On May 1, 1852, my immigrant fourth great grandparents Martha Nicolai and Johann Friedrich Gerbing sailed from Hamburg, Germany for Quebec City, Quebec with their 5 children on a journey that would have taken approximately three months. Their city of origin was Vieselbach, Germany (outside of Erfurt). By the early fall of 1853, they were residing in Chicago, Illinois.
Up until a few months ago, my fourth great grandmother Martha Nicolai was just a shadow on my family tree. I was not even sure her first name was Martha. But when a small amount of church records from Vieselbach were mixed in with the Erfurt church records and put on Ancestry.com, she became nameless no more. Wonderfully, the baptisms of her children even contained her town of origin.
Dorothea Gerbing’s was the first baptismal record I found. I knew I had the right person when the birthdate matched the birthdate we had in America for Dorothea Gerbing.
The first column is Dorothea’s birthday.
The second is her baptismal date.
The third is her full baptismal name: Dorothea Elisabetha Mathilde.
The fourth is the father: Johann Friedrich Gorbing. Did you notice it is Gorbing? In Vieselbach it fluctuated between Gorbing and Gerbing in the records.
The last column above is the mutter: Martha geb. Nicolai aus Niederzimmern!
My fourth great grandmother Martha Nicolai was from Niederzimmern! It is about one mile from Vieselbach. Sadly, I do not know the names of her parents.
Johann Friedrich Gerbing was born in 1807, according to the Graceland Cemetery record of his burial. There is a possibility he was born in Vieselbach. But, Peter Heckert’s website in Germany contains “Zur Chronik der Kirchgemeinde Vieselbach” detailing the church records of Vieselbach. It specifically contains the surnames listed in the book before 1800. There are no Gerbings or Gorbings.
On the 1836 baptismal record of my third great grandmother Louisa Gerbing, Friedrich’s occupation was journeyman bricklayer/mason of Vieselbach. The occupation of bricklayer was also on the Hamburg ship manifest. See this post: On This Day in 1852…
I suspect Johann Friedrich’s parents were Johann Christoph Gerbing and Anna Martha Engelbrecht. Johann Christoph was a daylaborer.
According to “Zur Chronik der Kirchgemeinde Vieselbach,” there are many Engelbrecht’s living in Vieselbach before and after 1800. It also recorded that Anna Martha Engelbrecht left Vieselbach’s Lutheran school in 1796 and received a hymnal. Engel means angel in German…
A wonderful genealogy angel retrieved Anna Martha’s baptism from the Vieselbach records available at Family Search to members of the LDS. Her parents were Johann Andreas Engelbrecht and her mother was from Obernissa and named Barbara Magdalena Korner.
Without the retrieval of that record for me, I’d likely still be stuck at Johann Friedrich and I would not have located an incredibly interesting church record in the Vieselbach records available on Ancestry.com. The Lutheran marriage record of Anna Martha’s parents Johann Andreas and Barbara Magdalena from 1780, stated that, Anna Martha’s grandfather Heinrich Wilhelm Korner (my 7th great grandfather), was a Corporal in the Prussian Army, in the service of the Prince-Electorate of Mainz. This meant he served in the powerful army of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Please note the surname Korner contains an umlaut over the o. The Prince-Electorate of Mainz was a Catholic Bishop and in 1780 was Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal. Anna Martha’s parents were marrying in the Lutheran Church.
Friedrich and Martha in the United States
Little is known of Friedrich once he was in the United States. The spouse of a descendant of Martha and Friedrich’s son Christian Gerbing shared the Family Burial Card from a Graceland Cemetery file on Ancestry.com. It shows that Fred Gerbing (Friederich) was deceased on March 11, 1858 and was buried in Christian’s plot on July 20, 1865. Thank you KStockmar46!
Why the delay in years of placing Friedrich in the plot? Your guess is as good as mine. Apparently though, Friedrich was moved into the plot the same day as an infant child named Christian Gerbing, deceased in 1857, and an infant child named George Joseph? Lincoln Gerbing. Immigrants Christian Gerbing and wife Anna Bauer, named their infant after the assassinated President of the United States, who was shot and killed in April of that year. Perhaps Patriotism was also on their minds when they also named him George.
Sadly, nothing else is known about my immigrant 4th great grandfather Friedrich Gerbing in America right now!
Likewise, little is known about Martha in the United States beyond the fact that she was widowed and living with her youngest daughter Maria (Mary) in 1860. The census taker wrote their surname down as “Garvin.” Wow that’s a new one. The records of Graceland cemetery (where the Schuttlers of my family are also buried) list that she was deceased on August 2, 1869. That makes two records in America that mention my immigrant fourth great grandmother Martha Nicolai.
The following children of Martha and Friedrich came with them to the United States (with their full baptismal names):
Franz Heironimus Emil, emigrated at age 20 (Frank) m. Elizabeth Schuettler
Christian Georg Istoph Edward, emigrated at age 18 (Christian) m. Anna Bauer
Louisa Anna Elisabetha, emigrated at age 15 (Louisa) m. Johann Schuttler – my ancestors
Dorothea Elisabetha Mathilde, emigrated at age 13 (Dorothea) m. John Schieferstein
Maria Ernestina, emigrated at age 6 (Maria) m. Louis Weick
Martha and Friedrich had a son in 1843 named Karl Wilhelm. He only lived 7 days and was buried in Vieselbach.
I have been slowly tracing the lives of their children and trying to place the numerous descendants of all of Friedrich’s and Martha’s children so the siblings of my ancestress Louisa Gerbing can be memorialized here in the future. I think Franz is my favorite so far. There is no other person in my family tree mentioned in that many newspaper articles in Chicago. He was a police sergeant and his grandson sat on the Colorado Supreme Court.
Hamburg Passenger Lists
Vieselbach, Erfurt, Thuringia Lutheran Church Records at Ancestry.com
“Zur Chronik der Kirchgemeinde Vieselbach” via Peter Heckert
1860 United States Federal Census
Records of St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church from Chicago via Newberry Public Library and Family Search
Johann Schuttler’s Graceland Cemetery File
KStockmar46 at Ancestry.com (Christian Gerbing’s Graceland Cemetery File)
A Ravelry Knitting Genealogist (the genealogy angel)