Life Was Hard in the 1850s-The Ehrmans, Albrights & Bollenbachers

For some time I have wondered about six entries, five deaths and one marriage, recorded in the 1850s by Zion Lutheran Schumm’s Rev. Johann George Streckfuss. These entries are rather short and vague. A couple mention Mercer County. I wondered who the people were, if and how they were connected, and about the events surrounding their deaths. It turns out that all six entries are connected. The six entries in Zion Lutheran, Schumm’s records:

Mrs. Ehrenmann died March 21, 1851, between 8 & 9:00 in the morning, age 45 years, 7 months, 12 days… Buried March 23.

Christine Albrecht, daughter of deceased Georg Albrecht, died July 16, 1852, age 13 years, 1 month, 6 days. There was a church burial on July 17 in Mercer County.

Andreas Hiller of Mercer County died July 23, 1852, age 52 years. There was a church burial on July 25.

Adam Ehrenmann married widow B. Albrecht 2 August 1853 at home. Adam was from Zion [and] was a widower.

Mrs. Ehrenmann died September 17, 1853, age 43 years, 8 months, some days. Buried September 18.  Cause of death: fever.

Mr. Adam Ehrenmann died November 18, 1853, age 53 years. Buried November 20. Cause of death: consequences of consumption.

That is not much information to go on and what is there is rather confusing, but it appears that these families fell upon some very difficult times in the 1850s. Just who were these people? What happened? What was their story?

I believe I have figured that out and the research turned out to be very interesting and appears to correct a tombstone reading and add another generation to a local family.

This is the story of two families who emigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s and settled in west central Ohio. These two families were the Ehrmans, who settled in Willshire Township, Van Wert County, and the Albrights, who settled in Liberty Township, Mercer County.

How did their paths cross and how were they connected?

One thing for certain, life was hard back then. And very, very sad.

After learning of the multiple deaths in both families, my original research goal was to determine what became of their orphaned children.

This is what I learned from my research. This is the story of the Ehrmans and the Albrights.

A couple of points before I start:

  • Both surnames are spelled several ways in various documents. In this post I will mostly use the spelling Ehrman, but I may use the spellings Ehrenmann, Ehrmann, Ariman, or Araman as they were used in the original documents at the time. Likewise, I will mostly use the spelling Albright here, but will occasionally use the alternate spellings of Albrecht and Albrite.
  • The Ehrmans lived a couple miles west of Schumm and attended Zion Lutheran Church at Schumm, which was organized in 1846. Although the Albrights lived a couple miles south of Chatt, in Liberty Township, Mercer County, they apparently also attended church at Schumm. Zion Lutheran Church at Chatt was not organized until 1855 but St. Paul Lutheran Liberty was organized in 1841. One wonders why the Albrights did not attend church at the nearby St. Paul Lutheran, Liberty Township. The Albrights are not mentioned in St. Paul Liberty’s old records. However, Rev. J.G. Streckfuss ministered at both churches; at Zion Lutheran Schumm from 1847-1856 and at St. Paul Liberty a short time before 1849. Since Rev. Streckfuss presided over the church events mentioned here, a clue could be that because there was some turmoil at St. Paul Liberty during their early years, which caused divisions in the congregation, perhaps the Albrights followed Rev. Streckfuss to Zion Schumm. We will probably never know for sure.    

The Ehrmans:

The Johann “Adam” Ehrman family immigrated in 1834, arriving in New York on 17 July 1834 on the ship Frances Depeau/Depan. The ship was built in 1833 and sailed the transatlantic between New York and Havre from 1833-1836. The Ehrman family as listed on their passenger list:

Jean [John] Adam Ehrmann, 35
Elisa [Charlotte] Ehrmann, 28
Christine Ehrmann, 6
Jean [John] Ehrmann, 1 [1]

I believe the 6-year-old Christine was actually Christian. Jean is the French version of John. 

I was unable to find the Ehrman family in the 1840 census.

Adam Araman [Ehrman] was an original land purchaser in Willshire Township in 1848, purchasing the Northeast quarter of Section 28, consisting of 160 acres. [2] This property is of particular interest to me because years later, in 1903, my great-grandfather John Scaer purchased that property from Martin Schinnerer. My grandmother Hilda (Scaer) Schumm grew up there, in the frame house that was located the corner of Willshire-Eastern and Harrison-Willshire Road.

In 1850 the Adam Ehrman family resided in Willshire Township and their family had grown: Adam Ehrman, 53; Charlotte, 44; Christian, 22; Adam, 17; Emily, 14; Florina, 12; Margaret, 5; and Catharine, 9 months. The census indicates that the parents and children Christian and Adam were born in Germany. The others in the household were born in Ohio. Adam (Sr) was a farmer. [3]

According to Zion Schumm’s records, Mrs. Ehrenmann died 21 March 1851, aged 45 years, 7 months, and 12 days. That would be Adam’s wife Charlotte. Her age agrees with Charlotte Ehrman’s age on the passenger list and in the 1850 census. She was probably buried in Zion Schumm’s Cemetery, but her tombstone did not survive.

Adam Ehrman was a widower in 1851, with six children, one of whom was under two years of age. It would have been very hard to care for his six children and support his farming at the same time. 

The Albrights:

Meanwhile, a few miles to south, across the Van Wert-Mercer County line, south of Chattanooga, in Liberty Township, another immigrant family was making their way in the New Country.

The John Georg Albright family emigrated from Bavaria in 1842. They sailed from Bremen on the ship Emma and arrived in New York on 26 July 1842. Immigrating with them was Andre “Andrew” Hiller.  

On the ship Emma’s passenger list in 1842:
Andre Hiller, 42, male, farmer
John Georg Albrecht, 37, male, tailor
Eva Barbara Albrecht , 38, female
Anna Albrecht, 6, female
Christina Albrecht, 3, female [4]

The Albrights and Andrew Hiller immediately settled in Liberty Township. John George Albright and Andrew Hiller were both enumerated in Mercer County’s 1843 Quadrennial Enumeration. [5]

John George Albright purchased 40 acres of land in Liberty Township, Mercer County, the NE Quarter of the NW Quarter of Section 17. John G. Albright’s 40-acre plot is shown in the 1853 Mercer County Plat Book, as John Albrecht. Some of John G. Albright’s nearest neighbors were Ferdinand Kable, John Andrew Fisher, Isaac Wishon, Jacob Huffman, Ferdinand Huffman, Christian Kessler, and Adam and George Bollenbacher. [6] John G. Albright’s farm was located on the south side of what is now Oregon Road, about a quarter mile east of State Route 49.

The Albrights and Andrew Hiller were enumerated in the 1850 census in Liberty Township:
John C [G] Albrite, 45
Barbara Albrite, 40
Barbara Albrite, 14
Christina Albrite, 11
Andrew Hellen [Hiller], 51.
All members of the household were born in Germany and John and Andrew were farmers. [7] Andrew Hiller had immigrated with the Albrights and he lived with the Albrights. Was he related to John or Barbara?

The 1850 census enumeration was taken in Liberty Township on 14 September 1850. John George Albright died a couple weeks later, on 3 October 1850. He is buried in row 15 of Kessler/Liberty Cemetery. His weathered, nearly illegible tombstone was read in 1990 by the Mercer County Chapter OGS and is probably the best reading to go by at this point: J.G. Alhricht [died] 3 October 1850, [aged] 11 J, 9 M, 11 T. [8]

I believe this is John George Albright’s tombstone and that what has been read as age 11 years is actually 44 years. Several items support the fact that this is the tombstone of 44-year-old John George Albright, who died 3 October 1850:

  • The 44-year age agrees with John George Albright’s age on the ship’s passenger list and his age in the 1850 census.
  • John George Albright died between 14 September 1850, when the 1850 census was taken, and 16 July 1852, when his daughter Christine Albright died, her church death record stating that her father was deceased.
  • His widow Eva Barbara remarried in 1853.
  • His widow Eva Barbara gave consent for their daughter’s marriage in 1853. The father would have given consent if he were alive.
  • An 1897 affidavit states that John George Albright died 3 October 1850.

The problem with the reading of this marble tombstone is that the numbers are badly weathered. The number 4 has a bold vertical line but the horizontal and angled lines were originally thin, hairline carvings. Those hairline strokes nearly disappear over time and a 4 may end up looking like the number 1. I believe that is the case with this tombstone.

John George Albright’s date of birth was 22 December 1805, as calculated from his tombstone, assuming he was 44 years old when he died.    

John George Albright’s death is not recorded in Zion Schumm’s records, but his younger daughter Christine’s 1852 death and burial are recorded in their records: Christine Albrecht, daughter of deceased Georg Albrecht, died July 16, 1852, age 13 years, 1 month, 6 days. There was a church burial on July 17 in Mercer County. Christine is very likely buried in Kessler Cemetery, probably buried near her father in row 15. There are two weathered tombstones near John George’s marker and a number of other unreadable markers in the cemetery.  

A few days later yet another member of the Albright household died.

According to Zion Schumm’s records, Andreas Hiller of Mercer County died 23 July 1852, aged 52 years. There was a church burial on 25 July. He could have been buried at Zion Schumm or Kessler Cemetery, but it appears his tombstone did not survive. I am guessing he was buried in Kessler Cemetery.

Who was Andrew Hiller? He immigrated with the Albrights and lived with them in Liberty Township.  There were other Hillers, German immigrants, living in the Chatt area by about 1847, who later attended Zion Chatt. Was he related to them? Could Andrew Hiller have been Barbara Albright’s brother?

The Albright-Bollenbacher Connection:

Five days later, on 28 July 1853, the other Albright daughter, Anna Barbara Albright, born in Germany 19 April 1836, married George Bollenbacher in Mercer County. They were married by Zion Schumm’s Rev. J.G. Streckfuss. Anna Barbara Albright was only 17 when she married her mother Eva Barbara Albright had to give her consent for the marriage. Two records that indicate this:

Marriage consent: my consent is given to the marriage of Ann Albright (my daughter) with Mr. George Bollenbacher…Signed by Eva Barbara Albrecht, Ferdinand Kable and Friedrich Betzel. [9] They all signed their names in German script.

Eva Barbara Albright’s consent for daughter Anna Barbara Albright to marry Geo Bollenbacher, Mercer Co, 1853

Marriage license and return:
George Bollenbaugh [sic] and Ann Albrecht
The written consent of Eva Barbara Albrecht mother of the above named Ann Albrecht was this day filed by Frederich Bzel [Betzel] and the said Frederick Bzel
[sic] makes oath that the said Eva Barbara Albright signed said consent in his presence and in the presence of Ferdinand Kable the other witness and…says that there is no…legal impediment or objection… [signed] Frederick Bezel [sic], his mark…26th day of July 1853, E Phelps Clerk. Issued July 26th 1853.

On the 28th day of July 1853 I solemnized the marriage of George Bollenbach
[sic] and Anna Albrecht with my hand this 28th day of July 1853, John George Streckfuss, Lutheran Minister. [10]

The groom George Bollenbacher was also a German immigrant and lived about a mile west of the Albright farm.

The Ehrman-Albright Connection:

Less than a week after the Bollenbacher/Albright marriage, on 2 August 1853, widower Adam Ehrman married widow Barbara Albright at home. Whose home, I do not know. They were married by Zion Schumm’s Rev. J.G. Streckfuss and evidently knew each other from church.

Ten days later, on 12 August 1853, Adam Ariman [Ehrman] and wife Eva Barbara (Albright) Ariman, by quitclaim deed, released their title and interest in their 40 acres in Liberty Township to George Bollenbacher, transferring the land to Bollenbacher for $200. The newlywed Bollenbachers would begin their married life in the Albright house. Also of note is that the deed states that Adam and Eva Barbara Ariman [Ehrman] lived in Van Wert County, which would have been the Ehrman farm in Section 28 of Willshire Township. [11]

George Bollenbacher (1830-1912) and Anna Barbara (Albright) (1836-1913) eventually added many more acres to their original 40-acre plot, the land that was originally purchased by Anna’s father John George Albright. The Bollenbachers raised their large family there, possibly in the same house Anna lived in as a child. The George Bollenbacher family eventually attended Zion Lutheran at Chatt and they are both buried in Kessler Cemetery.

Death strikes again. A few weeks after the Bollenbacher/Albright marriage and just two weeks after Adam Ehrman and Eva Barbara Albright married, Eva Barbara (Albright) Ehrman died. According to Zion Schumm’s records Mrs. Ehrenmann died from a fever on 17 September 1853, aged 43 years, 8 months, and some days. Barbara was buried on 18 September. The second Mrs. Adam Ehrman died. I assume Eva Barbara (Albright) Ehrman is buried in Zion Schumm’s cemetery, possibly at Kessler Cemetery, but her tombstone did not survive.

Three months later, on 18 November 1853, two time-widower Adam Ehrman died from consumption. He was 53 years old and was buried on 20 November. I assume he is buried in Zion Schumm’s cemetery, but his tombstone did not survive.

Two sets of parents were gone in just a couple years.

Despite a number of untimely deaths in these families, in the end at least one part of each family lived on. The families continued on in the New World as the parents had hoped. 

The Albright line continued on through daughter Anna Barbara. Anna Barbara (Albright) and George Bollenbacher lived a good long life and have many descendants.

But what happened to the six orphaned Ehrman children? The children of Adam and Charlotte Ehrman? That was the initial research question that started this research project.

I will continue with that in future blog posts.

One last thing I would like to mention.

Apparently John George Albright’s purchase deed for his 40 acres in Section 17 does not exist. It has either been lost or it was never recorded or it never existed. The missing deed may be hidden away in one of the old volumes at the Mercer County courthouse. I have the feeling there was a deed at one time because John Albright’s land was recorded in Mercer County’s 1853 plat book. Some county official recorded that specific information in the plat book and that information came from somewhere.

To make up for the missing deed, to prove title and heir-ship, depositions were taken in 1897 for an affidavit to confirm ownership of the Albright land. This is a wonderful document that also confirms many of the facts.

The 1897 affidavit:

The State of Ohio County of Mercer…before probate judge Robt L. Mattingly…
to supply chain of title, proof of heirship and identification of parties to title, personally came Fred Betzel, Celina Post Office, and Christian Fisher of Chattanooga Post Office…

They testified that they were personally and well acquainted with John Albright, deceased, during his lifetime…that he [Albright] died on or about the ~ day of October A.D. 1850 at his home in Liberty Township and…he was survived by his widow Eva B. Albright and child Anna Barbara Albright…that Eva B. Albright married Adam Ariman on ~ August 1852 and that the daughter Anna Barbara married George Bollenbacher on ~ July 1852; that they [Eva B & Anna] were married and were the wives of Adam Ariman and George Bollenbacher at the time the conveyance by Adam Ariman to Geo Bollenbacher was made on 12 August 1853, being the NE ¼ of NW ¼ Town 5 S. Range 1 East; and that all debts of the said deceased had been fully paid.

Frederick Betzel, his mark, and Christian Fisher
In our presence, Lena Rausch and Rosa Rausch
Sworn to before me and signed in my presence this 27 day of August A.D. 1897
Robt. L. Mattingly, Probate Judge, Mercer Co, Ohio
Filed for Record Aug 27/97 at 3 p.m., Recorded Aug. 28/97
JE Hamburger, Recorder

[1] New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1957, Microfilm M237, Roll 23, List no. 572, Jean Adam Ehrmann; database on-line,, viewed 8 May 2023.

[2] History of Van Wert and Mercer Counties, Ohio, Sutton, (Wapakoneta, O: R. Sutton & Co, 1882), p.239.

[3] 1850 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p. 170 [stamped], dwelling 336, family 355, Adam Ehrman;, viewed 9 May 2023.

[4] New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1957, 1842, Arrival, New York, New York, Line 8, list number 659, Andre Hiller;, viewed 10 May 2023.

[5] 1827 and 1843 Quadrennial Enumeration of Adult White Males of Mercer County, Ohio, The Mercer County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, 2004, data from the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Library Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University, p. 28.

[6] 1853 Mercer County, Ohio, Plat Book, p. 199, Section 17, John Albrecht.

[7] 1850 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, p.287A, dwelling, family, John C Albrite [sic];, viewed 10 May 2023.

[8] Mercer County Chapter OGS, compiler, Mercer County, Ohio, Cemetery Inscriptions, Vol. VI, Blackcreek, Hopewell, and Liberty Townships, (Celina, Ohio : Privately printed, 1990), p.66.

[9] Ohio, U.S. County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, George Bollenbaugh [sic] & Ann Albright, Jul 1853; database online,, viewed 12 May 2023. 

[10] Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, Vol. D, p.19, George Bollenbaugh [sic] & Ann Albrecht [sic], 2 Jul 1853; database online,, viewed 12 May 2023.

[11] Mercer County, Ohio, Recorders Office, Deed Book R:580, Adam Ariman [sic] to George Bollenbacher quitclaim deed, 12 Aug 1853. 

[12] Mercer County, Ohio, Recorder’s Office, affidavit, Vol. 15:525.


Skip to comment form

    • Sondra Samples on July 28, 2023 at 3:43 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Karen, my email notification was back today, after being awol for a couple years, clued in by a friend! Thanks!!

    1. I hated that a number of email notifications were not being delivered and GoDaddy could not solve the problem. I finally took matters into my own hands and, after much thought and work, came up with a solution to the problem and it worked! Notifications are being delivered once again, although some subscribers will now receive 2 notifications. Oh, well… Thanks for writing.

    • Kristy Gilbert Kramer on July 28, 2023 at 3:56 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you for your time! Your research has been valuable and helpful! It was good to hear from you again!
    Kristy Kramer

    1. Thank you! I came up with a solution to the ongoing email notification problem and it worked! Notifications being delivered once again. Thanks for reading.

    • Chris Rose on July 29, 2023 at 8:46 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Karen, I appreciate your website/posts. The history is very interesting. George Bollenbacher was my 5th cousin 4 times removed.

    1. Thank you! So happy to hear the information was of interest and of your relationship to George Bollenbahcer. Thanks for writing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.