I was having trouble finding a story for December 1st when I ran across a fact in our German Family Tree that led me to write last year’s December 1st story. While looking at the story I wrote a year ago, I began to ask more questions about it, and since I didn’t have the answers to those questions yet, I decided to dig into that story a little deeper. First, let’s review some of the main points from last year’s story titled, Born at Sea.
- There were two August Friedrich Ahners who came to America aboard the Copernicus in 1838.
- A daughter of the younger Ahner died aboard the Copernicus and had to be buried at sea.
- A son in this same family was born aboard that same ship on the way to America. So this family started the voyage and ended the voyage with two children.
- Both of the Ahners (sometimes spelled Ahnert) remained in St. Louis, at least for a while. The older Ahner, after a second marriage, moved to Perry County.
- The two Ahners were from the same city in Germany, so it is likely they were related to each other, but the indication in Zion on the Mississippi that one of them was a Sr. and the other a Jr. is impossible based on their ages.
The Ahner surname is the first one to show up in an alphabetical list of passengers who were part of the original immigration. Here is how they appear in a list found in Zion on the Mississippi.
Just a side note. Around here, the name Ahner is pronounced the same way that you would pronounce the word, honor.
I decided to focus on the oldest son of the younger August Friedrich Ahner today. That August Friedrich Ahner never did move to Perry County and spent most of his life in St. Louis. He came to the United States as a weaver, but after getting here, changed to become a saddler. His oldest son, who was 3 years old when he arrived, was (ready for this?) Friedrich August Ahner. Friedrich would go on to become a Lutheran pastor.
When I found out that Friedrich became a pastor, I started doing some Math, and I realized there was a possibility that he may have attended Concordia Seminary when it was moved to St. Louis in 1849, so I looked for the 1850 census records that listed the students at that school. Here is what I found.
Friedrich was already studying for the ministry when he was 15 years old. Right above his name is an entry that must have been Gotthilf Loeber, the youngest child of Rev. Gotthold Loeber, who had just died in Altenburg in 1849. His name is not spelled correctly. By the way, Friedrich’s mother had also died in July of 1849 during the catastrophic cholera epidemic that hit St. Louis. Sending Friedrich to the Seminary was probably a real blessing to his father who was now a widower.
Here’s where some real mysteries show up. In 1850, August Friedrich (the father) was a widower and his son, Friedrich August, was a 15 year old Seminarian. Now we look at this marriage record from St. Louis that we find during the year 1851.
August Friedrich Ahner married a widow by the name of Maria Elizabeth Hoffler. They were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Louis where Rev. J.F. Buenger was the pastor. It would seem apparent that this was the father remarrying, not his 16 year old son. However, let’s take a look at some records we have in our German Family Tree for the son.
There are numerous problems here.
- It indicates that young Friedrich married Anna Marie Schreiber in 1857, and it may have been a second marriage.
- Even though it says he married in 1857, three of the listed children were born before that year.
- In other later documents, we are told that Friedrich’s wife was Louise Schreiber.
- There are references above to the mother of the child being Anna Maria Elisabeth nee Schreiber.
- In two instances, there is a sponsor for the child’s baptism that is Louise Schreiber.
Was Friedrich married twice? Is there a difference between Anna Marie Elisabeth Schreiber and Anna Maria Louise Schreiber? If Friedrich was previously married, could he already be having children when he was only 16 years old (and studying for the ministry)? Were some of these listed actually children of Friedrich’s father after he remarried? Are there problems with the church records of Old Trinity Lutheran Church? The only sensible explanation I could come up with is that all these children were actually children of Friedrich’s father, by his second wife, who may have been a widow when she married August Friedrich, and her maiden name may have also been Schreiber. I do know that in Louise Ahner’s obituary, it states that her oldest child was born in 1858.
Here is the marriage record of Friedrich and Anna M. Louise Schreiber.
These two were married by Rev. Schaller at Old Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis in 1857. The Old Trinity church record states that Friedrich was already a Lutheran minister. In the 1860 census, the Ahners were living in Grafton, Wisconsin.
Their two children shown here were Emma and Concordia, neither of which are names you see in the GFT records shown above. Also, both of these children are shown on this census as being born in Wisconsin.
I am going to interject here that Friedrich’s father died in 1887. The other August Friedrich Ahner that moved to Perry County also died in 1887. This stuff just gets my head spinning. I found this FindaGrave.com listing for Friedrich’s burial in Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in St. Louis. There is no photo of his gravestone, and his name is misspelled. And, by the way, the other August Friedrich Ahner is also buried in a Concordia Lutheran Cemetery, only it is found in Frohna.
I do know also that Rev. Ahner was the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Frankentrost, Michigan for 27 years. That is one of the “Franken” churches around Saginaw, Michigan. Frankenmuth is probably the most familiar of those Franconian churches up there. Another pastor with Perry County connections, Rev. Ottomar Fuerbringer, served St. Lorenz Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth for many years.
I found Pastor Ahner in another census in 1900, and that one got my attention. We find him as a preacher in Beaver Township in Bay County, Michigan.
My brother, Dennis Schmidt, is a retired Lutheran educator who served Zion Lutheran Church in Beaver Township and still attends that church after his retirement. I contacted Dennis, and he checked out their church history, and Rev. Ahner was at his congregation from 1896 until 1905.
Rev. Ahner died in 1907. His wife, Louise, had died in 1896. Here is part of Louise’s obituary.
I also found this portion of Rev. Friedrich Ahner’s obituary in 1907.
Both Friedrich and Louis are buried in the Holy Cross Lutheran Cemetery in Saginaw, Michigan. Here is their gravestone.
One thing I do know. I’m going to have to sit down with Lynn Degenhardt to discuss possible changes to our German Family Tree.