May 7, 2013

Eliza Jane Hollabaugh Fries - Second Child of George and Elizabeth Bittinger Hollabaugh

The Children of George and Elizabeth Bittinger Hollabaugh

Sarah (1836-1918)
Eliza Jane (1838 - before 1918)
Mary Elizabeth (1840 - 1941)
George W. (1844 - 1924)
David William (1847 - 1936)
Alice Catharine (1849 - 1916)
Jacob B. (1852 - 1943)
Georgeanna Hannah (1856 - 1944) 

The second daughter of George and Elizabeth was named Eliza Jane, born on May 18, 1838, according to Pennsylvania church records.  (Her tombstone gave the birthdate as May 18, 1840.)  The records of St. James Lutheran Church in Gettysburg noted her baptism on July 7, 1838, confirming the 1838 birthday.  

Finding the marriage record for Eliza was very challenging, but finally the record was discovered under a nickname, Lylie J. and her husband's initials, B. F. (Benjamin Franklin) Fries. The couple were married on October 15, 1866 at the Methodist Episcopal (United Methodist) Church in Gettysburg.  Benjamin, born May 1837, was 29, and Eliza, 28.

Before her marriage, in the 1860 census, Eliza was working as a seamstress, living in the home of Aug. Schwartz, Editor, near Hanover, PA in York County.  It was interesting that Eliza's husband, Ben Fries, was eventually also in the printing business, making one wonder if they met due to Mr. Schwartz.  I have not found definitely Benjamin Fries in the 1860 census.

However, in June 1863, he dutifully registered for the Civil War draft in Middletown (later called Biglerville), Cumberland County, PA (just north of Gettysburg).
He reported he was working as a shoemaker, was unmarried, and that he had lost his voice!  A permanent disability?  I could not find any evidence that he ever served as a Civil War soldier.

A letter exists in the Lincoln Papers held by the Library of Congress written by Ben Frank Fries to President Abraham Lincoln, dated February 14, 1865.  Ben had an idea for a new system of weights and measures that he presented in this letter.  

He concluded his plea for consideration by saying,
"But whatever conclusion you do arrive at,please be so kind, as to inform me of the reception of my papers and what action you intend taking on them.
I will now close, but if you wish a more detailed explanation of the above, I will be happy to forward the same.
As to my character, and capacity, I can produce the best of references.
And now may God bless us all; with our Union speedily Restored & Reformed.
Yours very respectfully, Ben Frank Fries, Carlisle, Pa."
His signature appeared on this page, and then the next five pages were devoted to the mathematical configurations of his plan.

New information - B. F. was an attorney in 1866.

An intensive search of the 1870 census failed to find the Ben and Eliza Fries family.

In 1880, Benjamin, 42, worked as an assistant editor in Phoenixville, Chester County, PA.  With him, were Eliza J., 42, and their children, Eamie E. (Emmie?), a daughter who was 12; Martha E. 10; Edwin S, 8; and Lydia A., 3 (Lydia Alice).
Ben reported that he was not well.

An 1892 and an 1893 Norristown, Pennsylvania city directory both listed Benj. F. Fries at 551 Chestnut Street under Printers, Books, and Jobs.

By 1900, the family had moved once again to 551 Warren Street in Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  Benjamin and Eliza were both enumerated at age 62; the couple reported a marriage of 35 years with four children, all of whom were living at this time.  Benjamin worked as a printer and they rented their home. Their daughter, Alice L. (Lydia) and her husband, William Erb, a machinist, and their one year old child, Claude W., born March 1899, lived with them. See their marriage record here.
What kind of skin is the baby on?  Bear?

Also living there was Benjamin and Eliza's only son, Edwin S., 27 and single and working as a day laborer.

Eliza Jane Fries died on May 22, 1904 and Benjamin died about nine months later on February 1, 1905 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  The couple were buried in the Edgewood Cemetery there.  Their son, Edwin S. (1872 - 1966), who never married, was buried with them.  
In the following letter to the descendents of Benjamin Fries, we learn of his ability to stand up for causes he believed in, even though perhaps they were ahead of their time.
"Catskill, N. Y. 
Feb. 5th, 1905

Relatives of B. Frank Fries, Pottstown, Pa.
Friends: -
It as with surprise and sincere regret that I learned of the death of my old friend and Comrade, B. Frank Fries, yesterday at noon.  Tho I had never met him, I regarded him as a friend and felt that I knew him quite well.

Like all the rest of humanity, he no doubt had his faults, but the fact that he labored and made sacrifices for a noble cause - the cause capitalist cursed and priest ridden humanity -rendered the few faults of no consequence in comparison.

It is too bad that our departed friend could not have lived fifty years hence when I firmly believe that the people of that period will be living under a much more rational, just, and humane system than that of to-day, and when men like our departed comrade Fries will be loved and appreciated instead of being regarded as visionaries or dangerous characters as nearly all really progressive and humane people are at present.

You all have my sincere sympathy in this the hour of your bereavement.  I trust you will bear your sorrow with fortitude, and that all of us will cherish and emulate the many virtues and noble characteristics of B. Frank Fries.

Kindly and sorrowful,
Geo H. Werner" 

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