Johannes Freese (1830-1898)



Our German ancestors are challenging. The language barrier, changing political boundaries, and lack of records, make the hunt for information difficult (at least for this researcher). This biography pieces together some snippets of the possible life of Johannes Freese.

– Denise


Johannes Freese was born in 1830 in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Well, around 1830 anyway. No birth or baptism records have been found. His birth date was provided a continent and century away from his actual birth when his eldest daughter was interviewed for the centennial celebration in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Clara Boettcher, 1937, Wausau Centennial Association (1839-1939).

Clara wasn’t very specific when she listed her parents’ birth, marriage, and death dates. But we can be thankful to her for providing some clues.

One clue is the location of her father’s birth. Clara listed “Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.”

[mappress mapid="144"]

Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of modern-day Germany’s sixteen states. The land boundary between Germany and Denmark is at the northern border of Schleswig-Holstein.

A search for his birth and/or baptism record was unsuccessful. But, in the 1857 census of Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Deutschland, there was a 22-year old Johannes Freese. This Johannes was living with a 54-year old woman named Anna, who was presumably his mother. This could possibly be our Johannes. If the age was recorded correctly and this was our Johannes, he would have been born about 1835 rather than 1830.

1857 Census, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Deutschland, Anna and Johannes Freese.
1857 Census, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Deutschland, Anna and Johannes Freese.
1857 Census, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Deutschland, Anna and Johannes Freese.

Another possible connection to Lübeck, is the birth of another Freese child in 1832. This could possibly be a sibling to Johannes. (or it could be a completely unrelated family) We don’t have enough evidence to place Johanna Bertha Amalia Frese in our family, but her birth to Johann Christopher Frese and Anna Catharina Magdalena Kock was recorded on 29 Jan 1832. It would be great to be able to say that this was Johannes’ sister, but there isn’t enough evidence. It is, however, possibly a hint for future research.

Freese birth, 1832, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Deutschland.
Freese birth, 1832, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Deutschland, continued.

Lübeck, formally called Hansestadt Lübeck, or “Hanseatic City of Lübeck,” is situated on the Trave and Wakenitz Rivers, just nine miles from the Baltic Sea. It was founded back in 1143. In the Middle Ages it was one of the main commercial centers of northern Europe. It used to be the capital of the Hanseatic League. The Hanseatic League was a league of merchant cities that held a monopoly over the trade on the Baltic and North Seas. Today, a UNESCO World Heritage Lübeck’s Old Town has been preserved (and some parts reconstructed after heavy WWII bombing).

Holstentor in Lübeck 2015

The First Schleswig War

Things were not always stable in Schleswig-Holstein during the time Johannes was growing up. The area was ruled by Denmark, though Germans made up a third of the population and Germans were behind half of the economy. Schleswig, to the north, and Holstein, to the south, were separate dutchies at the time Johannes lived in Holstein.

In 1848, as Johannes was approaching adulthood, The First Schleswig War (or Three Year’s War) broke out. We don’t know for sure, but is probable that Johannes had to do some military service around this time since it was usually compulsory.

The First Schleswig War had a lot of players. Denmark wanted to retain control of Schleswig, Holstein, and another dutchy named Lauenburg. A local army (or rebel force, depending on who is telling the story) of Schleswig-Holstein soldiers, inspired by the recent revolution in Paris, demanded the new king of Denmark to recognize a joint state of Schleswig-Holstein and let it be incorporated into the German Confederation. Denmark was okay with letting Holstein, the southern-most dutchy, join the German Confederation, but did not agree with allowing Schleswig to do so. War broke out. First the local “rebels” fought. Then Prussia entered the war supporting Schleswig-Holstein. Then the rest of the German Confederation joined. Truces were signed. New borders were proposed splitting Schleswig and Holstein apart. Negotiations broke down. Russia, Sweden, and the UK declared support for Denmark, not wanting Denmark to be torn apart. Prussia withdrew from the war. Eventually, fighting died down and a treaty was signed confirming that Schlewig, Hostein, and Lauenberg would be joined by personal union with the kingdom of Denmark even though the Germans didn’t really agree.

Marriage and Children

Despite the chaos in his country, Johannes grew up and married. According to daughter Clara in 1937, Johannes Freese married Alida Elisabeth Henriette Wallhöfer in 1860 in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Clara was born in 1859, so it is quite possible that Johannes and Alida married prior to 1860.

Johannes Freese and Alida Elisabeth Henriette Wallhöfer had at least the following children:

  1. Clara Christine Elsabe Freese was born on 29 Jun 1859 in Grossen, Broda, Holstein, Germany. She married Johann Carl Friedrich Lemke on 05 Feb 1881 in Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany. She married August F. Boettcher on 06 Mar 1897 in Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin. She died on 13 Nov 1943 in Wausau, Marathon, Wisconsin.
  2. Ferdinand Heinrich Ludwig Freese was born on 30 Dec 1860 in Germany. He married Amalie Schörken on 19 Aug 1883 in Alt-Rahlstedt, Rahlstedt, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany. He died on 31 Jan 1935 in Harburg-Wilhelmsburg, Hamburg, Deutschland.
  3. Henriette Pauline Friedricke Freese was born on 19 Aug 1862 in Germany. She married Hans Brors on 14 Oct 1882 in Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany. She died on 23 Aug 1916 in Wandsbek, Hamburg, Deutschland (Age: 57).
  4. Wilhelmine Henriette Emilie Freese was born on 02 Dec 1869 in Germany. She married Hinrich Seth on 16 Sep 1893 in Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.

When daughter Clara was interviewed in 1937, her mother’s name was spelled Arleda, but in marriage records of the children, the name is spelled Alida.

Marriage record, Clara Christina Elsabe Freese and Johann Carl Friedrich Lemke, 05 Feb 1881, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Marriage record, Ferdinand Heinrich Ludwig Freese and Amalie Schörken, Alt-Rahlstedt, Rahlstedt, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Marriage record, Henriette Pauline Friedricke Freese and Hans Brors, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Marriage record, Wilhelmine Henriette Emilie Freese and Hinrich Seth, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.

The Second Schleswig War

According to his daughter, Johannes was employed as a house contractor. His work may have led the family to move around a bit. The oldest daughter was born in Großenbrode about 50-miles northeast of Lübeck on the Baltic Sea, but by the time the kids got married in the 1880s, they were all in Hamburg about 40-miles southwest of Lübeck.

The Second Schleswig War in 1864 might have incited the Freese family to move out of Schleswig-Holstein south to Hamburg. The war pitted Denmark against the Kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire. There were succession disputes after the Danish king died without an heir that was acceptable to the German Confederation. Denmark had ruled the area, but Prussia and Austria invaded. Denmark lost the war and gave up Schleswig-Holstein.
Summary of the Second Schleswig War.
Maps of the Second Schleswig War.


It appears that the Johannes and family probably lived near or in Hamburg for most of their lives. He became a widower around 1873. In 1882 he saw his eldest daughter immigrate to Wisconsin. His other children remained in Germany.

According to that 1937 interview in Wausau, Johannes Freese died in 1898 in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Where is he in the tree?

Relationship chart, Norman Arthur August Krueger to Johannes Freese.
Pedigree chart, Johannes Freese.

Selected Sources:, Hamburg, Germany, Selected Marriages, 1874-1920 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2015),, Lübeck, Deutschland, Volkszählung, 1857 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.Original data – Archiv der Hansestadt Lübeck. Statistisches Landesamt: Zähllisten der Volkszählung, 1857.),,, Source Citation: Archiv der Hansestadt Lübeck; Statistisches Landesamt: Zähllisten der Volkszählung, 1857; Volume: Band 1. Jacobi-Quartier.

Clara Christina Freese Lemke Boettcher; 16 Jun 1937, Personal interview, 1939 Wausau Centennial Association, Area Research Center, UW-Stevens Point, WI 54481.

Christian Wolf, File: Holstentor in Lübeck 2015.jpg, Wikimedia Commons ( : accessed 11 Jan 2020).

Family Search, Zivilstandsregister Geburten 1832-1836;

“First Schleswig War,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 12 Jan 2020)

“First Schleswig War [1848-52],” YouTube ( : accessed 12 Jan 2020)

Hanseatic City of Lübeck, UNESCO ( : accessed 11 Jan 2020).

Hanseatic Town of Lübeck, UNESCO World Heritage ( : accessed 11 Jan 2020).

Lübeck, Encyclopedia Britannica ( : accessed 11 Jan 2020).

Schleswig-Holstein, Wikipedia ( : accessed 11 Jan 2020).

Second Schleswig War, Wikipedia ( : accessed 11 Jan 2020).

“The Second Schleswig War – History With Oliveball,” YouTube ( : accessed 12 Jan 2020).

“The Second Schleswig War Every Day Version 1.02,” YouTube ( : accessed 12 Jan 2020).

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