Another Irresistible Name…..Schimmelpfennig

In the 1850’s, three Austrian brothers came to America.  One of them, Carl Mirly, settled in the New Wells area just south of the Apple Creek in Cape Girardeau County.  The other two brothers, Matthias and Joseph, went elsewhere first, but by the 1860’s, they joined their brother in New Wells.  Joseph Mirly and his wife, Wilhelmina, had their fourth child, Catherine Josephine Theresia, on July 13, 1864.  Here is her baptism record from the Immanuel Lutheran, New Wells church books:

Caroline Mirly baptism record
Caroline Mirly’s baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells

It is hard to read, but the mother’s name is listed as Wilhelmina Caroline Albertine nee Schimmelpfennig.  Now that is a German mouthful.  Not long ago, we posted a story about a Zwickelhuber in Perry County.  This name ranks right there with Zwickelhuber.  And how can you not do a story about a Schimmelpfennig.

Joseph Mirly married Wilhelmina Schimmelpfennig sometime after he arrived in America and the time he moved to Cape County.  We were not able to find a marriage record for this couple.  The Mirly family history records that Joseph spent time in Chicago.  There is also an 1860 census that shows Joseph living in Florissant, Missouri with Wilhelmina and two children.  Doing the math indicates the two must have been married before 1856.

Believe it or not, the 1870 census for the Shawnee Township in Cape County shows Joseph Mirly as being a shoemaker (See Too Many Shoemakers…..Not Enough Feet).  The 1880 census for the same area lists Joseph as a farmer.

Wilhelmina died in 1907 of pneumonia.  I find it also humorous that a person with a pfennig in her name would die of pneumonia.  Silent p’s abound.

The term schimmelpfennig is an interesting term. Schimmel means mold or moldy; pfennig means penny.  So a schimmelpfennig would be a moldy penny.  We found that schimmelpfennig is a German nickname for a miser who is so unwilling to spend his money that his pennies become moldy.  I would daresay that I have become acquainted with several schimmelpfennigs in my lifetime.  In fact, my wife might consider me to be a schimmelpfennig.

One more thing.  At the risk of sounding political, I will suggest that we need to put more schimmelpfennigs on the ballot this November.


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