I will be sharing the story of Zacharias Wunderlich today, but I got to it through the birthday of his second wife. I think it is an important story because it tells how a rather large Wunderlich clan had its beginnings in this area. There were Wunderlich’s who were what we sometimes call “boat people”, arriving in 1839 as part of the Gesellschaft. However, Zacharias was not part of that group.
After researching this story, I noticed that it does not contain many records for Zacharias and his two wives in area church books. It’s not that they were not part of the Lutheran churches around here, but has more to do with their ages when they lived in this area. Add to that the fact that some of the church records about death and burial are not really clear, and we have to go elsewhere to find documentation. I found much of the information for this post in some Wunderlich family binders that we have that were compiled by the late Clinton Wunderlich. He did genealogy work back in the days when it was much more difficult. Clinton had to do it the hard way. He had to write letters and wait for answers. He had to travel to Germany looking for his family’s story. I have the luxury of either sitting in our research library or in my recliner at home to find information for these posts. I have come up with a name for the kind of research I do…drive-by genealogy. The other aspect of this story that was noticeable is the fact that I was able to find information for today’s characters from back in their early years in Germany.
Zacharias Wunderlich was born on August 21, 1827 in Grossenstein, Germany. I found this transcription of his baptism record.
I also found a German baptism record for Zacharias’s first wife, Emilie Gerstner. She was born on February 17, 1832 in Kauern, Germany.
On October 8, 1854, Zacharias Wunderlich married Emilie Gerstner in Grossenstein. I am also able to show you a church record for that event.
Three children were born to Zacharias and Emilie while they were still in Germany. Then, in late 1859, the family boarded the ship, Magdalena, to make the trip to America. That ship landed in New Orleans on November 5, 1859. At least, I think the family was on that ship. The passenger list that I located only listed Zacharias for some reason.
A whole lot of events took place in this family right away after their arrival. First of all, we have a baptism record for a boy named Emil Wunderlich in the Immanuel, Altenburg books. It says this child was born on November 13, 1859. I find it hard to believe that this family could be in the port of New Orleans on November 5th and then having a child on November 13th in Altenburg. Emilie must have been quite pregnant on that ocean voyage. Here is Emil’s baptism record from Immanuel.
A little over a month later, their two year-old daughter, Pauline, died. Her death record is found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. It appears to me that the Wunderlich’s found a church quickly after arriving in Altenburg for a child to be baptized, but soon decided to join the other church in town. Here is the death record for Pauline.
Then in March of 1860, their baby, Emil, died. He, too, has a death record in the Trinity books.
The Wunderlich household can be found in the 1860 census for Brazeau Township.
Emil was still alive when this census was taken. Zacharias Wunderlich spent some time serving in the military during the Civil War. Below is a record of that service.
All in all, Zacharias and Emilie Wunderlich had 6 children, but only two lived to adulthood. Those two were Bernhard and Edward Wunderlich. It was not long after their last child was born in 1865 that both the child and Emilie died in 1866. There is a transcription in the Concordia, Frohna books concerning these deaths, but for some reason, the actual records are not found in our images of death records.
A grave marker for Emilie can be found in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna.
Zacharias Wunderlich is reported to have bought a piece of farmland in Shawnee Township in either 1865 or 1866. On August 5, 1866, Zacharias married again. His second wife was Maria (Ludwig) Beck. Maria had a previous husband, but there is an interesting story to accompany that marriage that is told in this paragraph which is found in Clinton Wunderlich’s materials.
The Wunderlich household is found in the 1870 census for Shawnee Township. It spills over two pages in the census.
The photo below shows the Wunderlich home in Shawnee Township.
Someone later made a drawing of this home.
On December 29, 1876, Zacharias Wunderlich died. The following description of his death is found in the Wunderlich family binder. If he was buying Christmas presents, he was doing it after Christmas Day.
It is said that Zacharias was buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells, but there is no gravestone photo on Findagrave. We find Maria in the 1880 census as a widow.
In February of 1900, Maria’s daughter, Elizabeth, who had married Joseph Frank Putz, died in childbirth. The 1900 census shows Maria’s household including a few of her own children plus a bunch of Putz grandchildren.
The last census in which we find Maria Wunderlich was the one taken in 1910. She was living in the household of her daughter, Hulda, who had married Albert Ladreiter. There were still a few Putz grandchildren in the same household. Plus, right under that entry, you will find another of Maria’s children, Paul Wunderlich.
Maria died in 1919 at the age of 67. Here is her death certificate.
Maria was buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells.
Of Zacharias and his two wives, I was only able to come up with one photo. That is this one of Maria, his second wife.
It doesn’t show up so much in the records, but I cannot help but think that this Wunderlich family had some real struggles during their lives in America. Yet, despite all the difficulties they may have experienced, there is an abundance of Wunderlich descendents still wandering around this area to this day.