Nov 12

Tombstone Tuesday–Johannes Rapp

Johannes Rapp, Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

This is the sole tombstone in the Harmonist Cemetery, located in the town of Harmony, Butler County, Pennsylvania. The marker is inscribed, as translated:

Here lies and rests the body of
Johannes Rapp
Born 19 Dec 1783
Died 27 July 1812

The clay on potter’s wheel
awaits that dissolution reveals
the precious salt of new,
joyously resurrected life.

No, this is not my usual Tombstone Tuesday post. This is not a west central Ohio tombstone.  

At first glance you would not recognize this area is a burial ground, the final resting place for nearly 100 people. The Harmonist Cemetery looks like a flat grassy area, enclosed by an old limestone wall. The enclosed area is roughly 80 x 140 feet.

Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

You enter the cemetery through the unique revolving stone gate on the east side. The arch above the stone gate bears an inscription that is no longer legible.

Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

There is only one tombstone in the cemetery, that of Johannes Rapp, the son of Harmony Society founder George Rapp. The lone tombstone is leaning against the inner south wall.

Johannes Rapp tombstone, Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

The weekend before last we traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, where I gave my Rocks of Ages tombstone talk at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Middle Lancaster Historic Records Committee. My cousin Linda, who lives in Harmony, invited me to speak to the group, who met in a beautifully renovated old one-room schoolhouse. We stayed with Linda a couple days and also had a very nice visit with her mother [my aunt Ruth], who will celebrate her 100th birthday next month.

Karen & Linda, Harmonist Cemetery, 2019.

The weather was very nice when we arrived and Linda was our guide on a walking tour around Harmony. It is a beautiful historic town with many nice old buildings. For years Linda and Ruth have been involved in the Harmony Historical Society and Museum, which preserves the history of the Harmonites.

Historical marker, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

The historical sign by the Harmony Museum gives a brief history of the town:

Harmony. First home of Harmony Society, founded 1804, by George Rapp and German followers. In 1814 moved to New Harmony, Indiana, and settled at Economy in present Ambridge, Beaver County, in 1825.

George Rapp, from Wuerttemberg, came to America seeking religious freedom for himself and his followers, called Harmonists. The group was a communal society.

In 1814 the Harmonists sold the town of Harmony to the Mennonites and moved to Indiana Territory, where they founded town of New Harmony, along the Wabash River. They moved back to Pennsylvania in 1824 and founded the town of Economy, but since they chose a celibate lifestyle, they eventually died out. The Mennonite community lasted in Harmony until 1904.

But what about this cemetery with only one tombstone?

The Harmonists’ funeral services were simple and brief. They prayed over the body and sprinkled the body with flower petals to symbolize eternal life. Then they buried the body without marking it with a tombstone.

About 100 Harmonists are buried in the Harmonist Cemetery but only one has a tombstone. That one tombstone records the life and death of Johannes Rapp, son of the Society’s founder George Rapp. The marker leans against the south wall and does not really mark his grave.

The marker was donated by a non-Harmonist after Johannes Rapp was killed in an industrial accident in 1812. The Society reluctantly accepted the donation. 

Revolving gate, Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

Revolving gate, Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

In 1869 the Mennonites built the limestone wall around the Harmonite Cemetery. The entrance to the cemetery is a very unique revolving stone gate, symbolizing the soul’s entrance into the afterlife. The gate weighs about a ton but will open with moderate pressure. Supposedly the gate will open with just one finger, but my cousin Linda had to apply a little more pressure to open it.

Johannes Rapp, Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

On the historical sign by Rapp’s the tombstone:

Surveyor Johannes Georg Rapp was the only son of Harmony Society founder Johann Georg Rapp. His wedding to Johana Diem was performed in Harmony by his father Nov. 15, 1807. Their daughter Gertrude was born Aug. 31, 1808. Johannes died of tuberculosis two years after he “strained himself, and injured his breasts” while helping to put grain in the attic granary of the Society store on the diamond. This stone, origin unknown, is the sole exception to the Society practice of not marking graves. It previously faced east about eight feet from here and, after breaking, was moved against the wall before the mid-1930s. The inscribed poem’s “salt” is an alchemistic reference to the body and wisdom. A core principal of alchemy, the medieval science and philosophy significant to Georg Rapp, was the concept of transmutation—gold from lead, health from illness, youth from old age. [The tombstone inscription is written.]

Sign outside Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

Sign outside the cemetery entrance, as translated:

The Harmony Society covered its unmarked graves with rocks and fenced the cemetery. Elias Zeigler was paid $6,030 in 1869 to wall it with stones quarried from a hillside near the Little Connoquenessing, a mile to the northeast, that were shaped and laid by Charles, Jacob and George Cable. The unique Mosaic tablets gate weight more than a ton. Exposure had obliterated German inscriptions above the gate.

Across Top:
Here rest 100 members of the Harmony Society who died from 1805 to 1815

Center Panel:
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall awaken me from the earth. Job 19:25

Blessed and Holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; over such the second death hath no power but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Revelation 20:6

Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life

Left Arch:
I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me shall live though he die. (John 11:25

Right Arch:
The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be transfigured. 1 Corinthians 15:52

Arch above revolving gate, Harmonist Cemetery, Harmony, PA. (2019 photo by Karen)

Nov 08

A Story for Veterans Day

This coming Monday, 11 November 2019, we commemorate Veterans Day. Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day was created to recognize of the end of World War I. Fighting between the Allied nations and Germany ceased on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. That date is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”  Veterans Day was made a legal holiday in 1938. Now we take the day to honor all U.S. military veterans.

I posted the following blog post for Veterans Day 2013. I am re-posting it today because it is one of my favorite family stories concerning my dad, WWII veteran Herb Miller.

PFC Herb Miller, WWII.

One of the great things about writing family history blog posts is being contacted by distant relatives from all over the world. Last summer [2013] I received an e-mail from Friedemann, a distant Rueck relative who lives in Germany. We shared family information and discovered that we both had knowledge of the following story that occurred in Germany during World War II.

My dad’s grandparents, Jacob and Christena (Rueck) Miller were German immigrants. Christena Rueck (1858-1945) immigrated about 1880 with her immediate family—her daughter, parents, siblings, and her male cousin.

The Ruecks were from the Crailsheim and Appensee area of Württemberg, and according to Friedemann, one of the main reasons they left Germany was the lack of farmland on which to raise their large family. Our branch of the family immigrated but many Rueck relatives remained in Germany. All through the years Christena and her family in America kept in contact with their Rueck relatives across the ocean.

Christena (Rueck) Miller with daughter Clara (c1900)

Jacob Miller passed away in 1918 and after that his widow Christena (Rueck) lived with my dad’s family for a while on the Miller farm. She was still living when my dad went off to Germany to fight in WWII.

My dad said that his grandmother Christena told him he should visit some of his Rueck relatives while he was in Germany. She specifically mentioned her first cousin, Babette “Barbara” (Rueck) Leiberich, who was also my dad’s great-aunt and Friedemann’s great-grandmother.

At some point, when my dad was in Germany during the war [more likely during the occupation time after the war] he took a train to Barbara’s home, introduced himself, and stayed there overnight. During the visit he also met some Rueck cousins. I am not sure when or how he managed this visit.

I mentioned this story to Friedemann in one of my e-mails and asked him if he had ever heard anything about this incident. He said that he had heard the very same story from his mother!

His mother told him that one night after the war an unknown American soldier knocked on Barbara Leibrich’s door. The soldier went on to explain that he was a Rueck descendant and that his grandmother was Christena Rueck, who had immigrated to America decades before.

That young American soldier was my dad.

Herb Miller, US Army, WWII.

Friedemann believes that Barbara was probably at the home of relatives in Appensee at that time because Barbara’s house in Crailsheim had been completely destroyed during the war. Barbara may have written Christena about her house and told Christena where she was living after it was destroyed.

Back then, none of the Ruecks in Germany spoke any English and Friedemann supposes that his mother was the translator. She would have been about 15 years old at the time and was a good English student.

Friedemann said that one April during the war the Americans reached the old and beautiful city of Crailsheim and conquered it without resistance. But several days later fanatic Nazi troops came and took the town back. He said many American soldiers died during the fighting and the center of the city was completely destroyed. That was probably when Barbara’s home and all her possessions, including family papers, were destroyed.

It is a tragedy to think that relatives may have fought other relatives during the war. Friedemann mentioned that several Rueck family members, including his uncle, died during the war.

Rueck sisters in Germany, bef. 1942. Left to right, front: Barbara, Rosine; back: Margarete, Regina.

While e-mailing Friedemann I discovered that we also have another connection. My cousin and her mother [my aunt—my dad’s sister] visited Friedemann and his family in 1970. What a small world!

We owe all of our veterans a big Thank You for their service to our country.

Remember to thank a veteran this coming Veterans Day and remember those veterans who are no longer with us.

Nov 05

Tombstone Tuesday–Frederick G. & Minnie A. (Roehm) Schinnerer

Frederick & Minnie (Roehm) Schinnerer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Frederick G. and Minnie A. (Roehm) Schinnerer, located in row 6 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Frederick G.

Minnie A.

George “Frederick” Schinnerer was born 16 February 1861, the first child born to Martin and Mary (Schumm) Schinnerer. Frederick was baptized 17 February 1861, with George Schumm and Frederick Schinnerer serving as his sponsors.

Frederick’s parents, Martin and Mary (Schumm) Schinnerer, had 5 more children after Frederick. Their last child, Johann Ludwig, was born 17 August 1870 and died 14 days later, on 31 August 1870. The mother Mary (Schumm) Schinnerer died a day later, on 1 September 1870. Martin Schinnerer then married “Rosina” Maria Schumm on 2 March 1871 and they eventually had 3 children of their own.

The Martin Schinnerer family in 1880: Martin, 46; Rosina M, 32; Frederick G, 19; Henry A, 17; John J, 15; Susannah B, 13; Andrew L, and John F, 4. [1]

Frederick Schinnerer married Minnie Roehm on 8 September 1889 at Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm, where both of them were members.

Maria Wilhelmine Amalia “Minnie” Roehm was born 28 January 1871, the daughter of John and Anna Rosina (Schumm) Roehm. She was baptized 30 January 1871, with Mrs. Maria Barbara Germann, Mrs. Wilhemine Schumm, and Mrs. Amalia Schumm serving as her sponsors.

The John Roehm household in 1880: John, 37; Anna R, 34; Minnie M W, 8; Andres F G 6; Julia Ann, 5; Paulina S, 4; and Mary H, 2. The father John was a farmer. [2]

Frederick and Minnie Schinnerer, married in 1889, had 5 children by the time the 1900 census was taken. The Frederick Schinnerer family in 1900, living in Willshire Township: Fred G, 39; Minnie, 29; Alma, 8; Martha, 6; Herman, 4; Carl, 2; Paula, 0; and Delton Bohlembach, 21, farm laborer. The father Frederick was a farmer and the family lived east of Willshire. [3]

The Frederick Schinnerer family in 1910: Frederick, 49; Minnie, 39; Alma, 18; Martha, 16; Herman, 14; Carl, 12; Paula, 9; Gerhart, 6; and Arthur, 4. [4]

The Frederick Schinnerer family in 1920: Frederick, 58; Minnie, 48; Alma, 28; Martha, 26; Herman, 23; Gerhardt, 16; and Arthur, 14. [5]

By 1930 Frederickm 69, and Millie, 59, lived with two of their children Alma Schinnerer, 38, Arthur Schinnerer, 24, in the large white Schinnerer house just east of Willshire, where Frederick farmed. [6]

Frederick Schinnerer died in Willshire Township from a stroke on 24 September 1935, at the age of 74 years, 7 months, and 8 days. He was buried on the 27th. [7]

In 1940 widow Minnie Schinnerer, 69 lived with her daughter Alma, 48, and son Arthur Schinnerer and his family, likely living in Friedrich Schinnerer’s (1824-1905) old house just east of Willshire. Arthur was married by this time and had a year-old son, Joseph. [8]

Minnie Roehm died in Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana, from complications of heart disease on 31 December 1953. She was 82 years old and was buried on 3 January 1954. [9]

Frederick and Minnie (Roehm) Schinnerer, had the following children:
Alma Rosina Elizabeth (1891-1977), never married
Martha Juliana Louisa (1893-1989), married George “William” Joseph Schinnerer
Herman George Ludwig (1896-1954), married Norma Emilie Nofer
Karl Friedrich (1898-1964), married Ella Thomas
Paula Ida (1900-1912)
Gerhardt Johan (1903-1953), married Lillian Marcella Buechner
Arthur Heinrich Ludwig (1905-1961), married Helen Rosetta Spring

[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 154, p.450D, family 135, Martin Shinerer; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 28 Oct 2019). 

[2] 1880 U. S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 154, p.449B, family 123, John Roehm; digital image by subscription,  ( : viewed 28 Oct 2019).

[3] 1900 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 97, p.9, dwelling 179, family 193, Fred G Schinerer; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 13 Oct 2019). 

[4] 1910 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 114, p.3A, dwelling & family 51, Frederic Schimerer; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 13 Oct 2019).

[5] 1920 U. S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, Ed 146, p.6A, dwelling 116, family 117, Fred G Schinnerer; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 21 Oct 2019).

[6] 1930 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, Ed 24, p.2A, dwelling 27, family 28, Fredrick G. Schinnerer; digital image by subscription,  ( : viewed 21 Oct 2019).

[7] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” Willshire, Van Wert, Frederich G Schinnerer, 24 Sep 1935; database with images, ( : viewed 21 Oct 2019).

[8] 1940 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 81-28, p.10A, house visited 195, Minnie Schinnerer; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 20 Oct 2019).

[9] Indiana, Death Certificates, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1953, Roll 12, Wilhelmina Rosina Schinnerer, 21 Dec 1953; database on-line,

Nov 01

A Few More Photos & Articles, 1918 Dynamiting of Schumm School

Last week I posted a photo of the exterior of Schumm’s Parochial School, after it was dynamited in the early hours of Sunday, 20 October 1918.

Schumm Parochial School after 20 October 1918 dynamiting.

The dynamiting of the small parochial school was big news for this area and across the country as well. Many newspapers covered the story. This past week I looked through some newspapers on-line and found news articles and a couple more photos of the school and of Zion Lutheran Church.

These three photos were in The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette the week after the dynamiting. I assume a news photographer came from Fort Wayne and took these photos soon after the bombing. [1]

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 27 Oct 1918, p.3B.

Caption below the photos: Church edifice of Zion’s German Lutheran Congregation at Schumm, Ohio, and the school building which was partly wrecked at an early hour last Sunday by unknown persons who placed a heavy charge of dynamite under the structure. The interior of the school room as it appeared on the morning following the explosion is shown in one of the pictures. [1]

The first of the three photos shows Zion Lutheran Church and their parochial school across the road. I find this photo interesting because it was taken before the church addition was built and before the school was taken down, quite a few years later.  

Zion Lutheran Church & School, The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 27 Oct 1918, p.3B.

The second photo is of the interior of the school. You can see the blackboard and some overturned desks and some structural debris and damage from the explosion.

Interior of Schumm Parochial School after 1918 bombing, The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 27 Oct 1918, p.3B.

The third photo is of the outside damage to the school, where the dynamite was placed. This photo is taken from a slightly different angle than the photo I posted last week, the first photo in today’s post.   

Dynamite damage to Schumm Parochial School, The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 27 Oct 1918, p.3B.

Caption below the above photo: East wall of Lutheran parish school at Schumm, Ohio, after the explosion.

Newspapers across the country carried the story. This news story printed in a Helena, Montana, newspaper:

By Associated Press.
Van Wert, O., Oct. 20—A German Lutheran school at Schumm, a village southwest of here, was wrecked by dynamite early this morning. The dynamiters are said to have been traced across the line to into Indiana. The Rev. George Mayers [sic], teacher in the school, was born in Wisconsin of Swiss parents. [2]

“…village southwest of here…” Hmmm. I don’t think they really knew where Schumm, Ohio, is located. It would be a stretch to say Schumm is southeast of Helena, let alone southwest of Helena.

The Pittsburgh Press, The Washington Post, and several other papers across the county also reported the very same story, almost verbatim, all saying Schumm is “southwest of here.” [3] [4] Apparently Schumm is southwest of everywhere. They obviously picked up the story from one source and never bothered to change the town’s location. Some papers did spell Rev. Meyer’s name correctly.

The Washington Post titled their article “German School Blown Up. Wreckers of Ohio Institution Said to Have Come From Indiana.” Blown up is somewhat of an exaggeration, but I like that they called the little school an Ohio Institution.

Another exaggeration from the Evansville Journal, Evansville, Indiana: “Lutheran Church Blasted by Mob.” I don’t believe they ever determined it was a mob.

Zion Lutheran Parochial School, Schumm, Ohio (built in 1899)

You gotta love newspaper research. Such interesting reading.

[1] “The Journal-Gazette’s Sunday Picture Page,” The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 27 Oct 1918, p.3B;, viewed 30 Oct 2019.

[2] “Dynamite Lutherans,” The Helena Independent-Record, Helena, Montana, 21 Oct 1918, p.2;, viewed 30 Oct 2019.

[3] “Ohio Lutheran School Wrecked by Dynamite,” The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 21 Oct 1918, p.7;, viewed 30 Oct 2019.

[4] “German School Blown Up. Wreckers of Ohio Institution Said to Have Come From Indiana.” The Washington Post, Washington DC, 21 Oct 1918, p.3;, viewed 30 Oct 2019.

Oct 29

Some Cemetery Statue Photos

Halloween is this Thursday and today I am taking a break from my usual Tombstone Tuesday to instead post some of my favorite photos that I have taken of cemetery statues.

First, the beautiful Kuhl monument in Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio. This couple is gazing at each other for all eternity. 

Kuhl monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

Kuhl monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

Kuhl monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

Kuhl monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

Kuhl monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

Kuhl monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Ohio City, Ohio. (2014 photo by Karen)

Beautiful! I wonder if the Kuhl statues actually resemble the couple.

Some other beautiful statues in local cemeteries:

Arnet monument, Elm Grove Cemetery, St. Marys, Ohio. (2013 photo by Karen)

Closeup of Arnet statue, Elm Grove Cemetery, St. Marys, Ohio. (2013 photo by Karen)

Mumaugh monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Lima, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

Closeup of Mumaugh monument, Woodlawn Cemetery, Lima, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

A statue of a young woman who looks very pensive:

Union Cemetery, Greenville, Darke Co. Ohio (2006 photo by Karen)

Armstrong monument, Elm Grove Cemetery, St. Marys, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

Closeup of Armstrong monument, Elm Grove Cemetery, St. Marys, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

The statue of a young child:

Greenlawn Cemetery, Wapakoneta, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

Greenlawn Cemetery, Wapakoneta, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

This lovely angel statue is only a few miles away in Kessler/Liberty Cemetery. There is one just like it at Riverside Cemetery, near Geneva, Indiana:

Bollenbacher monument, Kessler/Liberty Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

Closeup of Bollenbacher monument, Kessler/Liberty Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

Closeup of Bollenbacher monument, Kessler/Liberty Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio (2013 photo by Karen)

Union Cemetery, Greenville, Darke County, Ohio (2006 photo by Karen)

Inscription on the Mumaugh monument, Woodland Cemetery, Lima, Ohio:
Each departed friend
Is a magnet
That attracts us
To the next world.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at these monument photos.

Until next week…

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