George Anton Buhler was born 16 March 1874. Heinrich Buhler was born 6 February 1867. The brothers were born in Algiers, Louisiana on the Mississippi River opposite New Orleans. George and Henry were the sons of Peter Anton Buhler and Gertrude Schmidt. Their given names are the first appearance in the Buhler family. Their nephew, George Henry Buhler, was an obvious namesake honor. The name George has since passed through the family to present generations.
Anton Buhler drowned in the Mississippi River in 1874 when George was only a few months old. George, Henry and their older brother, Emile, lived together with Anton’s widow into the early 1900s. Emile married Victoria Clabert, a widow, about 1904. Victoria had four children from a previous marriage living with her and Emile. (1910 census) Gertrude went to live with her son Charles and his wife Martha at 537 Bouny street in Algiers.
George and Henry worked in the shipyards and dry docks in Algiers, Louisiana. George worked as a ship caulker. Henry was a ship carpenter. The 1910 census finds the bachelor brothers George and Henry sharing a house on Patterson Street along the Mississippi River levee in Algiers. At least that was my initial conclusion from the 1910 census when I analyzed it in 2001.
In 2016 I was searching the New Orleans Times-Picayune Historical newspaper collection for “George Buhler”. I discovered an interesting article printed in November 1910 under the caption “Theft Tales”:
The gist of the story was the theft of George’s jewelry from his home. The fact that caught my attention was George’s home itself, “a houseboat on the river at the foot of Patterson Street”. This revelation led me to re-examine the 1910 census record for George and Henry.
1910 U.S. census, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, New Orleans, enumeration district [ED] 228, supervisor’s district [SD] 1, page 11A; National Archives micropublication T624, roll 525. U.S. Census Collection, Ancestry.com, accessed 6 Oct 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/. Image republished in compliance with Ancestry.com license and terms and conditions of use.
George and Henry are enumerated on lines 22 and 23 in the census extract above. George is listed as head of household, male, white, 36 years old and single. Henry is counted as George’s brother, male, white, 45 and single. Let’s examine columns 1-4 more closely. Column 1 gives the street name, column 2 the house number on the street, column 3 and 4 is the household number and family number respectively and as enumerated sequentially in the district. We clearly see the street name as “Patterson” in column one. Patterson street ran through Algiers parallel to the Mississippi River. George and Henry are household and family number 211. Note that the house number is left blank for George and Henry, also for family number 212. These are the only two households on this page without a house number. If George and Henry were living in a houseboat on the river, it may make sense there was no house number.
When we look closer at column 1 on lines 22 and 23 we see what appears to be two words that are illegible, perhaps the first letter is an “M”. What has the census taker written here? Lets take a look at adjacent census pages.
Examining the previous page, 10B, all the households have street numbers on Morgan or Patterson Street, no help here. On page 10A we find:
1910 U.S. census, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, New Orleans, enumeration district [ED] 228, supervisor’s district [SD] 1, page 10A; National Archives micropublication T624, roll 525. U.S. Census Collection, Ancestry.com, accessed 6 Oct 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/. Image republished in compliance with Ancestry.com license and terms and conditions of use.
and on page 12 B, 2 pages after George and Henry:
1910 U.S. census, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, New Orleans, enumeration district [ED] 228, supervisor’s district [SD] 1, page 12B; National Archives micropublication T624, roll 525. U.S. Census Collection, Ancestry.com, accessed 6 Oct 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/. Image republished in compliance with Ancestry.com license and terms and conditions of use.
It’s now clear that the dwellings not assigned house numbers in this precinct are on the “Mississippi River”. George and Henry, and several others, had taken up residence on the Mississippi River. They were living on the river batture.
Definition of batture : the alluvial land between a river at low-water stage and a levee —used especially of such land along the lower Mississippi river. From Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
Copyright (1909) The Sanborn Map Company, The Sanborn Library, LLC.. All Rights Reserved. Further reproduction prohibited without written permission from The Sanborn Library, LLC.
The extract of the 1909 map above depicts the location of the residences enumerated in the 1910 census page that includes George and Henry. We find the only dwellings (D) at 319, 317, 313 and 311 Patterson Avenue. Between Patterson and the protection levee we find the New Orleans Dry Dock & Ship Building Co. The Algiers Point Condominiums occupy this site today. Between the levee and the Mississippi River lies the batture. If George and Henry were living in a “houseboat” it would probably have been in the area of the batture between Lavergne and Bermuda streets shown above.
“They were squatters, nearly to a person. Some made their living in town as teachers, musicians, and auto mechanics. Some made their living running trotlines for catfish, setting shrimp traps, and making clothes poles from willow trees. They dragged up old barges and salvaged the planks for siding.” – From Houck, Oliver A. 2010. Down on the batture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 158.
George and Henry were both out of work on 15 April 1910, the date of the census. Further, George had been unemployed for 12 weeks, Henry for 40 weeks. (1910 census) Previously employed as ship yard carpenters, George and Henry would have possessed the skills required to build a houseboat from a derelict barge or such. George, listed as head of house, indicates on the census that he owns his home free of mortgage. This all adds up to their situation as batture dwellers.
George died 11 August 1912 in New Orleans at the age of 38. George’s death certificate states he died at his brother Charles’ house, possibly from an “abscess of the liver”. (illegible).
Henry Buhler’s name is found in the 1912 New Orleans’ city directory residing at 1128 Brooklyn Ave (Algiers); occupation carpenter. Henry disappears from the record until 1918 when he was hit by a car on Canal Street in New Orleans. The Times Picayune misspelled his name as “Buxler”, however his stated age, occupation and residence on the river in Algiers positively identify him.
Henry has not been found in the 1920 or 1930 censuses. Henry was residing at 414 Powder street (Algiers) when he died of throat cancer at Charity Hospital on 6 April 1936 in New Orleans at the age of 69.