Who Was the Youngest?

Today’s post was inspired by a question we received at our museum.  The question was asked by Tom Hirsch, a friend of our museum who hails from the Tirmenstein family.  He asked, “Which of the original immigrants was the youngest when the German Lutherans left their homeland in 1838?”  Implied in this question is the assumption that we should not count the babies that were born aboard the ships.  Also, it was not to include the New York Group, many of which came to America earlier that 1839.  Since the ships did not all leave on the same day, we will have to take that into consideration when we determine how old some of the youngest ones were.  We will place an alphabetical list here which will include any child that is shown to be one year or younger as recorded in Zion on the Mississippi.
It will also include a birthday if it is recorded in our German Family Tree or if I found it in another source.

  • Amalie Theresia Ahner     Born c.1837 (undocumented)           died at sea
  • Martin Barthel                     February 12, 1838                              9 months old
  • Juliane Friedriche Auguste Barthel       Born c.1838 (undocumented)        died at sea
  • Johanne Friedericke Biehle      Born c.1838 (undocumented)            died April 7, 1839
  • Ludwig Boehme                   February 9, 1838                                 9 months old
  • Martin Buerger                     Born c.1837 or 1838 (undocumented)
  • August Herman Burkhardt    Born c.1837 or 1838 (undocumented)
  • Sophie Johanne Estel           Born c.1837 (undocumented)        died June 14, 1839
  • Alvina Fredericke Fischer    Possibly April 26, 1838                died April 9, 1839
  • Johann Ehregott Fischer       Born c.1838 (undocumented)
  • Friedrich Adolph Hoelzel     November, 1837 (from 1900 census)   about 1 year old
  • Friedrich Martin Niemann  Born c.1837 (undocumented)
  •  Infant Niemann  (Friedrich’s sibling)    Born c.1838 (undocumented)  died at sea
  • Christiane Constanze Schmeizer    Born March 1838                  8 months old
  • Eva Magdalena Schmidt    July 13, 1837   More than 1 year old    died March 31, 1839
  • Martin Paulus Tirmenstein  September 25, 1838                       9 weeks old
  • Moritz Weise                     Born c.1838 (undocumented)           Family left Gesellschaft

So my conclusion, based on what I see here, is that Martin Paulus Tirmenstein was the youngest Stephanite immigrant to get on a ship in Germany to come to America in the Gesellschaft.  He is also part of Tom Hirsch’s family.  I cannot state this with 100% assurance, since there are so many undocumented births in 1838.

Martin Tirmenstein went on to become a Lutheran pastor.  Here is a photo of him.

Rev. Martin Paulus Tirmenstein
Rev. Martin Paulus Tirmenstein

Rev. Tirmenstein was mentioned in a previous blog titled, A Census Hall of Fame.

Another person was mentioned in that post that is also part of the list in this post.  That was Martin Barthel, who became the first manager of Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis.  Here is his photo.

Martin Barthel
Martin Barthel

By the way, I just had to look to see who the oldest immigrant would have been.  It turns our that the oldest one was Martin Barthel’s grandmother, Christiane Sophie Barthel, who came to America at the age of 76.  She only lived to the end of that first year here, dying on November 23, 1839.

As a result of this search, I have come to some generalizations.

  • A rather large percentage of the babies that started on this voyage across the Atlantic either died at sea or not long after arriving.  The trip must have put great stress on these little ones.  I can only imagine how a mother with a young crying baby might have worried about her child being a bother to the other passengers.  Breast-feeding a baby on board a ship swaying with the waves could not have been an easy thing.  Also, disease could easily have had even more of an impact on these little ones.
  • Also, a rather large percentage of the folks that came with these really young ones made the decision to stay in St. Louis and not move to Perry County.  This, too, makes sense.  There must have been much more opportunity to get medical care for babies in a bigger city than in the wilds of Southeast Missouri.

Not many of these babies survived the ordeal of their trip across the ocean, but those who did would have interesting stories to tell throughout their lives.  Our research team really enjoys having a challenge like this.  We encourage you to comment on our website here or on our Facebook page.  We love to hear your input.


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