Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Challenge of Henry Meinzen

I never tire of my great-grandfather, Henry C. Meinzen, because the more I learn, the more I realize what a character he was.  However, he pushes me to frustration for the lack of evidence I find concerning his life before arriving in the United States.  A character?  Perhaps more like a rascal.

He is one of the first ancestors I researched.  After spending years trying to find as much information as I could, I was still unable to find his place of birth or his parents.  I laid the search to rest.  But periodically, I pick up the hunt again, hoping that some new record set will help me locate his immigration information, his place of birth, his parents' names, anything else that will help me go back to his beginnings.

Lest anyone think I haven't searched deeply enough, I offer the results of searches with records and sources noted.  If you have additional suggestions of where I might look to find more information, I'd be grateful to know.

What I Know of Henry (undoubtedly too much information)
  • 25 Jul 1837 - born in Germany (family records, 1900 U.S. Census indicates birth month and year; 1900 & 1910 U.S. Censuses give location, death certificate, death certificate, obituary)
  • 1866 - immigrated to the U.S. (naturalization record, 1920 U.S. Census)
  • 7 Oct 1867 - applied for citizenship in Belmont County, Ohio, native of Prussia, age 28, immigrated June 1866; signed as Heinrich Meinzen
  • 24 Apr 1870 - married Elizabeth Armitage in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio.  He was 32, she was 17.  (marriage record)
  • 1 Jun 1870 - age 32, lived in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, with wife, Eliza; born Prussia (1870 U.S. Census, dated 11 Jul 1870)
  • 25 Sep 1870 - Son, Henry, born (Jefferson County birth records)
  • 1871 - carpenter, lived at 116 South Water Street, Steubenville, Ohio (Palmer's Steubenville Directory for 1871)
  • 9 Oct 1871 - became a naturalized citizen (naturalization record)
  • 1872 - Son, William Meinzen, born (death notice in The Steubenville Weekly Gazette, Friday, 30 Nov 1888)
  • 28 Apr 1873 - purchased Lot 32,  Morris Second Edition [North 8th Street], Steubenville, Ohio for $600.00 (Jefferson County deed book)
  • 1875 - carpenter, lived North Eighth above Franklin (Steubenville City Directory for 1875-1876)
  • 13 Feb 1875 - daughter Hannah born (1880, 1900 U.S. Censuses, certificate of death)
  • 5 Mar 1879 - son Edward J. C. F. born (1880, 1900 U.S. Censuses, certificate of death)
  • 1 Jun 1880 - age 41, lived in Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, with wife and four children; born Hanover (1880 U.S. Census, dated 9 Jun 1880)
  • 28 Aug 1880 - daughter, Marie Isabella born (Birth Records of Jefferson County, Ohio)
  • 13 Nov 1882 - son Walter born (Birth Records of Jefferson County, Ohio)
  • 26 Jan 1885 - daughter Elizabeth Wilhelmina born (1900 U.S. Census) 
  • 20 Jan 1887 - daughter Lula Bernesa born (Jefferson County Birth Records)
  • 7 Oct 1888 - daughter Bertha born (Jefferson County Birth Records)
  • Nov 1888 - son, William, died (The Steubenville Weekly Gazette, 30 Nov 1888)
  • 8 Feb 1892 - son William Carl Robert born (Birth Records of Jefferson County, Ohio)  
  • 20 Feb 1892 - sold Lot No. 32, Morris Second Addition for $850.00 (Jefferson County Deed Book)
  • 15 Dec 1893 - son Jacob Increase born (Jefferson County Birth Records, WWI Draft Card)
  • 3 Sep 1896 - son Carl Nelson born (Zion Evangelical Church Records)
  • 14 Sep 1896 - son Carl Nelson died (Zion Evangelical Church Records)
  • 15 Oct 1898 - grew a six pound white radish, on exhibition at newspaper office (Herald-Star, October 12, 1898)
  • 22 May 1899 - daughter Naomi Faye born (Jefferson County Birth Records)
  • 7 Sep 1899 - exhibited 12' 4" corn stalk at HeraldStar Office (HeraldStar, 7 Sep 1899)
  • 1 Jun 1900 - age 61, lived in Cross Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio, with wife and 10 children; gardener, born in Germany (1900 U.S. Census, dated 12 Jun 1900)
  • 26 Aug 1901 - a team of Henry's horses "ran off" in Steubenville, Ohio (East Liverpool Evening News Review, 29 Aug 1901)
  • 8 Aug 1902 - bought north half of Lot No. 2 in Stokely's 1st Addition [S. Third Street], Steubenville, Ohio, for $3,000.00 (deed in name of wife, Elizabeth)  (Jefferson County Deed Book)
  • 1904 - lived at 306 S. Third, Steubenville, Ohio (Steubenville Official City Directory 1904-05
  • 1906 - lived at 306 S. Third, Steubenville, Ohio, owns confectionery (Steubenville City Directory, 1906
  • 31 May 1907 - son Walter died (death certificate, newspaper articles)
  • 15 Apr 1910 - age 72, lived in First Ward, Steubenville, with wife and six children; grocer, born in Germany (1910 U.S. Census, dated 18 Apr 1910)
  • 4 Sep 1910 - daughter Hannah died (certificate of death)
  • 1911 - lived at 308 S. 3d, owns confectionery (Steubenville Official City Directory, 1911
  • 15 Nov 1911 - son Edward J. C. F. died (certificate of death)
  • 1913 - lived at 306 S. Third, owned confectionery (Steubenville Official City Directory 1913)
  • 1915 - lived at 306 S. Third, owned confectionery (1915-1916 Steubenville City Directory)
  • 12 Sep 1917 - son Jacob Increase died (certificate of death)
  • 1918 - lived at 308 S. Third, owns confectionery (1918 Steubenvillce Official City Directory)  
  • 14 May 1918 - daughter Bertha died (death certificate)
  • 1 Jan 1920 - age 82, lived in Steubenville 4th Ward, Jefferson County, with wife, Elizabeth, and granddaughter, Edna Hendricks, born Hanover, Germany
  • 26 Jun 1920 - wife Elizabeth died
  • 30 Dec 1925 - Henry died, retired carpenter, born Germany, father Carl Meinzen
  • 2 Jan 1826 - buried Union Cemetery (Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Records, Union Cemetery Records)

The Confusing Information

There is a Graves Registration Card for Henry C. Meinzen.  It indicates that he served in the Civil War from August 11, 1862 to August 10, 1863, in the U.S. Navy as a Seaman on the ships "Cairo" and "Brilliant."  All information on the card corresponds correctly to known information about Henry but I have been unable to locate any information about him serving in the Civil War.  If this information were true, it indicates that he arrived in the U.S. four years earlier than he states on his naturalization record. 

There is an immigration record at the Castle Garden website for Ernst Meinzen with information that corresponds to Henry's information -- all except the first name.  The age, arrival date, and destination could all be Henry's information.  I've found no immigration record for Henry or Heinrich Meinzen.  I continue to wonder if they could be the same man.  I've not found an Ernst Meinzen in Ohio.  Did Henry change his name or decide to use a name other than the one he used in Hannover?  A new start with a new name?

What I Lack Knowing of Henry
  • The location of his birth more nearly than Germany, Prussia, or Hannover.  I need a town, city, or village to find further useful information.  I have no idea where else to look.
  • His father's name is indicated as Carl on his death certificate but his mother's name eludes me.  She is apparently an unknown to both him and his children.

Obituary of Sopha Meinzen Kropp
On a side note, I discovered that Henry's sister, Sophia Meinzen Kropp, arrived in the U.S. in 1887, along with her husband and several children, and settled in Steubenville, Ohio.  Unfortunately, neither her death certificate nor obituary mention her mother's name.  Sadly, her death certificate tells me that her father's name is Deidrick Meinzen.  Of course, it's possible that it was Carl Deidrick or Deidrick Carl, or that the informant for the death certificate misunderstood the question, but there's no way to know until I find further information.  Those German naming traditions!

I have a cousin who has researched this Meinzen side of the family.  He's interested in sharing his information but from what I can tell no sources or documentation are included.  I'm of the opinion that family history without sources and documentation is family fable.

Henry Meinzen and information about him and his life have been easy to find in the U.S.  Information about his origins and his parents -- not so easy.  That rascal!  What a challenge he's been.

This is a post written for Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 version of 52 Ancestors.  The post topic for the week was "Challenge."


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Do not copy or use any content from this blog without written permission from the owner. 


  1. Henry is a challenge. Have you tried It's a German subscription site. Or perhaps a German American Facebook group could giv eyou more suggestions.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion of, Linda. I think I visited the site but decided not to subscribe. I should visit again and reconsider. A German-American Facebook group is great idea. Thanks!

  2. Look at that face! How could he be a rascal? That’s a sweet and kind face. He looks like someone who would keep candy nearby for little kids.

    1. Well, you know, Wendy, rascals have to have sweet faces to get by with all the trouble they make, right? I do believe he was a kind and generous man and, no doubt, did give out candy. He owned a confectionery for a while so candy was easily available. But he could have left a little more information for his descendants!

  3. I inadvertently deleted a comment by Colleen of Leaves & Branches ( (So sorry, Colleen.) This is what she said:
    Your great grandfather sounds like a wonderful character and a challenge to research. You have uncovered lots! Great blog post.

    1. Thank you, Colleen. I think he sounds like an interesting character who I'd love to meet. I'd like to hear the pitch of his voice and enjoy his German accent (which I'm sure he took with him throughout his life).


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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