Johanna was 20 years old in 1825 and this writer guesses that sometime during that year wedding bells rang for she and Zachariah.
Their daughter, Johanna, was born March 20, 1828 at Einbech in Hanover, Germany. Birth dates for their other daughter, Sophia,
and their two sons are unknown.
By 1848, Carl Schurz had taken a very active part in the revolutionary movement in Germany and was forced to flee to Switzerland.
The Meier family was anxious to escape the uncertainties of polical change and they left their native land to come to the New World.
Someone neglected to ask important questions at the right time and great great grandchildren can only guess as to why they chose the
rich farm land of the rolling hills of Lafayette County, Missouri. Thousands of their countrymen came at this time to find homes in
the central plains of the United States of America, helping to make their Nation great. On board the ship were their friends: the
Fangmans, Meyers, and Ehlers.
Carl Schurz came in 1852 and became a great leader for these immigrants who were reluctant to give up their language and their
The 29th star had been added to the United States flag in 1848 when the Meier family and their friends came. Zachery Taylor was
elected President; the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid in the Nation's Capital, and gold was discovered in California.
The Meier's two young sons, seeking further adventure, started the long tedious trek to California. One became ill and died en route.
The other one reached the gold country, but he did not return. Perhaps his ancestors are living in California now.
The Meier family soon joined the new Sni-a-bar German Methodist group which was a part of the Versailles Mission, a circuit which
included 15 preaching appointments in 300 miles of traveling for Sebastian Barth, the circuit ride sent by the Illinois Conference.
Worship services were held in the homes and, no doubt, the Meier family was happy that some of the meetings could be held in their
modest log home. Members came in wagons drawn by mules and horses.
In 1850, daughter, Johanna Meier, married August Messerschmidt and daughter, Sophia Meier, married Frederick Fangman who had
come with his sister, Dorothia, to the area.
By 1852, the Meier family had helped purchase a half acre plat of ground on the muddy banks of the Sni-a-bar creek for $50 on
which a log church was built. Later, a frame building replaced the log church. Life seemed good for those peasant immigrants who had
traveled far from the land of their forefathers.
By 1860, their adopted country was shaken by a conflict concerning the rights of individual states. Slavery and the slave trade seemed
necessary to the southern states where the production of cotton could not have been profitable at the regular hourly wage for laborers.
In the northern states, the evils of slavery were apparent and people felt the solidarity of the union of States was above
individual states' rights.
Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President and South Carolina seceeded from the Union. Young Johanna and August had three
children: Will, Martha, and August before she became a widow. Albert was born three months after his father's death. Johanna
married Johann Ehlers , also from Hanover, Germany.
Sophia's husband had joined the union army. He was captured and held prisoner until he was shot to death near Liberty, Missouri.
After Frederick's death, Sophia Meier Fangman married Michael Bettien on Dec 7, 1865.
Zachariah was buried in Stapp Cemetary near the new church on the Sni Creek and Johanna felt lonely in her adopted country.
Johanna and Johann Ehlers added five more children to their family: Matilda, Hannah, Lizzie, John, and Henry. Sophia and Michael
Bettein had two children: Adolph who married Charlotte Rigg on May 19, 1915 and his sister who married Fred Krutz.
In 1882, the frame building on the Sni was razed and a new church was built in the village, by then known as Napoleon. It was in that
year that Johanna Meier's granddaughter, Hannah Ehlers, married William Meyer. The gift to the bride was not sterling or lennox;
but, a small black earthen jar. In 1933, the jar was given to Hannah's daughter, Gertrude, who told her children of their great
grandmother. Since 1946, the original owner's great-great-granddaughter has treasured the jar. The next owner will be Shirene
Johanna Urton, great-great-great-great granddaughter.
In 1886, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled and the hopes of these brave pioneers were expressed by the words from Emma
Lazarus' poem which is carved on a tablet within the pedestal on which th goddess stands...Give me your tired, your poor, your
budded masses to breathe free....
Even though Johanna Breathed free, there is no evidence that she became a citizen of the United States of America or learned the
language of her adopted country.
On a winter day, a year after the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty, Johanna was buried in the cemetary near the Methodist Church
in Napoleon. The sun and the winds and the rains have dimmed the inscription on the tall white sandstone marker on the gentle slope
south of the church which reads:
Gestorben den 12 November 1887
Im Alter Von 82 yahre.
Born at Immerensen, Hanover 1805
Died on 12 November 1887
In age 82 years.