The Sperlings

Augusta Blum Sperling
March 1844 – 1926

Selma Anna Sperling
1872, Germany – 12 October 1911

Ida Sperling
1876, Michigan – 7 June 1893, Chicago

Oscar Sperling
September 1879, Michigan – 10 June 1904

Concordia appears to be a rather medium-sized cemetery. lists 35.5K entries for it, but in spite of that, if I check random gravesites while wandering the grounds to see if they’re already documented, it is extremely common to find out they aren’t. I have no idea how many people are buried there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was even twice the number already documented.

Which is to say that just snapping a photo of a headstone with the intention of entering it into the database myself often leads me down a researching path where I end up adding records for several family members, sending update requests for several more, and generally working on tidying up and tying together strands of a family just because that’s how my librarian-brain operates.

Augusta and her husband Fred came to the US on the Berlin, having left their home in Danzig, Germany, in October 1872. They arrived in Baltimore, bringing with them their infant daughter Selma, and headed west to start a new life. It appears they made their way to Chicago after several years in Michigan where all but two of their children were born.

In 1880, however, they are in Chicago, recently arrived going by their youngest son Oscars’s few-months’ age and birth location. Both both Augusta and Fred had annotations made in the rarely-used “sick” column for that census. Fred is noted to be dealing with with rheumatism (tough break for a carpenter/wagon-maker) and Augusta’s issue is garbled, I think badly transcribed, but I believe it refers either to infant Oscar or perhaps to her having had a recent miscarriage (Oscar was 9 months old at the time of the census so even though it’s a big YIKES to think of it, it’s entirely possible that Augusta could have been pregnant again and just going from the later age ranges of her children, may have also lost that baby within that nine-month span of time).

According to her later census answers, Augusta had a total of nine children before her husband passed away quite young at 45 years old. By 1900, four of those children had passed away as well, and she was living with the five survivors, all of them working adults (though the youngest, Emma, was only seventeen). Fred was buried at Graceland in the city (1845 – 25 March 1890).

For some reason, Augusta’s name on the 1900 census is listed as Fredericka, but it’s unclear if this was her middle name or some odd confusion based on her by then 10-years-gone husband’s name. We couldn’t get through a family history, though, without some Census Weird, so there it is. For whatever reason, the census page scans weren’t available the day I researched this, so I couldn’t see if something was scratched out that might help make sense of the wild variation.

As to their ties to Michigan, they apparently returned there (or perhaps Augusta returned there to give birth) after 1880 because second-youngest Edward was born in Michigan in 1881. I presume some close tie also took them back there, perhaps relatives of either Augusta or Fred had settled there, because all but their oldest and youngest daughters were born in that state. Going by Edward’s WWI draft card, Trenton (which is near Detroit so a bit of a hike from Chicago) seems to be where they were when they were in Michigan. The non-Michigander children were eldest Selma who was born in Germany and immigrated with her parents and youngest Emma who was born in Chicago.

This headstone was apparently placed after Augusta’s passing. At the time of her death, Ida, Oscar, and Selma had all passed far too young, Selma tragically just four short years after having married (to John Nehring [Neering] in 1907) likely well after she’d believed she would find a husband. There is no cause of death for any of them, but as becomes very clear the more I do these little histories, there were so many things that could kill a person that were horrifically common even after WWII and which we never even think about today.

Lucky us.

RIP Sperling family

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