Thursday, June 21, 2018

Johann Friedrich W. Ahrens, Alderman and Cabinetmaker

Johann Friedrich W. Ahrens, was born August 7, 1818 in Schleswig-Holstein. Johann married Bettie Burtner and to this union at least 3 children were born; Wilhelmina, Betty and Ann. He and his family lived at 24-26 East Market Street. [Old style address.] (Marston 1868, p. 17.) He was a cabinetmaker by trade, and served as a City Alderman in 1865 and 1866.

Ahrens immigrated from the Kingdom of Hanover to Galveston in 1845, on board the Hamilton. (Chester William Geue and Ethel Hander Geue, A New Land Beckoned, p. 76).

He was situated in Galveston before 1849, when The Galveston Weekly News had printed his advertisement, "Cabinet Making and Repairing. The subscribers furniture manufactory to be found on the corner of Post Office and 22nd Street, directly opposite Mr. Lurcher's Grocery. He is prepared to execute at short notice, all orders for making, repairing, or cleaning any kind of furniture that may be wanted. He keeps on hand a supply of Cedar, Black Walnut, Magnolia, Mahogany, etc. ready seasoned and prepared for use. His prices will be found very low, and the style of work may be seen by giving him a call." In the 1856-7 Galveston Directory, his advertisement was virtually the same but a different address given on Market Street. By 1860, Census data reveals JFW Ahrens is the foremost furniture manufacturer in Galveston County with $1,692 of Total Value of Furniture Produced. The shop employed two hands, to produce 24 desks, 18 bookcases, and 48 tables. Galveston records show that his business continued as late as 1870 (Texas Furniture, The Cabinetmakers and Their Work, 1840-1880, by Lonn Taylor and David B. Warren, Forward by Miss Ima Hogg, University of Texas Press, Austin and London, (C) 1975, pages 275, 333, and Texas Furniture, Volume Two: The Cabinetmakers and Their Work, 1840–1880; By Lonn Taylor, David B. Warren. pp. 257.)

AN ANTIQUE TEXAS CARVED PINE AND CEDAR WARDROBE, BY GALVESTON CABINETMAKER JOHANN FRIEDRICH AHRENS, THIRD QUARTER 19TH CENTURY, the rectangular top above recess paneled hinged doors with the right door interior centering the manufacturers black stenciled label, "From J.F.W. AHRENS Furniture MANUFACTORY GALVESTON, Tex," opening to an interior enclosing adjustable shelves including one drawer and hand carved garment hooks, over a scalloped skirt rail. Height: 73"" Width: 51 1/4"" Depth: 20 3/8

Ahrens supposedly fought in the Civil War for the 1st Texas Infantry State Troops. I find this service to be doubtful, as he would have been about 43 years-old in 1861, and I think this would have been a little to old to serve in such an active regiment.

Johann Ahrens died December 8, 1870, and was buried in the Old City Cemetery, Galveston.

His wife Bettie (Burtner) Ahrens was born June 27, 1822, in Germany, and died November 27, 1912 (age 92) in Houston, Harris County, Texas. She was buried in the Old City Cemetery, Galveston.

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