This post will have four major themes:
- A character would have been 200 years old today.
- A mother gives birth to three different sets of twins.
- All but one of the girls in this family who lived to adulthood never married.
- A name disappears.
Johann Christian Friedrich Saalfeld was born on September 28, 1819. That makes him not only today’s birthday boy, but also our bicentennial boy. I will call him John Saalfeld. He was born in Germany, and we see his name as one of the original immigrants who was part of the Gesellschaft. We see two Saalfeld’s on this passenger list from the Republik. I published this list recently to point out the passengers on that ship that came from Cahla (Kahla), which included my Schmidt ancestors.
Actually, there were 3 Saalfeld’s on this list. Joachim Schmidt’s wife, Mary, was a Saalfeld. Today’s birthday boy was her brother. We also see the 2 Saalfeld’s in the passenger list found in Zion on the Mississippi.
John was a 19 year old locksmith when he came to America. So was my Great Great Grandfather Joachim Schmidt. Since John was his brother-in-law, I like to think that John was an apprentice locksmith for Joachim. However, being locksmiths did not really matter because both of them ended up as farmers once they arrived in Perry County. I often jokingly say that Altenburg still doesn’t need a locksmith nowadays.
On August 5, 1845, John got married. His bride was Juliana Kuehnert. She was the daughter of John and Rosina (Ludwig) Kuehnert. She was born in German on February 17, 1825. That family was also part of the Gesellschaft, having traveled to America aboard the Copernicus. The image below shows the Kuehnert family on the passenger list for that ship. John is called Gottlieb on this list, and Juliana was 13 years old.
The wedding of John and Juliana took place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Their church record for this marriage is shown below.
The first census in which we find this couple was the one taken in 1850. At that point, they had two living children.
It doesn’t look like it on this census form, but the young Mary Saalfeld shown is the 5th child for this couple that is shown in our German Family Tree. A set of twins was born in 1846, but one of them, a son, was born dead, and the other, a girl, died after just 3 weeks. Then in 1848, another set of twin girls was born. Sarah lived, but her twin died after just 2 weeks. Then Mary, who later would go by her other name Martha, was born right before this 1850 census.
Anna Saalfeld was born in 1853, and then another set of twin girls was born in 1858. Magdalena lived to adulthood, but her twin sister, Amalie Juliana, died at the age of 2. When the 1870 census was taken, we find the Saalfeld household shown below. Sarah Saalfeld had gotten married in 1867, so there were only 3 children in this household.
The only photograph I found for anyone in this Saalfeld family was one of Sarah. She married Gotthilf Schuessler and our German Family Tree lists them having 11 children, including one set of twin boys that died rather early. The story of that couple was told in the post titled, Twins…..Only One Survives.
We have one more census that shows both John and Juliana Saalfeld. It was taken in 1880.
After Anna Saalfeld showed up in the 1880 census, she disappears. There is also no record of her getting married. It is possible that she died in the 1880’s and joined the list of deaths during that time period we call the “Koestering Hole”. However, in a death record for her sister, Magdalena, who died in 1917, it says Magdalena was survived by 3 sisters, which might indicate that Anna was still alive at that time. In 1889, John Saalfeld died. Since he died after Rev. Koestering left, we do find his death record in the Trinity books.
John was buried at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg. His gravestone is documentation that he was born 200 years ago today.
The 1900 census shows Juliana as a widow living with her daughter, Magdalena, who was still single at the age of 40. I was unable to find Martha Saalfeld in the 1900 census, but I do know that she was still alive.
Juliana Saalfeld died in 1904. Her grave should be found in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, but no gravestone can be found there. The site where she should be buried is the empty spot shown in the photo below.
Below is a portion of the page in the Trinity death records that include Juliana. The names with the red boxes are the names on the gravestones to the right and left of the empty spot shown above. The unmarked name was a child who would have been buried where children are buried in this cemetery.
Magdalena Saalfeld can be found living in her sister’s Schuessler household in the 1910 census. Sarah Schuessler, whose husband had just died in 1910, can be found on the previous census page that I am not showing.
The books of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg have death records for both Magdalena and Martha, and both of them still carried the surname Saalfeld indicating that they never married. Magdalena died in 1917, and Martha died in 1928. I was able to located Martha’s death certificate.
When Magdalena died in 1928, her death record says she was just survived by her sister, Sarah Schuessler, so Anna must have also died before that time. Sarah died in 1929. She was the last of the Saalfeld’s to die. Since the only boy in the family was stillborn, no children carrying the surname Saalfeld were born. That surname came to an end.
I was unable to find gravestones for either Magdalena or Martha even though there are local death records for them. The record for Magdalena says she was buried in Altenburg, while the death certificate for Martha says that she was buried in Wittenberg. However, neither of them can be found on Findagrave.com.
Maybe I need a locksmith to unlock some of the graveyard mysteries discussed in this story. In closing, let me just wish my Great Great Great Uncle John a happy 200th birthday.