Conrad and Catherine Fetzer Widmann

(Elizabetha) Catherine Fetzer

Conrad Melchior Widmann

Parents: Maria Catherina Frauendiener & Johannes Fetzer

Parents: Madalina Pfisterer & Jacob Friderick Widmann

Born: January 31, 1824, Haubersbronn, Wurtemburg, Germany (church record)

Born: September 22, 1815 Zuffenhausen, Wurtemburg, Germany (church record)

Married: July 2, 1848, Conrad Widmann in Haubersbronn (church records: Haubersbronn, Zuffenhausen)

Married: July 2, 1848, Catherine Fetzer in Haubersbronn (church records: Haubersbronn, Zuffenhausen)

Emigrated: May 31, 1867 on the SS Bellona (list, ship)

Emigrated; May 31, 1867 on the SS Bellona (list, ship)

Died: February 9, 1893 in Sweet Springs, MO (church record)

Died: January 26, 1877 in Raymond (Waterloo), Iowa (church record)

Interred: Immanual Cemetery, Sweet Springs? (Can’t find)

Interred: Fairview Cemetery, Waterloo? (picture)

Occupation: Shoemaker in Germany, Laborer in America

How curious that in the mid-1800’s in Germany, it was common for women to have their first child out of wedlock (Conrad Jr.'s German church birth records confirmed this, both in Haubersbronn and Zuffenhausen). In fact, Catherine was six months pregnant with the second child when she and Conrad finally married! How different it was 50 years later in America; grandson Elmer Widmann’s parents gave him up for adoption at his birth, secretly, three months after their wedding! As Catherine had already moved from her childhood home of Haubersbronn, emigration may not have been so hard, but ironically her mother died the day Catherine landed in NY. After Conrad dies and the youngest daughter Anna leaves home, it is thought that Catherine remains in Waterloo. Stories handed down in the Gihring family recall Catherine was just visiting her daughter Pauline in Sweet Springs, MO for the birth of a new grandchild, when she suddenly took ill and died. In 2002, after the Dankenbring reunion in Sweet Springs, the cemetery and cemetery and church records were searched, but there was no documentation of Catherine's burial (or for those of the Gihring babies who died in Sweet Springs).

Conrad, the oldest of five surviving children (seven had died in infancy) emigrated in 1867 at age 52 with his wife and seven children, ages 4-19. How miserable must life have been in Germany to leave the family home at this age, with this many children, with no employment? Especially at the cost of probably half a year in wages. Conrad chose Dubuque, Iowa for his home because his younger brother Fred had emigrated there 13 years earlier. The last Widmann brother (Gottlob) follows two years later with his two young sons. And then, when Conrad Jr and William move to Waterloo with the railroad just one year later in 1870, Conrad Sr follows with the family. It is not clear if Conrad Sr. maintained close contact with his two brothers, but their children (cousins) did not -- Conrad's grandson Elmer Widmann never recalls his father William mentioning these Dubuque Widmann cousins. Conrad Sr. dies on Conrad Jr’s farm, according to family lore, but his gravesite has not been located.

Catherine Fetzer Widmann

Census data: 1870, 1880, 1890

1890-1892 Photo Gallery (Catherine only)

no picture for Conrad

Census data: 1870



Date of Birth, Place

Date of Death, Place

Married - date and to whom

# children

1. (Christoph) Conrad

4/5/1847, Haubersbronn

12/28/1926 Waterloo, Iowa

9/13/1874 Maria Dorothea Koepke


2. Johann Gottlob

10/7/1848, Zuffenhausen

7/19/1849 Zuffenhausen



3. Wilhelm Freidrich

2/14/1850, Zuffenhsen

9/2/1925 (Chicago)

10/29/1871 Elizabeth Krieger


4. (Elisabetha) Catherina

4/14/1852, Zuffenhausen

7/8/1926 Sioux City, IA?

Frederick Mahnke


5. Mary Magdelana

11/30/1853, Zuffenhausen

3/3/1937, Waterloo, IA

12/20/1875 Adolph Klaus


6. Carolina “Carrie”

7/2/1855, Zuffenhausen

3/1937, Fort Dodge, IA

11/3/1879 Leo Meinzer


7. Sophia

1/17/1857, Zuffenhausen

1/1/1858 Zuffenhausen



8. Johann Gottlob

9/4/1858, Zuffenhausen

10/27/1859 Zuffenhausen



9. (Louisa) Pauline

12/11/1859, Zuffenhausen

5/13/1917 Waterloo, IA

1888 Rev. Imanual Gihring


10. Johann Heinrich

9/16/1861, Zuffenhausen

8/15/1862 Zuffenhausen



11. Sophia

8/15/1863, Zuffenhausen

6/1869, Dubuque, IA



12. Anna Margarethe

6/20/1868, Dubuque, Iowa

11/14/1951 Sioux City, IA

7/16/1890 William Faller



1921 picture of the Widmann children -- Conrad, Kate Mahnke, Marie Klaus, Carrie Meinzer and William
Conrad Sr. dies on Conrad Jr’s farm, according to family lore, but his gravesite is not located. On a 2001 trip to Waterloo, Iowa, the old Widmann farm in Raymond, Iowa was visited, and the owners could not recall any graveyard on the property. Fairview Cemetery was also visited, to examine the tombstones and the cemetery and church records, but nothing definitive was found. According to family lore (handed down to Eunice Widmann Wilson), Conrad is buried in Fairview just above "Will's grave" -- Will is surely the first child of William and Elizabeth Krieger Widmann; he was named William Freidrich and died in 1874, the first Widmann buried in Waterloo.

Curiously, Pauline Widmann Gihring and her husband (assistant pastor) Imanual Gihring lived in Sweet Springs, MO, 1888-1895 -- this is also where Catherine's grandaughter Alma Widmann’s future husband, George Dankenbring, lives, at this time. In fact, Imanual Gihring probably taught George Dankenbring at the church school there; George would have been ages 9-16. Certainly, the Gihrings would have known the Dankenbring family well; Sweet Springs, and particularly the Lutheran community, was small. Although Catherine's burial records/tombstone were not located in Sweet Springs, neither were those of the Gihring babies who died there. It is assumed that Catherine was buried in Sweet Springs, where her son-in-law was pastor, and the body was not sent back to Waterloo. Eunice Widmann Wilson had no knowledge of Catherine's place of burial.

Some records refer to Catherine as "Katie." There was another Catherine Fezer in Haubersbronn, born 1823 to Johann Michael Fezer, and I believe she was the mother, out-of-wedlock, to Margueretha born in 1845 -- not our Catherine born 1824 to Johannes Fezer (underscores the difficulty of matching records by name only).

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