The Pastoral Records of Frederick W. Geissenhainer

 This post was written by Bob Greiner who is working on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society to index the Reverend Frederick W. Geissenhainer records at the New-York Historical Society .

Reverend F.W. Gessenhainer. Portrait File, PR52.

The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library at the New-York Historical Society maintains the pastoral records of the Reverend Frederick W. Geissenhainer in its manuscript collection (located under BV New York City Churches). This unique set of five volumes documents the lives of many German immigrants who arrived at the port of New York during the mid-1800s. It is an invaluable source of information for genealogists across the country since many of these immigrants migrated elsewhere.  In some cases couples came from other areas on the East Coast to be married.

Rev. Geissenhainer was the assistant pastor of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church from 1827-1840. He served the English-speaking congregation, while his father preached in German. At the end of his ministry with St. Matthew’s Rev. Geissenhainer transcribed the events he presided over from the church books into two new ledgers. In 1841 he became the pastor of the United German Evangelical Lutheran Church (later St. Paul’s) and remained there until his death in 1879. He maintained St. Paul’s records in three additional volumes.

After Rev. Geissenhainer’s death the ledgers remained with his family. They were kept at the Lutheran Cemetery in Middle Village, Long Island, which the pastor founded in 1852. In 1919 the estate of his grandson, Frederick W. Hunter, donated the books to the New-York Historical Society.

St. Pauls Lutheran Church, Southeast Corner of 15th Street and 6th Avenue, circa 1870. Geographic File, PR20.

The Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society (MAGS) is a genealogical organization dedicated to the study of German and German-American family history. They have begun to create an all name index of the Geissenhainer records, because marriage, baptism, and confirmation records contain a wealth of information that is essential to genealogists. An index makes searching for an ancestor much simpler and will open the Geissenhainer church records to a much wider audience. On the MAGS web site a visitor can search each of the record groups by name. The results for matching names will present all the information included in that record. Visitors will be directed to the NYHS Library for further research.

To see if your ancestor was among the thousands of individuals that appear as participants or witnesses in the events recorded in these volumes visit the MAGS website and follow the link to Record Indexes.



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