Friday, July 02, 2010

1850 and 1857 Census fill gap on my family tree

Thanks to the efforts of Brent Mai and others*, I now own copies of the translated 1850 and 1857 Censuses of Reinwald in District of Samara, Russia.

These censuses are the links to mother's genealogical past. My mother's maternal family tree shows gaps between my great grandfather, Phillip Reimer, and the original Reimer settlers of Reinwald, Russia. My mother's father, Fred Herzog, reflected the biggest gap from his birth in 1882 back to Leonhard Herzog and his wife Elisabeta Stengel as recorded in the 1798 Reinwald census.

I analyzed the 1857 census first since my great-grandmother, Anna Maria Körber for whom I was named, was born in 1857. Anna Maria was the wife of Philip Reimer. Could the timing of the census and her birth benefit my research or could it be a near miss? The census was dated 1 November 1857. I knew my great-grandmother's birthday was 22 August 1857.

I scanned the pages and found her name on page 10 line 299. Anna Maria is listed in household 22 headed by Johann Peter Körber age 63. He was listed as married to Christina Ruppel age 60. Also in their household was their son Karl age 40 and his wife Elisabeth Roth age 37. Karl and Elisabeth's children, Georg age 20 and Katharina age 18 lived in the same house. Anna Maria was recorded as the 1/4 year old great-granddaughter of Johann Peter Körber and Christina Ruppel. The double asterisks by Anna Maria's name led me to the next page which states, "Illegitimate great-granddaughter by granddaughter Katharina."

Wow. You never know exactly what you will find when you start to research your family history. My heart ached for Katharina and Anna Maria. What did it mean to be an illegitimate child in a small German Russian village in the mid 1800s? How did this impact their lives? Even more, who was Anna Maria's father? In a small, farming village like Reinwald where life was quite structured and everyone knew everyone, what circumstances led to my great-grandmother's birth?

It's interesting to note that on my great grandfather's death certificate, both of his parent’s names are clearly listed. He died 3 October 1948 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The informant was his daughter, my great aunt Elizabeth, listed as Mrs. David Wiegand. On Anna Maria's death certificate, where Phillip Reimer was the informant, her parents are listed as Unknown. Was it possible that Anna Maria and Phillip were never told the full details of her birth? Or were they just unaware?

I would be interested in hearing from others who have encountered this situation in their family history to gain an understanding of how this situation affected their lives. There is so much information on these censuses, I look forward to further investigation of the Reimer and Herzog lines and will continue to post my discoveries here.

*Reinwald 1857 Census. Initial acquisition and translation of the 1857 Census of Reinwald was made possible by the generous contributions of the following: Mrs. Jene Herder Goldhammer, Portland, Oregon; Mrs. Shirley Hurrell, Beaverton, Oregon; Mrs. & Mrs. Arthur R. Mai, Sharon Springs, Kansas; Prof. & Mrs. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon; Mr. Gerald Yurk, Fort Meyers, Florida. Census was translated by Brent Mai, Concordia University, Portland, Oregon. For more information on Brent's research visit

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