Matamoras Minute: The Florer Family

Photo provided by Ken and Jeanie Sisson This photo was taken on June 27, 1899 on Bernard Florer’s 66th birthday. Located at the kitchen door of his home on the inersection of Main Street and Broadway it shows from the left Bernard, Elizabeth Florer age 14, Mary C. Florer Henkelman age 28 holding her infant son Carl, William H. Henkelman age 4, and Anna Schultz Florer age 50.

Returning to the coverage of German families in Matamoras we turn our attention to Bernard and Anna Schultz Florer. Bernard was born in Strasburg, Bavaria in 1833. His parents were Joseph and Gertrude Riley Florer. Joseph was born in 1793 and lived in the part of Germany which France controlled at the time. He was conscripted into the French Army during the rule of Napoleon.

During Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, Joseph was ordered to set fire to a bridge over which the Russians were advancing. He carried out the order and thus helped prevent the enemy from approaching. For this deed Napoleon presented him the Cross of the Legion of Honor.

Following his father’s death, Bernard came to America around 1870. First living in Pennsylvania, Bernard moved to Zanesville where he received his citizenship papers. His wife, Anna, had come to the United States at the age of 12 in 1860. The final move was to Matamoras where he and Anna would spend the rest of their lives. The couple would have one son and six daughters.

Bernard became a house painter but the artist’s brush and easel were his passion. The Catholic Church of Bluebird just off State Route 260 at Hohman knew of his skill and hired him to paint frescoes in 1887. He was later written about in the 1890 “Washington County History and Business Reveiew.” Part of this article reads, “He is at all times ready and fully prepared to do all kinds of painting, such as sign, church portraits, scenery for churches and steamboats. He is an expert in his line of business and churches, stores, or steamboat owners will do well to communicate with Mr. Florer and get his prices.”

A prominent display in the historical society’s museum is a painting on canvas by Bernard which shows the small village in Bavaria from which Florer originally emigrated. The homes of the little town overlook a lake with the Alps in the distance. The painting was done using house paint and is skillfully executed. It measures 3 by 4 feet.

The couple spent their last years together at their home on the corner of Broadway and Main Street. Bernard died in 1905 and Anna in 1919. They are buried in the Matamoras Cemetery on the side to the left when first driving through the main entrance.


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