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  • John Adler

Back Home Again in Indiana! An Introduction to the Family History


In 2008 I began my research of the southern Indiana Adlers that resulted in the compilation “The Book of Adlers.” This was an oral and pictorial history of our ancestors after their emigrations from Germany to North America. Locating and reacquainting with the Indiana generations descended from Nicholas and Juliana Adler, the Witts and Waldschmidts, the Emmerts, and the Stecklers left me with a profound affection for our Hoosier homeland and a renewed closeness with long lost cousins.

I thought I was finished tromping through cemeteries and searching for pictures and artifacts. However, I began to wonder if I could find more about the German origins of our ancestors before their immigrations to America in the 1850’s.

I engaged the esteemed genealogist Thomas Moorman from Cincinnati to help me find and translate the church books (“kirchenbuche”) that the local priests kept of the births, baptisms, marriages, and funerals that occurred in their villages and towns. These records are all stored on microfilms and had to be ordered and imported from Germany.

These records go back nearly 400 years to the religious wars known as “The Thirty Years’ War” 1618 -1648. Earlier records are lost since both Catholics and Protestants destroyed each other’s churches whenever a village was overrun. These areas of Germany were not targeted for destruction in World War II since they were rural and had no industrial value to the war effort.

Two years ago, Mr. Moorman was able to find the records of the Stecklers from Niederliebersbach and the Emmerts/Hirsches/Wolfs from Heiligenstein. I visited these churches in 2011 and photographed them. Some of their records will be included in this compilation.

The Adler ancestry eluded us for four years since the ancestral village of Nicholas Adler and his sister Juliana was forgotten. It was known they were from the region of Hesse-Darmstadt. But the actual ancestral village and its church records remained unknown.

Mr. Moorman never gave up on the quest. He located online an 1890 USA Naturalization/Passport Application regarding a “Mathias Adler” that cited his home village as “Viernheim, Germany”. He contacted me in April 2013 to inform me that he had indeed found the name of the lost village of Viernheim and had ordered the microfilms. A few more days passed before I received his affirmation that he had identified the correct records.

Then came the thrilling news that Kaspar Adler and his wife Margaretha (born Muller) had given birth to ten children, eight more than had previously been known! Three of their children (Mathias, Juliana, and Nicholas) immigrated to Gibson and Vanderburgh counties in Indiana in the years 1853-1857.

More ancestors and relatives were waiting to be discovered in Indiana and Germany.

Go to the Genealogy page for more information, and check back to this Vignettes page for more of their stories.

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