Which of the Original Immigrants Was the Last to Die? Part 2

In the process of making additions to our German Family Tree, our dedicated researcher and creator of that document, Lynn Degenhardt, has come across some information which leads us to consider the question again, “Which of the original immigrants was the last to die?”

When I arrived in Perry County after I retired several years ago, I ran across an old newspaper article from a Perry County publication that seemed to answer this question.  It said that my great grandfather, Gottwerth Schmidt, was the last of the original immigrants to die.  Gottwerth died in 1926.

However, we then ran across the fact that there was a woman by the name of Emilie (Hopfer) Frentzel who died in 1927.  She was part of the Gruber Group that arrived in Perry County in December of 1839.  She was about 3 years old when she came to America aboard the Johann Georg.  Since we do include the Gruber Group as being part of the original immigration, this made Emilie the person who qualified as the last one to die.

However, now we must look at a man by the name of Heinrich Jacob.  Heinrich was another passenger aboard the return trip of the Johann Georg and the Gruber Group which arrived in December of 1839.  When he arrived, he was just 7 months old, meaning that he must have been born somewhere around May of 1839.  Heinrich’s parents were Michael and Marie (Hopfer) Jacob.  Here we see the Jacob (or Jakob) family listed on the passenger list of the Johann Georg when they arrived in New Orleans.

Heinrich Jacob passenger list Johann Georg Nov 1839
Jacob family – Johann Georg passenger list

I have written a story about Henry Jacob before.  Henry’s first marriage took place in 1864.  At that time, he married Marie Kramer.  What is notable about that marriage is the fact that there were three marriages, all Kramer siblings, who were married on the same day at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  That post was titled, Three in One at Trinity

Our German Family Tree says that Henry and Marie had five children, including a set of twins.  However, in 1873, Marie died.  Then Henry married a second wife.  Her name was Hanna (Hinkelmann) Roediger.  She was a widow.  The German Family Tree indicates that between 1875 and 1889, Henry and Hanna had 10 more children.  Then in 1898, Hanna died making Henry a widower again.

One of Henry’s sons by his first marriage was John H.W. Jacob who became a Lutheran pastor.  His story was also told in a previous blog post written by Fred Eggers titled, From Perry County to the Mountains to the Plains In that story, it documented that Rev. Jacob was once a pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sylvan Grove, Kansas.  Here is a list of past pastors at that congregation.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Sylvan Grove pastors

Rev. Jacob served that congregation from 1897-1910.  Meanwhile, we still find Henry Jacob living by himself in the 1900 census for Perry County.  In a 1905 census taken in Kansas we find Henry living in Lincoln County, where his son is the pastor.

Henry Jacob Kansas census 1905

By the way, the Augusta Ackelbein who is listed here happens to be the mother of Rev. Jacob’s wife, Bertha (Acklebein) Jacob.

Rev. Jacob went on to serve other parishes before his death, but he and his wife are buried in the Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery in Sylvan Grove.  Their tombstone was shown in Fred Eggers’ blog post.  However, we also find Henry Jacob, the original immigrant also buried in that cemetery.  Here is his gravestone.

Henry Jacob gravestone Sylvan Grove KS

Let me fill in some blanks.  In 1920, we find Henry back in Perry County living with his son, Adolph Jacob.   By that time, Henry was 80 years old.

Henry Jacob 1920 census Perry County
1920 census – Perry County, MO

By the time 1930 rolled around, Henry was back in Lincoln County, Kansas, living with his daughter, Sarah, who was married to Fred Stelling, another Perry County native who was now living in the Sylvan Grove area.

Henry Jacob 1930 census Sylvan Grove KS
1930 census – Sylvan Grove, KS

Now he is 91 years old.  It would be the following year that Henry died.  That would indeed make make him the last of the original immigrants to die………unless we find another one.

So here’s the deal, according to my reckoning:

Gottwerth Schmidt was the last original immigrant to die if you just consider the passengers on the first five ships that left Germany in November of 1838.

Emilie (Hopfer) Frentzel was the last original immigrant to die and to be buried in Perry County, Missouri.

And Henry Jacob was the last original immigrant to die, and he was buried in another location.

The last question is this.  Will we have to write a Part 3 to this post someday.  I do know we will keep looking.



8 thoughts on “Which of the Original Immigrants Was the Last to Die? Part 2

  1. Sylvan Grove, Kansas, is a place in the history of a number of the Perry County families. A number of young men went to that area to work in the harvest in the 1920’s (my dad included). I am curious about Fred Stelling and his parents because my grandmother was Mary (Maria) Stelling, the daughter of Heinrich Stelling and Martha Holschen. Wondering if Fred might be Grandma’s cousin. Thank you.


  2. Did the search for the last original immigrant to die include those original immigrants who returned to Europe after the Stephanite debacle?


    1. Looking for records in Germany is a very challenging task. If we find such a case someday, we would write about it. Are you able to help us get at some of those records? Do you know about a particular person that we should look at?


      1. Dr. Carl Eduard Vehse’s daughter, Matilda Charlotte, was born on December 22, 1828, made the trip to Missouri with her father and left with him on the Johann Georg in December 1839 to return to Germany.

        According to Walter Forster’s Zion on the Misissippi (pp. 530, 541, 547, 551):

        Franz Adolph (42) and Louise (38) Marbach left Perry County in August, 1841, to return to Germany. With them were three surviving children, Gustav (12), Klara (8), and Victor (7). The Marbachs also travel back with the Bürger and Stärtzell families:

        Ernst Moritz (35) and Johanne Christiane Henrietta (29) Bürger, and their children, Paul Theodor (5) and Martin (3).

        Johann August, Sr. Stärtzell (59) and his children, Johann August, Jr. (27) and Johanne Christiane (21). (BTW, Forster notes that their name was at various times was also spelled Sörtzel, Stärtzel, Stärzel, Sterzel, Störtzell, Störtzel.)

        In Forster’s list (pp. 540-553), of the original immigrants on the Copernicus, Johann Georg, Republik, and Olbers, there are 25 children, 12 and younger (in November 1838), who by 1844 returned to Germany or moved away from the Missouri Saxon settlements with their parents. Thirteen of the children were 5 or younger in November 1838. Forster’s list was compiled from sources listed in Footnote 1 (p. 535). The Concordia Historical Institute should have copies of those documents.


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