Matthias and His Girls

I married into a family of 3 girls, who have now blessed us with 6 grandchildren, 5 of which are girls.  The tail end of my career as a Lutheran educator came at a time when almost all of my colleagues were female.  I think I qualify to sympathize with today’s main character, Matthias Mirly.

Matthias Mirly was one of 3 Mirly brothers who came to America in the early 1850’s.    Their names were Charles, Matthias, and Joseph.  Matthias was born on April 1, 1833, which is why I am writing this story today.  In a letter we have in our research library which is dated 1852, Matthias was living in Milwaukee.  Here is an excerpt from that letter which has been translated.

Matthias Mirly 1852 letter from Milwaukee
Matthias Mirly – 1852 letter home from Milwaukee, WI

Also, later in that letter it indicates that his brother, Joseph, was in Chicago.  However, all 3 brothers ended up in the New Wells area in northern Cape Girardeau County.

On January 26, 1857, Matthias married Maria Lehner, and the record of their marriage is included in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Below is that church record.

Mirly Lehner marriage record Trinity Altenburg MO
Mirly/Lehner marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

I am not an expert at reading this German script.  I think this marriage may have taken place in New Wells, but at that time, they did not have a pastor.  This was a time when all kinds of theological controversy was swirling around in both Altenburg and New Wells.  Matthias was a charter member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells.  Later in 1857, Rev. Georg Schieferdecker was kicked out of Trinity Lutheran Church, and he went on to form Immanuel, Altenburg.  I think Pastor Schieferdecker went to New Wells to perform this marriage prior to his removal from Trinity.  Another document that supports this idea is a civil marriage record from Cape Girardeau County for this couple.  It is almost impossible to read, but it lends credence to the idea that this wedding took place in Cape County.

Mirly Lehner marriage record Cape Girardeau County MO
Mirly/Lehner marriage record – Cape Girardeau County, MO

At this point, let me point out how happy I am that Matthias married a woman with such a simple surname as Lehner.  It makes writing this story easier.  His father had married a Kastenhuber in Austria, and his two brothers married women by the names of Peckmueller and Schimmelpfennig.  That’s a swarm of syllables.

The parents of the 3 Mirly brothers were Joseph and Maria (Kastenhuber) Mirly who did not make the trip to America. There was another brother and another sister of these Mirly’s that remained in Austria.

Maria Lehner was the daughter of another Matthias and Marie.  Her parents were Matthias and Marie (Jungmeyer) Lehner.  She was born on October 3, 1838.  She, like her husband, were born in Austria.  I have a special interest in this Lehner family because two of the characters in a book I am writing about Wittenberg are two other Lehner sisters.  Maria was the oldest child in that Lehner family.  The Lehner family had arrived in America in 1854.  Matthias Lehner was a shoemaker in the Apple Creek vicinity for a very short time, but he died in 1856.

The first census we find the Mirly family was the 1860 census for Shawnee Township.  By then, they already had two children.

Matthias Mirly 1860 census Shawnee Township MO
1860 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Our German Family Tree records 10 children born into Matthias and Maria’s family.  Only 7 of them lived to adulthood, and only one of those 7 was a male, whose name was Wilhelm.

Not long after the 1860 census, Matthias went off to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.  I found evidence that all 3 of the Mirly brothers served in the military during that war.  Matthias’s brother, Charles, was a captain.  The form below says that Matthias was discharged because of disabilities.

Matthias Mirly Civil War record
Matthias Mirly – Civil War record

We also see that at a later time, Matthias had to register for the Civil War draft which occurred toward the end of that conflict.  This form says that Matthias had 72 days of previous experience.

Matthias Mirly Civil War draft registration
Matthias Mirly – Civil War draft registration

If you are interested in the activities of the 56th Regiment, you can find an interesting article at the following link:

In 1862, not long before he was mustered into Civil War service, Matthias acquired a piece of property in Shawnee Township.  I found a parcel of land in a 1930 plat map for Cape County that was said to be owned by Wm Mirly.  That was the name of Matthias’s only son, and is likely the land that was farmed by Matthias.

Wm Mirly land map 1930 Cape Girardeau County
Wm Mirly land map – 1930

One of Matthias’s nephews married a Steiner.  As it turns out, two of his daughters also married Steiner’s.  In the 1870’s and 1880’s, there were three different Mirly/Steiner weddings.

For some reason, Matthias and his family do not show up in the 1870 census, but we find them again in the 1880 census.

Matthias Mirly 1880 census Shawnee Township MO
1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Maria did not make it to the next census in 1900.  She died in 1897.  Yet she did not get buried until 1898.  That is because she died on December 30, 1897 and was buried on January 1, 1898.  Here is that death record.

Maria Mirly death record Immanuel New Wells MO
Maria Mirly death record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

We do find Matthias in the 1900 census, and he was living in the household of his son, William.  Matthias was 67 years old.

Matthias Mirly 1900 census Shawnee Township MO
1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Matthias died in 1904.  He and Maria are both buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery (OLD) in New Wells.

The Mirly surname is another influential name in the early history of Lutheran churches in Shawnee Township, Missouri.  The Lehner name is one of many surnames that ended up in both Shawnee Township and the river town of Wittenberg in Perry County.  I may have to write a blog post someday about the Shawnee Township/Wittenberg connections.



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