Life on the Creek

Wayne SchuesslerWayne Schuessler is the author of today’s blog post.  Wayne has contributed to our blog in the past, and his writing and research have been very well received.  He is an amazing researcher.  As is evidenced in this post, he has been to Germany to delve into his family’s history.  Wayne lives in St. Louis and often makes trips to Perry County.  When he does, he almost always stops by to visit us here at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum.  He has always been a great supporter of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society.  Today, you are in for a real treat, and I, for one, send out a big “Thank You!” to Wayne Schuessler.


The main characters in today’s blog chose today’s date for their wedding day 162 years ago. They are Heinrich Bachmann and Ernestine Koenig. They were from two small towns in Saxe-Altenburg (in the present day German state of Thüringen). We do not know if they knew each other before they emigrated and arrived in Perry County. While today one can travel between Rückersdorf and Korbußen in about 15 minutes, that would not have been the case in 1850. It is more likely that they met each other in Perry County, perhaps at church services in Paitzdorf (known as Uniontown today).

Heinrich was from the town of Rückersdorf along the southern edge of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg.

Saxe-Altenburg Map
Saxe-Altenburg map

While Rückersdorf is within the borders of Saxe-Altenburg, it did not belong to the duke of Saxe-Altenburg. It was actually the possession of the prince of Reuß-Gera (the younger Reuß line). In Germany at that time, the area that is today the state of Thüringen, was divided up into multiple Grand Duchies, Duchies and Principalities. The dukes and princes possessed land much like land is owned in Perry County today. People may own multiple parcels of land that are not necessarily interconnected. Even as late as 1918, present day Thüringen consisted of 8 individual duchies with a few possessions of the Prussian Province of Saxony (today’s German state of Sachsen-Anhalt) mixed in.

Thuringia 1918
1918 Map of Thüringen

We know from the church records that generations of Bachmanns were born, baptized, married and died in the village of Rückersdorf. A note dated 1658 referring to a Jobst Bachmann, his wife Maria, his mother and brother Hans, is the oldest Bachmann record.

Rückersdorf Church
Image of Rückersdorf Church (June 2000)

As is typical of the many small towns in this part of Germany, Rückersdorf is located in a valley along a small stream surrounded by farms.

Village of Rückersdorf
Village of Rückersdorf (June 2000)

In the mid-1800’s, one of those Rückersdorf Bachmann’s decided to seek a new life in the United States.  Heinrich Bachmann, one of the middle sons of Johann and Maria nee Beyerlein Bachmann decided to leave Saxe-Altenburg.  Heinrich was born 30 Apr 1829 according to the church records at Rückersdorf; however, the death record at Salem, Farrar and his tombstone indicate his birth date as 2 May 1829. His reason for leaving is unknown but as a middle son, he most likely would not have inherited any property, because typically, the oldest son would have been the recipient of the farm.

It is not known for sure when Heinrich arrived in Perry County. His uncle, Johann Gottfried Hemmann and his children were part of the Gruber group which arrived in Perry County in 1839.  JG Hemmann’s first wife, Maria Bachmann, died about a year before JG emigrated. The story of Johann Gottfried and his family’s emigration was recounted in the blog The Beginning of the Hemmann Herd.  A Heinr. Bachmann, age 23, did arrive in New York on 17 Sep 1852, aboard the ship Minna having sailed from Bremen.  The age and arrival time are consistent, but this could have been a different Heinrich Bachmann.  Bachmann is a fairly common name in Germany and Switzerland.

Minna Passenger List 1852
Minna Passenger List – New York 17 Sep 1852

The first known record of Heinrich in the United States is at the baptism of the ninth child of Johann Gottfried Hemmann and his new wife at the church in Paitzdorf (Uniontown).  Johann Gottfried remarried after he arrived in Perry County.  He and his new wife started a second family and Heinrich was godfather to August in May of 1853.  Heinrich would have been 24 years old by this time.  At this time, he was reported to be single and a wagoner (teamster).

August Hemmann Baptism Record
August Hemmann Baptism – 15 May 1853

Much more is known about the emigration of Ernestine and her family. She was born in Saxe-Altenburg in the village of Korbußen.  According to the Kirchenbücher Korbußen (Korbußen Church Books) at the archive in Altenburg, Germany, she was born on 1 Jun 1838 and baptized on 4 Jun 1838. Her parents were Gottfried and Rosine nee Wunderlich König.

Korbußen Church (June 2000)

She emigrated with her parents Gottfried and Rosine and siblings.  They arrived in New York aboard the Gaston on 15 Nov 1854 having departed at Bremerhaven.  Also listed on the ship’s registry is Harm. E König. He previously traveled to America with brother Friedrich and assumed cousin Andreas. He apparently returned to Germany to bring his parents and sisters to Perry County.

Gaston Passenger List 1854
Gaston Passenger List – New York 15 Nov 1854

Those listed are as follows:

  •       179       Maria König          18      Female   (suspected niece of Gottfried and sister to Andreas)
  •       180       Gottfried König    48      Male       Carpenter
  •       181       Rosine König       44      Female
  •       182       Harm.E König      18      Female   (obvious gender error)
  •       183       Ernestine König   16      Female
  •       184       Therese König     12      Female

But before they could emigrate, they needed to file a notice with the court. Those notices were filed at the Ronneburg court on 7 Aug 1854 and published on the 10 Aug 1854.


Koenig Enigration Notice
Public Notices – Saxe-Altenburg 10 Aug 1854

The notice above for Gottfried’s family says that “the journeyman carpenter Gottfried Kõnig from Korbußen and his wife Rosine nee Wunderlich with both daughters plan to undertake a trip to America and they leave Michael Vogel in Korbußen with power of attorney”.

On the same day, the “minor Marie König” filed notice that she will “travel to America” and she is represented by “her father homeowner Andreas König from Korbußen”.

After the König family arrives in Perry County, Ernestine and Heinrich meet and decide to marry. According to the Paitzdorf (Uniontown) church record, they were married on the second Sunday after Easter in 1856 at the church.  Easter that year was on the 23rd of March and so their wedding date was Sunday April 6th. At the time of his marriage, Heinrich’s occupation was listed as farmer and teamster in Perry County.

Heinrich-Ernestine Wedding Record
Heinrich & Ernestine Wedding Record – Paitzdorf

Heinrich and Ernestine’s first child was born 14 Mar 1857 but died 7 days later. The following records from the Paitzdorf (Uniontown) church show these events.

Julius Edward Bachmann Birth Record
Birth Record for Julius Edward – Paitzdorf
Bachmann Death Record 1857
Death Record for child of Heinrich Bachmann – Paitzdorf

Apparently, the child was to be named Julius Edward and it appears that his baptism was planned for March 23rd.  However, as his name, baptism date and sponsors are crossed out, I assume that he died prior to being baptized.

However, this was not the only child that Heinrich and Ernestine were to lose at an early age.  In 1866, a child was stillborn.  Another child, Ernst Gotthilff, born in May 1873, died when he was just 2 months old.

Their second son, Joseph, was born in 1858.  He is listed in the baptismal records of Salem, Farrar, although the congregation was not organized until over a year later. He is also listed in the Paitzdorf (Uniontown) record but without his name, baptism date and sponsors.

In May of 1859, the congregation at Farrar met for the first time and “decided to establish the Holy Ministry in this place.”  Heinrich Bachmann was one of the group of 11 men in attendance at the meeting to form that congregation.  The rest of Heinrich and Ernestine’s children were baptized at Salem in Farrar.

In addition to their nine natural born children, Heinrich and Ernestine raised an additional child.  The Salem Confirmation records show a Rosalia Bachmann born in 1873 with Heinrich listed as father.  Her natural parents were John W. and Sarah Clarey Upton.  They both died in November of 1876 when Rosalia was 3 years old and Heinrich and Ernestine took her in and raised her.

Following is a short history of the children of Heinrich and Ernestine who survived to adulthood.

  • Joseph – he was born 19 Mar 1858 – he married Pauline Mueller at Grace, Uniontown 24 Nov 1881 – they had no children – after Pauline’s death in 1883, he married Emilie Schmidt at Concordia, Frohna 12 Apr 1885 – they had 10 children – he died at age 56 on 15 Mar 1915 and was buried at Grace, Uniontown. Joseph and Emilie were discussed in the blog entitled Gottseidank ist es Freitag which featured one of their sons, teacher Paul.
  • Friedrich Edward – he was born 30 Aug 1860 – he married Mathilda Eggers at Trinity, Altenburg 26 Apr 1888 – they had 8 children – he died at age 59 on 27 Aug 1920 and was buried at Salem, Farrar.
  • Heinrich Theodore – he was born 31 Oct 1862 – he married Christine Stueve at Concordia, Frohna 28 Oct 1886 – they had no children – after Christine’s death in 1902, he married Mathilda Lorenz at Salem, Farrar 3 Jan 1904 – they had no children – he died at age 58 on 9 May 1921 and was buried at Immanuel, Perryville. His story is told in the blog entitled From Wagons to Tractors.
  • August Emanuel – he was born 22 Oct 1864 – he married Anna Newberry at Salem, Farrar 6 Nov 1892 – they had 7 children – he died at age 58 on 30 Jun 1923 and was buried at Salem, Farrar. Their story is told in the blog entitled The Bachmanns: A German-English Pair
  • Martin – he was born 15 Oct 1870 – he married Martha Steffens at Salem, Farrar 1 Nov 1894 – they had 5 children – he died at age 47 on 8 Jun 1918 and was buried at Zion, Crosstown.
  • Rosalia – she was born 28 Nov 1873 – she married Alwin Magwitz at Salem, Farrar 2 Nov 1893 – they had 4 children – she died at age 26 on 27 Jun 1900 and was buried at Salem, Farrar.
  • Johannes Ernst – he was born 23 Aug 1874 – he married Martha Mahnken at Salem, Farrar 1 Nov 1900 – they had no children – he died at age 58 on 19 Dec 1932 and was buried at Salem, Farrar.

Even though Joseph was reported to have been born near Appleton, Heinrich already owned property in the Farrar area. On 24 Nov 1855, he purchased 120 acres of land as shown in purple on the 1915 map below.

Bachmann Farrar/Crosstown Property in 1915

Heinrich’s initial purchase of property was on the Omete Creek. The creek flowed through his property on its way to the Mississippi. This was a very appropriate piece of property for Heinrich. His name (Bachmann) would translate as Stream Man or in Perry County we would probably say Creek Man. Heinrich and Ernestine built their home overlooking the creek bottoms, and so began their “Life on the Creek”.

When the home was built and the property occupied is not known for sure, but it was likely between the birth of Joseph in March of 1858 and July of 1860 when the census reported them living on the property. The next son, Friedrich Edward, was due to arrive before the end of August of that year. In 1867 and 1871, he acquired an additional 120 acres as shown in orange above.

In 1901, fourteen years after the death of Heinrich, the 240-acre property was purchased by son Ernst and Martha (nee Mahnken) Bachmann from his brothers as allowed by Heinrich’s Last Will and Testament, dated 16 Aug 1885. After the death of Ernst in 1936, the property passed to his wife Martha.  Since Ernst and Martha had no children, the property passed to the Mahnken family upon the death of Martha in 1961.  Vernon Bachmann subsequently purchased it from the Mahnken family and the home site is therefore owned by descendants of Heinrich today.

The other sons of Heinrich and Ernestine also later purchased farms in the vicinity.  Edward had a farm immediately west of Heinrich’s.  Emanuel’s farm was just south of the farms of Edward and Heinrich.  Martin’s farm was located closer to Crosstown.  It was west of Heinrich by about 2 miles. These farms are all shown on the map above.

Joseph lived on a farm just across Apple Creek in Cape County, about 10 miles south of Heinrich. So, like his parents, Joseph lived out his “Life on the Creek”.  He also owned property in Perry County. His property is located on the 1915 map below.

Joseph Property
Joseph Bachmann Property in 1915

Heinrich and Ernestine continued to live out their lives in their home on the Omete Creek. Heinrich died at the age of 57 on 22 Apr 1887 and was buried at Salem, Farrar.

Heinrich Bachmann Tombstone
Heinrich Bachmann Tombstone

Ernestine died at the age of 68 on 15 Aug 1906 and was buried at Salem, Farrar.

Ernestine Bachmann Tombstone
Ernestine Bachmann Tombstone

While no pictures of Heinrich are known to exist, one of Ernestine has been identified.

Ernestine Bachmann
Ernestine Bachmann

From these farms of Perry County, the Bachmann family has spread to all corners of the United States and has grown to more than 1,000 descendants of those early pioneers, Heinrich and Ernestine Bachmann.

Rückersdorf Town Sign
Wayne & Marilyn in Rückersdorf (June 2000)

My wife, Marilyn, and I first visited the towns of Rückersdorf and Korbußen in 2000.  Since then, we have visited the area three other times accompanied by family and friends with Perry County roots.  It never gets old to see and experience the beautiful towns in Germany where our ancestors first lived.

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