Tombstone Tuesday–M. Zeilinger

M Zeilinger, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2015 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of M. Zeilinger, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

M Zeilinger

That’s it. Any other information that was once carved into this small marble stone has weathered away long ago. The broken marker is laying face up on the ground in the children’s area of the cemetery.

Who was M Zeilinger?

Although there are several Zeilinger entries in Zion Chatt’s records there are no Zeilinger deaths recorded. This is the only Zeilinger buried in the church cemetery.

I did get some information about the Zeilingers from the church records:

The church records consistently spell the name as Zeilinger but it is spelled Zeillinger once.

Michael Zeilinger was married to Elisabeth Kundinger. Michael was from Darnbuch, Old Bavaria and Elisabeth was from Zweifelsheim, Old Bavaria. According to Wikipedia, Old Bavaria consisted of the three oldest parts of the Free State of Bavaria.

The town Zweifelsheim sounds familiar because John Peter Lotter, who also attended Zion Chatt in the late 1800s, was also from Zweifelsheim. John Peter Lotter was born in 1835 and immigrated in 1869. The Zeilingers and the Lotters knew each other well because they were baptismal sponsors for each others’ children.

Zweifelsheim is not far from Herzogenaurach, where some others were from that settled in the Chatt area and attended Zion Chatt. These include the following families: Betzel, Herzog, Gugel, Hirsch, Beyer, and Hoffmann. It is very likely that these families knew each other back in the Old Country and followed their relatives and friends to the Chatt area.

I was fortunate to locate the family on a passenger list. They departed from Bremen, Germany, on the ship Baltimore and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on 15 October 1872. They traveled as J.M. Zeilinger, 27; Elisab. Kundinger, 26; and Cath. Kundinger, 1¾ year. Their destination was Cincinnati and Michael was a farmer. Their country of birth and last legal residence was Germany. [1] A woman’s maiden name was often used on a passenger list even though they were married. However, there is a marriage record for the couple in Butler County, Ohio. This record indicates they married 20 October 1872. [2] Maybe they were not married until they came to America.

By 1876 Michael Zeilinger and his family had settled in Mercer County, Ohio, where they lived a mile north of Chatt. Blackcreek Township’s plat map shows that he owned a farm on the Ohio/Indiana state line, on the south side of what is now route 707. In 1888 and 1900 he owned about 50 acres in Chatt, on the corner where Zion Lutheran Church and cemetery is situated.

In the Zeilinger household in 1880: Michael, 38; Elisabeth, 34; Catharine, 9; George J, 7; Mary M, 5; John W, 3; Barbara E, 1; Mary L, 1. Michael was born about 1842 and was a farmer. Michael, Elisabeth, and Catharine were born in Bavaria/Germany and the rest of their children were born in Ohio. The census enumeration specifically mentions that Barbara and Mary were twins. The family was enumerated as Sidinger in the 1880 census. They are listed right next to my great-grandfather Jacob Miller on the census page. [3]

Michael and Elizabeth (Kundinger) had the following 7 children. All were baptized at Zion Chatt except the two oldest, Katharina and Johann Georg. All were confirmed at Zion Chatt:

  1. Katharine Kundinger, born in Bavaria 2 November 1870, confirmed at Zion in 1885. Katharine married Anton Bollenbacher in 1893.
  2. Johann Georg Zeilinger, born 3 September 1873, confirmed at Zion in 1887. He was probably their son, although his parents were not named in his confirmation record. One Georg Zeilinger, from Muncie, Indiana, married Rosina Hoffman 1 October 1901. This could be the son of Michael and Elizabeth.
  3. Maria Wilhelmina “Minnie” Zeilinger, born 1 April 1875 in Blackcreek Township, confirmed at Zion in 1888. She was the first of the Zeilinger children to be baptized at Zion Chatt, baptized on 28 April 1875. Millie married John Leininger in 1893.
  4. Johann Wilhelm Zeilinger, born 11 November 1876, confirmed at Zion in 1890.
  5. Elisabeth Barbara Zeilinger born 27 Oct 1878, confirmed at Zion in 1893.
  6. Maria Louise Zeilinger born 27 October 1878, confirmed at Zion in 1893.
  7. John Heinrich Zeilinger, born 18 May 1882, confirmed at Zion in 1896.

The Zeilingers are last mentioned in Zion Chatt’s records in 1896 when Elisabeth Zeilinger was the baptismal sponsor for Edward Paul Strabel, son of Johann and Caroline (Deitsch) Strabel.

The Zeilingers moved from the area by 1900, to Delaware County, Indiana, where Michael worked as a night watchman. In their household in 1900: Michael, 54; Lizzie, 55; George, 27; William, 23; and Heinrich, 18. This record indicates that they had been married 28 years and that Michael immigrated in 1872. This census also indicates that Elizabeth/Lizzie had given birth to 7 children and all 7 were living, which is no help in determining if one of their children is buried in Zion Chatt’s cemetery. [4]

M Zeilinger, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2015 photo by Karen)

We know this was not the father Michael’s tombstone because he died of pernicious anemia on 24 December 1917 in Centre Township, Delaware County, Indiana, at age 72. His death certificate indicates he was born 14 Dec [?]1845 in Germany. His father was John Zeilinger and his mother’s name was not known on this record. His wife Elisabeth survived him and he was buried in Beech Grove Cemetery. [5]

We will probably never know who this marker is for. I suspect that Michael and Elizabeth may have had a child who was stillborn or who died shortly after birth or in infancy between the years 1879 and 1881.

[1] Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964,, JM Zeilinger, no. 188-90; Records of the US Customs Service, RG36, NAI No. 2655153; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004, Record Group 85.

[2] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” Michael Zeilinger and Elizabeth Kundinger, 20 Oct 1872; (accessed 26 Mar 2017); Butler Co Marriages, Vol. 4, p.226, FHL microfilm 355779.

[3] 1880 U.S. Census, Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio, ED 179, p.324C, line 31, Mike Sidinger; (accessed 26 Mar 2017); FHL microfilm 1255048, NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048.

[4] 1900 U.S. Census, Center, Delaware, Indiana, ED 36, p.20B, dwelling 457, family 483, Michael Zeilinger; (accessed 26 Mar 2017); FHL microfilm 1240367, NARA microfilm T623, roll 367.

[5] Indiana, Death Certificate, 1899-2011,, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.


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  1. Karen, I always feel sad when I see worn or broken stones like this. So it’s really heartwarming to see you try to identify the person buried here, just to keep the memory alive if possible. Sad in this case that it’s not possible, but you are still doing a very good deed IMHO.

    1. Thank you, Marian. I guess my curiosity always gets the better of me and it would be nice to identify all the markers in the cemetery. There is always the chance that someone with knowledge of the family will read the post and provide some additional information. Thanks for writing!

    • Deb Reichard on March 28, 2017 at 8:56 am
    • Reply

    Anna Rosina (Rose Anna) Hoffman b 2/10/1875 d. 12/6/1960 was the sister of George F Huffman. George is the father of Mary Olga Huffman who married my great grandfather, William George Bollenbacher. Mary and William are buried in the mausoleum of Zion Lutheran Church. Definitely the connection of the Zeilinger and Huffman families were the church.

    The Hoffman Family were from Fechengen, Germany and came to Mercer Co. in 1849. They changed their name to Huffman in 1880.

    So this might be the connection with George Zeilinger.

    1. Thanks for the additional information, Deb. I am sure there are many family connections in the area and in the church that we are not aware of. It is good to note when those first families immigrated and where they were from. They must have told their family and friends that it was a good place to settle and encouraged them to come and settle here too. Thanks for writing!

    • Jeanne Bollenbacher on April 2, 2017 at 3:10 pm
    • Reply

    I always look so forward to “Karen’s Chatt”…and this one was especially interesting!
    Doug’s Great-Great Grandfather was Anton (Andy) Bollenbacher- his farm was on Erastus-Durbin Road-
    where Doug was raised- and his Mom at 96- still lives. I have always liked family history- and loved to listen to
    Doug’s Dad, Casey, talk about the Bollenbacher Family History. There is a lot of history on the Bollenbachers-
    so I wanted to research the women who had married into the Bollenbacher family- it was while doing some researching on that I found some information about Catherine Kundinger-Zeilinger Bollenbacher-
    Doug’s Great Great Grandmother- she was born out of wedlock and baptized as Catherine Kundinger- she was raised but never formally adopted by Michael Zeilinger- but did use the Zeilinger surname until she was married. I also learned about a book- “The Descendants and Ancestors of Johann Michael Zeilinger and Elisabeth Barbara Kundinger” but I didn’t ever pursue getting a copy of it- but I may have to now since reading your last Tombstone Tuesday!

    1. That is very interesting and some good information. I wondered about Catherine and that may have been the primary reason that they left Germany. It happened. One of my ancestors immigrated with his fiance, they married very soon after arriving, and she gave birth a month later. I am glad to help spark your interest in family history. It is addicting. Thank you so much for writing!

      • Cindy A Nichols on December 7, 2021 at 1:39 pm
      • Reply

      Hello Jeanne,

      I just read your message to Karen Bennett dated April 2, 2017 regarding the book “The Descendants and Ancestors of Johann Michael Zeilinger and Elisabeth Barbara Kundinger.” In am doing research on our family’s genealogy and they are my great-great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family.

      I’ve looked on the internet , but am unable to find where to buy this book. Would appreciate any advice you could give. Thank you!

      Carmel, Indiana

      1. I hope she sees your message. Thanks for writing!

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