Great Great Grandma Maria and Her Friends

I think today is the birthday of my great great grandmother, Maria (Saalfeld) Schmidt.  Why would I just think it is her birthday?  It is because there is just one record that I can find that indicates when she was born, and ironically, that is on her death record in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  It is shown below.

Maria Saalfeld Schmidt death record Trinity Altenburg MO
Maria Schmidt death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

It states that she died on April 15, 1891 and that she was 85 years, 7 months, and 17 days old when she died.  If you backtrack from April 15th using those numbers, you arrive at a birthday of August 29, 1805. does not have an entry for Maria, so I once again headed off to the cemetery to see if I could find her gravestone.  I think I did.  It is shown below.

Maria Schmidt gravestone Trinity Altenburg MO
Maria Schmidt gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

The gravestone is almost impossible to read.  The stone block toward the bottom does have the surname Schmidt on it.  You may be able to distinguish it on the photo below.

Maria Schmidt gravestone bottom Trinity Altenburg MO
Maria Schmidt gravstone (bottom)

To add credence to my claim that this is Maria’s gravestone, you will find the two gravestones shown below, one on each side of Maria’s stone.

These two stones are very readable.  The left one says Gottfried Wachter, and the right one says Georg Kaufmann.  If you look at the Trinity death records, those two individuals can be found before and after Maria’s death record.  There are a few others in between in the death records, but they were children and would have been buried where other children were buried.

Before I move on to the rest of the story, let me point out that even before the immigrants arrived in Perry County, two members of the Schmidt family died in St. Louis.  Maria’s mother, Charlotte Saalfeld died on February 27, 1839, and Eva Magdalena Schmidt, not even two years old, died on March 31, 1839.  Both were buried somewhere in St. Louis.

When my great great grandparents came to America as part of the Gesellschaft in 1839, they traveled aboard the Republik.  They came with two children, Gottwerth and Eva.  We find them on the passenger list below with several other folks that were from Cahla, Germany.  I have seen Cahla also spelled as Kahla.

Cahla passengers Republik including Georg Joachim Schmidt
Passengers from Cahla – Republik

Another thing to keep in mind about this story is that Rev. Gotthold Loeber was also aboard the Republik and was the first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Rev. Loeber was the pastor of the church in Eichenberg in Germany before coming to America.  Eichenberg and Kahla were right down the road from each other as can be seen on this map.

Kahla Eichenberg map Germany
Kahla and Eichenberg map

The two names underneath my Schmidt ancestors were both Saalfeld’s.  Charlotte Saalfeld was the mother of Maria, so she would be one of my great great great grandmothers, and as said before, she died in St. Louis before ever getting to Perry County.  Right under her name, you find Fred. Saalfeld.  That was Johann Christian Friedrich Saalfeld, who would later marry Juliane Kuehnert.  That couple would become notable for having 8 children with 6 of those children being 3 sets of twins.  All of their children who lived to adulthood were females, so the surname Saalfeld from these original immigrants died out.

Right above the Schmidt names on the above passenger list, you will find the names John Fred. and Mary Susanne Koeppel.  When Trinity Lutheran Church put together their elder rules in 1843, you find the names of Johann Friedrich Koeppel and Georg Joachim Schmidt (my great great grandfather) as people who signed that document.

Elders Rules signatures

Johann Friedrich would die in November of 1843, leaving his wife as a widow.  When the first permanent church for Trinity Lutheran was completed in 1845, there was a list published of the members of the building committee.

Building Committee members 1845 church

That list included the name of Widow Koeppel.  I wrote a post several years ago about this set of circumstances.  It was titled, A Woman on the Building Committee?.  That post also included information about how the Widow Koeppel would later marry Johann Gottlieb Schau.  By the time those two were married, Johann Gottlieb was also a widower.  His first wife was Louise Julianne Caroline Wirth.  She died in 1844.  However, before she died, she gave birth to twins in 1842.  When those twins were baptized, one of them had Maria Koeppel and Georg Joachim Schmidt as sponsors, and the other twin had Maria Schmidt and Johann Friedrich Koeppel as sponsors.

Keep in mind that when Widow Koeppel remarried, her second husband’s previous wife had the maiden name of Wirth.  That makes us look at the names underneath the Saalfeld’s in the Republik passenger list.  There we find three individuals with the surname Wirth.  However, I am going to leave you hanging.  The rest of the story will have to wait until tomorrow.

For today, though, I will have to end by wishing my Great Great Grandma Maria a very happy 214th birthday.


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