Henry and Meta – The Zerbst Pair from Jacob

I will begin today by wishing a special 150th Happy Birthday to Heinrich Conrad Zerbst who was born on August 10, 1872. Henry was the son of Nicholas and Anna (Miesner) Zerbst. Henry was born in Germany near the city of Bremerhaven. A later census entry says Henry came to America in 1884 when he was about 12 years old. Henry was confirmed in 1886, and we find his confirmation record in the books of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.

Henry Zerbst confirmation record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

However, not long after that confirmation, the Zerbst family must have moved across the river to Jackson County, Illinois. The records of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois say that Henry became a communicant member in 1889. We can see where the Zerbst farm was located in the plat map for Fountain Bluff Township below. You can see how close that land is to Christ Lutheran Church.

Nicholas Zerbst land map – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Henry’s future bride was Meta Guetersloh, who was born on July 17, 1878 in Oyten, Germany. She was the daughter of Dietrich and Margaretha (Boesch) Guetersloh. There were 8 children in this Guetersloh family and half of them were the result of the birth of two consecutive sets of twins born in 1875 and 1878. All 4 of those twins survived childhood, although Meta’s twin brother died of pneumonia at the age of 20. In the 1900 census, it says the Guetersloh parents came to America in 1885, but Meta came in 1884. I think Meta, at the age of 7 or 8, would have come on the same voyage with her parents, so I’ll let you decide which year that would have been. The GFT says Meta’s father became a member of Christ Lutheran in Jacob in 1885. In the same plat map as shown above, we find several parcels of land owned by people named Guetersloh.

Guetersloh land map – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Before I move on, let me say that I have asked quite a few people around here how to pronounce the name, Guetersloh, and almost all of them use the pronunciation, Gitter-slaw.

Henry Zerbst married Meta Guetersloh on April 16, 1896 at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob We can view an image of this couple’s marriage record from that congregation’s books. It is one of those very thorough records written by Rev. Estel.

Zerbst/Guetersloh marriage record – Christ, Jacob, IL

The German Family Tree lists 5 children born to Henry and Meta. Their firstborn child died not long after birth. The others lived to adulthood. Because both Henry and Meta came to America after the 1880 census, the first census entry in which we find either of them was not until after they were married. The 1900 census entry for this young couple includes just one child. However, you can see that they were part of a rather large household that was headed up by Henry’s parents. Some Hollmann’s who would have been Henry’s cousins, along with a Miesner who was a servant, are found listed in this entry.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Henry’s parents died during the next decade, so when the 1910 census was taken, we find Henry Zerbst as the head of the household. This time, all 4 of the Zerbst children are listed, along with one of Henry’s brothers, Nicholas.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

There was also a farmhand named Theobald Lungwitz living in this household. This would be the last census in which Theobald is found because he lost his life while fighting for his country during World War I. Theobald’s story was told in the post, Theobald Almost Made It.

The next census in which we find the Henry Zerbst family was the one taken in 1920. Their entry spills over two census pages. Once again, we see all 4 of their children, as well as Henry’s brother, Nicholas.

1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

As it turns out, the above census would be the last in which we find Henry. He died in 1926 at the age of 54. I found an Illinois death record for Henry that gives many facts about his life, but it does not give a cause of death. His church death record says he died of a “brain attack”.

Henry Zerbst – Illinois death record

Meta is found in the 1930 census in which we find her living in the household of her son, Ernest.

1930 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Meta is next found in the 1940 census, only this time she is listed as the head of the household, which by that time, had gotten larger.

1940 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Meta Zerbst died in 1963 at the age of 84. For Meta, we have an obituary that was printed in a local newspaper. I am showing it in 2 images that may have to be clicked to enlarge them. It mentions an incident that left her burned badly. It contributed to her death.

Henry and Meta Zerbst are each buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob.

There have been plenty of folks in and around Jacob, Illinois who have carried the surnames, Zerbst and Guetersloh. Several pages of our German Family Tree contain those names, and almost all of them are associated with Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. Today’s story tells the tale of a couple that included both of these names.


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