Meet Anton Plattner

Anton F. Plattner, 1846 - 1928This good looking chap happens to be my great great grandfather, Anton Plattner.

He was born about 1846 in either Austria or Germany, depending on when you asked him. The borders were a bit fluid at the time, and his English was never very good. When speaking to my grandmother, he always said “The Black Forrest”. He came to the United States in 1869, and came alone. He didn’t talk at all about his family or childhood, though when asked about his limp he said he’d been “shot in the war”. Timing would suggest that it would have been the Austro-Prussian War.

Yes, Grandpop Plattner is a member of The Brick Wall Gang. I’ll forgive him though, because he’s such a handsome devil.

He married my great great grandmother, Catherine Neusslein, in 1877 in Philadelphia, and they cranked out nine little rugrats, though only five lived to adulthood. Catherine herself was born to immigrant parents from Germany, George and Mary (Grasser or Groesser) Neusslein.

Sadly, in 1886, a pair of fraternal twins, Frank and Lizzie, died in or shortly after childbirth. I haven’t yet found the birth or death records for the other two children who died in infancy. My grandmother told me that Catherine had been permanently crippled while giving birth to the twins. She assumed that was Frank and Lizzie, but it’s possible that the incident occurred during the birth of the other two children, which may have been later.

Grandpop Plattner’s story is continued below the fold…

I bump into a lot of infant and child mortality while doing the family tree, and it always touches me. I can’t help but wonder how parents can manage to pull it together and go on after the death of a child.

In 1887, Grandpop Plattner became a Naturalized U.S. Citizen in Philadelphia.

The last of the surviving children, my Great Grandmother Louisa, was born in 1896.

Catherine went to California in 1918, during the big influenza epidemic, though my grandmother said she didn’t die of the flu. Because of her crippling childbirth years before, he back had to be broken to be put inside her coffin. Just to make the situation as horrible as it could possibly get, there were no grave diggers available because of the epidemic, and her sons Harry and Joe had to dig their mother’s grave. She’s buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, just outside Philly.

Grandpop Plattner lived another ten years in Philadelphia before he joined his late wife in California. In one last kick in the shin from this world, he was barred from being buried beside his wife at Holy Cross Cemetery. He’s buried in an unmarked grave in Northwood Cemetery next to his daughter Christina and her fist husband, where they don’t mind if you’re an atheist.

The unmarked grave of Anton Plattner

11 Responses to “Meet Anton Plattner”

  1. Kym Says:

    Did you do a search of Ellis Island because I threw his name in and found someone by that name age 51 coming into New York around 1900? I didn’t do a thorough search because you probably already have but I included the link if you are interested.

  2. Lou FCD Says:

    Hi Kym!

    I did a few years ago, when that site first went online, but since they’ve added more records, I should go back and search again.

    Though the story goes that he claimed to have come through there, the best match I have yet found for him is this one, from Baltimore, in my notes:

    Noting that in 1900 Anton states that he came to the U.S. in 1869, and that he was born in November of 1846, Ancestry has this entry in their Baltimore Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1820-1872:

    Name: Anton Platner
    Arrival Date: 29 Jan 1870
    Gender: Male
    Port of Departure: Bremen
    Ship: Inca
    Ship Type: Bark
    Port of Arrival: Baltimore
    Place of Origin: Austria
    National Archives’ Series Number: M255
    Microfilm Roll Number: 17
    List Number: 4
    Destination: Baltimore

    Another issue with Grandpop Plattner is that “Anton Plattner” in nineteenth century Bavaria/Württemberg area isn’t much better than “John Smith” in nineteenth century Yorkshire. Given that and the fact that he is legendary for his refusal to talk about his pre-immigration years or family, it’s going to be tough to prove any damned thing.

  3. Kym Says:

    That looks pretty likely to me. I’ve never tried researching out of the country (Other than Canada, both my husband’s and my families came into the US in the 1600’s with just a few lines coming in between 1700 & 1850). I figure once I get everybody to the boat, I’m done 8). ‘Course I don’t figure on ever doing that.

  4. Kym Says:

    You probably did this, too, but I searched him in Maryland because of his port of Arrival and in the 1870 census an Anton Platner shows up born in abt 1846 in Bavaria working as a butcher. Could be him?

  5. Lou FCD Says:

    I’ve looked at that census return a million times. I dug and dug and found it before 1870 was even indexed. It’s most probably the fella cited in the Baltimore arrivals above, but here’s the stuff that makes me hesitate:

    My Anton was a tailor and shoemaker until he was quite old, and passed those skills all down through my family right to the present generation. By all accounts, he was very skilled, and his daughter (Christina) was a dressmaker who didn’t even use patterns, but did it by eye. That’s not a skill you just “pick up”.

    Of course, that doesn’t rule out the idea that he was working as a butcher upon first arrival, until he found work as a tailor.

    It also doesn’t match up with the whole “Ellis Island” thing, which my grandmother was adamant about. Of course, she was also adamant about the “Irish Maid” story, which turned out to be totally bogus. (A post for another day…)

  6. Lou FCD Says:

    P.S. Researching online outside the States is pretty much useless at this point as far as I can tell, with the sole real exception of British Cenus returns back to 1841.

    Other than that, you have to just go there.

  7. Kym Says:

    My family stories are just as shaky. I hate that. On the other hand every once in awhile a good one is true. One story we had was a great grandfather had been shipwrecked on a desert island and the survivors had nearly died of thirst. Holy Moly, it was true and I even found him listed in the newspaper as being saved!!!

  8. Lou FCD Says:

    That is very cool. It never happens to me. All our family stories (so far) are so much horse pucky.

  9. Lou FCD Says:

    …although I usually can figure out how they got started.

  10. anothersadsong Says:


  11. Lou FCD Says:

    You are an evil child.

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