The birthday boy for today is rather unusual. It is not often that I write about a character that arrived in America and Perry County, Missouri before the 1839 German Lutheran immigration. Today’s main character arrived on the ship, Bolivar, in 1837. The 22 year-old Leonard Fath is found on this passenger list for that ship. This young man had already learned the trade of blacksmithing.
A family tree on Ancestry.com says that Leonard was the son of Thomas and Anna (Niess) Fath. That family tree also states that Leonard George Fath was born on October 2, 1815 in the Baden region of Germany.
The first time Leonard shows up in a church record was in 1840. On Christmas Day, December 25, 1840, Leonard Fath married Margaret Bergmann. I know very little about this marriage. There is no church record for this marriage to be found in our German Family Tree. Although the Bergmann name is very common, especially in the area around Friedenberg and Perryville, our GFT also gives no information about Margaret’s parents. What we do have is a birthdate of October 30, 1822. The only document I can display is this transcription of a civil marriage record from Perry County.
Our German Family Tree lists 3 children born to Leonard and Margaret. All 3 of them were baptized at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. Because Margaret died in 1846 at the age of 24, we never see Leonard and Margaret in a census together. Margaret was buried in the Peace Lutheran Cemetery in Friedenberg.
Leonard would marry again, so let’s take a look at his second wife. Her name was Barbara Lang, who was born on August 12, 1827. She was the daughter of Johann and Catherine (Bergmann) Lang. The Lang family were members of Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. The Friedenberg Remembrances book has some information about her. That book also says her parents came to America in 1840 aboard the ship, Clementine.
That leads us up to the wedding that led me to this story. It is one of those special anniversaries. Leonard Fath married Barbara Lang on April 30, 1847, making today their 175th anniversary. This marriage took place at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. We can take a look at the civil marriage record for this wedding.
Although I do not find evidence of this couple having children in our German Family Tree, an Ancestry.com family trees list 7 children born to Leonard and Barbara. That means that they were not baptized as Lutherans. The 1850 census for Perryville shows this Fath household with 5 children, 3 of them from Leonard’s first marriage. Leonard was a blacksmith.
Next, we find the Fath’s still living in Perryville when the 1860 census was taken. Now there were 8 children total in this family.
A later biography for Leonard G. Fath, Jr. when he was living in Green County, Missouri, also adds some more details about Leonard Fath’s life. This article says Leonard and Barbara had just 6 children, but I think another one died as an infant. It also says here that it was in 1864 that Leonard moved his family to Montgomery County, Illinois. There is also mention of Leonard being a Presbyterian.
Before their move to Illinois, two more children were born in Missouri. We find the Fath’s living in Hillsboro, Illinois when the 1870 census was taken. This time, we see that Leonard was a farmer.
The last census in which we find Leonard was the one taken in 1880. This family was living in East Fork, Illinois, which is right next to Hillsboro.
Sometime later in their lives, Leonard and Barbara had photographs taken separately.
Leonard Fath died in 1889 at the age of 73. I found this Illinois death record for him.
Even though he lived in Illinois for quite a long time, an obituary was published in the Perry County Sun when he died.
Barbara Fath was still alive when the 1900 census was taken. She was living by herself at the age of 72.
Barbara died in 1906 at the age of 79. A more lengthy obituary was published in Illinois on the occasion of her death. You can click on the images to enlarge them. Even though Leonard was a Presbyterian, Barbara remained a Lutheran throughout her life.
Leonard and Barbara Fath are buried together in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Hillsboro, Illinois.
Leonard Fath was a well-respected man in both Missouri and Illinois. Several of his children went on to be well-respected civil servants. He married two Lutheran women, but he remained a Presbyterian, while his wives remained Lutheran.