Mourning Marbach Matron

I am writing a different type of story today.   Usually I make an attempt to give you a person’s life history from cradle to grave.  I cannot do that today.  I cannot even come close.  The main character in today’s story was in the United States for only two years, after which he and his remaining family returned to Germany.  Yet, this character had an important part to play in the drama that was the Stephanite immigration to America.  His name was Franz Adolph Marbach.

Let’s start by looking at the Marbach family as it is displayed in Walter O. Forster’s book, Zion on the Mississippi.  Franz Adolph was a lawyer.

Marbach family Zion on the Mississippi passenger list
Marbach family – Zion on the Mississippi passenger list

When we look at the passenger list of the ship on which the Marbach family made the voyage to America, the Olbers, we find them listed with a small group of others who had passage in the cabin.  Ships in those days usually had two main types of passage, cabin and steerage.  If you were a cabin passenger, it meant you were either wealthy or influential or both, and your accommodations were much nicer.

Cabin passengers Olbers
Cabin passengers – Olbers

One noticeable characteristic of the above list is the fact that many of the men found here were members of what we might call an Advisory Council for Rev. Martin Stephan and the Gesellschaft.  The list of that advisory council can be found in Zion on the Mississippi.  You will see that Marbach was listed in several departments, either as a head or an assistant.

Advisory Council Gesellschaft

Another characteristic of people in the cabin passenger list is the fact that quite a few of them left the Gesellschaft not long after arrival in America.  I suppose you could also include Rev. Martin Stephan in that group, but he was forced to leave.  Some of the ones who left the Gesellschaft also left America and returned to Germany, including the Marbach family.

There is a black cross behind the name of Martin Marbach, the 2 year-old son.  That indicates that he died while at sea.  That would have required a burial at sea also.  I have been told that such an event was devastating to the family and friends of the deceased.  German Lutherans considered it important to bury their dead in the ground and later have opportunities to visit the grave sites later.

This may not have been the first tragedy in the Marbach family.  I found a baptism record from a church in Dresden, which is the Marbachs’ previous residence, for a child of Franz Adolph Marbach by the name of Paul.  It says Paul was born in October of 1837.  The year, 1837, was found at the top of the page which you cannot see.

Paul Marbach baptism record Dresden Germany 1837
Paul Marbach baptism record – Dresden, Germany

I have to ask the question whether this was a child of Franz Adolph and his wife, Louise, and if it was, could the baby have died before the ships left for America in 1838?  Or could the child shown here have been a Paul Martin Marbach, the child that died at sea?  Or was it a different Franz Adolph Marbach’s child?

As I see it, there is another scenerio that may be included in this story.  Could it be possible that Louise Marbach was pregnant when traveling to America?  I ask this question because we find a church record for an event that took place on April 7, 1839.  The record can be found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  The first pastor of that church, Rev. Gotthold Loeber, started that church’s records by attempting to include some events that took place in St. Louis before the immigrants traveled to Perry County.  We find this record that actually refers to 2 deaths that took place on this day in St. Louis.  One of them was Christoph Marbach.

Christoph Marbach death record Trinity Altenburg MO
Christoph Marbach death record – Trinity, Altenburg

I find it helpful to look at this English version of some of the facts included in this record.

Christoph Marbach death record transcription Trinity Altenburg MO

There is no Christoph Marbach on the passenger list.  Not only that, but it says this child that died was the youngest son.  Later, I will show evidence that I may have found Victor Marbach living in Germany in the 1860’s.  I have to suggest that Christoph may have been born after this couple arrived in St. Louis, although Rev. Loeber does not record such a birth.

The other child that died on April 7, 1839 was Johanne Friedricke Biehle.  This youngster, along with two other siblings and her mother, died while in St. Louis.  I wrote that story which was titled, Really Woeful Biehles.

At this point, let me share a few excerpts from Zion on the Mississippi that refer to the Marbach’s.  First, here is a paragraph that mentions the importance of Adolph Marbach to Rev. Stephan and his immigration plans and their execution.

Marbach excerpt 1 Zion on the Mississippi
Marbach excerpt – Zion on the Mississippi

When the Altenburg Debate took place in April of 1841, it was the attorney, Adolph Marbach who was the chief spokesman for the side that argued that the members of the Gesellschaft had made a serious mistake in coming to America, that there was no longer a valid church, and that the immigrants should consider going back to Germany.  I have written other posts about the debate before, so I will not repeat what took place.

We also find a parcel of land attributed to Marbach on this map we have at our museum.

Dresden Colony map Perry County MO

This legend for the above map says #19 was the Marbach land.  I now own the property shown as #13, so the Marbach’s lived not far from my land.

Land ownership Dresden Colony

We find another excerpt from Forster’s book that states other facts concerning the Marbach family.  I find it especially interesting that Louise Marbach must have not even been in favor of making the trip to America and was certainly desiring to return home.

Marbach excerpt 2 Zion on the Mississippi

Marbach excerpt 3 Zion on the Mississippi
Marbach excerpt – Zion on the Mississippi

I’m not quite sure what it means that Louise “had to sacrifice five of her children”.

Finding Franz Adolph Marbach in German records after he went back there is a difficult task.  I tried.  I also enlisted my German friend, Lutz Backmann, from Ohorn, Saxony, Germany for assistance.  He helped me with some translations and research, but together, we did not find much.  Let me share a few interesting documents I did locate.  I’ll let you determine if they are connected to the lawyer.  First, we find this record for a Franz Adolph Marbach in an address book for the city of Leipzig in 1860.

Franz Adolph Marbach address book entry Leipzig
Franz Adolph Marbach – Leipzig address book – 1860

Here is a transcription for this document found on Ancestry, but it’s not in English.

Franz Adolph Marbach address book entry transcription Leipzig

Lutz tells me that this Franz Adolph Marbach was in a prominent position which certainly could fit in with his lawyer credentials.

Two years later, in 1862, we find this entry in a Leipzig address book.  I think the Franz Victor Marbach shown here might be the Victor Marbach who spent a short amount of time in Perry County with his family.

Franz Victor Marbach Leipzig address book 1862
Franz Victor Marbach – 1862 Leipzig address book

I attempted to use Google Translate to find the meanings of some words here, and I have to conclude that once again, Victor seems to be some sort of government official.  Can you find the German word for “windmill” in there?  Also, I am amazed to see names like Weinhold and Döring on this entry.

In the same year, in another document, we find the Franz Victor Marbach name.  Two other Marbach names can be seen here.  One of them is Louise Marbach, which was the name of Franz Adolph’s wife.  And could the Gotthard Marbach be the Gustav Marbach that came to America?

Marbach names Leipzig address book
Marbach names – 1862 Leipzig address book

Lutz told me he found a reference that says Franz Adolph Marbach might have died in 1860.  If that is the case, and if the above names are from his family, that would explain why his name is not included in the 1862 document.

I did find Franz Victor Marbach on an 1875 document. The phrase at the top says Department of Justice.

Franz Victor Marbach Saxon state government directory 1875
Franz Victor Marbach – Justice Department listing

If this is the right Victor Marbach, did he follow in his father’s footsteps in becoming a lawyer?

I think one thing sticks out to me about this story.  Louise Marbach must have had a really horrible experience being part of the Gesellschaft during the years between 1838-1841.  She experienced plenty of death and disappointment while being opposed to the trip in the first place.

Today, I do not answer many questions.  I ask a lot of questions.  Sometimes I get a charge out of asking questions.  Maybe someone could help us in getting some more answers.

5 thoughts on “Mourning Marbach Matron

  1. In Carl S. Meyer’s translation of “Walther’s [June 16, 1860] Letter from Zurich (Concordia Theological Monthly, Vol. 32, 1961, Art. 65,, C.F.W. Walther describes his meeting with a sickly Adolph Marbach, and then a few days later returning to find that Marbach had died the previous day. In his letter Walther stated (p. 649):

    “Already on the day before my return, on Wednesday the 6th of June, my closest friend in my old fatherland fell asleep quietly as a confessor of Christ, the only Hope of his soul.

    “The one thing still granted me was to press the hand of his precious body and follow it to its resting place on Saturday, the 9th of June. There I heard a most comforting, magnificent funeral sermon, which the confessor and friend of the departed, the Rev. Dr. Ahlfeld, delivered on the basis of the words ‘Whosoever will confess Me before men,’ etc.”

  2. Hi Warren, I think you know that I am translating Pastor Loebers Diary.
    For April 7.1839 I found the death for Friederike Biehle and the information that on April 6. Christoph Marbach, the son of Franz Marbach, was born and died the next day.He was buried together with Friederike in the same grave.
    Let me know if the need Mord information.
    Johannes Kraemer

      1. Thanks Johannes, how exciting to add another source to find some of those ‘missing’ (from churchbooks) birth or death entries. Another source I found for deaths are the “Mortality Schedules” for the U.S. censuses every 10 years. The goal was to go back 12 months and list all the deaths, by name, with cause – i.e. for 1850 Census they included deaths for 1849. Somehow it was to help update the statistics for the government – maybe for the medical causes of death ?
        Anyway that’s how I found the 1849 death of Gottfried NOENNIG, (Sr.), listed nowhere else !
        In fact, that would be a nice little project for someone to extract all the Perry Co. Mortality schedules and forward them to Lynn to be added to his German Family Tree ! It might fill in some blanks. But that leaves Cape county and across the river? It never ends.

        Ken Craft

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