Muscatine County, Iowa


Researching Origins of German Ancestors of Muscatine County, Iowa

Submitted by Ute Brandenburg
January 26, 2016

I achieved a recent breakthrough in German research while researching for a client with German roots in Muscatine County. I stumbled upon nearly an entire village leaving Germany for Muscatine.

The following families arrived on the ship UHLAND in New Orleans in 1854, and are all from Geismar, Fritzlar district, Hessen-Kassel:

Johannes HAHN, born 1834
Johannes SAUER, born 1830
Otto SAUER, born 1841
Christine VAUPEL, born 1837
Anna MARTIN, born 1831
Catharina DAMM, born 1832
Wilhelm HEIN, born 1830 and family
Christine BACHMANN, born 1828

Click Here to view some pages from the ship’s manifest

The ship record incorrectly lists HOFGEISMAR as their place of origin. I have, in fact, found all these families in the parish records of GEISMAR.

Other surnames, that I see in Muscatine County, are also present in Geismar:


In addition the following families are from the same region of Hessen-Kassel:

WICKE from Udenborn
Andreas SCHWALM from Udenborn
Henry SCHWALM (his brother) from Gudensberg

I am currently working in the Geismar parish records, from a German Lutheran church record database, which are online at . These records extend back to 1650!

Here is a Baptism record, I found, from Geismar for Johannes Sauer.

Johannes, son of the master carpenter Johann Otto Sauer and his wife Catharina Elisabeth Pfennig, was born on 7 February [1830] at 11 o'clock in the morning, and baptized on 14 February. The sponsor was Johannes Hochapfel from Wehren.

Archion is in German, and does require a membership fee. Then of course it is important to realize, before one decides to pay the membership, that the records are in the old German script (not everyone's cup of tea!)

In German research, it is necessary to know a town and a religious affiliation, to proceed with research. This site has been publishing Lutheran church records from around Germany since March of 2015, and the region around Kassel is well-represented. Geismar records are online. Gudensberg and Udenborn are currently not.

Earlier this year I also researched MARTICKE, and discovered the hometown for MARTICKE, and of his neighbor, LOPPE. Perhaps they are relatives? These families were from Schermeisel, Ost-Brandenburg. This town is in Poland today, and has nearly vanished from the map. Sadly, as with so many Eastern German towns, records were lost in the turmoil of World War II, and further research in Germany is not possible, as far as I could determine. Yet, it is a big step forward to know the home of our ancestors.

My client has generously agreed to share not only the locations, but also further details on the families I researched for her, should anyone come forward with an inquiry. She is a descendant of Henry Schwalm, Christine Bachmann, and Gustav Marticke. Her fourth German ancestor, surname EBINGER, I am still looking for in Württemberg!

    Ute Brandenburg
    305 West Side Drive
    Iowa City, IA 52246
    Web site:

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Page created January 26, 2016 by Lynn McCleary