Pioneer Schirmer Matriarch

After writing a story focusing on several members of the New York Group yesterday, I found another story for today that involves a family from that group of immigrants. In the case of the characters highlighted today, they were one of a small number from that group that remained in this area. There have been plenty of folks over the years around this area that carried the surname of Schirmer. I will eventually get around to an event that took place on this date, but I will not begin there.

Christoph and Elizabeth (Holland) Schirmer were married in Germany, likely in the mid-1830’s, and decided to move to the United States with their young son, Conrad Christian, in 1837. This small family made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the ship, Brailow, which arrived in New York City on August 3, 1837. Below, we find that family on that ship’s passenger list. Christoph is called a tailor on this document.

Schirmer family – Brailow passenger list 1837

Not long after their arrival, we find this family living in the Apple Creek Township in Cape Girardeau County when the 1840 census was enumerated.

1840 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

A lot of events took place between that census and the next one taken in 1850. Another boy was born to this couple in 1840 by the name of Louis Schirmer. That child, along with two more that were born not long after, was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. Then, according to a land purchase document dated 1843, Christoph bought some land in northern Cape Girardeau County.

Christoph Schirmer land purchase – 1843

The last two children born to Christoph and Elizabeth were both named Heinrich. One was born in early 1843, but died 8 months later. In August of 1844, another boy was born and they gave the child the same name as the previous one. Three months later, in November of 1844, Christoph died at the age of 38. His death record is found in the books of Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, but he is not found in any of the 3 cemeteries for that congregation on Findagrave.

Now Elizabeth Schirmer was a widow with 3 boys, one of them an infant. That infant would die in 1845. Then on July 8, 1846, Elizabeth Schirmer married Johann Schmidt, making today the 175th anniversary for this couple. The church record for that event can be found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, which is displayed below. If this couple was married at that church, it would have taken place in the relatively new sanctuary that was dedicated in 1845, which is now part of our museum. This marriage would have been conducted by Rev. Gotthold Loeber, who would die not long afterward.

Schmidt/Schirmer marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Johann Schmidt was one of the members of the Gesellschaft who arrived in America after making the voyage aboard the ship, Copernicus. He came to this country at the age of 34 along with his widowed mother, Maria, and several siblings. He can be seen on the passenger list below. Johann was called a glazier on this document. I don’t know where to find it, but the above marriage record also says that was his profession. Perhaps Johann was involved in putting the windows into the 1845 Trinity church.

Schmidt family – Copernicus passenger list

There were no children born to this Schmidt/Schirmer marriage. Then, in July of 1849, Johann Schmidt died of cholera. Cholera was a big problem all along the Mississippi River basin in that year. That was the year and month of the Cholera Epidemic of 1849 in St. Louis. Then, on September 25, 1850, Elizabeth would marry again. Her third husband was Andreas Kunath. They, too, have their marriage record in the Trinity, Altenburg books, but their marriage was conducted by Rev. George Schieferdecker.

Kunath/Schmidt marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

I also located a civil record of that marriage which includes two other marriages that took place at about that time at Trinity.

Kunath/Schmidt marriage record – Perry County, MO

The 1850 census for Brazeau Township wasn’t submitted until October of that year, so the Kunath couple managed to be listed almost immediately after their marriage in September. The two Schirmer boys were also in their household.

1850 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Andreas Kunath was another one of the original immigrants, being found on the passenger list of the Johann Georg (although his name is misspelled). He was called a carpenter on this list. The John Schmidt listed right above his name is a different one than Elizabeth’s second husband.

Andreas Kunath – Johann Georg passenger list 1839

Andreas Kunath was one of the charter members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg when that church was established in 1857.

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Altenburg charter members

Probably because both Andreas and Elizabeth were getting up there in years, this couple also had no children. We find the Kunath family in the 1860 census. Andreas was called a cabinet maker in this entry.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Andreas Kunath died in 1867 at about the age of 69. His death record is found in the books of Immanuel, Altenburg, but not entry is found for him in that church’s cemetery on Findagrave.

The last census in which I found Elizabeth Kunath was the one taken in 1880. She was living with her son, Louis Schirmer, who never married. He was said to be a tailor.

1880 census – Altenburg, MO

Elizabeth Kunath died in 1885 at the age of 78. A death record from Perry County is shown here in two images.

Elizabeth Kunath death record – Perry County, MO

Elizabeth’s death record is found in the books of Immanuel, Altenburg. This is a document that records her maiden name as Holland. This is another document I must display in two images.

Elizabeth Kunath death record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

No gravesite is found on Findagrave for Elizabeth either. Elizabeth only had two children who lived to adulthood. Only one of those got married and had children, but that son and his wife were the beginning of a rather long list of descendants with the surname Schirmer. Therefore, I call Elizabeth the Pioneer Schirmer Matriarch.


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