In October 2008, I went to various cemeteries to take photos of family gravestones. I came across an unusual arrangement of three stones, two of which were for sure family.
The first photo shows the stones for Henry August Leppin and his wife Ann. Seeing that there was a stone butted up against Ann’s I went around to investigate. I found the stone for Minnie Zimmermann, who I had not yet run across, but photographed it wondering if there was a connection. I wondered if Minnie was perhaps a sister of Ann, since I do not have Ann’s maiden name. Unable to make a connection, I filed it in my “Possible Family” folder and moved on.
Over the last few days, I’ve been exploring other people with the same surnames in the areas where know family lived. I stumbled across a possible sister for my second great-grandmother, Minnie HEMFLER/HAMFLER (who married Herman LEPPIN in 1894). Finding a marriage record for Augusta HEMFLER and Phillip Zimmermann, I went on to explore them. In the 1900 census, it indicated that Augusta immigrated in 1892, which is the same as Minnie’s immigration in the 1910 census. Augusta was born about 1869 in Germany; Minnie was born in 1872 in Germany. In the 1900 census, their residences were about a mile apart in Chicago.
What’s interesting is that the marriage record for Augusta and Phillip was in 1899, but the 1900 census lists them as being marriage seven years and having three children. I suppose it’s possible that Phillip was married before and the children were from a previous marriage; this is still not clear to me. I have not been able to locate the birth records for the three children living in the 1900 household.
I did however find a birth certificate for a Minnie Zimmermann, born to Phillip Zimmerman and Augusta Hemffler on 22 November 1904. As I’m entering this information in my “Possible Family” database, it occurs to me I’ve seen this name before…and I knew where to look to find it. I hopped over to my “Possible Family” folder and found the image of the Minnie Zimmermann gravestone. The bonus? The birth date on the stone matches the date on the birth certificate. There is no doubt that this is the same person.
With what I’ve uncovered so far, I am now pretty certain that Minnie HEMFLER Leppin and Augusta HEMFLER Zimmermann are in fact sisters. I have not been able to find the death certificate for Minnie HEMFLER Leppin, so I am hoping to find the one for Augusta and learn who their parents are.
Boy, I sure am glad I took a photo of that gravestone!! Without it, I may not have made this connection. I would have suspected that Minnie and Augusta were sisters until I found other proof. But having this stone, in the same section as my Leppins (and right next to Leppin stones) makes me pretty darn certain of this relationship. More research is needed, of course, but right now I’m content with what I’ve found so far.