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Erie County (PA) Genealogy

Faces of Erie County

Magdalena Koopmann Peters Reinger

Anna Maria Peters Arn - John Arn

These pictures and information about them have been provided by Myrtice Gifford Forsythe. Any inquiries about this family or the photos may be directed to her. Myrtice Gifford Forsythe is the 2nd Great Grand daugther of Magdalena Koopmann Peters Reinger, and Great Grand daughter of Anna Maria Peters Arn, who was born at sea during her mother's 3 month trip to America. The story below is a limited biography of Magdalena, her daughter Anna Maria, the trip to America, and life in Erie, PA. Anna Maria had a daughter, Clara May Arn, who married Franklin Earl Gifford, granfather to Myrtice Gifford Forsythe. It is most interesting to note that Myrtice Gifford Forsythe has ancestors of two lines who at one time resided in Erie County, yet no one in her Gifford line, except her 3rd Great Grandfather, William Gifford, resided in the county.

Magdalena Koopmann Peters Reinger was about 64 years old (picture dated about 1880)

The following story of "the good life in America" (meaning that times really were NOT easy!) has been told by Myrtice Gifford Forsythe, about her 2nd great grandmother and in turn her great grandmother.

This is a limited biography of my great great grandmother and her life after arriving in America.  MAGDALENA (KOOPMANN) PETERS was born between Thursday, March 7 and Monday, October 14, 1816 in Hamburg, Germany. August Heinrich Peters, her husband, was born in Germany. It is currently unknown where in Germany August was born or who his parents were.

In November 1854, August and pregnant Magdalena boarded the sail vessel, Kleine Anna, at the port of Hamburg, Germany and sailed for the port of New York. During their journey, August became ill.   He died on Saturday, December 2, 1854 and was buried in the Atlantic Ocean. A witness to his death and burial was Jacob Heim, a close friend.  Magdalena was about 39 years old when she and August sailed for America. Their child was born on Monday, January 15, 1855 on the Kleine Anna. When Magdalena landed in America, in February 1855, she was a widow and a new mother, of a baby daughter, my great grandmother Anna Maria Peters.  All of her baggage was stolen and she knew no English. Luckily she was able to obtain a job for a banker wet nursing his baby son, while nursing her new daughter.

Somehow, Magdalena made it to Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania, where she met JOHN REINGER sometime between 1855 and 1858. (John was born circa 1822 in Baden, Germany and he emigrated to America in 1845.) John's first wife, Margrett, died in childbirth in October 1852 or 1853 and it is not known if the child survived. There is no marriage record between Magdalena and John Reinger, but on Monday, March 21, 1859, Magdalena and John had a baby girl, Margaretha Katharina Reinger.

The 1860 deed list for Erie shows a listing for a Magdalena Reinger. She bought a lot on the northwest corner of Seventh and Plum Streets, then on the outskirts of Erie. They were dividing up an estate and she put in a successful bid for lot #1 832.

John enlisted as a volunteer in the Army in Waterford, Pennsylvania during the Civil War on Thursday, December 24, 1863. He was in Company G, 111th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers. John was 5'5" tall, had hazel eyes, dark hair, a light complexion and was about 42 years old. His occupation was a carpenter. At the time John enlisted, there was $200 to $300 bonus being paid for volunteers.  John's name appears on page 1047 in the book entitled HISTORY OF PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS by Samuel P. Bates.  In July 1864, John developed a heart disease, a result of rheumatism contracted in the army while lying on the damp ground in wet clothes. He received an honorable discharge from the Army on Wednesday, July 19, 1865.

John was naturalized in Erie on Monday, September 28, 1868.  His sponsors were John Dunlap and U.E. White. The deed book lists show Magdalena and John sold the house on the northwest corner of Seventh and Plum Streets in December, 1874 to an Adolph Hippely for $900.00. Right after this sale they must have left for Portage, Wisconsin. John died in Portage, Wisconsin from heart disease on Friday, December 31, 1875 at about 53 years old.

Magdalena remained a widow and must have returned to Erie. She applied for a pension from the government for John's Civil War service. She was turned down in Erie as it was reported that John's death was not related to him having served in the Army.  Circa 1889,  Magdalena traveled by stage coach back to Wisconsin, where she again applied for a pension from the government, and this time it was granted - a mere $8.00 per month until her death.

By 1897, when she was about 81, Magdalena was living in Wisconsin with a Mrs. Dora Thurler.  She earned her room and board by watching Dora's little children. In 1902, Magdalena was living with a J. Clemons in Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin and she died there from pneumonia on Monday, November 24, 1902. She was buried in Gonton's (presently Oak Grove) Cemetery in Portage. There is no monument or headstone with the REINGER name on it.

Her daughter Anna Maria Peters, by August Heinrich Peters, was raised in Erie and married John Arn a resident of Erie. John Arn was from Bern, Switzerland. Anna and John had a daughter, Clara May Arn, who married my grandfather Franklin Earl Gifford, of Marquette Co., Wisconsin, a descendant of William Gifford (1758-1846). William Gifford and several of his sons, had moved to Erie County, PA, after 1820 where he died at the home of one of the sons, but the line through Franklin Earl Gifford had never lived in Erie County, yet he (Franklin) married someone from there.

Anna Maria (Peters) Arn about 1910 John Arn - date unknown

John Arn Family about 1891, probably in Wisconsin. Note an elderly Magdalena in the rocking chair

This page has been designed, and is being maintained by Bill Klauk.

This page was originally created on  Friday, March 9, 2001.

This page was last updated on  Friday, February 9, 2007.

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