The Tin Man in Decatur, Illinois

There is not much information to be found in our German Family Tree about today’s birthday boy. The entry shown below is all that we have.

1.ERNST, Anton “Heinrich” (Born 5 Mar 1848) [PerryCoMO-1860Census]: Henry Ernst age 12, born in Hanover Germany, [AltenburgMO-Immanuel]: Confirmed 24 Mar 1861, Born 5 Mar 1848

The key date that attracted me to this story is found in his confirmation record. It says Anton Heinrich Ernst was born on March 5, 1848. So, that makes today his 175th birthday. You will discover that this boy, who is called both Henry and Anton on future documents, spent the first half of his life in Missouri and the second half of his life in Illinois.

You may not be able to determine this, but this is the first post that shows up on this blog about an Ernst family. If you do searches on this name, you will find oodles of men who had the first name, Ernst, but not the surname, Ernst. I know that I had to add another folder for the Ernst surname to our collection of surname folders that has accumulated since we began this blog back in 2016.

Henry Ernst was born in the Hanover region in Germany. His parents were Christoph and Dorothea (Dunkelbeck) Ernst. His family came to this country in 1854 aboard the ship, Johannes. We see this family of 5 in this image of that ship’s passenger list. Henry’s father is called a weaver.

Christoph Ernst family – Johannes passenger list 1854

The first church record that we find in local congregation’s books is a baptism record for Henry’s younger brother who was born in 1856. That baby boy was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. That infant also died of diphtheria in September of 1857, and that death record is also found in the Trinity, Altenburg books. However, that was also right before the split took place involving Rev. Schieferdecker and the formation of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Although Henry’s father is not listed as a charter member of Immanuel, his family’s church records are subsequently found in the Immanuel books after 1857.

Henry Ernst is found in his first census in 1860 at the age of 12. He was the oldest child in his family. The GFT says this Ernst couple had 9 children altogether. Henry’s father was no longer a weaver in this entry. He was a farmer.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

There is a daughter named Anna in the above entry who was not born in Missouri, nor is she found on the Johannes passenger list. I have been told that sometimes very young infants were not included on some passenger lists back in those days. In 1861, Henry was confirmed at Immanuel, Altenburg. His confirmation record is shown here. He was the first one listed in his confirmation class. This is where we find his date of birth.

Henry Ernst confirmation record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

I was not able to find Henry Ernst in the 1870 census, although I do know he was no longer living with his parents.. Henry would get married in 1872, so we will now look at the woman who would become his wife.

Mary Rosalie Tucker was born on February 16, 1852, the daughter of Henry and Rosalie (French) Tucker. At this point, let me tell you that I also had to make a new surname folder for “Tucker” because this is another “first” for this blog. Mary is found in the 1860 census at the age o 8. Her father was a farmer in the Bois Brule Township.

1860 census – Bois Brule Township, MO

As a teenager in 1870, Mary was no longer living with her parents. She was living in Perryville where she was working at the hotel in which she lived.

1870 census – Perryville, MO

That hotel, the Hooss Hotel, has shown up on this blog before. It was located on the Perryville town square. We see it in this photo taken from the Perry County Courthouse. It is the large building in the foreground. It was also called the White House Hotel.

White House Hotel – Perryville, MO

Henry Ernst married Mary Tucker on July 14, 1872. A civil record for this wedding is displayed below. It does not look like it was a church wedding.

Ernst/Tucker marriage record – Perry County, MO

I have to rely on family trees on and future census entries to help with how many children this couple had. One Ancestry family tree lists 10 children, but several of them did not live long. When the 1880 census was taken, there were 2 children in their household. Henry was a tinsmith in Perryville.

1880 census – Perryville, MO

The family tree I decided to use says that a child was born in Collinsville, Illinois in 1882, and another 2 sons were born in Lincoln, Illinois in 1887 and 1889. Then, in 1893, their last son was born in 1893 in Decatur, Illinois. I found an 1893 Decatur city directory that included Henry. He had the same occupation that he had back in Perryville.

Henry Ernst – 1893 Decatur city directory

So, if this tree is accurate, the Ernst family did some moving during the time period between the 1880 and 1900 censuses. The 1900 census shows the Ernst’s living in Decatur. This entry calls him Anton, and he was still a tinner.

1900 census – Decatur, IL

I did not find the Ernst family in the 1910 census, but I did find Henry in a 1911 Decatur city directory. Henry would have been in his 60’s, but he was still in the same business.

Henry Ernst – 1911 Decatur city directory.

Both Henry and Mary Ernst died in 1924. Mary died in February at the age of 71. For her, I found an obituary that was printed in a local paper.

Mary Ernst obituary

An Illinois death record is where we find evidence that Mary was born in Perryville.

Mary Ernst – IL death record

Henry Ernst died in December of 1924 at the age of 77. We can also view an Illinois death record for him.

Henry Ernst – IL death record

Henry and Mary Ernst are each buried in a cemetery in Decatur, but for some unknown reason, they are not buried in the same cemetery. Henry is buried in the Graceland Cemetery, and Mary is buried in the Fairlawn Cemetery. has entries for each of them in those respective cemeteries, but neither one has a gravestone photo. I find it puzzling that a husband a wife that died during the same year in the same location did not get buried in the same place. There has to be a story there, but I do not know it.

One thought on “The Tin Man in Decatur, Illinois

  1. There was an Anne Ernst that lived in our neighborhood when I was little, ( I am 75 now) in Teutopolis, Illinois.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s