Happy Birthday Bernard Meyer




Bernard Meyer was born on 26 Apr 1809 in Germany. His name has been spelled and misspelled a variety of ways through the years, including Barney Mier, Bernardi Mayer, and Bernardus Mayer. Some of the spellings may be attributed to the use of Latin in the Catholic Church.

When he was 24, he married Gertrud Hart on 30 Jan 1834 in Katholisch, Metterich, Bitburg-Prum, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany (Metterich, Rheinland, Prussia).


Bernard Meyer and Gertrud Hart had the following children:

  1. Elisabetha Mayer was born about 1835 in Prussia.
  2. Jacob B. Meyer was born on 22 Feb 1836 in Hettingen, Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis, Baden-Württemberg, Germany (His obituary says “near Trier, in the Renish province”). He married Barbara Mary Stadler on 29 Jan 1867 in St John Lutheran Church, Mendota, La Salle, Illinois. He died on 07 May 1887 in Richland, Sac, Iowa.
  3. Margaretha Mayer was born about 1838 in Prussia.
  4. Theodore Meyer was born on 28 Jul 1841 in Germany. He married Susanna Gierens in 1865. He died on 15 Sep 1930 in McHenry, Illinois, USA (Age: 89).
  5. Leonard Meyer was born on 08 Sep 1846 in Prussia. He married Margaret B. in 1868. He died on 18 Aug 1907 in Illinois, USA (Age: 60).

Bernard and Gertrud grew their family in Germany, but by 1863 had immigrated to the United States. On 13 April 1863, he obtained property at Mendota, LaSalle, Illinois.

Bernard Meyer, land record.
Bernard Meyer, land record, continued.

This record raises some questions.

This indenture made the thirteenth day of April in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty three: between Adolphus G. Mandel and Amalia his wife of the City and County and State of New York, parties of the first part and Bernhard Mayer of the same place party of the second part,

New York City? No evidence has been found yet to show that the Meyer family lived in New York City. But, that is where the ships landed, so it is quite possible that they lived there for some period of time before making their way to Illinois. We don’t know exactly when they arrived. Their youngest child was born in the old country in 1846 and we know that their son, Jacob, was in the United States by early 1862, but when exactly did the family arrive? Did they all come together or did the parents come to follow one or several of their children? Were they living in New York City for a long time awaiting the chance to move westward?

witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part for and in the consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid by the party of the second part: the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have granted, bargained, sold, remised, released, aliened and confirmed and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, remise, release, alien and confirm unto the said party of the second part, and to his heirs and assigns forever:

One dollar? $1? Why would the Mandels sell property for only $1? Where they relatives? Was the property considered nearly worthless since it sat in faraway Illinois? This transaction occurred during the Civil War, so did is seem too dangerous to leave the city for the relative wilderness of Illinois?

All the right, title, and interest in and to the following described lots, pieces, or parcels of land situated in the County of LaSalle and State of Illinois, known and described as follows to wit: All the South half of lots ten and eleven (10 & 11) Block nineteen (19) in West’s addition to the town of Mendota; and all of lot number (1) one in Block thirty five (35) in West’s addition to the town of Mendota

This was not farm land. The property consisted of two lots in what was called West’s addition in the town of Mendota which was founded in 1853.

Mendota, Illinois, Aug 2016.

being the same premises conveyed to the said Bernhard Mayer, Adolphus G. Mandel, and Hyman Nelson by Jacob Augustine and wife by deed dated the twenty ninth day of December Eighteen hundred and fifty-six and conveyed to the said Bernhard Mayer and Adolphus G. Mandel by Hyman Nelson and wife by deed dated the twenty ninth day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight. Together with all the singular the heriditainments and appurtentances thereunto belonging or in any wise appurtaining. To have and to hold the same unto the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever. And the said Adolphus G. Mandel covenants and agrees that the said parties of the first part will warrant and defend the said premises against the lawful claims of all persons claiming the same by from and under them and the said Amalia Mandel for the consideration aforesaid hereby relinquishes her dower and right of dower in the premises aforesaid.

In witness whereof the said parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.

Okay, what? This says that a guy named Jacob Augustine had already conveyed one of the lots to Bernard, Adolphus and some dude named Hyman Nelson on 29 Dec 1856 and that Hyman Nelson had deeded it to Bernard and Adophus in Mar 1858. So, Bernard already owned this land? But, shared ownership with others? And, this deed on 13 Apr 1863 for $1 was just to transfer complete ownership to Bernard?

Sure enough, while the actual deeds are not available (yet) there is an index that shows these two transactions. It looks like Bernard, Adolphus, and Hyman decided to buy some lots in Mendota. They paid $2,300 in 1856.

Bernard Meyer, land index.
Bernard Meyer, land index, property description.

But then, it seems that Hyman wanted to get out of the deal, so sold his share to the other two men for $1 in 1858.

Bernard Meyer, land index.
Bernard Meyer, land index, property description.

Finally, in 1863, as we studied in detail earlier, Adolphus sold out to Bernard for $1. So, Bernard became the owner of some lots in the city of Mendota, specifically, all the South half of lots ten and eleven (10 & 11) Block nineteen (19) in West’s addition to the town of Mendota; and all of lot number (1) one in Block thirty five (35) in West’s addition to the town of Mendota. On 11 Apr 1866, Bernard turned around and sold lots 10 and 11 for $900.

Bernard Meyer, property sale.
Bernard Meyer, property sale.

We don’t know exactly when the Meyer family physically moved to Mendota. Bernard and Getrud were living there when the census was taken in 1870. But, they were living in the household of their son, Leonard. Their son, Jacob, lived nearby.

1870 Federal Census, Meyer family.

Presumably, Bernard sold off lot number (1) one in Block thirty five (35) at some point. It is a tedious process to search through the indexes of grantees and grantors, and the record just hasn’t been located yet. His son, Leonard, did sell property in Mendota on 2 Mar 1870. Bernard and Gertrud moved with Leonard’s family sometime between 1880. The whole bunch was found living in Joliet, Will, Illinois at the time of the 1880 Census. Son Jacob lived in Lee Center, Lee, Illinois and Theodore lived in McHenry, McHenry, Illinois.

1880 Federal Census, Meyer entry.

Sometime after the 1880 Census, Bernard became a widower. The exact date of Gertrud’s death has not yet been discovered. It seems that Bernard moved to live with his son, Theodore in McHenry County.

Bernard died on 13 May 1886 in McHenry, Illinois at age 77. He was buried in Saint John the Baptist Cemetery, Johnsburg, McHenry, Illinois.

Bernard Meyer, grave. [Photo submitted to Find A Grave by Michael Hill and used here with his permission.]

Where is he in the tree?

Relationship chart, Lona Iona Fawcett to Bernard Meyer.
Pedigree chart, Bernard Meyer.

How can I find out more?

To learn more about Bernard and his family, see my book The Meyer Family.

The Meyer Family

Selected Sources

Ancestry.com, Germany, Select Marriages, 1558-1929 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014), Ancestry.com, Record for Bernardus Mayer. Name: Bernardus Mayer; Gender: Male; Marriage Date: 30 Jan 1834; Marriage Place: Katholisch, Metterich, Rheinland, Prussia; Spouse: Gertrud Hart; FHL Film Number: 546078. http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=FS1GermanyMarriages&h=2760344&indiv=try.

“Bernard Meyer,” Find A Grave, Ancestry.com, U.S., Birth: Apr. 26, 1809. Death: May 13, 1886. Burial: Saint John the Baptist Cemetery, Johnsburg, McHenry County, Illinois, USA; Find A Grave Memorial# 79532946. (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/79532946 : accessed 25 Apr 2018).

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