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Anthony Kuhlman (1853-1941)

German-born colliery manager lived in South Moor

Anthony Kuhlman was born in the Westphalia region of Germany in 1853 but settled in Stanley, County Durham. The 1891 Census describes him as a British Subject, but his official ‘Certificate of Naturalization’ is dated 1902. Referred to then as ‘Aliens’, foreign residents had to swear an oath of allegiance to King and Country as part of the naturalisation process. Census records show him working as the undermanager of a coal mine in 1891 and then being promoted to the role of manager by 1902. His family also had a live-in servant, suggestive of wealth. Despite being a foreigner by birth, Anthony’s service as Vice-Chairman of Stanley’s Urban District Council shows having made a dedicated contribution to local life. After having served eighteen years as a member, Anthony resigned from the council in 1916. His resignation letter is interesting for the way in which it illustrates wartime tensions of national identity as two of the world’s greatest powers were locked in conflict.

Despite proclaiming loyalty to the Crown and his desire that the ‘great and liberty loving nation under whose protection I live’ emerges victorious from the war, Anthony alludes to how ‘under certain circumstances some Members of the Council would have to take an attitude very disagreeable to me’. The nature of his complaint is revealed more specifically when it is expressed by the council members passing their resolution on the matter that ‘owing to the international differences he [Anthony] felt it incumbent upon himself to tender his resignation’. Whether Anthony deemed it improper for a person of German origin to serve the British during the war or was forced out by the hostile anti-German attitudes of other council members, the letter is strongly indicative of a climate of discomfort and suspicion towards Germany and its people. The document captures the difficulties faced by foreigners in foreign lands at a time not only of war but of more rigid bonds of national identity.

Despite his father’s apparent ostracism for his German origins, Anthony’s son Anthony Redhead Kuhlman, born 1888, enlisted in 1915 to serve in the British Territorial Force during the First World War. Anthony’s youngest son was John Roland Kuhlman, born in 1899. Though on Anthony’s 1902 Certificate of Naturalization he is listed as residing with his father, John is listed on the 1901 Census as a ‘visitor’ with the Siddill family and as the adopted son of John and Ann Carr on the 1911 Census. It is likely that John was born around the time that Anthony’s first wife Jane died and hence his family could not cope with looking after him. The National Probate Calendar Index of Wills and Administrations reveals John and Anthony Redhead were appointed as their fathers’ probates upon his death in 1941. Both had followed in their father’s footsteps with Anthony Redhead working as a colliery deputy overman and John working as a colliery manager.

Anthony Kuhlman continued to work at Craghead and South Moor Collieries as the colliery manager until 1921. According to a Shields Daily News article dated 21 December 1921, Anthony was presented with an illuminated address, a gold watch and a wallet full of notes, on his retirement. His wife was given a diamond dress ring.

He seems that Anthony may have regained his seat on Stanley Urban District Council after the war. The Shields Daily News of 9 January 1924 contains a notice of the funeral of Margaret Kuhlman, Anthony’s second wife. The piece ends with the remark that Anthony Kuhlman was “one of the oldest members of Stanley Urban District Council.”

Civil Parish: South Moor

Birth date: 16-Sep-1853

Death date: 20-Mar-1941

Residence: 1 Pine Street, South Moor (1891 Census)
2 Ivy Terrace, South Moor (1902 Certificate of Naturalization, 1911 census)
Crieff Villa, Craghead (1916 Resignation Letter, UD/Sta 7, DCRO)
“Balcomie”, Blind Lane, Chester Le Street (1939 Register)

Organisation membership: Stanley Urban District Council (1898-1916)

Employment: Undermanager of Coal Mine (1891 Census)
Manager of Coal Mine (1902 and 1911 Census)

Family: Parents: Wilhelm Kuhlman, Elizabeth Kuhlman (1902 Certificate of Naturalization)
Spouse(s): Jane Kuhlman, died 30 May 1899 (1891 Census), Margaret Kuhlman nee Tait, married 1902, died 1924 (1911 Census)
Children: Elizabeth Ann Kuhlman, William James Kuhlman, Anthony Redhead Kuhlman, Sarah Jane Kuhlman, Mary Mabel Kuhlman, John Rowland Kuhlman (1902 Certificate of Naturalization) Joseph F Kuhlman (1891 census)

Gender: Male

Contributed by James Bright | Durham Light Infantry Collections