The Brodtkowitz Bohnstedt Line:
Max Bohnstedt, and Hotel Bohnstedt in Mexico

by Thomas Allen Bohnstedt, California USA
     (the text of this page is my intellectual property. Please do not copy and repost without my written permission)



 Hotel Bohnstedt as it looked in the early 1900's


According to sources Franz Felix Max Bohnstedt, the second child of Karl and Constanza, was born in 1861 at the Georgewitz Estate near Löbau. It seems Max was born into a family of wanderers; his older brother Kurt Karl Rudolf Bohnstedt, relocated to Innsbruck, Austria, and his younger brother, Walter Rudolf Bohnstedt, moved to Finland, and later to Norway where he began his own business. But Max moved clear out of Europe, first to New York in 1892, and then to Mexico.

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1.  Franz Felix Max Bohnstedt.  The picture may have been taken in Mexico.
2. The Georgewitz Estate manor house, where Max was supposedly born.  This picture was sent to me by Martin Bohnstedt. The handwriting at the bottom appears to have a date of 1863, or possibly 1865, just a few years after Max was born.

Available records show Max applying for naturalization as a U.S. citizen in 1892 in New York, and then being granted citizenship five years later in 1897.  That being the case it seems odd that Max would leave the U.S. so soon after and head south, to Mexico.  Max's daughter, Charlotte, was only three years old when he applied for citizenship, but we know she was born in Germany in 1889.  That means there was a fairly narrow window of time when Max left for the United States; it had to be between January 1888 and February 1892 (when Max first filed a petition for citizenship).

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1.  Kurt K.R. Bohnstedt, Max's older brother, with cadets at a physical training class.  Kurt later moved to Austria
2.  Walter Rudolf Bohnstedt, Max's younger brother.  Walter relocated to Norway and started a business and a family line there.

Records show that Max was granted U.S. citizenship in November, 1897, eight years after he was married.  At the time Max was living at 1663 Madison Avenue in New York City, where he was working as a clerk.  As for when Max moved to Mexico (with family), the earliest record we have which shows Max in Mexico is a "Certificate of Registration of American Citizen", dated June 14, 1910.  The document clearly states that Max arrived in Guadalajara on March 12, 1905, "...where he is now residing for the purpose of Business. Hotel."  This means that by March 1905 Max was already pursuing a career as a hotel manager/owner in Guadalajara.  But had he already acquired the building that was to be "Hotel Bohnstedt"?

1. Naturalization records for Franz Felix Max Bohnstedt list his place of residence in New York in 1892 as "1663 Madison Avenue".  Based on the architectural style this might be the original building where Max was living.
2. Certificate of Registration of American Citizen for Franz Felix Max Bohnstedt, dated July 1, 1909.  The document gives his date of birth, place of birth, date of arrival in Guadalajara (March 12, 1905), and the date and place of Max's Certificate of Naturalization.


“Maximo” in Mexico

The earliest published reference to Hotel Bohnstedt appears in a New York Times article from November 13, 1910, which refer to Anti-American riots in Guadalajara. The article says that the rioters attacked businesses and properties that they believed were owned by Americans. However the non-surgical approach by the rioters resulted in some buildings being attacked which were not American owned, including a candy company founded by an American but since bought by Mexicans, and the passenger station of the National Railway, owned by the Mexican government. The National Railway station was situated about a block away from Max’s hotel.
According to the New York Times article

Other places attacked or revisited were the Hotel Bohnstedt, the Guadalajara Times, the real estate office of Downs and Son, and the office of the Rogers Real Estate Company.

This was the first photo which surfaced on the internet which showed "Hotel Bohnstedt" with "Cantina Alemana" in Guadalajara, Mexico, and which prompted me to investigate the matter.

Even though Max was originally from Germany, and the bar in the hotel was named “Cantina Alemana” (“German Bar”), he had been naturalized a U.S. citizen thirteen years earlier, so technically he WAS an American.

Max, who was known in Guadalajara as “Maximo”, seems to have been quite an entrepreneur in Guadalajara. Besides dealing in real estate and running his hotel and cantina, he was also dealing in alleged native artifacts. The margin on his business stationary said:

CANTINA ALEMANA. Headquarters of all foreigners. CURIOS. Greatest collection of Aztec Relics & Idols

This brings up the following questions; First, were these Aztec relics being sold to the tourists genuine? And if so, how did he actually acquire them?


Where Was Hotel Bohnstedt?

A letter from Max to relatives in Germany contained a letterhead which read:


It was that brief description which got my investigation rolling. But when I tried to locate this place I immediately ran into problems. The first problem was that “Hotel Bohnstedt” no longer existed. That didn’t surprise me too much since businesses change hands over the years, or change names, and sometimes they just die. In this case I did find a couple of references and old photos of Hotel Bohnstedt, but pinning it down to a specific location was somewhat vexing.

1-2.  Current maps reveal a business called "La Alemana", a restaurant and bar.  It is adjacent to the "Jardin de San Francisco", as  mentioned in Max's letterhead.  Street views in Google Earth do indeed show this business.

It was clear that the hotel was in Guadalajara, Mexico. But where in Guadalajara? Guadalajara is a large city. Answer: “FACING R.R. STATION & SAN FRANCISCO PARK”. In Spanish, San Francisco Park is “Jardin de San Francisco”. I was able to find that on current internet-based maps with very little trouble. Jardin de San Francisco is actually a paved plaza which contains small gardens, fountains and two large, very old churches, currently called “Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu (Our Lady of Aranzazu Church)”, and the Templo de San Francisco de Asís (St. Francis of Asis Church).  I then happened to find a restaurant and bar very close by called “La Alemana”, which I took to be a reference to the original business in the area; the "Cantina Alemana", which was part of the Hotel Bohnstedt business.

L-R:. On the left is one of the old photos which show Hotel Bohnstedt directly across the street from the Templo de San Francisco de Asís church.  The contemporary photo on the right shows the same church, but Hotel Bohnstedt no longer appears across the street,  What does show is another old church, the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu. The assumption is that Hotel Bohnstedt must have been situated directly in front of it, but was torn down.

I was now certain I was very close to the target. But I was immediately confronted with problems. The pictures I had acquired of Hotel Bohnstedt facing San Francisco Park (and therefore the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu church) did not match the modern day satellite and street views of the La Alemana bar with regard to location and orientation. In the old photos the hotel is directly across from the church on a street called "Dieciseis de Septiembre” (“Sixteenth of September”) which runs north-south.

1.  The left hand frame shows Calle Miguel Blanco street looking approximately west-northwest.   In the left of the frame, with the red storefront, is the "La Alemana" restaurant and bar.

2.   However, in the right-hand frame we can see the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu on the left, and the Templo de San Francisco de Asís on the right. In these pictures the La Alemana restaurant-bar is almost 90 degrees from the Templo de San Francisco de Asís church, rather than directly across the street from it.

But current satellite and street views from Google Maps and Google Earth place “La Alemana” cantina on a street called “Miguel Blanco” which runs approximately east-west at about 90 degrees from "Dieciseis de Septiembre”. I finally had to conclude that the original building housing the hotel no longer stood, and the La Alemana restaurant and bar, although a descendant of the Cantina Alemana, had changed ownership over the years, probably a number of times, the name had been modified, and the business moved to a nearby building when Hotel Bohnstedt was finally demolished.

But for me the question still remained; where exactly WAS Hotel Bohnstedt? My continued examination of the satellite photos complicated the investigation even further. Current satellite views found in Google Earth seem to show a pedestrian promenade where that portion of the "Dieciseis de Septiembre” street used to be. In the satellite view the non-vehicular pedestrian plaza connects the Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu church and another old church nearby into one large church plaza, referred to on some city maps as “Los Dos Templos” (The Two Temples).

1. The area of central Guadalajara showing Jardin de San Francisco (San Francisco Park)
2.  Close-up satellite image of Jardin de San Francisco area

But, when “street view” is engaged in Google Earth it shows a street running between the two churches with cars and busses on it. It seems the only possible way to reconcile the two views is to conclude that sometime between when the street views were taken and the satellite photos, either the street was paved over and turned into a pedestrian plaza, or a street was put through the plaza, essentially returning it to what it used to be in years past.


FerroCarril Nacioneles de Mexico (The Train Station)

One clue emerged when I found a view of the Templo de San Francisco de Asís church looking southward. To the right, just out of the frame is a building which may or may not have been the hotel. But further in the distance one can make out a rail yard with trains in it. That one fact reinforced the letterhead on Max’s business stationary which read


Where there were trains there must have been a train station. However, current maps of that area of Guadalajara do not show any passenger stations in that sector of Guadalajara. Also, I could not find any evidence of railroad tracks on mapping programs or on Google Earth. But I did notice that current street photos and satellite photos of the city area south of the church looked NOTHING like what I was seeing in the old photo of the church looking south.

1. North-looking view of Hotel Bohnstedt facing the Templo de San Francisco de Asís church across the street.
2. South-looking view showing the Templo de San Francisco de Asís church in the foreground, with a rail yard and a train station in the background.

I began searching for historic train stations in Guadalajara, Mexico. I finally came across an old photo of a Guadalajara train station with a sign that said “FerroCarrillCentral Mexicano”, or “Railway of Central Mexico”. The appearance of the train station was an exact match for a small building seen in the background of the south-looking photo of the church. This was the only possible candidate for the “R.R. Station” mentioned in the business letterhead.Central Mexicano”, or “Railway of Central Mexico”. The appearance of the train station was an exact match for a small building seen in the background of the south-looking photo of the church. This was the only possible candidate for the “R.R. Station” mentioned in the business letterhead.

1.  An old postcard with a south-looking view of the old Guadalajara train station.  To the right are some hotels

2.  Another south-looking view of the Guadalajara train station.  To the right are some hotels.   In this picture we have a much better view of the hotel in the foreground.  The window configurations seem to match those shown in the pictures of Hotel Bohnstedt.  Although the sign on the north face of the building says "Se Compran Muebles", this may have been before Max acquired the building and turned it into Hotel Bohnstedt.

I now began searching Google for “FerroCarril Central Mexicano”, and was rewarded with an abundance of photos showing the train station, the church building in the distance (looking north) and more street views of the train station looking south. Some of these south-looking views showed two buildings just to the right of the view. It looks like both of them were probably hotels. The one closest to the train station did not appear to be an exact match for Hotel Bohnstedt. But the closer building was indeed a match; it was a two-story building, and the window configurations were the same. Also, it was across the street from the church.

1. Close-up of the old Guadalajara train station showing the passenger station building, and the train shed.
2. North-looking view of the old Guadalajara train station showing the train shed, used to provide embarking and disembarking passengers with some protection from the rain. In the background can be seen the Templo de San Francisco de Asís church.

As for the stationary letterhead which stated that Hotel Bohnstedt was “FACING R.R. STATION”, it was not precisely accurate in the literal sense, but accurate enough considering that the man who used the stationary was selling “Aztec Idols”, possibly of dubious provenance. A guest could walk just a few yards up the street from the train station to Hotel Bohnstedt, and could see the nearby station from his hotel room window.

1.  An approximation of at least some of the relevant street and structure configuration when Hotel Bohnstedt was still standing.
2.  This is either an old postcard or colorized photo showing Hotel Bohnstedt (to the right) and the train station in the background.  Thus far the identity of the buildings on the left remain unknown.  One thing is certain, those grand old buildings no longer exist.

In the end I could only conclude that sometime in past years the hotels, the train station and the other buildings in that area of Guadalajara were completely demolished to make way for new construction, and the rail yard was removed in favor of the much larger rail yard that was built about a mile and a half to the south. Even the streets have been rerouted for efficiency. The only things that remain are the Jardin de San Francisco park, the churches there, and the nearby “La Alemana” restaurant and bar, a descendant of the Hotel Bohnstedt with it’s Cantina Alemana.

According to one Internet source which discusses the old hotels in Guadalajara, Hotel Bohnstedt was situated on "Javier Hernández Larrañaga Way", between the streets " Dieciseis de Septiembre", or "16th of September" (once called San Francisco) and "Miguel Blanco". The reference, translated from Spanish by a friend stated:

Among the buildings that were once legendary jewels in the history of Jalisco [Jalisco province or state], one remembers the Hotel Bohnstedt located on Javier Hernández Larrañaga way, with it's quaint "cantina" (tavern) located between the streets 16 de Septiembre (once called San Francisco) and Miguel Blanco.  Only the "cantina", considered to be the only authentic landmark and tourist center in Jalisco still remains. "LA Alemana" where, back in the year 1981, one would catch a glimpse of the legendary writer Jorge Luis Borges chatting away at one of the tables to the amazement of his readers.

"La Alemana" is translated approximately "The German", or more precisely, "The German Lady", and was the name of the Cantina. This place is still in business at the time of this writing, functioning as a bar or nightclub in Guadalajara. As for the "legendary writer", Jorge Luis Borges was a well-know Latin writer, born in 1899 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the above reference seems to be confusing the present site of the "La Alemana" bar and restaurant with the "Cantina Alemana" which was in the Hotel Bohnstedt.  If it was "La Alemana where writer Jorge Luis Borge was spending time, it was probably not the original building which housed Hotel Bohnstedt.

1.  Writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), who spent time at the Cantina Alemana
2.  A Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad, detailing the death of F.F. Max Bohnstedt in Guadalajara on April 7, 1923, in Guadalajara.  It also states Max's burial location: the "American Division of the Guadalajara Municipal Cemetery.

Max Bohnstedt died on April 7, 1923 in Guadalajara.  According to a "Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad", detailing the death of F.F. Max Bohnstedt he was buried in the American section of the  "Panteón Guadalajara", or the "Cementerio Municipal Guadalajara" (Guadalajara Municipal Cemetery).  The report also states the following:

"Under the terms of his [Max Bohnstedt's] will, his daughter, Lotte, of Berlin, Germany, was made heir to all of his real estate and personal property."


Conclusions and Questions

As far as we know Max and his wife, Gertrude had once child, a daughter, Gertrud Adelheid Eva Gottlieb Charlotte Bohnstedt, born in 1889 in Berlin. But did Max's wife and daughter travel with him to New York, and then to Mexico?  Here's what we know from documents:

-  Max was in New York as early as 1892, at which time he filed a petition for naturalization (citizenship)
-  He was granted citizenship in 1897
-  Max arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico in March 1905.
-  By 1909 Max was already in the hotel business.
-  In 1910 "Hotel Bohnstedt" was already in existence and was mentioned in a New York Times article in November 1910.

We don't know yet if Max's wife and daughter traveled with him from Germany because we haven't uncovered any immigration documents or passenger lists pertaining to Max's original voyage from Germany to America.  However we have found several immigration documents pertaining to Max's wife and daughter AFTER Max had already established himself in Guadalajara.

-  July 1923: Gertrud Bohnstedt (Max's wife) and Charlotte Bohnstedt (Max's daughter) left Hamburg aboard the "Holsatia" bound for Vera Cruz, Mexico (Guadalajara is inland, so Gertrud and Charlotte would have traveled overland, most likely by rail, to Guadalajara).  Gertrud was 57 years old, and Charlotte was 34 years old.

-  September 1926: Gertrud and Charlotte again left Germany, departing Hamburg aboard the "
Toledo", bound for Vera Cruz, Mexico.

-  March 1929: Gertrud and Charlotte crossed into Mexico from Nogales Arizona.  Both traveled under the Bohnstedt name, although they were also accompanied by a "friend", Ignacio Vda De Monteverde.

-  August 1931: Charlotte left Germany aboard the "
Reliance" and arrived in New York.

-  October 1931: Charlotte was married in Guadalajara, Mexico, to Alberto Cayetano Monteverde.

There are some elements about this that seem to bear further examination.  To begin with, Gertrud and daughter Charlotte were bound for Mexico in July 1923, about three months after Max's death.   This might indicate that both Gertrud and Charlotte had been living in Germany instead of Mexico, and were going to Mexico to settle Max's affairs, including - and especially - the disposition of the hotel.  If so, that would then bring up the question of whether they had gone to America in 1892 with Max in the first place.  The next thing that becomes apparent is that Gertrud made all of her ocean voyages between Germany and Mexico under the Bohnstedt name, suggesting that, either she was still married to Max up until his death, or if she did divorce Max, she never remarried.

1.  The "La Alemana" ("The German") restaurant and bar is no longer part of "Hotel Bohnstedt", but an echo of the past still appears on the front window of the business as a logo; a double-headed eagle recalling the black double-eagle of German empires of the past.

2.  A placard with the La Alemana logo; an imperial black double-eagle.  It also shows the date that the original cantina was founded: "Casa Fundada en 1907" (House Founded in 1907")

Returning to the "Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad"; the report also states"

"Under the terms of his [Max Bohnstedt's] will, his daughter, Lotte, of Berlin, Germany, was made heir to all of his real estate and personal property."

The first thing I draw from this is that Max's daughter, Lotte, was living in Germany when Max died.  The next thing is that Max left his property and personal belongings to his daughter, NOT his wife, suggesting that they may have been estranged.  Were they already having marital difficulties when Max left for Mexico, or for the U.S. for that matter?  Or were Max's ventures abroad the breaking point? 

It's also obvious that Charlotte had the Bohnstedt family name up until her marriage in 1931.  She was forty two years old when she married in Guadalajara in 1931, which is extremely unusual.  In fact it would be very unusual even today for a woman to wait that long to be married.  So why would Charlotte wait that long to be married?  And why did she marry at all after being single for so long?  Was it because she felt that being married would make it easier to manage the hotel business if she had a husband?  Perhaps with connections to the financial community in Guadalajara?

As far as we know, the Bohnstedt name was not carried forward by any descendants of Max Bohnstedt.  We don't even know if his daughter, Charlotte Monteverde ever had any children.


See Also:
1-21 /
The Brodkowitz Bohnstedt Line; The Descendants of Karl August Heinrich Bohnstedt II
1-42 /
Genealogy 1-6-1: Prussia and Eastern Germany: Brodkowitz


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