Author Archives: jimrebar


Name: Tracy Massimiano

Comment: I am looking for proof/records for my DAR lineage that shows my 3rd GG Luranea Viers Wright (23 APRIL 1825) was the daughter of John Viers (1801-1873) and Rebecca Salisbury Viers (1805-1888). Do you have any birth record or family Bible? She was born in Harrison, OH and died in Henry CO OH.

I cannot find a record for DAR that ties her to her parents even though I have their DNA. Is there a record? Or can you tell me where to go to find one?

Names I am researching: Luranea Viers Wright, Rebecca Salisbury Viers, John Viers

First Families 2017

On November 20, 2017, we celebrated the induction of our newest First Families of Henry County at a dinner at the Log Cabin Tavern in Liberty Center. The following people were honored:

Kay Clady Baldwin (photo below), 15386 Dononey Rd., Defiance, OH 43512,, had the following ancestors approved:

Ancesor Year Proven Award
Johannas Ricker 1860 Gold
Johann Michael Rettig, 1860, Gold 1860 Gold
Elisabeth Ricker Stephans/Stevens, 1860, Gold 1860 Gold
Johann Peter Ricker, 1860, Gold 1860 Gold
Caroline Catherine Stevens, 1863, Gold 1860 Gold
Jacob Clady 1879 Silver

Robyn Saul Mosher, 4331 Gratiot Ave., Fort Gratiot, MI 48059,, had the following ancestors approved:

Ancestor Yerr Proven Award
Patience P. Spiegle 1860 Gold
John Thomas West, Sr. 1860 Gold

History Book Photos

These photos were found in a box at the Henry County Historical Society. The late Russell Patterson, one of the founding members of the Society, told me they were photos sent in with the family stories that had been submitted in the mid-1970s to form the Henry County, OhioVolumes One, Two, and Three: A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories Compiled by Members and Friends of The Henry County Historical Society. Russell explained that the photos’ owners did not want them returned because they were just copies of the originals.

These photos are high-resolution, though not necessarily high-quality. The Henry County Genealogical Society scanned them all at 300 dots per inch. Where the original was high quality, the scanned version is also good. Because of space limitations on our server, the version you see in the gallery below are only 150 dots per inch, which is good enough to print. If you want a higher resolution, email us HERE with the subject “High Resolution Photo Request,” and we’ll email a better version.

Henry County Historical Photos

Heinrich and Maria Koehnke Seedorf

by Lori Rabe Esch

(This is an abbreviated version of this family history. You can view the full version HERE.)

The following is a story about my great grandparents, Heinrich Nicolaus Wilhelm “Henry N.W” Seedorf and his wife Maria Koehnke who were born in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. and eventually settled in Bartlow Township in Henry County.  They were the grandparents of my mother, Amanda Ludeman Rabe.  Fortunately, my mother saved many newspaper articles and worked on genealogy in the 1970’s.  Her efforts and papers have been invaluable to me as I have continued her journey.

Heinrich departed Bremerhaven, Germany on the Strassburg [see photo below] and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on the 24th of May, 1884 which was 2 days after his 27th birthday.  His “calling” or occupation was listed as workman. He was in the steerage compartment and had one piece of luggage.   Steerage described the part of the ship where most of the passengers traveled.  This was an area between decks and the ceiling height was usually 6-8 feet.  This area was allotted to those passengers traveling at the cheapest rate. This all sounds fairly straight forward; however, he left behind his fiancée, Maria in Germany.  He came to the new world to work and earn enough money to eventually go back to marry her and then to return to Ohio with her.  Yet when he departed, Heinrich had no idea how long they would be separated. What a struggle that must have been to leave her behind!

Twenty seven years prior, Heinrich was born in Vellen Beverstedt in the province of Hannover on 22 May 1857.  This area in northwestern Germany is where the majority of Henry county ancestors originated. He was baptized in the Lutheran faith and then confirmed on Easter Sunday 1871.

The Seedorf settlement existed near Beverstedt in 1845. Today, no Seedorf descendants from this line are living in Germany.  In September 2014, my siblings and I visited their house which is now occupied by non-relatives [see photo below]. German records state that Heinrich was a ‘sechstelhoefner”.  “Sechstel” means one-sixth, so a sechstelhoefner would farm a small, one-sixth sized farm.  The exact acreage of the farm is not known because farm sizes varied from place to place in Germany.

After arriving in the United States, Heinrich worked for 3 ½ years as a hired hand on a farm located where the Filling Home, just outside of Napoleon, stands today. Most likely Heinrich did not know English nor did he have his bride-to-be Maria by his side, so the first 3 ½ years alone in a strange, new country must have felt immensely longer. Finally in the winter of 1887-1888, he had saved enough money to return to Germany and marry Maria Koehnke on 9 Mar 1888. [see their wedding photo below]

Maria was born 2 Dec 1856 in Barkhausen in the Hannover province and baptized in the Lutheran church 1 Jan 1857. When she was 15 years old she was confirmed.  Seven weeks after Heinrich and Maria’s marriage, they made the final and permanent trip from Germany, arriving in Baltimore on the ship Main.  For some unknown reason, she is listed separately on the ship passenger list as Maria Koehnke.  The couple brought a simple wooden chest containing all of their belongings and measuring only 29 inches long, 15 inches wide and 14 inches deep. Today, this chest is in my possession; one side of the chest still retains a partial label that says “Bremerhaven” which was their departure port. [see photo of chest above]

Now the two newlyweds were finally able to begin their new life together. Initially they lived in Flatrock Township and then moved to Bartlow Township where they rented a farm for 10 years.  Finally after a decade, they had the resources to purchase their own farm in 1899 on County Road F between State Route 65 and County Road 3. They worked the fields and raised their family; Anna Maria, Christ, Sophia, William, Mary and Henry.  Today, Seedorf descendants still reside on this farm. From a single wooden to chest to their own farm, Henry and Maria were able to build a home and life for their family for generations to come.

For family history researchers in the United States, the U.S. federal census is the principal record type for research because it puts people in a certain place at a certain time. Enumerations were mandated by the Constitution and have taken place in all states and territories since 1790.  With the exception of the loss of the 1890 records in a tragic 1921 fire, the collection of original pages is virtually complete.

Therefore, the 1900 census is the first census we have of Henry and Mary [these were their names as given to the census enumerator.] who were both 43 years old at the time.  Other family members recorded were Christopher, age 10; Sophia, age 8; William, age 6; Mary M, age 3; and Henry, age 1.  Additional information in the census stated Mary was the mother of 6 children with 5 still living.  Previously, the eldest child, Anna, died at the age of 8 months and 6 days due to unknown causes. Unfortunately they lost another child when Henry, the youngest child died 11 weeks after this census was taken.

In the loose papers and files of my mother, Amanda Ludeman Rabe, she had written that Henry died when he was 2 years of summer complaint.  Merriam Webster defines summer complaint as diarrhea most common in children that is prevalent in hot weather; it is usually caused by ingestion of food contaminated with various microorganisms responsible for gastrointestinal infections. The culprit very likely could have been spoiled milk. In addition, the 1900 census stated that the children, Christopher and Sophia, were in school.  Henry gave his occupation as a farmer and said he owned the farm with a mortgage. Although Henry and Mary were well on their way to building a new life and fulfilling the American dream, life did not come without its challenges. Life would have been lonely at times and the heavy burden of grief from losing two children as infants was a weight the family would always bear.

On the 1920 census, both Henry and Mary stated they were naturalized back in 1889.  At this time a woman could not file for naturalization.  Citizenship was granted under a husband’s petition.  There are three steps to the naturalization process:  declaration of intent, petition for naturalization, and the final papers granting citizenship.  Henry appeared on 30 May 1887 before the probate court in Henry County and declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States.  About six months later on 5 Nov 1889, he again appeared before the court and became a citizen.  Two individuals appeared with Henry in front of the judge to vouch for him—Fred Brinkmann and August Hinseland.  They swore they had been acquainted with Henry for five years and that “during the time of their acquaintance with Henry Seedorf he has behaved as a man of good moral character attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States of America and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the same”. Henry forever renounced allegiance to William, Emperor of Germany and was admitted to be a citizen of the United States. Five years after he first stepped foot on American soil in Maryland, Henry became an American citizen. [see photo of naturalization papers above]

Following a number of different illnesses, Heinrich [name recorded on his obituary] died at the age of 64 years, 10 months and 10 days on 4 Mar 1922.  The translation of his German obituary states “The deceased was a faithful member of the Lutheran church and a committed Christian.  Since he knew that he was saved by his Redeemer, he went to his death without fear and had prepared himself through prayer and sacrament.  Along with his bereaved widow, mourning at his coffin are his 2 married sons and 2 married daughters, 2 sons-in-law and 2 daughters-in-law as well as 11 grandchildren.  Also surviving him are 6 siblings, of who 1 brother and 1 sister are here in America and 4 brothers in Germany.  May he rest in Peace.”

After Heinrich died, Amanda Ludeman Rabe, her 10 year old granddaughter, stayed with Maria [name used by my mother, also recorded in the 1930 census and name on her obituary] for a year, and then Maria lived with her grown children.  At the time of the 1930 census, Maria, age 73 was living with her son Christ, age 40 , along with his wife Margaret, age 43, and children Walter, age 13, and Emma, age 11. Other answers given on the census give us a snapshot of their life at that time: they lived in a rented house on a farm; Maria indicated she could speak English but could not read or write English and Christ was a farmer and was not a veteran.

Following her husband 11 years later, Maria died on 18 May 1933 at the age of 76.  Her German obituary states she suffered a stroke six years earlier. It also states “Several weeks before her death she had a ruptured blood vessel which led to internal bleeding and hemorrhaging and the strength quickly ebbed.  She was fully conscious up until about 7 hours before her death.  She prepared herself for her death through the Word of God, prayer and the sacraments; just as in the days of her health she attended divine worship in God’s house…May she rest in peace and the perpetual light shine upon her!”

After all of their struggles to build a new life and raise a family in a new country, both Heinrich and Maria were able to die peacefully in their new homeland. In addition, their children were faithful and blessed with children of their own. From their small villages and all the way to Henry County with a single wooden chest, Heinrich and Maria built a life for their children but also paved the way for generations to come.


My great grandparents, Edson Goit Punches and Eliza Ann Golden were married in Hamler in 1869. Edson’s uncle, Peter Punches, signed the consent form for the marriage.

I am interested in finding out if any Golden family members are still living in Henry County because I’d very much like to get in contact with them. I know that the local cemeteries are Golden family burial sites.

Thank you
Jim Punches

Biographical Sketch of Andrew J. Saygers

This article appeared in the Democratic Northwest on January 12, 1893:

Prominent Citizen and Official of Henry County.

A majority of our prominent men In Henry are self-made in every sense of the term, having begun life with no other heritage than grit, ambition, and a determination to surmount obstacles in the path to success. We see many around us who have begun at the bottom round, and who, after years of combat with adversity, mounted round by round to the top.

Among this number is Andrew J. Saygers, President of our present efflcient Board of County Commissioners.

He was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia, October 17, 1834, the son of a farmer and the only boy, being third child in a family of nine. Of this large family none survive save the subject of this sketch.

When Andrew was two years old, the parents moved to Clarke County, Ohio, but not liking the county removed to Champaign County, where they permanently located. At the age of six he lost his father, and a year later was robbed of a mother’s guiding hand and influence. From the date of his mother’s death the orphan has moved his own way through life.

Although left in charge of an uncle, as soon as lars– enough to earn his own living, he did so, working on a farm in Summer and attending school in Winter. At that time the system of free schools was not known, and the boy Andy was compelled to pay tuition, which, together with books and clothes footed up quite an item for one receiving a farm hand’s wages, and made the path to an education no bower of beauty from a bountiful supply of roses.

Surmounting all difficulties, he gained a practical education, which, with a good allowance of grit and push worked his success.

In 1856 he was married to Miss Elizabeth Overhulls, and estimable young lady of Champaign County, and who now presides ofer his home in West Napoleon.

He pursued the occupation of farming until the war when he enlisted In Company E, 17th Regiment, Ohio Infantry. Serving until peace was declared, he returned home and moved with his family to Monroe township. Here he entered into the saw-mill and mercantile business, with his post-office at West Hope. Later on he moved to Napoleon and entered the saw-mill of A. Imber. Being of a saving disposition he soon purchased a half Interest, and after several months partnership! the senior partner sold out, leaving Mr. Saygers in possession of the mill, which, by careful management proved a paying piece of property.

As an office holder his record Is not a lengthy one, having held but one office, that of clerk of Monroe township, prior to his election as commissioner in 1888. But he has proven himself an efficient officer, and was given a second term. He has manifested a sound Judgment and the courage to utter his convictions.

Personally Mr. Baygers is a genial fellow, a good story teller and ready mixer, and has hosts of friends.


I’m looking for information on my ancestor Andrew (Andreas) Bauer. He was born on May 3, 1825 or May 5, 1826 in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany. He was a farmer and came to Henry Co. between 1855-1857. He lived in Flatrock Township. He died in Henry county on June 1, 1891.

His children were Jacob Bauer (born September 6, 1850 in Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio. Died August 12, 1892), Andrew A. Bauer (born August 25, 1892 in Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio. Died sometime in 1827), Mary Bauer (born June 2, 1855 in Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio. Died 1933), Catherine Bauer (born September 3,1857 in Flatrock Township, Henry County, Ohio. Died 1940), John George (born April 15, 1859, died 1919), Elizabeth Bauer (born 1863. Died 1911), Henry Bauer (born 1865. Died 1938), Cora Bauer (born 1866. Died 1870), Adam Bauer (born 1867. Died 1931), and Ella Louise Bauer (born July 28, 1870 and died in 1945).

I’m also looking for any information about Andrew’s wife Maria Katharina who was born on either December 31, 1825 or January 1, 1826 .

Both Andreas and his wife were Lutherans.

I’m looking for any kind of US marriage documents for Andreas and Maria and/or immigration information.

Thank you for your time!

–Abigail Bauer


Hello! I am hoping someone there can help with locating an article on Jay Robert Clewell (1878-1941) We contacted the Red Cross to see if they could help us and included in their response was:

“His original passport application is accompanied by a letter from the Red Cross, endorsing his passport for his work abroad. A response letter from the United States War Department is also attached stating that they approved his request for a passport for his work with the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force) in connection with the Red Cross.

I also came across a letter from a Jay Clewell that was published in the Henry County Signal on February 23, 1919. I would contact the Henry County Genealogical Society, they may be willing to send you the article.”

Is it possible to get a copy of the letter?

Thank you for any assistance you can provide,

Nancy Hitchcock Clewell
a 3rd cousin