Farewell dear mother saith thy son,
Weary with years, and worn with pain.

Farewell ‘till in some happy place,
We shall behold each other again.

- Inscription from the gravestone of Elisabeth Heinz, wife of Peter Helfenbein.


The Helfenbeins in Germany

In 1978, photographs were made of the gravestones for two Helfenbeins buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Waverly, Ohio. These were the markers for the graves of Peter Helfenbein, and his wife Elisabeth Heinz.

Peter Helfenbein was the grandfather of Lilly Helfenbein, wife of Bruno Edelmann.

These gravestones were the most detailed markers ever encountered during the present genealogical research.  For more than five years, the barely discernible German inscriptions remained all but untranslatable. However, early in 1983 the town from which Peter and Elisabeth emigrated was determined to be Osthofen, less than 5 km north of Worms.

With the help of Dr. Edward Hatch, of the Foreign Languages Department at the University of Dayton, a letter was sent to the German Evangelische Kirche (Lutheran) in the area on January 24, 1983. On February 21, the priest at the Evangelische Kircengemeinde Osthofen (Lutheran Church of Osthofen) sent a fortuitous reply.   This information added a generation to the Helfenbein line in the persons of Johann Adam Helfenbein , his wife Anna Elisabeth Olremann (parents of Peter), and Johann Heinz and his wife, Elisabeth Best (parents of Elisabeth).

In 1986, Thomas and John Edelmann visited Osthofen in the company of Wolfgang Metz of Stangenroth to continue searching for additional information. This area along the Rhine River is dotted with the spires of tall Catholic and Evangelische (Lutheran) churches, as well as immense vinyards used in the making of world famous Rhine wines. Unfortunately, upon arriving in the city, not only had the pastor changed since 1983, but no information was found regarding the Helfenbein name anywhere. It is quite possible that all of the Helfenbeins in Osthofen young enough to relocate, did just that. Subsequently, in 1993, John and his wife Ute visited the area a second time. Unfortunately, in Germany it would be uncommon for a gravemarker to remain for more than 50 - 100 years. Typically, the marker is destroyed, and the site used for another burial. And so, while the oldest cemetery in Osthofen was searched exhaustively, no additional information was found.

For a history of the Helfenbein Family compiled by Elizabeth Hagge, Adam Helfenbein, and Margaret Hartmus, please see Individual Family Histories  in the Appendix.

Neil Wheeler, a reseacher of the Orlemann family, has provided the following information on February 4, 2000,  on the Helfenbein lineage of Osthofen:

I went to the LDS family history center where I have the two films for Osthofen on permanent loan and had a look at film # 1457620 Item #7 KB10.  On page 161 entry # 11 was the baptism of Peter Helfenbein born 14 March 1810 at 10 am in the morning baptized the 18th of March. His godparents were Peter Dummler and his wife Elisabetha nee Helfenbein (possibly his sister).  On page #200 entry 3 Feb 1805 was the marriage of Johann Adam Helfenbein and Anna Orlemann from Hangen Weisheim. No parents were listed which was strange.

If you go to Germany you can look in the Standesamt (Civil Registry) and get their civil marriage. It will have their parents on it.  Hangen-Weisheim is to the west of Osthofen past Westhofen 2 villages away.   Her parents or grandparents were probably from Osthofen which is why she had ties to the village and married Johann Adam Helfenbein. I am 100% positive she will descend from the Orlemann family that came to Osthofen in 1654.

I noticed an older sister of your Peter. She was Anna Margaretha born 4 June 1805 and baptized 6 June 1805. Her godparents were Anna Margaretha Orlemann a single woman from Hangen Weisheim (almost certainly a sister of the mother) and Anna Elisabetha Helfenbein from Osthofen possibly a sister of the father.

I looked at the baptism index for the 18th Century and could not find the baptism of Johann Adam Helfenbein. Perhaps he was not in the index or his baptism was not recorded. The name Helfenbein was in the village much earlier I remember seeing an entry as early as 1751.

Peter’s Descendants in America

According to information obtained from Thelma and Cletus Kent on March 27, 1978, and subsequently confirmed by other descendants, Peter Helfenbein emigrated from Osthofen, Germany on November 1, 1853 with his wife, Elisabeth, and their children, John, Elisabeth, Ottillia, Philip, Barbara, and Adam.  They left Europe from the port at Havre, France, and arrived in New York on Christmas Day, 1853.    They then traveled to Waverly, Ohio, reaching that town on January 17, 1854.   Their seventh child, Margaret, was born on July 25, 1854, in Waverly.  Records in indicate that Peter had a deed for lot #76, on April 15, 1857.

Both John and Philip fought in the Civil War in the 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company B.  John enlisted on June 8, 1861 for 3 years, and was a private when wounded in the battle of Murfreesboro, TN (December 31, 1862 - January 2, 1863).  He was discharged on June 22, 1863 on a surgeon's certificate of disability with a metal plate in his head.

Philip enlisted for 3 years on June 21, 1861 in the same company, and as a corporal, was killed in the Battle of Chickamauga,  September 19, 1863, at the age of 19 years.

John Helfenbein, Sr.

John was a plasterer by trade, and lived in Pee Pee Twp., Pike Co., Ohio, in the home of his father, Peter, until his death on June 26, 1917. John was married to Fredricka Louise Hesse, of Ohio, on October 16, 1870.  Her parents were Adam Hesse and Johanna Feuster, both of Germany. The couple had six children, namely, Anna Elizabeth, John Charles, Louise Jo Hanna, George (died at the age of 8), Gertrude Augusta, Alma Katherine, and Lester Ernest. The 1880 Census of Pike Co. indicates the existence of Anna, John, Louise, and George.  Information regarding the others was obtained from data supplied with the family history mentioned earlier.

The eldest, Anna, married John August Nickel. This couple had a child, Donald Nickel, who later married Theresa Edelmann, as previously mentioned in the Edelmann narrative. Donald and Theresa, therefore, were second cousins.

The next child, John, owned a farm in Petersburg, Indiana.   He married Matilda Fulcher on May 20, 1897.  Their children were: Herman, Ruth Logan, Beulah, Vergil Rumble, and John Vergil.

Herman's children are listed as Margaret Jean, and Virginia.

Louise married William Strapp on May 10, 1902, and lived in Columbus, Ohio. Louise ("Lulu") is listed as the informant on the death certificate for her mother, Fredricka Helfenbein. The descendants of the Strapp family are many. Of particular interest is the eldest child, Gertrude Strapp, born December 25, 1902. Gertrude lives in Sarasota, Florida. She is most likely the oldest surviving member of her generation (she would be a 2nd cousin of Paul Anthony Edelmann). On September 4th, 1996, the author of the present work contacted members of the Strapp family in Columbus, Ohio, and discovered that several of Louise and William’s children still survived. Eventually, contact was made with Gertrude, from which came some of the details of John and Fredericka’s family included herein.

Gertrude remembers that her grandfather, John, fought in the Civil War and confirmed the presence of a plate placed there, following an injury received in battle, as related early in this section. Gertrude married John Londergan in 1928, and they had two children, Lynne and Sharon. Lynne has a daughter, Maureen, who has a son, Jonathon. Sharon married Joseph Mayhew and has three children, Matthew, Mandy, and Terry.

The next daughter, Gertrude, married John Rickrich in June, 1912, but died on July 15, 1919.  They had two children, namely, Louise Gertrude, and Mildred.

John and Fredericka's next daughter, Alma, married James Scott on April 12, 1907 in Waverly, Ohio.  Their children were:  Walter Ernest, Frederick, Frieda Lousie, Irene, Gertrude Thelma, Richard Marion, and Leroy Ralph.   Richard died just shy of 2 years old, in 1922.

Their final son, Lester Ernest, married Grace Bland Buckley, on September 26, 1909, in Waverly, Ohio.  Their children numbered five:  Gertrude Louise, Grace Lucile, and Helen Fredericka.

Elisabeth Helfenbein

Elisabeth married Anton Heineman in Waverly, Ohio.   Children of this marriage include John, Elizabeth, and two daughters who died as infants, Otilda, and Tillie.

Elisabeth married a second time, to Henry Heiser.  From this union, came Katie, Margaret, Williama, Anna, John, Mary, Louis and two other un-named infants.

Ottilia Helfenbein

Ottilia was born on August 10, 1841.  On January 16, 1863, she married John Frederick William Schmidt, in Waverly, Ohio.  Children to this union were: John Franklin, Margaret Marie, Ludwig Louis Adolph, Clara Elizabeth, Frances Belle, Carl (Charlie) Albert, William Frederick, Mar Annis, Lilliam Augusta, and Jacob Lester.   For a detailed list of Ottilia's descendants, refer to the Genealogy pages.

Barbara Helfenbein

Barbara was born on March 5, 1847.  She married Charles J. Loel of Prussia, Ohio, and had the following children:  Charles Peter, Wilhelmina, Carrie H.O., Louise Letitia, Rosella, Josephine S.E., William Edward, and Anna L.B.

Adam Helfenbein

Adam was a mason. Though he adamantly wished to join his brothers in the War of the Rebellion, he was too short, and therefore unable to serve. He soon left Pike County, going first to Kentucky, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth Howell, who, though born in Gordon Co., Georgia, was also of German descent. The couple went on to Terrell, Texas, where, on June 15, 1877, Lilliam "Lilly" Helfenbein was born.

While absent from the 1870 US Federal Census, Adam and his family had returned to Pike County in time for the 1880 Census, and were living with or near his father, Peter, and brother, John.

One major heirloom of the Adam Helfenbein family is a wooden chest which is in the present possession of Thomas Edelmann, eldest son of Paul Fred Edelmann. It has the name ADAM HELFENBEIN carved onto the top and is likely to have accompanied Adam during his travels from Kentucky to Texas, and back to Waverly again.

Lilly Helfenbein
Lilly Helfenbein

By a curious set of circumstances, many pictures and heirlooms from Lilly Helfenbein were disposed of at the time of her death in 1944. At this time, Lilly’s belongings were in the possession of Edmund and his family. Unfortunately, Edmund’s wife did not get along with Lilly, and as a result, most her valuables were sold or otherwise disposed before others in the family could become involved in the final disposition of her estate. According to Catherine Webb, large portraits of Lilly and Bruno were among the items lost. Catherine also indicated that when Lilly married Bruno, her father, Adam, disowned her. This was in response to her marriage to a Catholic (the Helfenbeins were Lutheran). Thus it is surprising that the chest belonging to Adam was passed on to Lilly’s descendant, Paul Edelmann, at all.

Catherine also mentioned that Adam was a fairly "colorful individual", frequently wearing a beard down to his knees. After Adam’s wife, Elizabeth Howell died, Adam married Elizabeth Catherine Weiss, and from this union came four children:  two infants who died, and  Margaret and Mamie.

Adam died on July 5, 1929, in Waverly, Ohio. His death certificate indicates August 3, 1850 as his birth date. However, the church record from Osthofen gives August 5 as the date. It is most likely that the Church date was the date of christening, since all of the related sibling dates are off by a few days as well.

Margaret (Maggie) Helfenbein

The final child of Peter and Elizabeth was Maggie.  Born in Waverly, on July 25, 1854, she married John Jacob Hartmus on January 3, 1876. 

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