Jul 10

A Wedding Celebration

This is a nice photo postcard of a wedding dinner. The guests are in the middle of the meal. Their plates are full and one man can be seen passing a dish of food to another.

Besides being an interesting photo, taken from an unusual perspective, I like it because it was not raining and the family was able set up two longs tables in the yard for family and friends to celebrate the young couple’s marriage.

They would not be able to do that this year in this part of the country. If you are reading this and are not from these parts, we have had more rain this summer than I can ever remember. It is nearly impossible to hold any event out of doors around here this summer.

Undated wedding dinner photo postcard from the Germann collection.

Undated photo postcard from the Germann Collection.

The above postcard is from a group of photos that belonged to Viola and Edna Germann, so there was likely a Germann and/or Schumm connection, but I do not know who the couple was or when the photo was taken. There was nothing written on the back of the postcard, but it probably dates after 1907 because it has a divided back. There is a car in the photo, which could also help date it.

The bride and groom are seated at the right end of the lower table and the bride is wearing a rather distinctive veil. There were other wedding photos in the photo collection, but none that match this veil.

It appears the photo was not long enough for the postcard since there is a blank area on the right side. There is writing on the right edge of the photo, a reverse image that looks like it was written on a negative. I flipped the photo and was able to read the words “Wambsganss” and “group 30.”

Was it a Wambsganss wedding? Could be. There were a couple photos in the collection labeled “Wambsganss Brother’s Cousins.” I am not sure what they meant by that but there is a Wambsganss/Germann connection.

According to various vital records on FamilySearch.org, George P. Wambsganss married Elizabeth Germann around 1864. It appears George was a German immigrant, a teacher who lived and taught in Van Wert County about 1863. He evidently met and married into the Germann family during that time. This might be the marriage photo of one of their grandchildren.

There is also something written on what appears to be the leg of a windmill and looks to be some dimensions.

The Germann sisters had relatives in Long Beach, California, and the photo may have been taken there. Or it may have been taken in Van Wert County on a nice summer day. It looks more like an Ohio farm to me.

The photographer probably took the photo from a second story window or from a roof-top, creating quite a nice view of the wedding guests.

At any rate, it looks like they had a grand wedding feast.

Maybe someone will recognize this couple and will be able to identify them.

Jul 07

Infant Son of J.C. & M.C. Heffner

Infant son of JC & MC (Tester) Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

Infant son of JC & MC (Tester) Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of the infant son of John and Mary (Tester) Heffner, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Son of
J.C. & M.C.
Born & Died
Dec. 24, 1887

Unfortunately there is no record of this child’s birth, death, or burial in Zion Chatt’s records, but he was likely the son of John C. and Mary Catherine (Tester) Heffner.

Their initials were J.C. and M.C. and they were the only Heffner couple with those initials who would have had a child born during that period of time.

The initials J.C. and M.C. are also on their son “Frankie B” Franklin Benjamin’s tombstone, which is also located in Zion Chatt’s cemetery. In addition, John Heffner used the middle initial “C” in the 1900 census. [1]

I wonder if this child was the twin brother of John Henry Heffner, born 29 December 1887, who the church records say was baptized immediately on 30 December 1887.

The problem is that their birth days do not match. John Henry was born 29 December. The tombstone indicates this child was born and died on 24 December. I guess it is possible, but unlikely, that Mary gave birth to twins five days apart.

John Henry Heffner’s birth is recorded in at least two places, the church records and the probate court records. The Mercer County Probate birth record shows his date of birth as 29 December 1887, [2] but the birth of his supposed twin brother is not in the probate birth or death records.

John Henry’s birth was recorded in Zion Chatt’s records as 29 December and indicates he was baptized the next day, 30 December. However, neither his supposed brother’s birth nor death was recorded in the church records.

The church records describe John Henry’s baptism as a quick, emergency baptism at the home. That would be understandable if Mary gave birth to twins and one was stillborn or died very soon after birth. Perhaps John Henry was small and sickly when he was born.

There could be several explanations. The tombstone could be inscribed incorrectly, inscribed with either the wrong day or the wrong year. However, Mary had a child about every two years and the year 1887 would be about the right time for another birth in the family.

The tombstone could be weathered so badly that it is being read incorrectly. Or, the church record and the probate record could both be incorrect concerning John Henry, but I doubt that.

We will probably never know the true story, whether these two boys were actually twins or not.


[1] 1900 U. S. Census, Washington Township, Mercer, Ohio, ED 90, p.14B, dwelling 294, family 297, John C. Heffner; database with images, FamilySearch.org (www.familysearch.org : accessed 5 Jul 2015); from FHL microfilm 1241304, from NARA microfilm T623, roll 1304.

[2] “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 4 July 2015), John Henry Heffner, 29 Dec 1887; citing Liberty Township, Mercer, Ohio; from FHL microfilm 2367095.


Jul 03

Independence Day!

Happy July 4th! America’s Independence Day. The day the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring that the thirteen colonies were no longer part of Great Britain, but independent sovereign states that were part of a new nation.July_Fourth_Clip_Art

The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and revised by the Continental Congress before it was adopted in 1776. The Revolutionary War was already in progress by that time. It had begun on 19 April 1775 with “the shot heard ‘round the world,” just a day after the midnight rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes.


Patriot’s Day, Boston. (2009 photo by Karen)

The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, our first constitution, on 15 November 1777, but they were not ratified by all thirteen states until 1 March 1781.

The Revolutionary War ended on 3 September 1783, when the U.S. and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris.

The United States Constitution was signed and adopted 11 years after the Declaration of Independence, on 17 September 1787. Amendments followed. The Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments, was adopted on 15 December 1791. Amendments 11-27 were adopted 4 March 1794-7 May 1992.

Those three documents, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and The Bill of Rights, are the three essential founding documents of the U.S. government.

Below is The American’s Creed, which we recite at our DAR meetings. It was the winning submission in a 1917 national writing contest for a creed of the United States. William Tyler Page used phrases from the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in his entry. The American’s Creed was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1918.

The American’s Creed

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support it Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.        —-William Tyler Page


100_4969Tomorrow we celebrate the birthday of our great nation, when we proudly fly our country’s flag and watch parades and fireworks in remembrance of our country’s independence. A time to remember so many who have sacrificed so much for freedom.

This is also good time think about the principles of freedom and liberty upon which our country was founded and strive to preserve the type of government our forefathers envisioned, as set forth in these historic documents.


Jun 30

Tombstone Tuesday–Frankie B. Heffner

Frankie B. Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

Frankie B. Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Frankie B. Heffner, located in row 3 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Frankie B.
Son of
J.C. & M.C.
Oct. 2, 1888
3 Y 6 M 19 D

Franklin Benjamin Heffner was born 14 March 1885, the son of John and Mary (Tester) Heffner. His parents must have feared he would not survive because they had him baptized the same day, immediately after his birth. The church records describe it as quick, emergency baptism.

The records also state that his father was born in Blackcreek Township and his mother in Dublin Township.

Zion’s death and burial records show that little Frankie died 2 October 1888 and was buried on the 4th. This record indicates he was born on 6 March 1885.

His birth was recorded as 15 March 1885 in the probate records. [1]

Calculating his age as inscribed on his tombstone, 14 March would be his correct date of birth.

It appears his death was not recorded in the probate court.


[1] “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 27 June 2015), Franklin B. Haffner, 15 Mar 1885; citing Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, Births, p.33, from FHL microfilm 914953.

Jun 26

Becker or Baker?

This year marks the 160th anniversary of Zion Lutheran Church in Chatt. The other day I came across this nice photo of the Henry and Mary (Manche) Baker family. Their families were some of the earliest members of Zion Chatt and Zion’s old records contain quite a bit of information about both the Becker and Manche families.

Henry & Mary (Manche) Baker. Children: Anna, Amelia, Lula, Theodore, Caroline, Clara, and Freda.

Henry & Mary (Manche) Baker. Children: Anna, Amelia, Lula, Theodore, Caroline, Clara, and Freda.

In the photo, seated in front: Henry & Mary (Manche) Baker. Their children, standing in back, with their married names: Anna Egger, Amelia McGough, Lula Baumgartner, Theodore W., Caroline Evans, Clara Merkle, Freda Egger.

Henry was born 13 September 1851 in Piqua, Ohio, the son of Johannes “John” and Barbara Catharina (Wiedmann) Becker. His father was from Rhein-Bavaria and his mother was from Württemberg. They married in Pennsylvania and eventually settled in Blackcreek Township in the early-mid 1850s. Back then their name was written as “Becker” in the church records.

Henry “Baker” married Anna Maria “Mary” Manche on 16 April 1874 in Van Wert County. [1]

Mary was the daughter of John and Barbara (Hopf) Manche and was born 7 April 1856 in Butler County, Ohio. Her parents were also immigrants, her father from Hesse-Darmstadt and her mother from Bavaria. They settled in Willshire in about 1860 [2] and Mary’s father served in Co. B of the 62nd OVI during the Civil War. He died 15 June 1865 and is buried in Richmond National Cemetery in Virginia. [3]

Henry and Mary had the following children:
Wilhelm “Theodore” (1875-1932), married Mary H. Bollenbacher [4]
Barbara Emilie “Amelia” (1877-1950), married John McGough [5]
Maria Louise “Lula” (1880-1964), married Birch L. Baumgardner [6]
Ida Carolina “Caroline” (1882-), married Samuel L. Evans [7]
Anna Catharina “Anna” (1885-), married Louis S. Egger [8]
Clara (1890-),married Leo Merkle [9]
Friederike “Frieda” (1893-), married Frank T. Egger [10]

Zion's south window, given in honor of Henry and Mary Baker. (2011 photo by Karen)

Zion’s south window, given in memory of Henry and Mary Baker. (2011 photo by Karen)

One of Zion’s large stained glass windows was given in memory of Henry and Mary Baker by their children. It is the beautiful south window which depicts an angel reporting Christ’s birth to the shepherds. Below the window, in the stained glass: In Memory of Father and Mother, Henry and Mary Baker. Henry and Mary passed away a couple years before the current church was built in 1916.

Dedication below Zion's south window. (2011 photo by Karen)

Dedication below Zion’s south window. (2011 photo by Karen)

Becker or Baker? Zion’s records show both spellings, with Becker being the earliest. When did the family change their name from Becker to Baker? It is a little difficult to determine because the Zion’s ministers went back and forth between the two spellings. The spelling sometimes changed with the minister, but not always.

It was spelled Becker in the Familienbuch section of Zion’s records, which was said to have been written by Rev. Gackenheimer’s daughter. Gackenheimer was Zion’s first minister, serving Zion from 1855-1861.

It was recorded as Becker in the church records when Henry and Mary married.

In 1875, at son William Theodore’s baptism, the name was spelled Backer by Rev. Phillipp Schmidt, which is actually a third spelling variation of the name. William Theodore was a Baker when confirmed in 1890.

Rev. Hugo Willert recorded the name as Becker for the baptism of Barbara Emilie but she was confirmed a Baker in 1891. Maria Louise was also baptized as a Becker, possibly by an interim or neighboring minister, and was still a Becker when confirmed in 1893. Ida Caroline was baptized as Baker in 1883, possibly by Rev. F.H. Besel and confirmed as a Becker in 1896 by Rev. Johannes Vollmar.

Anna Catherine was baptized as Becker in 1884 by Rev. Karl Adam Jr. and stayed a Becker when confirmed in 1899 by Rev. August Affeld. Rev. Carl Reichert recorded the name as Baker for Clara’s baptism in 1890 but she was confirmed a Becker in 1905 by Rev. Paul Brockhaus. Friederike was baptized a Becker in 1893 by Rev. John Soller and confirmed a Baker in 1907 by Rev. George Haas.

And so it went, back and forth…

They just couldn’t seem to make up their minds. There were several different ministers during those years and there were several years, between ministers, when the church was probably served by a traveling, neighboring, or temporary minister. The names of those ministers were not always recorded so I do not know who performed some of the baptisms and confirmations. That could account for some the spelling inconsistency.

Even the family was undecided about the spelling because someone tried to change the name on the family photo shown above. Someone wrote over the surname, changing the name from Backer to Baker. Or vice versa.

The problem seemed to be mainly with the church records because all of their children’s probate marriage records recorded their name as Baker, but they were all married during a later time period.

Henry died 19 Nov 1914 and his widow Mary died 21 Apr 1915. Both names were spelled as Baker in the church records and on their tombstone.

And, just to add to the confusion, there were “Bechers” who also attended Zion Chatt, but I won’t go there today…


[1] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 25 Jun 2015), Henry Baker and Mary Menche, 30 May 1874; citing Van Wert, Ohio, marriages, p.229; from FHL microfilm 1015860.

[2] 1870 U. S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p.450B, dwelling 44, family 46, Barbara Manche; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2015); from FHL microfilm 552774, from NARA microfilm M593, roll 1275.

[3] U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962, John Manche; database on-line, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2015); Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985, Record Group 92, NARA, College Park, Maryland.

[4] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 25 Jun 2015), Theodore w. Baker and Mary H. Bollenbacher, 22 Nov 1896; citing Mercer, Ohio, marriages, p.217; from FHL microfilm 914957.

[5] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 25 Jun 2015), John Mcgough and Amelia Baker, 29 Mar 1896; citing Mercer, Ohio, marriages, p.167; from FHL microfilm 914957.

[6] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 25 Jun 2015), B.L. Baumgarder and Mary Louisa Baker, 11 Jan 1900; citing Mercer, Ohio, marriages, p.100; from FHL microfilm 914957.

[7] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 25 Jun 2015), Samuel L. Evans and Caroline I. Baker, 1 Jan 1902; citing Mercer, Ohio, marriages, p.317; from FHL microfilm 914957.

[8] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 25 Jun 2015), Louis S. Egger and Anna Baker, 23 Dec 1908; citing Mercer, Ohio, marriages, p.481; from FHL microfilm 914958.

[9] Marriage records of Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga; Leo Merkle of Chattanooga and Clara Baker of Chattanooga, 30 Jun 1912.

[10] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 25 Jun 2015), Frank Egger and Freda Baker, 22 Dec 1915; citing Mercer, Ohio, marriages, p.507; from FHL microfilm 914959.

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