Born in Oldenburg, Germany on May 21, 1828, Heinrich Christian Ludwig Aschoff immigrated to Texas with his relative Johann Aschoff as part of an organized movement to send German settlers to Texas. They arrived in Indianola, TX in the mid-1840s and by 1848, city tax rolls list H.C.L. Aschoff owning property in Galveston. He married fellow German immigrant Susanne Herbert in November of 1857 and two years later, the first of their six daughters was born.
In Federal censuses, H.C.L. Aschoff listed his occupation as physician and druggist. Utilizing his knowledge of medicine, he opened a successful drugstore located at 175 Market Street. In the new city of Galveston, fires were especially prevalent and damaging so to protect his business, Aschoff erected a brick warehouse on the back of his lot to store explosive or flammable compounds and a cistern and water pump system. The type of items available to early Galvestonians for purchase in his store included quinine, morphine, opium, castor oil, brimstone, cream of tartar, sarsaparilla, Florida water, and French perfumery. Before Galveston had a hospital, injured persons were taken to Aschoff’s store on several occasions for emergency treatment. He also rented out parts of the store to doctors for their offices.
H.C.L. Aschoff died on May 6, 1876 of gastritis and was interred in his family vault in the City Cemetery. Unfortunately, his reputation for curing the sick made him a target for unusual mutilations described by the newspaper as “inhuman acts that thrill the mind with horror.” A few days after Aschoff’s death, his wife visited the vault to discover his coffin open. Upon inspection, officials concluded that Voodoo practitioners had cut off Aschoff’s thumb and first two fingers allegedly to harness his healing powers. Spreading from New Orleans, “Voodooists,” as the newspaper called them, appeared infrequently in Galveston, but sparked fear in the city. As a result of Aschoff’s tomb desecration, police initiated a targeted search for Voodooists and arrested a black man, John Edward Meyers, on the charge of vagrancy for merely possessing a voodoo charm.