Tombstone Tuesday-John Shilling

John Shilling, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of John Schilling, located in row 8 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

John Shilling
Nov. 8, 1877
55 ys, 7 mo, 22 ds

John Shilling is not mentioned in Zion Schumm’s church records but I was able to learn a little about him from other sources.

John Schilling was born 17 March 1822, as calculated from his tombstone. At least 2 local newspapers recorded his untimely death and gave a little information about him. They mention that John lived about four miles east of Willlshire, had a brother Joseph Shilling who also lived near Willshire, that John Shilling moved into the area several months ago, and that widower John Shilling married a widow from Van Wert.  

Zion Schumm’s records indicate that a Mrs. Schilling was buried in the church cemetery on 8 July 1876. That record entry also mentions that Mr. Schilling was not a member of the church. This was likely John Shilling’s first wife, Catherine Stake/Sage, a member of Zion Lutheran Schumm, and this could be the reason John is not mentioned in the church records. He was not a member. It appears that the first Mrs. Shilling’s tombstone did not survive. [1]

John Shilling married Nancy L. (Beaty) O’Day (1835-1917) on 28 May 1877 in Van Wert County. [2] John did not live long after their marriage and his widow Nancy married Morgan Mumaugh in 1881.

According the Van Wert Times, 16 November 1877: On Thursday a week ago Mr. John Shilling, an aged farmer of Willshire Township, went to the town of Willshire, with his wagon and team on business, we are informed, and after transacting it, returned to his home in the evening. Soon after his return he complained of being exceedingly thirsty saying that he had eaten a herring while in town and supposed it caused his thirst, and to allay it, commenced drinking butter milk and continued doing so until he had taken nearly a gallon. But a short time after he had done this he died. It is said, in great pain and that his jaws were firmly clenched together. The above is the report given to us of the affair by some of the relatives of the deceased. He was a brother of Joseph Shilling, of this place, and was a worthy farmer of Willshire Township. Being a widower, he came here some months ago and was married to a widow lady of Van Wert. The cause of his sudden death seems to be a mystery as yet we believe unknown to his relatives and friends.

Van Wert Bulletin, 22 Feb 1878: On the 8th day of November, A.D. 1877, I was called to visit Mr. John Shilling a worthy farmer, living about four miles east of Willshire, in Van Wert County, whom I found laboring under a severe attack of congestion of the stomach, superinduced by excessive eating and drinking while in Willshire on the 8thof said month, of which he died on the evening of the same day that I visited him, and I will take the responsibility of saying that all statement intimating that any unfair means had been used with him, are without any foundation in fact and consequently untrue. Respectfully, J.F. Schaffner (Dr.)

Only two Schillings are mentioned in Zion Schumm’s records and they could be connected to John Shilling, although the name is spelled differently: Widow Anna (Schilling) Geissler died 8 April 1866 at the age of 59 ½ years. It appears her tombstone did not survive. The other Schilling mentioned in the records is the Mrs. Schilling mentioned above, who died 8 July 1876, very likely John’s first wife Catherine.

John Shilling, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

To trace John’s movements, in 1860 the John Shilling family lived in Marion, Ohio: John, 38; Catharine, 31; Margaret, 10; Mary, 8; Elizabeth, 7; Joseph, 6; Josephine, 5; Francis, 4; Lana, 2; and John, 6 months. [3]  

In 1870 the John Shilling family lived in Harden County, Ohio, with a Kenton postal address: John, 48; Catharine, 40; Mary, 18; Elizabeth, 16; Joseph, 15; Josephine, 15; Frances, 13; Lena, 12; Eliza, 10; and William, 3. [4]  

Both census enumerations indicate that John was born in Germany and that he was a farmer.

From looking around on-line it appears that some of John Shilling’s descendants are looking for the burial place of John’s first wife Catherine. I hope this blog post helps them out since it appears her burial is mentioned in Zion Schumm’s records.

[1] Find a Grave, John Shilling memorial no.36978571, indicates that John’s first wife was Mary Catherine Stake (1829-1876) and that they had a number of children born between 1849-1867. indicates her name was Catherine Sage and that they were married in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, 27 December 1848.

[2] Ohio, U.S. County Marriage Records1774-1993, Van Wert County, Vol. 4, p.528; John Shilling & Nancy L. O’Day, 28 May 1877; digital image,

[3] 1860 U.S. Census, Grand, Marion, Ohio, p.300, dwelling 466, family 455, Jno Shilling; digital image by subscription ( : viewed 4 Oct 2021).  

[4] 1970 U.S. Census, Goshen, Harden, Ohio, p.368A, dwelling 36, family 32, John Shilling; digital image by subscription ( : viewed 4 Oct 2021).

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