Monday, December 19, 2011

Former German count strikes copper in USA

December 19, 1907

Couns Hans Friedrich von Hochberg, a member of the princely family of Pless, renounced his "title and all claims to inheritance," due to his marriage with a shop girl, reports the New York Times.

Hans Friedrich, a nephew of Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and a childhood playmate of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany,  has found a new career as an American mine promoter.    In less than a year,  he has earned $30,000  and a "fourth interest in a copper mining company, which is really producing ore."

Hans Friedrich caused "a sensation in Court circles," when he suddenly resigned his commission as First Lieutenant in the Royal Food Guards," and came to Ossining, New York.  Several months after his arrival, the scion of German nobility married Louise Carow, a shop girl.

The young count's family planned out a military career for him.  For a time, he served  in "daily attendance at the Imperial Palace as an officer of the Kaiser's personal body guard." 

The young count's duties were, however, "not confining."  It was in Berlin where he met Louise.  He became "infatuated," and after a few months,  "came talk of a scandal.

Hans Friedrich's father, Count Bolko, became enraged when he learned of his son's relationship.   There were plans for the young count to marry a princess.  The wedding was to have taken place in June 1906.    Count Bolko demanded to know what all the rumors were about.    His son stated that "I will marry the girl."

The engagement between Count Hans Friedrich and the unnamed princess was broken off, and the young count was packed off to America by his father.  Once he arrived in New York,  Hans Friedrich decided "not to accept his father's gratuity."  He found work as a chauffeur with the Maxwell-Briscoe Company in Tarrytown, New York.    In August 1906, he sent a cable to Fraulein Carow to come to America.  She did, and they were married on September 9 at a boarding house in Ossining.  

The couple's first child, a daughter, Johanna, was born several months later. The news of the marriage "was spread broadcast in Germany."  Hans Friedrich, who continued to work as a chauffeur, received "many business offers."   One playwright "quickly wrote a play" about how the count "had renounced fame and fortune to marry the girl he had wronged."  The playwright wanted Hans Friedrich to play the leading role.

Hans Friedrich rejected the offer.  "I do not care to bring any more disgrace upon my family than has already been brought forward already.  He also turned down an offer to drive a car up Pike's Peak, which would have provided a bonus to the advertising company.  But Louise did not want her husband to risk his life.

He did not earn a lot of money as a chauffeur, but he and his wife "were very happy.   Noah E. Barnes, a Colorado mining man, had read about Hans Friedrich's story and "decided that the Count's name would look well on the prospectus of a mining company."   Barnes wanted to move into the German market, and the count's name on a prospectus would open many doors in Germany.  Barnes made overtures to the count, which were accepted.

The two men returned to Colorado, and began prospecting.  They discovered a copper lode.  A new company was formed, and the two men began to benefit from the success.   This past spring, Count von Hochberg and his wife and daughter sailed to Germany.  He booked a suite at the the Kaiserhof hotel in Berlin, while his wife and daughter went to stay with her family. 

Family and friends flocked to the hotel to see Hans Friedrich, welcoming him home.  But this welcome was not extended to his wife.  It was as if "she never existed."

The only member of Hans's family who rebuffed him was his father, who would not receive him.

There was also a hint of trouble for the count.  Because he had abandoned his military position, he was threatened with court martial.  This was soon smoothed out by the German Ambassador to the United States, Baron Speck von Sternburg.

Several weeks after his arrival, the Count finally "sprung his mining scheme," and told about how he wanted to sell stock.  But in order to continue to promote his prospectus, he had to give up his title.   He renounced his title on July 18, 1907, according to the latest edition of the Almanach de Gotha.

He stayed in Germany for several more weeks, selling all the stock, and then, with his wife and daughter, returned to the United States.  He came to Germany as a count,  but he left as Hans Frederick Barnes.

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