Catharine (Hailer) Breithaupt

In 1911, someone in the Breithaupt family of then Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario, published a Sketch of the Life of Catharine Breithaupt: Her Family and Times. The book was printed by R.G. McLean in Toronto and included seventeen family photograph ‘plates.’ The author was not specifically identified but it is clear when reading the twenty-seven pages of the ‘sketch’ that it was a family member, someone close to Catharine, and most likely her son William.

I took advantage of some time recently to examine the book at the Toronto (Ontario) Public Library, North York Central Branch which includes the holdings of the Ontario Genealogical Society in its Canadiana department. Also, by way of a tip, I brought along my digital camera and rather than making photocopies of pages, I took digital images of pages with the camera. No more worries about enough coins for the photocopier!

Catharine Hailer (pictured above left) was born in 1834 to Jacob Hailer and Margaret Riehl, a little sister to Margaret who was born in 1831. In 1853, Catharine married a friend of her brother-in-law by the name of Philip Ludwig ‘Louis’ Breithaupt. Louis as he went by for much of his life, ran a tanning or leather goods company in Buffalo, New York with his father, Liborius. When his father died, Louis entered into a business partnership with Jacob Schoelkopf of Buffalo. Jacob was described as the capitalist and Louis the businessman, traveling broadly throughout the mid-west. “There may here be mentioned that in the way of business requiring the services of a lawyer, he made the acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Ill., and ever afterward retained intense admiration for this national hero.”

Catharine and Louis Breithaupt are the 2nd great grand aunt and uncle of my wife, Ellen. In fact, Ellen’s 2nd great grandfather and the brother-in-law who introduced Catharine to her husband, Rev. Jacob Wagner died suddenly at the age of 33 as he was preparing to join Louis Breithaupt in business together. Catharine and Louis had ten children and the Breithaupt family, as I have recounted in previous postings, became very prominent in the life of Berlin, Ontario. Louis died in 1880 and Catharine passed away thirty years later in 1910. During those thirty years, it is clear from the ‘sketch’ book of her life, she was cared for as the much loved family matriarch. Her death on July 5, 1910 was reported in the Toronto Globe newspaper on July 7, 1910 as follows:

“Death of Mrs. Breithaupt: Berlin’s Oldest Native Resident And A Prominent Church Worker

Berlin, Ont. July 6. – The death took place on Tuesday evening of Mrs. Catharine Breithaupt, relict of the late Louis Breithaupt, at the family residence on Margaret Avenue. The deceased had been ill since April with heart trouble.

The late Mrs. Breithaupt was born in 1834, and was Berlin’s oldest native resident. Her parents immigrated to Canada in 1830, and were the first German settlers in Berlin. In 1853 she was married to the late Mr. Louis Breithaupt, who then resided in Buffalo. In 1861 they moved to Berlin and Mrs. Breithaupt has resided here ever since. Her husband died in 1880. She is survived by four sons and two daughters.

During her long residence in Berlin she has been connected with almost every charitable and philanthropic movement in the town. She was a life-long member of Zion Evangelical Church and one of its most liberal contributors. In addition to assisting in the erection of the new church, she also donated the beautiful organ in memory of her deceased husband and son Carl. She was a valued member of the various organizations of the church, and was also officially connected with the Deaconess’ Society of the Canada Conference and of the General Board in Chicago.”

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