I know it’s been a long time since I’ve updated my blog and this is somewhat due to working and not having time for as much genealogy as I’d like, but it’s also due to a lull in my research. On my maternal side, I need to make a trip up north to the land my ancestors farmed for generations, to get records, but that requires time and money. On my paternal side, I’ve found almost everything I can for right now, at least in this area. Can’t really do much more until I go overseas and can research on foot in Germany. But that’s for another time and another post!
Research hasn’t completely stopped though. In an older post I told you that I found Scottish roots, and I recently stumbled upon some books at the St. Louis County Library that I was hoping would help me find a little more. These books were on gravestone inscriptions for Berwickshire, Scotland. Unfortunately the books proved to be useless for me, for right now anyways.
The trip was not all bad. A while back I messaged another Ancestry user who had Schepperle family in his tree. He believes that George Arnold Schepperle, my fourth great grandfather, and his ancestor Benedict Schepperle are brothers. Neither of us can know for sure, because we don’t have any info on who their parents are.
A little background information on George: He was born in 1820 in Ellwanger or Ellwangen, Großherzogtum which was in the Grand Duchy of Baden. He came to Highland, Illinois 4 Jul 1854. I knew that his wife, my fourth great grandmother, was Ferdinandina Potthast. According to the St. Paul Catholic Church baptismal records, there were 10 children born to them: Josephine, Theresia (this is my ancestor who married Heinrich J. Gramann III), Paules, Pius, Godfrid (or Godfried), Carol (or Carolina), Cecilia, Paulus, Frideric Leopold (or Frederick), and Maria Anna. Many of these children could not be accounted for when their deaths were. I also could not find any of them, including George and Ferdinandina in the cemetery book for St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in Highland.
Besides these children, there are a possibility of four more children: Maria, Mathilda, an unknown child (who may have died in childbirth), and Zillia (possibly Elizabeth). I could not wrap my brain around these children. The reason for this is that Maria was born in 1852, and Mathilda was born in 1854. This may seem like a moot point, but when I searched in the marriage records for St. Paul, I found that George and Ferdinandina were married 11 Nov 1855. This meant that one of the two had to have been previously married. Looking further back in the marriage records, I found that Ferdinandina had previously married to Christian Huels on 31 Mar 1851. According to records, he died 21 Nov 1854. This means the two children could be his.
Furthermore, an account on George Schepperle, confirmed that he was also previously married. According to this account, George was married to a woman named Maria Agatha in Germany and bore two children with her, probably Maria and Mathilda (probable especially since her name is Maria and so is the one daughter’s). Also to add to the evidence, Maria Agatha died 11 Sep 1854 in Highland, so Mathilda could have been born just before her death or she could have died in childbirth.
Back to the marriage record between Ferdinandina and her first husband, Christian. It was an especially good find because it listed her parent’s names as Christophor Potthast and Christina Linneman. While this got me another generation further, it brought on another brick wall (hooray, right?).
Now I haven’t forgotten about Zillia. Zillia is an interesting name for sure. It’s of Hebrew origin and is a biblical name, which isn’t surprising considering German Catholics almost always use biblical names. I haven’t been able to find any record of Zillia, except for that she shows up in the 1880 census with the Schepperle family. She doesn’t show up in the 1870 census, but in the 1880 census it says she is 12 years old and was born in c.1868. Maybe she was adopted? Could be, but I have nothing to indicate that and the census record lists her as “daughter” not “adopted daughter.” Some trees seem to think her name is Elizabeth, but I can’t even be sure about that. For now I don’t know who she is or how she got there.
The rest of the story on George and Ferdinandina is interesting. I found their find-a-grave pages, which took finding those marriage records first, not sure why, but I’m also not complaining. The find-a-grave pages for them and some of their children finally showed what I had suspected. Many of their children died early including: Paules, Godfrid, Carol, Paulus, and Frideric. None lived to be more than 20, and most lived to be less than 5. The site also showed that none of them had headstones, which is why they didn’t show up in the St. Joseph’s Cemetery book.
George became a citizen 9 Oct 1960. I found some records that show where George paid for a retail liquor license and taxes and in 1866 he was living in Highland as a barkeeper. In the 1870 census, he is listed as a Carpenter and by 1880 he is a boarding house concierge. It would be interesting to find out where his bar was. I’m sure the Highland Public Library might be able to help with that. George died 6 Dec 1898 in Highland. Ferdinandina had died two years earlier 9 Jun 1896 in St. Louis from Entero Colitis.
The story of George and Ferdinandina is a long and confusing one, and it certainly isn’t over. I still don’t know who George’s parents are or where exactly Ferdinandina was from. More in-depth research will hopefully lead me to an answer, but that’s for another time. I think I’ve rambled on long enough, so for now, happy hunting!
Here’s a pic of George smoking a long pipe and holding an alcoholic drink in one hand and a pail in the other. He is standing in front of a barn, next to a dog. He looks like a very interesting fellow. This picture was most likely taken around 1880.