There are four main characters in today’s tale. These four first made up two pairs, but when death came to their doorsteps, the two that remained became a pair. All four had their origins in the Hanover area of Germany. We have to travel across the Mississippi River to Jackson County, Illinois to find this story.
I will begin by looking at the oldest of the four. John Henry Miesner was born on May 14, 1866 in Scheeßel, Germany. His parents were Claus Hinrich and Anna (Meyer or Meier) Miesner. I do not know when John Henry came to America, but I am guessing that he came with his father, who is also buried in Illinois. What I do know is that John Henry got married at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois in 1896.
John Henry’s bride was Anna Dreyer, who was born on September 3, 1873 in Germany. She was the daughter of Hinrich and Maria (Lohmann) Dreyer. A later census states that Anna came to America in 1894. Her parents died in Germany. Both Anna and John Henry do not show up in an American census before they are married.
John Henry Miesner married Anna Dreyer on April 23, 1896 at Christ, Jacob. We can take a look at the marriage record from that congregation’s books. Rev. Ph. S. Estel was the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church at the time, and he wrote some amazingly detailed marriage records in that congregation’s books.
Two children were born to this couple, both boys.
We will now turn our attention to another couple, and one of the amazing things about this next couple is the fact that they were both Hollmann’s. Let’s start with the man.
Heinrich Hollmann was born on June 20, 1870, the son of Cord and Engel (Miesner) Hollmann, so you see the Miesner name runs in Henry’s family also. Henry was born in Bartelsdorf, Scheeßel, Germany. Three different census entries say that Henry came to America in 1887. He also had a brother, Johann Hollman, who came to America in 1892.
Henry’s bride was going to be Maria Martha Hollmann, who was born on August 16, 1870. Her parents were Johann and Margareta (Brunkhorst) Hollmann. Maria was also born in Bartelsdorf, Scheeßel, Germany. I am not sure when Maria came to America, but it had to be before 1893.
Henry Hollmann married Maria Hollmann on November 9, 1893 at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. It is this marriage on today’s date that led me to this story. We can take a look at another one of Rev. Estel’s marriage records for this wedding.
One of the witnesses for this wedding was Henry Miesner. I don’t know if that was John Henry Miesner who later married Anna Dreyer. I looked through Lori Adams’ “Fritsche-Miesner” family tree on Ancestry.com and found 10 men who were Miesner’s that had Heinrich as their first or middle name. Five of those could have been the Henry Miesner in this document. I didn’t take the time to see which ones were living in Jacob, Illinois at this time. Sometimes, I have to draw the line on which rabbit holes I am going to take the time to go down.
Two children were born to this couple, both girls.
It turns out that 1899 was a tragic year for these two couples. First of all, on January 22, 1899, Maria Hollmann died at the age of 28. We can take a look at her death record.
Maria was buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob.
That left Henry Hollmann a widower with two young daughters.
About 3 weeks later, another death occurred. John Henry Miesner died on February 17, 1899 at the age of 32. We can also look at the death record for John Henry. The fact that this was death #7 already in 1899 seems to indicate that some sort of disease may have been inflicting people in this area. There were 13 death records in the Christ Lutheran books for 1899.
John Henry was buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob.
This left Anna Miesner as a widow with two young sons, one of them who had just been born on January 23rd.
That leads us up to the 1900 census. We find Anna Miesner and Henry Hollmann in two separate census entries. First of all, we see Anna living with John Henry Miesner’s sister, Margaretha Kloepper, who was also a widow. They were living in the Degognia Township of Jackson County, which is adjacent to the Fountain Bluff Township. Her two boys were also living with her.
Henry Hollmann is found living by himself in the Fountain Bluff Township in 1900.
His two girls had been “farmed out” to other local couples. Anna Hollman was living in the Nicholas Zerbst household. Nicholas’s wife, Anna nee Miesner, was Engel nee Miesner Hollmann. Anna Zerbst would have been Henry Hollmann’s aunt. Do I have you confused yet? You may also notice that there was another Henry Miesner in this household, which got me smacking my head. I choose not to go down that rabbit hole either.
Clara Hollmann was living with Henry and Anna Miesner. (Another smack of the head) This Henry Miesner had married Anna Guetersloh. Clara is called “adoptive” in this entry.
That leads us up to a marriage that took place on June 16, 1900. Henry Hollmann married Anna (Dreyer) Miesner at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. Here is the church marriage record.
Just one month after this marriage took place, one of Anna’s sons, Joseph Miesner died at the age of 1 1/2 years. Then in 1901, her other son, Henry Miesner (yet another one), died at the age of 4. When this child died, the first child to new couple, Henry and Anna, had been born just a matter of months earlier.
A total of eight children were born to Henry and Anna Hollmann, but not all of them lived long. When the 1910 census was taken, we find the following Hollmann household. Henry’s daughters, Clara and Anna, were back living with him, but they are mistakenly called stepdaughters.
Next, we find the Hollman family in the 1920 census. Henry was a farmer all his life.
Anna Hollmann died in 1930 at the age of 56, so when the census was taken for that year, we do not find her, and Henry was once again a widower.
The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. Henry was called a retired farmer, and his son, Arthur, and his young family were living with him.
Henry Hollman died in 1950 at the age of 80. Henry and his second wife, Anna, are buried together in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob.
After writing this story, I must admit that I will not welcome another story about a Henry or Anna Miesner for a while. I’ll let our Miesner expert, Lori Adams attempt to keep all these folks straight.