Forster Family History
The first mention of the name Forster occurs in a document dated 29 July 1565 in the nearby village of Wasserburg when it was then spelled Jakob VORSTER.
The next Forster of relevance to us is Johann Georg Forster (1734-1803) who started the wine and schnapps trade, which was to become a Forster family business for over a 100 years.
He made contact with important wine traders in the larger cities and in 1795 began to expand his company vigorously and to add a vinegar company.
A successful wine trader, like his father and grandfather, Conrad was also extremely public spirited. He was Mayor of Nonnenhorn from 1869 -1878; head of the local fire service (1868) and also of the “Vereinigte Bodensee Gürtelbahn Comite” (Associated Lake Konstanz Gürtelrailway Committee) (1874).
In addition he co-founded the “Märzverein” Lindau 1849 (The “March Association” which refers to the March Revolution of 1848 – see below).
His wife Elise Schnell was the daughter of a merchant in Lindau. Their children were:
Johann Jakob 1837-1838 | Johann Konrad 1838-1841
Eduard 1839-1862 | Maria Louise 1840-1841
Laura Katharina 1841-1872 | Anna Juliana 1842 – ?
Franz Josef 1844-1910 (Edmund’s father)
Oskar 1845-1867 | Friedrich Robert 1849-1919
Maria Emilia E. 1852-1858 | Ida Felicitas 1854 – ?
The “March Association”
Conrad Forster, together with seven other of his comrades in the Association sent two resolutions to the Bavarian King beseeching him to accept a new constitution that would bring to an end the arbitrary power exercised by the royal family. The King’s response was to despatch 600 Bavarian soldiers to Nonnenhorn while a further 400 were sent to Wasserburg.
The revolution of 1848 was defeated by the princes with military force and the ringleaders were hunted down. One of the most wanted revolutionary leaders, Carl Schurz, was hidden by Conrad Forster in Nonnenhorn despite the considerable dangers this posed to himself and his family. When a search was ordered of every home for the following morning, Conrad Forster instructed his fellow townsfolk to invite the soldiers into their homes and ply them with generous quantities of food and – especially – wine. He invited the officers to dine with him and then, when the whole troop was drunk, he personally rowed Carl Schurz 14 km across the Bodensee to Switzerland.
Of Conrad Forster’s sons Franz Josef became a doctor and Friedrich Robert married a daughter of the Kapellenwirtschaft in a nearby neighbourhood. The Forster wine trade company then passed into the hands of one Agatha Amalie daughter of Conrad Forster’s brother August (31.1.1816- 6.10.1877). She and her husband Friedrich Hugo May ran the long established family business until May 1887, when Friedrich, who kept the accounts for the local Protestant chapel, was sentenced to three years of prison for misappropriating donations in the sum of 23, 000 Marks and the Forster Wine company was driven into bankruptcy.
On 18 February 1898, the company was acquired by Josef Kling and his brother Johann Georg Kling bringing the long family tradition to an end.