Bierbach–Jacob Müller’s Hometown

Bierbach, Germany, and the surrounding area

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the immigration of my great-grandfather Jacob Müller/Miller. He was born and lived in Bierbach, Kingdom of Bavaria (now Germany). What was the little village of Bierbach like during the time Jacob lived there?

Bierbach was part of the Bavarian Pfalz, also called the Palatinate. It is located in south-western Germany.

One of the best sources of information for all those little German villages is the Meyers Orts und Verkehrs Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs, 1905. It is a large gazetteer which describes towns & cities as they were between 1871 and 1919. It is valuable because it lists about 200,000 places in the old German Empire as well as information about their parish and civil registries. The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne has a copy of this book and several years ago I went there to look through it.

I was prepared when I went to the library to look at the Meyers Orts gazetteer. I made a list of every German town and village that I knew of that was connected to my German ancestors. The gazetteer is printed in an old Gothic typeface so I also took along a “cheat-sheet” showing the Gothic letters and their modern-day writing equivalent.  Otherwise I don’t think I would have recognized most of the letters.

Once I found the information about a town in the Myers Orts I photocopied the entry and brought the copies back home to translate at a later time. The print is pretty tiny so it also helped to enlarge the copies or have a magnifying glass handy.

This Meyers Orts is written in German and it uses abbreviations and codes. I definitely needed something to help me decipher and understand their system. Luckily there are several guides that explain the abbreviation table and how to understand the book. I used the following sources:

  • The German Researcher, Fourth printing, Fay Dearden & Douglas Dearden. Payson, Arizona: Family Tree Press, 1998.
  • A Genealogical Handbook of German Research Volume I, Larry O. Jensen. Pleasant Grove, Utah: Jensen Publications, 1980.
  • Understanding Meyers Orts, Fay S. Dearden. Payson, Arizona: Family Tree Press, 2000.

The last source is a small and portable booklet. All were very helpful.

The 1905 Meyers Orts describes Bierbach as a small village on the Blies River, in the country of Bavaria, in the provincial district of Pfalz.  The district office was in Saint Ingbert, the civil registry was at Blieskastel, and the district military office was in Zweibruken.  The population was 808. There was a post office in Bierbach but the nearest telegraph office was at Einod. Bierbach had a savings & loan organization and a town cattle insurance corporation. There was a lumber company, a basket-works fabrication, and a stone quarry there. I have since read that basket making was a major occupation in Bierbach at that time.

Wikimapia says that Bierbach was first mentioned in 1230. According to Heraldry of the World Bierbach is supposedly named after St. Pirminius, who brought Christianity to the area in the 8th century. The name Pir(mins)bach later bacame Bierbach. The Bierbach arms was granted on 8 November 1954 and shows a canting bend (Bach=stream, brook) which starts in the local forests, indicated by the green color. The escutcheon shows the image of St. Pirminius.

Bierbach coat-of-arms. Image used by permission from Heraldry of the World website.

Bierbach is now in the state of Saarland, the District of Saar-Pfalz Kreis and was incorporated into Blieskastel in 1974. Today the town has a population of about 2000.

Another very helpful source of information about Bierbach is Einwohner von Bierbach bis 1830 by Hans Cappel, 1980. This book has been microfilmed and is available from the Family History Library. It gives the names of the residents of Bierbach from 1830 back to the late 1600s. Luckily for me the information about the residents was translated and typed. The history of the town has not been translated and is typed in German.

Thanks to digitization and the Internet the Meyers Orts is also now on-line at a couple websites. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch both have it. It is still written in the Gothic German type. It had not been translated. However you can search for a town very easily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tombstone Tuesday–Anna Rosina Geisler

Anna Rosina (Hoffmann) Geisler, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Anna Rosina Geisler, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The gravestone is inscribed: Hier ruht in Gott Anna Rosina, ehefrau von Georg Geisler, Geb. den 18 Feb. 1829, Gest. den 25 Nov. 1899. Alter 70 Jahr, 9 Mo, 7 Ta. When translated the marker reads: Here rests in God Anna Rosina, wife of Georg Geisler, born 18 Feb 1829, died 25 Nov 1899, aged 70 years, 9 months, 7 days.

Anna Rosina Geissler’s death record as it is written in the church records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm: Mrs. Rosina Geissler, born Hoffmann, born 18 Feb 1829 in Waldeck, Dieketsbuehl [spelling uncertain], Bayern, died 25 Nov 1899 of jaundice, age 70 years, 9 months, 15 days. She was buried on 28 Nov 1899 in the parish cemetery.  Text 1 Thes. 4: 13-18. [note: In the church records the name Geisler is sometimes spelled Geissler.]

Anna “Rosina” Hoffmann married Pankratius Schinnerer [brother of my great-great-grandfather Friedrich Schinnerer] on 25 November 1853. According to Zion’s records they had four children:

Maria Margaretha Anna, born 12 July 1854
Margaretha Katharina, born 2 Jan 1856
A stillborn child born on 29 January 1857
Johann Martin, born 21 January 1858

Johann Martin was the only one of their children that lived to adulthood. Pankratius Schinnerer died on 8 July 1857.

Widow Rosina Schinnerer then married Georg Geissler on 12 Aug 1858. According to Zion’s records they had five children:

Conrad Christian Adam, born 9 June 1861, died 3 May 1863
Catharine Friederike, born 1 January 1863
Johanne Margarethe Elisabeth, born 10 October 1865, died 6 March 1868
Twins Anna Magdalene and Catharine Elisabeth, born 30 April 1868. Catharine Elisabeth died 23 March 1913 and Anna Magdalene was the second wife of “River Henry” Schumm and died 2 March 1946.

I used Zion’s church records to continue to piece together the rest of Rosina’s life. The church records show that a Georg Geissler died on 16 April 1872. This was probably Rosina’s husband. He was buried in the church cemetery but his tombstone does not appear to be in the church cemetery today.

Zion’s records then show that widow Rosina Geisler married Johann Lutz on 21 May 1877 in the church. Armed with this new information I checked the census records. Names were spelled various ways in the census records.

In 1870 the Geisler family was living in Willshire Township, Van Wert County, Ohio. In the household:
George Geisler, age 44 (born c1826) in Ohio
Rosine, 41 (born c1829) in Ohio [I question the place of birth]
Frediak, 8 (born c1862) in Ohio [listed as a male]
Magdalna, 2 (born c1868) in Ohio
Catharine, 2 (born c1868) in Ohio
Sheimner, M., 12 (born c1858) in Ohio [most likely Johann Martin Schinnerer, son from 1st marriage to Pankratius Schinnerer]
Huffmin, E., 13 (born c1857) in Ohio

In 1880 the Lutz family was living in Willshire Township. In the household:
John Lutz, 33 (born c1849) in Hesse Darmstadt
Rosean Lutz, wife, 51 (born c1829) in Biern
Frederike, daughter, 17 (born c1863) in Ohio
Catherine, daughter, 12 (born c1868) in Ohio
Magdalena, daughter, 12 (born c1868) in Ohio
Martin Shinerer, single [no relationship given], 22 (born c1858) in Ohio
Adam Glessing, farm labor [no relationship given], 30 (born c1850) in Württemberg

As usual, the research answers some questions but then other questions arise. The names and ages of the individuals match, so I feel this is the right family. But I have to wonder about the age difference between Rosina and Johann Lutz. When they married she was 47 and he was 28! Then there is Rosina’s tombstone. Her name is Geisler on her tombstone. Her death record also calls her Mrs. Rosina Geisler. Questions, questions, and more questions!

Closeup view of Anna Rosine Geisler tombstone, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Ohio.

I would love to hear from anyone that has additional information about Rosina Hoffmann Schinnerer Geisler Lutz.

Zion Cemetery, Schumm, in Autumn

I stopped at the Zion Lutheran Cemetery at Schumm last Sunday and it was a beautiful fall day. It was a perfect day for looking at and photographing tombstones. The trees here are just about at their peak and the woods across the road was very colorful.

(Page numbers of the sources of information used from the Zion Lutheran, Schumm, church records available upon request.)

Family Quilts

Quilt made by Chrintina Rueck & Rosina (Schinnerer) Schumm, c1881.

This week I have an interesting story that connects both sides of my family, the Millers and the Schumms, long before my parents were ever married.

This story involves my great-grandmother Christina Rueck, before she and Jacob Miller married. It also involves my mom’s side of the family, the Schumms.

The Schumms were from Ruppertshofen, Wuerttemberg. Johann Georg immigrated to America with his five children in 1833. They settled a couple miles east of Willshire, in Van Wert County, Ohio, in 1838. Their settlement consisted of the small village of Schumm and Zion Lutheran Church. They also owned a lot of land east of Willshire.

The Schumm women in the Willshire area were known for their fine quilting. In fact most of them were avid quilters. Back then women sewed out of necessity but many also liked to quilt. My grandma Schumm also loved to quilt. I remember her talking about quilting with the ladies of the church. The women would regularly meet at the church or in someone’s home and they would stitch on the same quilt all day long. I’m sure they would catch up on the latest news in the Schumm area while they stitched. That was part of the fun! Those Zion Lutheran ladies made beautiful quilts. Their designs were intricate and their stitches were very small. No machine-stitched quilts for the Schumm quilters!

The Rueck family was from Appensee, Wuerttemberg, and they immigrated to America in 1880. Their family at that time consisted of the parents, Jacob and Marie Regina (Gross) Rueck, eight children and one grandchild. Christina was the oldest child in the family. The family settled in Van Wert County, Ohio. In 1881 Jacob purchased 80 acres of land along the St. Marys River. Their property was a little east of Willshire. The Ruecks had settled in the land of the Schumms.

The Ruecks lived in the Willshire area for only a couple years. Christina’s family moved to Oregon about 1882 but Christina stayed behind in Van Wert County. She was about 23 years old and she was seeing Jacob Miller at the time. She didn’t want to go out west with her family and leave Ohio and Jacob behind. But Christina needed a place to stay. She stayed with a neighboring family, Henry and Rosina (Schinnerer) Schumm and their family.

Henry and Rosina Schumm also lived along the St. Marys River. Henry was known as “River Henry”. This name was to distinguish him from several other Henry Schumms living in the area at the time.

During the time Christina Rueck stayed with the Schumm family Rosina taught her how to quilt. Together Rosina and Christina made these two quilts. Both women worked to piece and stitch the quilts and Christina kept the finished quilts to use in her home with Jacob Miller. The quilts were made about 1881 and my mother now has them.

Quilt made by Christina Rueck & Rosina (Schinnerer) Schumm, c1881.

Clara (Miller) Reef, the youngest child of Jacob and Christina (Rueck) Miller, recalled her mother saying, “all the Schumm women wanted to do was to quilt”. Christina learned to quilt from the best quilters around!

Christina (1858-1945) was my great-grandmother but what was my relationship to the River Henry and Rosina (Schinnerer) Schumm? This gets a little complicated because I am related to the both the Schinnerers and the Schumms, so I am related to both River Henry and his wife Rosina.

Rosina (1854-1890) was my great-grandaunt. She was the daughter of Frederick Schinnerer and his first wife Margaretha Deier. Frederick and Margaretha were from Ipsheim, Bavaria, and they immigrated in 1849. They first lived in Mercer County, Ohio, near Rockford, and later moved to Van Wert County, east of Willshire.

River Henry (1844-1922) was my great and great-great-granduncle. He was the son of Johann “Ludwig” Schumm, who was one of the Schumm immigrants. River Henry married Anna Magdalena Geissler (1868-1946) after Rosina’s death.

Christina Rueck and Jacob Miller were married in 1882 and the quilts were stitched before they were married. These are photos of the two quilts that Christina and Rosina made together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two beautiful quilts have this very special connection to only two people in the world–our son Jeff and me! That makes them pretty special indeed!

Unfortunately, I have not inherited the quilting gene. I can sew and I used to like to sew a lot, but not anymore. I don’t even like to hem a pair of slacks these days. I would never have the patience to make a whole quilt. All that precise cutting and tiny stitching–not for me. About the only needlework I enjoy is counted x-stitch. Does that count?

 

 

Tombstone Tuesday–Elisabeth (Ehrenmann) Schumm

Elisabeth (Ehrenmann) Schumm, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Elisabeth Schumm, located in row 6 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio.  The tombstone is inscribed Hier Ruhet Elisabeth, Ehefrau von Martin Schumm, Gest. Den 28 Jan 1893, Alter 32j, 11m, 28t. Translation: Here Rests Elisabeth, wife of Martin Schumm, Died 28 Jan 1893, Age 32 years, 11 months, 28 days. Schumm is inscribed in large letters at the base of the tombstone. I like this lectern-style marker. The closed book represents the Book of Life. The book is closed–life has ended.

I do not have much information about Elisabeth Schumm, only the information from her tombstone and the church records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm. According to the church records Elisabeth “Lizzie” Ehrmann married Martin Schumm on 12 October 1882 at the home of the groom’s brother. Martin belonged to Zion’s parish and Elisabeth was from Fort Wayne, Indiana. (source: records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm, Book III:202)

According to Elisabeth’s death and burial record at Zion she was born 31 January 1860 and died during childbirth the morning of 28 January 1893. The church record states that she was age 33 years minus 3 days. She was buried on 31 January in the parish cemetery. She was buried on her birthday. Her burial text was Isaiah 28:29. (source: records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm, Book III:237)

Martin and Elisabeth had three known children:

Arthur Heinrich Ferdinand Schumm, born 19 July 1883, baptized 29 July 1883 at Zion, Schumm. His sponsors at baptism were Heinrich Roehm, Heinrich Schumm II and Ferdinand Schumm.  (source: records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm, Book III:53) He married Daisy Webster.

Esther Velma Schumm, born 4 August 1885, baptized 23 August 1885. Her sponsors at baptism were Mrs. Wilhemine Schumm and Mrs. Wilhelmine Seemeyer.   (source: records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm, Book III:54) She married John Schnackenberg.

Herbert Georg Wilhelm Schumm, born 29 January 1888, baptized 12 February 1888. His baptismal sponsors were Carl Neubrecht, Georg Roehm and Wilhelm Schumm.  (source: records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm, Book III:57) He married Anna Buesener.

There is no mention in the church records of the birth, baptism or death of the child born in 1893 when Elisabeth died. Perhaps the child was stillborn.

Although I do not know who Elisabeth Ehrmann’s parents were, there were other Ehrmanns/Ehrenmanns mentioned Zion’s church records. They may have been relatives. Others mentioned in the records with that surname:

Mrs. Ehrenmann died 21 March 1851, age 45 years. (Zion, Schumm, Book I:102)

Mrs. Ehrenmann died 17 September 1853, age 43 years. (Zion, Schumm, Book I:84)

Adam Ehrenmann married widow B. Albrecht in 1853. (Zion, Schumm, Book I:72)

Adam Ehrenmann died three months later, age 53. This may have been the same person. (Zion, Schumm, Book I:84)

Christian Ehrmann married Margaretha Bienz in 1854. (Zion, Schumm, Book I:72)

Fred Schumm III was married to Margaretha Ehremann.

Elisabeth’s husband, Jacob “Martin” Schumm, was the son George Martin and Maria (Pflueger) Schumm. His father was one of the Schumms who immigrated to America in 1833. I am not related by blood to Elisabeth (Ehrenmann) Schumm but her husband was my first cousin three times removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Muller Sails to America

The Bremen (1858). Jacob Muller sailed to America on this ship. Original painting in Focke-Museum, Bremen, used by permission from Focke-Museum.

Last week I detailed how I found Jacob Muller’s immigration information in the Germans to America index at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. That index showed that Jacob traveled on the ship Bremen and arrived in New York on 15 June 1871.

With that information I headed to the library’s microfilm cabinets to look through the passenger lists of immigrants arriving in New York.  Once I knew the ship’s arrival date it did not take long to find the images of the Bremen’s passenger list.

There it was, on roll M237_344: The Manifest List of all passengers taken on board the Bremen, Captain W. Ladewig, Master. It was exciting to see Jacob’s name on the ship’s list. He was 28 years old and his occupation was a farmer. He was from Germany and was traveling to the U.S.

Jacob Muller on Bremen manifest.

Jacob boarded the ship Bremen and sailed from the port of Bremen, Germany, on 31 May 1871. From Bremen they sailed to Southampton, England, and departed from there on 3 June. They docked at the port of New York on 15 June 1871. The voyage took 16 days.

It was not an easy way to travel. Many immigrants had to sell their property and most of their possessions to pay for the voyage to the new land. They put the few possessions they had in a large wooden box, which was their traveling trunk. Most of the German emigrants traveled in steerage and so did Jacob Muller. Their quarters were in the lowest levels of the ship where it was very crowded. There were no facilities down there either.  Many passengers were overcome with seasickness during the voyage. Passengers were allowed to go up on deck for fresh air if the weather was nice.

The Bremen was a steamship built by Caird & Company of Scotland. It was owned by Norddeutscher Lloyd and was the first of five passenger steamships with the name Bremen. It was constructed of iron, weighed about 2,550 tons and was 321′ x 39′. It had a clipper stem, one funnel, and 3 masts rigged for sail. It could travel at a speed of 10-11 knots. The Bremen could accommodate 160 passengers in first class, 110 passengers in second class, 400 passengers in steerage, and a crew of between 102 and 118. The ship had a freight capacity of 1,000 tons.

The Bremen was launched on 1 February 1858. The ship’s maiden voyage was from Bremen to New York on 19 June 1858. The ship carried 115 passengers and 150 tons of freight. The Bremen’s last voyage was 5 November 1873 from Bremen to New York via Southampton.

Some voyages of the Bremen:

1.  Captain Meyer, 336 passengers and merchandise, sailed from Bremen to New York via Southampton on 22 November 1863, left Southampton on 25 November, and arrived at New York on 10 December 1863. Captain Meyer.

2.  Captain Meyer, 702 passengers and merchandise, sailed from Bremen to New York via Southampton on 18 November 1865, left Southampton on 22 November, arrived at New York on 6 December 1865. It was “a very boisterous passage.”

3.  Captain Ladewig, sailed from Bremen to New York via Southampton on 31 May 1871, left Southampton on 3 June, arrived at New York on 15 June, 1871.

Ship Bremen's Manifest. Arrived in New York 15 June 1871.

In 1874 the Bremen was sold to E. Bates & Co. of Liverpool and was converted to a sail ship. On 16 October 1882 the ship was carrying a cargo of coal and whiskey when it ran ashore on the Farallon Islands. It wrecked under the light house in a dense fog 27 miles from San Francisco. The cargo of coal and whiskey was insured but the ship was not.  Small craft waited for the cargo of whiskey to float to the surface, but it never did. In 1929 some proposed trying to raise the whiskey but the US government prevented it. (sources of Bremen ship information: Palmer List of Merchant Vessels website and  North Atlantic Seaway, by N.R.P. Bonsor, 1978, Vol. 2: 544)

Thanks to the Focke Museum in Bremen, Germany, for giving me permission to post a copy of the oil painting of the Bremen. It was painted and signed by Fritz Müller, 1858, and is in their museum. The Palmer List of Merchant Vessels website shows a couple more paintings of the ship Bremen (1858).

Because of digitization, indexing  and the Internet we can now view Jacob Muller’s name on the Bremen’s passenger list on Ancestry.com, although I believe the immigration collection is a paid subscription on their website. Their immigration collection is very good and it is nice to be able to search their indexes and images from home.

Jacob Muller may have been traveling with Christian Kessler since they are listed next to each other on the passenger list. Ancestry’s index shows his name as Christian Kepler. The double “s” was written in the old style and could look like a “p” if you didn’t know the surname. Christian was also from Bierbach.

More questions arise:  Was Christian Kessler related to Jacob? Was this the same Christian Kessler that had already settled in Liberty Township several years before? Perhaps Christian sailed back to Germany and brought Jacob back to America with him? Hopefully some day I will figure it all out.