The Osann Family in America
The Osann Family in America
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 Osann Family Genealogy

The following compilation of information on Gottfried Osann and his descendants is inevitably incomplete.  Summarizing the life and accomplishments of each family member in a few paragraphs is a daunting task and one that is bound to fall far short of reality.  Nevertheless, the available information is here to share, and it is our hope that additional facts and documentation will be presented to further enrich this narrative.

Corrections are welcome, particularly with documentation, and visitors to the site are encouraged to use the Guest Book feature of this site to forward new information.

1. Gottfried Wilhelm Ludwig Friedrich Osann1 was born in 1822 in Clausthal, a town in the Harz Mountains in central Germany, in the present German state of Lower Saxony, close to the border with Thuringia (the region of Germany where the earliest Osanns are recorded).  Gottfried was the second child and oldest son of Franz Johann Bernhardt Osann (1791-1876), a foundry manager and later a foundry inspector.   (At that time, the Harz Mountain region was an active mining district.)  Franz was married first to Wilhelmina Boebert and second to Hermine Kast, a widow, and it is not known which of these wives is the mother of Gottfried and his siblings.  Franz was buried in Hannover.

Gottfried married Bertha Hess (1816-1907) in 1846 and emigrated to the United States in 1850, presumably by way of the port city of Hamburg.  The first two of the couple's three children were born in Hamburg.  Their children were -

a. Bernhard (1847-1914), married first to Wilhelmina Althans (c. 1847- c. 1886) and second to Alice Dunnell (1866-1938).

b. Bertha Rosa Johanna (1850-1875).

c. Mathilde Wilhelmina (1857-1945), married to Philip Vollmer (1860-1929).

Gottfried was said to be an associate of Carl Schurz, a German revolutionary and social reformer who immigrated to the US in 1852 and continued to advocate for political reform, eventually becoming a US Senator and Secretary of the Interior.  Following a failed revolution in Germany in 1848, many Germans of liberal persuasion immigrated to the US.  Whether this was a specific motivation for Gottfried’s emigration is unknown.


Gottfried worked as a druggist for most of his life in the US, first in New York City, later in Brooklyn (a separate city until 1898), and still later in Philadelphia.   Hearne's Brooklyn City Directory for 1859 & 60 lists him as a bookkeeper residing at 158 S. 3rd in Brooklyn.  However, the family was recorded in the 1860 federal census as living in Manhattan.  Gottfried became a naturalized citizen on June 27, 1860, and listed his address as 20 E. 14th Street in New York City.  When Bertha became a citizen December 6, 1870, her address was listed as 446 Houston Street, NYC.  This address was also listed as the business (drugstore) location for Gottfried and Bernhard in Trow's New York City Directory for 1872.   By 1875, Gottfried's family was living at 120 Jefferson Street in Brooklyn, where they continued to make their home at least until 1894. 


A photo exists of Gottfried and Bertha at their 50th wedding anniversary, which would have been in 1896. (See the Image Gallery on this site.)

Some time before 1900, Gottfried and Bertha moved to Philadelphia and lived in the home of their daughter Mathilde Vollmer, whose husband Philip was pastor of St. Paul’s Reformed Church.  Gottfried died June 26, 1905, and is buried in the Vollmer family plot in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in South Philadelphia.  Bertha died in 1907. 

2. Bernhard Osann 2 (Gottfried 1) was born in Hamburg on September 21, 1847 married first to Wilhelmina Althans (c. 1847- c. 1886), daughter of Wilhelm Althans and Charlotte ___.  Bernhard and “Minnie” were married in Brooklyn on May 19, 1872 by Rev. Hartmann of St. Mark’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The children of the first marriage were -

a. Bernhard (1874-1888)

b. Charlotte (1875-

c. Elleanor (1876-

d. Frederick (1878-1948)

e. Edward William (1883-1972)

f.  Minnie (b/d 1884)

After Wilhelmina’s death c. 1885, Bernard married Alice Dunnell (1866-1938), daughter of George Dunnell and Mary Isabel Oakley, on March 7, 1886, at Central Church, a Methodist church on Vestry Street in New York City.  The children of Bernhard’s second marriage were -

a. Robert D. (b/d 1887)

b. Alice D. (1888-

c. Norman (1889-1927)

d. Dorrit (1892-1988)

e. Isabel (1898-1979)

Bernhard is recorded as traveling from Hamburg to New York twice.  First, a Bernhard Osann aged five was a passenger on the ship Franklin arriving in New York from Hamburg on October 1, 1852.  Incredibly, no other persons named Osann (or Hess) were listed as passengers on this ship.  Ten years later, Bernhard Osann was recorded as a passenger aged 15 on the ship John Bertram arriving in New York from Hamburg on December 15, 1862.  Bernhard became a naturalized US citizen on September 30, 1868, shortly after his 21st birthday.

Wilhelmina emigrated from Germany with her parents and sisters Charlotte, Mathilde, and Elizabeth on the ship Hermine, arriving in New York from Bremen, on June 2, 1851.

Bernard initially worked with his father as a druggist for over a decade, but established himself later as an agent, or traveling salesman.  Around 1890, Bernhard and Alice moved to Illinois, first to Chicago and later to the west suburban community Oak Park.  The surviving children of his first marriage remained in New York and lived with Charlotte Althans, an unmarried sister of Bernhard’s first wife.

From Chicago, Bernhard traveled extensively in the West.  (A portrait photo of Bernhard taken at a Denver studio is posted in the Image Gallery on this site.)  He died suddenly on February 20, 1914 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.  Two obituaries provide valuable insight into Bernhard’s life and career.  First, the American Stationer, a trade publication, carried this piece in its edition of February 28, 1914 -


“The death of B. Osann at San Francisco on February 20 will be keenly felt by his many friends of the West. 'Pop',as he was affectionately known by all, has for many years been the western traveler for the Chicago office of the Morgan Envelope Company. He was an old school gentleman, quiet, unassuming, genial, pleasant and always uniformly courteous under any and all circumstances.  He will always be remembered with true affection by customers and competitors alike.  They
were all his friends and their deepest sympathies go out to the widow and  family at Oak Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, where they resided.”


A community newspaper in Oak Park, Oak Leaves, published the following on March 14, 1914 –


“Bernhard Osann’s recent death in San Francisco of cerebral hemorrhage came as a shock to his many friends, who may be said to reach from coast to coast, as well as to his family.  He was born in Hamburg,
Germany, sixty-six years ago, his father being an intimate friend of Carl Schurz.  The family came to this country at the time of that movement, locating in New York city.  Twenty-four years ago business brought him west, and the family located in Austin [a neighborhood in Chicago].  Some eight years ago he built his home at 217 Scoville, south, he having grown to know and love Oak Park partially thru association with Unity church, of which he has been a member for twenty years.
Being the traveling representative of the United States Envelope company (Morgan division) and compelled to travel over two-thirds of the time, he was perhaps better known by his many friends whom he met in his travels than in his home town. The many expressions of sympathy and appreciation of him as a man and friend coming from people from all parts of the country have been a source of uplift and comfort to his family. Mr. Osann’s high ideal of friendship may be said to have nearly been his religion, and he never was found too busy or weary to serve a friend, of whom he numbered even competitors in business among the closest. Of him, Dr. Johonnot [pastor of Unity Church] says: 'He was my good friend, who had my entire respect, for whom I had the warmest affection, and for whom I feel a deep and personal loss.'  He leaves a sister, a widow and eight children, four of whom are in various interests in New York city, and the younger branch, Norman, Alice, Dorrit, and Isabel, being better known here. A true friend, a good citizen and devoted husband and father has gone from among us."


Interestingly, Bernard’s pastor, Rodney Johonnot and his wife Rosa, were recorded as boarders at the Osann home on Scoville Avenue in the federal census taken in April 1910.  It should also be noted that the congregation had a new church and parish house built after a fire in 1905.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who maintained his studio in Oak Park at this time, and completed in 1908, Unity Temple is considered one of Wright’s finest non–residential structures.


Bernhard was cremated and his ashes scattered at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.  Alice died on November 4, 1938 in Santa Monica, California, from complications after a fall at home the month before.


3. Bertha Rosa Johanna Osann 2 (Gottfried 1) was born in Hamburg in 1850.  She died at home in Brooklyn on September 11, 1875.  According to her death certificate, Bertha had lived in the United States for nine years, indicating that she emigrated from Germany in 1866, well after her parents.


4. Mathilde Wilhelmina Osann 2 (Gottfried 1) was born in New York in 1857, the first Osann of Gottfried’s line to be born in the USA.  She was married in Brooklyn on June 29, 1885 to Rev. Philip Vollmer (1860-1929), who had been ordained as pastor of the German Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn the year before.  Philip was an accomplished theologian, professor, and author.  They had five children –


a. Beatrice (1887-  )

b. Philip (1888-  )

c. Clement (1889-  )

d. Paula (1893-  )

e. Thekla (1896-  )


See details on other individuals here who are 3rd generation.


Last updated December 31, 2006.

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