Kaltofen Family
Earliest Ancestor in America


pre-1778 / Email Us / Forward to 1870 / Family tree details


Friedrich Kaltofen was one of the intentionally misnamed "Brunswick Deserters." These men were Brunswicker soldiers allied to British Crown forces who escaped American capitivity to live in the American Colonies. Sometimes called Hessians after the contingent of soldiers from Hesse. Brunswickers and Hessians were also wrongly called mercenaries by pro-American propagandists, although their role was similar to that of the much more kindly-remembered French forces in the American Revolution. After his regiment's capture by Generals Benedict Arnold and Gates at Freeman's Farm near Saratoga, New York, on October 7, 1777; Friederich Kaltofen became part of the Convention Army. Promised his freedom by General Gates, he was eventually imprisoned in what is now Somerville, Massachusetts.

Friedrich served as a corporal in Brunswick Musketeer Regiment von Riedesel, Lieutenant Colonel Ernst Ludwig Wilhelm von Speth's 2nd Company. His birth place is listed as Braunschwieg (Brunswick), in Lower Saxony. Friedrich is listed in General Riedesel's Orderbook as a Korporal, a Lutheran, and a Lohgerber (a Tanner). He arrived in the colonies in June 1776 with the 1st Brunswick Division, which embarked from Stade in Germany. (Below: Modern reenactors of the Regiment Von Riedesel at the Saratoga 225th event.)

Surrender at Saratoga and Escape from Boston

After his unit's surrender he was marched to Winter Hill, Massachusetts from Saratoga during October and November 1777. The Duke of Brunswick was unwilling to repatriate the captives, since he feared they would make it harder to recruit new troops once their story of defeat was told.

Friedrich was 43 years old in 1778 when he escaped from the Winter Hill prison camp just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. (Ref. Smith, Clifford Neal, Brunswick Deserter Immigrants of the American Revolution, p. 22) Frederich escaped on April 8, 1778 along with fellow von Speth Co. members Frederich Flentje, Johan Roliff, John Snyder and Cristopher Sackmann. On April 20, 1778 archives show that Frederich and his companions received permission to, "go at large in [Albany County, New York]."

Winter Hill and Prospect Hill Forts were used as POW camps from 1777 - 1778 for British and Hessian troops captured at Saratoga, New York. Originally part of Charlestown and Cambridge, the forts are in today's Somerville, Mass. The American Grand Union flag was first flown there in January 1776. A memorial (1903) was built at the site, located on Prospect Hill Ave. and Munroe Street. Hessian prisoners (not including Fredrich - who escaped) were later transferred to Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other parts of Massachusetts. Many more escaped when they moved among the many German immigrants of Pennsylvania.

Below: Uniforms of the Brunswick Hessians, Saratoga, NY 1777.

Friedrich Kaltofen



Kaltofen family oral history says that the direct paternal ancestor of Ludwig Kaltofen was a German military deserter in the distant past, and that he lived in Boston, and finally that he may have been some kind of engineer. He was said to have had three sons by an American Indian or African woman. New York church records put him in Albany, New York just two weeks after his escape in 1778. Albany was formerly known as the Dutch Fort Orange. By 1778 New York was a former Dutch colony and Indonesia was still a Dutch colony from the 1600's through 1950. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) ran ships from the Hudson to the Indonesia colonies during this period.

When his wife was killed by another Indian, he and some or all of his sons emmigrated to the Dutch East Indies, today's Indonesia. He then married an Indonesian or African woman in Indonesia who raised his sons. The fit of this oral history to Friedrich's history is fairly close.

No US or German emmigration records for any Kaltofens have been located from the 1800's. However, in March 1883 the SS Westphalia carried Friederich Kalkofen (a 34 year old gardener), his wife Hanna, and their five children from Hamburg to New York. They settled in Illinois. Though similarly named, the Kalkofens are at best distantly related.

The great majority of German Kaltofens (and Kalkofens too) were from Saxony (Sachsen), particularly from the cities of Chemnitz and Dresden.

Below: Original 1778 record of Friedrich Kaltofen's desertion - click to enlarge

Kaltofen entry in orderbook


pre-1778 / Email Us / Forward to 1870
Kaltofen at Saratoga - 2002 version