Frank Haselbacher, Firechief and Guitar-maker of New York City and Volutown, CT,
and his parents,
Ferdinand and Theresa (Hanzl) Haselbacher of Austria and New York.



A guitar made by Frank Haselbacher was put up for sale on eBay last week. The asking price was several thousand dollars. Indeed, a quick Internet search quickly revealed that Frank had been the maker of saught-after guitars praised for their acoustic qualities, and commanding high prices. People in guitar circles knew a little bit about Frank's history, but an hour or two on the Internet, including, revealed a good bit more.


Ferdinand and Teresa.

Frank's father and mother, Ferdinand and Teresa Haselbacher were both born in Austria, the homeland of my and many other Haselbacher families and Frank shared my fathers name.  Both Franks had a son name Peter.  I was stimulated by coincidences to look further.


Passenger List. (Page 1 and Page 2)

Ferdinand, 25 and Teresa, 24 with their daughter Anna, seven months old, arrived on the ship Manchuria from Hamburg in New York City on November 5, 1921. (My grandfather Conrad and father came over on a sister ship, the Mongolia, in 1924 and 1925.)  In the record, Ferdinand is described as a tailor from Neustadt, Austria, having been born in a town spelled Poksdorf. Theresa was from the village of Strem.  Anna was born in the village of Saint Michael.  Back in Austria, Ferdinand had a father-in-law named Franz Hanzl in Saint Michael, Neustadt. In America, the couple's passage was paid for and sponsored by a brother-in-law, Herbert Weiner of 211 E. 81st St., NY, so someone in the extended family was here first. Here is a fabulous image from the Mongolia.



In the 1930 census, Ferdinand, Teresa, Anna, and Frank are living on E. 145th St. in the Bronx where Ferdinand is superintendent of an apartment building.  We are told that Ferdinand 32, and Teresa 31, were married at ages 22 and 21, and were naturalized in 1921. (Census image.)


In the 1940 census, Frank and Anna are still living at home with both parents on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Ferdinand is working in "wiring and electric," and Anna is a saleslady– butcher. (Image)


We learn from the Social Security death Index that Ferdinand, 088 07 3820, was born November 5, 1896 and died in 1977. His last residence was in Elizaville, Columbia County, New York. This is a tiny village north of New York City between Rhinebeck and Hudson.  I have no idea how he ended up there: perhaps the call of a small village like that of his birth.


Frank Hasselbacher.

Frank was born in New York on April 24, 1922. He grew up and worked in the Bronx as a fireman, eventually becoming a fire chief. He was in the Army from May 31, 1943 until October 26, 1945. I do not know where he served. After his retirement in the 1970s, he moved to Vountown near New London Connecticut where he died May 21, 1990 at the age of 68. This is a small town not far from where I went to Boy Scout Camp, where my own parents Frank and Gloria Hasselbacher retired, and New London where I met my wife.


Frank married the artist Vera Henrickson (14 Dec 1923 – May 15 1994. The couple had five children who lived in Vermont, Vountown, and Culver City California. One son, John Hasselbacher, born in the Bronx on August 25, 1956, died February 26, 2012 at the age of 55 in Voluntown. Perhaps not surprisingly, he played the guitar.


I don't know when or if Frank played the guitar himself. It is my understanding he began building and repairing classical guitars seriously later in his life and certainly as a major avocation after retirement. Frank apparently learned the craft from Albert Augustine after whose death, the tools and forms passed on to Frank who was allowed to continue to build guitars under the Augustine label. Frank generously passed on his skills to others in turn.


Blood or Other Kinship?
It is impossible at this time to know whether or not I am related to Frank, and in fact I doubt it. Certainly my family came from Austria where my name was also spelled with a single ‘s.’  I have not yet been able to find a town in Austria spelled anything close to Poksdorf, but there are however places named Neustadt and Saint Michael very close to each other just north of the Danube and not all that far away from my ancestral village of Gresten. I therefore hope to learn more about this family, where they lived in Austria, and the story of how it was they came to America. Their story will help us understand our own. I have the names and recent towns of residence. I will write some letters and hope the web of Hasselbacher/Haselbacher families can be enlarged.

[Addendum June 3, 2013.
I have been able to determine exactly where St. Michael and Pocksdorf are in Burgenland , Austria. They are just south of Vienna on today's border with Hungary.  More exciting is that there were several Haselbacher families there, several representatives of which came to America.  I will flesh out this story in the coming weeks. PH]