Frey Family of Susan J. Dorey

My Frey family immigrated from Baden (in the southwest of modern Germany) to Charleston, South Carolina in 1842. They were: Joseph and Margaret Frey, their son Joseph Frey who was born en route, and Wilhelmina Stein, Margaret's daughter by her first husband. In Charleston three more children were born: August Frey, Margaret Frey, and Albert Frey.

Joseph and Margaret Frey were my great-great-grandparents.

The single largest event in their lives was the Civil War. Margaret Frey and her daughter Margaret fled to New York to escape the local enmity engendered by their charitable acts towards enemy prisoners. In New York their Confederate money was worthless.

The next largest disturbance in their lives was the 7.3 earthquake on 9-1-1886 which devastated Charleston and was felt from Maine to Cuba, and west to Wyoming.

For an explanation of the numbering scheme and the date format, see the Clirehugh page.

I changed the format of this information in September 2015 to make it easier for you and I to find people and for me to make corrections and additions.

There are a number of mysteries for me in this family, principal among them: (1) Who fathered Wilhelmina Stein? Family stories have him the son of the famous German statesman, Heinrich Friedrich Karl, Baron vom und zum Stein (1757–1831) and his wife, Christiane Wilhelmine von Wallmoden. So far I have found only three children of the Baron's, all daughters. (2) Which Joseph Frey did what, father or son? Apparently both men had the same name: Joseph J. B. Frey. Both were illusive in the census. Family stories make no distinction. The only records I can trust are the deed to the cemetery lot in Brooklyn, NY, the patents, and the court case regarding the dispute of a will. Consequently I am ascribing the telegraph patent to the father and the military positions, the other patents, and the burial in Brooklyn to the son.

Other Documents

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Frey Family at a Glance

In the Beginning

2. Margaret Anne Bonheur (1811–1885) born Baden, lived South Carolina and New York, died New Jersey. She is my great-great grandmother.
first husband Mr. von Stein, lived Baden
second husband Joseph J. B. Frey (1810– ) born Baden, lived South Carolina and New York

First Generation

2.1 Wilhelmina Louisa von Stein (1834–1907) born Nassau, died South Carolina
  m. Charles C. Heuer (1827–1864) born Germany, died SC
2.2 Joseph J. B. Frey, Jr. (1842–1888) born France, lived SC, died NY
  m. Florence Lining Hanahan (1852– ) born SC, lived NY
2.3 August William Frey (1845–1918) born SC, buried NY
  m. Ellen Carey (1848–1893) born Ireland or GA, died NY
  m. Margaret (1877– ) born NY, lived NY
2.4 Margaret Bernardina Octavia Frey (1848–1927) born SC, died NJ
  m. John Cumming Clirehugh (1843–1912) born NY, died NJ
2.5 Albert Henry Frey (1850–1929) born SC, died NJ
  m. Rosa (1858– ) born SC, died NY

Flight from Charleston

The Civil War is the background and a woman's compassion the actor. The Greek chorus is the residents who were enraged by kindness to the enemy. So the story unfolds in three acts: (1) secession and war, (2) aiding the prisoners of war, and (3) banishment.

The Civil War in Charleston

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, on 12-20-1860. The Confederate States of America were formed less than two months later on 2-9-1861. Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the US on 3-4-1861. On 4-12-1861 the Civil War began with the firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor by Confederate soldiers; it was captured two days later.

The city of Charleston withstood efforts to invade and conquer it. The first major Federal effort to take the city was the Battle of Secessionville on 6-16-1862. It was fought on nearby James Island and ended with defeat by the Union.

The first Civil War prisoners in Charleston were those from the first Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas) in July 1861. These were the ones housed in Castle Pinckney. The prisoners from the Battle of Secessionville in June 1862 were, according to her daughter's letter, the ones aided by Margaret Frey.

In Charleston virtually every military operation by either side involved the navy including the first large scale use of ironclad vessels in an assault on forts, the first submarine attack, and extensive blockade running activities.

In February 17–18, 1865 Charleston was evacuated in the face of General Sherman's nearby land forces and of naval forces north and south of the harbor. A week later the city was described as "little more than a heap of ruins." On 4-9-1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant. Three days later President Lincoln was assassinated. The remaining Confederate forces surrendered in May. The war was over—after more than 620,000 deaths in battle and over twice that many deaths from disease.

Aiding the Prisoners

The treatment of prisoners in the Civil War was a tragedy on both sides, but perhaps worst by the North: official reports show more Confederates died in Northern prisons than Federals died in Southern prisons.

Margaret Bonheur Frey helped Union officers captured in the 6-18-1862 Battle of Secessionville (fought on James Island, near Charleston) and imprisoned in Charleston Jail.

I have ten letters from prisoners of war testifying to Margaret's kindness. The earliest dated 8-12-1862 was Signed Capt. A. J. Lawler, 28th Mich., Capt. G. E Pratt, 8th Mich., Fred R. Jeackson, 7th Conn., "and the rest of the prisoners." "Dear Madame, We the Federal prisoners of war cannot leave Charleston without expressing to you our profound sense of your great and constant kindness toward us. What we should have suffered had it not been for your kindness—you and a few kind souls like you—we cannot tell. Your generous and self-denying benevolence will be remembered and cherished by us to the latest hours of our existence. Accept this feeble testimony of our gratitude to you. We hope and pray that your path in life may be always pleasant and happy. Yours gratefully."

There are letters dated into April 1863, after which the next one is from 11-21-1864 signed by many men imprisoned in Hilton Head, SC. There are two letters from 1865 and one from 1867, the last being from J. P. Chazat, MD: "My dear Madam, I take pleasure in testifying to your devotedness to the Federal wounded placed under my charge, in 1862, after the battle of Secessionville. Your efforts to administer to their comfort being constant while I remained in charge. Very respectfully."

One letter, undated, included: "You will remember me to Albert and Miss Maggie and thank them for me."

Margaret was not alone in her ministrations to the prisoners. Prisoners at the City Jail during early 1864 mentioned "Sisters of Mercy" who visited the prison. Mrs. Eliza Gorton Potter was another woman who helped care for the sick and wounded; she is recognized at Ed Boots' website. There is a web page on the Charleston City Jail with pictures.

There is a long account of Civil War prisoners at The Treatment Of Prisoners During The War Between The States compiled by Rev. Wm. Jones, Secretary of Southern Historical Society.

Getting Out of Dodge

I have pieced the following account from the archives and the census.

Winchester is in northern VA, northeast of Washington, DC and about 40 miles southwest of Martinsburg, WV. Winchester was likely the northernmost city in the Confederacy. Winchester's location was the hub of key roadways linking the Ohio Valley to the eastern United States coastal plains. Sitting just south of the Potomac River, Winchester lay on the only route between the east and western United States with direct connections to Washington, DC.

Winchester was a base of operations for several Confederate incursions into the Northern United States, at times threatening the Federal capital city. Winchester also served as a central point for troops conducting raids against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and turnpike and telegraph paths along those routes and the Potomac River Valley.

It was a dangerous place in June 1863.

The Second Battle of Winchester was fought June 13–15, 1863, in Frederick County and Winchester, VA as part of the Gettysburg Campaign. As Confederate Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell moved down the Shenandoah Valley in the direction of Pennsylvania, his corps defeated the Union Army garrison commanded by Major General Robert H. Milroy, capturing Winchester and numerous Union prisoners.

The Freys likely traveled to New York by train. Certainly my mother said they left Charleston by train.


All these patents were held by a Joseph J. B. Frey of New York. The earliest one belonged to Joseph Frey, the father. The later ones belonged to Joseph Frey, the son.

95014 9-21-1869 self-closing telegraph key
260965 3-31-1882 7-11-1882 water-closet
260966 4-11-1882 7-1882 plumber S coupling for the bowls of water closets
260967 4-29-1882 7-1882 slop-safe for water-closets
260968 6-9-1882 7-1882 pipe coupling
275900 4-1883 bowl for water-closets


Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

This cemetery is located at 5th Avenue and 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY. Lot 7859 section 15 was bought by Vair Clirehugh and is now owned by me.

Margaret B. O. (Frey) Clirehugh 7-19-1927 7859 2.4

The Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

The cemetery is located at 1629 Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11207-1849. Four Freys are buried in the Orient Hill section. These lots were bought by Joseph J. B. Frey on 2-19-1887 for $135. It is currently owned by my uncle, John C. Clirehugh.

Joseph J. B. Frey 12-13-1888 261 2.2
Ellen Frey 1-1-1894 262 2.4 -1, first wife of August W. Frey
August W. Frey 10-11-1918 262 2.4
Albert H. Frey 11-12-1929 262 2.6

Bethany Cemetery, Charleston, SC

This cemetery is owned by St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and is often referred to as the Lutheran cemetery. Founded in 1856, it is located at 10 Cunnington Avenue, just off upper Meeting Street, and has 52 acres. There are 15,000–20,000 people buried here. Modern records are incomplete. Burial records before 1904 are included in the church records (some of which have disappeared), those after 1904 are located at the office at the cemetery.

Lots #1–5 in row C of the South section were bought on 1-23-1939 by Rosa Wilhelmina (Horres) Larsen. There are 5 lots, 2 are currently empty. I do not know which person is in which lot.

Lot #300 in the Northeast section is owned by the Harbers family. It was closed before 1945 at the request of a will.

Wilhelmina (Stein) Heuer died 1908 ? 2.1 1834–1908
Charles Heuer 1864 ? 2.1 -1 1827–1864
Amelia Heuer died 1-13-1945 1–5 South section 2.1.3 1862–1915
Rosa (Heuer) Harbers died 1-9-1935 300 Northeast section 2.1.2 1857–1935
John Harbers 10-6-1908 300 Northeast section 2.1.2 -1 1850–1908
Charlotte M. Harbers 2-16-1885 300 Northeast section 1883–1885
Francis A. Horres died 12-25-1938 1–5 South section 1888–1938
John L. Horres died 4-14-1942 1–5 South section 1883–1942
Claude Horres ? ? 1897–1941
Lewis Heuer ? ?    

St. Lawrence Cemetery, Charleston, SC

The Catholic cemetery is located on Huguenin Avenue, Charleston. It was begun in 1851.

Margaret (Heuer) Horres 4-20-1932 2.1.1 1854–1932

St. Barnabas Anglican Church, Dunwoody, GA

This church is located at 4795 North Peachtree Road. It has a columbarium and a website.

Rosa Wilhelmina (Horres) Larsen 9-1963 1894–1963
Lynne Murray Smith 3-2006 1942–2006

European Places

Because the Frey family immigrated from what is today Germany, some places are described here by way of background.


Margaret Anne Frey was born about 1811 in Mannheim, a city in Baden, now Germany. Mannheim is situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers, in the northwestern corner of modern Baden-Württemberg.

From 1720–1778, Mannheim was the dignified Residence of the Elector of the Palatinate. In the early 1700s Mannheim was one of the most important cities of the era, in the latter half of that century it was a trend setter on the music scene. Mozart visited the town four times.

It was the first German city intentionally laid to waste in World War II. Beginning on December 16, 1940 Mannheim was bombed more than 100 times and was the goal of over 150 air raids.


Baden is a state in the southwest of Germany. It came into existence in the 12th century as the Margraviate of Baden and subsequently split into different lines, which were unified in 1771. It became the much-enlarged Grand Duchy of Baden, a sovereign country, through the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1803–1806. In 1803 Baden gained the entire palatinate east of the Rhine, including Mannheim. It joined the German Empire in 1871, remaining a Grand Duchy until 1918 when it became part of the Weimar Republic.

The ruler first became known as the Grand Duke of Baden in 1806, that being Karl Friedrich. In 1863 the Grand Duke was Friedrich I.


Nassau was first a town founded in 915 in the lower Lawn river valley of what today is Germany. The modern state encompassing the city is Rhineland-Palatinate.

The state of Nassau was formed within the Holy Roman Empire. After an initial division in 1255, Nassau became a united duchy again in 1806. In 1866 it was annexed by Prussia and incorporated into the province of Hesse-Nassau.

Margaret Anne Frey is believed by her descendants to have married a son of the famous Heinrich Friedrich Karl, Baron vom und zum Stein; this is in doubt because I have not found any record of a son of this man. The Baron was a German statesman. His family belonged to the order of imperial knights of the Holy Roman Empire. The family seat lies in the center of the town, the so-called Steinische Hof, which is today still in the possession of the descendants of the Baron.


The Kingdom of Prussia was an independent kingdom from 1701 until 1867 or 1871. It became the largest constituent kingdom of the united German Empire until its dissolution in 1918 at the end of WW I. It was predominantly a northern and eastern German state. Baden did not become a part of Prussia until after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

Le Havre

Le Havre is a city in Normandy, northern France, on the English Channel, at the mouth of the Seine. It was the port-of-call for French ocean liners making the Transatlantic crossing. Le Havre, known as "La Porte Océane," is the second largest city in Normandy after Rouen and is the second largest export port in France.

The port of Le Havre was mainly used by emigrants from southern Germany during the period from about 1830 to 1870. One sea route was Le Havre to NY, another Le Havre to New Orleans. I have as yet to find a route to Charleston. However as Le Havre imported cotton from the US and sent "passagers d'entrepôt" back to the US, it is likely there was shipping between Charleston and Le Havre.


Please contact me with corrections and additions or if you're a relative!

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Revision: 9-30-2015.