Glassblowers were among the founders of the Jamestown colonies in 1607, using locally obtained materials to make their glassware. Dutch and German colonists began these early ventures. These early glassmakers failed due to production and managerial difficulties.
It would take until the second half of the 19th century when manufacturing methods would allow the mass production of glassware and the boom in the industry. Stained glass became more prevalent, showing up in the windows of St. Ann and the Holy trinity Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, NY between 1843 and 1848. J & G. H. Gibson Company of Philadelphia made the glass ceilings for the House and Senate chambers of the United States in 1859.
Demand for glassware increased and from 1820 to 1840 more than 100 glass manufacturers were in operation in the United States using molds to form blown glass. wares. My great-great- grandfather, Ludwig Siffrin, would immigrate to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1881 to work in glass factories there. He would bring 7 of his large family of 12 children and his wife, Carolina Eberhardt Siffrin with him.
I have traced the movements of this family branch from Germany to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Kane, Pennsylvania, and then on to Bradford, Pennsylvania. Of his children, William, John and Peter, would all follow in his footsteps as glassworkers. Sophia would marry Elwood Meitzler, a contractor, Christina Mary married Joseph Grant, a glassworker and Louise married John Edward Hedman, a glassworker. After Ludwig’s death, Caroline would marry his younger brother, William, also a glassworker.
I wondered if other the few other Siffrin families from the 1800s were also related to the family. I went back digging through the family in Germany to see if any other members had immigrated to the United States. Searching back through the direct family I found another family member that had immigrated.
Barbara Siffrin, sister of Ludwig Siffrin’s father, would live for part of her life in Alton, Illinois. Barbara married Johann Michael Koenig and had 8 children. By 1894, she and 4 of her eight children, all born in Germany, were living in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Her son Christian, also known as Chris, would work at the Illinois Glass company as a glassworker at Alton, Illinois. The Illinois Glass company incorporated in 1873 would merge with the Owens company to become Owens-Illinois Glass Company in 1929.
Barbara’s son Philip would work at the Alton company as a glass blower until retiring and moving to St. Louis and running a neighborhood café until his death. Her daughter, Catherine Maria, would marry Jacob Senz in Germany, who worked as a glass blower in Alton Illinois. Their sons, Philip Henry and Charlie Joseph would also work in the glass industry. Barbara’s daughter, Christina Kathryn, would marry Jacob Schneble in Germany, who, at one point, worked in the glass industry.
As the industry became more mechanized, less skilled glass blowers were needed and the family in the United States started moving away learning the age old skill. In Germany the remaining Siffrin family continued to work in the industry. In 1848 the Siffrin family had moved from Saarbrücken to Stolberg, Germany, the family known for their glass making skills. Over one hundred years later, six Siffrin brothers were still talking about and two of them working in the glass factory.