On January 12,1875 Louisa Gentz and Joseph Imhoff were married at St. Joseph’s Church in Utica, NY. Louisa Frank was 23 years old and had immigrated to the United States from the German State of Saxony (Freistaat Sachsen) in 1858 at the age of six. Joseph was 26 years old and had been born in the United States, the son of Caspar Imhoff and Walburga Langgartner, both immigrants from the German State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern).
Louisa and Joseph’s marriage would go on for 54 years, until Louisa’s death from heart failure in 1929. Over the course of their marriage Louisa and Joseph had nine children. Louisa and Joseph settled in the 6th ward on the West side of Utica, with their residence on 85 Erie Street (today’s 1221 Erie Street). Louisa and Joseph lived comfortably and appeared to have achieved a great deal of success. Joseph operated a septic disposal business and later, starting in about 1907, a general repair shop. Joseph also sat on the city council, representing the 6th Ward as a Democrat, an office that his grandson, Peter Imhoff, would hold 30 years later. 50 years after their marriage, on January 12, 1925, Louisa and Joseph gathered again at St. Joseph’s church with more than 600 friends and relatives to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Joseph was 76 and Louisa was 73 years old, and they were 19 and 13 years, respectively, past the life expectancy for this time. Given that the average age of marriage was 28.59 (male) and 25.11 (female) in 1875, coupled with the fact that life expectancy was 57 (male) and 60 (female), it is quite remarkable that Joseph and Louisa were able to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The social standing of Louisa and Joseph in the Utica community is evidenced by the fact that their wedding anniversary and the mass held on Monday, January 12th, were on the front page of the Utica Daily Press on Saturday, January 10th.
The article refers to Louisa and Joseph as “well known and highly esteemed residents of West Utica.” Of particular note is the fact that Louisa’s sister, Mary Frank (Caldwell), and Andrew Hurstell attended the remarriage as best man and bridesmaid, roles they filled 50 years prior at Louisa and Joseph’s marriage in 1875. Also of note is that Louisa and Joseph’s son, Ferdinand Frederick Imhoff (Fr. Maurice) celebrated the mass that day. Fr. Maurice was the pastor at St. Rocco’s in Chicago Heights, Illinois, at this time.
On this day Louisa and Joseph were presented with a blessing from Pope Pious XI. The blessing is ~18″ by 36″ and is signed by the Pope and stamped with the Pope’s seal. The Papal Blessing was bequeathed to Fr. Maurice at the time of his father’s death in 1937. Today, I am in possession of this blessing and in October 2013, I had the blessing restored to address water damage. Additionally, the blessing was framed under UV protective glass and matted on acid free card stock. The restoration process should preserve the blessing for many years to come.