Fritz from France, the Perryville Painter

Fritz was a fairly common nickname around here for someone with the given name Friedrich or Frederick.  Today, you will read the story of a man called Fritz, who is also the birthday boy.  Since documents differ on whether Fritz was from France or from Germany, I will discuss whether he was Fritz from Germany or Fritz from France.  I know Fritz from France has a certain ring to it.

Friedrich Christian Springer was born on March 23, 1844.  He was the son of Peter and Magdalena (Hoehn) Springer.  Several family histories on Ancestry.com say Fritz was born in Rountzenheim.  His death certificate says his birthplace was Alsace-Lorraine, France.  The city of Rountzenheim is presently located in France, but it is also quite near what is now Germany.  That area is often referred to as Alsace-Lorraine.  The map below shows the town of Rountzenheim on a present-day map.  It is just across the Rhine River from Germany.

Rountzenheim map Alsace-Lorraine

In 1844, when Fritz was born, there wasn’t even a unified Germany.  It consisted of several independent German states.  Germany did not become a unified country with that name until 1871.  This is probably oversimplified, but the area from which Fritz originated was located in France, but it was populated by people who spoke German and were proud of their German culture.

Many people from the Alsace-Lorraine area immigrated to America in the 1800’s, including the Springer’s.  They made the voyage in 1847.  I think the Springer’s that we see on the passenger list of the ship, James Titcomb, are the ones who settled in Perry County.

Springer names James Titcomb passenger list 1847
Springer names – James Titcomb passenger list – 1847

We find the Springer family living in the Brazeau Township in the 1850 census in which Fritz was 6 years old and his father was a farmer.  This census says the family members were from Germany.

Friedrich Springer 1850 census Brazeau Township MO
1850 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Ten years later, we find the Springer family living in the Cinque Hommes Township.  Please note that this census says Fritz’s birthplace was France.

Friedrich Springer 1860 census Cinque Hommes Township MO
1860 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

I think the Civil War military service document shown below is for Fritz.  If so, he served as part of the Simpson’s Six Month Militia which spent time at Pilot Knob, Missouri and patrolled the southeast portion of the state in 1861-1862.  Another note in a book we have from Friedenberg says Fritz served in the 1st Missouri Infantry until 1865.

Frederick Springer Civil War military record
Frederick Springer – Civil War military record

Friedrich Springer married Mary Karling sometime in the 1860’s.  They likely were married at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg, but the church records for that congregation were destroyed in a fire.  This couple’s first child was born in 1868.  Mary was born on either February 7 or March 7, 1849, the daughter of Peter and Mary (Klemp) Karling, and baptized at Peace, Friedenberg.  We find this couple in the 1870 census.  They were living in Perryville, and this is the first time Fritz was called a painter.

Friedrich Springer 1870 census Perryville MO
1870 census – Perryville, MO

As it turns out, the years 1870 and 1871 were tragic years for this family, especially for Mary.  She had a set of twins that were born and died on April 22, 1870, and then had a second set of twins that were born and died on March 20, 1871.  Mary died as a result of giving birth to the second set of twins.  She died on April 20th.  Mary was buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.  Please note that her gravestone says Mary was born on February 7, 1849.

Mary Springer gravestone Immanuel Perryville MO
Marie Springer gravestone – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

The Friedenberg book that we have at our museum gives a brief bio based on some reconstructed records.  Here is the listing for Marie (Karling) Springer.  This says Mary was born on March 7th.

Marie Springer info Friedenberg book
Marie Springer info – Friedenberg book

We also have a paragraph of information about Fritz.

Friedrich Springer info Friedenberg book
Fritz Springer info – Friedenberg book

The death of his first wife left Fritz a widower with a son that was about 3 years old.  According to the above information, later that year, on the day after Christmas, Fritz married Anna Bergmann on December 26, 1871.  They were married at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg.  Anna Bergmann had been born on November 6, 1850, the daughter of George and Barbara (Adler) Bergmann.  Her father was one of two George Bergmann’s, and he has become known as “Siding George” Bergmann.  We can view an image of Fritz and Anna’s civil marriage record.

Springer Bergmann marriage record Perry County MO
Springer/Bergmann marriage record – Perry County, MO

There are some confusing things on the above form.  First of all, there are blank spaces where it should show the date of the wedding.  Secondly, dates toward the bottom  indicate times when the document was signed. Rev. O.F. Voigt signed in August of 1872, yet it was recorded in February of 1872.

Fritz and Anna had one child of their own, but that child died before his first birthday.  So, in the end, there was only one child who lived to adulthood from Fritz.  It was a son, so at least the Springer name did not end in this branch of the Springer family.  We next find Fritz’s household in the 1880 census.

Friedrich Springer 1880 census Perryville MO
1880 census – Perryville, MO

Next, we find the Springer’s in the 1900 census.  They had an empty nest.  Strangely, it says Anna was a dentist, but I think the census taker made a mistake in printing that in the wrong box.  The person beneath Anna was a dentist.

Friedrich Springer 1900 census Perryville MO
1900 census – Perryville, MO

The 1910 census is the last one to show both Fritz and Anna.

Friedrich Springer 1910 census Perryville MO
1910 census – Perryville, MO

Anna Springer died in 1916 at the age of 65.  Her death certificate says she died of stomach cancer.

Anna Springer death certificate
Anna Springer death certificate

Anna was buried in the Peace Lutheran Cemetery in Friedenberg.  She was buried with her sister, Barbara Bergmann, who had died as a teenager more that 50 years earlier.

Anna Springer gravestone Peace Friedenberg MO
Anna Springer gravestone – Peace, Friedenberg, MO

Fritz was still alive for the 1920 census, but I was unable to find him in that enumeration.  Fritz died in 1922 at the age of 78.  Here is his death certificate which indicates he was living in Longtown at the time of his death.

Friedrich Springer death certificate
Friedrich Springer death certificate

Fritz was buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.

Friedrich Springer gravestone Immanuel Perryville MO
Friedrich Springer gravestone – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

Fritz, the Perryville painter, lived a life full of both tragedies and celebrations.  Just like most of us.


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