I was not planning to write a story today, but I ran across one that I just could not resist sharing. It is not often that you run across a birthday in our German Family Tree that occurred 200 years ago. As you can figure, such a birthday must have occurred in Germany, not in the United States. That is exactly what I found for today.
Gerhard (or Gerd) Steffens was born on February 14, 1818 in Germany and was baptized at the Lutheran church in Lamstedt. The name given to this church is St. Bartholomäus-Kirche. Here is a photograph of that church.
I found some photos of the interior of that church also.
I also found this photo of the baptismal font in that church, but if I read the German correctly, this font replaced an old one that may have been ruined as a result of World War II. Therefore, it would not be the font in which Gerhard was baptized in 1818.
The image of Gerhard’s baptism record is available through Ancestry.com. Here is that record.
This record documents the fact that his parents’ names were Claus Steffens and Metta Lührs. One of the sponsors shown here is Rebecca von Glahn. Keep that name in mind. It will show up again later.
On October 16, 1842, Gerhard, at the age of 24, got married. His bride was Anna Catharina Steffens. Yes, that’s right. A Steffens married a Steffens. Here is their marriage record from that same Lutheran church in Lamstedt.
This couple had several children, and some of them died very early. Then in 1864, Gerhard’s wife died. That leads us to 1867 when Gerhard, at the age of 49, made the decision to move to America. He, along with two daughters, Margaretha and Christine, boarded the ship, Uhland, to sail to the United States. Here we see the passenger list for that ship showing the Steffens group.
Gerhard is said to have been from the village of Nordahn. You can see on this map that Nordahn is located very near Lamstedt, and also not far from Bremerhaven, which is the port city from which so many ships left on their way to America.
Under the Steffens names on the passenger list, you will find the name Meta von Glahn. That is the von Glahn surname that we saw as a sponsor for Gerhardt. Meta also ended up in Perry County and married a Mangels, which is another Lamstedt name. The next name on the passenger list was Meta Reese. There seems to be evidence that she also ended up in Perry County, and it is believed that she married a Heins. On her marriage record, she was listed as Steffens.
Finally, on the passenger list you see a Claus Lührs. That was Gerhard’s mother’s maiden name. Claus came to Perry County also and married a Holschen.
Later on, two of Gerhard’s nephews, Claus and Heinrich, also came to Perry County and established families here. They were the ones whose many descendants carried the surname Steffens. Gerhard only brought daughters, so none of his descendants carried the Steffens name.
As it turns out, his daughter, Anna Margaretha Steffens married Claus Stueve. (There are way too many men by the name of Claus in this story.) The German Family Tree shows this couple as having 13 children, so there were plenty of descendants who came from this daughter. The other daughter, Christine Steffens married Heinrich Lohmann. That couple is recorded as having 8 children, so there are plenty of descendants there as well. They just didn’t carry the Steffens surname.
Gerhard was living with the Claus Stueve family in the 1880 census from Farrar, Missouri.
The 1900 census shows him living with the Heinrich Lohmann family in Farrar.
Gerhard died in 1902 at the age of 84. He is buried in the Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Farrar.
Gerd was born on Valentine’s Day, but his story is not exactly one full of Valentine love. His wife died at a very young age, and poor Gerd spent the rest of his life as a widower. However, we can wish him a very special 200th birthday today. His story is an important one to many who came from the Steffens family which came to America and settled in Perry County.