Stablegg Family Genealogy

FAMILY ORIGINS

The Strablegg family originated in the tiny village of Schloßberg, on the southern tier of Leutschach, Austria -- which has a current population of 1,057. Leutschach is a market village in along the south-Styrian wine street ("Sodsteirische Weinstrase") at the southern border of Austria with Slovenia.

The death record of Alois Strablegg confirms that his parents, Josef Strablegg and Barbara Pilch, were the owners of a hotel in Leutschach. The family resided at house 131 in Schloßberg.

In 1421 Leutschach became a market municipality because of its craftsmen's skills and economic trading. It has a population of 540 and its primary industries are farming and wine. The village features a market square from the 16th century, 2 Roman lions (former tomb guards). Nearby is the Trappenburg Palace (near the town of Eichberg-Trautenburg), which has a documented mention in 1243 and was renovated in 1662, and the Schmirnberg Castle (also spelled Smilenburch, Schmielenburg, Schmirnberg). The town church is a Gothic parish church that was renovated from 1908-1911. The surrounding hills where mixed forests, fruit gardens and vineyards alternate, also are home to hop fields. In the wine gallery of the old town hall you can get an overview of the work of the local wine growers; you can also test and acquire selected wines. The annual hop and grape harvesting festival takes place on the last weekend in September.

Alois Strablegg's wife Antonia Vehovar was from the town of Pekre in Slovenia. Pekre is also a small village on the outskirts of Maribor with a population of approximately 1,500.

LIFE IN GRAZ, THE BIG CITY

Great-great-grandfather Alois Strablegg married Antonia Vehovar in Graz, Austria in 1905. Both were Roman Catholic, although great-great-grandma was not religious. It's interesting to note that the couple married after my great-grandmother was born, with both events occurring in May of 1905. This is a good indication that the birth may not have been planned.

It is unknown why the young couple went north to Graz or whether they came together or independently. It's possible great-great-grandma went to Graz to attend a cooking school. That's what our family oral tradition indicates. In 1905, great-great-grandmother Antonia Vehovar would have been just 20 years old. Her husband Alois Strablegg was said to be a butcher and worked at a butcher shop on Kalvarian Strasse (Street) in Graz. His death record indicates that he was an "assistant".

The family resided on Eggenberger Strasse (Street) in Graz. Alois Strablegg's death record indicates that he was from "Hilfsarbeiter aus Eggenberg", an assistant living on Eggenberg Street.

Alois Strablegg with his mother Barbara Pilch.

MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF ALOIS STRABLEGG

With the help of historians Carlos Watzka and Norbert Weiss in Europe, I learned that my ancestor Alois Strablegg was admitted to an insane asylum on August 11, 1909, after suffering an illness. According to Dr. Watzka, an expert on the insane asylum system in Austria at the time, Alois Strablegg's disease was somatically-based, i.e., it affected or characteristic of his body as opposed to his mind or spirit. Says Professor Watzka, "He was likely in very poor physical condition when brought to the "Feldhof" asylum, but very common mental symptoms like amentia, which had inflicted many in Europe at the time, led to his inappropriate admission to the insane asylum." Unfortunately, this is entirely speculation because the record does not indicate the specific reason he was sent to the insane asylum.

A day after being admitted to the "Feldhof", ancestor Alois Strablegg passed away, on Aug. 12, 1909. The specific location of the insane asylum was at Straßgang, in the 16th district of Graz, Austria, which is located in the southwest of Graz at the bottom of the hills Buchkogel and Florianiberg. At the time of his passing it was considered part of Graz, but it's now a separate village.

In this village was a place called Irrenanstalt Feldhof, which treated psychologically ill people. In August of 1908, Alois and his wife Antonia had a son, Alois, Jr. (nicknamed Louie in the United States). A year later he was institutionalized at the Irrenanstalt Feldhof. His cause of death was "Amentia und Miliartuberkulose", or mental illness and miliary tuberculosis, according to the documents from the institution. The institution's version of the story cannot be trusted.

The admission book at the insane asylum notes the following:
name: Alois Strablegg
admission number: 20075
religion: kath. (catholic)
year of birth: 1868
marital status: verheiratet (married)
occupation: Hilfsarbeiter (assistant worker)
pertinent community: Schlossberg, Bezirk (district) Arnfels, Steiermark
last residence: Eggenberg, Bezirk Umgebung Graz (Graz surroundings; today part of Graz), Steiermark
date of admission: 11.08.1909
name of admitting person or institution: "B" (probably for "Behörde")
* According to Dr. Watzka, that is the usual statement that time, referring to sanitary or security authorities without specification.
name of admitting physician: "A" (probably for "Anstalt")
* Again, this is the usual statement that time, referring to the physicians of the "Feldhof" itself.
date of query for accommodation at court: 11.08.1909
date of confirmation by court: 17.08.1909
(kind of) discharge: + (died)
date of discharge: 12.08.1909
class: 3
* According to Dr. Watzka, this was the most common listing at the time, signifying "free" or "common" class. It would be the least costly for the patient.

Death record of Alois Strablegg at the insane asylum.


Feldhof bei Graz. This post-card is from July of 1898 showing how the facility looked at the time.


CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FELDHOF INSTITUTION

According to Professor Carlos Watzka, non-voluntary admission to a mental asylum was not such an unusual occurrence in the late 19th and early 20th century in Austria. In examining the contemporary annual reports of the "Feldhof" for the period (early 1900s), one in 600 inhabitants of Styria was a patient of the Feldhof each year. There were more than 2,400 patients at the Feldhof and the population of Styria in Austria was 1,444,000. For the period from 1874, when the asylum at the Feldhof site was opened, to 1913, altogether on can calculate about 15.000 first admissions (with repeated admissions of the same person discounted), which numbers more than 1% of the population at any given time. Sadly, more than 10% of the people admitted died at the Feldhof, partly because of their previous diseases, but also because of poor hygienic conditions and neglect there. A lot of the people at this time conferred to the asylums had serious corporal diseases, too, with quite often were the causes of their mental aberrations, too, which is likely for a diagnosis like amentia. Roy Porter also has a book on the topic called "Madness: A Brief History".

MARSEL FAMILY TRAVELS TO NEW WORLD

Antonia remarried to Joseph Marsel, who adopted and fathered all of the living children. Marsel was a coffee house owner living in Graz, originally from Wolfsberg, Austria.

In February, 1911, the Marsel clan, including wife Antonia, husband Joseph, and children Antonia and Alois (Louie), traveled on the ship La Lorraine from Havre to New York. Antonia Marsel was pregnant while on the ship. The ship arrived March 5, 1911. The family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin because they knew others who were living in Milwaukee.

Their son, Alois (Louie) Marsel, was sent back to visit relatives. He stayed in Lichendorf, Austria.

Joseph and Antonia Marsel owned and operated several taverns in the city of Milwaukee.


Antonia Vehovar with her second husband, Joseph Marsel.


Antonia Vehovar's daughter, Antonia, with her husband, Joe Hirschboeck.


Antonia Vehovar's son, Louie, protesting the Nazis with a funny pose in the early 1940s in Milwaukee.

Joseph Marsel became a naturalized U.S. citizen on September 19, 1916. The witnesses to his naturalization were Martin Segadin and Martin Karmarich (Milwaukee County Records, petition 5817, volume 30, p. 17). After Joseph Marsel died in 1926, Antonia continued the tavern operation.

The main tavern, "Joe's Tavern", was located on the corner of 33rd and Center Streets in Milwaukee. Great-great-grandma lived on the 2nd floor of the tavern-house. Great-grandma Antonia (Strablegg Marsel) Hirschboeck and her husband Joe Hirschboeck operated the tavern with great-great-grandma. The business was sold to great-grand-aunt Emmaline (Emmy) Marsel Farnham Kutnar around 1945.

Great-great-grandma Antonia Marsel (Strablegg) was said to be extremely kindhearted and took in destitute individuals for little money at the tavern business.

SURNAME ORIGINS

The surname Strablegg, Strableg, or Strab~legg is said to come from the German strableck -- "eck" meaning "corner." Why the letters transformed from "eck" to "egg" is not clear. The first part (Strab) could actually be a variation of Strasse, or street. Therefore the surname could mean street corner.

The surname Pilch could be a Polish nickname from the Old Polish pilch or "gray squirrel" or a Jewish metonymic occupational name from Yiddish piltsh or "felt".

If you see any connections in the below, please contact me.

Surnames of those in my direct ancestral line appear in BOLD.


Descendants of (unknown) Strablegg

1 Josef Strablegg
.. + Barbara Pilch
...... 2 Alois Strablegg b: June 21, 1868 in Leutschach, Austria d: Aug. 12, 1909 in Graz, Austria
.........+ Antonia Vehovar b: Nov. 25, 1885 in Pekre, Slovenia m: May 26, 1905 in Graz, Austria
........... d: June 25, 1956 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
.................. 3 Antonia Strablegg b: May 7, 1905 in Graz, Austria d: July 10, 2001 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
..................... + Joseph John Hirschboeck b: July 12, 1901 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
........................ m: Dec. 22, 1923 in Milwaukee, WI d: Nov. 13, 1964 in Wisconsin
........................ [click here for additional information on this family line.]
.................. 3 Edward Strablegg b: April 1906 in Graz, Austria d: Bef. 1910 in Graz, Austria
.................. 3 (unknown) Strablegg b: 1907 in Graz, Austria d: Bef. 1910 in Graz, Austria
.................. 3 (unknown) Strablegg b: 1908 in Graz, Austria d: Bef. 1910 in Graz, Austria
.................. 3 Alois "Louis" Marsel b: March 30, 1909 in Graz, Austria d: April 1975 in Pewaukee, WI
..................... + Ann T. Vogel b: May, 1917 in Wisconsin d: Feb. 28, 2002 in Pewaukee, Wisconsin
............................... 4 Thomas "Tommy" Marsel b: private
............................... 4 Richard Marsel b: private
............................... 4 Sandra Marsel b: private


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