Tombstone Tuesday–George & Sophia (Martin) Heffner

George & Sophia (Martin) Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

George & Sophia (Martin) Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of George and Sophia (Martin) Heffner, located in row 3 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

George Heffner
Sept. 27, 1898
69 Y’rs. 10 M’s. 2 D’s.
Wife of
Geo. Heffner
Died Feb. 14, 1892
65 Y’rs. 5 M’s. 17 D’s.

George Heffner was born 21 November 1828 in Thuisbrunn, District Oberfranken, Kingdom of Bavaria, the youngest son of Dietrich and Margaretha (Schmidt) Heffner. [1] According to Zion Chatt’s records George was baptized in Thuisbrunn and confirmed in Mercer County. He may have been confirmed at St. Paul Liberty Township, the earliest Lutheran church in the Chatt area.

George had an older brother Conrad, who was born in 1822. Their father died in 1828, the same year George was born. In about 1830 their mother Margaretha married Friedrich Becher and they had one son, Johann Becher. The whole family immigrated to America in 1840, when George was nearly 12 years old. The family stayed about a year in Butler County, Ohio, before settling in Liberty Township, Mercer County, in about 1841.

On 4 June 1851 George Heffner married Sophia Martin. They obtained their marriage license in Jay County, Indiana, but they may have married near Chatt. They were married by FD Gackenheimer, [2] who also ministered at St. Paul Lutheran, Liberty Township. Their marriage is recorded in St. Paul’s records, with the date of 29 May 1851.

So It appears the Heffners attended St. Paul before Zion was established. Zion Chatt was formed in in 1855 and Rev. Gackenheimer was their first minister. The Heffners were among the earliest members at Zion Chatt and were some of the very first entries in their church records.

Sophia Martin was born 28 August 1825 in Petersbach, Elsass, France, the daughter of Salomon and Christina Martin. In 1850 the Martin family lived in Noble Township, Jay County, Indiana. [3] Sophia’s brother Nickolaus was listed in Zion Chatt’s records, so some of the Martins attended Zion at one time.

According to census enumerations George was a farmer and he and Sophia lived in Blackcreek Township from the time they were married. George owned about 65 acres in Section 31 and his farm bordered the Indiana state line and the Blackcreek-Liberty Township line. [4]

Sophia Heffner died of consumption at 8:30 in the evening of 14 February 1892 in Chatt. She was 66 years, 5 months, and 17 days old and was buried on the 16th. Although the pastor wrote the year as 1891 in the church records, I believe that he entered the wrong year. Her death entry was in chronological order with the 1892 deaths.

According to Zion Chatt’s records George Heffner died of a stroke on 29 September 1898 at the age of 69 years, 10 months, and 8 days. This record disagrees slightly with his tombstone inscription. George was survived by 7 children, 32 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren.

George and Sophia had the following children:

Margaretha “Margaret” (1852-1900), married Christian Kessler
Barbara Catharina (1854-1855)
Anna Maria (1855-1931), married William Schumm
Carolina (1859-1924), married Calvin C Boan
Friedrich (1861-1918), married Anna Merkle
Johann Philipp (1863- 1935), married Etta Brandyberry
Gertrude (1865-1933), married George Adam Roehm
Conrad (1867-1951), married Emma Merkle

All of their children were in Zion Chatt’s baptism records except Barbara Catharina and Friedrich.


[1] The recent Tombstone Tuesday posts have followed the children of Fredrick and Anna (Merkle) Heffner who are buried in Zion Chatt’s cemetery. George and Sophia Heffner, the subjects of this post, were their grandparents and the parents of Fredrick Heffner. The information about the Heffner family in Germany is from Zion Chatt’s records.

[2] “Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 February 2015), George Haffner and Sophiah Martin, 4 June 1851; citing Jay, Indiana, county clerk offices, Vol B, p.113; from FHL microfilm 1749840.

[3] 1850 U.S. Census, Noble, Jay, Indiana, p. 314B, dwelling 119, family 119, Solomon Martin; digital images by subscription ( : accessed 7 February 2015), from NARA microfilm M432, roll 153.

[4] Mercer County Chapter OGS, Mercer County, Ohio Combined 1888, 1900 Atlases and 1876 Map of Mercer County, Ohio, (Mt. Vernon, Indiana : Wildmill Publications, Inc, 1999), 1.

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