Funeral Flowers of Frank Zehler
|Frank's Grave Stone|
|Frank's Baptismal Record|
Frank Zehler was the thirteenth and last child of Peter Zehler and Anna Maria Klasen. The first record we have of Frank is his baptism on November 9, 18561, at St. Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church in Sheldon, New York. The U.S. Census of 186047 and of 187046 give his birth place as New York. However, Frank's grave stone reads "born July 1, 1855", which indicates he was born prior to the family immigrating to America. If so, Frank came to America with his parents in 1856, and indeed the passenger list for the Sailing Ship Fairfield shows a child of 11 months in the Zehler family. The child's name, however, Jacob, not Frank.
|Frank with five of his brothers|
Not coincidentally, the witnesses to Frank's baptism are members of the German Catholic community who came from the same area of Germany as the Zehler family. Franciscus Glaisner (Frank Glaser), who came to America in 1937, and Catharina Meyer (Catherine Mayer), who came in 1940. These were likely from families who encouraged the Zehler family to settle in Sheldon.
Frank grew up on the family farm in Bennington, New York, where he would have obtained any of his formal or informal education. The 1870 U.S. Census lists his occupation as a farm laborer46, work he probably continued in for his the remainder of life. Frank died on March 19, 1887, nearly 32 years of age, and is buried in the cemetery of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Bennington2.
The story of Frank's short life would be routine, except for some peculiarities and contradictions in the records. First, the U.S. Census lists his birth place as New York, even though the date on his grave stone indicates otherwise. Second, and more important, the passenger list contains an eleven month old child, exactly matching Frank's age, but with the name Jacob. These facts point to a real mystery. We may not know what actually happened, but a likely guess is possible, as explained in A Family Mystery.
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