April 11, 2024

German Burial Practices Explained


How wonderful it is to welcome guest bloggers, Ava and Chuck Stanford, cousins extraordinaire!

Recently, Ava sent to me their 2018 travel journal from a trip to Germany and especially to all villages Elling-related. That's one of my dream trips, so it was especially satisfying to read their account of people met and visits to Tielingen and Stellichte, among others.

While there, they visited cemeteries, looking for Ellings, but were enlightened to the burial practices in Germany. Those graves will never be found!

Ava and Chuck wrote:

"During the early days of our visit, we were confused by the lack of cemeteries at several churches and towns.  The cemeteries we did find were very neatly maintained with gorgeous flowers and neatly manicured gardens surrounding new, polished headstones - all with relatively current dates. We saw very few dated before 1975 and virtually none prior to WW II.

'Where are all the people?' we wondered.  Where are all the old gravestones and especially those of the Ellings who we came to visit?  Tietlingen has no cemetery at all, and Stellichte's new small memorial park was not much more than 1/2 acre in size.  In fact, the church cemetery at St. George Christophorus Jodocus Ev. Lutheran Church in Stellichte was actually plowed over several years ago when it became to much to maintain, according to the custodian who is married to the church secretary and lives next door in her family's 400 year-old home.  Now the church maintains no cemetery at all, except for the original Von Behr family plots for whom the church was built in 1608.

Church at Stellichte

Well, here is the rest of the story...it turns out there are several unusual things about burial laws in Germany.

  • When you buy a burial plot n Germany, whether it be one plot or a family grouping of 8-12 plots, you only purchase it for 30 years - that is 30 years from the date of the first funeral.
  • The plot may be repurchased again at the end of the 30 years and again at 60 years.
  • The policy results in part from emigrants and family members moving away from the local area, leaving no one to care for the gravesite nor anyone who has an ongoing connection to the deceased.
There are strict regulations pertaining to maintenance during the 30 year period to assure consistent appearance of the sites - sort of like an HOA that maintains the appearance of your neighborhood.

  • Burials are restricted to only wooden caskets. Metal caskets and burial vaults are strictly prohibited, and, in fact, unheard of at one church we visited.  The idea is that wooden caskets will decompose in 20-30 years and be 'totally' recycled by the time the plot s resold in 30 years.  
If any remains (such as femur bones that are the last to decompose) are found when excavating a 'reused' site, they are simply buried deeper and the new occupants are added on top of the existing site

One pastor told us there was only one metal coffin in his entire cemetery that belonged to a woman who had committed suicide using poison.  The woman had ingested such a massive dose of poison that the authorities were worried about the decaying body polluting the ground water, and they insisted a metal coffin be used to contain any contamination.

The policy is the same for cremation, where cremains are only allowed to be buried in wood urns that will deteriorate withing the 30 year time period.

Very few historically important gravestones are retained, and those are 'only for decoration,' according to one pastor.

Here is a great website to read about this topic, adding even more information.

January 31, 2024

IF by Mable Baker


If you could see your ancestors 
All standing in a row, 
Would you be proud of them?
Or don't you really know?
Some mighty strange discoveries are made 
In climbing family trees, 
And some of them you know
Might not particularly please

If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row
There might be some of them
You wouldn't care to know
But here is another question
That requires a different view.
If you could meet your ancestors
What would they think of you?

December 21, 2023

Henry Frederic Christian Myers and Mary Caroline Young Myers


Christian and Caroline Myers, my husband's great-great grandparents, were both born in Germany in the Hanover region.  Christian, born March 6, 1814, named his birthplace as Neerseen, a principality south of Hanover.  Caroline's birthplace, as told in her obituary was Hevenseen, Lower Saxony and her birthdate, April 17, 1812. My guess is that they lived in the same village, as travel to find a wife was quite limited and most married people from their own immediate area.

The couple married in March, 1840 and immediately emigrated out of Germany, settling in Hocking County, Ohio. They settled in Laurel Township, Hocking County, and joined the St John Lutheran Church there; here all their children were baptized and confirmed.  They were farmers, like most others in that county and their children farmed, as well.

Their oldest daughter, Dora (Teena, Jena) Myers married John Wesley Kline and they had a son, Daniel, my husband's grandfather.  Dora's siblings, as I know now, were Jacob, Frederic, Caroline, Louisa, Melvina, Elizabeth and Wilhelmina.

Christian and Caroline lived on a Laurel Township farm their whole lives and that is where death found them.  Christian died on March 24, 1884, at 70 years old.  His obituary appeared in the Hocking Sentinel, Logan, Ohio, on April 10, 1884:

"Mr. Henry Frederick Christian Meier was born March 6, 1814, in Neersen, Germany, and died at his late residence in Laurel Tp., Hocking County, Ohio, March 24, 1884, aged 70 years, 18 days. 

The deceased was consecrated to the Lord through the sacrament of Holy Baptism in his infancy, and when 14 years of age, was confirmed in the Lutheran Church and thereby admitted into full membership of said church.

In 1840, Mr Meier joined himself in holy matrimony to Miss Mary C. Young, and this newly married couple soon afterward left with the Rehren family their native country and came with them to America and settled in Hocking county.

The married life of Mr. and Mrs. Meier was a happy one, and was blessed with 9 children, 2 sons and 7 daughters, of whom, however, 3 daughters have preceded their father to eternity.

The deceased was an industrial and honest man, a loving husband, a kind father, bringing up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and an active and faithful church member.

In general, he possessed the great gift of good health, until about four years ago , it began to fail him. An aillment of the lungs took hold of his otherwise robust and vigorous constitution. This complaint subsequently resulted into dropsy (edema). But all these sufferings, the deceased bore with truly Christian patience and resignation, firmly believing and ardently hoping admidst sighs and prayers, that Christ, his Savior, would soon come and deliver him from his sufferings, and translate him from this world of sorrow into the Heavenly Kingdom.

This wish was granted him on Monday noon, March 24th, when he fell asleep, as we hope, in Jesus, to live with HIm in joy and bliss forever.
His funeral took place on Wednesday, and was conducted by Rev. L. F. Miller, Pastor of the Ev. Lutheran Church of Laurel Tp., of which the deceased had been a member for over 40 years.

The widow, two sons, four daughters, and seventeen grandchildren mourn his departured.  May the God of all consolations and blessings also console and bless these bereaved ones."

St. John's Lutheran Cemetery, Maysville, Hocking County, Ohio

Caroline passed away on April 23, 1888 - her obituary:

""Departed this life, April 23d, 1888, at her residence in Laurel Twp, Hocking Couinty, Ohio, Mrs. Mary Caroline Myer. The deceased was born April 17th, 1812 in Hevenseen, Hanovre, Germany.

In early infancy, she was given to the Lord through the sacrament of Holy Baptism and at the age of 14 years, she was, by the rite of confirmation, received into full membership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

In 1840, she was married to Mr. Christian Myer. To them were born nine children, of whom four have preceded their mother to eternity and five, 2 sons and 3 daughters, survive her.

Shortly after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Myer left their native country and emigrated to the United States of America and settled in Hocking County, Ohio.  The deceased has lived in the community for 48 years.  Four years ago, the departed had to experience the severe loss of being deprived of her life's companion, Mr. Myer, by death.  She bore this loss with Christian patience and submission, hoping to meet  'ere long in a 'better land.'

In general, the deceased enjoyed good health until about 8 months ago, symptoms of dropsy made their appearance.  This ailment grew daily worse.  During her sickness, she gave proof of her strong faith in Christ my clinging firmly to Him and by expressing a great desire to be delivered and go to her heavenly home.

The days of her early pilgrimage numbered 78 years and 6 days. Her funeral took place April 25th and was largely attended by friends and relatives.  After suitable service in the Ev. Lutheran Church, St. John's of Laurel Tp, of which the deceased had been an active member, by Rev. L. F. Miller, her body was laid to rest by the side of her husband to await the summons of the Lord for resurrection on that great day.

Two sons and three daughters and 24 grandchildren mourn their severe loss which to her is endless gain.  May God absolutely comfort them."

July 27, 2022

Confusing Cousins

It seems like a struggle to me to classify cousins into first, second, third, once removed, etc.  

It was always obvious to me that my first cousins were the children of my aunts and uncles.  You know who you are! We share grandparents.

But who is a second cousin?  They are the children of my parents' first cousins. So if my dad had a first cousin, Eldor, his children would be my second cousins.
Or, in another view, we share great-grandparents.

My third cousin would share a great-great grandparent with me, and so on, adding greats.

Now for the "once removed" which refers to generations between us.

So, my first cousin once removed is my first cousin's child 
My first cousin's grandchild would be my first cousin twice removed.

How many generations are between me and our common ancestor?

I don't know if I will ever be clear on it all, especially as it progresses further and further back in time.  Maybe it's just easier to call everyone related in any way "cousin"!

Perhaps this chart from Family Search would help -


July 12, 2022

A Christmas Souvenir From Your Sunday School Teacher, Henrietta Delph

 During the Christmas and New Year Season of 1902-1903, Henrietta "Sue" Delph presented a little gift to her Sunday School students at the Lutheran Church in Malinta, Class No. 11.

Her photo was featured on the front with the class roll and a few Christmas verses inside.

The class roll:

Blanch Graffice        Otto Hemsoth        Maud Dauber        Roy Haffey        Leah Parrett

Earl Stevens        Gladys Burr        Floyd Long        Emma Detrick        Josie Heckler

Kata Detrick        Nettie Austermiller

Henry Giest, Superintendent and Rev. N. Barnett, Pastor

July 5, 2022

Another Philip and Elizabeth Witzgall Delph Family Photo

 This family photo, presumably taken on the Delph farm, included spouses and grandchildren.  Jim Delph and I put our heads together to label as accurately as possible.  Even then, we could not identify the grandchildren who seem to make up the first row, sitting on the ground, except for the oldest girl which I am fairly sure is Marie Ordway (Baker).

The photo was estimated to have been taken between 1913-1917

From Left to right, naming the men and the women behind them:

Morris Babcock, Jacob Babcock with Cora Delph Babcock behind him

Clarence "Cooney" Delph with wife, Margaret behind him.

Cecil Delph, unknown woman

Elizabeth Witzgall Delph and behind her Henrietta "Sue" Delph and unknown man

Philip Delph

Ottis "Pat" Delph with wife, Elsie standing behind him

Lemuel "Lem" Ordway with wife, Elizabeth "Bess" Delph Ordway behind him

Mandus "Jerry" Spangler with wife, Julia Delph Spangler behind him.

George Delph with wife, Emma Delph behind him

***If you can help with identification, please chime in in the comments.  Your comments are monitored and probably won't show up for a day or two when approved.

June 30, 2022

A Fragile Treasure - The Ordway Family Bible Record

 This family treasure was passed down to me from Marie Ordway Baker's son, Robert.  It is one very fragile page of the family record of the Richard and Sarah Hill Ordway Bible, my great-great grandparents, listing their children and birthdates.  

I didn't scan the back side of the page, but their marriage record alone rests there: 

Richard Ordway and Sarah Jane Hill was married the 8 day of September 1858.

Also with that record was a slim piece of yellowed paper, marked State of Ohio, Wood County, declaring the marriage of Mr. Henry L. Ordway with Miss Lizzie Delp, on January 2d, 1898, signed by Rev. L. O. Thompson, Church of Christ.  My great-grandparent's marriage certificate.  It doesn't get any better for a genealogist.