Jun 19

Tombstone Tuesday–Christian Roehm

Christian Roehm, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Christian Roehm, located in row 2 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Christian
Son of
Andrew & [unreadable]
ROEHM
Died
12 July 1863
Aged
13 Y, 11M, 12 D

Christian Roehm was born in Ohio, likely in Tully Township, Van Wert County, on 26 July 1849 to Andreas “Andrew” (1814-1902) and Catharine (Bienz) (1819-1858) Roehm.

His mother’s name on the tombstone is unreadable now, but when the Van Wert County Chapter OGS read the cemetery in 1992, they read her name as “Freidrica.” Friedericka would have been Christian’s step-mother and that may very well be the name inscribed on the tombstone. Christian’s birth mother Catharine died in 1858.

Christian Roehm’s parents Andrew and Catharine (Bienz) married on 16 August 1840 in Van Wert County, Ohio. They were both born in Germany and his father Andrew was a farmer. [1]

The Andrew Roehm family lived in Tully Township in 1850. Their household in 1850: Andrew, 37; Catherine, 31; Mary, 9; John, 7; Elizabeth, 5; Jacob, 3; and Christian, 1. All their children were born in Ohio. [2] Christian’s baptism is not recorded in Zion Schumm’s records, perhaps because they did not live in Willshire Township and did not attend Zion Schumm at that time.

Sometime during the next 10 years the family moved to Willshire Township. Christian’s mother Catherine died in 1858 and the Andrew Roehm family was enumerated in the census two years later. Their family in 1860: Andrew, 45; Mary, 18; John, 16; Elizabeth, 14; Jacob, 13; Christina, 11; Henry, 9; Emanuel, 7; and Anna, 3. [3]

The 1860 census was enumerated on 25 July 1960 and Christian’s father Andrew married widow Friedericke (Gutheil) Rettig (1827-1910) a few months later, on 8 November 1860, in Van Wert County. [4] Friedericke had at 5 children from her first marriage to John Rettig. She and Andrew went on to have at least 5 children of their own.

Young Christian Roehm died 12 July 1863. Zion Schumm’s records tell that he suffered from cramps for a year and was found dead one morning.

Christian’s father Andrew Roehm died 4 January 1902. He and his second wife Friedericka are buried a few rows away, in row 7.

 

[1] Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, Van Wert County, p.4, Andrew Roehm & Catharine Bientz, 16 Aug 1840; database & image on-line, Ancestry.com; film no. 001015859.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Tully, Van Wert, Ohio, p.189A, dwelling 406, family 425, Andrew Reem; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm M432, roll 736.

[3] 1860 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p.427, dwelling 1099, family 1093, Andrew Rackin; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 805045, NARA microfilm M653, roll 1045.

[4] Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, Van Wert County, p.232, Andrew Roehm & Fredrika Guthial, 8 Nov 1860; database & image on-line, Ancestry.com; film no. 001015859.

Jun 15

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 23)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944. After he arrived in Europe he was assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division. The 84th was known as the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and later in parts of Luxembourg, Germany, and France.

Herbert M. Miller

I continue with the transcriptions of the letters my dad wrote home while he served his country during WWII. The war was over by the time he wrote these letters and he was serving with the Occupation Force in Germany. His letters give us an idea of what things were like for him during that time.

The first two letters are V-mail letters, tiny letters, reduced in size and rather difficult to read. My dad does some complaining in the third letter, which is rather unusual because he usually didn’t complain much.

Sgt. Fenn, Cpt. McGee, Sgt. Mueller, Cpl Thornton, Herb Miller; Schriesheim, Germany 1945.

V-mail letter from Pfc Herbert Miller to Em & Jack Weitz, Rockford, Ohio:

19 June 1945
Germany

Dear Em & Jack,

It’s about 4:30 in the morning and just got off guard duty. Only have 1½ any more so it isn’t any use to go to bed.

How is everything coming along around Chatt? Do you have all of the crops out yet? I don’t have the least idea where I’m going to be sent but right now we are doing the job of occupational troops and if we stay here 6 months that means 6 months less in the Pacific. The town we are in now is about the size of Celina. These German towns are very old and historic. This particular town has a castle that was built sometime in the 13th century. It is half in ruins, not from the war, and sits right on top of a hill. From there you can see for miles and miles. Oh, yes, the ground is very hilly around here, something like Alabama.

There are very few passes given out. Four men out of forty got passes in the last 6 months. The passes are for Paris, Holland, and Belgium. You don’t need a pass in Germany. You can go into town any night or every night But you can’t associate with the German farms [?] homes [?].

Must close for now.

Love,
Herbie

He was very likely referring to Schriesheim Castle, where he took these photos.

Sgt. Mueller, Cpl. Meyer, Cpl. Thronton, Herbert Miller; Shriesheim Castle, Germany, 1945.

My dad mentions going to the Pacific in the letter above. The rumor was that if the war had continued the 84th would have been sent to the Pacific, but the war with Japan ended in September 1945.

V-mail letter from Pfc Herbert Miller to Em & Jack Weitz, Rockford, Ohio:

30 June 1845
Germany

Dear Em & Jack,

It’s Saturday afternoon and decided to write a couple of letters. How is the farming coming along? OK I hope. Are there any ripe tomatoes yet? How about the corn? Is it up yet? I imagine it is and is getting pretty tall. They don’t raise any corn at all around here or anywhere in Germany. They raise lots of beets and grass [?]. Where I’m at now is way up I the hills, just about like Alabama, hot in the day and cool at night. I’ve had two baths [?] at American bases since I’ve been over here.

Today was pay day. I’ve been sending $15 home every month until the last two times. I’m going to save it for when I go on pass. It will probably be quite a while yet.

I’ve been in the Army a year now. Sure does seem like a long time. In 12 more days I’ll be over seas [?] months.

I must close for now. Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Herbie

Sgt. George Mueller, Schriesheim Castle, Germany, 1945.

From Pfc Herbert Miller to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, Rockford, Ohio. Letter inside stamped Rockford, Ohio, 31 Aug 1945:

10 July 1945
Schriesheim, Germany

Dear Em & Jack,

I received your letter tonight that you mailed July 2, that is 8 days, not so bad. The mail situation is really terrible, when we complain about it they tell us the folks back home have probably stopped writing. There were 14 letters for 160 men. Not very good is it? The day before there were 6 letters and the day before 48. Then they wonder why we feel blue. We were having 3 shows a week and now there is only 2. The theatre is just a small one and only half of the men can go in it. Nobody to talk to. Today for chow we got 1 hot dog, a little sauce on top of it, one biscuit, and a cup of ice water. They are nearly starving us. Then we have 8 hours of training a day. Such a life.

How is farming coming along? Are the crops coming along OK?

Johnies [uncle & aunt, John & Clara (Miller) Reef] asked if we had a refrigerator. I’ve seen two since I’ve been in Germany. The German bread is black and you could leave it sit for a month and it would be just as hard as fresh. They don’t have any fancy food like we do. When we were moving from the Ruhr to the Rhine and from the Rhine to the Elbe, we were moving so fast. We would come or move so fast that when we would clean out a house they would be cooking a meal and it would be on the stove.

I haven’t received a box for quite a while so I am going to request one.

Love,
Herbie

P.S. Please send a box of food.

Taken from Schriesheim Castle, Germany, 1945.

Getting letters and packages was very important to the troops. I am sure they looked forward to mail-time very much and were probably very disappointed when they did not receive anything. 

Jun 12

Tombstone Tuesday–Eva M.K. Sauer

Eva M.K. Sauer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Eva Sauer, located in row 2 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Eva M.K.
Tochter
Von Adam U.
Magdalena
SAUER
Geboren 2 Dec 1887
Gestorben 21 Oct 1888

Eva M.K., daughter of Adam and Magdalena Sauer, born 2 December 1887, died 21 October 1888.

Christened as Maria Eva Katharina, “Eva” Sauer was born in Willshire Township, Van Wert County, Ohio, on 2 December 1887, the daughter of Adam and Magdalena “Lena“ (Dietrich) Sauer. [1] According to Zion Schumm’s records she was baptized at home on 18 December 1887 with Mrs. Maria Grund and Maria Buchner serving as her baptismal sponsors.

Eva’s father Adam was born in Germany and 1900 census indicates that he immigrated in 1881. [2] Her mother Lena was born in Ohio.

Eva Sauer died of brain fever at home at 9:30 on the morning of 24 October 1888. She was only 10 months and 22 days old and was buried on 25 October. The church records give her funeral text as Jeremiah 31:3.

Zion Schumm records the births and baptisms of four additional children born to Adam and Magdalena Sauer: Maria Anna Sauer, born 17 March 1885; Anna Katharina Sophia Sauer, born 15 June 1886; Heinrich Johannes Sauer, born 17 September 1889; and Adolph Reinhard Sauer, born 29 October 1891.

Sometime between 1900 and 1910 the Adam Sauer family moved from Van Wert County to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Adam had been a farmer in Ohio but worked as a carpenter in Indiana. The 1910 enumeration indicates that four of the five Sauer children were living. [3]

Adam Sauer died in 1918 [4] and his widow Lena (Dietrich) Sauer died in 1940. [5] They are both buried in Concordia Lutheran Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 

[1] “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images, FamilySearch.org, Eva M Sauer, 2 Dec 1887; Births, Willshire Twp, Van Wert Co, Vol.2, p.389, no. 85; FHL microfilm 1015856.

[2] 1900 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 98, p.12, dwelling 233, family 238, Adam Sauer; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T623.

[3] 1910 U.S. Census, Fort Wayne Ward 6, Allen, Indiana, ED 49, p.18A, dwelling 416, family 423, Adam Sauer; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1374352, NARA microfilm T624, roll 339.

[4] Find a Grave.com, Adam Sauer memorial no. 34635449.

[5] Find a Grave.com, Adam Sauer memorial no. 34635564.

Jun 08

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 22)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944. After he arrived in Europe he was assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division. The 84th was known as the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and later in parts of Luxembourg, Germany, and France.

Herbert M. Miller, WWII.

I have been transcribing and posting the letters my dad wrote home during the war but today I am going to take a break from the letters and write about some war stories my dad told me back in the late 1990s.

After the Battle of the Bulge my dad, Herb, fought in the German towns of Aachen and Linnich before crossing the Rhine River and arriving in Koln.

Herb volunteered to be in a task force under General Church. The task force was one of several and consisted of groups men who rode on the backs of Sherman tanks, plowing northward through Germany from the Rhine River to the Ruhr River. There were several tanks and 5-6 men would ride on the back of each tank. The infantry would follow, riding in trucks behind the tanks.

84th Division Sherman Tank, Germany.

Some of the German towns Herb fought in during this time included Koln, Lindern, Baal, Dulken, Krefeld, and Duisberg.  He said there was not much fighting at this time and that German troops watched as they went by. Sometimes they would find German officers in homes, sitting down to eat. At night he would help guard and protect the tank and wasn’t able to get much sleep.

When they reached the Rhine River Herb traveled by truck, moving toward the Weser River. During that time period he fought in the German towns of Wesel, Lembeck, Munster, and Bielefeld.

When they arrived at the Weser River he guarded a bridge there for 3-4 days. The Germans tried to bomb the bridge with a German jet, the first German jet Herb ever saw. After that they fought in Hannover and Haardt, where he said there was some very tough fighting.

Reichsautobahn. The beginning of the German autobahns, under the Third Reich.

My dad said that his fox-hole buddy was an American-born Serbian who could speak several languages. Some German citizens told his buddy that they were forced to dig a very large grave and that many bodies were buried there. The soldiers alerted their commanders and they did find a mass grave.

Soon after that they liberated two German Jewish concentration camps–Ahlem, close to Hannover, and Salzwedel, by the Elbe River. At first they thought the people there were prisoners of war. The prisoners were very thin and he saw rows of wooden shelves for sleeping and saw some gas chambers. He said they de-loused those who were held there and gave them some of their rations. He also said the Army had no trouble taking over the camp and that a few Jews helped overpower some German guards when they knew the Americans were coming.

I found several links to the Ahlem Concentration Camp on-line and there are a couple accounts describing its liberation by the 84th Infantry Division on 10 April 1945. [The 84th]…discovered an undetermined number of starving and ill Jewish prisoners. Reports range from 30 to 250 persons. The SS guards had abandoned these prisoners when they evacuated the camp, taking with them some 600 “healthy” prisoners. Of the prisoners sent on this death march, only 450 made it to the Bergen-Belsen camp. The SS guards had shot many of those who were unable to maintain the pace of the march… [1]

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also served in the 84th, in Company G of the 335th, and he was there at Ahlem. Kissinger described what he saw as “…the single most shocking experience I have ever had…” Another account called the camp a horrific sight. [2]

The 84th liberated the concentration camp at Salzwedel on 14 April 1945. Conditions there were also deplorable. [Salzwedel was] …a camp formed by the SS in July 1944 to supply forced labor for a German munitions factory. The unit found some 3,000 female inmates, mainly Jewish women who had been transported from the Auschwitz camp complex, and several hundred political prisoners. The US Army reported that sanitary conditions at the camp were poor because of overcrowding and a lack of water. Some 100 of these prisoners were seriously ill and 33 of them required immediate medical attention at a local hospital…  [1]

The war ended for Herb when he was in Wittenberg, by the Elbe River. They took a farm house there and met the Russians.

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

But my dad did not have the 85 points that were needed to return home, so he was put on Occupation Duty at Weinheim, Laudenbach, Oberlandenbeck and Schriesheim. During his occupation time he took part in destroying train-car loads of Luger weapons. Later he was appointed money order clerk at the military post office in Heidelberg.

You start to get a feeling of why so many WWII veterans did not talk much about their war service. I can’t imagine what they went through and what they saw. We must never forget, but always remember the sacrifices made for freedom and humanity.

 

[1] 84 Infantry Division, Holocaust Encyclopedia, on-line.

[2] Liberating Ahlem Concentration Camp: The Vernon Tott Photographic Collection, on-line.

Jun 05

Tombstone Tuesday–Georg Johann Fisher

Georg Johann Fisher, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2018 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Georg Johann Fisher, located in row 12 of Kessler Cemetery (aka Liberty Cemetery), Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Georg Johann
Son of
John & Mary Fisher
Died
26 April 1878
Age 21 days

A few weeks ago, when I wrote the Tombstone Tuesday about the married couple John Christian and Mary Ann (Bollenbacher) Fisher, I mentioned that I had accounted for 8 of their 9 children. Now I believe that Georg Johann Fisher was their other child who I could not identify.

Georg Johann Fisher’s tombstone is so weathered that it is illegible. Still, hoping to read the inscription on it, we went over to Kessler Cemetery one day last week and photographed it when the sun was shining directly on the face of the stone, but we still could not get a good reading.

So I consulted one of the Mercer County Cemetery Inscriptions books, read at Kessler Cemetery in 1990. They were able to read the tombstone 28 years ago and the above inscription that I used is from that reading. His Find a Grave memorial also agrees with the inscription book.

Although I could not find his birth or death recorded in Mercer County, there are several things that indicate that Georg Johann was probably the child of John Christian and Mary Ann.

Two of John Christian and Mary Ann (Bollenbacher) Fisher’s other young children are buried next to him. Georg Johann’s tombstone is to the left (north). Louis C. Fisher (1874-1876) is buried in the middle and Carolina E. Fisher (1872-1873) is buried to the south. Carolina’s is the broken marker on the ground. Their parents are buried a few rows away.

Three children of JC & MA (Bollenbacher) Fisher: Georg Johann, Louis C, & Carolina E; row 12, Kessler Cemetery. (2018 photo by Karen)

The three children died within a few years of each other and it would not be unusual that, as siblings, they were buried next to each other.

All the markers are about the same size and they all have a flying dove carved into the top. The dove inscription was often used as a symbol for young children, indicating innocence and purity.

According to the tombstone inscriptions, all three children probably had the same parents, John/JC and Mary Ann/MA.

Unfortunately, I could only make out a few letters on the marker but the inscription was likely in German, like his two siblings’ tombstones.

As calculated from his tombstone, Georg Johann Fisher would have been born 5 April 1878, the same day as his brother Adam John “AJ” (1878-1949). Twins! His mother had another set of twins two years later, Mary Elizabeth and William Michael, born in 1880.

All three of these of the young Fisher children lived and died between census enumerations and very little is known about them.

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