Felicitas?

In ancient Rome, there was a goddess named Felicitas.  She was the goddess of happiness, abundance, and good luck.  A coin once had an image of Felicitas shown on it.

Felicitas

Felicitas is shown holding what is called a caduceus, a symbol often used to represent medicine, and a cornucopia, a symbol for abundance or plenty.  One of the main characters in today’s story had the name Felicitas.  By the time you are done reading this post, you may agree with me that Felicitas was misnamed.

Felicitas Lang came to America in 1849. Right before leaving Germany, she married George Ernst Angermann.  They were planning to move to the Perryville, Missouri area where several friends and relatives lived.  Since they were traveling in winter, they managed to get as far as Cincinnati, Ohio before ice in the river stopped them, and they decided to stay there for a few years.  George worked in a rock quarry fwhile there.  In 1854, George and Felicitas left and moved to Perry County.  They bought some land in the Lithium area and George became a farmer.

Several of her brothers and sisters also came to the United States about the same time, but they came at different times on different ships.  There is a story in the Lang family that one of the Lang brothers, Johann, went with a few friends to California during the Gold Rush.  He is said to have married an Indian girl and was murdered somewhere near the gold mines.

In 1865, Felicitas’s parents, Peter and Barbara (Shmeuszer-sp?) Lang, decided to come to America to be reunited with their family and meet grandchildren they had never seen.  Peter became sick on the voyage, and finally, when they had gotten as far as Cairo, Illinois, he died.  The boat they were on stopped long enough for him to be buried on the banks of the Ohio River.  So when Felicitas finally saw her mother when she arrived in Lithium, she was greeted with the news that her father had died.

I only managed to find one photo of any of the people in this story, and that is one of Barbara Shmeuszer.

Barbara Shmeuszer

In 1867, Barbara was staying on the farm with George and Felicitas.   On July 21, Felicitas had a new baby son.  Grandma Barbara was there for that happy event.  However, when that child was not even two months old, George came home from working in the fields, complaining that he was not feeling well.  They sent for a doctor, but before the doctor arrived, George had died.  The death was attributed to typhoid.  He was buried in the Friedenberg cemetery.  Here is a photo of that gravestone.

George Angermann gravestone
George Angermann gravestone – Peace Cemetery, Friedenberg

Once again, tragedy had entered the life of Felicitas, but it would not be the last.  Two weeks after her husband died, her mother, Barbara, also died.  A family history says that she was buried in the same grave with George, but it is not marked for her in any way.  Now Felicitas was a widow with six children, and no one to help her raise them.  We see this fact illustrated in the 1870 census.

Katharine Angerman 1870 census
1870 census – Perry County, MO

I don’t know if this is the original land owned by the Angermann family, but in this 1915 land ownership map, we find some Angermann land north of Perryville along what is now Highway 61.

Angermann land map

In 1876, Felicitas’s oldest child, Katarina, was engaged to be married to a man with the last name of Herschbach.  We do not know his first name.  There are some Herschbachs from Chester, Illinois, but without a first name, I cannot show that Katarina’s fiancé was from that family.  Regardless of that fact, it turns out that Katarina never did get married.  A record in the Friedenberg book says that she ” died 3 July, 1876, just before her wedding.”  A record in the Immanuel Lutheran, Perryville church books says that Katarina died of consumption.  Consumption is the word used to describe tuberculosis back in those days.

A few more facts make this story even more fascinating.  First of all, the date of Katarina’s death is one day before the Fourth of July in 1876.  That was the centennial year of America’s history.  People all over the country were celebrating this special anniversary of the birth of our country.  Katarina would be buried one day later on July 5th.  The Friedenberg record says that she was buried in the Immanuel, Perryville Cemetery, but Findagrave.com does not include a record of her grave.  The centennial celebration was not very festive that year for the Angermann/Lang family.

Secondly, it is reported in a Friedenberg record and in the family history of this family that Katarina was buried in her wedding dress.  Although I suppose there may be the possibility that her fiancé, Mr. Herschbach, requested that she get buried this way.  However, I find it more likely that the decision was made by Felicitas, her mother.  Needless to say, this is a new one for me.  I have never heard of an unmarried bride being buried in a wedding dress.  Many tears must have been shed over this funeral.

A mere two years later, Felicitas lost another child.  Her last child, Karl, who was born right before his father’s death in 1867, died on January 20, 1878.  He hadn’t even reached his eleventh birthday.  It is recorded that he died of the same disease his father had….typhoid.

Felicitas died on November 16, 1911 at the age of 87.  Here is her death certificate.

Felicitas Angermann death certificate
Felicitas Angermann death certificate

Felicitas is buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.

Felicitas Angermann gravestone
Felicitas Angermann gravestone – Immanuel, Perryville

There are lessons to be learned from the life of Felicitas (Lang) Angermann.  First of all, a name does not dictate what kind of life you will live.  Did Felicitas live a life which was epitomized by good health?  Was her life full of abundance and happiness?  I think you would agreed that this was not the case.  Also, it must be said that our lives are not controlled by some sort of god or goddess devised by humans.  However, there is the one true God who is in control.  The name that was important to Felicitas and is important to us is the name “Christian” which is given to us when we are baptized in the name of the Triune God.  God does not guarantee a life full of good health, prosperity, and happiness.  What He does guarantee is that because of our faith we will be experiencing an eternal future which includes perfect health, much abundance, and perfect happiness.

While no one can tell whether someone else had the faith necessary for eternal life in heaven, I think there is evidence that Felicitas had such faith.  There are numerous records that indicate she never gave up her church membership.  The Angermann/Lang family history also includes the fact that among Felicitas’s friends list was Rev. Demetrio, the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville.  Considering the circumstances in her life, Felicitas could have taken on the characteristics of her married name.  She could have become an Angerwoman.  But we don’t see evidence of this.  We see evidence of a faithful woman who persisted through much adversity.

 


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