Happy 200th Birthday, Anna Gerken Meier!

One of my search strategies when looking for a blog story is to see if anyone was born on a particular day 200 years ago.  This year, those special birthdays would have occurred in 1820.  I don’t often find such a special birthday, but I occasionally take a look in our German Family Tree to see if there might be one listed.  One thing is sure.  If I find a special event that occurred exactly 200 years ago, it must have taken place in Germany.  Maybe after 2039, we’ll begin to see events for personalities within our GFT that took place in America 200 years ago.

Before I get into today’s episode, let me give credit to our museum’s friend, Dale Kirmse, whose research into his family has contributed much to my being able to tell this story today.  I will also state that I do not often get to share church records from Germany on this blog because many German churches do not provide easy access to their records.  There is a major exception.  That would be some parishes located in the Scheeβel region of Hanover, Germany.  I will be able to display a few records from a Scheeβel parish in this post.

Anna Gerken was born on February 11, 1820 in the town of Wenkeloh, Germany.  She was the daughter of Jochim and Maria (Grobrügge) Gerken.  We have her baptism record.  Someone much better at reading this German script has translated the names found in this record.  It is this record that gets us Anna’s parents’ names as well as her mother’s maiden name.

Anna Gerken baptism record Scheessel
Anna Gerken baptism record – Scheeβel, Germany

Six years before Anna was born, her future husband was born and baptized in the same town and parish.  His name was Peter Meÿer.  That spelling of his name would later mostly be spelled as Meier.  Peter was the son of Johann and Margaretha (Tambke) Meÿer, also from the town of Wenkeloh.  He was born on July 14, 1814.  Below is Peter’s baptism record.

Peter Meier baptism record Scheessel
Peter Maÿer baptism record – Scheeβel, Germany

We can skip ahead to November 13, 1840 when Peter Meÿer married Anna Gerken.  Once again, we find this marriage record in the same parish in Germany.

Meier Gerken marriage record Scheessel
Maÿer/Gerken marriage record – Scheeβel, Germany

Peter and Anna had all 5 of their children while they still lived in Germany, but eventually, they would all end up in Perry County.  I might also add here that Peter had a brother named Heinrich Meÿer who brought his family to this area also.  They came to America in the post-Civil War years.  I think the first Meier to come to America was Peter and Anna’s oldest child, Maria Meier, who made the voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Carl in 1866.  Here is a passenger list showing her name.  Other names shown here of people that settled in Perry County, Missouri and Jackson County, Illinois were Miesner, Heins, and Luedemann.  Maria Meier would marry Johann Heinrich Miesner in Perry County in 1866.

Maria Meier passenger list Carl 1866
Maria Meier – Carl passenger list 1866

The next Meier’s to come to America were Heinrich’s family, who came to this county on the Uhland in 1867.  Here is that passenger list.  There are a few Ruhkopf’s on this list.

Heinrich Meier passenger list Uhland 1867
Heinrich Meier family – Uhland passenger list 1867

That leads us to Peter and Anna Meier coming to America aboard the ship, S.S. Frankfort, in 1869 with the rest of their children.  Below is that passenger list.

Peter Meier family Frankfort passenger list 1869
Peter Meier family – Frankfort passenger list 1869

The ship shown below, the S.S. Bremen is not the S.S. Frankfort, but it is said to be similar to it.  The S.S. in front of the ship’s name indicates that it was a steamship.  Once steamships began making the voyage across the Atlantic, the time it took to get to America diminished greatly.  It is said these ships could make the voyage in around 3 weeks.

S.S. Bremen similar to S.S. Frankfort

An article was posted in a New Orleans paper that described the S.S. Frankfurt.

S.S. Frankfort newspaper article October 1869

Another newspaper article said that many of the passengers on the S.S. Frankfort in October of 1869 were German immigrants heading toward New Braunfels, Texas, which is located not far from San Antonio.

Arrival of the Frankfort October 1869 newspaper article

When Peter and Anna’s family arrived, they settled in the vicinity of Farrar, Missouri.  Records of their family can be found in the books of Salem Lutheran Church.  We find them in the census that was taken in 1870, not long after their arrival.  Peter was a farmer.

Peter Meier 1870 census Brazeau Township MO
1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We find this family again ten years later in the 1880 census.  That was the first census in which we find the Union Township, and that is where we find the Meier family.  That does not necessarily mean that they moved to another farm.  They may just have been in a newly divided township.

Peter Meier 1880 census Brazeau Township MO
1880 census – Union Township, MO

The name with the line through it must be their son, John Meier, who married Mary Eggers and had one child named Martin.  The Henry Meier living in their household may have been the son of Peter’s brother, Heinrich Meier.

Anna Meier died in 1885 at the age of 65.  She died before the era of Missouri death certificates, but we do have her death record from Salem Lutheran Church.  Our German Family Tree translates that long German word given for the cause of death as a chest cold.

Anna Meier death record Salem Farrar MO
Anna Meier death record – Salem, Farrar, MO

Peter Meier died in 1894 at the age of 79.  We can also look at his death record from Salem Lutheran Church.  His cause of death is simply old age.

Peter Meier death record - Salem Farrar MO
Peter Meier death record – Salem, Farrar, MO

Peter and Anna Meier are both buried in the Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Farrar.

On this bicentennial birthday of Anna Gerken, we remember the arrival of another important immigrant family to East Perry County.


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