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  • John Adler

History of Nicholas Adler

Early life & immigration to America

Nicholas Adler was born on 23 November 1836 in Viernheim (Hessen) Germany. His baptismal record states:

“In the Year of Christ one thousand eight hundred and thirty six on the twenty third day of November at 5:00 in the morning according to reliable sources the local citizen Kaspar Adler’s wife Margaretha born Muller gave birth to their seventh child, their fourth son, and on the same day he was baptized and given the name Nicolaus. The godfather was Nicolaus Haar.”

-Marienkirche Kirchebuch 4 page 225, translation from German

Nothing is known of his childhood years. He likely had a musical education because it is known that he would later be a drummer in his regimental band during the American Civil War.

It was a very touching moment for my son and I to attend Mass on Pentecost Sunday 2013 at the Marienkirche in Viernheim knowing that this is the place where he bid his parents and siblings farewell, expecting to never see them again (unless he was aware that his older sister Juliana planned to follow him to America in 1857). At age sixteen he set sail from Le Havre, France, aboard the ship Friendship le Ferriere and arrived in New Orleans on 18 November 1853, just a few days before his seventeenth birthday. It is probable that he was met at his landing by his older brother Mathias, who arrived one year earlier in New Orleans. Mathias probably made his living as a laborer and musician. Oral history from the families in Indiana report that the two brothers travelled together to Gibson County, Indiana, in 1854 where a thriving community of German immigrants had settled in the vicinity of Saint James Catholic Church (Sankt Jacobuskirche). It is thought that Nicholas worked as an indentured servant to repay the cost of his transatlantic passage. It is also possible that his family or the town of Viernheim supported his passage as they had done for Mathias Adler.

It is unknown whether he attended the wedding of his brother Mathias Adler to Margarita Knaub on 1 July 1858 at St. James Church in Haubstadt, Indiana. 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 (2nd son of Mathias 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. Nothing more is known until he entered the service of the Union Army.

Service in the Civil War

Nicholas Adler served in the 91st Regiment of the Indiana Infantry in the American Civil War. In 1862 upon his induction into the Union Army, he was described as “Fair skin, blue eyes, light hair. Farmer.”

The following notes were compiled by Elvera (Adler) Herr regarding Nicholas Adler’s Civil War records (sources unknown):

“Nicholas Adler joined the Union Army on 20 August 1862 at Poseyville Indiana for three years. He mustered in on 1 October 1862 in Evansville. He was 25 years old. While at Smithlands, Kentucky, in January 1863, he contracted rheumatism (this was either an infectious joint disorder or chronic fibromyalgia since there is no family history of Nicholas Adler having a rheumatoid disease or chronic osteoarthritis. JDA MD). He was hospitalized at the Evansville Marine Hospital from January to April 1863.

“A US Marine Hospital, similar to today’s VA’s hospitals, was established in Evansville in the 1850’s to take care of river service men. Being a port of call earned Evansville a marine hospital and ground was broken in 1853. Situated at the foot of Wabash Avenue on the banks of the Ohio River, the first US Marine Hospital opened its doors in 1856. After the Civil War, the need for a general military hospital dwindled, so it was sold to the Daughters of Charity, and later became the first St. Mary’s Hospital in 1872.”

In 1894, St. Mary’s Hospital moved to its First Avenue location. Deaconess Hospital had been founded nearby on Edgar Street in 1892. The marine hospital building was then used as a low income tenement housing project. The original building was razed in 1912 (16 May 2012,

Elvera (Adler) Herr’s notes regarding Nicholas Adler’s service and pension requests:

  • April 1863: absent on detached service guarding boats in Bowling Green KY

  • December 1863 to March 1864 Indiana Regimental Band

  • May to October 1864 detailed in regimental band

  • December 1864 detailed in regimental band

  • February to March 1865 detailed in regimental band

  • April to May 1865 absent on detached service in regimental band

  • 26 June 1865 honorably discharged at Salisbury NC

  • 7 December 1882 age 46 applied for pension

  • 23 March 1889 age 52 appealed to Secretary of the Interior for pension

  • 23 March 1889 Dr. Peter Ottman statement

  • 15 May 1889 Henry Willem statement, also Joseph Garehart

  • 23 May 1889 James Lockhart statement

  • 25 May 1889 Benjamin William statement 1st lieutenant Company D 91

  • 4 January 1890 Theodore Witt statement

  • 7 January 1890 Nicholas Adler affidavit age 53

  • 10 March 1892 increase of an invalid pension

  • 1 January 1907 Declaration for invalid pension

  • 1 February 1911 Declaration for invalid pension at age 75

  • 1 February 1912 Declaration for invalid pension at age 76

  • 7 April 1915 Declaration for invalid pension at age 78

The records of these notes and military requests are currently being sought at the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana. Hopefully, they can be found and give us further insights to his life.

“In the case of a pension, most soldiers were claiming some sort of disability. Most seem to have claimed severe rheumatism from the cold and damp weather conditions. Because of this, there are pages and pages of doctors’ examinations. Also affidavits signed by neighbors and fellow soldiers attesting to the disability. Many times the neighbors in my papers turned out to be brothers, in-laws, cousins, etc.” (

Post-war life, marriage and children

Nicholas Adler purchased his first farm in Armstrong Indiana in 1868. The farm consisted of two contiguous plots of forty acres each. As recommended by Thomas Jefferson, it took a minimum of forty acres of plantings for a family to survive. Most settlers received favorable financial terms if they cleared the land themselves and were veterans.

Nicholas Adler (age 32) and Margaret Steckler (age 23) were married on 6 May 1869 at St. James Church in Haubstadt. Both of their home farms were in sight of each other.

The marriage record states:

“The Sixth of May A.D. 1869, having full permission and no impediments, joined in matrimony were Nicolaus Adler, son of Caspar Adler and Margaritae Muller, and Margarita Steckler, daughter of Joannis Steckler and Eva Smittinger. Witnesses were Adam Steckler and Maria Lemmi. J.H. Seepe”

-St. James Marriage Register, 1869, translation from Latin

All of their eight children were born on the Armstrong farm and attended the local public school.

  • Catherine Adler was born on 21 August 1870

  • John Adler was born on 8 December 1872

  • Adam Nicholas Adler was born on 21 February 1874

  • Theodore Adam Adler was born on 24 February 1876

  • Henry Benedict Adler was born on 18 May 1878

  • Frank Simon Adler was born on 22 August 1880

  • Margaret “Maggie” Adler was born on 28 January 1883

  • Mary Appolonia Adler was born on 28 December 1885

Margaret Steckler Adler died on 19 March 1888 at the age of 41 in Armstrong. Family lore is that she succumbed to the consequences of childbearing. She delivered eight healthy children in fourteen years. Medically, she probably died from a combination of chronic uterine bleeding with resultant anemia and/or infection three years after the birth of her last child. Her son, Adam Adler, described her to his descendants as a remarkably beautiful and intelligent woman. Nicholas Adler never remarried. It is possible that her sister, Anna Barbara Steckler Willem (1841-1913), assisted in the care of her younger children after her death since Henry Willem was a close friend, neighbor, and Civil War veteran with Nicholas Adler. Also, her brother, Adam Steckler, and his family lived close by. Adam Adler and his first cousin, John Steckler, remained best friends for 96 years.

Nicholas Adler purchased his second farm in Haubstadt Indiana in 1888. According to recollections from notes compiled by Elvera B. (Adler) Herr, probably as told to her by her father, Gilbert Adler, son of Theodore, and grandson of Nicholas Adler:

“Grandpa and Grandma (i.e. Nicholas and Margaret Adler) lived where Anthony Bittner lives now on Baseline Road. After Grandma died, he moved to Haubstadt, Indiana, where (his son) John Adler lives now. Nicholas had ground there and later gave one half to John and one half to Theodore. Aunt Nora, Elmer, and Lorene were all born in Gibson County (on the Haubstadt farm). In the meantime, John Steckler, who lived where Vincent Adler lives now, bought Nisbet (now the Nisbet Inn) and sold his farm to Theodore Adler. Theodore in turn sold his part of the Haubstadt farm back to John Adler. Theodore farmed and, when Vincent married, he took over the farm and Theodore moved to 204 W. Michigan Street in Evansville. Urban Adler lived in back and Grandpa in front. Later on Lorene bought a house at 414 E. Columbia Street where they all lived till they died.”

Nicholas Adler attended the reception for Henry Loehr on his return from World War I:

“Henry Loehr, home on a furlough from Washington, D.C., was honored by a reception given at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Adler, 502 Edgar Street. His grandfather, Nicholas Adler, was also a guest of honor. He is a Civil War veteran. Loehr was wounded in the left arm in the St. Quentin drive. He is to return to Washington Wednesday. Others present at the supper and entertainment were: Mr. and Mrs. Henry Loehr, Mr. and Mrs. Adam Adler, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Adler, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Wolf, Mr. and Mrs. John Schutz, Mr. and Mrs. John Schrier, Misses Margaret Loehr, Katherine Kuhn and Ruth Adler, and Leo Adler, Edward Wolf, and Dean Adler.”

-2 March 1919 EV C&P

Later life

In the 1920 US Census, Nicolas Adler was living with Frank Adler in Evansville. It was common then for families to rotate the care of their elderly relatives.

He attended the wedding of his granddaughter Eleanora Adler to Anton Bittner in August 1920 (a picture of this event was found in 2013 in the records of Elvera Adler Herr).

Nicholas Adler died on 8 November 1924 at age 88 at the home of Theodore Adler. Prior to his death of old age, family lore has it that “Grandpa Adler” could be found lost and roaming the farmlands searching to return to his original Armstrong farm and to Margaret Steckler. He did not escape the ravages of dementia.

Nicholas Adler is buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Haubstadt Indiana, next to his wife and two of his daughters, Catherine (Adler) Loehr and Margaret (Adler) Kuhn.

His obituary states:

“Funeral services for Nicholas Adler, 88, a member of the fast vanishing legion of Civil War veterans, who died yesterday at the home of his son, Theodore Adler, at St. James, will be held Monday morning at 7:30 from the home of his son, Theodore, at 8:30 from Sts. Peter and Paul Church at Haubstadt. He was born in Germany and 18 (actually 16) years later emigrated to the United States. He served a voluntary enlistment of three years during the Civil War, and later returned to Indiana. He was a successful farmer and was well known throughout the pocket territory. Mr. Adler is survived by five sons, Henry, Frank, Adam, John, and Theodore; two daughters, Mrs. Henry Loehr and Mrs. Anthony Ziliak; 34 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.”

-9 November 1924 EV C&P

Nicholas and Margaret’s children

Catherine Adler

  • Born 21 August1870 (baptismal record not found)

  • Married 26 March 1892 to Henry Peter Loehr (visit the Photo Gallery to see the wedding pictures of all Nicholas’s children)

  • Died 8 February 1944

  • Buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Haubstadt

John Adler

  • Born March12 1872

  • “On 29 March A.D. 1872 the baptism of John, son of Nicolas Adler and Margareta Steckler, born on the 12th of this month. Godparents were John Steckler and his wife Appolonia Steckler.”

  • Married 14 May 1895 to Lena Emmert

  • Died 18 October 1959

  • Buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Haubstadt

Adam Nicholas Adler

  • Born 21 February 1874

  • “On 8 March A.D. 1874 the baptism of Adam, son of Nicolas Adler and Margareta Steckler, born on 21 February of this year. Godparents were Adam Steckler and Veronica Steckler.”

  • Married 21 February 1900 to Lonie Rose Emmert

  • Died 7 March 1973

  • Buried at St. Joseph Cemetery in Evansville

Theodore Matthew Adler

  • Born 24 February 1876

  • “On the 6th day of April the baptism of Theodore Matthew, legitimate son of Nicholas Adler and his wife Margareta born Steckler, born on the 24th in the month of February. Godparents were Matthias Adler and his wife Margaretha.”

  • Married 17 August 1898 to Margaret Martin

  • Died 12 July 1971

  • Buried at St. James Cemetery in Haubstadt

Henry Benedict Adler

  • Born 18 May 1877

  • “On the 27th of May the baptism of Henry, legitimate son of Nicholas Adler and his wife Margareta born Steckler, born on the 18th of this month. The Godparents were Henry Willem and his wife Anna Barbara (Steckler).”

  • Married 21 September 1898 to Verona Schoenbaum

  • Died 27 September 1962

  • Buried at St. Joseph Cemetery in Evansville near his brother Adam Adler

Frank Simon Adler

  • Born 22 August 1880

  • “On the 28th of this month the baptism of Frank, legitimate son of Nicholas Adler and his wife Margaretha born Steckler, born on the 22nd of this month. Godparents were Simon Francis Maurer and Marg. Maurer.”

  • Married 10 June 1903 to Mary Greubel

  • Address 232 E. Olmstead. Owned a grocery store at 400 Edgar Street for 40 years. Also employed at Seeger.

  • Died 30 November 1951

  • Funeral was at St Theresa Catholic Church

  • Buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Haubstadt

Margaret “Maggie” Adler

  • Born 28 January 1883

  • “On the 23rd of February the baptism of Margaret, legitimate daughter of Nicholas Adler and Margaret Steckler, born on the 28th of January. Godparents were Adam and Veronica Steckler.”

  • “Maggie became pregnant (with her daughter Katherine) as a result of being forced to drink alcohol and then raped by a man in Haubstadt. Her father (Nicholas Adler) knew this but disowned her and made her leave home. She lived with her married sister Katherine Adler Loehr until George Kuhn asked her to marry him. George adopted her child after they were married.” (Source unknown)

  • Married 16 February 1904 to George Michael Kuhn

  • Died 2 October 1914 at age 31 of tuberculous pneumonia. (Like his brother Mathias, Nicholas Adler lived to see one of his daughters laid to rest. Their sister, Julianna Adler Witt, also buried two of her four children).

  • Buried at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Haubstadt

Mary Apollonia (later changed her middle name to Margaret) Adler

  • Born 28 December 1885

  • “On the 30th of December the baptism of Mary Apollonia, daughter of Nicholas Adler and his wife Margaret Steckler, born on the 28th of this month. Godparents were John and Apollonia Steckler”

  • Married 20 October 1910 to Anton Ziliak

  • Died at her daughter’s home 1921 Stringtown Road on 9 June 1966

  • Buried at St. James Cemetery in Haubstadt

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