While walls were rising on a new building at Trinity Lutheran Church, just down the road at Immanuel Lutheran Church, a marriage was taking place on this day, January 29, 1867. Eighteen year old Bertha Engert, whose parents had arrived in 1839 with the Gruber group, was united in marriage with August Degenhardt, a thirty year old man who had just recently arrived in America and found his way to Perry County. Today would be their 150th anniversary.
Bertha was one of the children of Friedrich Engert. A previous post about the Engert family was titled, Another Fertile Father.
August arrived in New York aboard the Bavaria on September 28, 1865. This document shows August as a 28 year old passenger.
We often have no record of people leaving Germany because so many of them left from Bremerhaven, and those records no longer exist. However, August left from Hamburg, and we do have a record of his departure.
We see an additional fact on this list. August’s occupation is given as bäcker, or in English, baker. August would not be a baker in America. Once here, he became a farmer, and he spent most of his life here on a farm in the Seelitz area, although word has it that August did build an outdoor bake oven at their home, and he was often involved in baking for the family.
The Bavaria left Germany on September 9 and arrived in New York on September 28. This was a voyage of 19 days. In 1839, when the original immigrants arrived, their trip took about two months. The introduction of steamships made a huge difference. Also, more people would come into America through New York because in 1856, the railroad was completed from New York to St. Louis. It had become easier to get here by first landing in New York.
August came to Perry County because there was a friend of the family who was already here. His name was Albert Fischer, and by the time that August showed up here, Albert was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church.
We have access to a few photos of August and Bertha.
In 1877, August was able to buy a farm in the Seelitz area. Here is a later photo of the Degenhardt home on this property.
This Degenhardt couple had twelve children. Shortly after the twelfth child, Ottilie, was born, Bertha died, leaving August with some very young children. Ottilie was “sent out” to a family in St. Louis to be raised.
Here is a later photo of August standing near his old farmplace.
This is a photo of most of the Degenhardt children taken when they were older.
One of the Degenhardt descendants is the author of the German Family Tree, which is a resource I use almost daily to find information for this blog. His name is Lynn Degenhardt, and he is the great grandson of August and Bertha. Lynn’s tireless effort at constructing this resource which basically is a family tree of East Perry County, is a great blessing to us here at the museum. Here is a photo of Lynn speaking at his Perryville High School graduation as the valedictorian in 1964 taken from the yearbook.
Gerard Fiehler insists that Lynn’s next words in this address were “Start your engines.”