Is This Emily?

Photo labeled Grandpa Reid & Sisters, from Emily (Bryan) Reid Bible.

Is there anything more frustrating than having old family photos but not knowing who the people in the photos are?

I scanned a whole photo album of wonderful turn of the century photos and not one of them was labeled. I’m sure the owner of the album knew who every man, woman and child was, but now, over a century later, his descendants are clueless.

Identifying the people in that album turned into a big guessing game. I visited elderly relatives that I thought and hoped might recognize someone or see some family resemblances. I got a few good guesses but most of the people in those photos remain unknown to this day. I know only that the folks in that album were from the Schinnerer/Scaer families.

Sometimes even photos that are labeled can be a challenge to identify. My aunt Ruth has a beautiful old Bible that belonged to my great-great-grandmother Emily (Bryan) Reid. Several old tin-type photos are mounted in the back pages of the Bible. Those photos are labeled “Grandma Bryan”, “Grandma Reid’s Parents”, “Grandpa Reid & Sisters”, etc.

This sort of labeling is useful only if you know who did the writing. Whose Grandma Bryan? Perhaps Grandma Bryan was the writer’s great-grandmother. Did Emily write the names? Or did Emily’s daughter Pearl do the writing? Or was it Pearl’s daughter Gertrude? This has created a lot of confusion and questions.

Last summer I scanned some old photos in Jay County when I visited my distant relative Ed. He has quite a few Bryan family photos and the names of the persons were actually written on the backs of them. How wonderful!

Ed showed me a photo of Emily (Bryan) Reid, my great-great-grandmother. She was young and pretty. I have seen photos of her when she was older, but never when she was that young.

I noticed that his photo of Emily looks a lot like a woman I had seen before in another photo–a tin-type that was in the back of Emily’s Bible, the Bible Aunt Ruth now has. It is the photo of the two women and a man shown at the beginning of this blog. That photo was labeled Grandpa Reid & sisters. Which Grandpa Reid? Grandpa Reid could be William Reid, Emily’s husband. William Reid would have been Gertrude’s grandfather and she may have written on the photo. To my knowledge William Reid only had only one sister.

Compare the two photos below. The one on the left is from Ed, labeled Emily. The photo to the right is a closeup of one of the two women in the photo at the top of this blog. Could the woman in the right photo be Emily? She looks like Ed’s photo of Emily. Is this Emily?

Emily (Bryan) Reid, from Ed's collection.

Possibly Emily (Bryan) Reid. Photo from Emily's Bible.














If it is Emily, the seated man could very well be William Reid. Could it be their wedding photo? Who is the other woman? Perhaps she is William’s sister Minnie M. Reid. So many questions and we may never know the answers.

Here are two photos of Emily and William in their later years.

Emily (Bryan) Reid

William Reid










Please remember to label your photos accurately!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

To Florence, From Lois (1936)

Valentine’s Day—the holiday that encourages us to express our affections to those we love. Today there will be many cards sent and received, flowers and chocolates given and romantic dinners shared.

Exchanging valentine cards in school has been a tradition for many years. My mom still has many of the valentine cards that she received when she was a young student at the Zion Lutheran Parochial School at Schumm, Ohio.

Many of her valentines have moving parts or unfold to become three dimensional. Some have intricate cut-out designs.

It was nice that she took the time to record the year on the back of nearly every card. I scanned a few of her cards to share with you today.

She said that the students at the Schumm School handed their valentine cards to each other since there was such a small enrollment there. I imagine each had some sort of box or bag to put their valentines in.

The girl in the valentine below looks like Shirley Temple at a Punch and Judy Show.

To Florence, From Ellen S (1939)

I remember having fun at school on Valentine’s Day. We got a break from studying to give valentine cards to each other. There was usually some sort of a food treat involved, too.

I went to Willshire Elementary School and there each student brought a box in which to collect their valentine cards. Each student sat their box on their desk and we walked around and placed a valentine in each box. Our valentine boxes were usually covered with red, pink or white construction paper. Hearts of various sizes were colored or pasted all over the outside of the box. Paper heart-shaped doilies were also popular decorations.

I still remember making my valentine box.  I usually used a shoe box and I cut a large slit in the lid so the valentines could be dropped in.

To Florence, From Louis

Another popular activity was to make paper hearts from construction paper. I am sure that just about everyone remembers folding a paper in half, drawing the outline of half a heart at the fold and cutting along the outline. When you unfold the paper you have a symmetrical paper heart. We sometimes got creative and cut a smaller heart at the fold to create a heart-shaped opening in the center. We were easily entertained back then.

To Florence, From Marilyn (1944)

To Florence, From Teacher (1940)

To Florence, From R (1936)











Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I hope you enjoy the cards.




For Whom the Bell Tolls

Zion Lutheran Bell Tower, Chattanooga, Ohio

This is the bell tower of Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga. Nowadays we hear the church bell ring on Sunday mornings, but many years ago church bells rang every day and played an important part in the daily lives of the people of the church and the community.

When my great-great-grandfather Louis Breuninger came to America from Württemberg in about 1840 he brought with him a blue paper with a red wax seal on it. The wax seal is still on the paper! It was a copy of his baptismal record, dated 13 July 1837. Since he was born in 1819 I assume that he had this copy made to bring to America with him.

The document shows that Louis was born on 15 December 1819 and was baptized Louis Friedrich Peter Breuninger on 3 January 1820. His parents were Johann Martin Friedrich Breuninger, a schoolteacher in Bachlingin, and Sophia Carolina, born Pfaff.

Witnesses [taufzuegen] at his baptism were:

Ludwig Pfaff, a soldier from Kirchberg
Ludwig Goldenboth, a bell-ringer [lauter] from Ingelfingen
Friedrich Wolz, a bell-ringer from Weikersheim
Peter Brecht, an organist from Weikersheim
Catharina Schneider, from the abbey in Kirchberg

Louis Breuninger Baptism record, dated 1837

If you locate those towns on a map you will see that they are very close to Ruppertshofen, where the Schumms came from.

With witnesses that included two bell ringers and an organist I am sure they all made a joyful noise at Louis’ baptism.

Were there bell-ringers in the Breuninger family? Were bell-ringers close family friends? Or did the bell-ringers and the organist just happen to be at the church and available to witness Louis’ baptism? We may never know.

Bell-ringers were important and busy people in Germany two centuries ago. They were often members of organized companies which may have been separate from the church. Apparently they were a rather rowdy bunch because these groups usually had a code of conduct hanging in the ringing room.

Church bells date back to about 400 AD. They became common in Europe during the early Middle Ages.

Nearly every church had at least one bell and many had several. Different combinations of bells might signal the start of the service, various services such as weddings or funerals, or even if there would be a sermon. Bells would be rung vigorously for a wedding and slowly for a funeral.

A church bell was tolled to announce the death of a parish member. A toll bell, or death knell, is rung slowly, about once every 4-10 seconds. It was usually tolled once for each year of the person’s life. The age of the deceased was sometimes tolled in a pattern. For example, if the deceased was 75 years old, the bell would be tolled seven times for seventy, a pause, then five more times to indicate the five. The toll might also denote the sex of the deceased: three times three strokes for a man and three times two for a woman.

Before mass communication church bells were rung for both church and secular functions. Church bells were the best way to inform and gather the people of the village together. They may have been rung to indicate the time, to warn of dangers or emergencies such a fire, to sound curfews, and to announce important events and great victories.

Zion, Chatt, has one church bell. It was donated by the Hartsock family years ago. It is a swinging bell with two ropes that swing the bell so it strikes the clapper. There is a third rope attached to a hammer/striker that will toll the bell. This produces a softer sound and my dad prefers to toll the bell by carefully pulling one of the other two ropes.

Our bell is rung at the beginning of the church service but I remember when it also used to be tolled three times during the Lord’s Prayer, at the beginning, in the middle and at end of the prayer. Our bell is also tolled for funeral services, when the hearse arrives.

Some of our members remember when the bell-ringer tolled the bell when someone died. Members of the church and the community usually knew if a church member was very ill and the tolling bell was a way to communicate that the person had passed on. This is no longer done at Zion, Chatt.

However, Zion, Schumm, still tolls their bell when a member dies—once for each year of their age. My grandma Schumm passed away at age 101. That was a lot of tolling. Their bell is tolled at a specific time of day. If a person dies during the night the bell is tolled at 8:00 a.m. and if someone dies during the day the bell is tolled at 4:00 p.m. Some of Zion’s members still pause to listen for the church bell at 8:00 and 4:00 each day.

Bell Tower, Zion Lutheran, Schumm, Ohio

Johnny Reef was the bell ringer at Zion, Chatt, for many years. Over the years others have taken up the task: my dad Herb Miller, Don Caffee, and currently Don’s son Kevin. As far as I know our bill-ringers do not belong to an organized company and have never needed a code of ethics.

I have talked to bell ringers past and present from Zion, Chatt, and they all have the same thing to say: DO NOT pull the ropes so hard that you turn the bell over. Apparently this is a very bad thing that involves climbing up the bell tower to right the bell so it can ring once again.

“For bells are the voice of the church…”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Some bell links: : :




Tombstone Tuesday–Mary Schumm

Mary Schumm, wife of Frederick (1861-1930), Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Ohio

This is the tombstone of Mary Schumm, located in row 11 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The gravestone is inscribed: SCHUMM, Mary, Wife of Frederick Schumm, 1861-1930.

Mary was the second wife of Frederick Schumm Jr. Frederick and his first wife Margaretha Ehrenmann were featured in the two previous Tombstone Tuesday blogs.

I found most of the information about Mary Schumm in the church records of Zion Lutheran, Schumm.

Her death and burial was recorded in 1930: Mary, wife of Fredrick Schumm, was born in 1861. Nothing more was entered but that told me her year of birth. The Ohio Death Index on showed that Maria K. Schumm, Mercer County, died 16 Feb 1930. (Ohio Death Index,, accessed 31 Jan 2012.)

To learn Mary’s maiden name I consulted Zion’s marriage records. The records show that Friedrich Schumm Jr. married Maria Büchner on 6 Sep 1888 in the church.  Both were from the parish at Zion.

I then looked at Zion’s birth records. Maria Catharina Büchner was born 7 March 1861 to Johann Büchner and his legal wife. Maria was baptized 13 March 1861 at home. The sponsors at her baptism were Mrs. Catharine Dietrich and Mrs. Maria Dietrich.

Maria’s baptism record tells us her father’s name, but what was the name of her mother? I went back to Zion’s marriage records again.

I learned that Johann Büchner married Margaretha Scior 21 Apr 1853 at home. Johann was from Zion and the bride was a member of the congregation. I am uncertain of the spelling of Margaretha’s last name. It looks like Scior in a couple entries and like Zior in one entry. The handwriting is very difficult to read. Johann and Margaretha Büchner had several children but most of their baptismal entries simply listed the mother as Margaretha or Johann’s legal wife.

Frederick and Maria (Büchner) Schumm had the following children: Justina Louise (1889-1889), Amos C. (1891-1974), Erna Theresa (1894-1971) and Naomi Margaretha (1897-1982).

There was a short death notice for Mary Schumm in The Rockford Press. Death of Mrs. Schumm—Following a long illness, death claimed Mrs. Marie Katherine Schumm, 69, widow of the late Frederick Schumm, at the home of her son Amos Schumm and family. Surviving are Amos Schumm and daughter, Mrs. Arnold Schumm and Mrs. Walter Schumm, and brothers John and Henry Buechner. Funeral services were held from the home Wednesday afternoon. (The Rockford Press, Thursday, February 20, 1930, p.1.)


John Bryan’s Bible

John Bryan's Bible, 1849

Last summer I visited Ed, a distant relative who lives in Jay County, Indiana. We both descend from different children of John and Hannah (Huey) Bryan. John was born in 1824 and died in 1900.

During our visit Ed showed me John Bryan’s Bible. He thought this was John’s everyday Bible and the one he carried to church on Sunday. This Bible is quite a bit smaller that the Bible John was holding in another photo that was taken about 1883. This Bible is about 7-8 inches long.

This small leather Bible is dated 1849. I think this is the oldest family Bible that I have seen. The Bible is in pretty good condition, considering its age. Some of the ink is bleeding through a few pages. Holy Bible is stamped into the leather on the side.

Best of all there are several pages that contain the handwritten record of births and deaths of the John Bryan family members. I took several photos of the Bryan Bible with my digital camera.

First page: The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, Translated out of The Original Tongues; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised. New York: American Bible Society, Instituted in the Year MDCCCXVI. 1849. Handwritten on the page: Miss Alta Butcher, Bryant Ind., June 11, 19??

John Bryan's Bible, 1849

Births--John Bryan Bible

Family Record—Birth
John Bryan was born August the 15th AD in the year of our Lord 1824
Hannah Bryan was born January the 19th AD in the year of our Lord 1830
Mary Lisabeth Bryan was born October the 5th AD in the year of our Lord 1849
Peter Bryan was born May the 22nd AD 1851
Hallot Bryan was born February the 24th AD 1853

Births--John Bryan Bible

William R Bryan was born October the 27th AD 1854
Emily Bryan was born May the 8th AD 1856
Jackson Bryan was born March the 22nd AD 1858
Byantha Bryan was born March the 5 AD 1864
Alta Jane Bryan was born September the 30 1866

Deaths--John Bryan Bible

Family Record—Deceased
Jackson Bryan died July the 2nd 1868
William Riley Bryan died January 25 1893
Peter J. Bryan died Jan. 27th 1914

Above right, page introducing the New Testament: The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Translated out of The Original Greek; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised. New York: American Bible Society, Instituted in the year MDCCCXVI, 1849.

Inside back cover, John Bryan Bible

Inside the back cover:
John Bryan his Book, Holy Bible
, written several times.

It is amazing to think that John Bryan used this Bible over 160 years ago.