GERMAN CANADIAN ANCESTORS IN
WATERLOO TOWNSHIP ONTARIO
Community Building at Centreville, May,2006 suburb of Kitchener
Centreville was the community in Waterloo Township where Mihm family resided in 1851
Adam and Mary Mihm
According to information published in the Historical Atlas of the County of Wellington, Ontario 1906, Adam Mihm was born in Germany and came to Canada in 1848.He was accompanied by his wife Mary Latsch and they were seventeen weeks in crossing from the Port of Bremen on the North Sea to New York, in a sailing vessel. Adam was a stonemason by trade and after landing in New York they made their way to Buffalo. He worked at his trade there for four years before coming to Waterloo where he continued to work as a stonemason as well as to farm.
Adam and Mary appear in the 1851, 61,71 and 81 Canadian censuses as living in Waterloo Township with their family. The two oldest children Ferdinand and Joseph are listed as being born in the United States. Based on his census age of seven at the “age at next birthday” shown as Jan 1st, Ferdinand was born in 1845. This also better establishes the date of the ocean crossing from Germany as likely in 1844.
Similarly to the above, second son Joseph would have been born in either 1846 or 47. The Canadian censuses show an eventual family of nine children adding Mary, Adam, John, Catherine, Christine, Jacob and Dora (1861). Mary would appear to be the first child born in Canada, however a document produced by the Jesuit’s showing Roman Catholic births in the District of Wellington in 1848 and 1849 seems to contradict this. According to this record a child Caroline was born to Adam and Mary Latsch (sic) on Sept 18, 1848. There is no mention of this child in the 1851 census, hence it is assumed that she died prior to that date. No death or burial record has been found, but this is not surprising as we will see later, given the unknowns surrounding the burial location of Adam and Mary.
One further interesting observation that can be made is that the history of St. Clements church in Preston states that it was under the jurisdiction of the Jesuits at Guelph until 1889. The recording of Caroline’s birth by the Jesuits could be an indication that the Mihm’s worshiped at this church. This is further supported by the fact that the Mihm’s are known to have lived at the community of Centreville and again, St. Clements church history states that services were held at the Inn in Centreville until a church was built at St. Clements about 1850. St. Clements was in Preston which eventually became part of Cambridge along with Galt and Hespeler. The other church that the Mihm’s were actually more likely to have attended was St. Mary’s in Berlin, although its history says that the first church was not built there until 1856. The issue of where the Mihm’s attended church and where they were buried will be discussed in more detail later.
The Historical Atlas referred to in the first paragraph above goes on to say that Adam “raised and educated a family and became an influential and respected citizen. He frequently acted as arbitrator in controversies of his neighbours, who had a great confidence in his judgments as well as integrity.”
A copy of an 1861 map of Waterloo Township is shown below as it appears in “Waterloo Township Through Two Centuries” by Elizabeth Bloomfield 1995, Special Edition 2005.
Map of Waterloo Township 1861
Mary, Christine and Dora
These three Mihm daughters have a substantively different family history then other of their siblings and one that connects directly into the Murphy family story. The basic initial research for this was done by Bob Brydges in 1983 and included the census data on the Mihm family provided above.
The oldest daughter Mary married James Herriot of nearby Galt about 1876. Not too much later Jacob Jantz a German neighbour’s son married Christine Mihm, and in 1881 these two couples along with James older brother William migrated west to Plum Creek, Manitoba whose name was changed shortly after to Souris. In August of 1884 William Herriot married the youngest Mihm daughter Dora in Souris.The marriage is recorded in a Waterloo record of marriages conducted in 1884 and was solemnized by a priest from Brandon.
These three couples all settled permanently in the Souris area, raised large families and prospered. Their story is the story of Mary and James Herriot the Authors maternal great grandparents and is described in detail in the Herriot Chapter. This couple had ten children, the second of which Maude, became the wife of Ambrose Deverell.
Where are Adam and Mary Mihm buried?
The Herriot-Mihm research conducted by Bob Herriot in 1983 recorded the death dates of Adam Mihm as December 20th 1888, aged 69 and Mary as December10th 1892, aged 77. as contained in the family bible. The research contains no other references to this bible, but it is presumably a Herriot family bible, but from what period or its whereabouts today is unknown by the Author. The death dates and ages are generally confirmed by the statements in the Historical Atlas referred to above. None of the information indicates where Adam and Mary are buried.
Commencing in 2002 the Author undertook a number of initiatives aimed at determining the location of Adam and Mary’s graves but without success. These efforts included searches in the on-line Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid(OCFA) and ordering of several cemetery transcription books from the Waterloo and Wellington Branches of the Ontario Genealogy Society.
It also included several attempts to publish a Query in the Waterloo Branches publication “Our Waterloo Kin” and in their website Query section. For reasons best left in the past it took two years until September 2005 until our submission was able to be received and accepted by the editor. It appeared in the publication and on the website in December, 2005.
Within a few weeks and in January 2006 an email was received from Mr. Paul Young of Thornhill Ontario who provided the information from the District of Wellington Historical Atlas which appears above, as well as the Jesuit birth record on Caroline in 1848. As luck would have it Paul and the writer are both great great grandsons of Adam and Mary Mihm. He is descended from Ferdinand the oldest son, born 1845 in Buffalo N.Y. as referred to above. Ferdinand moved to Drayton in Wellington County where he was a carriage maker and heavily involved in the Catholic Church there. He and his wife Barbara had several children and they are buried in St Martin’s Roman Catholic cemetery in Drayton, Ontario.
Interestingly and coincidentally Paul and the writer have other things in common in that we are both Professional Civil Engineers and both have another great great grandparent of Irish origin who settled in the 1830-40’s in the Huron Tract, north of London Ontario. His ancestor is O’Rourke, the Authors is of course the Loughlins
Continuing in the search for the Mihm’s grave site location, the Author contacted St. Clements church in St. Clements(Preston)(Cambridge) in February of 2006 to obtain advice as to how to access early church records(1888-1892) to search for the Mihm’s church burial record. A reply was received from a Robert Hetu saying that he could find no record of the Mihm’s in the church books. He included a suggestion to try St. Teresa in nearby Elmira, however this seemed unlikely as it is even further away from Centreville where they lived and was not followed up on
Bob Brydges research material was then reviewed again and it was found that Bob had recorded another Mihm family living in Waterloo Township during the 1851-71 period. The head of this family was George Mihm with wife Magybal who were about the same age as Adam and Mary. Bob Herriots records state that George and Adam were brothers.
The interesting finding here is that in a search of O.C.F.A. for this family, one finds no record of them being buried in Mount Hope Roman Catholic cemetery in Kitchener (formerly Berlin) which was close to Centreville. This was the cemetery for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic church in Berlin in Waterloo Townships early days and of today’s Kitchener. The cemetery transcription book for Mount Hope Roman Catholic pretty well confirms this history.
Similarly John and Catherine Jantz the parents of Jacob Jantz who married Dora Mihm, are also shown in Bob Brydges research as Catholic and Waterloo neighbours of Adam and Mary. Interestingly, their burials can be found in Mount Hope both through O.C.F.A and the transcription books. Both of these findings are fairly powerful evidence that the Mihm’s church of worship would likely have been St. Mary’s in Berlin once a church was built there in 1856. There never was a Catholic church built as part of Centreville.
One further source of information is to find out at which church Mary Mihm married James Herriot in 1874. The general custom is to marry in the brides home town/church so this wedding location could be a further clue, as would be the location of Jacob Jantz’s marriage to Christine Mihm around the same time. The Herriots lived in nearby Galt which eventually became a part of the city of Cambridge.
A research trip was planned to Kitchener-Waterloo in May of 2006 to follow up on some of the information gleaned to date and to try and find the burial location of Adam and Mary. To this end it was decided to try and contact St. Mary’s church in Kitchener to see if they could provide information as to whether Adam and Mary were buried from this church and where they might be interred.
An email was sent on March 29th and a reply received later that same day from Mrs Penny Laurette Office Manager. She advised that she had found the burial records for both Adam and Mary and that they were in fancy scroll which the writer assumes meant Latin, but she translated as follows.
Adam Mihm of Fulda. Died December 18, 1888 in Centreville at age 68.Buried on December 22, 1888 in Berlin by Rev. Weiler. Lot 43-44
Maria Mihm of Centreville. Died December 10, 1892 at age 77. Buried on December 12, 1892 in Berlin by Rev.Seymans, C.R
There was no reference to a specific cemetery, only the lot number for Adam and that it was in Berlin. Penny advised that Mount Hope Roman Catholic was the only known Catholic cemetery in Kitchener and the Author confirmed this during our later visit. This cemetery on Moore Street is located only about one mile from St. Mary’s church and was combined with a municipal cemetery of the same name in 1956 under the auspices of the Mount Hope Cemetery Board . Today Mount Hope Cemetery is a single entity with a single office and no visible separation markings other than generic letter signs between sections.
In mid May 2006 a visit to Kitchener was made by the Author and his wife Jackie to follow up on the Mihm genealogical information unearthed to date. Especially to see if a more specific burial location could be found for Adam and Mary. St. Mary’s church in downtown Kitchener was easily found and photographed as was a community centre building for Centreville which seemed to be the only visible sign of that former community, today a suburb of Kitchener.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Kitchener – May, 2006
A visit was made to the Mount Hope cemetery and to the Office there to determine the location of the two lots 43 and 44 referred to in the church record above, and to see if there was a record at the cemetery of Adam and Mary’s burial. The area of the lots was easily located in a part of the original Roman Catholic portion, however the cemetery had no record of Adam and Mary’s burial in that location or elsewhere. There were several other Mihm names and relatives buried in this immediate area but no stone or marking for Adam and Mary. A telephone call was made to a number listed under Mount Hope Roman Catholic cemetery, but again no burial record was available from this source either. Nor is there any record of a gravestone for Adam or Mary in the cemetery transcription book published by the Waterloo Branch of the OGS for Mount Hope Roman Catholic.
At the juncture of this writing this matter remains somewhat of a mystery. However the Author notes that there is a large grave stone in the plot area for John Mihm and his wife Catherine Brown. John was born in 1853 and a check with the 1851 Waterloo census confirms that he was the son of Adam and Mary, younger brother to Ferdinand and Mary. The general conclusion in the Authors mind is that Adam and Mary are buried in this general plot location in Mount Hope, perhaps as part of a Mihm family plot area. This conclusion is arrived at as a result of the information contained in the church records above, their known Catholicism as evidenced by the St. Mary’s Catholic record and because of the complete absence of any other logical explanation. The fact that there is also no record of Adam’s brother George and his wifes burial contributes to the conclusion that the two couples are buried somewhere together. Why there is no cemetery record or marker stone is of course the mystery, although no probing was done to determine whether there were any submerged ones below the grass which seems doubtful.
Mount Hope Cemetery Kitchener, Ontario. May 2006
Adam of Fulda
One of the most interesting things to emerge post trip in August 2006 when bringing this journal up to date was the noticing of the reference immediately above which was contained in Adam’s St. Mary’s church death record. The Author had missed this earlier because it’s meaning was unknown, however it was decided in August to chase this down. The first thought was that it referred to some place in Waterloo Township, so the available histories such as Elizabeth Bloomfield’s were checked but with no success.
Finally the writer decided to enter it into Google and was pleasantly surprised to get an immediate hit on a city in Germany. Fulda is historically important city of about 65,000 people located about 65 miles northeast of Frankfort in Central Germany. It seems to have a history as a center of Catholicism being the location of the and the place where in current times the Bishops of Germany hold their annual retreat.
The city is pretty well straight south of the Port city of Bremen from which Adam and Mary sailed in 1845 to New York on their eventual way to Canada. This then is where Adam and May lived when they made their decision to come to North America and opens up avenues of future research regarding their family history there.