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History of Juliana Adler Witt & Theodore Witt

Juliana Adler: Early Life in Germany

Juliana Adler was born on 11 October 1828 in Viernheim (Hessen) Germany. Her baptismal record states:

“In the Year of Christ Eighteen Hundred and Twenty Eight on the eleventh day of October at 7:00 in the evening according to reliable sources the local citizen Kaspar Adler’s wife Margaretha born Muller gave birth to their third child, a daughter, their second daughter and on the twelfth of the same month she was baptized and given the name Juliana. The godmother was Juliana Bauer.”

-Marienkirche Kirchebuch 4 page 606, translation from German

Immigration to America

She set sail from Le Havre, France, aboard the ship Mercury and arrived in New York on 26 October 1857. She changed her birth year to 1831 upon her immigration to the United States. This was a deliberate move on her part to appear younger since German children (compared to the Irish) were literate and all knew their birth dates and ancestry, according to my genealogy researcher’s musings.

She was married on 21 May 1861 at St. James Church in Haubstadt, Indiana. Her marital records state:

“The 21 May A.D. 1861, having full permission and no impediments, joined in matrimony were Theodore Witt, son of Joseph Witt and Margarita Weinshenk, and Juliana Adler, daughter of Kaspar Adler and Margarita Muller. Witnesses were Andreas Burqart and Mathias Adler."

-F. G. Sepersack, St. James Marriage Register 1861, translation from Latin

Interestingly, her older brother, Mathias Adler, was present at the wedding as a witness. There is no mention of Juliana or Nicholas Adler in the 1860 US Census. The whereabouts of Juliana and Nicholas Adler prior to this wedding are uncertain. But they are both listed as the godparents of George Phillip Adler born on 14 August 1860 in Vanderburgh County Indiana (according to the notes of Elvera Adler Herr). This baptism took place at St. Joseph in the County Church. This is the first documented reference of Juliana and Nicholas Adler to date after their immigrations to the USA.

After her marriage to Theodore Witt, they lived their entire lives at 910 Vine Street in Evansville Indiana very close to Assumption Church, founded in 1837. The oral history of the churches of southern Indiana indicate that the bishop of the Vincennes diocese required that all sermons at Assumption Church be given by the priest in the English language so the Irish immigrants could understand the services. The growing German immigrant population of Evansville objected to having shared services with the Irish so the Germans were granted their own church in 1849, named Holy Trinity Church, a few blocks away from Assumption Church. All schooling and social activities of the German population in Evansville were centered here at Holy Trinity Church until 1867, when St. Mary’s Church in Evansville was added to serve the ever-growing German influx to the local industries of wood-working and breweries. The subsequent generations of the Witts and Waldschmidts were lifelong members of Holy Trinity Church.

Juliana and Theodore Witt had two daughters, Catherine and Margaret, that lived to adulthood. Their two other children, Andress and Emma, died young of unknown causes. Juliana changed her name to “Julia” after her marriage. The Witts were known to take several boarders into their home over the years according to the US Census.

Julia Adler Witt died suddenly on 25 March 1900 in Evansville Indiana. Her obituary states:

“Death Caused By Dread Appendicitis: Mrs. Julia Witt Passes Away After An Illness of Only Thirty Hours”

“Mrs. Julia Witt, the wife of Theodore Witt, the night watchman living at 910 Vine Street died of appendicitis Monday morning after an illness of only thirty hours. She was 70 years old. The funeral will take place from the Holy Trinity Catholic Church at 8 0‘clock Wednesday morning.” (27 March 1900 EV C&P)

“The remains of Mrs. Theodore Witt were interred at St. Joseph cemetery Wednesday morning. The services were in charge of Rev. Father Diestel at the Holy Trinity church.” (28 March 1900 EV C&P)

She was buried at Saint Joseph Cemetery in Evansville Indiana.

Theodore Witt

Theodore Witt was born on 15 August 1837 in Forst (Bavaria) Germany. His father was Josef Witt 1810-60 and his mother was Margaret Weinschenk whose portrait is seen on the wall of the only existing picture of the Theodore and Julia Witt family seen on this website in the photo gallery. (Interestingly, an original smaller-sized picture of this woman exists in the collection of Elvera Adler Herr. How she obtained it is anyone’s guess.)

Theodore Witt outlived Julia by another 21 years. He died on 18 October 1921. His obituary states:

“The funeral of Theodore Witt, age 84 years, former employee of the F.W. Cook brewing company, who died at his home, 910 Vine Street, will be held from the residence at 7:30 o’clock Wednesday morning and from Holy Trinity church at 8:00 o’clock. Mr. Witt came to this country from Germany when two years old. Years ago he was on the fire department and later on the police force. He leaves two daughters, Miss Margaret Witt and Mrs. Philip Waldschmidt. Burial will be at St. Joseph Cemetery.” (18 October 1921 EV C&P)

He was buried at Saint Joseph Cemetery in Evansville Indiana next to Julia.

Theodore & Julia's Descendants

The youngest daughter of Julia and Theodore Witt, Margaret Witt, was a seamstress that never married. She cared for her aging father until his death in 1921. She was born in 1864 in Evansville Indiana and “died on 16 March 1930 at her residence in Evansville Indiana (presumably 910 Vine Street). The funeral was at Holy Trinity Church. Family was her sister Mrs. Katie Waldschmidt and her nephew Edward B. Waldschmidt.” She was buried at Saint Joseph Cemetery in Evansville Indiana on the Theodore Witt plot.

The oldest daughter of Julia and Theodore Witt, Katherine Witt, was born on 1 February 1863 in Evansville Indiana. She was married on 27 May 1884 to Philip Waldschmidt (1859-1887), son of Heinrich (1829-1898) and Magdalene Waldschmidt (1839-1897). All three of these Waldschmidts are buried in the same plot at St. Joseph Cemetery in Evansville. Not much is known about Philip Waldschmidt who died at age 28 when his son Edward Benjamin Waldschmidt was only three years old. His grave is unmarked next to his parents marked graves, who outlived him. The cause of his death is unknown.

Katherine (Katie) Waldschmidt was a dominant force in the lives of her son, Edward Benjamin Waldschmidt, and she was the primary financial sponsor in the education of her grandson, the future Bishop Paul Edward Waldschmidt. She died on 23 October 1937 in Evansville Indiana and is buried at Saint Joseph Cemetery in Evansville Indiana on the Theodore Witt plot next to her parents and sister.

Edward Benjamin Waldschmidt (1885-1964) grew up in the Holy Trinity parish and lived his entire life in downtown Evansville except for a brief period when he lived with the Ray Adler family on Lincoln Avenue. He worked in his uncle Adam Adler’s grocery store much of his early life with his second cousin Vera Tenbarge Pritchett. He later worked selling refrigerators and saws until he retired. His last days were spent renting a room at the old Vendome Hotel and was well known for his generosity in giving toys to young children throughout the Adler family. His obituary has not yet been found.

One of the most accomplished relatives in the Adler family is the late Bishop Paul Edward Waldschmidt, CSC., son of Edward Benjamin Waldschmidt and Olga Moers. His obituary, which you can read by clicking here, gives a remarkable chronicle of his life.

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