Karl Frederick Seifert (1850-1896)

Karl Frederick Seifert (22 November 1850 – 22 July 1896)

The Mexican birth records of his children identify his parents as Antonio F. Seifert and Julia Esller, and his birth place as Karlsbad, Austria (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic).  Modest efforts to find his parents were unsuccessful.

The obituary of Guy Eugene Morris, May Seifert’s husband, states that her father “the late Frederick Seifert, was one of Maximilian’s soldiers in Mexico.”  That statement is either a misunderstanding by the reporter or a flawed family legend, as Karl Seifert probably didn’t arrive in Mexico prior to Maximilian’s 1867 execution, when Karl was only 16 years old.  May Seifert Morris’s own obituary does not mention her parents but it does identify two brothers, Fred Seifert of San Angelo, Texas and Oscar Seifert of Guadalajara, Mexico.  Her death certificate lists her father only as “Sifert” and leaves her mother’s name blank, but the death certificate of her brother Fred Seifert lists his parents as “Carlos Seifert” and “Louise Palmer”.  Census records of both May Morris and Fred Frank Seifert consistently gave their father’s birthplace as Austria.

That was enough information to identify May Morris’s parents.  The births of four of their six identifiable children are recorded in Mexican civil records.

Civil Records

The birth registration for May’s youngest brother Carlos Seifert, born on 17 September 1896 in Aguascalientes, Mexico calls him “Carlos Esller Seifert” and lists his parents as a 45-year old deceased mining engineer from Austria named “Carlos F. Seifert” and 27-year old “Luisa Guadalupe Palmer”. 1

Fortuitously that record identified their own parents as well.  Carlos Seifert’s parents were named as Antonio F. Seifert and Julia Esller and Louise Palmer’s parents were named as Federico O. Palmer and Rosa Bodmer.  (See Palmer Family paper.)

Birth registrations for three other siblings in Aguascalientes and Zacateca records repeat the same information in varying degrees of detail.  May herself and her brother Oscar were born in Parral, Chihuahua though civil registration records of their births were not found there.2

Judging from the birth records of the six children, the couple lived in Zacatecas through mid-1889, then moved to Parral, Chihuahua by the summer of 1890 and back to Aguascaliente about 1895.

His wife Louisa was baptized in El Sagrario (Santa Domingo), Zacatecas on 26 April 1870 as “Luisa Guadalupe Palmer Bodmer”, her parents listed a Federico O. Palmer and Rosa Bodmer.3

Karl Seifert Death in 1896

According to Karl Morris, family history is that Karl Seifert died from food poisoning while on a train trip home to Zacatecas.4  His death is recorded in Zacatecas civil records as caused by a cerebral hemorrhage.5

The widow and her six small children probably lived with her parents in Zacatecas for the next few years.  Indeed, she was styling herself as “Mrs. L. Seifert of Zacatecas, Mexico” when she and her sister Victoria Palmer stayed overnight in the Pierson Hotel of El Paso, Texas in November 1898 and took the Santa Fe train “for points north and east.”6

Louise Palmer Seifert remarried to Dr. John Overton

Louise married Dr. John W. Overton on 28 August 1900.  The El Paso Herald reported this:

“Dr. John H. Overton and Mrs Louise P. Seifert of Aguas Calientes will be married this evening at 6:30 on the Mexican Central train as it comes over the bridge. Rev. Mr. French will conduct the ceremony.  Dr. Overton is one of the best known physicians in the Mexican republic.” 7

Dr. John W. Overton was a medical doctor who with a practice and a well-known pharmacy in Aguascalientes, not far from Zacatecas, from 1900 to at least 1903 when it was the subject of an article in a trade journal.8   According to that article Dr. Overton was an American who had lived five years in Europe and five years in Mexico but was originally from Kentucky.   His father was George Buck Overton, a Kentuckian who lived in Lubbock at the time.

The couple evidently returned to Aguascaliente to live, as the birth of their only child, George Buck Overton, was recorded there on 22 July 1901 to John H. Overton and Louise Palmer.9  At some point Dr. Overton’s brother, Marvin C. Overton of Lubbock, wrote them and suggested Sweetwater as a place to settle.   According to the 1920 census entries for Fred Frank Seifert and May Seifert Morris they had immigrated to the U.S. in 1909; May Seifert Morris’s later passport application gives the immigration date more specifically as September 1909.  In the 1910 census for Sweetwater, Texas Dr. John W. Overton and Louise P. Overton are listed with four Seifert children named Mary Louise (18), Fred F. (20), Oscar (15), and Charles or Carlos (12) identified as his stepchildren.  All were born in Mexico.   Also in the household was their son George Buck Overton.  Dr. Overton and Louise are in the 1930 census

Louise Palmer Seifert Overton (4 April 1871 – 5 September 1941) died of a heart attack while living in Sweetwater.  Her death certificate lists her parents as Fred Palmer and Rosa Botmer (sic), and her place of birth as Zacatecas, Mexico.  Fred Frank Seifert, the informant, listed her father’s birthplace as England and her mother’s birthplace as Mexico, which is consistent with earlier census records.  Zacatecas was the site of many silver mines, and the Mexican Mining Journal mentions Fred Palmer, as owner of the La Parroquia mine there in 1908.10

Children:

  1. Carlos Luis Seifert (24 November 1887 — 14 July 1889) His birth was recorded in Zacatecas civil records, as was his death just a year and a half later.11  His parents were identified as Carlos Seifert (a native of Austria) and Louisa Palmer, and the four grandparents were named as above.
  2. Frederick Frank Seifert (15 November 1888 – 18 February 1968)   His birth was recorded in Zacatecas records as Federico Francisco Seifert.12  He was known simply as “Fred” or “Fred Frank” as an adult.  He came to Texas with his mother and was listed in her household in Lubbock in the 1910 census.13  As “Fred F. Seifert” he married Allie Lee Carter (1897-1968), the daughter of Lee Carter and Emma Kimbrough, in Sweetwater on 10 April 1915.  His draft registration card in 1917 shows him residing in Fombey, Kaufman County, and working for Texas Power & Light as an electrician.  The 1920 census found him in Houston, listed with Allie and their three-year old daughter Emma Lucile Seifert; his occupation was listed as an electrician for a motor company.

    In 1930 the family of three was living near the Oklahoma border in Quanah, Hardeman County, Texas and he was listed as a communications manager for a utility company.   The Texas Birth Index lists a son named Fritzir Lee Seifert born to Fred Frank Seifert and Allie Lee Carter on 16 December 1933 in Taylor County and they’re listed in the 1936 city directory for Abilene, Taylor County.   By 1938 they were living in Ft. Worth, Tarrant County, when Fred appeared in the city directory as a partner in the firm of Jennings & Seifert.

    Fred was living in San Angelo, Tom Green County when his mother died in 1941 and apparently remained there for the rest of his life.   He is listed in the San Angelo City Directories for 1941, 1942, 1944 and 1946 as a mechanic for Gandy’s Creamery.   Fred Seifert died following an automobile accident while living in San Angelo, and is buried in Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens along with his wife Allie.  His death certificate gives his parents’ names as Carlos Seifert and Louise Palmer, and his place of birth as Zacatecas, Mexico.

  3. Isabel Inez Seifert (15 August 1890 – 25 February 1949)  Her birth was recorded in Zacatecas as Ysabel Ynez Seifert. 14  She married Robert Wallace Olinger (1884-1949) in Zacatecas on 1 July 1907, so did not move to Sweetwater with her mother and siblings.  But she visited them; immigration records show that she arrived by ship at New Orleans from the Yucatan in 1911 with Sweetwater listed as her US destination.  She had only one child, a son named Robert Walter Olinger born in Zacatecas on 25 October 1909. ((Mexico, Zacatecas, Civil Registration Births 1908-1909, page 101, Registration No. 1047.))  In May 1917 she applied for an emergency passport in Santiago, Chile for herself and her son, giving her permanent address as Los Angeles, California.  Her husband, who was employed by W. R. Grace as a mining expert and buyer, had applied for a passport in late 1916 for an extended business trip to Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, and evidently took his wife and child along.  He continued to work abroad, applying for additional passports over the next few years.  His 1918 application declared that he had lived in Mexico from 1904 to 1916 and gave a US address of Mesilla Park, New Mexico where his mother was living.  In a 1918 application he gave Santa Monica, California, where his father lived, as his US address.

    Perhaps his traveling contributed to dissolving the marriage, for both Isabell and Robert remarried a few years later.  Isabel remarried on  8 May 1920 in Washington, DC to a widower named Gerald H. Totten (1880-1954). They were living in San Francisco in 1930 and Monterey, California in 1940.  Isabel died in Monterey, California but was interred a month later in Arlington, Virginia in a plot reserved for her second husband, who was an Army Major in World War I.

  4. May Seifert  (14 March 1892 – 26 August 1957)  Her 1921 application for a passport states that she was born at Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico.  The 1910 census calls her “Mary Louise”.  She married Guy E. Morris of Sweetwater, Texas.  S See Guy E. Morris for more on her Morris family.
  5. Oscar Victor Seifert (12 April 1894 – aft1954)  According to articles in the Sweetwater (Texas) Reporter, he was born in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico and attended Sweetwater high school.  He later returned to Mexico but returned to Texas as a refugee from the fighting in 1913.15 He was living in Sweetwater, Texas on 1 June 1917 when he filled out a draft registration card giving his date of birth as above and place as Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico.   He gave his occupation as mining engineer for the American Smelting & Refining Co. and his place of work as Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico.  He returned to Mexico prior to 1920, as he does not appear in the 1920 or 1930 U.S. censuses.   He married Carmen Romo Ulloa in Zacatecas on 15 March 1927.16  They appear in the 1930 census for Santa Barbara, Chihuahua with their son Carlos Luis.

    The Sweetwater Reporter issue of 23 May 1948 carried a lengthy article on him, stating that he served both as a major in Pancho Villa’s army and also as an artillery corporal in the U. S. Army in World War I.  His name appears twice in 1933 and once in 1938 in a database of border crossings from Mexico to the U.S.  These records give his wife’s name as Carmen Romo and the purpose of entry as visits to Sweetwater; the 1938 entry includes a three-year old son named Carlos.   Oddly, a Texas birth record exists for a son named Oscar William Seifert to Oscar Victor and Carmen Romo in Nolan County on 27 January 1934, perhaps a child born while they were visiting.  Another crossing was dated 5 December 1945 when he entered at Laredo for a planned visit to Sweetwater.  He gave his occupation as mining engineer, residence as San Luis Potosi, Mexico and gave his name in the Spanish fashion as Oscar V. Seifert Palmer.  The older son was evidently Carlos Luis Seifert (or Seifert Romo), born 11 December 1927 according to immigration records. Oscar Seifert was still alive in 1954 when his sister May Morris died, according to her obituary, and was living in Guadalajara, Mexico.

  6. Carlos Esselleur Seifert (17 September 1896 – 4 December 1952)  His birth as Carlos Esller Seifert was recorded in Aguascaliente records.  (México, Aguascalientes, Civil Registration Births 1896, page 73, Registration No. 286.))  Although his birth record gave his middle name as “Esller” he later adopted the spelling “Esselleur” and advanced his birthday by one day.  He’s listed in the 1910 Texas census in his stepfather’s household with the Anglicized name “Chas” age 10 with a birthplace in Mexico.  In January 1915, while living in New York, Charles E. Seifert applied for a passport to visit England; he declared that he was a citizen by virtue of being native born(!)  His trip was extended to Spain and Portugal, and a later record disclosed that he lived in Argentina for a year, returning to the U.S. in January 191717  On 26 September 1917 as Charles E. Seifert he endorsed the passport application of his brother-in-law Robert Olinger, giving his occupation as Secretary of the Ango-Mexican Petroleum Company of NYC and a home address in Orange, New Jersey.

    He consistently claimed in these and other records that he was born in Syracuse, New York (usually claiming a birth date of 18 September 1894) and that his father was also a U.S. citizen by virtue of having been born in Kentucky.  I note that he was born subsequent to his father’s death and may have confused his stepfather’s background with his father’s.  He may have claimed an 1894 birth date in order to be 21 for the initial passport application, but he continued to report that date for several years.  Why he claimed to have been born in Syracuse is not clear, unless it was a convenience to claim citizenship.

    On 5 June 1917 he filled out a draft card in East Orange with that information.  He was inducted in the Army on 17 December 1917, giving the same information, and served for almost a year as a private, corporal and sergeant at Ft. Howard, Maryland.18 The day after his discharge, on 9 December 1918, he applied for a passport as a resident of New York City to visit Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.  He gave his full name as Charles Esselleur Seifert and declared that he was born in Syracuse, New York on 18 September 1894 (sic) and that he was the son of Charles Seifert who was born in Kentucky.   An accompanying letter from the Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Company explained that he had been rehired after his Army discharge to be secretary to the manager of its Brazilian operations.19  He was probably out of the country for a few years, as he was not enumerated in the 1920 census.

    On 8 June 1921 he appeared in Nolan County court in Sweetwater to apply for a new passport, with Guy E. Morris vouching for his citizenship.20  He again styled himself Charles Esselleur Seifert of New York City, and wrote that he was born in Syracuse, New York on 18 September 1894 and that he was the son of Charles E. Seifert who was born in Kentucky.  He intended to visit Mexico and Brazil as an employee of The Texas Company (Texaco).  The last record found of him in the United States was his arrival in New York from Rio de Janeiro in 1929 on the ship Northern Prince.21

    According to internet postings by a grandson (see below) he moved to Brazil permanently in the 1920s and died in Rio de Janeiro.  He is buried in the Cemiterio dos Ingleses Gamboa in Rio de Janeiro.

 

Notes:

In 1999 Brian D. Keener, a grandson of Carlos E.Seifert, posted three messages at GenForum.com stating that Carlos’s father was Karl Esselleur (sic) Seifert who was born in Karlsbad  in the part of Austria which later became the Czech Republic and that he emigrated to Mexico as a mining engineer. He also stated that Karl Seifert attended the University of Freiberg.  Mr. Keener posted the following messages in GenForum.com in 1999 and 2000.  Emails to the address on his posts were not answered.

Karl Esselleur Seifert b. Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) 1852. Emigrated to Mexico (Zacatecas) m. Maria Louisa Palmer 1885(?)  Children: Frederick, Isabel, Oscar, Carlos. Seeking Czech relatives.

… Attended Uni. of Freiburg, Mining Engineer. Emigrated to Mexico, m. Maria Louisa Palmer 1886 in Zacatecas. Children, Frederick, Isabel, Oscar, Carlos (my grandfather). Seeking living relatives in Czech Republic, probably Karlovy Vary.

Seeking any descendants of Karl Seifert (b. Karlsbad, now Czek Rep.) and Maria Luisa Palmer (dau of Frederick O. Palmer). They lived initially Zacatecas/Aguas Calientes area. Karl was a mining engineer and owner of the Seifert mine. He died before the turn of the century and is buried in AC. Maria Luisa remarried and removed to Sweetwater, TX.

Seeking collateral descendants of Frederick Orlando Palmer, b. Callington, Cornwall 1844, d. Zacatecas Mexico 1919. Married Rosa Maria Julia Bodmer Ybarragangoitia in Zacatecas or Aguas Calientes and had issue. Frederick was one of the wave of Cornish mining engineers who left for the Mexican silver mines in the 19th century.

 

  1. México, Aguascalientes, Civil Registration Births 1896, page 73, Registration No. 286. []
  2. Hidalgo de Parral registrations do not appear to include their births.  It may be that they were registered in a nearby civil entity.  Records for other municipalities of Chihuahua were not checked. []
  3. Mexican Baptisms, online database. []
  4. An ancestry.com family tree specifies the date as 22 July 1896. []
  5. Mexico, Zacatecas Death Registrations 1896-1897, page 65. []
  6. El Paso Herald issues of 21 and 22 November 1898. []
  7. The El Paso Herald issue of 28 January 1900. []
  8. American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Vol. 43, p292. []
  9. Mexico, Aguascalientes Birth Registrations 1900-1901, page 80, Registration No. 324. []
  10. Mexican Mining Journal, Vol. 6, p16. []
  11. Mexico, Zacatecas Civil Registration Births 1887-1888 , page 87 and Zacatecas Civil Registrations Deaths 1889, page 30. []
  12. Mexico, Zacatecas Civil Registration Births 1888-89, page 69, Registration No. 2018. []
  13. He does not seem to be the same person who on 15 May 1910 married Enriqueta Enriquez in El Paso, although that person had an eerily similar birth date of 15 November 1887. []
  14. Mexico, Zacatecas, Civil Registration Births 1889-1890, page 63, Registration No. 1298. []
  15. El Paso Herald, issue of 16 August 1913, page 1. []
  16. Zacatecas Civil Marriage Registrations 1916-1934, page 18. []
  17. Passport Applications 1795-1925, database online.  The 1918 passport application declared that he resided in Argentina for one year beginning in 1916.  Passenger lists disclose that he returned to the U.S. on 25 January 1917 on the ship Vestris. []
  18. Army records online at Fold3.com []
  19. Passport Applications 1795-1925, database online. The physical description had him as 5’8″ with blond hair and brown eyes. []
  20. Guy Morris declared that he had known him for 15 years and knew him to be a citizen!  Carlos was described as 5’8″ tall with blond hair, brown eyes, and a round face. Passport Applications 1795-1925, database online. []
  21. Ship’s Passenger Lists, New York Arrivals, at ancestry.com lists an arrival on 26 June 1929. []