Christoph & Elizabeth Grischow's Story

Christoph Grischow was born on April 30, 1815 in Germany, probably in Mecklenburg-Schwerin.  Very little is currently known about his life in Europe.  

Christoph probably married his wife Elizabeth in the mid-1830's.  The only evidence found to date that gives a specific location for them is their daughter Maria's marriage registration in Canada; she lists her birthplace in 1849 as "Tetrow, Mecklenburg-Sch."

Mecklenburg-Schwerin was a state in northern Germany along the Baltic Sea, known for its good farmland.  Teterow still exists today, a town of about 10,000 citizens.  It is situated southeast of the major city of Rostock.

Despite some research in the Teterow Lutheran church records, no evidence has yet been found regarding Christoph or Elizabeth's ancestry.

Christoph & Elizabeth had at least 3 children, all of them born in the month of May.  Frederick was born May 4, 1837, although some Canadian records put his birth in the early 1840's.  Daughter Maria was born May 12, 1844 and son John arrived May 19, 1853.  If there were other children, they did not come to Canada.

Why Come to Canada?

Approximately 146,000 Mecklenburgers left their homeland between 1850 - 1890, most via the port of Hamburg. The main cause was the lack of available land, held by a few noble elite. Day labourers had few rights, having even to ask permission to marry. (Labourers without a job were not permitted to marry.) While the land was good, the social conditions became so oppressive that most landless farmers simply left. Between 1820-1890, one in three Mecklenburgers emigrated.

Christoph Grischow was a farmer, and while he was obviously permitted to marry, implying he had a job, the conditions probably deteriorated enough that he decided to give his growing children a better opportunity to establish their own homes and farms than what they could ever expect in Mecklenburg.

A 3-masted barque, the typical kind of ship used by emigrants from Hamburg in the 1850's to 1870's.

Christoph's son Frederick states in the 1901 census that he arrived in Canada in 1868.  Frederick's sister Maria was married in Canada in 1870, so it is likely that the entire family immigrated together.  The earliest documented proof (to date) of Christoph being in Canada is an 1877 directory of Waterloo Township that lists him as a farmer.

The Grischow Kids All Grown Up

Frederick married a Mennonite girl, Lydia Clemens, on Jan. 12, 1873.  She would die of consumption (tuberculosis) only five years later.  Fred then married Maria Rhodes.  He had a total of 10 children.  Click here for Fred's story.

Maria married a fellow German immigrant, Louis Rau, son of George and Elizabeth Rau, on Feb. 24, 1870 in Preston.  They had at least 4 daughters, named Louise, Emma, Elizabeth, and one who died young (possibly Clara).  They also had a son named Louis G. Rau (1880-1933).  Louis Sr. died of poisoning (blood poisoning?) Nov. 5, 1890.  Maria died in the town of Berlin in 1907.

John seems to have been a man of many trades.  The 1881 census lists him as a butcher, the 1891 census a bricklayer, and his death registration states he is a tanner.  John married Louisa Schultz, daughter of Christian & Mina Schultz, on Oct. 26, 1875.  They had at least 4 children, the youngest two dying in infancy.  The older two were Hermann and Alvina.  Hermann married Sarah Laufer, and he lived over 90 years.  Alvina married Ernst Boettger and lived a few weeks shy of 87 years.  John died of diphtheria on Christmas Eve 1898 at age 45.


Elizabeth Holtz Grischow died of old age on Nov. 8, 1888 in Berlin, age 75 years.  Christoph survived until age 85, dying in Waterloo Twp. of La Grippe on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1901.

Christoph and Elizabeth are buried at the Strasburg Lutheran Cemetery on Strasburg Rd. in Kitchener.  It was the former cemetery of the St. James Lutheran Church in Strasburg, which closed and merged with the Mannheim congregation in the 1890's.  The cemetery was abandoned for many years, and therefore most stones are no longer present.  However, Christoph's headstone is one of the very few remaining.

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Last updated January 05, 2005