Category Archives: Demler

Sympathy Saturday – Mrs. Samuel Slagel

My great-great-grandmother, Mary (Demler) Slagel, has appeared in a number of posts here, but I had not yet posted her obituary:

MRS. SAMUEL SLAGEL.

Mrs. Samuel Slagel passed away at her home in this city [Fairbury, Illinois] last Friday morning [3 February, 1928] at 11:30 o’clock at the age of 73 years and 16 days.

Mary Demler was born in Baden, Germany, January 17, 1855. When nine years of age she came to this country, locating at Washington [Illinois]. In 1868 the family moved from Washington to Fairbury, and here on November 24, 1875, she was united in marriage to Samuel Slagel, who together with two children, Daniel and Mrs. Paul Hoffman, of near Fairbury, survive. There also survives one brother, August Demler, who lives in the state of Kansas.

The deceased was an excellent wife and mother and will be missed not only in the home but by many friends.

The funeral services were held at the Christian Apostolic church in this city Monday and interment was in Graceland Cemetery.

Mary SlagelOther information about Mary’s death can be found on her death certificate. Signed by Dr. Henry C. Sauer, the certificate notes her cause of death as carcinoma of the stomach, from which she had suffered for two months. Myocarditis was a contributing factor as well.

Mary’s “home in this city,” according to her death certificate, was at 107 East Walnut Street. This 2075-square-foot home was built in 1895 and still stands.

Sympathy Saturday – At the Heart of the Flu Epidemic

Ina Dame Demler

The subject of today’s post is not a blood relation, but her loss must surely have been a great tragedy for her husband and son, my first cousin three times removed and second cousin twice removed. Ina Dame was the daughter of William Patrick and Emily Ellen (Bright) Dame.  She was born 19 November 1893.  In 1915 Ina graduated from Virgil High School in Virgil, Kansas. On 25 February 1918 in Emporia, Ina married Charles A. Demler, son of August Frederick and Caroline (Fankhouser) Demler.  August’s sister Mary was the mother of my great-grandmother, Emma Alice (Slagel) Hoffmann.

A Democratic Messenger clipping from March 1918 recounts the bride’s “sweet, kind, loving disposition” and notes that “their many friends join in wishing them a long, happy and successful life’s journey together.” This, however, was not to be. On 12 November 1918, Ina gave birth to a son, Charles, Jr., in Virgil. Sixteen days later Ina died. The Democratic Messenger again provides the pertinent details, noting that Ina’s death was from influenza. Ina was buried in the Virgil Cemetery. Ina’s death was only one of between 50-100 million in the influenza pandemic of 1918.  Interestingly, the epidemic was first observed in the U.S. in Haskell County, Kansas, some 280 miles from where Ina died.

In spite of this early tragedy, life did go on for both Charles Demlers.  Charles, Sr., would remarry in 1929, though he and his wife Mineola had no children of their own. Charles died 13 May 1966, and Mineola 7 April 1969.  Both are buried in the Virgil Cemetery.  Charles, Jr., appears to have been raised by Ina’s parents. He is enumerated with them in the 1925 Kansas State Census as well as the 1930 U. S. Federal Census.  I’m not sure yet where either Charles was in 1920. By 1940 Charles, Jr., had married Etha Marie Wilson, and they were living in Lane, Kansas, along with Etha’s 11-year-old sister Betty Jean.  Etha died in 1955; Charles outlived her by 43 years, dying in Oklahoma on 3 October 1998. Both are also buried in Virgil.

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Surname Saturday – the Demlers of Baden and Fairbury

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Our Demler family came to Fairbury, Illinois, from Baden, Germany in 1864. Ancestry.com provides two possible meanings for this surname:

German: from an old personal name, Damo, a short form of a compound name formed with Old High German tac ‘day’.Perhaps an altered spelling of German Demmler, a southern nickname for a glutton, from an agent derivative of Middle High German demmen ‘to indulge oneself’, or a northern nickname from Middle Low German damelaer, demeler ‘prankster’, ‘flirt’. 

Why do I suddenly feel like visiting a buffet? Anyway…our branch begins with Johan Demler, born between 1815-1816 in Baden. His parentage is unknown; he married Catherine Marie Reser who was born in Baden between 1823 and 1824. Johan and Catherine had three children, all born in Baden: Wilhelm K., born November 15, 1847; August Frederick, born about 1849; and Mary (my great-great-grandmother), born January 17, 1855.

The family arrived on December 3, 1864, in New York City on the J.A. Stamler after a 34-day ocean voyage. Records from the Castle Garden Immigration Center list the following family members: Johan, age 48; Maria, age 40; Wilhelm, age 18; August, age 16; and Marie, age 11.

Around 1867 the family moved to Indian Grove Township in Livingston County, Illinois, and in November 1873 moved into Fairbury itself. In 1880 Johan (enumerated as “John”) appears in the home of his son Wilhelm (“William”) in Belle Prairie Township. Johan is listed as married, but Catherine’s whereabouts are unknown. He died about 1890, supposedly as the result of a horse accident, and was buried in the South Apostolic Christian Cemetery, though again I am not yet sure of the exact location.

Wilhelm married Anna Keller (born November 17, 1845 in Zurich, Switzerland) in Indian Grove township in 1878, and they had seven children: Emma Ida, William Henry, Louise Ann, Samuel Albert, Benjamin E., Ernest J., and Anna. August Frederick married Caroline Fankhouser (born February 26, 1860 in Ohio), and they had thirteen children: Emma Ida, Charles, George, Lena Helen, John, William, Henry E., Mary Wina, Tadry, Katie, August, Cora, and Josephine. From our own branch, Mary/Marie married Samuel Slagel (born November 30, 1849), and they had four children: Samuel, Daniel, Emma Alice (my great-grandmother), and Joseph J.

Now, about that buffet…

Tombstone Tuesday – A Plethora of Greats

A few years back on one of our many genealogical field trips, Mom and I realized that she (and I) have seen all eight of her great-grandparents’ tombstones.  This is one definite advantage to having most of your relatives stay put in the same general vicinity after emigrating to America; all eight of these ancestors are laid to rest within a 150-mile radius, from Francesville, Indiana, to Washington, Illinois. Here they are in ahnentafel order:

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Jacob Hoffmann
b. September 18, 1836 in Mackwiller, France
d. January 20, 1914 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois

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Christina (Schmidt) Hoffmann
b. March 30, 1850 in Butten, France
d. September 16, 1908 in Cissna Park, Illinois
bur. Cissna Park Cemetery, Cissna Park, Illinois

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Samuel Slagel
b. November 30, 1849 in Wisconsin (?)
d. November 29, 1937 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois

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Mary/Maria (Demler) Slagel/Schlegel
b. January 17, 1855 in Baden, Germany
d. February 3, 1928 in Fairbury, Illinois
bur. Graceland Cemetery, Fairbury, Illinois

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Albert Carl Swing
b. October 24, 1859 in Akron, Ohio
d. October 14, 1922 in Francesville, Indiana
Catherine (Hoffmann) Swing
b. February 2, 1862 in Remicourt, France
d. March 15, 1931 in Francesville, Indiana
Both bur. Roseland Cemetery, Francesville, Indiana

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George John Hunkler
b. September 20, 1862 in St. Gallen, Switzerland
d. December 2, 1934 in Elmwood, Illinois
Maria Elizabeth (Rusch) Hunkler
b. December 25, 1859 in St. Gallen, Switzerland
d. September 27, 1948 in El Paso, Illinois
Both bur. Glendale Cemetery, Washington, Illinois

This means, of course, that I have visited the graves of 8 of my own great-great-grandparents.  My 8 paternal great-great-grandparents (and even my own 8 great-grandparents) are a little more widespread, but I’m making headway there as well.  Now  if only I could figure out where Lucinda Blanche (Davis) Wilson is buried…I might just have to plan another field trip.

Vital Statistics – Marriage License of Samuel Schlegel and Mary Demler

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Samuel Schlegel (Schlagel/Slagel), aged 26, wed Mary Demler, aged 20, on November 30, 1875.  They were married by John Georg Steidinger in Livingston County, Illinois.  Both Samuel and Mary were residents of Indian Grove Township in Livingston County.  The license to marry was granted November 27.

Various sources list Samuel’s birthplace as Wisconsin or Iowa; both of his parents were born in Switzerland. Mary Demler was born in Baden, Germany. The couple farmed in Livingston County and had four children. One, Samuel, died at age 4.  Their only daughter, Emma Alice, was my great-grandmother. About 1908 Samuel and Mary retired to 407 E Walnut Street, Fairbury, Illinois. Mary died of stomach cancer in 1928; Samuel of toxemia from chronic cystitis and chronic interstitial nephritis in 1937. Both are buried in Fairbury’s Graceland Cemetery.

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Mary Demler and the Floating Hotel

My great-great grandmother, Mary (or Marie) Demler, was born in Baden, Germany, on 17 January 1855.  She was the daughter of Johan and Catherine Marie (Reser) Demler.  Johan and Catherine also had two sons, Wilhelm K. (b. 15 November 1847) and August Frederick (b. ca. 1849).

In 1864 the family moved from Germany to the U.S.  They appear on a New York passenger list dated 3 December 1864 and were processed through the Castle Garden Immigration Center (precursor to Ellis Island). The manifest records the Demler family as follows:  Johan, age 48; Maria, 40; Wilhelm, 18; August,  16; and Marie, 11 (though according to our records Marie was only nine years old). The ship that transported the family was the Jacob A. Stamler.

I was able to obtain a bit more information regarding this ship, which had a long and varied life.  The Gotham History Blotter tells its story.  It was originally launched 11 October 1856 so was a year and a half younger than Mary Demler.  The Stamler followed a fixed route and schedule, originally to Antwerp and later to Le Havre (which is where our Demlers embarked).  After years of transporting immigrants to America the Stamler was used for general shipping of merchandise until the turn of the 20th century. Then in 1899 a millionaire and philanthropist named John Arbuckle purchased the Stamler.  Originally the ship was used to ferry men and women around New York Harbor, then later it was anchored in place and used as a “floating hotel” for the young working classes. Eventually only girls making less than $7 a week were allowed. Mr. Arbuckle died in 1912, and the Stamler was shut down a few years later as a potential fire hazard, having served for nearly 60 years.

As for our Demlers, they moved first to Washington, Illinois, and then in 1868 to Fairbury.  On 24 November 1875 Mary married Samuel Slagel in Fairbury.  Samuel and Mary had four children: Samuel (who died at age 4), Daniel, Emma, and Joseph.  Mary died on 3 February 1928 at 107 East Walnut Street in Fairbury and was buried in Graceland Cemetery.