Tombstone Tuesday–Christena Miller

Christena Miller, 1858-1945, Chattanooga Mausoleum

Christena Miller, 1858-1945, is inscribed on the crypt of Christina Miller in the Chattanooga Mausoleum, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio. The mausoleum is located at the west side of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, a little southeast of Chattanooga. Christina’s husband, Jacob, is buried next to her in the mausoleum.

Christina (Rueck) Miller passed away on 17 June 1945. She was my great-grandmother. This is her obituary from an unknown newspaper (probably Berne or Celina):

Aged Lady Dies Near Chattanooga Sunday P.M.—Mrs. Rosina C. Miller, 88, Dies of Pneumonia; Rites Wednesday P.M.—Mrs. Rosina Christina Miller, 88, of the Chattanooga, Ohio, community, and the widow of Jacob Miller, passed away Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the home of her son-in-law and daughter Mr. and Mrs. Wavil Reef of near Chattanooga. She had made her home there since 1929.

Mrs. Miller had been bedfast for nine weeks and her infirmities culminated in pneumonia, which resulted in her death. She was a native of Germany, and was born on December 29, 1856 [sic], a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Rueck, with whom she came to this country at the age of eight years. [sic]

Surviving are five children: Mrs. Maggie Kallenberger, Willshire, Mrs. Carolina Caffee, Berne, Mrs. Clara Reef and Carl Miller, both of Willshire, and John Miller, Goshen; two sisters, Mrs. Katie Harms, Portland, and Mrs. Regina Rueck, Canby, Oregon; one brother, David Rueck, Canby; 26 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. She was a member of the Lutheran Church of Chattanooga, Ohio.

Funeral services will be held at the Lutheran Church in Chattanooga Wednesday at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Hubert W. Wolber officiating. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Christina Rueck, Germany

Christina was the third child born to Jacob and Marie Regina (Gross) Rueck. Christina’s obituary and death certificate incorrectly state that Christina was born in 1856. Her baptism was recorded at the protestant church in Honhardt. It indicates that she was born in Steinbach [Württemberg] on 29 December 1858 and was baptized 2 January 1859. (FHL microfilm #1676791, Evangelische Kirche Honhardt, OA Crailsheim) The Ruecks lived in Appensee but attended church in Honhardt.

Christina Rueck baptism record, Protestant Church at Honhardt.

Christina’s obituary states that she came to America when she was eight years old. Although I have not found the Jacob Rueck family on a passenger list several other records indicate the family immigrated about 1879-80 and Christina would have been about 21 years old when she immigrated with her family.

In the 1900 US census Christina indicated that she immigrated in 1879 at the age of 21. (1900 US census, Blackcreek, Mercer, Ohio, Roll T623_1303:10A, ED74) Her father Jacob and brothers David and Carl indicated that they immigrated 1880. (1900 US census, Barlow, Clackamas, Oregon, Roll 623_1345:3A, ED 79)

Her father Jacob Rueck’s Declaration of Intention in Van Wert County, Ohio, states that he arrived in New York in 1880. (, Van Wert Connection, Van Wert Genealogical Society, Vol. 13:1-4)

Christine (Rueck) Miller with Clara (c1900)

Jacob and Christina (Rueck) Miller had the following children: Maria Regina (1884-1905), Jacob Jr. (1885-1913), Catherine (1886-1895), John (1889-1964), Caroline (1893-1988), Carl (1896-1973), and Clara (1899-1997).

Pillow my dad sent to his grandmother Christina when he was in Army basic training, WWII.

Just this past week I “met” some distant Rueck cousins via the Internet. They are from the Oklahoma and Texas branch of the “Ruck” family and they descend from Christine’s brother Friedrich. I’ll write more about the Ruecks in upcoming blogs.


Thank a Veteran Today

Today is Veterans Day, a day to honor and thank all US veterans.

Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, created to commemorate of the end of World War I. Fighting between the Allied Nations and Germany was ceased on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. That date is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars”. Armistice Day was originally observed with parades, speeches and a brief suspension of businesses beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The 11th of November was made a legal holiday in 1938. The day was dedicated to the cause of world peace and was primarily to honor World War I veterans. After World War II and the Korean War the word “Veterans” replaced the word “Armistice” and the holiday has been known as Veterans Day ever since. On 1 June 1954, Veterans Day became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

There are several veterans in my immediate family. My dad, his two brothers, and two other uncles are veterans. My cousin Ron Weitz was in the Army, a West Point graduate, and Joe’s brother Greg was a Viet Nam veteran.

Herbert Miller, 333 Reg, 84 Div, “Rail Splitters”, WWII

Carl LaVerne Miller, Army Anti Aircraft Artillery









Kenneth Miller, 278 Regimental Combat Team 1953-55

Paul “Red” Linn, WWII, South Pacific

Paul Eichler, Army, Korean War













A couple other relatives that were veterans include Dale Caffee, (Army, WWII) and Merlin Miller (Marines, WWII, Korean War, Viet Nam).

Dale Caffee, Army, WWII

Murlin Miller, Marines, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam


I always like to pass out flag pins to the veterans at church the Sunday before Veterans Day. Last Sunday we honored veterans from several wars: Herb Miller, WWII; Don Caffee, Korean War era; George Eckrote, Korean War era; Denny Caffee, Viet Nam; Kent Whitacre, Viet Nam; and Mark Kimmel, Desert Storm & Iraq.

So, thank a veteran today. Thank them for their service and sacrifices for our country and our freedom. Thank you!






Tombstone Tuesday–Christian M. Schinnerer

Christian M. Schinnerer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Christian M. Schinnerer, located in row 1 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The gravestone is inscribed Christian M, son of F & E Schinnerer, gestorben [died] 19 Aug 1881, age 2 years, 2 months, 1 day.

The image of a lamb is carved above his name. Lambs were often used on the tombstones of children to represent innocence and purity.

According to the church records of Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm, Christian Martin Schinnerer was born 18 June 1879. He was baptized 29 June 1879 at the home of his parents, Friedrich and Elisabeth (Schumm) Schinnerer. Sponsors at his baptism were G. Seitz and Martin Schinnerer. Martin Schinnerer was Christian’s uncle and Mr. Seitz was a teacher, possibly a teacher at the Schumm parochial school.

Christian’s death and burial are also recorded in Zion’s church records: Christian Martin Schinnerer, little son of Mr. Friedrich Schinnerer and his legal wife Elisabeth, was born 18 June 1879, and died 19 August 1881. He was buried 21 August 1881 in the parish cemetery. The funeral text was Mark 10:14.

Christian’s tombstone is next to his sister’s marker, Wilhelmine Margaretha. She died two weeks before he passed away.

Christian was the twelfth child of Friedrich Schinnerer and his second wife, Elisabeth Schumm. They had fifteen children that I know of and seven of them died before they reached adulthood.



The Müllers–Generations of Shepherds

"Shepherd in Fagaras Mountains, Romania" Photo courtesy of Darwinek, Wikipedia.

Several years ago, when I first began to research my Müller ancestors, I just assumed that it would be a rather simple process to trace my German lineage. After all, I knew that one all-important fact, the name of my immigrant ancestor’s home town. Any researcher will tell you that you can’t research across the ocean unless you know that particular detail. Jacob Müller, my great-grandfather and my immigrant ancestor, was from Bierbach, Bavaria.

I assumed that generation after generation of my Müllers had lived and raised their families in that same town. My plan was to order microfilmed copies of the Bierbach church records from the local LDS Family History Center. My Müller ancestors’ baptism, marriage, and death records should all be in the Bierbach parish records. Right? Was I ever mistaken!

I ordered the film of the Evangelisch-Reformerte Kirche in Ernstweiler, which contains the parish records from Bierbach. But I did not find much in those records. To make a long story short, with the help of another German researcher I ordered film after film of church records of the area surrounding Bierbach. The Müllers should have been in some of those local records, but they weren’t.

I have come to refer to this strategy as my shotgun approach to research—I figured if I went through enough church records in the Bierbach area I should eventually hit something relevant. I came up with a name here and there, but nothing significant. Where were my Müllers? Where had they lived and raised their families?

It wasn’t until we discovered a clue on Johann Müller’s death record that we started to make some progress. Johann Müller was the father of my great-grandfather Jacob, the immigrant. Johann’s death record stated that he was born in Gerhardsbrunn. That was farther northeast than I had been looking. I would broaden my search.

It was a lengthy process as I ordered even more microfilmed parish records of other areas. But I did make progress as the name of one town led me to the name of another. I ended up chasing those migratory Müllers all over a little hilly section of Bavaria and eventually I was able to trace them back to the late 1600s.

But why did they move around so much? The records gave me the answer to that question: they were schaefers, the German word for shepherds.

Briefly, these are the places the Müllers lived, worked and raised their families:

My great-grandfather Jacob Müller was born in Bierbach.

Jacob’s father was Johann Müller (1816-1870). Johann was born in Gerhardsbrunn. He was a shepherd and farmer. Jacob married Marie Kessler. She was from Walsheim and they were married there. Walsheim is south of Bierbach.

Johann’s father was Valentin Müller (1763-1858). Valentin was born in Mittelbrunn. He was a shepherd in Niederauerbach (1780-90), in Saalstadt (1787), in Gutenbrunnen (1797), and in Bierbach (1822-1845>).

Valentin married Margaretha Arnberger in Battweiler in 1787 but the marriage was recorded in Winterbach. Margaretha was from Oberauerbach. Some of their children were born in Niederauerbach (but their baptisms were recorded in the Contwig), some were born in Bierbach (baptisms recorded in Ernstweiler), and some were born in Gerhardsbrunn.

Valentin’s father was Johann “Theobald” Müller (c1736-?). Theobald was born in Oberarnbach. He was a shepherd in Saalstadt. Theobald married Eva Krafft in Mittelbrunn in 1760. Eva was from Landstuhl.

Below is a map of the area. I have traced their movements as I know them in green. To give you an idea of the map’s scale, the driving distance between Bierbach (to the left) and Gerhardsbrunn (toward the upper right) is about 12.5 miles as the crow flies. This map is from the 1999/2000 ADAC Maxi Atlas, 1:150,000.

1999/2000 ADAC Maxi Atlas, 1:150,000, page 153.

I also did a little research about shepherding:

Shepherding is one of the world’s oldest occupations, over 6,000 years old. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool. Shepherding was often confined to rugged and mountainous areas while the farmers grew crops in the lowlands and river valleys

The sheep had to be able to move from pasture to pasture and shepherding became an occupation separate from that of the farmer. Shepherds were an important part of the economy and were often wage earners, paid to watch the sheep of others.

The shepherd had several duties. He kept the flock intact and protected it from wolves and other predators; he milked the sheep and made cheese from this milk; he supervised the migration of the flock and ensured they made it to market areas in time for shearing.

Shepherds lived apart from society and were largely nomadic. It was mainly a job of solitary males without children [Really!] and new shepherds needed to be recruited externally. Shepherds were most often the younger sons of farming peasants who did not inherit any land. In some societies each family would have a family member to shepherd its flock, often a child, youth or an elder who could not help much with the harder work.

Shepherds often lived in small cabins and bought their food from local communities. Occasionally shepherds lived in covered wagons that traveled with their flocks.

There you have it. The Müllers probably kept moving to supply their flocks with fresh grazing land.  I doubt the Müllers owned any land in Bavaria since they were always on the move. Owning his own farm in America was probably very important to Jacob Müller/Miller.

It is interesting to note that Jacob Miller, having descended from generations of shepherds, never raised any sheep on his Blackcreek Township farm to my knowledge.


Identification numbers of Family History Library microfilms used are available upon request.

Tombstone Tuesday–Wilhelmine M. Schinnerer

Wilhelmine M. Schinnerer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Wilhelmine M. Schinnerer, located in row 1 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The gravestone is inscribed Wilhelmine, daughter of F & E Schinnerer, gestorben [died] 5 August 1881, aged 5 months, 12 days.

According to the church records of Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm, Wilhelmine Margaretha Schinnerer was born 22 February 1881. She was baptized 6 March 1881 at the home of her parents, Friedrich Schinnerer and his legal wife Elisabeth, born Schumm.  Sponsors at her baptism were Mrs. Wilhelmine Schumm and Margarethe Büchner.

Her death and burial are also recorded in Zion’s church records: Wilhelmine Margaretha Schinnerer, little daughter of Mr. Friedrich Schinnerer and his legal wife Elisabeth, was born 22 February 1881, and died 5 August 1881. Her burial was on 6 August 1881 in the parish cemetery. Her funeral text was Job 1:18-22.

Wilhelmine was the thirteenth child born to Friedrich Schinnerer and his second wife Elisabeth Schumm.

Wilhelmine’s tombstone is next to her brother’s, Christian M. Schinnerer. She died two weeks before he passed away.