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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The puzzle of Maria Meier Heinritz Jahnke

Image from the Library of Congress

I have struggled for over a year to trace my husband’s paternal line.  There are so many George Bennetts in New York City at the turn of the 20th Century.  Let me rephrase that… there are so many Bennetts, from Ireland, in New York City at the turn of the 20th Century.  My goal, from the beginning, was to track his family, and the maternal lines, back to the immigrant families.  Maybe, just maybe, I would get lucky and find out where the families came from too.  You can read past posts under Bennett, Jahnke, and Taylor for these family lines.

Recently I wrote about one of these maternal lines from the Bennett family, Jahnke.  You can read the post here.  I am sure you can see why the puzzle was not coming together and was frustrating to say the least.  I ordered the marriage certificates that I spoke of in the previous post and fortunately all but one have come in. 

First I looked at the marriage certificate and handwritten entry to the books for Emil and Maria Jahnke.  The certificate gave me a lot of information, including the fact that Maria was a widow (and she switches between Maria and Mary) and older than Emil.  The information from the return of marriage is listed below:
1.       Full name of Groom        Emil Herman George Jaks [he signed it Emil Jahnke]
2.    Place of Residence          142-143 Str. 8th Av. City
3.    Age at next Birthday       26 years Oct 11th last
4.    white
5.    Occupation         carpenter
6.    Place of Birth     Stessin, Pommerane
7.    Father’s Name  Ferdinand Jahnke
8.    Mother’s Maiden Name                               Louise Engelman
9.    No. of Groom’s Marriage             1st
10.  Full Name of Bride           Maria Heinritz
        Maiden Name if a widow             Meyer
11.  Place of Residence          142-143 Str. 8th Av. City
12.  Age next Birthday            31 years May 11th last
13. white
14.  Place of Birth     Munster, Westphalia
15.  Father’s Name  Unknown
16. Mother’s Name Unknown
17. No. of Bride’s Marriage  2d
New York May 12th 1884
Certificate of Marriage
State of New York

I hereby certify that Emil Herman Jeorge Jahnke and Widow Maria Heinritz were joined in marriage by me, in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, in the City of New York, this twelfth day of May A.D. 1884.
Dr. E.F. Moldehnke
Pastor St. Peter’s Germ. Lutheran Ch. [Maybe this one?]
124 E. 46th Str. City

Mrs. Margar. Sommer
Mr. George B. Jahnke

I was thrilled with the luck.  My husband’s 2nd great-grandmother was born in NYC in 1872.  According to this marriage certificate Emil was not her father.  She was most likely born Augusta Heinritz during her mother’s first marriage.  I know her younger sister Mary was born in 1887 and therefore a daughter of this 2nd union.

Plus, I now had the place where Maria Meyer was from in addition to the church they attended.  The church records are on FamilySearch too.  Unfortunately they are not indexed, but I can browse the images.  Perhaps I will find another marriage, birth, baptism, or death record for these families there.

Using Ancestry and FamilySearch I went about filling in the gaps and holes of these people’s lives.  First I looked for a marriage certificate for Maria and her first husband.  I located it in the database New York City Marriages 1600-1800s at Ancestry.  I will need to order the certificate to see what else I can find written on it, but for now I know that Augustus Heinritz and Maria Meier were married in 1871 at Manhattan.
Using this information I went looking for them on the 1880 US Federal Census.  Up until now I had no luck finding Augusta.  Now I know I was looking for the wrong last name.  It took me several hours of trial and error before I found them.  In 1880 A. Hennritz, his wife Mary and 2 daughters, Gussie age 8 and Hattie age 6, were living in Flushing, Queens.  This was the first time I had seen the name Hattie.  Now I wonder where she went, and what happened to her.

Since I had 2 daughters to work with, as well as ages, and parents’ names I set off locating birth records.   Thankfully once I had that information it was relatively easy to find what I was looking for.  Auguste Heinritz was born 18 March 1872 and Henrietta Heinretz was born 22 July 1873 both in Manhattan.  These certificates are now on my to-be-ordered list.

Pressing my luck a little further I went looking for Augustus and Maria on the 1870 census.  She should have been about 17/18 and he should have been about 34.  Believe it or not, I have a potential hit in the 1870 Census for Maria living in Manhattan.  She may have been living in the 7th election district of the 10th ward, New York City, on Christie Street between Grand and Hester.  Unfortunately the Census taker only listed her name (Mary Meier), her age (17), that she was female, and from Germany.  The way the listing is made I also can’t tell if she is living with anyone.  It states she and 29 other people live at the 90th dwelling visited.  Most are from various Germanic places, but none have the same last name as her.  It would be possible that she was related to one or more of these families, but I have no way to tell at this point. 

The last piece I uncovered was the listing for Emil and Mary on the 1892 New York State Census.  In my head they should be living with at least 3 daughters: Augusta, Henrietta, and Mary.  However, they are not living with any of the children.  They are listed alone, two pages in front of his parents, and his brother’s family on Long Island.  Where did they go?  Augusta would have been 20, Henrietta 18, and Mary 8.  Currently I am looking to see if they are living somewhere together because I don’t know of any other family to search for.

Off to order more certificates and work this puzzle out.  Next I need to figure out James Bennett and Isabella Rudy, Augusta’s in-laws.


  1. Congrats on finding a few more pieces, even if it does lead to more questions!

    1. Thanks! It was great to see it all unfolding before my eyes after finding the first clue. So happy to know Emil was Augusta's step-father. It explains so much!