Meyr or Meyer?

We will begin today with a girl who was born on this day back in 1853. Her name was Ernestine Magdalena Doering. She went by the name Magdalena, so that is what I will use in this post. Magdalena was born on October 30, 1853, the daughter of George and Theresa (Schlimpert) Doering. She was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. Below is her baptism record. This was written by Rev. Christoph Loeber. His handwriting was just as bad as that of his father, Rev. Gotthold Loeber, who wrote the early records in the Trinity, Altenburg books.

Magdalena Doering baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

We find Magdalena in the 1860 census at the age of 6. Her father was a farmer.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

It appears that sometime in the early 1860’s that the Doering family moved to the Altenburg area because church records for this family start appearing in the Trinity, Altenburg books about then. Next, we find Magdalena in the 1870 census.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Magdalena would get married in 1876, and her husband was going to be Ernst Matthias Meyr, the son of Joseph and Anna Marie (Starzinger) Meyr. There seems to be some confusion concerning Ernst’s birth. All documents seem to agree that he was born on September 26th. The question is the year in which he was born. First, we have a Meyr family binder in our research library. That book says Ernst was born in 1853. It also says he was born in Bavaria, not Missouri. This makes no sense since the Meyr family originated in Austria.

Ernst Meyr information – Meyr family binder

A baptism record from Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg disagrees with the above record. That baptism record is included with other baptisms which occurred in 1854.

Ernst Meyr baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

In 1854, the church in New Wells had not been established. Stories are told that Lutherans in that area were being served by Rev. Christoph Loeber from Frohna or Rev. Georg Schieferdecker from Altenburg. Ernst’s Meyr family had arrived in America in 1852 and settled in New Wells. The above baptism record would have been written by Rev. Schieferdecker. You might note that he spelled Ernst’s surname as Meyer, not Meyr.

Later in this post, you will see the gravestone of Ernst Meyr. That monument says he was born in 1853, and so does his death certificate. Then, you can throw in the fact that several family histories on Ancestry.com say that he was born in 1855. Go figure.

The first two census records in which we find him, Ernst is called Matthias. After that, he is called Ernst, which is the name I choose to use. Here we find him in the 1860 census for Shawnee Township in Cape Girardeau County, which is where New Wells is located. Ernst’s father was a farmer.

1860 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Next, we find Ernst in the 1870 census at the age of 16.

1870 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Ernst Meyr married Magdalena Doering on November 9, 1876 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. The church record for this wedding is shown below. For quite a while, Rev. J.F. Koestering did not put marriage records in the church books, but by 1876, he did include them.

Meyr/Doering marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

We can also view a civil marriage record for this couple.

Meyr/Doering marriage record – Perry County, MO

Our German Family Tree lists 7 children born to this couple, but several of them died rather early. We find this Meyr household in the 1880 census for Shawnee Township. One child is included in this entry. Magdalena’s younger sister, Clara, at age 8, was living with them also. Clara’s presence in this census is somewhat puzzling.

1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Clara Doering can also be found living with her parents in Brazeau Township in the same census. Her mother, Theresa Doering, was a widow because her husband had died in 1879. It isn’t often to find the same person in two separate census entries for the same year.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We cannot look at another census until the one taken in 1900. This Meyr family’s only three children who lived to adulthood are included in this entry, two daughters and a son.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Next, we find the Meyr household in the 1910 census. Ernst was a farmer throughout his life.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The last census in which we find Ernst Meyr was the one taken in 1920. Their son, Theodore, had married Bertha Steiner in 1910, and that family was living with Ernst and Magdalena in this household. Ernst and Magdalena were both 65 years old.

1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Ernst Meyr died in 1924. His death certificate says he was 70 years old when he died, but that is based on a birth date of September 26, 1853. If he was born in 1854, he would have been only 69 years old. I will also point out that this form also spells his surname as Meyr.

Ernst Meyr death certificate

Magdalena can still be found in the 1930 census. She was living in the household of her son, Theodore.

1930 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The 1930 plat maps for Cape Girardeau County show a piece of property owned by Ernst Meyer, even though he died in 1924.

Ernst Meyer land map – 1930

Magdalena Meyr died in 1934 at the age of 80. For some reason, even though this form lists her spouse as Ernst Meyr, this document uses her maiden name, Magdalena Doering.

Magdalena Meyr death certificate

One interesting aspect of this story is the fact that the gravestone for Ernst and Magdalena spells their surname as Meyer. They are buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells.

Ernst and Magdalena Meyer gravestone – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

If you look at several of the census records for this family, you can see their name spelled as Meyer. I do not think this is a mistake on the gravestone. Stories are told about this branch of the Meyr family choosing to change their name to Meyer, which is more of a German spelling while Meyr is an Austrian spelling. Interestingly, their son, Theodore, and his wife, Bertha, also have gravestones showing the Meyer spelling.

This branch of the Meyr family is not as well documented in the Meyr family binders (there are four of them). This made it more challenging to find information for them. The fact that there is some dispute about Ernst’s birth year makes it even more interesting.


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