Ehlers – Christ’s Charter Members

I found a special anniversary for today’s post. It tells of a marriage that took place on this day 150 years ago. However, I will confess right away that I was quite unsuccessful at finding a lot of documentation for the lives of the two individuals who were married that day.

We will begin with Heinrich Ehlers who was born on July 12, 1840 in Geversdorf, Germany. His parents were Christoph and Catharina (Heinsen) Ehlers. In 1866, Henry joined many other passengers aboard the ship, Carl. Many of those immigrants settled in Perry County, Missouri. You can find a post about the ship titled, Carl’s Arrival. For some reason, I was unable to find Henry in the 1870 census.

Henry’s future wife would be Margaretha Heitmann. She was born on February 12, 1842, the daughter of Hans and Engel (Luedemann) Heitmann. We can take a look at Margaretha’s baptism record from Scheessel, Germany. It is in two images.

Margaretha Heitmann baptism record – Scheessel, Germany

Margaretha arrived in America in 1867 or 1868. The 1870 census for Brazeau Township shows her living in a Jungclaus household at the age of 23.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

That census record was submitted on August 12th of that year. Then on August 30, 1870, Henry Ehlers married Margaretha Heitmann. There is a marriage record in the Perry County books, but I was unable to locate the real image of that document. It is found in a book that we have that indexes those marriage records.

Ehlers/Heitmann marriage record – Perry County, MO

Since the above record took place during the time period of the “Koestering Hole”, we also do not find a church marriage record for this wedding which probably took place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.

Two sons were born into this family. These two were baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Here is the baptism record for Claus Ehlers, born in 1872.

Claus Ehlers baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Claus died after living only a matter of months. Then their son, John Ehlers was born in 1873. Here is his baptism record.

John Ehlers baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Later in the 1870’s we find the Ehlers family living across the Mississippi River near Jacob, Illinois. I think the map below shows the piece of land owned by Henry Ehlers, although the name is not spelled correctly.

Henry Ehlers land map – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

If you read the history of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois, you find evidence that it was closely connected to Trinity, Altenburg during the 1870’s.

Christ Lutheran Church, Jacob, Illinois history

In another part of their history, we find that Henry Ehlers was one of the founding members of that congregation.

Christ Lutheran Church, Jacob, Illinois history

Joachim Heitmann, shown in the list of founding members, was likely Margaretha’s brother. After their first pastor arrived in 1878 and he began making records for that congregation, we find the names of Henry and Margaretha Ehlers included in the very first list of communicant members. They were #’s 2 and 3.

Henry and Margaretha Ehlers communicant members – Christ, Jacob, IL

The 1880 census proved to be another frustration. I was unable to find the Ehlers family in that enumeration. It would not be until 1900 before I was able to find Henry Ehlers in a census. Here is that entry. It includes the family of his son, John Ehlers, right below Henry’s. They were both farmers.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Henry Ehlers died in 1901 at the age of 60. His death record from Christ Lutheran Church says he died of malaria.

Henry Ehlers death record – Christ, Jacob, IL

We find Margaretha living in her son’s household in the 1910 census. It says she is John’s step-mother, but I see no reason for that designation.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The 1920 census is another case where I met failure. I was not able to find Margaretha. I found an entry for her son, John, but Margaretha was not found there. Then in 1924, Margaretha Ehlers died at the age of 80 years and 11 months. Here is her death record from Christ, Jacob. It says she died of old age.

Margaretha Ehlers death record – Christ, Jacob, IL

Both Henry and Margaretha are buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

I wish I was able to share some of the missing documents that from this story. However, I think the important information is here. Henry and Margaretha were important contributors to the establishment of a very special church in this area. Then, even though they had only one child that lived to adulthood, it was a boy who had numerous children that would carry the Ehlers name to the next generation.


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