Tombstone Tuesday-Emma German [?]

Emma German, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2019 photo by Karen)

This tombstone is located in row 2 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker’s inscription can no longer be read.

What do you do when a tombstone is so weathered that its inscription is no longer legible?

The first thing I did was look at a local source, the 1992 Van Wert County, Ohio, Cemetery Inscriptions, by the Van Wert Chapter OGS. The Van Wert Chapter read and recorded all the stones in the cemetery three decades ago. This stone was weathered back then but they were able to read parts of it. They read the stone as Emma German, 1y, _m, 11d, daughter of J.

That is not a lot to go on, especially since the year of her death was not legible. There appears to be a lamb image carved at the top of the marker, which indicates it is the tombstone of a child.  

I next looked at Zion Schumm’s church records. There was only one Emma German in their death records, but this is not her tombstone. The Emma German in the church records lived from 1907-1917, is buried in row 11 of Zion Schumm’s cemetery, and her tombstone is very legible.

I do not have much German family genealogy and do not know if there was an Emma German who died young, whose father’s first name began with J, and who was not mentioned in Zion Schumm’s records. Perhaps a German researcher can shed some light on this.

From Zion Schumm’s church records I know that there was a Johann and a Jacob German who attended church there years ago. Perhaps Emma was the daughter of one of them.

There were not many Emmas in their church records, but one Emma did die in infancy. Anna Susanna Emma Bienz, daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Bienz, born 9 October 1874, died 21 May 1876, and was buried in the parish cemetery 23 May. It appears her tombstone did not survive.  

There is just not a lot to go on here. And, considering the condition of this tombstone, are we sure the name is actually Emma German? The script on some markers is difficult to read when a marker is in good condition, let alone on a severely weathered stone. 

This tombstone may just have to remain a mystery.   


    • Ed Schaadt on July 5, 2022 at 9:23 am
    • Reply

    Karen: I grew up in Mercer County and many of my Schaadt relatives lived in Liberty Township. I have enjoyed reading the articles on your website and applaud you as an expert genealogist. I grew up in Wabash, Ohio but my wife and I moved to Michigan in 1966 when she got a job with the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I developed an interest in genealogy and local history and have pursued the hobby for years now. However, I still maintain an interest in both my family and my wife’s family histories back in Mercer County, I write a column in local community magazine each month. We have been fortunate to have traveled to Rhineland Pflalz to visit my home and to Alsace to visit the town where my wife family (Dock) originated.

    I didn’t realize at first that you limited the material on your site to just the two Lutheran churches. My families were members of both Zion Lutheran in Chatt and St. Paul’s UCC (Wabash and Oregon Roads). So much of the history of that area is intertwined between both denominations. Looking back, I now realize that there was such a denominational divide within my ownfamily. Growing up in the late 40s and 50s, I don’t recall ever being inside of either Zion Lutheran or the St. Paul Lutheran Church just a half mile north of my church. After church we would get together for Sunday dinners at David Schaadt’s house on Frahm Pike. He was a brother to my grandfather. My dad had two brothers, Adolph and Walter, who attended Lutheran churches.

    My parents (Vernon and Verna Alice Schaadt) had close friends in Chatt-Lester and Marge Miller. We were lifetime friends of that family and I learned so much about writing history from Lester. I know you have to limit the scope of your material, but there is much to be said for somehow including the history of fellow community members.

    Edward (Ed) Schaadt

    1. Thank you for writing and sharing your Chatt and Mercer County connections and memories. It is wonderful to research and record family and local history for future generation. I remember some of the people you mention, particularly Lester Miller, and I had Schaadt neighbors growing up. Yes, the family history in our area is vast. For my blog post I focus mainly on the two Lutheran churches (Zion Chatt and Zion Schumm) primarily because I have family ties to both, on both sides of my family, and a familiarity with many families in both churches. And also because I have copies of their church records. It is very helpful to have access to church records, particularly when I write my Tombstone Tuesday posts, as I work my way through both those cemeteries. Who knows what cemetery I will focus on next? Thank you for writing and I always enjoy learning about other family histories, if you ever want to share more.

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