Category Archives: Family History

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.

Decko, Decot, Hefflinger Photos

Back in 2001, this item was published in our July-August newsletter. To our knowledge, nobody ever claimed the photos, and recent attempts to track down Lee Hashbarger have failed.


A notebook containing some identified and many un­identified photos of Hashbarger, Shaffer, Crockett, Kline, Decko, Dietrich, Decot, Harold, Hefflinger, Dibble, Overhaulse, Shoemaker, Newell, Wright, Pender, Packard, Snider/Snyder and Waltner family members is in the (Deshler) library if you care to check for family members. Related families include Sims and Crist. Contact for more info is Lee Hashbarger, Lima, OH 45801.

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The Strange Case of Catherine Walker – A Genealogical Puzzle

By Gary A. Bartlett

William-&-Catherine-WalkerMy Grandmother Bartlett’s maiden name was Ethel Walker (1895-1982). Her parents were Frank Walker (1869-1942) and Lilly Metcalf (1868-1926). Thus far, everything is well documented by Vital Records here in the Lenawee County, Michigan Courthouse, which I will not bother to cite, as they are not germane to the genealogical problem that I intend to review.

My ancestry starts to become problematic one generation further back – specifically in the case of the identity of Frank Walker’s mother, who is the subject of this particular genealogical investigation. To lay the foundation for this study, let us begin with Frank’s father – William Walker (24 Nov 1825 – 12 Apr 1908) – who died here in Lenawee County. All original source documents uniformly state that William Walker was born in Canada. Oral family history alleges that he was born in Port Hope, Ontario, which is located on the shore of Lake Ontario northeast of Toronto. I have not yet been able to document this, but there were Walkers living in Port Hope at the right time. While oral family histories can be inaccurate (and so can original source documents, for that matter), they can offer clues as to where to look for further information.

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Zollars Family in 1886

From the Democratic Northwest, October 14, 1886, p. 6, cols. 4-5

The Zollars Family Noted for Their Longevity.

On the 9th of this month there was a family reunion at the residence of Frederick Zollars at Macon, which, in some respects, was extraordinary. It was in its primary object a reunion of the brothers and sisters of Mr. Zollars. They were all present, besides about forty of their descendants and relatives, among whom were Mr. and Mrs. Van Horn, of Canton, Ohio; and Allen Zollars, of Ft. Wayne, Ind.

Frederick Zollars, the oldest brother, has been a resident of Macon since 1868, and is well and favorably known. He is now eighty-five years old.

Daniel Zollars, the next brother, is seventy-eight years old. He has resided at Ottumwa, Iowa, for many years.

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Brownell Family Photos

On April 18, 2016, Shelley Cardiel of Kirkland, Washington, wrote the following letter to nine people in Napoleon, Ohio; Ellensburg, Washington; and Seattle, Washington. The names and addresses of the recipients have been deleted to protect their privacy.

Shelley wrote:

I’ve “rescued” an old photograph album including a total of approximately 49 photographs, 14 of those identified or identifiable in some manner based on what is in the album. In addition, there are a number of loose photographs which are also connected to this same family.

Identified photographs in the album include:

Johnnie VIANT
Lena (believed to be BROWNELL)
Virginia RINCK
Carrie RINCK

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Frederick Badenhop

April 13, 2016

I just today received this reply from the Army Heritage and Education Center regarding my Great-Great Grandfather, Frederick Badenhop, and thought that you might want a copy for your photo database. Please note the credit line that they suggest using below.

He enlisted with the 16th Indiana Light Artillery, US Army, on August 10, 1862. You already have him on your military graves database, as well as two marriage records and a death record. Given the fact that this photograph looks posed in a studio, and the fact his facial expression doesn’t reveal much of the horrors of the eastern campaign of the Civil War yet, I would place the date of this photograph right around this time.

Up to now we only have had one other photograph of this gentlemen, a four generation photo from 1921 that also includes my father, Herbert Rettig, Grandmother Hildegarde Rettig (Badenhop), and Great Grandfather John D Badenhop. He is about 82 years old in this photo.

I’ve enjoyed perusing your website, but unfortunately I’m too far away from Henry County to participate actively (Portland, Oregon). I’ll be joining for your quarterly newsletter, though.

John Rettig
Portland, Oregon

RG98s-Civil War Photos-Albums 2-2.20, United States Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA

RG98s-Civil War Photos-Albums 2-2.20, United States Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA

Lida Hoffman

The following is from a letter from Mariyn A. Crum, dated May 27, 2008, to Marvin Mueller of Liberty Center:

The following information is from Ron’s Aunt, Meridath Crum – Carpenter- Heyerman and her grandmother, Eva May Fredrick – Hoffman’s Bible. In her Bible were several newspaper obituaries as well as family tree connections. Some of the information was duplicated on, as well, but bits of the information on Ancestry .com didn’t jive with what was in the Bible so I left those portions out.


Her given name was Alitha Elitha Hoffman but was called Lida by the family.
She was bom 19 March 1860 in Liberty Center, Henry, Ohio.
She married John Estep 14 June 1897.
(John Estep was bom 15 June 1851 in Virginia, the son of Samuel H. Estep and Elizabeth Tusing. He was a widower with 2 sons at the time of their marriage. His first wife was Sophronia Harlan 1859 -1896 Kosciusko, Indiana. She was the daughter of William Harlan and Elsie Susan Boggs. They had been married 25 December 1876 in Indiana. Their sons were Walter Harlan Estep 01 January 1880 and William Leonard Estep 23 November 1885 both bom in Kosciusko, Indiana.
Lida died 21 September 1912 in Kosciusko, Indiana
Her parents were Noah Stucky Hoffman (05 October 1827 Clear Creek Township, Fairfield, Ohio – 02 February 1882 Clear Creek Township, Fairfield, Ohio) and Louise Leist (25 November 1835 Pickaway, Ohio -16 July 1888 Clear Creek Township, Fairfield, Ohio)
Her father’s nickname was “Stickey” as he was tall and thin as well as a take off on his middle name of Stucky, his mother’s maiden name.

She had six siblings;

  1. Edward Edwin Hoffman 1853 Ohio — married Emelius or Emeline
  2. Daniel Stanton Hoffman 1855-1934 Ohio — married Lydia Gudzell
  3. Jemina Jennet Hoffman 1856 Ohio
  4. Harriet Marie Hoffman 1862 Ohio ——– married Martin Rodgers
  5. Mary Teressa Hoffman 1864 Ohio
  6. Lovina Clare Hoffman Apr 1866 – 1938 Ohio

Lida is buried near her sister Lovina in Young’s Cemetery Liberty Center, Henry, Ohio.

Her grandparents were; Daniel Stanton Hoffman1790 Berks, Pennsylvania – 28 December 1848 Clear Creek Township, Fairfied, Ohio and Margaret Stucky 1800 Berks, Pennsylvania – died in Ohio date unknown

Her great grandparents were; Johann Jacob Hoffman 06 March 1752 – Zuzenhausen, Heidelberg, Baden, Germany -13 March 1839 Clear Creek Township, Fairfield, Ohio and Catherine Keasey 1756 -1790 Dauphin, Pennsylvania. She died following the birth of Daniel Stanton Hoffman. She is buried in Pennsylvania. His father, Johann Jacob Hoffman then married Susanna Kissinger in 1891 and upon her death he married his second wife’s sister-in-law, who was widowed, Catherine Jung- Kissinger. He moved the family to Ohio in 1800 coming by several oxen wagons. It was said to have been a long and arduous trip taking several months.

Her great, great grandparents were; Johann Andreas Hoffman 05 May 1831 Zuzenhausen, Baden, Germany – 01 July 1799 Dauphin, Pennsylvania and Anna Eva Schnabel 07 February 1725 Hoffenheim, Heidelberg, Germany and died in 1763 in Zuzenhausen, Baden, Germany. She died several months before Johann Andreas Hoffman and family immigrated to America and settled in Dauphin, Pennsylvania. She is buried in Germany.

Her uncle was Andrew Stanton Hoffman. He was called Andy by the family and was brother to her father Noah Stucky Hoffman. He was bom 15 taarch 1831 Clear Creek Township, Fairfield, Ohio – 30 May 1910 Liberty Center, Henry, Ohio.

He was married four times.:

First wife was Eliza Cossel 1835 — 1859 married in 1854. She and their son Andrew Daniel, bom in 1858, died of some kind of fever in the spring of 1859 Fairfield, Ohio

Second wife Rebecca Leist 1839 -1863 married 19 January 1860 Pickaway County, Ohio. She died in childbirth along with the child. Both are buried in Pickaway County, Ohio.

Third wife was Charity R. Pontious daughter of William Pontious March 1823 – 07 October 1908 and his first wife, Christina Neff December 1830 – 18 August 1859. Her mother died 3 months after delivering her 6m child —Opha N. Pontious. She was 28 years and 9 months old at the time of her death. Charity and Andy were married in 11 May 1865. They had eight children.

  1. Stanton Daniel Hoffman 07 May 1867 – 04 November 1943 – married Eva May Fredrick (28 February 1869 – 25 November 1957) 04 November 1888, daughter of John Fredrick and Sarah E. Andrews. Both died in Napoleon, Ohio and are buried at Young’s Cemetery.
  2. Reuben Elmer Hoffman 24 June 1869 – 21 February 1932 – married Margaret Teressa Leitner 30 September 1884
  3. Adeline Sophrona Hoffman 25 June 1871 -1945 – married George William Graner 27 March 1896 son of Charles William Graner and Alice
  4. Harlie H. Hoffman 03 may 1875 -15 July 1878 buried at Liberty Chapel Cemetery.
  5. Maude B. Hoffman 27 January 1878 – 1956 – married George Ivan Taber 02 October 1890, son of George Washington Taber and Mary Elizabeth Wise.
  6. Pearl Charity Hoffman June 1880 – 20 July 1968 – married Roy Hardy in 1900 son of Jacob Hardy and Harriet Bortel
  7. Florence Hoffman 28 December 1887 – 28 August 1974 – married Paul William Henry Bemicke in 1907.
  8. Alfred Hoffman 19 May 1888 -12 August 1888 buried at Liberty Chapel Cemetery.

Charity Hoffman is also buried at Liberty Chapel Cemetery, Liberty Township, Henry, Ohio along side her sons, Harlie and Alfred. This cemetery is also where her parents,as well as aunt and uncles are buried.

Fourth wife was Elizabeth Bolender – Imes a widow with two grown sons. They were married in 1901.

Stanton Daniel Hoffman was Lida’s first cousin. He and his wife Eva May had only one child, a daughter, Laura Ethel Hoffman 26 February 1890 -11 March 1912. She married Floyd Stadden Crum (19 December 1883 – 22 January 1950) – 25 September 1907 son of John William Crum and Ida May Gruber. In Liberty Center, Henry, Ohio They had two children Dahrel Stadden Crum 11 May 1908 Liberty Center, Henry, Ohio – 04 January 1998 Plant City, Hillsbrough, Florida. He was raised by his father Floyd and his grandmother Ida May Gruber-Crum following his mother’s death in 1912. He married Elizabeth Lucille Beilharz (31 October 1907) 17June 1931 daughter of Herbert Lester Beilharz and Lillian May Russell.

Meridath Louise Crum 05 October 1911 Liberty Center, Henry, Ohio – 29 October 2007 in Aurora, Illinois. She was raised in Napoleon, Ohio by her maternal grandparents, Stanton Daniel and Eva May Hoffman following her mother’s death in 1912 of Typhoid fever. She married Raymond Harold Carpenter (03 December 1910 Defiance County, Ohio – 06 August 1977 St Charles, Illinois) 15 March 1935 in Alexandra, Virginia. He was the son of Lyman Franklin Carpenter and Altie May Davis. His favorite name for her was Sugar later shortened by family members to “Aunt Sug.” They adopted one child, Thomas Raymond Carpenter 04 July 1947 Findlay, Ohio – 25 April 2008 St Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida.

She married her backyard neighbor, Lester Henry Heyerman (17 July 1918) 22 November 1980 son of August Julious Wilhelm Heyerman and Lillian Kimmell. His first wife, Doris Louise Reid had died of cancer several years earlier.

She is buried next to her first husband, Raymond Carpenter, in Young’s Cemetery Liberty Center, Ohio.

Obituary found in Hoffman Bible (Stanton and Eva May Fredrick Hoffman):
Mrs. Margaret Hoffman
Funeral services for Mrs. Margaret Hoffman, 65, of Liberty Center, O., who died Saturday in Toledo hospital after an illness of a month, will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow in Herber church, Liberty Center. Burial will be in Youngs cemetery.
Surviving are sons, Clarence and Vernon, Liberty Center; Harry, Stryker, O.,; Arnold, Montpelier, O.; and Jay, Toledo; daughters, Deloris Hoffman and Mrs. Pearl Raymond, Toledo, and 10 grandchildren.
[Handwritten with obit: Margaret Tressa Leitner, born 20 Jan 1872 in Ohio, died 27 Nov 1937 in Toledo, Lucas Co, Ohio, married 30 Sept 1884, Henry County, Ohio.]

Obituary found in Hoffman Bible (Stanton and Eva May Fredrick Hoffman):
Reuben Elmer Hoffman, son of Andrew and Charity Hoffman, was born June 24, 1869, departed from this life at the home of his son Clarence, February 21, 1932, age 62 years, 7 months and 28 days. He was united in marriage to Margaret Leitner September 30, 1884, and to this union were born nine children, one son died in infancy. He leaves to mourn three daughters, Ethel, Pearl and Delores and five sones, Clarence, Harry, Arnold, Jay and Vernie, eight grandchildren, one brother Stanton and four sisters, Mrs. George Graner, Mrs. Ivan Taber, Mrs. Roy Hardy, and Mrs. Paul Bernicke and a host of other relatives and friends. Reuben was a devoted christian and a faithful member of the Christian Union Church while health permitted. He was a kind and loving father and will be sadly missed in the circle of his many friends.
[Handwritten with obit: born 24 June 1869 in Liberty Twp., Henry Co., Ohio, died 21 Feb 1932, Fulton Co., Ohio.]

John and Allan Jones

The following is from a letter from a Mrs. Jack (Melveen) Jensen, dated July 28, 1987, to Marvin Mueller of Liberty Center:

Allen and John [JONES] were veterans of the Civil War. Both were in Company F in the 68th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. Both were born in New Jersey. John married Louisa M. Pennock on March 8, 1866. Her father is Benjamin W. Pennock. John and Louisa had one daughter, Harriet C., born August 2, 1868. John died March 8, 1866, and Louisa died January 9, 1913,

Allen married Barbara Gruber on November 6, 1878. They did not have any children. He died on February 2, 1883.

The above information was obtained from their pension records.