There were several members of the Strasburger family that stayed briefly at the Poorhouse in June 1880: parents Herman #838 (1841-1882) and Fredricka #839 (1838-1880) and children Henrietta #840 (1871-), Maria #841 (1873-), Hermann  #842 (1875-), and John #843 (1878-1960). Henrietta had the shortest stay at the House, being put on trial June 13, while the other three children were sent away to an orphanage in Buffalo, New York on October 12, 1880.

Herman and Fredricka are originally from Germany and they immigrated to Canada separately with their families while they were both in their twenties. Herman arrived in Waterloo with his father George Strasburger (1812-1866), his mother Henriette (1813-1879), and siblings Ablina (1844-1878), Otto (1845-), Wilhelmina (1848-1925), Christina (1850-), and Ernst (1852-1925) who came from Saxony, Germany. Fredricka’s family is from Prussia, but it is not known of whether they immigrated to Canada with her.

Herman and Fredricka got married in 1864 and moved to New Hamburg, Ontario to start a family. In total, they had seven children, the first four children are listed on the 1871 census as Berhardt (1865-), Henry (1867-), Ernst (1869-1874), and Henrietta (1871-1941). There is not much more information about Berhardt, however Henry moved to Dixon, Illinois in 1883 and became a naturalized citizen in 1887. In 1900, he had moved to Juniata, Pennsylvania and married Louise Strassburger, having three children with her: Dewey (1899-), Herman (1901-), and Cecil (1906-). Ernst drowned in New Hamburg at just five years old. After this, they had three more children: Maria, Hermann, and John Otto Fredrick. Henrietta and the last three children were all in the Poorhouse with their parents after their father was diagnosed with St Vitus Dance and could no longer provide for the family as a weaver.

Shortly after, three of the children were sent to an orphanage and their mother, Fredricka, died of consumption at the Poorhouse, an illness she’d been suffering from for six months. She was buried at the House of Refuge in their first cemetery. Herman, the father, absconded from the Poorhouse on October 16, 1881 and made it back to his home in New Hamburg. Unfortunately, Herman was involved in a railway accident and died from his injuries on October 22, 1882.


Herman Strasburger's Death Record; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives

Herman Strasburger’s Death Record; Source: Region of Waterloo Archives


Henrietta was the only child that was taken on “trial” by Charles Borgmann and his wife Veronica of Elmira from the Poorhouse on June 13 1880. She eventually went back to the Poorhouse to work as a house cleaner at the end of September 1887, earning $1.50/week.


1887 Manager’s Cashbooks; Source: Waterloo Region Archives


She worked there until the end of 1889, at that point earning $2.00/week, as per the Keeper’s Cash Book Account. At the time, she was living as a lodger in a boarding house in North Waterloo where she is recorded as residing in 1891 with four other lodgers. In 1891, there were only 1500 people living in Waterloo Town.



1891 Manager’s Cashbooks; Source: Waterloo Region Archives


After the news broke of the ill treatment of inmates at the Waterloo House of Refuge (for more information on the 1893 Scandal, visit the House page or Peter and Alvina Itter’s page), an inquest is undertaken in order to investigate the charges laid against the Keeper, Peter Itter, and the Matron, Alvina Itter. Henrietta Strasburger is one of the first ex-servants to accuse the two of maltreatment towards the inmates, which was outlined in the Standing Committee Meeting Minutes on July 3, 1893 and in the Special Committee Minutes on June 21, 1893, the latter stating:


From Henrietta Strasburger, late a servant at the House of Industry & Refuge, making charges against the Matron and Keeper, as to the ill treatment of Inmates at said House.


Prior to this, Henrietta testified under oath in June 1893 to what she had seen and heard about while she was working at the Poorhouse. She remarked how Lucinda Potter was pulled by the hair by Mrs. Itter  and how the latter consistently used abusive language with the inmates in order to make them submissive to her. If the inmates were disobeying the Keeper and Matron, they were put in jail with just bread and water. Henrietta’s testimony was printed in Galt Reformer on June 23, 1893.



Source: Kitchener Public Library Archives


Her testimony was used against the managers and the investigation ensued in the following months. Just after she made her testimony, she married Hermann Froehlich (1868-) on June 28, 1893 and moved with him and his daughter, Amelia (1887), to New York, USA later that year. 



Henrietta’s Marriage Certificate Source:


At this point she was going by her nickname, Hattie, and she is recorded on the New York Census in 1900 with her husband and Amelia. In 1905, Henrietta is listed as living in Buffalo alone and working as a houseworker. Amelia is working as a servant and living in that family’s house. Henrietta died in Buffalo, New York in 1941 under the name Yetta Froehlich.

John Otto Fredrick Strasburger, the youngest of the children, also immigrated to Illinois, as his brother Henry did, in 1897. He eventually moved to Iowa where he married Minnie Ezgards in Davenport and raised his two children, Norman B (1912-) and Louis L (1919-), there. He died in Davenport in 1947.

Hermann was still in Buffalo, New York around 1892. He is listed as a patient at the Buffalo State Hospital in 1905. Concurrently, there is little information about Maria Strasburger after she was sent to an Orphan’s House in Buffalo on October 12, 1880.