The First Brewster Reunion, 1913

First Brewster Reunion, 7 September 1913, Adams County, Indiana.

It is always a pleasant surprise when some family-related information unexpectedly pops up right before your eyes. Last Friday I was doing some newspaper research at the Brumback Library in Van Wert. I was nearly finished and was looking through a book of abstracted articles from the Willshire Herald, waiting for a rain storm to end. I was searching for news articles about my maternal ancestors from the Willshire/Schumm area.

What I did not expect to find was an article about my Brewster ancestors who lived in Indiana. The Brewsters are my dad’s side of the family and they lived in the Adams/Jay County area. Adams County, Indiana, and Van Wert County, Ohio, border each other. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Indiana news was published in an Ohio town that was so close to the state line. But I was.

This article was about the first Brewster Reunion, held in Adams County, Indiana, in 1913. I have had the above photo of the reunion for some time and it is nice to have a newspaper article about it.

The following two paragraphs are from page 5 of the Thursday, 18 September 1913 edition of the Willshire Herald:

J.H. Brewster and wife left Monday morning for New Philadelphia, Ohio, to visit other relatives before returning to their home in Kansas.

The first reunion of the Brewster family was held in the Baucker grove, in Jefferson township on Sunday, September 7. A bounteous dinner was served to all present. After dinner everybody was busy eating ice cream and melon. J.H. Brewster of Kansas, delivered an after dinner speech which was very interesting and full of good advice, and all listened very attentively. Those present were as follows: J.H. Brewster and wife of Independence, Kansas; Daniel Brewster, wife, two daughters Edna and Augusta; Winfield S. Brewster and children, Charles, Andrew and Emma; George W. Brewster and wife of Decatur; Philip H. Brewster, wife and children Gertie, Alpha, Bernice, Elva and Masters Jesse, Theodore and Glenn; Charles Brewster, wife and children Clara, Fredia, Maynard, Harold, Melvin and Jennie; Frank Brewster, wife and children Bernice, Minnie and Joe; Jesse A. Buckmaster, wife and children Claudice, Lois, Verlyn and True; Samuel Brewster, wife and children Elsie and Russel; Roy Scoles, wife and children Breman and Harry, all of Adams county; Mrs. Ora E. Curk and daughter Irmyl of New Corydon, Indiana; Harry Teeter, wife and son Walter of Portland, Indiana. 

Willshire Herald, 18 September 1913, p5.

Persons in above photo, left to right, starting with back row:

Back row: Jesse A. Buckmaster, Charles William Brewster, Phillip Henry Brewster, James Henry Brewster, Daniel M. Brewster, Winfield Scott Brewster, George W. Brewster, Charles Brewster, Samuel Marion Brewster, Roy Scoles.

Row 2: Harry Teeter, Augusta Blanch Brewster, Gertrude Brewster, ?, Alpha Brewster, Jack Russel Brewster (child), Edna May (Woodruff) Brewster, Claudia Beatrice Buckmaster, Irmyl Lang, Dora Edna Brewster, Ora Elizabeth Brewster, Franklin D. Brewster, Andrew Theodore Brewster.

Row 3: Harriet Ann (Brewster) Buckmaster, Golda Rosetta (Brewster) Teeter w/son Walter, Oma Annette (Brewster) Scoles w/son Harry, Mary Elizabeth (Bellis) Brewster w/son Richard, Pearl Selina (Reid) Brewster w/Glen, Maude (Marsh) Brewster w/son Melvin, Mary Loverda (Bebout) Brewster, Jane (Newton) Brewster, Rachel Hannah (Bebout) Brewster, Theodore “Dore” Franklin Brewster, ?.

Row 4 (front row): Jesse Brewster, Maynard D. Brewster, Lois Louella Buckmaster, Harold “Bill” Brewster, Merrill Scoles, Elsie Elizabeth Brewster, Beatrice Brewster, Annabel Lee Brewster, Bernice Brewster, Elva Viola Brewster, Verlyn Genevieve Buckmaster, Freda Brewster, Robert Brewster, Clara Brewster, Angelo “True” Buckmaster. (source: Brewster Genealogy, Compiled by Leone B. Freed, 1982, revised 1988 & 1994.)

When looking for information about our ancestors we need to remember to exhaust all sources and not to limit the scope of our search for information. You never know where you might find information you seek.

Tombstone Tuesday–Sixtus and Magdalene Gugel

Sixtus & Magealene Gugel, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Sixtus and Magdalene Gugel, located in row 6 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The left side of the marker bears the inscription for Sixtus/Father and the right side for Magdalene/Mother. The bases are inscribed: GUGEL, Sixtus Gugel, Born 16 March 1817, Died 2 Jan 1884, age 66 y, 9 m, 17 d. Magdalene, wife of Sixtus Gugel, Died 20 May 1882, aged 62 years.

Father is inscribed in large letters on the left side of the arch and Mother is inscribed on the right side. At the top of the arch, under the urn, are clasped hands, signifying marriage–husband and wife. Usually the wrist cuffs on clasped hands are plain and lacy, plain for the man and lacy for the woman. On this marker the lacy cuff appears to be on the side of Father.

According to Zion’s Family Register, which is in the oldest church book:

Sixtus Gugel, son of Christoph and Catharina Gugel, was born 16 March 1817 in Birkach, County Court Markerlbach, District Mittelfranken. He was baptized and confirmed there. He traveled to North America in 1843 and settled down in Butler County, Ohio. There he married Magdalena Herzog in the same year. She was the daughter of Johann and Margaretha Herzog and was born 20 May 1820 in Buschendorf, County Court Herzogenauerach, District Unterfranken, Kingdom of Bavaria, Europe. She was baptized and confirmed there.  Both spouses lived some years in Butler County, Ohio, and then moved to Mercer County, Ohio. Children born from this marriage:

1. Anna Sophia, born 30 December 1849 in Butler County, Ohio, baptized and confirmed on 15 May 1864 in Mercer County, Ohio.
2. Anna Catharina, born 28 February 1852 in Mercer County, Ohio.
3. In October 1859 a little girl was stillborn to them.

The death and burial of both Sixtus and Magdalene are also recorded in Zion’s records:

Magdalena Kugel [Gugel] died Friday, 19 May 1882, age 62 years. She was born 22 May 18__ [left blank]. Burial was on Sunday, 21 May.

Sixtus Gugel was born 16 March 1817 in Birkach, District Mittelfranken, Bavaria. He died 2 January 1884, age 66 years, 7 months, 16 days. Burial was on the 4th in Zion’s church yard.

According to the 1876 map of Mercer County Sixtus Gugel lived in southwest quarter of Section 20 in Blackcreek Township. His 80 acre farm was about two miles north of Chattanooga on the east side of what is now State Route 49, at the end of Sipe Road.




Confirmation Records

1897 Confirmation Class, Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga

One thing you can say about the German Lutherans—they kept very good church records. Although the handwriting can be difficult to read, they usually recorded a good deal of information and left a lot of valuable genealogical data for us today.

I refer to the church records of both Zion Lutheran in Chattanooga and Schumm often. I usually look the birth/baptism, death/burial and marriage records.

However, other events were often recorded in the church records. Lutheran church books usually contain confirmation records and they can be a source of vital information.

Confirmation records were not kept as consistently as the other church records but they are still worth looking for. I have seen confirmation records in old church books from Germany as well as America.

In the Lutheran Church young adults are usually confirmed at age fourteen, sometimes a little younger or a few years older. They are confirmed after two-three years of Catechism or “instruction”. Once confirmed, they were allowed to take communion and  considered full members of the church. I say were allowed to take communion because today most youth at Zion, Chatt, are allowed take communion before they are confirmed.

In the confirmation records you will find the names of the confirmands and their confirmation date. Their confirmation Bible verse is often included. The records may also contain the individual’s date and place of birth and their parents’ names. Even if you don’t find a specific date of birth you can estimate that the child was about 14 years old.

Confirmation records may be useful in several ways: show the date of birth if birth/baptism records don’t exist or cannot be located; identify a child that was confirmed but did not live to adulthood; give the names of the parents; give the mother’s maiden name; indicate that the family resided in a particular area at a particular time.

Adult confirmations were also recorded. Zion, Chatt, even recorded the date and place of birth as well as the names of the parents of the adult confirmands.

The photo below is the Confirmandenregister from Zion Lutheran, Chatt, on Palm Sunday, 6 April 1884. The first column gives the names of those confirmed, second column their date of birth, third column the confirmation date and the fourth column the names of the parents.

Zion, Chattanooga, Confirmation 1884

I was confirmed in 1966 and my confirmation class was made up of five girls. Our minister at that time was Rev. Arnold Green. I remember him fondly as a good minister and teacher. We memorized just about all of Luther’s Small Catechism and we were required to sit in the front of the church and take sermon notes on Sunday mornings. We were confirmed on Palm Sunday, as was the custom back then. Now we confirm on Pentecost Sunday. We had a confirmation verse and received either a hymnal or a Bible as a gift from the congregation.

My Confirmation Class at Zion, Chatt, 1966.

We were fortunate that by the time our class was confirmed our church had dropped the practice of public examination. In classes before ours the confirmation students were required to answer questions in front of the congregation about a week before the actual confirmation. No public examination for us. Whew!



Tombstone Tuesday–Amalia Justine Schumm

Amalia Justine Schumm, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm.

This is the tombstone of Amalia Justine Schumm located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed: Amalia Justine, Ehefrau [wife of] Georg M Schumm, gest [died] 13 Oct 1874, aged 26 years, 1 month, 19 days.

According to the Schumm church records Amalia Justine Schumm, born Markworth, died 13 October 1874 at the age of 26 years, 1 month, 19 days. She was buried on 15 October and her funeral text was Psalm 39:8. She left behind a young child. She was born in Altenburg, Perry County, Missouri, and was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church. In the year 1867 she married G. M. Schumm, pastor of the parish, formerly a pastor in Columbus, Indiana.

Rev. George M. and Amalia (Markworth) Schumm had three children: Martha (1869-?), Adolph (1871-?; married Louise Karn/Kern), and Rosina Maria “Emma“ (1873-?; married Paul Wangerin).

Of their three children, the baptism of only one of their children is recorded in the records of Zion, Schumm: Rosina Maria Emma Schumm was born 2 June 1873 and baptized 2 June 1873. Her parents were Georg M. Schumm (Pastor here) and his legal wife Amalia. Her sponsors were Heinrich Schumm, Maria Schumm (born Germann) and Maria Schumm.

The Rev. George M. Schumm married Charlotte Breuninger on 10 October 1875 at Zion, Schumm. She was the daughter of Louis and Maria Breuninger. The couple was married by Pastor A. C. Kretze of Adams County, Indiana. Rev. George M. Schumm was the pastor at Zion from 1872-1879.

A Letter to Louis Breuninger, 1840

Louis Breuninger (1819-1890). Phillips Photography, LaFayette, Indiana.

Did you ever wonder what life was like for the immigrants back in the mid-1800s? What challenges did they face? What were their main concerns? What were they doing? Were they employed? Did they have friends or relatives in America?

I was able to get a glimpse into the life of two immigrants from a family letter. The letter was written to my great-great-grandfather Louis Breuninger from his older brother Karl in 1840. Although I do not know exactly when the two immigrated, Louis’ naturalization papers say that he arrived in New York in April 1840. From the letter below I know that Louis and Carl were living in Ohio in June of 1840.

Fortunately my grandfather Schumm saved a lot of stuff that belonged to his grandfather Louis Breuninger. Among the items he saved was the wooden trunk that contained Louis’ belongings when he came to America, Louis’ tall leather German boots, his rifle, many important documents, and a stack of letters that Louis received during his lifetime.

It is thrilling to have so many letters that were written to Louis. Many of them were from his father back in Württemberg. His father was a schoolteacher in Bachlingen and that man had the tiniest handwriting I have ever seen. Louis and Karl must have had very good eyesight to have been able to read those letters. A more recent batch of letters was from relatives in Wisconsin.

The unfortunate part is that the vast majority of these letters are written in the Old German Script. I can read enough of the Old German Script to translate some church records but trying to translate an entire letter is beyond my capabilities. I paid to have a couple of Louis’ letters translated but it was too expensive to continue with the rest. It is also difficult to find someone that can read the Old German Script these days.

The letter below is the oldest letter in the bunch. It was written to Louis from his brother Karl in 1840. They had very recently immigrated to America. Carl was living in Cleveland and Louis in Canal Dover, Ohio. There was a growing German population in Cleveland that included many Lutherans.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Louis and Karl had connections from Württemberg in Cleveland. Notice the reference to Schrozbergers in the letter. The Breuningers lived near Schrozberg.

Letter to Louis Breuninger, 1840.

To Louis Breuninger from his brother Karl, 1840.











June 1840

Dear Brother,

With the greatest longing, I have already waited 14 days, either for information from you, or for you yourself, because I wrote, in answer to your precious letter, that I had picked out a very nice place for you. It, unfortunately, is now already occupied, and there is no other, at least not available. Therefore it is best that you stay where you are for now, and see what you can learn until later, when we have our debts paid, and have got together some money, when we probably can arrange to discuss things further, if we stay healthy. 

Unfortunately, I have already had my arm in a sling for 8 days, because of a serious cut I received when a pair of steers ran away with me. I have been unable to work for almost 10 days, but, thank God, it is starting to go better. I am now back to my old job, but this month made only $5, as I have a lot to learn yet. It is very hard, but here I will become a skilled butcher, for my teacher is one of the best butchers here. I can already cut up a carcass alone, and make various sausages.  

Yet, for me, my goal is to find a place for you, whatever it might be. I always make provision for this, even if it is the hardest thing in America. I will not delay coming to you. I would best like to be close to you.

Time always passes slowly here on a Sunday, because I have no fellowship, until the last 8 days, also a Schrozberger, a cousin from Ley, friend of the Swiss man Lang.  He studied at the hotel, and worked at the smithy. As I was on the way home I met him there, as I had ridden my horse to the blacksmith to get it shod. He immediately found work there as stable cleaner.

This Lang told me that the cousin, like us, left home and got married, and also brought more, not as pleasant news, which I have neither time nor room to write to you. He would like to be with you and would like to know if there would be work available for him. He says little Gruensteidels are in Buffalo and came over with him. In this

I send many hearty greetings to you and Ley, and close, asking you to please answer as soon as possible, I stay yours.

Your loving brother
Karl Breuninger

Write to me whether maybe there would be a place available in your area, and soon.

The letter was addressed to Louis Preuninger. The letters B and P were sometimes interchanged in German writing. I have seen the name as Preuninger in the old German records.

Address side of Breuninger letter with Cleveland postmark to Canal Dover, Ohio, 1840.

Louis and Karl moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, by 1850. I do not know what happened to Karl but Louis moved to Van Wert County about 1869.

Louis has my vote as one of my handsomest ancestors. It must be the nicely trimmed beard. If you look closely at his photo you can tell that his individual photo looks like it was cropped from a larger photo. There appear to be people standing on either side of him.

How I wish I could see the original photo in its entirety.