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  • Diane Mague Stanley

Valentine Ott



Week 7 is all about Valentines. My great grand aunt, Josephine Conrad (1839 – 1905) had her own personal valentine … her husband, Valentine Ott.[1] We don’t know much about Valentine, except that he married Josephine a bit late in life when he was about 44 and she was 34. Valentine was a recent immigrant from Germany and settled in Brooklyn.


Josephine was the daughter of widower, Sebastian Conrad, and his second wife, Margaretha Geyer, both from the area around Bierbach, Saarland, Germany. Josephine was born in 1839 in France during the Conrad's several years stopover in Ingouville, France during their immigration journey.[2] Josephine’s arrival to the not-yet-married couple prompted their vows, and Sebastian’s subsequent legal recognition of Josephine as his own.[3] The family finally immigrated to New York City about 1840, and Josephine grew up on their farm in the German enclave of Meyersville, New Jersey.[4] Extended family, neighbors, and friends helped the family maintain strong connections to the German community in Brooklyn.


Josephine married Valentine Ott about 1874. They lived at 248 Division Avenue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Brooklyn was much different back then, with parts like Williamsburg being almost rural. Valentine sold liquor and ran a saloon from their home.


Germans at the time had a bad reputation for drinking and impropriety which caused endless discrimination until, over the years, their rough edges were gradually worn away. From several accounts, Valentine was one of those German immigrants who kept the bad reputation alive.[5] He was arrested at least twice (1873 and 1885) for selling liquor on Sunday. Back in Germany, Sunday had always been a day of rest and relaxation which included drinking. Parishioners headed straight from church to the local beergarten for "fruehschoppen." Valentine Ott and liquor sellers like him had a line of Sunday customers in the German enclave of Williamsburg, as long as they were willing to run the risk of opening a side door to their establishments in violation of Sunday excise laws on liquor sales.


On one particular Sunday in 1873, Valentine and 43 others were arrested for Sunday liquor sales. The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper labelled this round-up “spasmodic virtue on the part of the Police Commissioners.” The Germans in Brooklyn were apparently right back at it until the next crackdown came along. Valentine was a good businessman and made a healthy living at liquor sales. He made enough money to buy a few tenements in the area and became a landlord.[6] Valentine and Josephine raised six children in their saloon. Sadly, Josephine (57) (and later a son Theodore, 31) died[7] from cirrhosis of the liver in 1905 at home in Brooklyn with her Valentine by her side. Valentine followed two years later.


Sources

[1]1880 U.S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, City of Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 186, p. 6 (penned), house no. 248, dwelling 31, family 57, Valentine Ott household; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 85. And, 1900 U.S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, New York City, Brooklyn Borough, Ward 19, enumeration district (ED) 303, house no. 248, dwelling 31, family 53, sheet 3, p. 70 A (stamped), Valentine Ott household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 February 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1056.


[2] Ingouville, Seine-Inferieure, "Registres de l'etat civil d'Ingouville, Arrondissement communal du Havre, Annee 1839," no. 174, naissance [birth], Josephine Conrad, 5 June 1839; FHL microfilm 1,038,007.


[3] Ingouville, Seine-Inferieure, "Registres de l'etat civil d'Ingouville, Arrondissement communal du Havre, Annee 1839," no. 72, mariage, Sebastien Conrad and Marguerite Geyer, 12 Decembre 1839; FHL microfilm 1,038,007.


[4] 1850 U.S. Census, New Jersey, Morris County, Morris Township Schedule; CD/DVD Images, digital image : accessed 28 September 2003, p. 64 stamped upper right corner, dwelling 215, family 238, line 21, Sebastian COONRAD household.


[5] "LIQUOR DEALERS. Forty-three of Them Arrested for Keeping Open on Sunday. Spasmodic Virtue on the Part of the Police Commissioners. All of the Accused Admitted to Bail. Arrests in Williamsburgh", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 17 November 1873, p. 4, col. 5; digital images, Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1841 - 1902 Online (http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org : accessed 27 July 2004). And, "Justice Naeher Busy. Minor Cases Disposed of This Morning.", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 17 September 1885, p. 4, col. 2; digital images, Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1841 - 1902 Online (http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org : accessed 27 July 2004).


[6] Anonymous, "Real Estate at Auction.", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 16 March 1884, p. 7, col. 3; digital images, Brooklyn Public Library (http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org : accessed 27 July 2004), Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1841 - 1902 Online. And, Anonymous, "Real Estate Under the Hammer. Some Valuable Eastern District Property Sold To-Day.", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19 April 19, 1888, p. 6, col. 6; digital images, Brooklyn Public Library (http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary.org : accessed 27 July 2004), Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1841 - 1902 Online.


[7] New York City, New York, Death Certificates, No. 1105, Josephine Conrad Ott, 13 January 1905, and No. 22303, Theodore V. OTT, 8 November 1907.


© 2016-2018 Diane Mague Stanley ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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© 2016-2018 Diane Mague Stanley ALL RIGHTS RESERVED