A Handful of Johanns

In 1839, Johann Gottlob and Justine Ernestine (Bock) Fiehler arrived in America with their three year old daughter, Ernestine.  They had sailed on the Copernicus.

Fiehler passenger list Copernicus
Fiehler family – Copernicus passenger list

Not long after arriving in Perry County, on June 22, Ernestine gave birth to a son, and they named the boy Johann Gotthilf Fiehler.  I am no expert on these matters, but according to my calculations, Ernestine may or may not have known she was pregnant when she boarded the Copernicus in Bremerhaven, Germany.  We can assume that she was very pregnant when she arrived near the Brazeau Creek in May of 1839.  The sad part of this story is that little Johann Gotthilf only lived until July 29 of that year.

The couple’s next child was a daughter born in 1840, and she, too, died not long after being born.  By the time of her birth, the Fiehler family had become part of the congregation in Paitzdorf, Missouri.  Later, this community was renamed Uniontown.

All in all, the Fiehlers had eight children, six of which lived to adulthood.  What amazes me are the names of all the boys in that family.  Following is a list of them:

  • Johann Gotthilf Fiehler
  • Johann Robert Fiehler
  • Johann Benjamin Fiehler
  • Johann Martin Traugott Fiehler
  • Johann Laurenius Traugott Fiehler

Five Johanns!  All of them had the first name of Johann.

One thing I have learned since I’ve become involved with researching old German families is that a person was not very often called by their first name.  What we now refer to as a middle name became the name one was called.  Also, by far, the most common first name used by these Germans in those days was Johann.  This Fiehler family is a classic example of this.


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