Widows and Widowers Abounded

The main character of today’s story in Johann Georg Gotthold Darnsteadt.  His second marriage took place on May 31st, so he made my radar today.  Johann was one of the original immigrants, coming by himself to America when he was 24 years old.  He made the voyage on the Copernicus.  We have a trunk at our museum that was used by Johann.

Darnstaedt trunk
Darnstaedt trunk

Here is photo of Johann.

Johann Georg Gotthold Darnstaedt
Johann Darnstaedt

As was the case with plenty of passengers on the Copernicus, Johann settled in the Seelitz area.  Although this map was made well after his death, we see the Darnstaedt name on it where Johann had lived.

Darnstaedt land map
Darnstaedt land – 1915

One of the first things that Johann did after arriving in Perry County was to get married.  He married a woman who had recently become a widow and had four children.  Her name was Johanna (Weinek) Boehme.  Her husband had died in February of 1839 in St. Louis before the immigrants traveled to Perry County to settle their new land.  Johann and Johanna were married on April 10, 1840.  This couple lived in a small log cabin which had been built by Johann.  Here is a photo of that cabin when it was in a state of deterioration.  It would later succumb to termites.

Dorothy W Darnstaedt cabin X

Johanna died in 1858.  Johann would then marry Christiane Mueller on May 31, 1859.  I find it interesting that when Johann had married Johanna, she was 16 years older than him.  When he married Christiane, he was twenty-two years older than her.  Christiane was also a widow when she married Johann.  She had been married to Adam Kaufmann in 1856, but he died in 1858.  That couple had one child, Amalia Kaufmann.

The 1860 census shows that all the Boehme children had moved out of the Darnstaedt home, but a new set of children took their place.  There was Amalia Kaufmann, a newborn Darnstaedt child, and two Kermse children in their teens who reportedly were adopted.

The photos below must have been taken around 1865.  The children in the photo are Amalia Kaufmann (on the left), Anna Darnstaedt (on the right) and Magdalena Darnstaedt (in the middle).  Johann and Christiane are in the left photo.


Darnstaedt family and three girls

For some reason, a brother, Johann Gottfried Darnstaedt was not photographed.  He was older than the Darnstaedt girls, but younger than Amalia Kaufmann.  The Darnstaedts would continue having children until 1875.

Here is a photo of Christiane that was likely taken after Johann’s death.

Christiane Mueller Darnstaedt
Christiane Darnstaedt

Johann died in 1880 at the age of 66.  Christiane would not die until 1917 at the age of 80.  Their story is a type that was recurring during those days.  There was so much death, and many of those deaths occurred when people were relatively young.  When someone became a widow or widower, it wasn’t long before they remarried.  We also see many cases of orphans who were welcomed into another family through adoption.  Many of these were marriages that resulted from necessity.  It was part of survival.

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