An 1877 Letter from Scranton to Germany: Cousin complains about all the money he’s able to invest

mailander-letterI’m grateful for the kindness of my fellow Nattheim descendants. Sometimes it feels a little bit like a virtual village. 🙂 Cousin Frank sent me a copy of a letter that was written in 1877 by Christof Mailander b.1825, a cousin on the Mayer side of the family.

The letter was addressed to Christof’s siblings back in his home village of Nattheim, Germany. (The letter’s been published in the Nattheim Heimatbuch). Then the other day, by coincidence, I received a translation of this same page from cousin Siegfried. He’d used Google translate to put the text into English, and then I was able to cross-check that English text with the photo of the letter from the book. So, in the end, I think we’ve probably got it translated pretty well.

I keep a horse and carriage because you get spoiled and don’t always like to walk when you go out. – Christof Mailander

In the letter, Christof writes about his hotel/saloon at 1029 S. Washington Avenue in Scranton and his sons, John, Heinrich and George Caspar. He also fits in a “humble brag” or two and drops a few names. Christof was 52 years old at the time he wrote the letter. Son John was 27, George Caspar was 23, and Heinrich was 20. Christof’s wife was Anna Maria Esslinger, b. 1826.

Christof Mailander and his family left Nattheim to escape possible starvation due to crop failures there. They arrived in the United States with nothing, and through hard work, they managed to do fairly well for themselves. It makes me smile to detect a tiny bit of bragging in Christof’s letter to his siblings back home.

From page 234 of  Albrecht Ritz’s Heimatbuch Nattheim und Oggenhausen im Kranz der Nachbargemeinden:

Scranton, Pennsylvania
January 22, 1877

Dear Siblings!
Now that I have received a letter from you, I will also give a sign of life from me.

After we arrived in this country [in 1867], I worked with John and Kaspar doing stone carving. Heinrich carried the tools to the blacksmith [blacksmiths maintained stone-cutter’s tools]The times were much better then than now, and we earned a lot of money.

Six years ago, I discovered a good opportunity to buy a saloon for $3000. After I purchased it, I had a lot of things changed and redone, which cost another $1,000. Of course, I can also make my life easy without working. I keep a horse and carriage because you get spoiled and don’t always like to walk when you go out.

Johannes has since married and lives in Wilkes Barre, 20 miles from here. He started a trade with iron and other things. He bought a nice house last year, and so he is well. He visits here every few weeks. Kaspar is still at home working in stone carving, 
but he often has no work in these bad times. He has been down visiting John for 14 days. 

Heinrich has been working as a waiter for a couple of years in a large hotel [The Scranton House]. We have a large garden by the house, so my wife always has a job to do. I staff the saloon during the week, and on Sunday the boys sometimes help too. Since I have no more debts, we cannot complain, of course. I only ask God to let us stay healthy as we have been.

I am sending you a power of attorney, enclosed, so that you are entitled to distribute my part evenly among your siblings during the division. Now, we wish that you also write more often what is going on with you. It was very uncomfortable for us to hear about the death of father from other people. Weiss always writes his boys everything new, and we never hear anything from you.

In the hope that you are all good and well, I conclude with many greetings. Heinrich says I should attach special greetings from him.

Afterwards I remember that two of my neighbors, the butcher Armbrust and the brewer Robinson, who were in Germany about 2 years ago, visited Eberhard in Ulm and met. At the time we were very happy to receive some news from our friends.

Just as I finished this letter, John and the Kaspar came along and also want to have their warm greetings attached.

Addendum: I cannot send the above-mentioned power of attorney, as I have found that obtaining such is associated with much effort and expense. My will is and remains the same, and if you cannot get my share without official authorization, so let it stand where it stands until further notice. But write to me, and tell me who my guardian is in this matter.

(Letter written by Christoph Mailander, born 1825)



Zion German Lutheran Church – Scranton, PA – Brief History: First Pastor Fled Lynching Threat in the South

1884 Zion Lutheran Chuch on Sanborn Map
Zion Lutheran Church on an 1884 Sanborn Map. It was located at 226 Mifflin Ave in Scranton, PA.

I’ve been (obsessively 🙂 ) researching my German ancestors in Pennsylvania. One German branch of my family, the Maiers/Mayers from Nattheim, belonged to the Lutheran Church, and they attended the Zion German Lutheran Church in Scranton, PA. Other Nattheimers who attended this church (that I know of) include Greiners, Mailanders and Zieglers.

Zion Lutheran Church kept excellent, extremely legible records of its congregants that I’m very grateful for today- even if all of the records are written in German!

A brief history of the Lutheran Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania

I recently found an article from 18961 that discussed the history of the Zion Lutheran church in Scranton and supplied a few drawings. The article also touched on the history of the Lutheran Church in general in Scranton, PA.

According to the article, in the 1840s, a Lutheran pastor, Rev. Mr. Reichert from Philadelphia, held services in a schoolhouse in Providence [which is now the name of a neighborhood in Scranton]. From 1850 to 1860, Rev. Nathan Yeager of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania held services in six places: Scranton, Hyde Park, Providence, Archbald, Ransom and Carbondale.

In 1860, Rev. Zizelmann “came all the way from San Antonio, Texas, the war having made it uncongenial for him to remain any longer. He, with many others, was in great danger of being lynched.” (Perhaps due to the anti-slavery stance of the German community in San Antonio?) Zion’s congregation, on 226 Mifflin Avenue, between Spruce and Linden Streets, was organized August 19, 1860, by Rev. Zizelmann.

A drawing of the Zion Lutheran Church on Mifflin Ave in Scranton, PA1. This church building no longer exists.
Rev. Mr. P.F. Zizelmann, who founded Zion Lutheran Church in Scranton1. Many of our German Lutheran ancestors from Nattheim would have known him.

Pastor Zizelmann’s successor was Rev. A.O. Gallenkamp, who was a minister of the church for over 20 years. He undoubtedly officiated at many of our ancestor’s marriages, baptisms and funerals, and indeed, his name is frequently listed as the officiant.

Rev. A.O. Gallenkamp of Zion Lutheran Church2. He was born in Hanover, Germany.

In the late 1920s, this church merged with another Lutheran Church to form St. John’s Lutheran.

That’s about all I’ve found to share about Zion Lutheran Church in Scranton for now. I’d love to find out if there were any records kept of Lutheran marriages and baptisms in Scranton prior to the establishment of this church. So far, I’ve been unable to find any.

Lutheran Churches in Scranton, PA
“Lutheran Churches in Scranton,” (May 14, 1896), Scranton Tribune, (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Page 18, digital images,, accessed Nov 28, 2017.

(1) “Second Day’s Business of the Lutheran Ministers’ Convention,” (Oct 14, 1896), Scranton Republican, (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Page 6, digital images,, accessed Jan 10, 2018.

(2) “Death comes to Rev. M. Gallenkamp: Well known Lutheran Minster Passes Away After Long Illness.” (Dec 04, 1915), Scranton Republican, (Scranton, Pennsylvania), Page 3, digital images,, accessed Jan 10, 2018.

The Enterprising John Martin Mailander, b.1850, of Wilkes-Barre, PA: Boiling bones for the sake of the community

Here’s a quick “in the news”  post about my cousin John Martin Mailander.

1882 Map South Wilkes-Barre
1882 Map showing the South Wilkes-Barre neighborhood where John Mailander and his family lived. (He lived on Oregon Street between Hanover and Wood Streets).

He should be commended as a public benefactor in removing animal matter from our streets and premises…without leaving it to decay and exhale its poisonous odors in our midst.

I’ve been researching my Mailander cousins who immigrated to northeastern Pennsylvania, and one person who stands out is John Martin Mailander, b.1850 in Nattheim, Germany. John arrived in the U.S. in 1867 with his parents and two brothers.

Cousin John frequently appeared in the Wilkes-Barre news with various colorful descriptions of his goings ons– usually business dealings of one sort or another.

At one time, he was a junk dealer (that deserves a post all its own), and starting around 1880, he was the owner of the Mailander Hotel and Saloon on Oregon Street in Wilkes-Barre, where he really seemed to hit his stride. But before that, I found him in the newspaper for yet another controversial business. He was 24 years old at the time.

Sep 25th, 1874 – Commonweath vs. John Mailander

Commonweath vs. John Mailander
Indictment, nuisance, E.D. Williams, prosecutor.

The defendant is the proprietor of a rendering or bone-boiling establishment just below Wilkes-Barre in Hanover. The business in which he is engaged is an unpleasant one, and it is claimed injurious to the health of those residing in its vicinity. The building is only a short distance from Main street, and the traveling public are inconvenienced as well as the inhabitants of the neighborhood. Witnesses testify that the existence of such a nuisance depreciates the value of property in its locality, and will drive away persons living near, to more healthful and agreeable places if it is not speedily abated.

On the other hand, some witnesses for the defendant say that they have not been incommoded or injured by the presence of this establishment in their vicinity. His counsel says that instead of being driven from his place of legitimate business, he should be commended as a public benefactor in removing animal matter from our streets and premises, taking it to his place and disposing of it properly, without leaving it to decay and exhale its poisonous odors in our midst. The jury evidently concluded that if he was a benefactor of the city, he ought to get further from its limits, for they took but a short time to agree upon a verdict of guilty.” – Daily Record of the Times, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Fri, Sep 25, 1874 – Page 3.

Four years later, cousin John was back at it again:

“A few years ago Dr. Williams prosecuted Mailander for nuisance for maintaining a bone-boiling establishment near South Wilkes-Barre. The defendant was convicted. The same business is now carried on by him near the slaughter house along the river, but it is not yet far enough removed. When the wind blows up the river a horrible stench is carried into all the residences along River and Franklin streets. The city authorities should look after this nuisance.” – The Union Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Thu, Jul 11, 1878 – Page 3

John Mailander is a cousin on the Mayer side of my family.

Andreas “Andrew” Ziegler 1852-1916 – My 1st Cousin 4x Removed – The Person Who Found Gottlieb’s Body

I stumbled upon a blog challenge called ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.’ If I put aside perfectionism and take 15 minutes here and there to write things up during the week, I think I can get it done. Here’s my first post of the 52.

I was interested in learning more about this cousin of mine, Andrew Ziegler, because I often see him mentioned in social-event newspaper articles with the Mayers, and he also lived with them all his life– listed as a nephew of my 3rd-great-grandparents on the Federal censuses. Here’s what I’ve able to learn about him so far.

When Andreas “Andrew” Ziegler was born in December 1852 in Ulm, Germany, his father, Johann Friedrich Ziegler, was 37 and his mother, Anna Elisabeta Maier, was 37. His parents lived and married in Nattheim, but later moved to Ulm. He had three siblings that I know of, two who also emigrated to Pennsylvania from Germany.

-Johann “Michael” Ziegler (1847– ?) Not yet sure if he left Germany
-Anna “Mary” Ziegler (1848–1908) Emigrated from Germany to Scranton, PA
-Frederick “Fritz” Ziegler, Sr (1859–1941) Emigrated from Germany to Scranton, PA.

Andrew arrived in the United States in 1869, when he was 16 years old. He lived in the Scranton home of his uncle and aunt Gottlieb Mayer and Susan (Cunningham) Mayer. In 1885, Andrew was the person who first discovered Gottlieb’s body when Gottlieb died at home at 925 Cedar Ave in Scranton, according to news articles.

Andrew worked as a stone mason and lived with family all of his life. He was always present at family gatherings, and the family also gathered to celebrate his birthdays. He seems to have been popular with everyone.

andrew-ziegler birthday
Andrew Ziegler – Dec 6, 1900 News Article

Andrew never married, had children or lived on his own. He was always listed as living with family members. After his aunt Susan Mayer passed away, he went to live with his niece and nephew Cornelius Hartman and Alice Mayer Barnikel in Ransom, PA.

Andrew died on October 25, 1916, at the Hillside Home (now Clark Summit State Hospital) in Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, at the age of 63. He had been in the hospital for 10 months and 24 days before dying of complications related to heart disease. His body was donated to science.

Andrew Ziegler is my 1st cousin, 4x’s removed.

Relationship chart:

Mailander’s Saloon – Late 1800s Wilkes-Barre, PA

I just discovered that cousins of my 3rd-great-grandfather Gottlieb Mayer also moved to Northeastern PA in the 1800s. Their last name is Mailander, and they hailed from Nattheim, Germany, the same tiny village where Grandpa Gottlieb was born in 1834.

In the late 1800s, the patriarch of the Northeast PA Mailanders, cousin Christof Mailander, owned a hotel at 1029 S. Washington Ave in Scranton. His wife Maria and son Henry took it over after his death. That hotel was in the same neighborhood where my 3rd-great-grandfather Gottlieb and his family lived. (If my calculations are right, Christof and Gottlieb were 2nd cousins).

Another son of cousin Chrisof, Johannes Martin Mailander, aka John, owned and ran a saloon and hotel on Oregon Street in South Wilkes-Barre, starting in 1880. It’s the larger building colored pink on this old Sanborn map. You can see that it’s labeled as Mailander Ho. (Hotel).

Kinda coincidentally, I lived a few blocks away from that building when I was a teenager.


Up until now, I’d thought my Pennsylvania family was Scrantonian to the core! So these WB connections were a surprise.

Also to my surprise, it looks to me like the old Mailander hotel building is still there. I haven’t confirmed 100% that it’s the same building, but I think the odds that it is are pretty good. [Update: Yes, it’s the same building!]

I believe this is the former Mailander Hotel. It has a sign on it now that says “The Oregon Inn.”

I’ve also seen this hotel/saloon referred to as Mailander’s Hall in various old news articles.

The hotel/saloon used to be a school

I found an article that said the Mailander Hotel was a school before it was transformed into a hotel/saloon. So if that is indeed the same building that still stands today, it’s even older than I thought.

Below is an excerpt from an 1895 school-dedication ceremony speech for a new school built on South Grant Street in Wilkes-Barre. This article dates the Mailander hotel building to at least as far back as 1861. In the words of Judge D.L. Rhone:

“I’ll tell you where there are still left two old fashioned school sheds I taught in 1859 to 1861. One on South Main below Dana of wood and the other on Oregon street near Hanover, now Milander’s Saloon, of brick.” – Wilkes-Barre Times, 14 Sep 1895

Clipped from Wilkes-Barre Times, 14 Sep 1895, Sat, Page 1

It looks like the Mailander Hotel was doing brisk business in 1878. John placed a few ads looking to hire a team of girls. Clearly this was prior to the establishment of the child labor laws we have today.

Help Wanted for Milander Hotel Wilkes-Barre
Record of the Times Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Tue, Aug 13, 1878 – Page 1

In June of 1880, John Mailander appeared in the “Mayor’s Court” in Wilkes-Barre, which was located in the Wilkes-Barre police station. They sure don’t write newspaper articles like they used to:

Clipped from: The Daily Union-Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Mon, Jun 14, 1880 – Page 4

Sadly, John Mailander passed away at a young age after a lengthy illness. Since as early as 1884, there were newspaper reports that John Mailander was sick and confined to his room. I’d like to find his death certificate to find out what caused his death at such a young age, but so far I haven’t had any luck.

Update: I found a burial permit notice that said the cause of death was pneumonia. A short newspaper announcement listed his cause of death as consumption. He is interred at the Hollenback Cemetery in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Clipped from Dollar Weekly News, 05 Feb 1887, Sat, Page 1

I found this quote about hotel owners in Wilkes-Barre:

“The landlord of a hotel was apt to be a man of consequence and standing in the community. As a class they were generally respected and were often called to hold public office when it was a distinction to hold public office, as marking the esteem and respect and confidence in which one was held by his fellow citizens. “(George Bedford – Early Recollections of Wilkes-Barre) – From this site about Wilkes-Barre, PA history

The Mailander family kept the hotel running for many years. Here’s a news article from 1897. It sounds like a good time!

A Venison Roast at Mailander’s Hotel – December 19, 1897 – Oregon Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA

“The Joe Rice club of the Fifteenth ward met at Milander’s hotel on Oregon Street and had a venison roast. The affair was presided over [by] Squire E.O. Kemmerer. After singing “My Country Tis of Thee,” a venison feast was enjoyed.

Songs were sung by Anthony Helfrich, Augustus Voight and John Hier, and remarks were made by H.O. Gates, Will Reed, Fred Milander and E.O. Kemmerer. William Roughsedge, Sr., who is 72 years of age, finished up the round of pleasure by dancing a hornpipe.

The following were present: E.O. Kemmerer, H.O. Gates, George Reed, William Nicholson, Anthony Helfrich [Helfrick], Edward Lewis, Henry Milander [Mailander], John Hier, William Trumpore, Frank Forbes, Fred Smith, William Roughsedge, Sr., A. Voight, William Demn, Milton Sherey, William Jones, Charles Dudenhauer, Frank Klug, Sr., Fred Schoerenhofer, William Kidney, Fred Milander [Mailander].”

Venison Roast at the Mailander Hotel Saloon Wilkes-Barre, PA
The Sunday Leader Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Sun, Dec 19, 1897 – Page 10

The section where Mr. Roughsedge danced “a hornpipe” caught my eye. Turns out a hornpipe is a traditional sailor’s dance. I would love to have seen Mr. Roughsedge’s performance.

Dancing the Hornpipe

Seventy-two year old William Roughsedge “finished up the round of pleasure” by dancing “the hornpipe,” a traditional Scottish sailor’s dance.

I don’t yet know how long the Mailander Hotel stayed open.

Here is a list of the John Martin Mailander family.

Johannes (John Martin) Mailänder (1850–1887)

Marie Karsten (1852–1906) – Married in 1870


Frederick John Mailander (1874–1953)

Clipped from The Wilkes-Barre Record, 21 May 1895, Tue, Page 8

Lena Mailander (1875–1964)

Clipped from The Wilkes-Barre News, 02 Nov 1900, Fri, Page 8

John Martin Mailander, Jr. (1879–1952)
Laura Mailander (1879–1958) – I believe her name is incorrectly listed on the 1800 Census as “Lorena”
(It looks like John and Laura were twins!)
Herman C Mailander (1881–1957) – Confirmed, although the info on Herman’s death cert appears to list the incorrect name as his father (says Herman Mailander for father’s name.)
Julia “Lulu” Mailander (1884–1974) – Confirmed via death certificate.

How I traced the Mayer branch of my tree back to the 1400s

When I first started researching the Mayer branch of my family tree, I didn’t hold out much hope of going very far back in time. Mayer is a ubiquitous German last name, so I figured it’d be hard to research. Well, it took a little time, but I ended up tracing my Mayer ancestors back nearly 600 years.

I started with the 1900 Census that shows my great-grandfather, listed as “Laurenz” instead of Lawrence, and his family. There, I could confirm his parents’ names, years of birth, and year of marriage.

Excerpt from the 1900 Federal Census in Scranton, PA

Then I found an 1880 Census that shows my 2nd-great grandfather Edward and his family.

Excerpt from the 1880 Federal Census in Scranton, PA

That showed me Edward’s parents’ names, the general places they were born (Germany and New Jersey) his father’s occupation (upholsterer) and Edward’s sibling’s names.

To find the names of Gottlieb’s parents, my best bet was to find his death certificate. It wasn’t available on for some reason, but through some digging around, I found a digitized repository of the Record of deaths, 1878-1905, in the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania. While I did learn some interesting information from the death certificate, I was frustrated to see that at that time, they only listed the names of parents if the deceased was a minor.

Excerpt from Gottlieb Mayer’s death certificate, circa 1885

I was afraid I’d hit a brick wall, and I really did stay stuck for a while. That is, until I finally found a church record that showed the baptism of Gottlieb and Susan Mayer’s son William Andrew Mayer. Written after Gottlieb’s first and last name was the word “Nattheim.” When I googled that word, I was thrilled to learn that Nattheim is the name of a tiny village in Germany. It looks like my search probably just got a lot easier!

baptism record William Andrew Mayer 1875
Excerpt from St. John’s Lutheran Church Baptism Records, 1875. This church was formerly called Zion Lutheran Church before it merged with Trinity Lutheran to form St. John’s in 1927.

When searching around on, I was really excited to discover that there is a book, published in 1951, on the history of Nattheim and the surrounding areas. It includes the family histories of many of Nattheim’s residents, going pretty far back in time.

The family histories in the book are based on municipal and church records. Its title is, “Nattheim und Oggenhausen im Kranz der Nachbargemeinden,” and its author is Albrecht Ritz. (As a sidenote, I have one person with the surname Ritz in my Nattheim family tree).

Heimatbuch Nattheim-Oggenhausen by Albrecht Ritz, circa 1951

I couldn’t find any digitized versions of the book online, but when I was searching for the title, I found this page that lists emigrants from Nattheim, Germany to the USA, and Gottlieb Maier b.1834 was there!

After running more searches for Maier+Nattheim, I found a Facebook post, written in German, that mentioned a Maier-Weidenmann family tree. I recognized the Weidenmann name from the list of emigrants from Nattheim, so I contacted the person who made that post, and it turns out he is a distant cousin of mine.

He referred me to a website called that has detailed family trees for Nattheim-area folks. I was able to find out about Gottlieb’s (and my) ancestors going as far back as the 1400s! It’s pretty amazing. You can view the trees on after you register for and are approved for a login account. There’s a drop-down menu on the far right where you can choose your preferred language.

That pretty much sums up how I was able to track down the ancestry on one branch of my family tree. I’m still in the process of reviewing and confirming what I find, but it all seems to have decent documentation so far. I can’t wait to share it!

Relationship Chart

  1. Gottlieb Mayer (1834-1885) and Susan Cunningham (1839-1909)
  2. Edward Philip Mayer (1863-1928) married 1884 Clara Frech (1865-1913)
  3. Lawrence John Mayer (1896-1963) married 13 June 1928 Agnes C Morahan (1907-1978)
  4. My grandmother
  5. My mother
  6. Me


Edward P. Mayer (1863-1928) – My 2nd Great Grandfather

GG Grandfather Edward P. Mayer (1863 – 1928)

In this type of post, I try to cobble together the pieces of information I’ve found on each ancestor.

My great-great-grandfather Edward Philip Mayer was born in Scranton, PA, in December 1863, and he was one of seven children. His father, Gottlieb Mayer (b.1834), was a German immigrant, but the family of his mother, Susan Cunningham (b.1839),  goes back for many generations in the U.S. According to the 1880 census, Edward was an apprentice to a tinsmith when he was 16 years old. He appears to have grown up mostly on Pittston Ave. 

1017 Stafford Ave. The address where my 2nd great grandfather and his family lived for many years.

In 1884, Edward married Clara Frech, a daughter of German immigrants. They had eight children, six of whom survived into adulthood. Edward Mayer and his family lived for many years at 1017 Stafford Ave.


Edward worked as a carpet layer at G.W. Watkins furniture and draperies, a store located at 203 Jefferson Ave in Scranton. The store’s original location was at the corner of Lackawanna & Washington Aves, but that store was destroyed in a fire in 1910. Newspaper articles praised the “pluck” of the store’s owner, Mr. Watkins, who wasted no time in setting up a new location on Jefferson Ave after the fire.

In the news

In 1913, Edward Mayer was a passenger in an auto accident that seriously injured the manager of the furniture store, William Dunstone, when their car collided with a Northern Electric street car. At first, the newspapers reported that Mr. Dunstone had no hope of surviving the accident, actually subtitling an article “Dunstone Will Die.” Thankfully, Mr. Dunstone proved them wrong and recovered from his injuries, per followup news articles. You can see the original article from the Scranton Republican here: Four Hurt When Car Hits Auto.

Census-based info

In 1920, Edward and his son Lawrence were boarders at the home of a widow and her son (the Davey family) at 615 Prospect Ave in Scranton. Edward was 56 and Lawrence was 24. Edward was working in a store as an upholsterer, and Lawrence was a clerk in a store. Interestingly, Edward’s father Gottlieb was an upholsterer for the DL&W Railroad.

East Locust Street House in Scranton
East Locust Street, where my 2nd great grandfather lived in 1928.

Edward Mayer died on May 25, 1928 at age 64 in the Scranton State Hospital. At that time, he was living at 1016 E. Locust St., per his death certificate. The cause of death was listed as myocardial decomposition, a type of heart failure. He’s interred at the Dunmore Cemetery in Dunmore, PA.

Spouse: Clara Frech
Mary A. Mayer 1886–1909
Clara M. Mayer 1888–1937
Edward Francis Mayer 1890–1922
Lawrence John Mayer 1896–1963
Regina Mayer 1899–1959
Lena Mayer 1902–1922

Relationship chart:

  1. Edward Philip Mayer (1863 – 1928)
    2nd great-grandfather
  2. Lawrence J Mayer (1898 – 1963)
    son of Edward Philip Mayer
  3. My grandmother
  4. My mother
  5. Me

Some Photos From the Mayer Family

It’s so much fun to meet “new” cousins on I met a third cousin named James who made my day when he emailed this photo to me. It shows my 4th-great-grandmother Catherine Gearhart Motzenbacker and my 3rd-great-grandmother Susan Cunningham Mayer, among others.

Five Generations
Susan Cunningham Mayer (b.1839), Catherine Gearhart Cunninham Motzenbacker (b.1818), Amanda Mayer Barnickel (b.1861), Alice Barneckel Hartman (b.1885), Henry Hartman (b.1905). Taken circa 1905. Photo Source: James Gardner

The group photo above may have been taken around the time that this article appeared in The Scranton Truth newspaper:

The Scranton Truth, 17 May 1905

My 4th Great Grandmother Catherine seems to have lost track of her age, which wasn’t unusual for the time. This article says she was 94 years old in 1905. However, I have documentation showing she was born in 1818, making her 87, not 94, when the story ran. Many other sources show her as older than she really was, so it wasn’t a mistake made by the reporter. Still, 87 is a pretty respectable age!

Another Mayer / Cunningham Daughter and her husband

Pictured below is another daughter of Susan Cunningham and Gottlieb Mayer. Her name is Alice Mayer, although her name is sometimes listed as Mary Alice Mayer. (There was a perplexing German naming custom at the time: Children received a first name when they were born that was never used again throughout their lives. In some families, every child of the same gender would have the same first name, usually that of a favorite saint, but each would have a unique middle name.) Her husband is Erwin Miller. I’m told by his great-grandather Kathy that his first name was Ray, but he never used it.

My great, great aunt, Alice M. (Mayer) Miller (b.1865) with husband Erwin Miller (b.1858). Photo source: Their great-grandaughter Kathy. Circa: ? Sometime before 1920?

William Lida Loveland and Elizabeth Katherine Mayer, circa 1894

James sent me this photo of his great-grandparents, William Lida Loveland and Elizabeth Katherine Mayer. They are my great-great aunt and uncle. Elizabeth is the daughter of Gottlieb Mayer and Susan Cunningham.

My great-great aunt and uncle

A family resemblance

Looking at the photos of Susan Cunningham Mayer and her daughters, I can really see a resemblance to my great-grandfather Lawrence Mayer in this 1953 photo.

My great grandparents
On the right is my great-grandfather Lawrence Mayer, grandson of Gottlieb Mayer and Susan Cunningham. (circa 1953). Pictured with wife Agnes (Morahan) Mayer.

Pieces of the Past

James was kind enough to send me this photo of a set of dominoes that have been passed down in his family. According to James, he was told as a child that this domino set originally belonged to my 3rd great grandmother Susan Mayer (she is also one of James’ greats). It’s so fun to see a piece of the past like this.


How are we related to the folks in these pictures? I’ll try to show how I descend from Catherine Gearhart with this list:

  • Catherine Gearhart (1818 – 1908)
    My 4th great-grandmother
  • Susan Cunningham (1839 – 1909)
    My 3rd great-grandmother
    is the daughter of Catherine Gearhart
  • Edward Philip Mayer (1863 – 1928)
    My great, great-grandfather
    Is the son of Susan Cunningham (and the brother of Amanda Mayer, pictured above, and Alice Mayer, in the picture below)
  • Lawrence Mayer
    My grandfather
    Is the son of Edward Philip Mayer
  • My maternal grandmother
    Is the daughter of Lawrence Mayer
  • Then on down to my mother and then me.

Gottlieb Mayer (1834 – 1885)

GGG Grandfather Gottlieb Mayer (b. 2 AUGUST 1834 – d. 17 JANUARY 1885, age 51) 

Married to Susan Cunningham


My great, great, great grandfather Gottlieb Mayer was born in Nattheim (1), Germany in 1834 (2). Nattheim is a tiny agricultural village that was known for limestone mining.

On every census I could find, Gottlieb shares his home with his nephew, Andrew Ziegler. I found a woman in Scranton named Anna Mayer who is married to a man named Friedrich Ziegler. I could guess that they might be Andrew’s parents, but I can’t say for certain.

The name Gottlieb was a common German first name at the time; at least two other men named Gottlieb Mayer lived in Scranton at the same time as my GGG grandfather.

Gottlieb’s last name may have originally had an umlaut over the Y.

Gottlieb Mayer lived on Pittston Avenue in Scranton, PA, before there were even any house numbers. In 1883 (3), he built a house at 925 Cedar Avenue in Scranton’s South Side. The house was next door to the James Monroe School No. 8, at 927-929 Cedar Ave. The old school building is an assisted living facility today.

The original James Monroe School No.8 was built in 1862, so it would have already been there when Gottlieb Mayer built his home in approximately 1883. As far as I can tell, the house at 925 Cedar Avenue no longer stands. The school was rebuilt and expanded over the years. The biggest expansion seems to have happened  in 1928. It’s possible the school district  bought the property and tore down the house at 925 for that expansion. But that’s only my guess.

If I can find some “olden days” pictures of that school, we may be able to see what the house at 925 Cedar Avenue looked like!

Gottlieb worked as a foreman in the train car upholstery department at the Delaware,  Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W) (3).  Today’s Steamtown museum is located at the DL&W railyard where Gottlieb was employed until his death in 1885.


Edward P. Mayer* (My great, great grandfather)
Amanda Mayer
Mary Alice Mayer
Elizabeth Katherine Mayer
William A. Mayer

Sources Checklist:
Immigration documents – no
Marriage Certificate – no
Death Certificate √
Censuses: 1850 – no, 1860 – maybe, 1870 √, 1880 √
News articles from √


(1) Baptism Record for William Andrew Mayer. St John´s Lutheran Church, Scranton, PA, Page 93. Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 520.
(2) Gottlieb Mayer, Headstone, Pittston Avenue Cemetery, Scranton, PA.