George and Gesine – The Harmening’s in Lidderdale

I will be encouraging folks to wish a “Happy 150th Birthday” to George Harmening today. This tale has certain similarities to yesterday’s story about a Lutheran church worker and a person who spent just a short time in Perry County. That is the case again with the tale of George Harmening’s life. There is also part of this story that inspires me to once again ask the question, “How did this couple made up of a bride and groom from different states get to know one another.

George August Henry Harmening was born 150 years ago on May 10, 1873. George was the son of Henry and Marie (Lessing) Harmening. He was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. We can take a look at that baptism record below.

George Harmening baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

When George was just 4 years old, his father died. His death record from the books of Grace, Uniontown describe him as Pastor Hans Heinrich Christian Harmening. He was just 30 years old when he died. He was not the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church. I eventually discovered that Rev. Harmening had served Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim from 1869-1872.

Trinity, Friedheim – early pastors

It appears to me that the situation in Friedheim may have turned sour, and Pastor Harmening gave up the ministry. His last will and testament states that he owned land in the Uniontown area, suggesting that at the time of his death, he may have been farming. Below is Rev. Harmening’s death record.

Pastor Henry Harmening death record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

We find George Harmening in his first census at the age of 7. His widowed mother was still living in the Union Township or Perry County. This entry is found in the long-lost pages of the 1880 Union Township census.

1880 census – Union Township, MO

During the year after the above census, George’s mother married again. She married Dietrich Fricke on December 27, 1881 at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. The church marriage record says that Dietrich was a farmer from Carroll City, Iowa. This is when I wonder how a widow in Perry County manages to meet up with a farmer in Iowa. I have no clue, and I did take a little bit of time to look for a clue. This marriage, however, does explain the fact that George resided in Carroll County, Iowa for the rest of his life. Below is that marriage record from the Grace, Uniontown books.

Fricke/Harmening marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

In the same year as his first wife’s death, we find Dietrich Fricke in the 1880 census with quite a large family. His first wife had also been named Mary.

1880 census – Sheridan Township, IA

The Fricke household in Lidderdale, Iowa must have contained both Fricke and Harmening children for a while. Prior to the 1900 census, George Harmening got married, so we will take a look at his bride. She had what I would consider a rather unusual name, Gesine Eilts. Gesine was born on January 31, 1876, the daughter of Gerd and Mary (Jansson) Eilts. The only census in which we find Gesine before she was married is the one taken in 1880. She was 4 years old, and her father was a farmer near Lidderdale.

1880 census – Sheridan Township, IA

George Harmening married Gesine Eilts on October 28, 1896. This couple was married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in rural Lidderdale. Below is a civil marriage record for that wedding. What I find interesting is that George’s sister, Anna Harmening, married Charles Steinberg just a matter of days later on November 1st. In between those two weddings, Immanuel Lutheran Church must have celebrated Reformation Day. I have to display these marriage records in two images.

Harmening/Eilts – Iowa marriage record

At the time of the Harmening/Eilts wedding, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School were located in a rural area near Lidderdale. A photo of that church and school is shown here.

Immanuel Lutheran Church and School – Lidderdale, IA

A family tree on lists 6 children born to George and Gesine. One child died at the age of 5. In the 1900 census, we find 2 children in the Harmening household along with a half-brother of George, Willie Fricke.

1900 census – Sheridan Township, IA

Next, we find the Harmening’s in the 1910 census. George was a farmer in the Sheridan Township, which is where Lidderdale is located.

1910 census – Sheridan Township, IA

An interesting thing happened in Lidderdale in 1914. Immanuel Lutheran Church decided that their sanctuary should be located in the city of Lidderdale. They chose not to build a new church. Instead, they moved their present church into town. Here is a photo taken when that building was being moved.

If you would like to read an interesting article about the history of that congregation, you can find it here: Immanuel, Lidderdale celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2022.

George Harmening had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918.

George Harmening – WWI draft registration

The 1920 census shows all 5 of the Harmening children who lived to adulthood.

1920 census – Sheridan Township, IA

We continue to find the Harmening family in several more census entries living in the same location. Here is the one for 1930. You can also see the beginning of the Willie Fricke household right below the Harmening’s. Willie had previously been living with George and Gesine.

1930 census – Sheridan Township, IA

The 1940 census shows George and Gesine in their 60’s with just 2 remaining children.

1940 census – Sheridan Township, IA

The last census that is available to the public is the one taken in 1950. George was still farming in his 70’s, but had some help from his son, Erwin.

1950 census – Sheridan Township, IA

George Harmening died in 1959 at the age of 85; Gesine Harmening died in 1968 at the age of 92. George and Gesine are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Lidderdale. An aerial map that I looked at indicates that cemetery is likely located where there church once stood out in the country.

George and Gesine Harmening gravestone – Immanuel, Lidderdale, IA

This post contains some interesting happenings in the Lutheran churches in both Perry County, Missouri and Lidderdale, Iowa. I enjoy writing such stories, but they also do present some challenges in doing the research.

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