How many Johanna Ellissens are there?

A series of Johanna Ellissens crops up in genealogical sources. The problem is which is which?

Basic sources for identities, births, marriages and deaths have for some time been Alexander Dietz’s Stammbaum, Jean-Louis Ellissen’s ‘La Famille Ellissen’, the International Genealogical Index (IGI), and the Steinheim Institut’s Jüdische Grabsteinepigraphik database of tombstone inscriptions. The latter is a tough slog because of its dense detail, obtuse coding system and the relentless redaction – by the epigraphists – of female children. The IGI has been online since the days of the early web but has been difficult to use: a superannuated interface and limited ways of searching. Also, it was clear that its coverage was uneven. A few months ago, however, a modern interface to the IGI was brought online and, for Germany in the 19th century at least, a flood of new sources have been added to the database. This is a great step forward; in one day I have found nearly 100 ‘new’ births, marriages and deaths for people I have been trying to properly document for five years.

Anyhow, the known and possible Johanna Ellissens are:

  • Johanna Ellissen, b. 24 Apr 1829-d. 21 Jul 1873, daughter of David Ellissen, b. 14 Feb 1779-d. 25 Oct 1841, and Henriette Ellissen, b. 13 Jan 1779-d. 10 May 1850. She married Leopold David von Weisweiller, b. 22 Feb 1807-d. 5 Oct 1871. This link is well attested.
  • Johanna Ellissen, b. ?-d. 1888. She married the pianist and composer Jakob Rosenhain, b. 2 Dec 1813-d. 21 Mar 1894, who was a friend of Mendelsohn. The couple were well known in Parisian circles after 1849, where, because of their small stature, they were nicknamed ‘the Lilliputians’.
  • Hannchen Ellissen, b. 8 Dec 1813-d. ?, the daughter of Eduard Leopold Ellissen, b. 8 Jul 1791-d. 7 Apr 1851, and Henrietta (Jette) HOLLÄNDER, b. 22 Sep 1792-d. 17 Feb 1872. She is named Hannchen in her IGI birth record, but could well have been Johanna, Hannchen being a pet form of the name.
  • Johanna Ellissen who married Salomon Stern, b. 23 Aug 1818-d. ?, in 1853. This is documented in Dietz Family 548 (below), but without giving an indication of which family this Johanna came from.
  • Johanna Ellissen, b. 24 Apr 1829-d. 21 Jul 1873, the daughter of Philipp Ellissen, b. 13 Feb 1802-d. 11 Mar 1882, and Betty (Philippina) May, b. 19 Dec 1806-d. 1880. (What I thought was ‘Johanna’ on back of Betty May’s portrait now looks like Theresa, but her IGI birth record shows she was certainly a child of Philipp and Betty.)

    In the above, it is only known for the first Johanna which family she came from and which she married into.

    It is tempting to match up the other four. Mme Jakob Rosenhain (as they lived in Paris) could easily be Hannchen Ellissen, b. 8 Dec 1813, the same year as her husband. Further evidence is required to demonstrate this.

    This leaves Johanna Ellissen, 1829-1873, and Mme Salomon Stern (the Sterns also lived in Paris). I cannot find direct evidence that these two are the same person, but as I said here, Mme Stern’s son, Edgar Stern, attended Herbert Ellissen’s wedding, as indeed he ought to have done as a first cousin.

    A further observation adding to the plausibility of the link is that Salomon Stern was one of nine sons of Jakob Stern, 1780-1833, and Theresia Wohl, ?1785-?, and three others married Ellissen daughters or granddaughters. They were:

  • Wolf who married Rosine Ellissen, 1806-1877.
  • Julius who married Louise Ellissen, 1810-?.
  • Antoine who married Fanny Speyer, 1812-1880, an Ellissen granddaughter.
  • These were all marriages among closely related Frankfurt families, but descendants of the couples have a wide geographical distribution. Louise’s son, Theodor Stern, married Rosine’s daughter and left a large bequest for medical research; the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University medical research centre now stands on Theodor-Stern-Kai, on the bank of the Main in Frankfurt. A grandson, Sir Albert Stern, was Secretary of the Landships Committee in WWI and helped to create the first British tank. One of Fanny’s sons married a stage belle, Sophie Croizette, a contemporary of Sarah Bernhardt. A granddaughter married into the Deutsch de La Meurthe family, famous for the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize of 100,000 francs for the first flight around the Eiffel Tower, won by Santos-Dumont in 1901 in a dirigible.

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