I don’t know if my mother was named Barbara for Katharina Barbara Lemmert or for Nora Kirsch Lore’s other grandmother, Barbara Mehlheimer. Nora’s mother was Barbara Drechsel. She married Jacob Kirsch and they had Ellenora, known as Nora, whose middle name I could have sworn was Barbara. However, there is no record of any middle name for Nora, so apparently she simply passed the name Barbara on to her daughter, Edith Barbara Lore who passed it on to my mother. Unfortunately, it ended with my mother’s generation. I love the name Barbara. Roberta – well, not so much.
True to the German naming tradition, my mother’s name was Barbara Jean, and she was called by her middle name. Everyone knew her as Jean, unless it was her mother using both names when she was in trouble, or someone who didn’t know mother well. That’s how we knew if she was receiving “spam” phone calls. If they asked for Barbara, Barbara was never at home. If they asked for Barbara Jean, we asked who was calling. If they asked for Jean, she was home and we generally knew the caller by voice.
In my generation, I only wish I had been named Barbara. I carry my mother’s middle name, but am called by my first name. I would have much preferred Barbara. However, by the time I was born, we were five generations out of Germany, five generations in which to “modernize” and lose the old traditions, and female children were no longer being named the same name as their mother. It’s odd, males maintained that proud naming tradition, but it was considered very unusual and nearly unheard of for women in my generation. One MIGHT be named for a grandmother or aunt, but never the same name as your mother.
I wish we had a picture of Katharina Barbara Lemmert. We don’t. There might have been one missed opportunity, and that was when her granddaughter, Nora Kirsch was married at the Kirsch House in January of 1888. If Katharina Barbara was able, you know she would assuredly have been at that wedding. A photo was taken of both the bride and the groom, separately, although those photos might have not been taken that day since there are no “family” pictures. I so very much wish that occasion had been memorialized with photos.
Three of Nora Kirsch’s four grandparents were living when she married and lived in the area. What a missed opportunity.
Katharina Barbara Lemmert was born on September 1, 1807 in Mutterstadt, Germany to Johann Jacob Lemmert and Gerdraut Steiger.
The church registry above records the birth of Catharina Barbara Lemmert, also spelled as Katharina, and shows her baptism the next day, Sept. 2, 1807. It gives her parents’ names, and indicates that her godparent is Catharina Barbara Wetzler, unmarried. Typically godparents are related in some fashion to the child’s parents, but I don’t know how Catharina Barbara Wetzler was connected. In Mutterstadt, everyone was related to everyone else. Occasionally, a godparent it is an honorary position, such as a mayor.
The German church records were all translated by Elke Hall, now retired, but my trusty interpreter of both German language and customs for many years.
Katharina Barbara Lemmert never knew her father, because he died on February 28, 1808, exactly 6 months less one day after she was born. He was a farmer, noted as a fieldman. He was only 33 years old when he died. I wonder what took him so early. I always wonder about some kind of farm accident. One thing is for sure – it wasn’t old age.
Katharina’s mother was young and had three daughters, the oldest of which would have been just under 7. Yet, Gerdraut did not remarry for another 7 years, not until 1814. There are no church records of additional children for Gerdraut, although we may have missed them due to the name change.
We do know that Gerdraut was living in 1829 due to Katharina Barbara’s marriage record that says the following:
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.
One of my favorite things about German records is that the females, even after marriage, are always referred to by their maiden name so you can tell who they are!
We don’t know what happened to the middle sister, but Katharina Barbara’s oldest sister, Anna Maria Lemmert, born in 1801, married Philip Jacob Krick in 1824 in Mutterstadt, according to church records. She reportedly immigrated in 1848 to Indiana with her sister, Katharina Barbara, but I have not been able to find any record of that happening. I hope it did, because it would have meant that Katharine Barbara had family here.
We do know that Katharina Barbara’s husband’s sister, Anna Margaretha Kirsch who had married Johann Martin Koehler (born 1796 Ellerstadt) did immigrate after his death in 1848 or 1849, so Katharina Barbara did know someone here, other than her husband and the Weynacht family who immigrated from Mutterstadt on the same boat with the Kirsch family. The Weynacht family would live as neighbors to the Kirsch family in Ripley County. German families tended to stay together in the new land. It probably felt very good to have someone else in close proximity whose native language was the same as yours and whose family history was from the same place.
After they arrived, but not long after they arrived, something odd happened.
Katharina Barbara Lemmert and Philip Jacob Kirsch arrived in New Orleans on July 4, 1848 and they were married in America on July 27, 1848 in Ripley Co., Indiana. I found this exact scenario with another ancestral couple, and I discovered the other couple was never married in Germany, but that is assuredly not the case for Katharina Barbara Lemmert and Philip Jacob Kirsch, because we have their church marriage record, shown above, and their subsequent children’s baptism records. Germans of that time were very anal about stating very explicitly if a child’s parents were married or not married.
So why would a couple decide to remarry and immediately after arriving in the US? They arrived in New Orleans on July 4th and the trip to Aurora took 8 days by steamer. Let’s give them a day on either end for transfers, which brings us to about July 14th. This means they were married 13 days later in Ripley County. This suggests two things to us.
First, they already knew where they were going. They didn’t have to scout around for a location – and they had some way to get there.
Second, getting married in the US was considered to be very important for some reason. I have never been able to figure this out, nor has anyone else been able to enlighten me. If anyone knows why this happened, please do tell. There has to be some significance.
Not only had they been married for nearly 20 years, Katharina Barbara was pregnant for their last child, Andreas, who would be born in February of 1849.
That wedding must have been something with the couple’s 6 stair-step children in attendance, the bride holding a child of 18 months, and 2 months pregnant for another child.
On February 6, 1849, just 7 months later, Katharina Barbara would give birth to her last child they would name after her husband’s father, Andreas, who had died when he was just 13.
Roots in Ripley County, Indiana
The 1850 census shows the family having settled in on a farm in Franklin Township of Ripley County, near Milan. They own real estate worth $1200. Indeed, they had realized the American dream – land ownership was something they couldn’t have achieved in Germany and was one of the primary immigration motivations.
They live beside the Andrew Waynacht family who came over on the same ship with them. They too had achieved the dream of land ownership. The German Rader family is also a neighbor, although there are farmers from other areas too, including Scotland, NY, PA and Ohio. This looks to be a good area in which to settle with lots of diverse neighbors seeking the same thing – opportunity.
This adorable ginger-bread house sits on their land today and certainly looks like it could be from that timeframe. I can just see Katharina Barbara standing here. She would have lived here from the time she was about 41 until her death, 41 years later, just shy of her 82nd birthday. She literally lived half of her entire life here, so it was assuredly “home” in the most heartfelt way.
Katharina Barbara walked this land, toiled in her garden which would have been behind the house and probably watched for people arriving down the road from the front porch, if the porch existed then. She would have sat in the shade of the trees, wearing her apron over her housedress, and “snapped” beans in her lap. She would have cleaned peas, shucked sweet corn or maybe hulled luscious strawberries for a rare dessert treat. Every morning, she would have walked the rows of the garden, inspecting the plants and gathered what was ripe while the dew was still glistening on the leaves, before the oppressing heat of the day.
A few hours later, those veggies plus whatever meat they had would become lunch for the family as they came in from the fields after working half the day, literally since sunup, the coolest part of the day that included daylight. What was available in the garden often was the determining factor in terms of what she prepared for the family to eat that day.
The main meal was eaten at noon and farm wives fed everyone working on the farm that day, plus whoever happened by. Often they didn’t know exactly how many they would be feeding, so they made a lot of whatever they made.
Plus, there was always a pot of beans simmering. If all else failed, beans! If you ran out of something, beans! Need a snack, beans! Beans was always the fallback answer, along with potatoes at my house. Root vegetables and those that could be stored for long periods (carrots, cabbage, potatoes,) dried (beans,) or ground (corn, wheat) were staples that never failed you. I grew up on a farm much like this in Indiana and little changed in the intervening century, except for tractors with engines.
To the best of my knowledge, this was the only farm this couple would ever own. Philip Jacob Kirsch would live another 30 years and Katharina Barbara would live almost 40 more years. It seems that once they hit solid land they put down roots and never moved again. I can hardly say that I blame them.
The good news is that the Lutheran church they helped to found and attended wasn’t far away.
Their farm was located at the left red arrow and the Lutheran church they helped to found was at the right, about a mile and a half distant. They were Lutheran in Germany and Lutheran in Ripley County as well. That much didn’t change. They brought their religion with them.
Deaths, Marriages and Births – The Cycle of Life
The sad news is that the church had a small cemetery and they buried little Andreas there likely the day after he died, on September 8th, probably in 1851. His stone is so worn that the death year has been variously recorded as 1853, 1821 and 1891, but the month and day are always September 8th. Katharina Barbara’s baby was gone.
Every time she went to church, she was reminded of that loss. Was this comforting in some way for her, or simply a weekly painful reminder of the death of her youngest child, the one that would forever be her baby? I’ve wondered if Andreas was a Down’s child. Katharina Barbara was in her 40s when he was born.
The St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was established by a small group of pioneers in Franklin Township in 1847, but it was disbanded in 1855. The cemetery where Andreas is buried abuts a clearing that probably held the church.
This burial begs more questions, because Katharina Barbara’s oldest daughter, also Katharina Barbara Kirsch, married Johann Martin Koehler in Fink’s Church in June of 1851, three months before Andreas died. Perhaps the Koehlers attended Finks. Or perhaps they didn’t have a minister at St. Peters to marry them at that time. Or perhaps only St. Peter’s had a cemetery and that’s why Andreas was buried there. St. Peters was less than two miles from where Barbara Katharina lived, and Fink’s was about 9 miles, via our roads today. I suspect at that time that there were wagon roads that reduced that distance a couple of miles or more. You can see the remnants of those roads today on the satellite map and on the 1884 plat map as well. The map below shows Finke Church on the left, the cemetery where Andreas Kirsch is buried on the right and their home a mile or so west of old Milan where the address is displayed.
Did Katharina Barbara begin attending Fink’s before St. Peter’s dissolved in 1855? Did she visit Andreas’ grave often, or did she just take his passing pretty well in stride, perhaps feeling lucky that only one of her children had died? Children’s graves tend to draw mothers, regardless of how painful.
Katharina Barbara’s first grandchildren arrived shortly after her daughter’s marriage, perhaps helping a bit to sooth her grief over the death of Andreas.
Katharina Barbara Kirsch and Martin Koehler would have 4 daughters, three of which lived to adulthood. Sadly, Katharina Barbara Lemmert would bury her granddaughter in Aurora in 1860 when she was just 3 years old.
Johannes Kirsch would be Katharina Barbara’s next child to marry, in 1856. It’s unclear exactly where Johannes went after his marriage in Ripley county to Mary Blotz or Blatz, as I was unable to find them in the 1860 census, but they were having babies by 1858 and by 1870, were living in Indianapolis.
The 1860 census tells us that Katharina Barbara and her family are doing well in Ripley County. They own land worth $2000 and have $400 in personal assets. They also have two other children living with them. Elizabeth Kaiter, age 6, born in Indiana and Matthew Weis, age 9 born in Bavaria. I don’t find any more about Elizabeth, although her surname could be misspelled. I do find a Matthew Weis living in Aurora Indiana in 1920, so this is likely the same man, but it doesn’t tell me why he was living with Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch in 1870. Regardless of why, these children were too young to be “servants” so Katharina was clearly acting as their mother, or foster-mother. These two would have been her children of heart.
We don’t know a lot about the time after Katharina Barbara and Philip Jacob immigrated and before the Civil War, but we do know that Katharina Barbara’s son, Jacob, had his “eye put out” with a gun, and I do mean literally. It’s not funny, but I do have to laugh, remembering all those warnings by mothers immemorial about not doing whatever because “you’ll put your eye out.” Well, Jacob was living proof. I wonder if his mother told him not to do what he was doing…
The family story says that Jacob and another boy were quail hunting and Jacob was hiding behind a bush. Apparently, and I’m extrapolating here, the other boy thought Jacob was the was a quail and shot him in the eye – or maybe the two boys were just horsing around. I surely would have loved to hear Jacob tell this story. It’s probably a good thing they weren’t using very powerful guns, or Jacob would have lost far more than his eye and I wouldn’t be here today!
The Dark Cloud of the Civil War
The 1860s had to be an extremely difficult time for Katharina Barbara. The Civil War descended upon these people. She had four service aged sons and all able-bodied men between the ages of 20 and 45 were required to report. We know for sure that at least 3 of her sons served, and probably all 4.
Katharina Barbara’s oldest son, Philip Kirsch, became very ill but served the full three years of his enlistment. He did return home, but never recovered. He lived with his parents for the rest of their lives, then lived with his brother Jacob until Philip’s own death in 1905 where he left his meager estate to his siblings, nieces and nephews.
One John Kirsch did serve, but I can’t tell if it was Katharine Barbara’s second son, John, or not. John worked with wood and it would have taken $300 for him to hire a replacement for his service – assuming he could find a replacement. Not likely for a woodworker.
Katharina Barbara’s third son, Martin Kirsch, enlisted and is recorded in the “strictly German” 32nd Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Company D, but is never heard of again. We don’t know if he died or what, but he was never discharged. Perhaps as the balance of the Civil War records are digitized, we’ll learn his fate. We know that he was not mentioned in his brother’s will in 1905.
The fourth son, Jacob Kirsch, was the son who had the perfect “out,” meaning he didn’t pass the civil war physical, but the family history tells us he served anyway as a teamster and cook. He must have felt strongly about this cause. After his death, Jacob’s widow filed for a pension and was declined for non-service, but the Indiana roster records do show Jacob Kirsch.
Katharine Barbara had plenty to worry about for several years, and probably got to either bury son Martin, or never got to bury son Martin because his body was not returned. Most soldiers were buried on or near the battlefield where they fell or the “hospital” where they died.
By late 1864, her sons that survived had mustered out or served their time. It has been a very long three years. Katharina Barbara was probably trying very hard to help Philip Jacob recover from his persistent, and as it turns out, lifelong, intestinal issues.
On November 22, 1864, Katharina Barbara’s youngest daughter Anna Marie Kirsch would marry John Kramer in Dearborn County. After the years of the war, this had to be an very welcome happy event, a celebration. By 1870, Anna Marie (Mary) and John were living in Illinois, so Katharina Barbara probably didn’t get to see much of her daughter or those grandchildren. In the 1900 census, Mary Kramer is a widow and has 9 children, all living. In the 1920 census, she gives her parents birth location at Mutterstadt, so this is unquestionably the right Mary Kramer living in Collinsville, Madison County, Illinois, across the river from St Louis, Missouri where Jacob Kirsch’s 1917 obituary says his sister, Mary Kramer, lives.
The next wedding would be son Jacob Kirsch to Barbara Drechsel in 1866. I’m sure Katharina Barbara was relieved that they were living in Aurora. Yes, it was a few miles, about 15, but only a few miles. The day before Christmas, Jacob and Barbara’s first daughter, Nora, my great-grandmother, arrived in the world. I’m sure the Christmas of 1866 was joyful. The war was over, Jacob was married and there was a new baby. Nora’s generation always celebrated Christmas on December 24th, a typical German tradition, so Nora’s arrival on the 24th gave everyone something extra-special to celebrate. I sure wish we had pictures!
Katharina Barbara’s son William Kirsch followed by marrying in 1870 to Carolyn Kuntz, although we don’t know much about them. We know that William was dead by 1905 when his brother Philip remembered William’s 2 male and 1 female children in his will. William was probably the William Kirsch that died in Nebraska in February 1891, wife Carrie, with sons Edward and Henry and daughter Mattie, the oldest of which was born in Indiana.
The 1870 census reflects Katharina Barbara’s shrinking family in Ripley County as her children married and began families of their own.
Interestingly, in addition to Katharina Barbara, her husband and son, we also find Mathias White, age 19, now listed as farm labor, which is probably the same person as Matthew Weis in 1860. Weis is the German word for white. He would not have been old enough to serve in the war, Mathias was very probably a great help to Philip Jacob and Katharina Barbara on the farm during the war years.
In 1874, son Philip who was living on the farm with his parents applied for a Civil War pension saying that his father’s situation had become very strained and that he, Philip (the son), could not do any manual labor due to his Civil War injuries. Philip Jacob Kirsch, the father, would have been 68 years old and Katharina would have been 67. Indeed, their years and miles were likely wearing on them.
Grandchildren and Great-grandchilden
Katharina Barbara had a total of 24 grandchildren, but 4 died during her lifetime. Of her children, only Philip Kirsch, Jacob Kirsch and Katharine Barbara Kirsch Koehler stayed relatively close. Philip lived with his parents, Jacob lived in Aurora in Dearborn County and Katharina Barbara Kirsch Koehler lived in both Aurora and Lawrenceburg at various times. The rest of Katharina Barbara’s grandchildren were with her children who were scattered in Illinois, Indianapolis and possibly Nebraska. Of course, three of Katharina Barbara’s children didn’t have children.
In 1876, Katharina Barbara’s first great-grandchild was born to Lizzie Koehler Knoebel, a boy, Harry Knoebel. Another generation began.
In 1878, Katharina Barbara’s second born great-grandchild was born to Lizzie Koehler Knoebel and would die. What would Katharina Barbara have said to her grieving granddaughter as she stood beside her at the graveside burying her baby? Barbara had certainly stood in Lizzie’s shoes a few years earlier in the little cemetery beside the log cabin church in Ripley County. Did Katharina Barbara simply hug Lizzie and stand silently, sharing a grief for which there were no words, or did she have some words of wisdom and comfort for Lizzie.
Two years later, on April the 26th, 1880, Lizzie had a third child, a son, that would live, but just a few days later, the grim reaper would visit the family, just the same.
On May 10, 1880, Katharina Barbara’s husband, Philip Jacob Kirsch, died. Two days later, on a spring day, he was buried in the Riverview Cemetery south of Aurora where their son, Jacob lived. Flowers were probably blooming, birds chirping, but there was no joy in the Kirsch family that day.
Jacob bought the plot in which many members of the Kirsch family would be buried, including the Knoebel baby. The information at the cemetery says that Philip Jacob died of “old age” and that the couple lived near Milan.
In the 1880 census, taken just a month or so later, Katharina Barbara is living on the old home place with her son, Philip Jacob, the Civil War veteran. Philip is 49 with a disability and Katharina Barbara is 73. Neither one of them are spring chickens, and life must have gotten very difficult for them about this time. Did their neighbors help them out? Did their married children that still lived locally come to help? How did they manage to farm, given that farming was very physically labor intensive?
The Indiana 1880 mortality census records are not yet digitized and available at Ancestry. When they are, there may be additional information about Philip Jacob Kirsch’s death.
On July 1, 1884, Katharina Barbara’s granddaughter, Lizzie Koehler died, just past her 30th birthday. I wonder if her death had anything to do with childbirth. Lizzie is buried on the Kirsch plot in the Riverview Cemetery with her child that had died a few years before her in 1878.
Barbara would once again have visited the cemetery. She probably put flowers on Philip Jacob’s grave before her granddaughter’s funeral and maybe pulled a few stray blades of grass growing over the base of the stone. I know that mother always felt that “cleaning up the stone” was in essence doing something for or taking care of the person who was buried there. Kind of like pushing the hair off of their forehead. They didn’t much care but the person performing the caring gesture felt better.
I don’t know if Jacob had the current stone set before or after his mother passed. Katharina Barbara probably also realized that she was in essence visiting her own final resting place too. By this time, Katharina Barbara had been through several dress rehearsals.
On August 29, 1887, Katherina Barbara, along with all of her children and their spouses would execute a deed selling the farm in Ripley County. Katherina Barbara turned 80 on September 1st, and son Philip, who had lived with her was 50 and disabled. I’m sure they simply could not maintain the farm any longer, so they sold. Fortunately, that deed is very descriptive and confirmed the location of the farm, along with the names and locations of all the living children. Interestingly enough, Katharina Barbara and Philip were both living in Dearborn County by this time, according to the deed. I’m sure they were living with son Jacob Kirsch and his wife, Barbara Drechsel Kirsch at the Kirsch House in Aurora.
On January 18, 1888, Katharina Barbara’s granddaughter, Nora Kirsch (below) married Curtis Benjamin Lore at the Kirsch House in Aurora. I know that, weather permitting, Katharina Barbara would have been present for that wedding. This was her first grandchild through son Jacob to marry.
On August 2, 1888, my grandmother and Katharina Barbara’s great-granddaughter, Edith Barbara Lore was born in Indianapolis.
Was Nora able to take the baby back to Ripley or Dearborn County to see her grandmother? I hope so. All grandmothers love their grandchildren and particularly love babies. Oh, how I wish there was a generational photo of the family that year.
This would be the last baby Katharina Barbara would get to love. The last set of fingers to kiss, the last baby to smile and laugh and probably drool on her as well. The last feet to tickle, the last child to rock and sing to sleep.
Barbara Passes On
Katharine Barbara Lemmert died February 1, 1889 and was buried beside Philip Jacob Kirsch on a cold winter’s day, seven months shy of her 82th birthday, 60 years after marrying Philip Jacob (the first time) and 41 years after first setting foot on American soil. What a journey!
Barbara had seen a lot in her life, lived in two countries on two continents, crossed the ocean in either a sailing ship or a steamer, and plied the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in a steamboat paddlewheeler…pregnant…with 7 children…and a husband. Two weeks later, she married that same husband for the second time…just to be sure I guess. Just over a decade later, at least three of her sons, if not four, fought in the Civil War, and one of them probably perished. Two children, four grandchildren, a great-grandchild and her husband would precede her in death. At least, on that far shore, much the same as the far shore of America, she had someone waiting for her.
Katharina Barbara Lemmert’s mitochondrial DNA was passed to her by her mother. Woman pass it on, men don’t, so Katharina Barbara’s sisters would have passed it on as well. However, since we don’t know much about those sisters, we don’t know of any descendants to test today.
Katharina Barbara’s two daughters both had daughters who passed her mitochondrial DNA on through their daughters who hopefully passed it on to someone who still carries it today. In the current generation, males also carry their mother’s mitochondrial DNA, so they can test. They just don’t pass that kind of DNA on to their offspring. Only females pass it on.
Katharina Barbara Kirsch who married Johann Martin Koehler had the following daughters who lived:
- Mary Koehler, born January 6, 1852, married Henry Hornberger in 1871 in Dearborn County, Indiana. He is shown alone in Nebraska in the 1880 census, so she has apparently died by this time. There is no record of any children, but the family sources do indicate that “they went to Nebraska.” The Riverview cemetery shows her burial on January 22, 1880, age 28, and having been sent for burial from Omaha.
- Elizabeth “Lizzie” Koehler born in 1854 married Christian Knoebel and had two male children. Lizzie died in 1884.
- Mamie Koehler born in 1869 married John Fichter in 1892 and had two daughters, Florence and Alberta. Family oral history said that Mamie is a foster or adopted child. Not all the family agrees with that commentary – but all of the people who would have known are now dead. Mamie is shown with Barbara on the 1880 census, but in the 1870 census when she would have been one year old, she does not show in the census with this family in Aurora, Dearborn County, Indiana.
Anna Maria Kirsch born in 1847 married John Kramer and became known as Mary Kramer. She died in 1929 in Collinsville, Madison County, Illinois with her birthplace listed as Mutterstadt. She had 9 children of which 6 were daughters.
- Ida Kramer, 1867-1944 never married
- Nettie Kramer, 1869-1940, married a Huber
- Louisa Kramer, born in 1871, married Mathias Phillips and had 6 daughters
- Lilly Kramer born in 1873, was single in 1940, so apparently never married
- Elizabeth Kramer born in 1875, married John Bell and had one daughter
- Florence Kramer 1887-1911, never married
It appears that the only possible individuals living today who carry Katharina Barbara’s mitochondrial DNA are people who descend from Nettie, Louisa or Elizabeth Kramer through all females to the current generation.
If this description fits you, I have a DNA testing scholarship with your name on it. I’d love to find out more about our ancestor, Katharina Barbara Lemmert.