in Harlem, Manhattan, then moved to 208 Willis Avenue in the Bronx where at least eleven of their children would be born, and where Herman would die circa 1928.
Over the years they had twelve children, seven girls and five boys - Herman, Harry, Willie, Charles and possibly a Robert, Marguerite, Sophia, Magdalena, Caroline, Matilda, Florie, and one name unknown. Seven of them married that we know. These seven were the only ones alive by 1925 - Harry, Willie, Charles, Marguerite (Maggie) Hervey-Zimmerman, Caroline (Carrie) Lucas, Magdalena (Lena) Janisch, and Matilda (Tillie) Kirchert-Klein-Emerson.
After Grandpa Herman died, Grandma moved in with her daughter Caroline Lucas at 560 East 89th St., Canarsie, Brooklyn, until she died circa 1932. It is believed that Herman and Christine Borsig are buried in Lutheran Cemetery on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens, NYC.
Grandpa Herman worked at one time for the Mott Iron & Steel Works. He also worked for one of the companies that built the magnificent NYC Public Library at 42nd St. and Fifth Avenue in NYC.
The Borsig Children after 1925
Willie married a Florie
Harry married an Elaine
Charlie (1881-1983) had a few wives and three children.
Caroline (1879-1962) married Walter F. Lucas, Sr. (1877-1948) begat Walter Jr. (1904-1967)
Marguerite (1874-1953) married #1 Virgil T. Hervey (1835-1921); #2 John Zimmerman,(1925)
Magdalena (1885-1950) married Wilhelm Janisch, begat Wilhelm, Jr. (1920-1983)
Matilda (1886-1935?) #1 Louis Kirchert; #2 Charles Klein; #3 Steve Emerson
Anecdotes and Other Interesting Tidbits
Uncle Charlie worked for Consolidated Edison in NYC, was in the National Guard from 1903 to 1917. During WWI he was in the Coastal Artillery, stationed in Rhode Island. He had three daughters, one named Elinor (b. 1917?). He also had one son, Arthur Charles, born 1911, but died as a child. It was also said that one of his wives tried to kill him by feeding him ground up glass. Nevertheless, he lived 101 years.
Sophia was said to have died in her 20's from some disease like diptheria or smallpox.
Magdalena's only son, Willie, spent most of his life as an electrician's mate in the Merchant Marine. In the 1960's he was mugged and severely beaten in Hong Kong, China. He never really recovered.
Other Relatives - Lost Over The Years
Robert Bender lived on Staten Island, wife - Mildred. Regarded as a cousin. Possibly from Grandma Christina's side of the family.
George Zigelmeyer. George, Sr.'s wife was Dora. They lived in Queens and Brooklyn, but in later years moved to Whiting, New Jersey, where it is presumed they died. It is thought that they may have been born circa 1905. George, Jr. worked for the Brooklyn Union Gas Co. as a chemist. He was also a brilliant pianist as well as an accomplished amateur photographer. George Jr. was Best Man at the wedding of Caroline and Walter Lucas, Sr. He took many of the existing family photos. His wife Mary was a school teacher.
Tanta Anna came from Berlin, Germany and settled in Staten Island. She was fond of "katz" (cats) and had many of them. (Is she the "catlady" in the family photo album, RH wonders?) Her last name is not known any more, but she wrote a letter to Walter and Carrie Lucas in the 1950's advising them that when she died they would inherit whatever she had because my grandfather always took care of her legal problems. When she died no will was found, so NYC got everything. (Note: Let that be a lesson to us all.-RH) She often said that we were the best behaved American kids that she ever knew.
Matilda. During WWI, 1916 - 1918, she lived with Charlie Klein, who would become husband #2 in 1922. They worked for the Savage Arms Co. in Herkimer, NY.
During WWII there was a company named Rhine-Mattel Borsig in Germany that made artillery pieces for the German Army. I don't know if the family was related. (Note: If we are, let's keep it our little secret! - RH)
It was said that the Borsig family in Germany was well-to-do, but when Grandpa and Grandma made a few trips back to visit, the family said if they could afford to travel back then they didn't need any of the family fortunes.
When the Great Blizzard of March 1888 hit the East Coast and closed schools, my Grandmother Caroline Borsig said ahe cried because she could not go to school.
On many occasions Grandpa Herman would speak German to my father (Walter F., his grandson), who would usually just answer by saying, "Ja", but once in a while just to be different, he would say, "Nein" or no, but it was usually the wrong answer and cause quite a stir.
At one of the companies that Grandpa Herman worked he had a boss named Johnson. One day Johnson and Grandpa had a heated argument and when it was over Grandpa summed it up by saying, "Mister Johnson, I give a shit for you!"
In later years Grandma Marguerite Christine had something wrong with one of her feet and the Doctors wanted to amputate it, but Grandma told them, "Ja, what I was born with I will die with." So they did not amputate.
After Grandpa Herman died, Grandma lived with her daughter Caroline in Brooklyn. Every so often Grandma would come down in the morning all dressed up and when asked where she was going she would reply, "I think I go see Lena today" and so off to Weehauken, New Jersey she would go. Caroline Borsig Lucas always said you need not worry about getting lost as long as you could speak American.
On occasion Grandpa would want to speak to one of the kids but would forget their name, so he would say, "Herman, Willie, Carrie, Lena, or whatever your name is..."
At times when the kids were all around, Grandpa would tell them, "All right, you had your mother all day, now it is my turn."
The Lucas Family Tree
Caroline Borsig (1879-1962) married Walter F. Lucas, Sr. (1877-1948) in 1903, producing one son, Walter, Jr.
Walter F. Lucas, Jr. (1904-1967) married Florence A. Biggs (1907-1996) in 1927.
They had four children:
Carolyn E. Lucas/Borden (1930-)
Walter Everett Lucas (1932-)
William R. Lucas (1933-2005)
Douglas E. Lucas (1946-1994)
More Anecdotes - Now From Robert A. Hervey, Walter's Cousin
Uncle Charlie Borsig was a delightful character. My first recollection of Uncle Charlie was around 1950 when he accompanied my brother Virgil, his son Bud and me to see a piece of vacant property he had purchased fifty years earlier through his brother-in-law, my grandfather, Virgil T. Hervey, Sr., for the then goodly sum of, as I recall $800.00. It was a typical unimproved sand lot in the middle of nowhere in Suffolk County. My brother broke Uncle Charlie's bubble when he told him that the lot wasn't worth much more than he had paid for it. Grandpa must have been a whiz of a salesman. I guess he had to be to support three families.
What I remember vividly was that all during the trip Uncle Charlie related one horrific anecdote after another about medical tragedies in the family. People dying horrible deaths from exotic diseases, kids being dunked in bathtubs of icewater to reduce fevers. Scary stuff. Then my brother treated Buddy and me to an airplane ride in a piper cub. It was fun. First time in a plane for either of us.
The next time I saw Uncle Charlie was at his wedding. I must have been thirteen. He and his bride were both in their 70's, and of course, so were all their friends. The church was next to a cemetery. Virgil looked at me and said,"Don't say a word!" The following Easter (1953), I visited them in their apartment in Ridgewood, Queens, a few blocks from St. John's Prep where I was a Freshman. He entertained me playing the harmonica and doing a soft shoe dance routine he said he used to do in vaudeville. They were a cute couple. She died shortly thereafter; Uncle Charlie lived until he was 101 years of age.
Grandpa and Grandma Borsig. My brother James said that he remembered our father packing up the twins, Jean and Gerry, and the four of them taking the bus down Hudson County Boulevard in North Bergen to the 42nd Street ferry to Manhattan, and the NYC subway up to the Bronx to visit them both. If Grandpa died in 1928, the twins were at most one year old and James not more than five.
Aunt Lena Janisch. I remember my father taking me down to her candy store as I called it - it was probably more like today's convenient store - in Weehauken and her giving me chocolate covered marshmallow cookies. I could not have been more than five or six at most. She was graying at the time, but she must have had beautiful strawberry blonde hair when she was young. Her son, Willie had a similar complexion.
Cousin Willie Janisch lived in Weehauken in a classy apartment house on the north side of the highway coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel at the top of the long curve just as the highway straightens out and goes due west. Not far from the site of the Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr famous duel. He used to stop by and visit my brother Virgil's apartment in Woodhaven when he came back from a trip, one time bringing back a case of Bacardi rum from a trip to Cuba, which my friend Roger Thomson and I used to tap into when I pulled babysitting duty.
Aunt Tillie could have been a showgirl - tall, statuesque, pretty and glib. She was very fond of my super-dapper handsome father. She went through husbands like Zsa Zsa. Family stories had it that after her last husband died she took the life insurance proceeds, bought herself a new dress and left town without paying the funeral parlor, never to be seen again. The 'never-to-be-seen again' part is true. No one knows what happened to her, when or where she may have died. I tried to trace her through Social Security records, but all I got was a statement that one "Matilda Emerson died 11/61" and that no further information was available. She wrote some amusing letters to my father while he was in the US Army stationed at Fort McClellan, Alabama in WWI, which I shall provide a link to in the very near future, as well as a photo album.
Aunt Tillie's first husband was Lou Kirchert. They had one son that I know of, Charles. He and my Uncle Harold were best friends when they were young and both sought the hand of Charlotte, who eventually married Charlie. Lotty as she was known, told me in a telephone conversation some years ago when she still lived near Troy, New York, that Uncle Harold once told her that if she didn't marry him, he would never marry anyone else... and he didn't! He remained a bachelor, dating lots of good looking women all his life.
Walter F. Lucas, Jr., father of the Borsig family historian and contributor to this web page, Walter Everett Lucas, was my father's first cousin and my brother Virgil's Godfather, hence his middle name, Virgil Walter Hervey. Curiously, I never heard Virgil mention his name in my entire life until Uncle Charlie died and the Lucas names were on his Estate's Letters of Administration.
Final Note: My Grandmother Marguerite Borsig Hervey's baptismal certificate lists her father and mother as: "Hermann Boersig aus Baden Deutschland" and "Margaretha Bender aus Homburg (illegible conjunction) Höhe Deutschland", and naming Grandma, "Margarethe" (middle name illegible). For what it's worth.
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