Tombstone Tuesday-Michael Billman

Michael Billman, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Michael Billman, located in row 9 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Memory of
Michael Billman
who died June 9th
aged 47 years
11 mo & 9 d.

Michael Billman was born either 30 June 1798 or 1 July 1798, as calculated from his tombstone. (One birth date calculator showed he was born 31 June!)

Michael Billman’s death is the first death that is recorded in Zion Schumm’s church records, although there may have been an older set of church records that did not survive. Their records simply show that he was 48 years of age when he died of typhus and that he was buried on 10 June 1846.  

The Michael Billman family in 1840, living in Willshire Township: males, 2/under 5; 1/5-9; 1/10-14; 1/15-19, 1/40-49; females, 1/under 5; 1/5-9; 1/40-49. [1]

This is likely Michael Billman’s family, as recorded in the 1850 census, living very close to my great-great-grandfather Louis Schumm: Maria Billman, 50; Daniel, 24; John, 22; Joseph, 17; Isabel, 15; Henry, 13; Frederick, 10 and Catharine, 8. [2] This would make sense, since Hannah and Louise were married before 1850. If these were all his children, then Michael also had at least 5 sons, too.

I do not have much information about the Billman family, but I do have a couple theories. There were a few Billmans that attended Zion Lutheran Schumm during that time period, a woman old enough to be his wife and some younger women.   

The older female Billman, simply called Mrs. Billman in the Zion Schumm’s records, died 29 September 1876 at about 76 years of age. That would put her date of birth around 1800 and she may have been Michael’s widow. Van Wert County death records show that her name was Mary Billman, that she was a widow and a housekeeper who died of dropsy in Willshire Township. This record shows that she was born in Pennsylvania and was 17 years, 5 months, and 29 days old. [3] They likely wrote her age down wrong. A 17-year-old could have been a widow who died of dropsy but she was probably the same 76 year-old Mrs. Billman from the church records who died on the very same day.

There were at least four younger Billman females in Zion Schumm’s that could have been daughters of Michael Billman. These women are:

Hannah Billman (1822-1878), married Jacob Schumm (1815-1853) in 1839; marr. George Steger in 1854
Catharine Billman (1842-1881), married John Fischer in 1858 at Zion Schumm
Louise A. Billman (1831-1849), married John Bienz (1823-1898) in 1848 in Van Wert County
Isabelle Billman (1835-1885), married Henry Volland in 1853 at Zion Schumm

Michael Billman, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

There are just a few of these very old sandstone grave markers that survive in Zion Schumm’s Cemetery. Sandstone markers are very susceptible to the elements, moisture and freezing and thawing being the worst. I suspect that there were other sandstone markers in the cemetery at one time that did not survive over the years.

Most of the sandstone markers in this cemetery date from about 1840-1846. In fact, it seems that quite a few people died in 1846. That year seems to have been particularly deadly for one reason or another.

[1] 1840 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p.69, Michael Bellman; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 24 May 2021).

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p.736, dwelling 331, family 350, Maria Billman; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 24 May 2021).

[3] “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” Van Wert, Vol. 1, p.116, Mary Billman, 29 Sep 1876; ( : viewed 24 May 2021).

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