Fath – Bergmann – Lang

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.

Leonard Fath – Bolivar passenger list 1837

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.

Fath/Bergmann marriage record – Perry County, MO

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.

Margaret Fath gravestone – Peace, Friedenberg, MO

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.

Barbara Lang information – Friedenberg book

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.

Fath/Lang marriage record – Perry County, MO

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.

1850 census – Perryville, MO

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.

1860 census – Perryville, MO

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.

Green County biography of L.G. Fath

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.

1870 census – Hillsboro, Illinois

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.

1880 census – East Fork, IL

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.

Leonard Fath – Illinois death record

Even though he lived in Illinois for quite a long time, an obituary was published in the Perry County Sun when he died.

Leonard Fath obituary – Perry County Sun

Barbara Fath was still alive when the 1900 census was taken. She was living by herself at the age of 72.

1900 census – Hillsboro, IL

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 and Barbara Fath gravestone – Oak Grove, Hillsboro, IL

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.

One thought on “Fath – Bergmann – Lang

  1. As the Green Co., MO biographical sketch alludes, I believe Leonard’s first wife, Margaretha Eleonore Bergmann, was the daughter of George Bergmann (a.k.a. “George Sr.”, as opposed to “Creek George” or “Siding George”). Since George Sr.’s sister was Catharine (Bergmann) Lang, this would mean Leonard’s two Bavarian Lutheran wives were cousins of one other.

    I was recently looking through the Perry Co., MO marriage returns from around 1840 and noticed that Friedrich Picker officiated the weddings for essentially all of the families associated with Frankenberg/Friedenberg. I was familiar with him because he founded several large early German Evangelical Protestant (later UCC) congregations in St. Louis, but until this last week, I didn’t realize that he had previously been a circuit rider in southeast Missouri. According to accounts in Carl Edward Schneider’s The German Church on the American Frontier, Picker was a native of Hanover, attended seminary in Halle, and upon arrival in the US, served between Wayne Co., MO and Apple Creek before accepting a call to St. Louis in 1843.

    Before the Frankenberg congregation was officially organized and while it was still meeting at George Bergmann’s residence, these marriage returns suggest they may have been part of Friedrich Picker’s circuit. After health problems forced him to step down from his large congregation in St. Louis, he returned to Bollinger Co., MO where he lived out the rest of his days. I wonder if any of the records he maintained from his early days in southeast Missouri have survived in an attic somewhere.


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