Two hundred fifteen years ago, Ferdinand Boehlau was born in Leipzig, Germany. His birthday was September 16, 1803, just a few months after the official announcement of the Louisiana Purchase. Ferdinand would end up living in a portion of that land acquisition because he became part of the Gesellschaft that arrived in Missouri in 1839. When Ferdinand sailed to this country, he was 35 years old. I don’t know if there was any previous marriage in Germany, but he was not married when he came to the United States. He sailed aboard the Johann Georg. He must have been fairly wealthy because he was listed as one of the “cabin” passengers that got better accommodations on the ship, along with Rev. Keyl and Rev. C.F.W. Walther.
Ferdinand was part of the group that settled in Perry County, and there are a few notations in the church records that indicate he became a merchant in Wittenberg, the community that was formed on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was also not long after he arrived that he was married. His bride can also be found on the passenger list shown above. Her name was Natalie Geyer, whose brother, Charles, is also shown there. Charles (or Carl) was a candidate of theology who went on to become a pastor. The marriage record can be found in the church books of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri. Rev. Keyl, shown on the passenger list at the top, was the pastor of the Frohna congregation.
These two were married on November 27, 1839. They were just the second marriage record in the Concordia books. Ferdinand and Natalie were not married long because on January 6, 1842, she died. The church record says she died as a result of an early child birth. The child apparently died also, but we have no record of it. Here is Natalie’s death record.
This death record states that Natalie died in Wittenberg where Ferdinand was a merchant and was buried in the Altenburg cemetery. She must have been one of the first ones to be buried in that cemetery where Christiane Loeber’s land was used for her burial in 1840, and that land became Trinity’s cemetery. If there is a gravestone, and I doubt that there is one, it cannot be read. Not long after Natalie died, another death occurred in Seelitz, and this transcription can be found in the Concordia books.
Please note that the man who died a few weeks after Natalie was Johann Kuhn, who is shown as a grave stone maker. In the really early years of the settlement of this area, I doubt if any gravestones were made because the people were just trying to survive, and then this record indicates that a grave stone maker has now died. I looked in the Findagrave.com entries in the Trinity, Altenburg cemetery, and the earliest readable marker shown there is one found with the date of death being in 1860.
Later in the same year, Ferdinand married Emma Niedner on November 7, 1842. Emma’s mother and younger sister, Laura, can also be seen in the passenger list above. Emma must have traveled as a steerage passenger along with another older sister. There is a reference in our German Family Tree that Emma’s father was a pastor in Germany but had died before the immigration. Ferdinand’s second marriage record is also in the Concordia books.
There is also a civil marriage record for this wedding in the Perry County records.
After Ferdinand and Emma were married, children began to be born. The first two children were born in Perry County in 1843 and 1845. Those baptism records are in the Concordia books, but no sponsors are shown. Sometime between 1845 and 1847, Ferdinand must have moved his family to St. Louis. Their next children’s baptisms can be found in the books of Old Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, and those books contain much information about the baptismal sponsors. What I find interesting is the people that show up as sponsors for the Boehlau children.
Johannes Theophilus Boehlau (born 1847): Rev. J.F. Buenger, Mathilde Doederlein (wife of shopkeeper), Friedrich Koch (organist). Friedrich Koch is called a teacher in the listing of passengers found in the book, Zion on the Mississippi. He is also the sister of the Agnes Koch shown in the Johann Georg passenger list.
Gustav Adolph Boehlau (born 1849): Eduard Schroeter (leatherware handler), Catharina Pechmann (wife of porcelainware handler), August Uhlich (apothecary)
Herman Theodore Boehlau (born 1850): Rev. C.F.W. Walther (professor at the theological seminary), Moritz Niedner, Adelheid Volberg.
Caroline Amalia Boehlau (born 1853): Eduard Roschke (first full-time teacher at Old Trinity and first treasurer of the Western District of the Synod), Ann Eva Koch, Marie Barthel (daughter of the treasurer of the Gesellschaft).
Gustav Eduard Boehlau (born 1857): Johannes Martin Estel, Wilhelm Adolph Heineke, Laura Magdalena Schroeter.
Karl Ferdinand Boehlau (born 1859): Karl Roemer, Mrs. Geisel, Rev. Theodor Brohm (pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis).
Ferdinand himself was a merchant in both Perry County and St. Louis. He died in 1862; Emma died in 1878. Their death records are in the Old Trinity church books, but I did not find their graves in Concordia Cemetery, the cemetery of that congregation, on Findagrave.com. That does not necessarily mean that they are not there.
There certainly was quite an assortment of prominent pastors, teachers, and other officials from the early days of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod involved in the life of Ferdinand Boehlau and his two wives.