Who Was Henry Trisel’s Adopted Son?

A few years ago I wrote a Tombstone Tuesday blog post about John F, the adopted son of Henry Trisel. [1]  The young boy’s grave marker is located in the center section of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Ohio, in the children’s section of the cemetery.

John F, adopted son of Henry Trisel, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

Although the stone is broken off at its base and lying flat on the ground, it is still very legible and is inscribed:

John F., Adopted Son of Henry Trisel
Died Sept. 9, 1876
Aged 11 ys.  4 ms.

I wondered who the boy John really was. I had a theory about his identity when I wrote that first blog post but I had not done enough research to prove it. I finally did learn young John’s real story after ordering some documents from the National Archives. 

Zion Chatt’s death/burial records and the Mercer County Probate Death records indicate the boy’s real name was John Frederick Bahn. [2] [3]  As calculated from his tombstone, John Bahn’s date of birth was 9 May 1865. His [adoptive?] parents Henry and Elizabeth (Feldman) Trisel attended Zion Chatt and lived about a mile north of Chatt when John died.

Who was John F, the adopted son of Henry Trisel?

And now, the rest of the story.

The story begins with Henry Trisel’s wife, Elizabeth Feldman. Elizabeth was a German immigrant, born in Gernsheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, on 22 May 1840. [4]

Elizabeth Feldman married German immigrant Johann Bahn in Greenup County, Kentucky, on 24 July 1864. Groom Johann Bahn was 29 years old and was born in Bavaria. Bride Elizabeth Feldman was 23 years of age and was born in Hesse. [5]

A son, John Friedrich Bahn, was born to the couple about nine months later, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 31 March 1865. John was baptized at St. Paul’s Protestant Church in Cincinnati on 23 May 1865. His parents were named as John Bahn and Elizabeth Bahn, nee Feldman. Frederich Scholl and his wife Margaretha served as John’s baptismal sponsors. [6]

In 1865 the Civil War was raging. Just two months after his marriage to Elizabeth Feldman, Johann Bahn enlisted in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry [O.V.I.], where he served as a Private in Company H of the 183rd Regiment. He enlisted in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 26 September 1864 and was mustered into service on 29 September 1864, for a period of one year. He was 29 years of age, born in Bavaria, was 6’ 1” tall, with dark hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. He was a musician. [7]

Private Johann Bahn was present during roll call at Camp Dennison, Ohio, on 1 November 1864. Less than a month later, on 30 November 1864, he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee. He was listed as captured by the enemy and missing in action. He was absent from muster in December 1864. [8]

After his capture, Johann Bahn was taken to the Confederate prison camp at Cahaba, Alabama. [9] Johann survived the terrible conditions at the Confederate prison camp and was released the end of April 1865, to be sent home. [10]

Johann Bahn was among the 2137 passengers onboard the steamboat Sultana. The boat was designed to carry 376 passengers and was sailing on the Mississippi River above Memphis, Tennessee. Bahn, with over 1200 other men, perished on 27 April 1865, when three of four boilers exploded near Memphis. It is the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. [11]

The Sultana, the day before the explosion.

Johann Bahn was a casualty of the Civil War who left behind a widow and his 4-week old son, John Friedrich Bahn. Young John would never see or know his father.

On 14 July 1865, less than 3 months after her husband’s death, Elizabeth Bahn submitted a Widow’s Claim for Pension, which gives a lot of information. In her claim she declared that she was 25 years old, residing at No. 35 Dunlap Street, Cincinnati, Ohio; that she was the widow of John Bahn, a private in Co. C of the 183rd O.V.I., who died on the Steamer Sultana on 27 April 1865; that her maiden name was Feldman; that she married John Bahn at Greensboro, Kentucky, on 4 August 1864, married by A. Pawl, J.P.; and that she had remained a widow since her husband’s death. As proof of her marriage she provided a certified copy of the baptismal record of their son John Friedrich, which stated that she and John Bahn were married. Elizabeth declared that John Friedrich Bahn was the only child born to them; that he was born 31 March 1865 and still lived in Cincinnati. [12] [13]

Henry Trisel married the widow Elizabeth (Feldman) Bahn on 23 September 1865 at St. Paul’s Evangelical Protestant Church in Cincinnati, [14] the same church in which Elizabeth’s son John Friedrich Bahn was baptized four months earlier.

Henry Trisel was also a German immigrant and a Civil War veteran. Henry served as a private in Battery 4, Ohio Light Artillery, from 2 August 1861 to 27 August 1864. [15]

On 22 October 1866 Henry Trisel was nominated and appointed guardian to [John] Friedrich Bahn and his estate, the 2-year old child of John Bahn, deceased, appointed by the State of Ohio, Hamilton County. [16]

The minor child John Friedrich Bahn was eligible for a pension, in accordance with an Act of Congress, approved 14 July 1862, which granted a pension to minor children under sixteen years of age, who are children of deceased Union officers and soldiers. On 24 December 1866, Henry Trisel, 33, attested that he was the guardian of the minor child of John Bahn, deceased, named J. Friedrich Bahn, born 30 March 1865, whose father was a private in Co. C, 183rd O.V.I., and who died on 27 April 1865; that the child’s mother, Elizabeth Bahn, married Henry Trisel on 23 September 1865; that the minor’s parents were married at Green County, Kentucky, on 4 August 1864 by M. Powl, J.P. [17]

On 22 May 1869 a Claim for Minor’s Pension was filed for John F., minor child of John Bahn, Private, 183rd O.V.I., residing at No. 62 Mohawk St., Cincinnati, Ohio. Young John would get a pension of $8/month, beginning 27 April 1865 and ending 30 March 1881, when he turned 16, payable to Henry Trisel, guardian. [18]  Young John received a pension increase of $2 per month in 1874. [19] 

On 11 November 1868 Henry Trisel, of Hamilton County, Ohio, purchased 40 acres of land in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, from Peter Stroebel. Henry paid $1200 for the land which was located just south of Chatt, on Tama Road, almost across the road from Zion Chatt’s cemetery. [20] 

By 1870 the Henry Trisel family left Cincinnati and moved north to his farm in Liberty Township. [21] Three of their Mercer County neighbors, Jasper Byer, John Leistner, and Caroline Baker, attested that, among other things, Henry and Elizabeth Trisel moved to Mercer County in 1870. [22] Young John Bahn’s pension increase, approved 11 March 1874, shows the Trisel address as Skeel’s Crossroad, Mercer County, Ohio. [23]

Henry and his family were enumerated in the 1870 census on 21 August 1870, living in Liberty Township, Mercer County. The Henry Trisel household in 1870: Henry (age 35), Elizabeth (30), Fredrick (5), and Margaret (1). Henry and Elizabeth were born in Prussia and the two children were born in Ohio. Henry was a brewer. [24]  The young boy Fredrick was John Fredrick Bahn, Elizabeth’s son.

On 19 May 1872 Henry Trisel transferred his church membership from the Catholic Church to Zion Lutheran in Chattanooga, Ohio, and took communion with his wife on that same day. [25]

Henry Trisel purchased an additional 15 acres adjacent to his Liberty Township property in 1874 [26] but in August 1876 he sold his 55 acres in Liberty Township [27] and purchased 80 acres in Section 29 of Blackcreek Township, Mercer County. [28] [29] The family’s new home was a about a mile north of Chatt, on route 707, ½ mile east of route 49.

It was there, at their home in Blackcreek Township, that John Friedrich Bahn, son of John Bahn and Elizabeth (Feldman) Bahn Trisel, and ward of Henry Trisel, died of typhoid fever on 9 September 1876. He was only 11 years of age. [30]

Young John was buried in Zion’s Cemetery, with a small marble tombstone marking at his gravesite, but his true surname was not inscribed on his tombstone. The marker broke off at the base at some point. 

Henry and Elizabeth Trisel resided in Blackcreek Township the rest of their lives. They had six children of their own, Jacob, August Jacob, Barbara, Margaret, Otto, and Mary. The names of their children were written on the Trisel Bible pages that were included as additional evidence for Elizabeth’s 1896 widow’s pension application. Elizabeth attested that the Bible records were written 19 years ago [1877] by traveling man who was a good scribe and who wrote the letters in German. [31]

Henry Trisel died 16 February 1896 and was dropped from the pension rolls. [32]  His widow Elizabeth applied for a Widow’s Pension on 27 February 1896. [33]

Elizabeth (Feldman) Bahn Trisel died 2 May 1917 and was dropped from pension rolls on 21 June 1917. [34]

John F. Bahn is the only member of the Henry Trisel family buried in Zion’s Cemetery. Henry and Elizabeth are buried a couple miles north of Zion, in East Bethel Cemetery, Blackcreek Township, where three of their children, Jacob August, Otto F., and Barbara Elizabeth, are also buried. [35] East Bethel Cemetery is located very near the land Henry Trisel once owned and where the Trisel family resided. Near the farm where young John F. Bahn passed away in 1876.

The Trisels are not mentioned in Zion Chatt’s records after Elizabeth’s death in 1917.

Unfortunately, this branch of the Bahn family ended when young John F. died.

But this research gives John F. a real surname.



[1] Tombstone Tuesday-John F. (Bahn) Trisel, Karen’s Chatt, 29 March 2016.

[2] Zion Ev. Luth. Church (Chattanooga), Register, 1854-1892, p.312, no. 6, Johann Friedrich Bahm, died 9 Sep 1876, age 11 years, 5 months, 9 days. 

[3] “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F665-FMN , viewed 11 Jul 2018), Blackcreek Twp., Mercer Co. Deaths, John F. Bahn, 9 Sep 1876.

[4] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X8J7-VMG : viewed 9 Jul 2018), Mercer Co., Oh., Elizabeth Trisel, 2 May 1917.

[5] “Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2QD-7NDW : viewed 17 Aug 2018), Greenup Co., Ky., John Bahn & Eliza Feldman, 24 Jul 1864.

[6] Transcript of Baptism, 15 Jul 1865, for John Frederich Bahn, John F. Bahn’s minor’s pension application no. 130,690, service of John Bahn, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[7] Compiled Military Service Record, Union, Civil War, for John Bahn, Company H, 183rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, D.C.  

[8] Ibid.

[9] CivilWarPrisoners.com, search for John Bahn, 183rd,

(http://www.civilwarprisoners.com/search.php?database=cahaba : viewed 11 Jul 2018). 

[10] Adjutant General’s Office, 13 Aug 1868, 14 Sep 1868, and 18 Sep 1868, John F. Bahn’s minor’s pension application no. 130,690; service of John Bahn (Pvt., Co. H, 183rd O.V.I., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group [RG] 15, NA-Washington. Also, Alphabetical List of Federal Prisoners on the Sultana, Including Those Who Survived or Perished, John Bahn, Fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com/image/293415954?terms=john%20bahn : viewed 11 Jul 2018).

[11] U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=1555&h=4020980&tid=&pid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=cLk535&_phstart=successSource: viewed 11 Jul 2016), John Bahn, 183rd O.V.I.

[12] Elizabeth Bahn’s widow’s pension application no. 103,231, 14 July 1865, service of John Bahn, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[13] Note by kmb: There are discrepancies in some of the dates. Elizabeth and Henry occasionally gave wrong dates and information in their testimonies.

[14] Certification of marriage, Henry Tresel [Trisel] & Elizabeth Bahn, 23 Sep 1865, Elizabeth Trisel’s widow’s pension no. 629,450, certificate no. 448,354, service of Henry Trisel (Pvt., 4th Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery, Civil War), RG 15, NA-Washington.

[15] 1890 U.S. Veterans Schedule, Blackcreek, Mercer, Ohio, ED 178, p.1, house 40, fam. 42, line 6, Henry Tricel

[Trisel], Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8667 : viewed 11 Jul 2018).

[16] Guardianship paper, John F. Bahn’s minor’s pension application no. 129,737, 22 October 1866, service of John Bahn, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[17]  Henry Trisel affidavit, 24 Dec 1866, John Frederich Bahn’s minor’s pension, no 130,690, service of John Bahn, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington. Henry Trisel attested that John F. Bahn was born 30 March 1865, which disagrees with John F.’s baptismal record, which indicates John F. was born 31 March 1865.

[18] John Friedrich Bahn’s minors’ pension no. 129,737, 22 & 28 May 1869, service of John Bahn, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[19] John F. Bahn’s minor’s pension increase no. 129,737, 11 Mar 1874, Henry Trisel guardian, service of John Bahn, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington. (Doc. 40) Also, ibid., 16 Apr 1874.

[20] Mercer Co., Oh., Deeds, 15:184-5, Stroebel to Trisel, 11 Nov 1868. Also, Mercer County Chapter OGS, compiler, Mercer County, Ohio, Combined 1888, 1900 Atlases and 1876 Map of Mercer County, Ohio (Mt. Vernon, Indiana: Windmill Publications, Inc., 1999), p.11, 1876, Liberty Twp.

[21] 1870 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Oh., pop. sch., p.150A (stamped), dwell. 127, fam. 114, Henry Daisll.

[22] Jasper Byer’s affidavit, Elizabeth Trisel’s widow’s pension application no. 629,450, 27 Mar 1896, service of Henry Trisel, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington. Also, ibid., John Leistner’s affidavit. Also, ibid., Caroline Baker’s affidavit.

[23] John Friedrich Bahn’s minor’s pension increase, no. 129,737, approved 11 Mar 1874, service of John Bahn, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[24] 1870 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, pop. sch., p.150A (stamped), p.17 (penned), dwell. 127, fam. 114, Henry Daisll household; Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?htx=List&dbid=7163&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0 : viewed 11 Jul 2018). (Doc. 12) Trisel is indexed as Daisll on Ancestry.com.

[25] Zion Ev. Luth. Church, Register 1854-1892, p.171, Heinrich Tresser, 1872.

[26] Mercer Co., Oh., Deeds, 22:250, Heffner to Treisel, 26 Mar 1874.

[27] Ibid., for 30:29, Treisel to Baker, 26 Aug 1876.

[28] Mercer Co., Oh., Deeds, 24:366, Merkle to Trisal, 21 Aug 1876.

[29] Mercer Co., Oh., Deeds, 30:29, Trisel to Baker, 26 Aug 1876. Also, Mercer Co., Oh., Deeds, 24:366  Merkle to Trisel, 21 Aug 1876.

[30] “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” FamilySearch.org, John F. Bahn, 09 Sep 1876. [John’s Mercer County Probate Death Record: John F. Bahn, single, white male, died from typhoid fever on 9 September 1876, age 11 years, 6 months; born in Ohio, lived in Blackcreek Twp, where he died; parents’ names not given.]

[31] Elizabeth Trisel Bible pages, c1877, Elizabeth Trisel affidavit, additional evidence for widow’s pension application, no. 629, 450, cert. no. 448,354, 27 Mar 1896, service of Henry Trisel, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[32] U.S. Pension Agency, Columbus, Oh., 7 May 1896, cert. no. 762,426, service of Henry Trisel, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington. Henry Trisel is dropped from the pension rolls due to death.

[33] Elizabeth Trisel’s widow’s pension application no. 629, 450, cert. no. 448,354, service of Henry Trisel, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[34] Elizabeth Trisel dropped from pension rolls, 21 Jun 1917, cert. no 448,354, service of Henry Trisel, Civil War, RG 15, NA-Washington.

[35] Find A Grave, memorial 27965346, August Trisel gravestone; and memorial 27960746, Otto F. Trisel gravestone; and memorial 27964771, Barbara Elizabeth (Trisel) Springer, all digital images, 1 Jul 2008, by Cousin Becky.


Skip to comment form

    • Andy Gappa on September 18, 2020 at 8:18 am
    • Reply

    Great research! You put a lot of time into this. And, you uncovered a small slice of life of my GG Grandfather Jasper Byer. I get the chills every time you find something new about him. Thanks for that.

    1. Thanks, Andy! It is always interesting to see your ancestor mentioned in these old documents. I will be posting some of the documents included in that NARA packet. Maybe Jasper will be mentioned again…

    • Deb Reichard on September 18, 2020 at 8:41 am
    • Reply

    Wow, how interesting. You are quite the genealogy detective! And a historical scholar! Love your posts.


    1. Thanks, Deb!

    • Frank McCollister on September 20, 2020 at 11:11 am
    • Reply


    This off topic from the post but I was duly impressed with the numerous citations. I noted from your bio that you are a certified genealogist. This is something I have thought of pursuing once I retire. How hard was it to work through the exercises and portfolio for the certification process?


    1. It is a very worthwhile pursuit and I certainly learned a lot while preparing my portfolio. I recommend that you look at the Board for Certification of Genealogists website, https://bcgcertification.org/ . There they detail what you need to do to prepare for and to submit a portfolio for certification. They explain it much better than I can, plus, the requirements have changed a little since I applied nearly 20 years ago. Applicants have a year to prepare their portfolio once they start the process and before starting it is advisable to have been researching for some time, to attend genealogy conferences, listen to genealogy webinars and podcasts, and to read a lot. Also important to know is what resources are available and where to research in your area and in your area of expertise. It is a lot of work, but like many other things, I learned a lot during the process. I never really intended to take clients, although most who are certified do take clients. For me it was a challenge to see if I could become certified and as well as getting a critique of my work.

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