Tombstone Tuesday-Rebecka Sundemacher

Rebecka Sundemacher, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2023 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Rebecka A. Sundemacher, located in row 12 of Kessler Cemetery, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Rebecka A.
Frau von [wife of]
J.D. Sundemacher
Gestorben [died]
27 Aug 1872
Alter [age]
63 Jahre [years], u. 9 T [days]

This is one of two nearly identical tombstones that stand side by side in Kessler Cemetery. The women interred beneath these stones have something in common. They were both married to Johann Dietrich Reinhard Sundemacher. They were two of his three wives, wife number one and wife number two, and they died just four years apart.

Their markers are nearly identical and they have both taken on a rather unusual form over the years.

Sundemacher tombstones, Rebecka & Maria, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2023 photo by Karen)

Now broken and worn, they originally were probably much taller and may have looked something like this.  

Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2023 photo by Karen)

These tombstones are nearly unreadable now but two separate readings from two different sources at different times [Mercer County Chapter OGS in 1990 and Find a more recently] have read the surname as Gundemacher on both tombstones. The first letter in the surname, which is written in the old Fraktur script, does look like today’s letter G, but the first letter of this surname is actually an upper-case S. The surname is Sundemacher.  

Compare the letters G and S, written in script.

Rebecka Sundemacher, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2023 photo by Karen)

The church records of Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga, Ohio, verify this. The death dates of both women, Rebecka and Maria Sundemacher, are included in Zion Chatt’s records and their records agree with the tombstone inscriptions, give or take a day. That discrepancy could be explained by the difficulty of reading the stones due to weathering.

Rebecka A. Sundemacher was the first wife of Johann Dietrich Reinhard Sundemacher. Zion Chatt’s records indicate the Sundemachers were from Weseloh, Kingdom of Hanover. The couple married in Germany and had their children before immigrating to America.

This family from Germany, who arrived in New York in 1853, could very possibly be the same Johann Dietrich Sundemacher family: Johann Sundmacher [sic], 39; Beeke Adelh Sundmacher [sic], 43; Dorothea Sundmacher [sic], 13; Heinrich Sundmacher [sic], 8; and Metta Sundmacher [sic], 4. [1]

The immigration list indicates that these Sundemachers were relatives to each other. In addition, their names and ages agree with this Sindmaker [sic] family living in St. Marys Township, Auglaize County, Ohio, in 1860: John D Sindmaker [sic], 47; Rebecca Sindmaker [sic], 50; Dorothea Sindmaker [sic], 21; Henry Sindmaker [sic], 15; and Martha Sindmaker [sic], 12. All were born in Hanover. John D. was a farmer, Dorothea, a domestic, and Henry a farm laborer. Martha attended school. [2]   

Daughter Dorothy Sundemacher married John Timmerman in New Bremen on 26 October 1860 by Rev. C. Hess. [3]

I believe the Sundemacher family moved to the Chattanooga, Ohio, area a few years later. Possibly to Adams County, Indiana.

Their daughter Martha Sundemacher married Jacob Hiller at Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga, Ohio, on 20 February 1868.

I do not know what became of son Henry Sundemacher.

Johann Dietrich Sundemacher and his wife Rebecka attended Zion Chatt and communed there fairly regularly. Johann Dietrich and Rebecka first communed at Zion Chatt on Christmas 1869. They communed at Zion Chatt December 1870, April 1871, and May 1872. Note that Zion Chatt offered Holy Communion two or three times a year at that time.  

Wife Rebecka Sundemacher died 27 August 1872 and was buried in Kessler Cemetery on the 28th.

Widower Johann Dietrich Sundemacher continued to attend services at Zion Chatt and communed there May 1873, September 1973, April 1874, and August 1874.

Widower Johann Dietrich Sundemacher married a second time in November 1874 and communed with his new wife on Christmas Day 1874.

I will continue on with the second wife of Johann Dietrich Sundemacher in an upcoming Tombstone Tuesday.

This has been a difficult family to research. I am having a very hard time determining where Johann Dietrich Sundemacher lived after 1860. In addition, the possible spelling variations of the name Sundemacher do not help in the search for him. I assume Johann and Rebecka moved to the Chatt area since they regularly attended church at Zion Chatt. It would have been quite a trek from St. Marys to Chatt in the 1870s. I wonder if they lived in Adams County, Indiana, just across the state line from Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, but I cannot find them in a census enumeration after 1860. And I have done quite a bit of looking in both counties in both states. I am beginning to wonder if they were in an early version of the witness protection program.   

[1] U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1800s-1900s, New York, New York, 1853, p.154, Johann Sundmacher [sic]; transcription,, viewed 22 May 2023.

[2] 1860 U.S. Census, St. Marys, Auglaize, Ohio, p.400, dwelling & family 113, John D Sindmaker [sic];, viewed 22 May 2023.

[3] Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, Mercer County Marriages 1823-1870, p.410, John Timmerman & Dorothy Sundmacher [sic]; database,, viewed 22 May 2023.


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