My French third great grandmother Marie Anne Schmitt (née Gury) died sometime between June 1860 and June 1870.
According to the 1860 census, Marie Anne (called Mary here), her husband Nicolaus (recorded as Nick) and eight of their children lived in Cincinnati, presumably in the Over the Rhine neighborhood. Their youngest children Joseph (5) and Mathilda (2) were born in Ohio; the remaining family members had immigrated from France in 1854.
In the 1870 census, 56 year old Nicolaus resided with three of his children, Pauline (20), Emil (19) and Mathilda (12). The census doesn’t state that Nicolaus was a widower, but I worked with the theory that Marie Anne had died.
With a ten year timeframe in which to look, my on-and-off search for Marie Anne went on for many years.
The Hamilton County Genealogical Society offered advice for locating records of deaths in Cincinnati:
The University of Cincinnati Library has a collection of more than 528,000 Cincinnati Birth and Death Records, 1865-1912, but Marie Anne didn’t seem to be among them.
Then a miracle happened. A beautiful soul called SWilliams on Find A Grave decided as part of her retirement plan, she would give back to the genealogy world. This kind, generous woman chose two cemeteries in Saint Bernard Ohio, and during the pandemic she methodically photographed and posted thousands of headstone photos to Find A Grave. After taking pictures of all the headstones that were visible, she got down on hands and knees, dug deep and revealed graves that time had covered with dirt and grass and weeds.
You know where this is going, don’t you? Marie Anne’s was among those grave markers that had been buried several inches below the ground. But wait, there’s more! Seven additional Schmitt family members were laid to rest in the same family plot.
How can one repay a person who selflessly gives a gift like this? Last year I had the pleasure of thanking my genealogical angel Sharon in person. ❤️ She led me to the section of the cemetery where she’d found my Schmitt ancestors’ graves:
On Marie Anne’s headstone is written, “Die von ihrer lebensreise in des grabes schatten ruht war als gattin treu u weise war als mutter sanft u gut war als christin treu u weise Uns ein schönes Ehenbild”.
Translated from German, it says “She who rests from her life’s journey in the shadows of the grave was loyal and wise as a wife, gentle and good as a mother, faithful and wise as a Christian, and to us a beautiful picture of marriage.”
Clearly my third great grandmother was loved.
And that’s not all Sharon uncovered.
Remember Joseph? He was five years old in the 1860 census, but doesn’t appear in the 1870 census. He and Nicola, a sister I hadn’t known existed, share a headstone.
Their cousin Julius Nicolaus (1867-1868), who had also been unknown to me, is buried in the same family plot.
You can see by this photo how much earth had hidden these markers. Sharon uncovered all of them. It is hard work!
In the summer of 2022, knowing my husband and I were coming to Saint John for the first time, Sharon went back to the Schmitt family plot and removed several inches of new overgrowth. ❤️
When my husband and I returned just three months later, we found that the earth had yet again swallowed up the grave markers. I’ve since contacted the cemetery and asked to have the stones raised.
The photo of the entire Schmitt family plot shows where each member was laid to rest. There is a cross with blue flowers at the head of Marie Anne’s grave. Nicolaus has a cross with red flowers. We placed flags on the markers of their American born children Joseph and Nicola, and American born grandchildren Adelle and Julius. Nicolaus and Marie Anne’s son Julius and his wife Mary Anne (Adelle’s and Julius’ parents) are also buried here.
9 Mar 1813 to 21 Feb 1876 (aged 62)
Find A Grave memorial # 221166625
Maria Anne Gury Schmitt
5 Apr 1818 to 1 Jan 1863 (aged 44)
Find A Grave memorial # 216668815
Julius François Schmitt
13 Feb 1839 to 15 May 1895 (aged 56)
Find A Grave memorial # 140812907
18 Apr 1855 to 16 May 1861 (aged 6)
Find A Grave memorial # 216668673
13 Mar 1861 to 13 Mar 1861
Find A Grave memorial # 216668731
Mary Ann Barnes Schmitt
26 Dec 1845 to 11 Oct 1931 (aged 85)
Find A Grave memorial # 140840795
Julius Nicolaus Schmitt
5 Feb 1867 to 18 Sep 1868 (aged 1)
Find A Grave memorial # 221166850
17 Feb 1871 to 2 Apr 1888 (aged 17)
Find A Grave memorial # 140840829