Dec 30

Happy New Year! But Who Is Sylvester?

Years ago we used this small 1935 hymnal for our Sunday School opening service.

1935 Sunday School Hymnal

The hymns are arranged by the church season and there are five hymns for saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming in the New Year–a season named Sylvester and New Year in this hymn book.

Sylvester and New Year Hymn

I always wondered–just who was this Sylvester? I know a hymn that mentions Ebeneezer but I had never heard of Sylvester. So I did a little searching.

Sylvester was a fourth century Roman Catholic Pope from 31 January 314 until his death on 31 December 335. He oversaw the First Council of Nicaea and the conversion of Rome’s Emperor Constantine I to Christianity. Sylvester was later made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, one of the early saints who was not a martyr. His name is also spelled Silvester, Szilveszter, Sylwester.

Saint Sylvester Day became associated with New Year’s Eve in 1582, when the Gregorian calendar was reformed. His feast day is held on the anniversary of his death, on 31 December in the west and on 2 January in the east, in the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Many European countries, especially the German-speaking ones, celebrate Saint Sylvestor Day. In fact, “Silvester” is the German name for New Year’s Eve. They celebrate Sylvester Day with fireworks, champagne, and a lot of noise-making. The loud noise is important because the fireworks, firecrackers, drums, and banging of kitchen utensils was considered a way to drive away evil winter spirits centuries ago.

Other Sylvester traditions include swinging a small item back and forth like a pendulum and asking it a yes or no question, the answer being determined by how the item swings. Another Sylvester tradition, known as Bibelstechen, involves opening the Bible to a random page and pointing to a random verse with eyes closed. The verse should provide some advice for the coming year.

I was very surprised when I did a Google search for Sylvester and a link to the Harmony Museum website in Harmony, Pennsylvania, popped up. My cousin Linda lives in Harmony and her mother, my aunt Ruth, lives in nearby Zelienople. I was even at this museum years ago.

Harmony was settled by German immigrants in 1804 and the town still celebrates “Silvester” Day on New Year’s Eve. Thousands gather as they celebrate on German Time. Midnight in Germany is 6:00 p.m. in Harmony.

Their “Silvester” Celebration consists of family-oriented activities that reflect their historic German roots. Activities include a museum tour, Christmas tree throwing contest,  comedy film “Dinner for One” [popularly viewed on New Year’s Eve in Germany], Bleigiessen [the German tradition of examining the shape of a piece of melted lead dropped into water to foretell what the New Year may hold], pork and sauerkraut dinner, a 5-K run/walk and a 1 mile fun run, music, beverages and snacks, surprises at town shops, and a ball drop to signal the arrival of 2016 at midnight in Germany, and spectacular fireworks. On New Year’s Day there is a Polar Plunge fundraiser.

Zion Chatt used to have its own New Year’s Eve celebration and the young adults of the church used to perform a play. My uncle recalls that a stage was set up in the corner of the basement, in front of the entrance to the boiler room. It must have been quite an event because I hear it attracted many from the area, not just church members. My dad was in the play “Huck Finn” one year. Perhaps they called it a Sylvester celebration.

In later years they still put on a show on New Year’s Eve. They played games mimicking TV shows, such as the Gong Show, and gave prizes.

I am not sure when this tradition died out at our church, but I do not remember attending any New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Happy New Year from Karen’s Chatt! May you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2017.



Saint Sylvester I,,


The Harmony, Harmony, Pennsylvania,

Dec 27

Tombstone Tuesday–Anna Lotter

Anna Lotter, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Anna Lotter located in row 5 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Hier ruhet
Anna Lotter
Gest. 26 Mar
Alter 82 Jahr
7 Mo. U. 5 T

“Here rests Anna Lotter, died 26 March 1890, age 82 years, 7 months, and 5 days.”

According to Zion Chatt’s records Anna Margaretha Lotter was born 21 May 1807 in Zweifelsheim, Bavaria.

In addition to Anna Lotter, Johann “John” Lotter, Peter Lotter, Katharina Lotter, Simon Lotter, and some Lotter children [Anna’s grandchildren], are mentioned in Zion Chatt’s records. Otherwise I am not very familiar with this family. [1]  

John “Peter” Lotter was the son of Anna and was married to Katharina/Catharine Eichler. He usually went by the name of John Peter or Peter.

In 1880 73-year old widowed Anna was living with her son John, his wife Catharina (Kniesel), and her grandson John Christopher Michael in Wapakoneta. Their household in 1880: John, 39; Catharina, 36; Christoff, 8 months, and Anna, 73. John was born in Bavaria, Catharine in Württemberg, Christoff in Ohio, and Anna in Bavaria. [2] Anna is listed as John’s mother here and is identified as John Peter’s mother in Zion Chatt’s records, showing that John and John Peter Lotter were brothers.

The Lotter surname first shows up in Zion Chatt’s communion records, where Johann Lotter was recorded as taking communion on Pentecost in 1875.

Anna Lotter is specifically recorded as Peter’s mother in at least one of the communion records, on Pentecost 1885.

On 13 November 1881, Peter Lotter, his wife, and his mother took communion.

Anna Lotter communed in September 1882, her name recorded as Margaretha. Anna, Peter, and his wife Katharina were listed as members of Zion Chatt.

Peter, Katharina, and Peter’s mother Anna communed on 1 July 1883.

Anna communed on Good Friday 1887, but not Peter, Johann or Katharina.

On 22 February 1890 Mrs. Anna Maria Lotter received Holy Communion at the home of her son Peter Lotter in Adams County, Indiana. Zion’s minister was Rev. Chr. Reichert.

Anna Lotter was probably ill when the pastor visited her and gave her communion at her son’s home. Anna passed away just over a month later. She died of old age on 26 Mar 1890, at the age of 82 years, 7 months, and 5 days, according to her tombstone. The church records indicate she was 82 years, 10 months, and 5 days. She was buried on the 27th with Rev. Chr. Reichert in charge of the service.

Anna Lotter, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

The two conflicting ages make three month difference when calculating her date of birth.


[1] Documented Lotter information, submitted to by T Parkison, indicates that Anna was the daughter of Johann Leonard and Anna Margaretha (Buttner) Amm. This same information indicates that she was married to Johann “Michael” Lotter, who died on the ship to America in July 1874.

[2] 1880 U.S. Census, Wapakoneta, Auglaize, Ohio, ED 3, p.369A, line 46, John Latter; digital image by subscription, ( : accessed 8 Jan 2017); NARA microfilm T9, roll 993.

Dec 23

Merry Christmas from Karen’s Chatt!

Merry Christmas from Karen’s Chatt!

I love old postcards and below are a couple old Christmas post cards that were given to Wilbert Germann. The first is dated 1911 and the other two did not have a postmark. They were probably delivered in person about the same time.

1911 Christmas postcard to Wilbert Germann

Christmas postcard to Wilbert Germann

Christmas postcard to Wilbert Germann

I am doing some last-minute Christmas decorating and found these four 5 x 7 counted x-stitch Santas that I made in 1993 and 1994. I always enjoyed this craft and these are some of my favorite pieces.

I wish all of you a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!


Dec 20

Tombstone Tuesday–Frederick & M. Louisa (Bollenbacher) Berron

Frederick & M. Louisa Berron, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

Frederick & M. Louisa Berron, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Frederick and M. Louisa Berron, located in row 5 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:



Gone but not forgotten

Frederick Berron was in born Petersbach, Saxony, on 24 October 1862, the son of Georg and Katharina (Housenmicht) Berron. His family immigrated sometime after 1868 and it appears they lived in Adams County, Indiana, just across the state line from Chatt. They attended Zion Chatt the late 1800s.

Frederick Berron married Louisa Bollenbacher on 26 November 1889 in Zion Chatt’s rectory. Witnesses to their marriage were Jacob Kühm and Julia Kühm. They were married by Rev. Christian Reichert.

Louisa Bollenbacher was the daughter Jacob Bollenbacher and his second wife Caroline Schaadt. Louisa was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 27 March 1870.

In 1900 Frederick and Louisa lived in Jefferson Township, Adams County, Indiana, where Frederick farmed. In their household in 1900: Frederick, 38; Louisa, 30; Emma, 8; Hulda, 6; Katie, 3; and Fredia, 7 months. Frederick was born in Germany, Louisa in Ohio, and all their children were born in Indiana. Louisa had given birth to 4 children and they were all living. This census report indicates that they had been married 4 years [1896], but that was not accurate since their marriage was recorded in Zion’s records. [1]

In 1910 Frederick lived with two of his children in Jefferson Township, but wife Louisa was absent and Frederick was enumerated as widowed. In the household in 1910: Fred, 47; Carrie, 14; and Fredie, 10. This enumeration was taken 28 April 1910 and Louisa was still living. Perhaps she was ill and living elsewhere? Frederick was a farmer and owned his farm. He could read and write. [2] Frederick lived near the John Caffee family and one of the Caffee Children, Howard, 18 years of age in 1910, eventually married Caroline Miller, my grandfather’s sister.

As far as I can determine Frederick and Louisa Berron had the following children:
Otto (1888-)
Emma Katharina (c1891-1981), married Amos B. Zehr
Hulda Magdalena (c1893-1979), married George Jacob Becher
Jacob Benjamin (1897-1898)
Katie (c1897-)
Frieda Philippina (1900-1994), married Norman Frederick Kreischer

Hulda, Jacob, and Frieda were baptized at Zion Chatt. Otto, Emma, and Frieda were confirmed at Zion Chatt. These records give birth dates and name their father as Frederick Berron. Emma, Hulda, Katie, and Freida were enumerated in the 1900 census as their children.

Louisa (Bollenbacher) Berron died of epilepsy on 5 May 1911, in Washington Township, Adams County, Indiana. She had been afflicted with epilepsy for 20 years. She was 41 years and 13 days old and was buried on the 7th. Fred Berron was the informant for the information on her death certificate. [3]

Frederick died of acute miliary tuberculosis on 2 September 1915 in Jefferson Township, Adams County. According to his death certificate he was 52 years, 10 months, and 28 days old. His death certificate indicates he was the son of Jacob Berron but the informant did not know the name of his mother. Bierie and Yager Funeral Home, Berne, was in charge of the arrangements and he was buried on the 4th. [4]

Zion Chatt’s records agree with most of that information except their records indicate he was 52 years, 10 months, and 9 days old and was buried on the 5th. The church record states that he died cancer and tuberculosis and was survived by his children, brothers and sister.


[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Jefferson, Adams, Indiana, ED 4, p.12A, dwelling/family 209, Frederick Berron; digital image by subscription, ( : accessed 18 Dec 2016); from FHL microfilm 1240357, from NARA microfilm T623, roll 357.

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Jefferson, Adams, Indiana, ED 4, p.9B, dwelling/family 180, Frederick Berron; digital image by subscription, ( : accessed 18 Dec 2016); from FHL microfilm 1374351, from NARA microfilm T624, roll 338.

[3] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, database on-line, ( : accessed 18 Dec 2016), Louisa Berron, 5 May 1911; Indiana State Board of Health, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

[4] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, database on-line, ( : accessed 11 Dec 2016), Fred Berron, 2 Sep 1915; Indiana State Board of Health, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dec 16

Christmas Memories–Simple Angel Figures

I have some angel figures that I set out every year at Christmastime. They are nothing fancy or spectacular, but they are special to me because they are from various events held years ago at Zion Chatt and they bring back memories of Christmases past.

There are three ceramic angel figures from Zion Chatt’s Sunday School, when our son Jeff was little.

The first one is dated 1982, when Jeff was still a baby:

Angel, from 1982.

Angel, 1982.

This angel is dated 1984:

Angel dated 1984.

Angel, 1984.

I have another angel just like the one above with its label still attached to the bottom: Martin Luther Home, Beatrice, Nebraska. It was probably from about the same time period.

Here is a straw angel. As I recall I received it at a Church Women’s Christmas party.

Straw angel.

Straw angel.

I believe this angel was made from a hankie by Dorothy Humbert. She was very crafty and made the most clever gifts and table favors.

Angel made by Dorothy Humbert, from hankie.

Angel made by Dorothy Humbert.

Sometimes the simple things are some of the things you cherish the most.

Below are a couple angels from one of my Nativity sets. These are little more elaborate.


And here is a photo of our granddaughter, who is a very special angel to us:


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