28 January 2012

Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum

1793 — 1877

portrait of Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum
After 1850?; Louisa County, Iowa?  Permisson of Charles D. Harris; all rights reserved.

Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum

The date and place of this image's origins are not known. At best, we can make some educated guesses. Adolph emigrated from the Kingdom of Prussia to Missouri in 1834 when he was 41 years old. This image was very likely made after that time in his life. He lived in eastern Missouri (St. Charles and Warren counties) until about 1850, at which time he re-located to Wapello Township, Louisa County, Iowa. Census records show that he and his wife were residents of that locale until at least 1870 when he was 76 years old. According to an obituary in the Hancock Signal, of Garner, Iowa, Adolph relocated to Garner with the family of his son-in-law, Henry Frank Wellemeyer, about one year before his death in January 1877.

Adolph's date of birth has been reported by family researchers as either 17 or 19 December, in either 1792 or 1793. Hermanda (Lagemann) Fiegenbaum, of Münster, BRD, working from the records of the evangelical church at Ladbergen, has stated that Adolph was born on 19 December 1793.

On 2 April 1838, during the April term of the St. Charles Circuit Court, in St. Charles County, Missouri, Adolph declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States. The court document records that

I Adolphus Fiegenbaum do declare that I am a native of Latbergen [sic], Kingdom of Prussia, that I am about fourty [sic] four years old; that I emigrated from Latbergen [sic] that I there owed allegiance to King William III King of Prussia, that I am a Carpenter by profession, and that I am married to Cristina Peterjohan [sic], and that I have six children, that I landed in New Orleans in June 1834 and that I intend to settle in the State of Missouri.

This statement appears to have been written by the court clerk, but Adolph fixed his signature to the declaration. Calculating from the date of this document and the reported age of 44, Adolph would have been born anytime between March 1793 and April 1794. If he had been born in December 1792 and reported his correct age, he should have stated that he was 45 years old. On the basis of these two sources and assumptions of accuracy, I have chosen to use the December 1793 date of birth. 1 

Everyone seems to agree that Adolph was born at Ladbergen, a small farming community in northwestern Germany. It was here that he was baptized in the evangelical church in December 1793. 2  The village is located about midway between Münster and Osnabrück. At the time, Ladbergen was a part of County Tecklenburg (German: Grafschaft Tecklenburg ), a domain of the King of Prussia since 1707.

Adolph and Christine Elisabeth Peterjohann (born 5 March 1797 at Lengerich, a town not far from Ladbergen) were married on 25 October 1820 at Ladbergen. It would appear that they lived the early part of their married life in Lengerich, for that is where the first five of their six children were born. Adolph earned his living farming and building houses.

An examination of Adolph and Christine's immigration to the USA and a summary of their life together in the USA, as well as a picture of them later in life, is posted elsewhere on this website. There is also a photo of the six children in adulthood.


  1. Refer to Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum's entry in the genealogical database for a list of all the sources relating to his date of birth.

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  2. Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts reported that Adolph was baptized on 26 December 1793. Witnesses were Henrich Adolph Grotholtman [sic], Johann Henrich Konhorst, and Anna Maria Halsmeier.

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Brief Genealogy

Adolph Heinrich's family

Christine Elisabeth Peterjohann's family

Fiegenbaum - Peterjohann family

More Resources