Following many years of genealogical detective work, we have been able to track several lines that were ancestral to the Kirsch family in Germany. We, in this case, involves several people over a period of about 30 years. Mom and I searched as did Irene Bultman, our cousin in Dearborn County, Indiana, before her death. Heike and her mother Marliese, cousins in Germany, found invaluable information as well. I ordered rolls and rolls of microfilm from my local Family History Center. Elke Hall, now retired, served as my friend and interpreter for years.
Oh, how I loved the days when packets of translated records would arrive in the mailbox from Elke, before the days of internet. Often, I would take those envelopes into the bathroom, the ONLY place in the entire household that included children, dogs, cats and a husband where one was afforded any privacy at all, and read those packets in uninterrupted luxury.
Dearborn County, Indiana is located at the far southeastern corner of Indiana bordered by the mighty Ohio River on the South and by Cincinnati, Ohio a few miles to the East. The photos of the Rhine River and the Ohio look remarkably similar, although the land surrounding the Ohio appears to be somewhat less rugged and friendlier towards farming. The Ohio is the photo on the left and the Rhine is on the right below.
It’s no wonder that my German ancestors felt at home along the Ohio.
Using electronic mapping tools today, we are able to easily find the locations in Germany where our ancestors lived. Mannheim and Ludwigshaven were the predominant areas where we find the Kirsch family in Germany. When I first started searching German records, even finding a village on a German map was a process. Things have changed dramatically.
The above locations where ancestors of the Kirsch family originated all surround the city of Mannheim, on both sides of the Rhine River, and are located within about 15 miles from point A to point I. People who lived pre-1900s most often died within 12 miles of where they were born. Especially in Germany, many died in the same house where they were born. Homes, even if they were on leased land, stayed within the same family for centuries.
The first of our Kirsch family immigrated from Mutterstadt to America, leaving on June 14th, 1848 from the port of LeHavre, as recorded in the immigration records of the Mutterstadt Civil Register, which actually says 1847. Philipp Jacob Kirsch (Sr.) and his wife, Katharina Barbara Lemmert, along with their 7 children, arrived in New Orleans on July 4, 1848.
Why New Orleans?
Steamboats plied the waters of the Mississippi River, and you could arrive in Aurora, Indiana only 8 days after leaving New Orleans. It was the easiest route to Aurora from Germany.
Why Aurora, Indiana?
There were probably already people from Mutterstadt, and possibly family members, living there. A welcoming committee and other people who spoke German. Although we think of the days before the telephone as continents separated by oceans being disconnected, they weren’t. Letters arrived and departed then as now – they just took a lot longer to be delivered.
It was a long trip from Mutterstadt to the port of Le Havre, over 450 miles, which may account for the 1847 civil register date. Goodbyes must have been very difficult. Those leaving knew they would never see their family who remained in Germany again. Philip Jacob Kirsch’s parents were both dead, as was Katharina Barbara’s father, but her mother could still have been living. Those goodbyes, to parents and siblings, must have been terribly difficult. However, Philip Jacob’s sister and family immigrated and one of Katharina Barbara’s sisters may have as well.
Many immigrants wrote glowing letters back home hoping to entice those left behind to join them in the new land. Given that the Kirsch family obviously had a specific location in mind, as they sailed directly for Aurora, it’s likely that family members were waiting on the dock for their arrival, welcoming the newest Americans.
They probably brought few things with them, and the things they did bring that weren’t essential were probably near and dear to their hearts. Family legend tells us that they brought the chocolate pot and the beer stein, still in the family.
The plates that Jacob Kirsch, their son, used in the Kirsch House in Aurora were also German, but I have to wonder if they ordered them later instead of his parents having brought them on their initial journey.
Let’s take a look at the area of Germany where the Kirsch family lived. The top part of the map below, showing Mannheim on the Rhine and through Eberback on the Neckar was Kirsch stomping grounds.
What caused our German ancestors to migrate to the United States? Was it the failed uprising of 1848 in which citizens sought democracy and obtained only more restrictions? Most likely not, although the 1850s were one of the peaks of German immigration, with over a million Germans arriving in that decade.
German immigrants boarding a ship in the 1800s are shown above.
The primary reasons for migration seemed to be for the proverbial American dream. In Germany, inheritance laws such as primogeniture, which allowed only the eldest son to inherit land, and forbade him from selling, giving or sharing that inheritance with his other siblings caused a constantly expanding peasant class.
Land was becoming very scarce and expensive, beyond the reach of peasants. Opportunities were only in the cities, which were overcrowded and disease-ridden, forcing people back into the countryside, or to America, the land of opportunity, jobs and land available for farming.
The first members of our German Kirsch family to immigrate to America were Philipp Jacob Kirsch, a farmer, and his wife Katharina Barbara Lemmert.
According to the Lutheran Church records, Philipp Jacob Kirsch was born in Fussgoenheim, Germany (above and below) in the province of Bayerne, later to become Bavaria on August 8, 1806 to Andreas Kirsch and Margaretha Elizabetha Koehler.
Today this area is the Pfalz- Palatinate. Katharina Barbara Lemmert, his wife was born September 1, 1807 in Mutterstadt, a neighboring village.
This postcard from 1905 from Mutterstadt probably isn’t terribly different than when the Kirsch family left in the 1850s. The protestant church on the left is where their children were baptized.
Philip Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Lemmert were married in Mutterstadt on December 22, 1829, shown in the church record, above. The record is translated, as follows:
Today the 22nd of December 1829 were married and blessed Philipp Jacob Kirsch from Fussgoenheim, the legitimate, unmarried son of the deceased couple, Andreas Kirsch and Margaretha Koehler and Katharina Barbara Lemmerth the legitimate unmarried daughter of the deceased local citizen Jacob Lemmerth and his surviving wife Gertrude Steiger, both of protestant religion.
Mutterstadt is near Fussgoenheim – about 5 miles distant.
Philip Jacob Kirsch left the French port of Le Havre on June 14, 1848 and arrived in New Orleans July 4, 1848 with his wife and children whose names are given on the ship’s passenger list, below.
The wonderful thing about this passenger list is that it gives the names and ages of all of the children. Many don’t.
In New Orleans, the family would have transferred to yet another boat, a steamer, and steamed up the Mississippi to the Ohio River, and on to the docks at Aurora. These photos were taken in 1848 of the budding city of Cincinnati, just a few miles upstream from Aurora. The Aurora waterfront probably didn’t look a lot different. Notice all the steamboats.
This may well be a peek into what types of scenes they saw on the steamboat in 1848. Their son, Jacob, my ancestor, would have been six at the time and for a boy of that age, this must have been an amazing adventure.
On the map of Dearborn County below, you can see the City of Aurora at the bend in the River, and Lawrenceburg upstream towards Ohio. Ripley County borders Dearborn County on the West. The Kirsch family lived not too far west of Moore’s Hill. Kelso Township is in the north part of the county where yet another Kirsch or Kersh family resided. All of these locations hold significance for the Kirsch family story as it unfolds.
The Kirsch family settled in Ripley County near the town of Milan.
It wasn’t terribly far from Aurora to the 80 acre farm where we find Philip Jacob Kirsch in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census.
The above Plat Map is of Franklin Township in Ripley County, in 1883. Notice the old town of Milan and to the east, the Cemetery by Fordes Hill.
Two years after the family arrived, in the 1850 census, we find Philip Jacob Kursch listed as a farmer in Ripley County, Indiana. Ironically, he is living next door to the Weynacht family, who is also listed along with him on the same ship arriving in New Orleans. Clearly, these two families immigrated together and were likely related. But then again, judging from those church records, everyone in Mutterstadt was related several times over.
Their youngest Kirsch child, Andreas, was born after their arrival in 1848 and died in about 1851. He is buried in a small rural cemetery called the “Old Lutheran Cemetery” about one half mile East of old Milan, where there used to be an old log church.
The cemetery is located on the left side of the road as one leaves Old Milan by the road that runs by the present Old Milan Church.
The St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was established by a small group of pioneers in a log cabin in Franklin Township in 1847, but it was disbanded in 1855. The cemetery where Andreas is buried abuts a clearing that probably held that church.
There is a gravestone there that says “Andreas Kirch geb.den Feb. 6, 1817 gest den Sept. 19 1891.
At FindAGrave, Andreas death date is shown as 1821 instead of 1891. As old as this stone it, it’s hard to tell the correct dates. Andreas is missing from the 1860 census, so this must be the child, Andreas Kirsch who was born in 1847 and the death year was probably 1851.
Irene Bultman, now deceased, believed the family attended a church called Fink’s after that. She had found at least one marriage record of a Koehler family member. Katharina Barbara Kirsch, daughter of Philip Jacob Kirsch, married Johann Martin Koehler in that church in 1851. Irene told me that the church records still exist, but they are in German and the current minister in the 1980s when she visited could not translate them. Today, Finke Church is located at 6960 N. Finks Road in Delaware, Indiana, not terribly distant from where the Kirsch family lived.
In 1860, the census shows Philipp Kersch living in the same location, owning land and living with his wife and youngest children, William and Mary. Two additional children Elizabeth Kaiter and Matthew Weis are living with them, although we have no idea why or if they are related.
Andrew Wenaicht is still living next door. Checking FindAGrave for Andrew, we find Andreas Weinacht born in 1809 in Mutterstadt. So indeed, it appears that Andreas was likely a close friend of Philip Jacob Kirsch. Looking in my family records, it appears that the Weinacht family was in Mutterstadt for quite some time as they do marry into other families as well.
By 1860, Philip Kirsch, a cooper, was living in Aurora, Indiana with his sister Barbara and her husband Martin Koehler, a hotel keeper. Along with 26 or 27 other people – boarders at the hotel. While Martin Koehler’s occupation is noted as hotel keeper, given that the other people who lived there were residents and all had occupations such as cooper, bar keeper, carpenter, shoemaker, tailor, cigar maker, clerk, tinner, saddler, rectifier, stave cutter, ferrier and blacksmith, it looks to be more of a boarding house for single men. There were also several servants living there.
Philip Jacob Kirsch filed his intent to be naturalized, and was in fact naturalized in 1868 in Ripley County, Indiana, according to court records.
But first, the Civil War would interrupt their lives.
The Civil War
On March 3, 1863, Congress passed the Conscription Act which calls for all able-bodied males between the ages of 20 and 45 to serve for 3 years. A drafted man, however, was allowed to pay $300 to hire a substitute.
Three hundred dollars at that time would buy a small farm. Few people had or could come up with that kind of money, and Philip Jacob Kirsch had 4 boys in that age range, although Philip Jacob himself was too old.
As German immigrants who had filed to become American citizens, Philipp Jacob Kirsch and his wife Katharina Barbara Lemmert, saw at least three of their sons serve in the Civil War – Philipp, Martin and probably Jacob. There are records for a John Kirsch as well, but I can’t tell if the John who served in the Civil War is the son of Philip Jacob Kirsch or not. John is such a common name.
Philipp Kirsch served in the Civil War in the US Army Company D 3rd Regiment. He was mustered out Aug. 22, 1861 at Madison, Indiana for the duration of the war. He owned his own horse, but the equipment was furnished by the government. He was in Capt. Keister’s company where all the men all owned their own horses. Philipp was mustered out at the end of the war on Sept. 9, 1864 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He served a total of just over 3 years.
The 3rd Regiment Indiana Cavalry (East Wing) (or Right Wing), consisting of Companies A, B, C, D, E and F, organized at Madison, Indiana, August 22, 1861, that were intended for service with the 1st Regiment Indiana Cavalry. On October 22, the six companies were designated the 3rd Cavalry and assigned to the Army of the Potomac in the eastern theater of the war. The East Wing saw action at the Battle of Antietam.
The Battle of Antietam (also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South), fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Battle of Antietam Creek was the first major battle in the Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with almost 23,000 casualties. Phillip would likely have been there. The picture below was the bridge over Middle Antietam Creek taken in September of 1862.
It’s greatly ironic that this battle took place on the land (below) of the Miller descendants of my mother’s father’s grandmother’s line. The Kirsch family is my mother’s mother’s grandfather’s line. This twist of fate would bring these men from different family lines into close proximity some 45 years before a marriage in northern Indiana would forever cement the blood of these two families.
From the Dearborn Co. History book, we find the list of men in the 32nd Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, strictly a German regiment, recruited in Sept 1861. Dearborn Co. furnished most of two companies. Company C with John L. Giegoldt of Aurora Captain, and Company D that included Martin Kirsch and Valentine Kirsch.
Ripley county offered a $20 bounty for every man drafted, then in 1864, they offered a $100 bounty for every man who either served or found a suitable substitute within the county.
The 45th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry was known as the third Cavalry. Company D was from Dearborn Co. and included Philip Kirsch.
Only one known photo exists of Philipp Kirsch who served in the Civil War. In the photo below Philip is on the left, Barbara Drechsel Kirsch in the middle and her husband, Philipp’s brother, Jacob Kirsch on the right. This photo had to have been taken before Philipp’s death in 1905. Jacob Kirsch doesn’t look nearly as gray as he does in later photographs.
Sadly, Philipp Kirsch suffered the rest of his life due to some type of intestinal issue that occurred during the Civil War. According to his service records, he was twice hospitalized, but never recovered either during the war or afterwards from diarrhea that he contracted during his service period. He applied for an increase in his disability pension in 1874, stating that he had been living with his father since the war and that his father’s circumstances had become very strained. As a result of his disability, Philip was unable to do any physical labor. He later died of complications from the effects of chronic and prolonged diarrhea. The rather graphic description in his service records cause me to feel very sorry for the man and the chronic pain he lived with. Philip Jacob lived with his father in Ripley County until his father’s death in 1880, then with his mother until her death in 1889, then with his brother Jacob at the Kirsch house until Phillip’s own death in 1905.
Martin Kirsch also served in the Civil War, and may have been killed or died of disease. I find nothing after the Civil War for Martin. Martin was recruited in 1861 and served in Company D 32nd Indiana Regiment, the state’s “only German regiment” in the Civil War. Part of the Army of the Ohio, the 32nd fought at Rowlett’s Station in Kentucky; Shiloh, Stones River, Missionary Ridge in Tennessee; and Chickamauga in Georgia. The brothers served in the same unit and would have mustered in the same day. That also means that Phillip may have witnessed his brother, Martin’s, death.
I believe that our ancestor, Jacob Kirsch, also served in the War. He certainly was of the age where militia participation was required, and given that he was not yet married, it’s unlikely that he sought and paid for a replacement. Three hundred dollars at that time would buy a farm.
Jacob’s wife, Barbara, applied for a Civil War pension after Jacob’s death. Her pension application was declined, but she gives his unit number as the Indiana 137th Regiment Infantry, This unit was organized at Indianapolis, Ind., and mustered in May 26, 1864. If Jacob was in this unit, he was ordered to Tennessee and assigned to duty as Railroad Guard in Tennessee and Alabama, Dept. of the Cumberland, until September, 1864. She says he was mustered out September 21, 1864, at the end of the war. Given that Barbara likely knew Jacob during the Civil War, I find it unlikely that Jacob did not serve. Furthermore, we have a painting of Jacob in uniform.
I researched the unit in question, and found a diary kept by another soldier, removing all doubt about whether or not that soldier served. That man’s name was also not on the roll of the unit. It appears that records were not well kept during the Civil War. However, in a surprise turn of events, even though the federal government said Jacob did not serve in that unit, I found his service records listed with that unit in Indiana’s records, so Jacob and Barbara are both vindicated – although not without more than a little confusion and more than a century after the fact.
A painting of Jacob in which he appears to be wearing a Union uniform exists within the family and a picture of the painting is show below.
Philip Jacob Kirsch, listed erroneously as Peter, was still living in Ripley County in 1870. Son Philip, now 38, having served in the Civil War, is listed as a cooper, and Mathias White is living with them as farm labor.
In the 1880 census, we find that Philip Jacob Kirsch has just died, and Barbara, his widow, is still living on the home place with their son Philip Jacob Kirsch, the Civil War veteran who never married. For many years, I thought of Philip as the benevolent son, staying on the farm to care for his aging parents. Now, perhaps that visage needs to change, because it appears that Philipp may have been living with his parents due to his disability or inability to work. So maybe they all took care of each other as best they could.
Final Resting Place
Philip Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara are both buried in the Riverview Cemetery south of Aurora along the Ohio River, as is their son Philipp. It’s somehow fitting that he watches over the Ohio River for eternity. His life was closely connected to rivers, first the Rhine, then the Mississippi and Ohio.
Philip Jacob’s tombstone says that he died in 1879, but the cemetery records say he died in 1880, as does this snippet from the Aurora Dearborn Independent on May 13, 1880.
I was surprised to discover that there was no service for Phillipp in the church. I was also surprised that the body was sent by train and not by horse and wagon, although the depot was right beside the Kirsch House. The Fifth Street German Reformed Church is not the church that Jacob Kirsch, Philipp’s son who lived in Aurora, belonged to. I don’t know if Philipp’s services were conducted by this Reverend because there was a difference in the beliefs of the two German churches, reflecting Phillipp’s personal beliefs, or maybe just because this particular German minister was available to bury a body already 2 days dead in mid-May.
Cemetery records tell us that Philip Jacob was a farmer, was married, lived in Ripley County, near Milan, and died of old age. “Father of Jacob Kirsch of this city, he was 73 years, 9 months and 2 days old and is buried in section H 28” in Riverview. The section 80 permit was obtained by Jacob Kirsch and is number #803. Philip Jacob Kirsch was buried May 12, 1880, two days after his death. Parents listed as “Pilip (sic) Jacob Kirsch mother Barbara Deubert.” According to Mutterstadt church records, his parents’ names are listed incorrectly. This is a relatively common occurrence. Keep in mind in this instance that Philip Jacob’s children never met their grandparents, so it’s not surprising they would not remember their names.
Calculating his death date by his age given, which was calculated from his death date originally, we do indeed find that he died in 1880. This stone was likely set later. The stone of his son, Philip Jacob, who served in the Civil War and died 25 years after Philip Jacob, the father, is shown in the right corner of the photo.
Philip Jacob’s Land
When Mom and I visited in the 1980s, I vaguely remember finding Philip’s land, or at least we thought we had.
I was quite thrown for a bit, because the roads and landmarks just weren’t lining up, until I realized that today’s Milan was not the same Milan as when Philip Jacob Kirsch lived there.
In fact, today, it’s called “Old Milan” and once I realized that, everything fell right into place. On the map above, Old Milan is just above Milan at the intersection of Old Milan Road and County Road 475 North, which is the road the Kirsch family lived on.
It’s a lot easier today with Google maps in conjunction with the plat map.
On the satellite map above, you can see Philip Jacob’s house location – the red arrow on the left. The address is 5828-6202 East Co Road 475 N, Milan. The arrow at right is the location of the cemetery where their child, Andreas Kirsch, is buried.
Here is the street view. I love this house. It’s ole enough that it could be original. It looks like a ginger-bread house. I wonder if Philip Jacob Kirsch built this house and planted those trees, at least some of them?
Across the road, the barns. Hoosier barns, corn in the field beside the house and summer dried grass always make me feel so at home. I can still hear the crunch of gravel as the truck turned off of the macadam road into the driveway. The slamming of the kitchen screen door. The rustling movements and musty smell of the farm animals. The tractor’s engine. A dog barking and chasing after someone or something – maybe one of the barn cats that were both pets and working animals too. Their job was to keep the barns and house mouse-free.
Often, on old farms, the barn is across the road from the house. This road dissects Phillip’s property almost in half.
Looking down the road.
And the other way. Roads are just SOOO inviting to me.
This satellite view shows Philip Jacob’s land with the arrow pointing to the northernmost boundary.
Seven years after Philip Jacob’s death, his children and widow sold the land. I’d wager that it was just too much for Barbara, his widow, and Philip, his disabled son, to maintain.
When I first saw this deed, I thought perhaps the family all came back and were together one last time on the farm, signed the deed, and had a glorious reunion. Then, as I read the deed and the notary statements, I realized that isn’t what happened at all. Even the family in Marion County didn’t sign in person.
This indenture witnesseth that Barbara Kirsch, Jacob Kirsch Jr., Philip Kirsch of Dearborn County, Indiana and John Kirsch and Mary Kirsch of Marion County, Indiana, William Kirsch and Caroline Kirsch of Fremont, Nebraska, Mary Kramer and John Kramer of Collinswell, Illinois convey and warrant to Douglas Martin of Dearborn County for the sum of $1200 the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged the following described real estate in Ripley County, Indiana, to wit:
The east half of the NE quarter of section 14, township 8, north of range 12 east, containing 80 acres more or less.
In witness whereof the said Barbara Kirsch, Jacob Kirsch, Barbara Kirsch Jr. and Philip Kirsch, John Kirsch, Mary Kirsch, William Kirsch, Caroline Kirsch, Mary Kramer and John Kramer have hereunto set their hands and seals this 29 of August 1887.
- Jacob Kirsch
- Barbara Kirsch
- John Kramer
- Mary Kramer
- Charles Schnell
- B Barbara Schnell
- John Kirsch
- Mary Kirsch
- William Kirsch
- Caroline Kirsch
- Barbara Kirsch
- Philip Kirsch
Before me James F. Honson a notary public in and for the county of Dodge, State of Nebraska, personally appeared William Kirsch and his wife Caroline Kirsch and acknowledged the executrion of the annexed and foregoing deed.
September 3, 1887
State of Indiana, Marion County, before me Robert Knoff a Notary Public in and for said Marion County, Indiana personally appeared John Kirsch and his wife Mary Kitsch and acknowledged the annexed and foregoing deed. September 15, 1887
Deed Book 59, Sept 1887-Nov 1888, page 45
Madison County, State of Illinois – Before me a Notary Public in and for the County of Madison in the state of Illinois, personally appeared Mary Kramer and her husband John Kramer and acknowledged the execution of the annexed and foregoing deed. Sept. 6, 1887
Dearborn County, Indiana – On the 12th day of September 1887 before me the undersigned Notary Public personally appeared Jacob Kirsch Barbara Kirsch his wife also Philip Kirsch and Karbara Kirsch and acknowledged the execution of the foregoing deed.
Recorded October 18, 1887 at 11 o’clock AM.
Deed book 59, September 1887-November 1888, page 46
German Naming Patterns
German families typically gave their children first names of Saints, even those who weren’t Catholic, and they were addressed by their second name. This makes records particularly challenging to locate, since the name you know the person by is often not their first name.
One pronounced exception to that rule is the name Johannes. As a Saint’s name, the child is named Johann Jacob Kirsch, for example, but when the first name Johannes is used, then that is the only name and his actual name is Johannes. Johannes Kirsch, for example. Johann(es) is the German form of John.
Often many children in the family were given the same first name. For example, Johann Michael and Johan Jacob. Neither child would have been called Johann, but both would have been called by their middle names, Michael and Jacob. Also, the names of deceased children were recycled for later births, sometimes more than once.
Add to that that the names became Americanized over here. Anna Maria Kirsch in German baptismal records became Mary Kirsch in Indiana and then Mary Kramer when she married. Try tying Mary Kramer who died in 1929 in Illinois to Anna Maria Kirsch in the 1840s in Mutterstadt, Germany.
Philip Jacob Kirsch became Jacob Kirsch, but then so did his brother Jacob Kirsch whose name was probably actually Johann Jacob Kirsch. So the father Philip Jacob Kirsch was (generally) called Jacob, the son Philip Jacob was (generally) called Phillip to differentiate his from his brother Jacob who was always called Jacob. Nope, not confusing at all…..
Children of Philipp Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert
Philip Jacob Kirsch immigrated in 1848 with his wife, Katharina Barbara Lemmert and his children. Those children would join the others in the melting pot called America. His children spoke German, of course, and they naturally gravitated towards other German-speaking children as their playmates and eventual spouses. They were probably quite close to the Weinaught family next door. I’m actually surprised there was no intermarriage.
The Kirsch children’s births are recorded in the Protestant church in Mutterstadt, and documentation sent by Friedrich Kirsch many years ago from Germany that he obtained in Mutterstadt (I believe, from the municipality) confirms the following:
- The marriage date of Philip Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert
- Their birth dates
- Their parents, his from Fussgoenheim and hers from Mutterstadt
- Their children and their birth dates
- That they emigrated to America in 1847
- That both Philip Jacob and Katharina Barbara and their parents were farmers
Their first child, a son, Philipp Jacob Kirsch was born in 1830. He never married and lived out his life with his brother, Jacob Kirsch and his family at the Kirsch House in Aurora after his mother’s death in 1889.
The Mutterstadt church registry entry above in 1830 gives us the date of the birth and baptism of Philipp Jacob Kirsch, that he was confirmed in 1844, and that he immigrated with his parents to America in 1847. Furthermore, it states his parent’s names, and that his godparents were Philipp Jacob Ellenberger and his wife Anna Maria Lemmert who was the sister of Katharina Barbara Lemmert.
Their second child, daughter Katharina Barbara Kirsch born in 1833 married Johann Martin Koehler, also born in Fussgoenheim, in 1851 in Ripley Co., Indiana. After Martin’s death, she remarried to Charles Schnell. Barbara died in 1900 in Dearborn County, Indiana and is buried at Riverview Cemetery, on the Jacob Kirsch lot under her remarried name, Schnell .
The church registry above records the birth of Katharina Barbara Kirsch in 1833. She was confirmed in 1846 before immigrating with her parents in 1847. It gives her godparents as Katharina Barbara Reimer, wife of the barrel maker George Seitz.
Their third child, son Johann Kirsch born in 1835 was living when his brother Philip Jacob Kirsch died in 1905. When Jacob Kirsch died in 1917, his obituary said that his brother John was living in Indianapolis. John married Mary Blatz in 1856 in Ripley County and subsequently moved to Indianapolis where we find him from 1870 until his death in 1927.
The church registry entry above in 1835 for Johannes Kirsch shown his birth on the 14th, then his christening 7 days later on June 21st and says he emigrated to America with his parents in 1847, gives his parents’ names and names his godparents as Johannes Weihnacht and his wife Katharina Barbara Zimmer. There’s the Weinaught family again.
The fourth child, Martin Kirsch born in 1838 fought in the Civil War, but then there is no more information except that he is not mentioned in his brother, Philipp’s 1905 will. I have checked www.fold3.com several times to see if I can find further records for Martin, with no luck. The full Civil War service packs are not yet entirely digitized.
The church registry above for Martin Kirsch says he was born and baptized Sept. 16, 1838 names his parents, notes that he emigrated, and gives his godparents as Martin Kohler and his wife Maria Kirsch from Fussgoenheim. Maria Kirsch was the sister of Philip Jacob Kirsch who was married to Martin Koehler who was also Philip Jacob Kirsch’s first cousin.
Jacob Kirsch, born in 1841, our ancestor, married Barbara Drechsel, a young German woman from Aurora.
The church registry in Mutterstadt above records the birth of Jacob Kirsch on May 1st, 1841 and his baptism on May the 5th. It states the names of his parents as well as his godparents, “Jacob Krick II and Anna Maria Lemmert, Protestant couple from here.” It also says he immigrated with his parents in 1847. Anna Maria Lemmert is the sister of Katharina Barbara Lemmert. Anna Maria was married to Jacob Krick. So, we now know that Jacob was named after Jacob Krick, his godfather. In the German tradition, this also meant that if something happened to Jacob Kirsch’s parents, his godparents would be the people to raise him. Maybe naming the child after the godparent was a way to “connect” them emotionally to each other, just in case.
Johann Wilheim Kirsch, born in 1844 married Carolyn Kuntz. We know he is dead before 1905 and that he had 1 girl and 2 boys.
The church registry record above gives us the birth date of Johann Wilhelm Kirsch, his baptismal date four days later on January 7, 1844, the names of his parents and gives his godparents as Johann Wilhelm Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Koob, protestant couple from Fussgoenheim. Johann Wilhelm Kirsch who is married to Katharina Barbara Koob is the brother of Philip Jacob Kirsch.
Anna Maria Kirsch, born January 11, 1847 married John Kramer in 1864 in Indiana and was living in St. Louis in 1917 when her brother Jacob Kirsch died, according to his obituary. Mary Kramer died in Madison County, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis in 1929, her birth location given as Mutterstadt.
The church registry above records the birth of Anna Maria Kirsch and states that she was baptized January 17th in the Protestant school house in Mutterstadt, that Philipp Roeder and his wife Anna Maria nee Baumann, Protestants, were her witnesses (godparents).
Andrew Kirsch, their only child born in the US, Feb. 6, 1849, died in roughly 1851 (one record says 1853) and is buried at the old Lutheran Cemetery near Fordes Hills near Milan. This means that Barbara, his mother, was pregnant on her journey to the US on a rocking ship, then on a riverboat steamer. A brave woman, indeed.
Had Andreas been born in 1848, his birth would have been recorded in Germany. It wasn’t. Instead, we find repeated commentary in the church records that the family immigrated in 1847. They may have left Mutterstadt in 1847, but it wasn’t until June of 1848 that they left the French port of LeHavre and not until July 4th, 1848 that they arrived in New Orleans. Truly Independence Day!
Surprisingly, we don’t know a huge amount about Philip Jacob Kirsch, the person. We know he was a Lutheran farmer who was either brave enough or foolhearty enough to sail across the ocean with his entire family of 7 children and his pregnant wife.
He surely worried when at least 3 of his 4 sons left to fight in the Civil War. I wonder if he somehow knew one of them might not come home. Maybe he was secretly just a little thankful that Jacob had shot his eye out as a child so that Jacob wouldn’t have to put his life in danger. However, that logic didn’t work, because Indeed, Jacob did serve. Was Philip Jacob Kirsch proud of his American sons and their loyalty, or was he regretful that he had come for opportunities and one of the opportunities they got was civil war, just 13 years later – far above and beyond what they ever had reason to expect.
Did Philip Jacob view this as somewhat ironic in a wry way? Did he view it as a crisis? Was he worried or accepting? Did he take strength from his religion, and then comfort in times of death, or was he simply a “habitual attender” who attended church more out of habit (or his wife’s persuading) than conviction? Unfortunately, we don’t have a periscope to look back in time, at least not at these questions.
The only periscope we do have available to us would be Philip Jacob Kirsch’s Y DNA. Unfortunately, there are very few DNA candidates. I tracked Philipp Jacob’s son, John, forward in time with the hope of finding a DNA candidate in that line. I’m hopeful that it indeed will work. There are some additional candidates as well.
- Jacob Kirsch’s son Edward Kirsch had a son Deveraux “Devero” Kirsch who died in 1975 in Vigo County, Indiana. He had a son, William Kirsch.
- Jacob’s son Martin Kirsch had a son, Edgar, who married Frieda Neely in 1929. I don’t show any children for this couple.
- Philip Jacob’s son, Johann William Kirsch, known as William, was dead before 1905 and had 3 children, 2 of whom were sons. We know he married Caroline Kuntz in 1870 in Indiana. I have found a William Kirsch living in Pohocco, Saunders County, Nebraska in the 1885 Nebraska state census, wife Carrie, daughter Mittie (13) born in Indiana and sons Edward (11) born in Nebraska and Henry (9) also born in Nebraska. This William died in February of 1891 and was apparently involved in some kind of accident going over the Platte River Bridge in December of 1889. His son Edward died in 1967 and married Beatrice. In 1910 they had been married 12 years, had 2 children, but none were living. Edward was living with his mother in 1930. Henry was alive, 55 and unmarried in the 1930 census, so it’s unlikely that he has any descendants. It appears that there are no male Kirsch descendants through this line, if this is the correct William Kirsch.
- Philip Jacob’s son, John Kirsch, moved to Indianapolis and had son Frank Kirsch and son Andrew Kirsch.
Let’s hope that one of these sons or grandsons continued to have male children and that one of them will find us through an interest in genealogy. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any male Kirsch descended from this line.
The “Other” Kirsch Family of Lawrenceburg
As luck would have it, it appears that the neighboring Lawrenceburg (Indiana) Kirsch family may be from Fussgoenheim as well, although I did not originally think that was the case because the 1870 census shows the birth location as Rheinbier, Bavaria. However, that is a misspelling of Rheinpfalz or Rheinbayern which means the southern portion of the current Rheinland-Pfalz. However, according to Ancestry trees, descendants think that Rheinbier is the village name based on the census.
As fate would have it, I stumbled across the records for this family in the Mutterstadt church records.
I found the marriage of Johannes Kirsch, son of George Heinrich Kirsch and Anna Barbara Elsperman marrying to Margaretha Boeckman, daughter of Immanual Bockmann and Margaretha Elisabetha Ermel in Mutterstadt on September 6, 1831.
Children subsequently baptized in the same church by this couple include:
- Johannes born Nov. 13, 1831
- Heinrich born Dec. 5, 1833
- Catharina born March 8, 1835
- Valentin born March 27, 1836
- Johannes born Jan. 21, 1838
- Johan Georg born June 8, 1840
I can’t find John in the 1850 census, which, based on his 1860 census information, means the family was still in Germany at that time.
In 1860 John Kirsch is living in Lawrenceburg with son George, age 20, a cigarmaker, son John born 1838 who had married. John also had several younger children:
- Valentine age 15 (born 1845 in Germany)
- Jacob age 12 (born in 1848 Germany)
- Helena age 9 (born in 1851 Germany)
Dearborn County, Indiana records indicate that:
- Valentine Kirsch married Mary Elizabeth Kohlerman in Lawrenceburg in 1866.
- Heinrich Kirsch married Elizabeth Schleicher in 1856.
- Son John (Johannes) married Margaretha Bultman in1859. In the 1860 census, they have a new son, John, as well.
This sure looks to be the same family!
So, the Lawrenceburg Kirsch family was (apparently) from Fussgoenheim as well. I don’t have John’s father, Georg Heinrich Kirsch connected on back to my Kirsch line in Mutterstadt, but I’m betting money he connects.
So, I wonder, are there any Kirsch’s still around in Lawrenceburg today?
It surely would be fun to test a Kirsch male from each line to see if indeed, they do share a common Kirsch ancestor prior to the first church records.
It would also be fun to test any descendants, male or female (with any surname), of these couples to see if we match each other autosomally. If so, that means that we can identify which segments of our ancestral DNA was inherited through the Kirsch lines, or those lines that fed the Kirsch lineage.
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