Our birthday girl today is Pauline Justine Christiane Poppitz, who was born on November 18, 1847. Next year, on this date, Pauline will be celebrating her 175th birthday. Pauline was the daughter of August and Justina (Schmidt) Poppitz. Her father had 3 wives during his lifetime, and Pauline’s mother, Justina, was the first one. Pauline was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Her baptism record from that congregation’s books is pictured below.
Pauline can be found in her first census in 1850 at the age of 3. Her father was a laborer, probably working on his father’s farm. John Poppitz was Pauline’s grandfather.
Pauline’s mother died in 1852. Later that year, her father married Johanna Carolina Kuehn, but she would die in 1856. August then married Caroline Metzner in 1857. As if that wasn’t enough, Pauline’s father, August, died in 1858. All of this happened between the 1850 and 1860 censuses. The 1860 census including Pauline is shown here. There was one child from each of August Poppitz’s wives in this household. Pauline was 12 years old, and her stepmother was a seamstress.
Caroline Poppitz married William Bultmann in 1865, but he died before the 1870 census was taken. However, Pauline was no longer living with that family when the 1870 census was taken. She was living in Frohna in the August Lueders household and probably working as a servant. It mistakenly says Pauline was born in Saxony on this census entry.
I was not able to find Pauline Poppitz in the 1880 census. That gets us to the point when we need to take a look at Pauline’s future husband. His name was Franz Kermse, who was born on June 28, 1850 in Germany. Although I cannot officially connect them all, there were 3 Kermse children who were living in Perry County when the 1860 census was taken, so these Kermse’s must have come to America in the 1850’s. I do not know what happened to their parents, but these 3 children appeared to be orphans in 1860. Franz is found living in the Gottlob Schmidt household at the age of 10.
I was unable to find Franz in the 1870 census, but I know he was not living with the Gottlob Schmidt’s. However, I find it interesting that when the 1880 census was taken, Franz was living with Eva Schmidt, Gottlob’s widow. He was working in a brickyard.
Franz Kermse married Pauline Poppitz on August 21, 1881 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. The church record for this event is shown here.
We can also take a look at the marriage license for this couple.
Franz and Pauline had 3 children, two boys and a girl. The Kermse family is found in the 1900 census with all 3 of their children.
Sometime along the way, Pauline had a studio photograph taken. It is displayed below.
Next, we find the Kermse household in the 1910 census. Franz was a farmer.
The 1915 plat maps for Perry County shows the Franz Kermse farm located south of Altenburg.
Next, we can look at the 1920 census. I’ll say at this point that the two oldest Kermse children never married. This would be the last census in which we find Franz or Pauline.
Franz Kermse died in 1921 at the age of 71. His death certificate mentions the cause of death being a kick in the abdomen. It does not indicate what it was that kicked him, but the most likely perpetrator would be a mule or horse.
Pauline also died before the 1930 census. She died in 1928 at the age of 81. We can also take a look at her death certificate.
Both Franz and Pauline were buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.
Another tragedy struck this Kermse family in the 1930’s. The oldest son, Martin, was killed when he was struck by lightning while working in a field with horses. His church death record says he was working in a field with 3 horses when lightning struck both Martin and the 3 horses. So, both Martin and his father ended their lives in the presence of farm animals. Here is Martin’s death certificate.
The following article was published in the Perry County Republican describing Martin’s death. You may click on the images to enlarge them for better reading.
The Kermse surname has disappeared from this area. Two of Franz and Pauline’s children never married, and their only married son does not appear to have had any children. So, no descendants with the Kermse surname came from this couple.