Another Heinrich Herman

Two male first names that I so often see when I look in our German Family Tree are Heinrich and Herman.  Although I did not refer to his full name yesterday, the main character in that post was Heinrich Herman Rauss.  Today, it just so happens that I found another Heinrich Herman who was born at about the same time and about the same place as yesterday’s birthday boy.  It was not long after I arrived in Altenburg and began looking at church records that I discovered that my father carried the name Heinrich.  I always knew my father as Richard Henry Schmidt, but when I looked at his baptism record, his given name was Richard Heinrich Schmidt.  Plenty of Heinrich’s over the years have “Americanized” their names by changing that name to Henry.  As for the name Herman, I will discuss that later.

Heinrich Herman Steffens was born on January 26, 1880, and, like yesterday’s Heinrich Herman, he was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar.  Henry was the son of Michael and Hedwig (Katt) Steffens.  Because he was born so early in 1880, he managed to get included in the census for that year.  That record has to be shown with two images.

henry steffens 1880 census salem township mo

henry steffens 1880 census 2 salem township mo
1880 census – Salem Township, MO

Martha Margaretha Lohmann was born on August 3, 1883.  She, too, was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar.  She was the daughter of Joachim and Gesche (Soehl) Lohmann.  Since she was born in the same year as Heinrich Herman Rauss, there is a good chance those two were in the same confirmation class at Salem.  Unfortunately, since I am not in Altenburg, I cannot look that up.

On October 26, 1905, Henry married Martha at Salem.  Below is their marriage license.

steffens lohmann marriage license
Steffens/Lohmann marriage license

In the 1910 census, we see that Henry and Martha did not have any children of their own, but they had adopted a child by the name of Emma.  I have no idea who Emma’s birth parents were.  Henry was a laborer on a farm.

henry steffens 1910 census salem township mo
1910 census – Salem Township, MO

Sadly, on April 4, 1911, Martha died at the age of 27.  Her death certificate gives the cause of death as tuberculosis.

martha steffens death certificate
Martha Steffens death certificate

On August 26, 1915, Henry married Augusta Weibrecht.  The marriage license for this wedding which also took place in Perry County, says that Augusta was from Clayton, Missouri, a municipality in the St. Louis area.  The name Weibrecht was a Perry County name, and I have reason to believe that Augusta may have been related to the Perry County Weibrecht’s, but I cannot find any evidence of that.

Henry’s World War I draft registration says that he was living in Crosstown and working as a mercantile clerk.

Henry Steffens – WWI draft registration

The 1920 census also indicates that Henry was working in a store.  It says he was a salesman at a general store.

henry steffens 1920 census salem township mo
1920 census – Salem Township, MO

Later during the year of that census, this couple had a child of their own.  They had a son named Oscar.  Sometime before the 1930 census, Henry and Augusta moved to St. Louis and Henry was working for an electric company.

henry steffens 1930 census st. louis mo
1930 census – St. Louis, MO

On March 2, 1937, Henry died at the age of 57.  Here is his death certificate.

henry steffens death certificate
Henry Steffens death certificate

Augusta died in 1958.  It is reported that she died somewhere in Ohio.  Henry and Augusta are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Olivette, Missouri.  Olivette is another municipality in St. Louis.

henry and augusta steffens gravestone immanuel olivette mo
Henry and Augusta Steffens gravestone – Immanuel, Olivette, MO

Before I close this story, I want say a few things about the name Herman.  I happen to be in Minnesota right now, and I once taught school in this state.  One attraction near where I am right now is a statue of someone called Hermann the German.  It is located in New Ulm, Minnesota, which is also the home of Martin Luther College, a seminary of the Wisconsin Synod (WELS).  Below is a photo of the monument to Hermann the German in New Ulm.

Hermann the German statue – New Ulm, MN

Hermann the German was a person originally known as Armnius, a German leader who stood up to Roman armies in 9 A.D. and became a hero to the German people.  It is claimed that Martin Luther changed his name to Hermann (yes, it has two n’s).  The statue in New Ulm was built in 1897.  It was designed after a similar statue in Germany called Hermannsdenkmal.  That statue is located in Detmold, Germany in a region known as Westphalia.  By the way, I found evidence that the Weibrecht family in this story was originally from Westphalia.  A picture of the German statue is shown below.


Interestingly, the Hermannsdenkmal in Germany began to be built in 1838, the same year the Gesellschaft was leaving Germany to come to America.

I feel the urge to tell a quick story.  When I was teaching in Minnesota and coaching our school’s soccer team, each year we would participate in a tournament held just down the road from the statue in New Ulm.  Our pastor, who was also a soccer enthusiast, would always want to go to New Ulm for this event, however, each time we went, he would insist that we visit a local pizza joint that made a sauerkraut and pineapple pizza.  I’d say you cannot get much more German than to put some kraut on your pizza.


Now for the excerpt from Teacher Winter’s journal for January 26, 1839.  It is a short one and consists of the first part of a larger sentence.

“On Saturday, the 26th, we came as far as New Madrid…..”

The map below shows the area of Missouri where the Knickerbocker was located on January 26.  New Madrid can be found at the bottom of the image.



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