Trumbold Families

Johan Georg Trumbold

The Early Years in the US



We believe that Johan G. and Johannah Hallbauer Trumbold (age 29 or 30) came to the United States from near Dresden, Saxony, Germany between January 1848 and the fall of 1849. Their three small children -- Emma (age 4 or 5), Charles Fredrick (age 2 or 3), and Augustus (age 3 months to 24 months) --  traveled with them.  I have been unable to trace exactly when and how this family came to the US or where in Germany they came from.   Some reports in census records for the children place the immigration date between 1847-1852 but birth notations on the later children indicate arrival before 1850.


This family apparently settled in New Jersey until approximately 1855-1857 and had four children during that time -- Hermann in 1850, Elizabeth in 1851(?), Hannah in 1853, and Mary in 1855.


We were not able to find any records of this family in New Jersey until stumbling across the following entry in the 1850 US census for the township of Chester (Moorestown) in Burlington County which appears to be this family although some of the details are wrong.  It is likely that the census taker had difficulty communicating with these Germans fresh from Germany.


The census was taken on October 7, 1850:

            George Trumpet, 29, labourer, born in Germany

            Hannah, 30, born in Germany

Christian, 9, born in Germany - this could be Christeliebe Emma who was actually 6 years old

            Collum, 4, born in Germany - this could be Charles Fredrick who was 4

            Augusta, 3, born in Germany - this would be Augustus who was 3

            Herman, 8/12, born in New Jersey - which is correct


According to a map of the area from 1895 and the location of some of the neighbors from the 1850 census, the family apparently lived near the Camden County border along a main toll road and railroad into Moorestown within easy distance of a saw mill, brick yard, blacksmith, wagon shop and farms where George could have worked as a laborer.  This location also makes it likely that the family immigrated through Philadelphia.


By 1858, this family of eight had moved to Communia, Clayton County, Iowa, where, according to the 1860 Iowa census, another child, George, was born.


Making a Home in Iowa


Obituaries, census records, and histories suggest that the Trumbolds settled first in Communia, Iowa.  The following is a short description of this community                                      




The well-known German colony in the northwestern part of Volga township was established in 1847 by nine Germans and one Frenchman, who organized at St. Louis, and uniting their fortunes under the presidency of Joseph Venus, came north by steamer to Dubuque, bringing with them tools and other necessaries incident to pioneer life.  At Dubuque they purchased provisions and completed their outfit.  Taking a wagon and three yoke of oxen, they proceeded overland in search of a home, which they found on the south half of section 8, Volga township.


The ten founders of this colony were Joseph Venus, blacksmith, now dead; Jacob Ponsar, still living in the neighborhood, the last of the ten; Frederick Meister, who went back to St. Louis after two months, and is now in the banking business in that city; Henry Babe, a carpenter, now dead; Frederick Lochsen, brewer, now dead; Carl Reger, cooper, now in Galena, Ill.; Frederick Koenig, dentist, now dead, and Isaac Nagel, tailor, of French descent, now dead. 


They camped the first night just in the rear of the spot where Venus' house was afterward built.  They immediately set to work to build a house 20 by 30. The house was of logs, and what lumber was used was furnished by Frederick Hartge, of Elkport, and hauled by Andy Hartman.  This was taken down many years after, and another house built of the same logs which is still standing and in use.                            


A blacksmith shop was built the same year, and two log-houses 14 by 20.  Then the frame house now standing was built.  A brick-yard and lime-kiln were started, and then a brick house was built.  In time, therefore, quite a cluster of buildings sprung up, and the "colony" became a substantial and prosperous enterprise.  The company bought and paid for 1,400 acres of land at $1.25 an acre, and a quantity of livestock.


November 3, 1847, John Enders came, accompanied by Mrs. Eliza Ponsar, and her grandmother.  These were the first women in the settlement.  The first birth was that of Herman Ponsar, in 1858.

The colony was regularly organized, with a president and a secretary.  Joseph Venus was elected president every year during the continuance of the organization.  The colony was always peaceful, however and there was never any necessity for discipline or punishment.  The plan of the colony was very simple; anyone who wished to join, after being elected contributed his means, whatever the amount, to the general fund, and whenever he wished to withdraw he drew his money out again.  While these settlers suffered all the privations incident to the opening up of a new country,  they nevertheless enjoyed the life, and they look back to those times with pleasure. The Indians were numerous, but they were always friendly.  The Germans being all artisans or skilled laborers, worked at their respective trades part of the time, and all turned to work the farm.  None had been practical farmers, and they had to learn many things by experience.  Their mistakes were sometimes comical, sometimes more serious.


In 1856 the colony organization was dissolved, the land and property sold at auction, and each family looked out for itself.  The post office established at an early day is still called Communia, and the place is still designated "the colony".  Fred Weiss was the first Postmaster, and George Meyer, who also keeps a store and saloon, holds the position at present.  The Motor Mill is but a mile off, and is patronized by the settlers."1


From  HISTORY OF CLAYTON COUNTY 1882, pages 1116-1118

          Elkader Library, Volga Township


Johannah Raises Her Family


 According to the 1860 Iowa census, Hannah Drunbolt(sic) was living in Volga Township, Clayton County, Iowa, and the Post Office was listed as Communia, Iowa.  Communia is approximately 8 miles southeast of Elkader.  She said she was 41 when the census was taken on July 7, 1860.2  Listed below is the other census information on this family


                        Emma,   18     (born Feb. 6, 1844)  ?actually 16?

                        Charlie,  14     (born Nov. 1, 1846)

                        August,  13     (born  Nov. 22, 1847)

                        Harmon, 11     (Hermann - born 1850)

                        Elizabeth, 9     (born 1851?)

                        Hannah,   7     (born May 19, 1853)

                        Mary,       6     (born 1855)

                        George,    2     (born 1858?)


If son George's father was Johannah's husband, then her husband must have died between 1858 and 1860 as he is not listed in the 1860 census.


This plain bureaucratic listing reveals a stark human condition.  Hannah, a young widow with 8 children (four of them under 10 years old), is living in a wilderness community with her only other relatives back in Germany.  I have found no record that her husband owned any land in Iowa.


This is the first mention (and only mention from any source) that we have of Elizabeth.  She must have died or gotten married before 1870 as she is not listed in that census with the Trumbolds or in Johanna's list of children in her deed of land to her children (1865).


This is also the only mention we have ever heard of the child George.  He, too, is not listed in the 1870 census, so he may have died as a young child.


In 1861, Emma (age 17) left the household to marry Renke E. (Frank) Meyer (age 26) in Clayton County, Iowa. They remained in the Communia area for the rest of their lives.  Most of Johan G. and Johannah's descendants come from this family line.


Johannah Acquires a Husband and Land for Her Family


On December 14, 1863, Hannah Trumbolt (age 45) and John Daniel Ernst (age 54 or 64) were married at Elkader, Iowa, by a Clayton County judge.3   On that same day, presumably prior to the marriage, Johann Daniel Ernst "having promised marriage" gave Hannah Trumbolt 80 acres of land in Highland township.4  This early prenuptial agreement allowed Hannah to provide for her family, now between the ages of 5 and 17.


Presumably about the time of Hannah's second marriage in 1863, the Trumbold family moved across the county to Highland Township, approximately 11 miles northwest of Elkader near the border of Fayette County.  


In October 1864, Gus, at the age of 17, enlisted in the 2nd Division of the Iowa Cavalry and served for nearly one year.  He was discharged in Selma, Alabama, on September 19, 1865 ( see Augustus' family page for more notes).  In 1868, Gus went to Pittsfield, Illinois, and in 1873 married Lucinda Ritter.  They would stay in Pittsfield until 1899, then moving on to Galena, Kansas, until Gus died.


Hannah Ernst, formerly Hannah Trumboldt, transferred the land she received from John Ernst to Charles A. Trumboldt, August C. Trumboldt, Herrman Trumboldt, Hannah Trumboldt, and Mary Trumboldt on July 15, 1865.5   Charley, 19, and Hermann, 15, could have done the farming.  Hannah and Mary would have been 11 and 12 years old.


On April 1, 1867, Johanna Ernst bought another adjoining 80 acres in Highland Township for $472 from Leander and Eleanor Read who then lived in Cook County, Illinois.6 


The 1870 Iowa census, taken on July 16, 18707, confirms that Joanna Trumble (sic) and her family lived in Highland Township, Clayton County, and their Post Office was Strawberry Point.  Other information includes


            Joanna      age  52       born in  Saxony [value of real estate = $1500, personal property =                                                                            $1100]

             Charles           24              "     Saxony

             Hermann         20              "     New Jersey

             Hannah           17              "     New Jersey

             Mary                15              "     New Jersey


Johannah Passes Away


Johannah (also spelled Hannah and signed by her as Johanna in the same paperwork in the probate package) Ernst died on November 30, 1870, in Iowa8 at the age of 52.  She was buried in Communia Cemetery in Volga Township, Clayton County, Iowa.9  A grave marker says "Johanna Trumbold 1819-1872".


Charles Trumbold was the administrator for her estate.  Her will lists only Charles, Herman, Emma Meyer, Hannah Trumbold, Mary Trumbold, and August Trumbold as her heirs10.  Mr. Ernst apparently has died.  We can also assume that Elizabeth and George have died by 1870 as well.


The will8 states

                        "I Johannah Ernst being in my right mind hereby make this my last will and testament.  I give and bequeath to my son August the sum of ten dollars, to my daughter Emma ten dollars, and one four year old heifer, to my daughter Hannah  I give one cow and twenty five dollars, to my daughter Mary I give one cow and twenty five dollars.  The ballane (sic) of my property both personal and real estate after all legal debts are paid I bequeath to my sons Charles and Harmon share and share alike.


Witness my hand this second day of Nov.A.D. 1870 and I hereby appoint William Lewis to be administrator of my estate.

                                                                                                                        Signed Johanna Ernst (very shaky)

Signed in presence of

Porter Nye                               Witnesses

Frederick Ernst"


Her assets are listed8 as


            1 Reaper (Canton)

            1 Seeder (Van Brant)

            1 Two Horse Wagon

            1 Breaking Plow

            1 Stubble Plow

            1 Double Shovel Plow

            1 Harrow

            1 Set Double Harness

            2 Horses

            8 Cows


The Sons Leave Iowa, The Daughters Stay


There is little record of the Ernst/Trumbold family for the next eight years.  Perhaps they were just trying to make the farm produce a living.  Hannah Trumbold, daughter, (age 24) married August Holzer (age 37) of Elgin, Iowa, in 1877 and remained in Elgin for the rest of her life as did her 3 children.  (See also notes on her family page and the book on the history of Elgin).


On August 20, 1879, Hannah Ernst's heirs sold their 80 acres to James Kerr, Sr., their neighbor, for $1304.10  Also, on August 19, 1879, Charles F. Trumbold and Herman Trumbold sold to James Kerr, Sr., for $1304 the 80 acres their mother bought from the Reads in April 1867.11 


Mary C. Trumbold (age 26) married Henry Stuart (Stewart) Coventry (age 30) on March 8, 1880 in Fayette County.  In October 1880 she is reported as being from Cox Creek but it also appears that she spent the rest of her life in Illyria Township, Fayette County, Iowa.


In the "spring" of 1880 Hermann went to Nebraska.  He was returning to Clayton County in October 1880 when he shot himself at the train depot.12


We cannot find the Trumbold family listed in the Iowa 1880 census.  It is likely that Charlie had left Clayton County, Iowa, in early 1880 after his youngest sister married and when his brother went to Nebraska.  Charley's farm and equipment sale was held on March 20, 1880.13  When Charley left Iowa, only the three married Trumbold girls were left in Iowa.


Other notes about names


Johan G. Trumbold.  We obtained the name of Johan G. from Charles Fredrick's marriage certificate.  We believe that the "G." stands for George based on newspaper references and the German tradition of naming the first or second son after the parent

            1.  In the Iowa census down in 1925, Anna Hoelzer shows her parents names as George Trumbold and Hanna Halbuer, both born in Germany.

     2.  A biography of Renke (Frank) Meyer, Emma Trumbold's husband, published in History of Clayton County, Iowa in 1882 says that Emma was the daughter of George and Hannah (Halbor) Trumbull. 

     3.  Emma, the oldest daughter, named her first son George.  [This record also says that the Trumbolds came to the US from Germany in 1849 although we have no other documentation for this.]    

     4.  Hannah Trumbold Holzer's death certificate says her father's name was George Trumbold [the informant was Hannah's daughter].

     5. Mary Trumbold Coventry, the third daughter, named her second son George.

     6.  If the George Trumpet in the 1850 US census is, indeed, our ancestor, that further corroborates that he went by the name George.


Johannah Hallbauer Trumbold Ernst.  It seems that Hannah was the most often used reference, short for Johannah.  I have tried to use the spelling used in the various documents as those documents were mentioned.  The only signature I have is on her will.  It is very shaky and can't be used to definitively spell her name but it definitely starts with "Johann".  Hallbauer seems to be the preferred spelling in Germany, but it has been shown in documents and newspapers as Holbar, Halbauer, Halbor, and Halbuer.


I can not trace Johannah's ancestry yet.  There is a Johann Friedrich Hollbauer listed in the Mormon records who was born in 1790 near Zwickau, Germany (Kirchberg records).  Perhaps this was Johannah's father.  His sister's name was Christeliebe, an unusual name, which is also what Johannah named her first daughter.  All the children in Johann's family had the first name Johann or Johanna.  It is also likely that he would have named his daughter after himself.  The geographic location makes it likely that the Trumbolds and the Hallbauers would have known each other.


Source Notes

1.  History of Clayton County [Iowa] 1882, pages 1116-1118.

2.  1860 Federal Census for Iowa, [Clayton County] taken July 7, 1860, page 100.

3.  Marriage certificate of Hannah Trumbolt and John Daniel Ernst, December 14, 1863, Clayton County, Iowa, page 243.

4.  Deed, Johann Daniel Ernst to Hannah Trumbolt, December 14, 1863, Clayton County, Iowa, Book V, page 233 (S2NW, S17, T93N, R6W, 5PM).

5.  Deed, Hannah Ernst to Charles A. Trumboldt, August C. Trumboldt, Hermann Trumboldt,      Hannah Trumboldt, and Mary Trumboldt, July 15, 1865, Clayton County, Iowa, Book Z, page      375 (S2NW, S17, T93N, R6W, 5PM).

6.  Deed, Leander and Eleanor Read to Johanna Ernst, April 1, 1867, Clayton County, Iowa,       Book i2, page 305 (SENE and NESE, S18, T93N, R6W, 5PM)

7.  1870 Federal Census for Iowa [Clayton County], taken July 16, 1870, page.

8.  Probate, (Jo)Hannah Ernst, Clayton County, Iowa, packet 410.

9.  Rootsweb, Cemeteries in Iowa, Clayton County.

10. Deed, Chas. F. Trumbold, Herman Trumbold, Mary C. Trumbold, August and Lucinda           Trumbold, Hannah and August Holzer to James Kerr, Sr., August 20, 1879, Clayton County,   Iowa, Book 50, page 227        (S2NW, S17, T93N, R6W, 5PM).

11. Deed, Charles F. Trumbold and Herman Trumbold to James Kerr, Sr., August 19, 1879,          Clayton County, Iowa, Book 51, page 18 (SENE and NESE, S18, T93N, R6W, 5PM).

12. "Suicide of a Former Resident of Clayton County", The Elkader Register [Iowa], October 7, 1880.

13. "Auction Sale", The Elkader Register, [Iowa], February 19, 1880.

Emma Meyer, Charles F. Trumbold, Johannah Holzer, Augustus C. Trombold
Renke (Frank) and Emma Trumbold Meyer
Augustus and Lucinda Ritter Trombold
August and Johannah Trumbold Holzer
Charles Fredrick and Anna Ritter Trumbold
I assume the photograph of the four siblings was taken around the time that their sister Mary died (October 1891). There is no information about when or where the photograph was taken.