The Weiss Family from Bavaria

Frankenmuth, MI was settled starting in 1845 with 15 people from Bavaria, followed in 1846 with 14 more. They started a flood of German immigrants from Bavaria settling in Saginaw, Tuscola, Huron and Bay counties.

There were lots of Weiss’ and they recycled many of the same names. Sorting them out is quite difficult.  I’ve made an Ancestry site called Frankenmuth Settlers to do the sorting.

Eva Kunigunda Schultheis arrived in America in 1859 aboard the Orpheus

Name: Martin L Weiss


Birth: 2 Jan 1894 Frankenmuth, MI Death: 1 Jan 1950 Sagnaw, MI

Burial: Bethlehem Lutheran Cem, Saginaw, MI

Occupation: Lutheran School Teacher & principal

Father: George Leonard Weiss (1861-1925)

Mother: Mary Katherine Zieroff (1864-1937) Marriage: 20 Jun 1917


Spouse: Esther Ann Emma Wolters


Birth: 24 Nov 1898 St. Louis, MO Death: 14 Sep 1993 Saginaw, MI

Father: Henry C Wolters (1859-1924)

Mother: Dorothy Grimm (1864-1927)




Leona Lucille Weiss

Birth: 3 Mar 1927 Rogers City, MI Death: 25 Oct 2005 Hemlock, MI

Spouse: Daniel Martin Sendtko (1926-2009) Marriage: 23 Oct 1948 Sagnaw, MI


Victor G. Weiss

Birth: 1920, Death: 1975 at sea

Spouse: Mary Hammone (1920-2005)

Spouse: Martha Hendrick (~1920-1986)


Esther L Weiss

Birth: 23 May 1924 Frankentrost, MI Death: 10 Jul 2004 Tustin, MI

Spouse: Charles J Gaffney (1926-1999) Marriage: 11 Sep 1948 Saginaw, MI


Myrtle Weiss

Birth: 1918 Death: 1992

Spouse: Harold List (1917-)




In 1844 a German missionary “circuit rider” in America sent a plea to Germany for help in bringing Christianity to the Indians.  One of the people to answer the call was Rev. August Cramer from the Franconia district of Bavaria.  He inspired his “servant” Lorenz Loesel to recruit others from the small town of Neuendetteslau, Bavaria to make a mission colony and in 1845, 15 people set sail on the Caroline for America and particularly Saginaw County, MI.  The location reminded them of Bavaria with tree covered rolling hills and a clear river.  They chose the name Frankenmuth (courage of the Franconians) and purchased 640 acres. In 1846 the second group of 14 arrived and many more after that.

All of the early settlers of Frankenmuth were from towns in the the same area near Nuernberg, Ansbach and Rosstal.  They named their Frankenmuth church St. Lorenz after the Lutheran church in Ansbach.  They pledged to be loyal to Bavaria, the Lutheran church and speak German.  Eventually other settlements were made:  Frankentrost, Frankenlust (Amelith) and Frankenhilf (Richville).

In 1850 Johann Adam Weiss (1814-1889) left his pregnant wife and emigrated to Frankenmuth.  She, Maria Magdalena Schaefer (1818-1887), and a young daughter arrived in 1853 along with Anna Barbara Weiss (1807-1899)  and Anna’s four children.  Anna’s husband may have been Kasper Weiss, and he may have died on the voyage.  Anna’s children were:

  Anna Margaretha (1834-1908), married Johann Michael Eischer (1822-1900) in 1855

John Adam (1839-1921), married Eva Kunigunda Schultheis (1841-1874) in 1861

George Kaspar (1841-1897) married Christina Nuechterlein (1845-1932) in 1855

Maria Barbara (1847-1936) married George N Schellhas (1839-1907) in 1865

This is what Florence Parth wrote in 1991:  The family sailed for America in 1852, the trip across the Atlantic Ocean was terrible.  The  food was bad and never enough.  They usually had hard, stale bread over which they poured hot water and sprinkled with pepper so they could even eat it.  They had no fresh vegetables and if they had any meat, it wouldn’t keep very long as they had no refrigeration on the ship.  People got sick.  There were so many diseases and no medicines.  Many people died and your great-great-great-great grandfather was one of them.  They buried him at sea.  So his wife had to make the rest of the trip alone with her 2 sons and 2 daughters.  This is all we know about him, no one remembers even his first name, but that’s nothing to worry about as we’ll all meet him in heaven some day.

John Adam Weiss (1814) ultimately had four daughters and no sons.  He took Anna and her family under his care and treated his namesake – John Adam Weiss (1839) as a son.  They were farmers, and the land he settled stayed in the family for four generations until it was sold to the Zehnder family and became the location of the current Bavarian Inn.


John Adam Weiss (1839) married Eva Kunigunda Schultheisse (1841-1874) in 1861.  They had seven children:  

    George Leonard Weiss (1861-1925) married Mary Katherine Zieroff (1864-1937) in 1886

    Anna Katherine, (1863-1916) Married Georg Michael Beyerlein (1857-1932) in 1885

    Johann Michael, (1885-1951) Married Dorothea Schiefer (1863-1956)  in 1891

    Maria Barbara, (1868-1962) married John S Ehrlinger (1862-1947) in 1887

    Christina, Rosina (1869-1953) married George Leonhard Brenner (1862-1919) in 1891

    Anna Barbara (1874-1898). Married Leonhard Johann Herzog (1864-1939)  in 1893

After Eva died, Johann married Dorothy Sophie Matzke (1849-1928) 1875.  Johann was a farmer on the original family farm.


George (1861) was also a farmer on the homestead. He and Mary had six children:

    Anna (1887-1969) married Ernst Gottfried Wilhelm Daenzer (1881-1955) in 1910

    George M (1888-1969) married Lydia E A Kueffner (1894-1989) in 1922

    Margaret C (1890-1979) married John C. Kueffner (1891-1937) in 1916

    Johann M (1892-1971) married Lydia Ursula Brenner (1893-1976) in 1916

    Martin L Weiss (1894-1950) married Esther A E Wolters (1893-1993) in 1917

    Johann Weiss lives only from 19 Dec 1895 to 26 Dec. 1895.


Unless a person became a preacher or school teacher, (or married one) his life was spent in the tight community of Frankenmuth with his near and distant cousins.  Martin Weiss became a Lutheran school teacher.

Here is his obituary from Concordia Lutheran Seminary:

Concordia Lutheran Seminary. St. Louis, MO

Martin Leonard Weiss (d 1-1-1950) son of Leonard Weiss and Catherine Zieroff was born 1/2/1894 at Frankenmuth, MI.  He was baptized and confirmed at historic St. Lorenz Lutheran Church, Frankenmuth.  After confirmation in 1908 he enrolled in Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, IL., from which he graduated in 1914.  For four years he taught school at Salem Lutheran Church, St. Louis, MO.  For 11 years at Immanuel, Frankentrost, MI, and for 15 years at St. John’s, Rogers City, MI.  For reasons of health he was compelled to give up teaching in 1944 and moved to Saginaw, MI. where he temporarily found employment as an office worker, intending to enter the classroom again as soon as his health would permit.  During this time he frequently served as guest organist in the neighboring churches and for the past three years as choir director at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Zilwaukee, MI.

On June 20, 1917, the deceased was united in holy wedlock with Esther Wolters of St. Louis, Mo.  The union was blessed with five children, in addition to his widow, one son. and four daughters he is survived by four grand children, two sisters and two brothers.

Funeral services were held on Jan 3.  The Rev. Andrew Zeile addressed members of the family at a private service on the basis of Luke 24 v 29 and was in charge of the committal service at Bethlehem Cemetery.  At at public service at Bethlehem Church the undersigned preached on John 17 vs 24 – L. H. Speckman.

Martin Weiss and Esther Wolters had five children:

*    Myrtle (1918-1992) married Harold List (1917-2004) in 1941. She was very musical but suffered a stroke that destroyed her short term memory for the last years of her life.

*    Victor G (1920-1975) married Mary Hammond (1920-2005) in 1947 and they were divorced.  He then married Martha Hendrick (1820-1986). He was a merchant seaman and died aboard a ship.

*    Esther L (1924-2004) marred Charles Gaffney (1926-1999)  in 1948  She was murdered in her home:  

A news report said:  “Twelve years after Esther Gaffney died, police are hoping advances in technology will help find the killer who broke into her home, set a fire and left the 80-year-old woman dead on a July weekend in 2004.  Gaffney lived in a rural area near the small town of Tustin, north of Reed City and northwest of Harrison in Osceola County.

“Gaffney, the widow of a retired state police detective sergeant, had sold many of her personal belongings in the weeks prior to her murder as she prepared to move to Cadillac, which was closer to family and church friends, police and and media reports from the time said.

“A fire was started in the home, possibly in an attempt to cover the crime of murder, which devoured some of Mrs. Gaffney’s most prized possessions but burned itself out before the residence could be destroyed,” state police said in a press release in July 2005, a year after the murder.”

*    Leona Lucille (1927-2005) married Daniel Sendtko (1926-2009) in 1948.

*    The fifth child is still alive and kicking.


She is a sister of Martin L Weiss

There was a Weiss, name we do not know, who had a son Leonhard who was married to Margaretha ? Who died March 27, 1677 and then he married Walburga Pfeiffer June 19, 1677.  

Leonhard and Margaretha had a son Heinrich born September 10, 1673 and died April 22, 1742.  We do not know if he had brothers or sisters.  He married Anna Marie Kraus July 3, 1698.  They had children:

    Johann Leonhard born Dec. 28, 1700

    Elizabeth b Jan. 13, 1706 died in 1707

    Elizabeth – died 1711

    Andreas b March 13, died 1714

Leonhard Weiss married Margaretha B. Sickermann June 2, 1733 and died March 29, 1769, they had 6 children.

    Johann Paul b 4/15/1734

    Margaretha B.  B 4/5/1737

    Johann Michael b 6/23/1739

    Michael b 10/25/1742

    Margaretha B. Nov 25 1744 d 7/5/1816

    George Michael 8/23/1747

Johann Michael (b 1739) m unknown, had a son – George Michael (B 1773), m Maria Elizabeth Keitel had children – Anna Barbara, Adam Sr., George Michael. *

Johann (George) Michael Weiss (b 1773) married Eva Marie Elizabeth Keitel who was born April 1781 and married Jan 11, 1803 they had 3 children:

    Barbara b 3/24/1807 (Cheryl’s Note:  This is the ancestor who other genealogists have said married Kasper Weiss and he died at sea.  He would have been the brother of Johann Adam.)

    Johann Adam b 7/19/1814

    George Michael b 11/17/1822

George Michael, born in 1822 stayed in Germany.  He had a son Leonhard born in 1857, we don’t know if there were sisters or brothers.  He married Maria Schwab they had 3 daughters:

    Margaretta b 11/3/1883

    Maria Babette b 10/4/1888

    Eva b 11/1/1899

Margaretta married Michael Scholl, they had 2 children:

    Johann Leonhard born 2/12/1911

    Babette born 3/27/1912, she inherited.

    Maria Babette married Fritz Krug and had no children.

Adam Weiss Sr.  Also known as Johann Adam Weiss Sr. Was born on 7/19/1814 at Kurzendorf, Bayern, Germany.  His father was George Michael Weiss and his mother was Maria Elizabeth Keitel. He was a halbbauer, which means he did other work besides farming.  He was registered with the army on August 15, 1828 and was released from ever serving on July 4, 1836 as per release papers on exhibit sheet.

On April 17, 1850 the single farmer son Johann Adam Weiss from Kurzendorf went to the court house and said “I want to make a trip to North America where I have friends and relatives.  The name of the place I have forgotten.  My plan is to go to America se see how I like it and to go with friends, if I don’t like it I will come back.”

Landed in New York in May 1850.  He came to America in 1850 as per records at St. Lorenz church page 79.

Johann Adam Weiss Sr. (Adam Weiss Sr.) Came to America in 1850 when he was 36 years old.  He married Maria Magdalena Schaefer in 1855 (* see note below).  She was born Sept. 5, 1819 in Ellengen, she died Jan. 11, 1887.  Maria was from Ellingen which is near Gungenhausen.  She came over with a daughter, Anna Sybilla.  Anna was born in Dietenheim in 1850 the year Johann left for America.  Maria and daughter came to America in 1852 or 53.  Johann and Maria had 3 more daughters:

    Margaretta Weiss b 1865 (will be detailed later)

    Barbara b 1858  (will be detailed later)

    Anna Marie b 1861  (will be detailed later)

(Cheryl’s note:  Other researchers have found that Johann Adam and Maria were married in Rosstal in 1849. Margaret may have mis-interpreted the German where he said he was single, he may have meant he was traveling alone)

Johann Adam worked for the Hubingers who he knew from Germany who lived in ?, which was not far from Kurzendorf.  He bought some land from the Hubingers which was from what is now on the south side of the river from Main St. On the west and Jefferson on the south and Weiss St on the east including 47 acres on the south side of the river on the east side of Weiss St which all borders the Cass river as seen on exhibit ?.

Johann Adam Weiss gave his son in law (John Haas) about 50 acres and his nephews (Anna Barbara Weiss’ sons) each got the rest of his land with 30 acres going to Kaspar Weiss and about 30 acres to Adam Weiss. (These will be discussed later).

The son-in-law John Haas had to take care of his unmarried sister in law – Barbara Weiss.

Johann Adam Sr. Is buried at St. Lorenz cemetery on the drive from the west of the church the south drive going ?

Barbara Weiss, daughter of Adam Weiss and Maria Magdalena Schaefer was born in 1858 and died in 1946.  She was never married and lived with her sister Margaretha who was married to John Haas who took care of her as per wishes of Johann Adam Weiss Sr. When he gave him some land.  She lived in a separate part of the house on Weiss St. Which was later owned by Edwin Zehnder.  She helped with the farming.  She never was completely healthy all her life.

Maria Weiss, daughter of Adam Weiss Sr. And Magadalena Schaefer.  Don’t know the name of the Sohn she was married to.  Don’t know her birth or death.  Their children were Barbara Sohn McGinnes, Albert Sohn, Martin Sohn, Bernhard Sohn, Anna Sohn Schuets, Ernest Sohn (died at age 14) Lilly Sohn.

Margaretha Weiss, daughter of Adam Weiss Sr. And Magadalena Schaefer was born in 1856 and died in 1941.  She was married to John Haas (1853-1919) and they had about 40 acres of land which was south of what is now Jefferson and west of Weiss St.  She also helped to care for her sister Barbara.  They had 3 children.  Anna Haas who was married to George Daenzer who lived on Curtis Rd. About a quarter mile east of Weiss.  Their children were Albert, Edwin, Martha, Elsie, Fisher, Clara Block, Harold, Alma Dankert.  Walter Haas who was a school teacher in Wisconsin.  Adolph Haas who inherited the farm from his father, they had one adopted son, Henry.

Anna Sybla Weiss, daughter of Adam Weiss Sr & Magadalena Schaefer.  She was born in 1850 and died in 1923.  She married Ulrich Pollet who was born in 1842 and died in 1919.  She came to America when she was 2 years old.  They had 11 children:

    John (1873-1958) Emilie Trinklein, no children

    Margaret (1875-1925)

    George (1877-1926) never married

    Marie (1879-1960)  m August Block

    Barbara (1881-1950)  m Henry Matzke

    Henry (1883-1950) m Alma

    Carl (1885-1970) m Lena

    William (1887-1973) m Mary

    Louis (1889-1954) m Ella

    Ida (1894-1964) m Gustave Strassmegel

    Caroline (1892-1973) m Bernhard Weiss – children Robert, Ralph and Louis Weiss

Pollett’s had a farm on Townline Rd. East of Block road.  They belonged to St. Lorenz Church and are buried about 100 feet north of the driveway west of the church near the parking lot.

——————–*  MY ancestors **

George Michael Weiss (1773) m Maria Keitel

Children:  Anna Barbara (1807), Adam Sr. 1814, George Michael 1822.

Anna Barbara Weiss, children:

    John Adam Jr. 1838,

    George Kaspar 1841,

    Maria Margaretha Weiss Eischer 1834. 

    Maria Barbara Schaefer 1847