Jan 13

Offering Envelopes, Old and New

The late Don Caffee used to have an amusing little saying about church. He said, “Whenever two or more are gathered, there will be an offering.” This little quip, called a Donism by his son, is fairly accurate.

At the end of every year Zion Chatt’s members get their offering envelopes for the new year and we got our 2017 envelopes a couple weeks ago.

I also have a couple old 1928 offering envelopes that I found among my grandpa Carl Miller’s old papers. Apparently he did not use all of his envelopes that year.

1928 Offering Envelope

These old offering envelopes are really small—just a little over 3½ inches long. I don’t see how they could get very much money in them. I wonder if he put cash or a check in the little envelope.

Today’s offering envelopes are certainly larger than the ones they had about 90 years ago. Today’s envelopes are about 7” long, nearly twice the size of Grandpa’s envelopes.

2017 & 1928 Zion Chatt offering envelopes

I don’t remember an offering envelope quite that small but I do remember when we switched to the larger envelopes that we use today.  I guess they reason that the larger the envelope, the larger the offering will be. It must be a psychological thing.

At Zion, a member gets his/her first packet of offering envelopes soon after he/she is confirmed, at about age 14. Each married couple and each single person gets their own set of envelopes every year.

I do not know when Zion Chatt first started using printed offering envelopes. Early on, members may have just put their money in the offering plate when it was passed to them. Or perhaps they used regular envelops and wrote their name on it.

Today, as in 1928, each member/family has a number on the offering envelope. Grandpa Miller was number 139! Did they have that many members back then? Our membership is smaller today. We are number 2 because our surname is at the beginning of the alphabet.

The Sunday offering provides money to support the church, salaries, maintenance, pay the bills, and support missions.

God loves a cheerful giver!



Jan 10

Tombstone Tuesday–Johann Christopher Michael Lotter

Johann Christopher Michael Lotter, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Johann Christopher Michael Lotter, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Hier Ruhet
Christopher M.
Gest 17 Oct
Alt 15 Jahr
10 Tag

“Here rests Johann Christopher M. Lotter, died 17 October 1894, aged 15 years and 10 days.”

There are only two entries in Zion Chatt’s records for Johann Christopher Michael Lotter—when he was confirmed and when he died.

According to the church death and burial record Johann Christopher Michael Lotter was the son of John Lotter and wife. The wife was not named. The record goes on to tell us that Johann Christopher Michael was born 17 October 1879 in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and died of typhoid on 27 October 1894 in Adams County, Indiana, at the age of 15 years and 10 days.  He was buried on the 28th.  Survivors included his parents and siblings.

Who were his parents? It is complicated because there were actually two John/Johann Lotters mentioned in Zion Chatt’s records and they were both married to women named Catharine–Catharine Eichler and Catharine Kniesel. It appears that one man went by the name of John/Johann and the other went by the name of John “Peter.” I suspect the two were brothers.

It appears that Johann Christopher Michael, was the son of John Lotter and his wife Catharina Kniesel. Several records, including a couple entries in Zion Chatt’s records point to this:

Johann Christopher Michael Lotter was confirmed at Zion Chatt in 1893 and his father was shown as John Lotter. In that same confirmation class was John George Lotter, born 20 January 1878 in Adams County, Indiana, the son of John P. Lotter. John Lotter was differentiated from John P. Lotter in this record.

The church records document that John Peter Lotter and his wife Catharine (Eichler) had a son Lorenz, born 6 June 1880, and baptized at Zion Chatt on 18 July 1880. His birth would have been about 7½ months after the birth of Johann Christopher Michael Lotter. It is possible that Catharine (Eichler) gave birth to another child after 7½ months, but not very likely.

In 1880 Johann Christopher Michael Lotter, indexed on Ancestry.com as Christoff Latter, was living with his parents John and Catharina 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. The 73-year old Anna was John’s widowed mother. [1]

This 1880 census was actually a very good find because it shows where the mother Anna was living in 1880. Plus, since Anna is listed as John’s mother in the 1880 census and Anna is identified as John Peter’s mother in Zion Chatt’s records, that information from both records indicates that John and John Peter were brothers.

Their mother Anna eventually went to live with John Peter in Adams County, Indiana, shortly before her death and she is buried in Zion Chatt’s cemetery, next to her son John Peter.


[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Wapakoneta, Auglaize, Ohio, ED 3, p.369A, line 46, John Latter; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Jan 2017); NARA microfilm T9, roll 993.

Jan 06

Driving Grandma

It is hard to imagine not driving–not getting into your car and driving whenever and wherever you want. But that was the case with both of my grandmothers. Neither one could drive. At least neither one ever had a driver’s license or drove an automobile.

My grandmothers, Gertrude (Brewster) Miller and Hilda (Scaer) Schumm, always relied on someone to take them wherever they needed or wanted to go. Usually that someone was grandpa–grandpa Miller or grandpa Schumm.

I am not sure why my grandmothers did not have driver’s licenses. Were they afraid of driving? Did they think they would not pass the driver’s test? Were they so busy around the house that they didn’t have time to drive around? Or was it just something that women didn’t do so much back then? After all, I remember a time when married women seemed to lose their given name after marriage. My grandmothers were known as Mrs. Carl Miller and Mrs. C.L. Schumm.

Ohio drivers were first required to have a driver’s license in 1936. I guess before that time anyone could just drive if they wanted?

Below is a copy of my dad’s chauffeur’s license. I found this last year and I did not even know he had a chauffeur’s license.

Herb Miller Chauffeur’s License, 1959-62.

Evidently Ohio drivers did have to register their vehicles earlier than they had to get a driver’s license. Here is a copy of grandpa Miller’s Ford vehicle registration in 1923:

Carl Miller Ford vehicle registration, 1923.

My grandpa Miller’s vehicle registration in 1927. It appears he was driving the same Ford vehicle:

Carl Miller Ohio vehicle registration, 1927.

Here is a photo of my grandpa Miller by his car.

Carl Miller, undated photo.

I remember when grandpa Miller used to drive grandma (and me) over to visit her mother Pearl Brewster in Geneva. Grandpa also took us shopping to the Fair Store in Berne, where grandma bought her spring garden seeds. I also remember going with them to grandma’s medical visits to Doc Osborn in Willshire.


Jan 03

Tombstone Tuesday–John Peter Lotter

John Peter Lotter, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

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

John P.
Mar 29
55Y  5M  22D

According to Zion Chatt’s records John Peter Lotter was born 8 October 1835 in Zweifelsheim, Bavaria. He was likely the son of Johann “Michael” and Anna Lotter. The church records confirm his mother was Anna Lotter, who died a year before him and is buried next to him. But the church records do not name his father. John Peter’s parents immigrated to America in 1874 and his father died on the voyage here. [1]

John Peter Lotter and his wife Catharine Eichler immigrated to America in 1869, five years earlier than his parents.

John Lotter, 27, Peter Lotter, 34, Catharine Lotter, 27, and Anna Lotter, 4, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on the Steamer Berlin on 2 July 1869. Their last residence was Zweifelsheim, Bayern, and they sailed from Bremen. They were farmers. [2] Perhaps John and Peter were brothers and Anna may have been Peter and Catharine’s daughter. Speculation.

The Lotters lived in Butler County, Ohio, in 1870: Peter, 35, Catharine, 30, and John, 6 months. Their baby John was born in November. Perhaps Anna, the 4 year old who immigrated with them, had passed away. [3]

They eventually moved to the Chattanooga, Ohio, area and later to Jefferson Township, Adams County, Indiana.

The Lotter surname first shows up in Zion Chatt’s communion records, where Johann Lotter was recorded as taking communion on Pentecost in 1875. That was likely John from the passenger list. Several Lotters are mentioned in Zion Chatt’s records but I do not know their relationships to each other. In addition to John Peter and his mother Anna Lotter, Johann “John” Lotter, Katharina/Catharine Lotter, Simon Lotter, and some Lotter children, are mentioned in the records.

Steam Ship Berlin, 2 July 1869, Baltimore Passenger List, Ancestry.com.

The John Peter Lotter household in 1880 in Adams County, Indiana: Peter, 46; Catharine, 40; John, 10; Andrew, 8; Barbara, 6; Alice, 5; Minnie, 4; George, 2; Lawrence, 14 days. Peter was a farmer and written under the “Health“ column for Catharine was child birth, probably since she had recently given birth to their son Lawrence. Peter and his wife were both born in Bayern. Their oldest five children were born in Ohio and their two youngest sons were born in Indiana. [4]  

John Peter and Catharine had twelve children, according to Catharine’s enumeration in the 1910 census. According to that census nine of the twelve children were living in 1910. This is a partial list of their children, according to Zion Chatt‘s baptism and confirmation records, the 1880 census, and Find a Grave.com:
Anna (c1865-c1870) [likely a child of Peter and Catharine who immigrated with them]
Johann “John” W (1869-1940), married Florence
Andreas “Andrew” (1871-1938), married Rachel Emma Evans; married Hester Ruth (Phender) Perkins
Anna Barbara (1873-1938)
Elizabeth Alice (1875-1950), married William A Sprague
Wilhelmine “Minnie” (1876-1947), married John Ferch
Johann “George” (1878-1961)
Lorenz “Lawrence“ (1880-), married Lydia Amanda Blossey
Conrad (1882-1932), married Bessie Garrison
Margaretha Cortha “Cora” (1884-1967), married Fred Mickow
Mary E (1888-1889)

I am not sure if the children listed below are the children of John Peter and Catharine. Their father was listed only as Johann in the church records:
Johann Christof M (1879-)
Peter (1881-)

According to Zion Chatt’s records John Peter Lotter died of enteritis on 29 Mar 1891, at the age of 55 years, 5 months, and 22 days. He was buried on the 31st. Rev. Chr. Reichert was in charge of the funeral service.

John Peter Lotter, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

John Peter’s widow Catharine moved out of the area after his death. She was living with her son John and his wife Florence in Starke County, Indiana in 1900. [5] In 1910 she was living with her daughter and son-in-law Cora and Fred Mickow in Starke County, Indiana. This enumeration indicates that she had given birth to 12 children and 9 were living. Catharine died in 1912 and is buried in Starke County. [6]


[1] Documented Lotter information, submitted to Ancestry.com by T Parkison, indicates that Anna Lotter 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] Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964, Peter Lotter; digital image by subscription,  Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2017); Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI no. 2655153, NARA Record Group 85.

[3] 1870 U.S. Census, Madison, Butler, Ohio, p.279A, dwelling 48, family 46, Peter Lodder; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2017); FHL microfilm 552676, NARA microfilm M593, roll 1177.

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Jefferson, Adams, Indiana, ED 133, p.54A, dwelling & family 119, Peter Lutter; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2017); NARA microfilm T9, roll 263.

[5] 1900 U.S. Census, Davis, Starke, Indiana, ED 143, p.7A, dwelling & family 133, John Luther; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2017); FHL microfilm 1240403, NARA microfilm T623, roll 403.

[6] 1910 U.S. Census, Davis, Starke, Indiana, ED 200, p.9B, dwelling 82, family 87, Fred Mickow; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ncestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2017); FHL microfilm 1374392, NARA microfilm T624, roll 379.

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, Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvester

Silvester, Wikipedia.org,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silvester

The Harmony Museum.org, Harmony, Pennsylvania, http://www.harmonymuseum.org/Silvester.html

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