Week 6: So Far Away: Elisabeth Magdalena Mayer

Nellingen to New York

Nellingen to New York

The prompt from Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge this week is “so far away”. I’ve chosen to highlight my great-grandmother, Magdalena Meyer. She was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States, and per my map calculations at over 6000 kilometers from me she is the ancestor (that I have found thus far) who has originated at the place furthest from my home. She is also the ancestor that traveled furthest to immigrate to the United States.

I’ve not yet identified the ship that Magdalena traveled on to the United States, and do not yet know who in her family, if anyone, she traveled with.  The 1900 census provides the year of her immigration as 1874.

Naming customs are different in Germany, and important to understand when evaluating the records. Often at baptism two names were given. Often the first was a saint or honorary name and would be repeated, the second name would be the “call name”. This can be tricky when looking for records, especially birth/baptism compared to later in life records.

Elisabeth Magdalena Mayer, born on 24 Sept 1860, was baptized 30 Sept 1860 in Nellingen, Esslingen, Wurttemberg, Germany.   Her parents were Georg Friedrich Mayer, father and Christiane Bauer, mother.

1885 Merkel, Wm MarriageMagdalina Maier, daughter of Georg Friedrich and Christine Bauer, married William Merkel, 16 August 1855 in Brooklyn, NY.

Merkel Wm Marriage2.

Or was that Maggie Maier?

Both are from the same document. (note also it says William Merkel, but he signs Wilhelm Merkel, the copy is too light to read Magdalina’s signature.)

One of the witnesses to the marriage was Eberhard Maier, Magdalena’s brother. Gottlob Eberhard Mayer was baptized in 1857 in Nellingen. His parents were Georg Friedrich Mayer, father and Christiane Bauer, mother. (Eberhard is a twin; twins are known to run in families; William and Madeline would later become parents to twins.)

Lena Meier was the maiden name of the mother to Christina Merkel. Lena Merkel was also one of the names she uses when she is enumerated on census. Other names found in census records are Magolina Merkel and Madeline Merkel.

On her death certificate, her name given, by William Merkel, informant, was Madlein Meyer. Researching my great grandmother taught me to broaden my search when looking for specific names, and to look at the entire family unit.

Magdalena and William Merkel had 11 children. It appears the first two died very young. Their third child, Christina, was born in 1889, and was the eldest surviving child in 1900. Five boys were also enumerated in that census. In the following years another boy and lastly, a pair of twin girls were born. Sadly, one of the twins died at 6 months old.

When first married, Magdalena and William lived in Brooklyn. They later moved to Queens, New York, and finally to Franklin Square in Nassau County.

1933 Merkel, Madlein (Meyer)Madelein Merkel fell down the cellar steps at her home in early February 1933. The fall resulted in a fractured femur- she broke her leg, at the hip. Thirty days after the fall, on 6 March 1933, Madelein died of complications from that injury. She was buried at Lutheran Cemetery in Queens, New York. [The cemetery has been renamed to All Faiths Cemetery]


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