In reading through various family histories and other documentation about Staffort, a number of names keep being repeated. Besides
Ernst, some of the names seen quite often are: Stöber, Gamer, Süß, Enderlin, among others.
The earliest documented Ernst in my line was Johann Georg Ernst, who was born in Staffort about 1630. Johann and his wife Anna
Margaretha had two sons Johann Jacob Ernst and Hannß Wilhelm Ernst, born about 1656. Hannß first married Catharina Agatha
Zeiter in 1673; she passed away in 1692 and as far as I've been able to determine, they didn't have any children. Hannß then married
Catharina Barbara Greiff in 1692. In 1695, Hannß and Catharina had their only child, also named Hannß Wilhelm. This is where the
name repetition begins to show up. On 22 November, 1718, Hannß married Anna Catharina Gamer, daughter of Johann Martin and
Anna Margaretha (nee Stöber) Gamer.
Next in our Ernst line are three Johann Martin Ernsts. Johann #1 was born 2 November 1719 and was married to Magdalena
Weidmann. His son, Johann #2 was born 20 Dec 1744 and was married to Catharina Agatha Stöber, daughter of Martin and
Margaretha (nee Süß) Stöber. Johann #3 was born 11 December 1776 and was married to Christine Heyd (or Haydin). After
Christine’s death in 1808, Johann #3 remarried to Eva Margaretha Nagel.
Johann (#3) and Christine’s son was Geörg Martin Ernst, born 11 March 1802. Geörg married Karlina Meyer (or Maier) on 3 June
1826; Karlina was the daughter of Valentin and Katharina (nee Stöber) Meyer. Geörg and Karlina had four children; the two younger
ones were Karlina, born in 1826 and died at age 16, and Martin, born in 1831 and lived only 10 days. The next two were Johann
Wilhelm, who was born in 1832, and Karl Ludwig, born in 1843. These two lived to adulthood and emigrated with Geörg and Karlina,
sailing from La Havre, France to New York aboard the "IOWA", arriving on 5 May 1848. The family settled in Waltz Station, Michigan, a
small town northwest of Detroit. Somehow, the path from New York to Waltz Station may have been via Canada, since Johann
married a Canadian woman named Elizabeth Blum in 1852 in Southwold, Ontario, Canada.
Karl Ernst, the younger son, married Eva Catherine Frey, of Wurtemburg, Germany (not far from Staffort) on May 26, 1862 in Sandy
Creek, Michigan, south of Detroit. Karl and Eva had eleven children, at least one of whom died in infancy. All their children were born
in Waltz Station, and most lived their lives near there, dieing either at Waltz Station or nearby towns. Karl and Eva both died in Salina,
Michigan, a town near Ann Arbor.
Joining Geörg, and his family on their sojourn to Michigan was Geörg's half-brother (from Johann #3’s second marriage to Eva)
Johann Wilhelm Ernst. Johann was born on 13 September 1811 in Staffort; after his arrival in America, he married Maria Catharina
Hellriegel in Detroit. The Staffort documentation about this wedding makes a specific point that Maria was a “Roman Catholic”. Their
first child was named Johannes, who was born on 23 November 1850 in Detroit. Sometime in the early 1850s, the family returned to
Staffort, where their second child Wilhelm was born on 11 Feb 1856. Johann and Maria were remarried on 16 August 1857 in Staffort;
interestingly, their children’s births were “legitimized”, probably by the local church, on that same date.
Geörg's son, Johann and his wife Elizabeth had seven children. Their first child – Karlina (Caroline or “Carrie”) was born in
Southwold. Their second child – George Lewis (my Greatgrandfather) was born in Waltz Station and their third – William Henry, who
lived only about six months - in St Thomas, Ontario, Canada. All subsequent children were born in Port Huron; however, their fourth
child – William Charles Ernst – only lived to be about 1 ½ years. Nothing much is known of Johan until 1871, the year his last child was
born. The Port Huron City Directory that year reported that William Ernst was the proprietor of the City Hotel on the northeast corner of
Huron Ave and Bard St. In 1873, the directory again reported that William Ernst was the proprietor of the City Hotel, but this time it also
reported that Martin Ernst was living with his son at the hotel. Johann Wilhelm died in 1875 in Port Huron, allegedly a suicide.
By his pictures and other accounts, George Lewis Ernst was a dashing young man. After the death of his father, he worked as a clerk
in various stores and by 1885, had become the Assistant Civil Engineer with the Port Huron & Northwestern Railway, a narrow-guage
system that served the Thumb area of Michigan. On Oct 22 of that year, he married Augusta Margaret Kaesemeyer. George and
Augusta’s first child was my Grandfather, Theodore George Ernst, born August 3, 1886. Shortly after that birth, the following article
appeared in the September 23, 1886 Port Huron Weekly Times:
A Sad Accident
Geo. Ernst, the assistant civil engineer of
the Port Huron & Northwestern R’y met
with a serious accident at Kingsley station
Wednesday forenoon. He was walking on the top
of a box car when he stumbled and fell to
the ground. The wheels of the last car ran
over one of his legs, below the knee,
smashing it in a horrible manner. He
was brought to this city and Drs C.M. & C.
S. Stockwell summoned. It was thought
that amputation would be necessary, but we
have been unable to ascertain whether the
operation has been performed or not.
The Port Huron Daily Times ran the following article
on November 6, 1886:
Geo. Ernst, who fell off the top of a box car
some time ago and had his leg cut off is not
again able to resume work. The PH&NW
Rwy Company, recognizing that his mis-
fortune has rendered him unable to follow
engineering, have promoted him to pay-
master of the road.
The Flint and Pere Marquette Railway bought out the PH & NW in 1889 and George joined his Brother-in-Law Theodore as a butcher in
the Kaesemeyer Meat Market on Huron Avenue. He then became an accountant and served as the Deputy City Treasurer in 1894,
Secretary of the Davidson, Martin Mfg Co and bookkeeper for G. C. Meisel in 1901. Prior to WW I, he was elected to the Port Huron City
Council, occasionally serving as Mayor when the elected Mayor was unavailable, and was the Commissioner of Finance up through
George’s brother, Charles Henry Ernst, was an accomplished artist who never married, living his entire life in the Port Huron area. His
three sisters all married and had families: Karlina married Jacob Waltz and moved to Detroit, Anna Cecilia married Edwin Crossman
and moved to Toronto, Ontario, and Margaret married George Whybrew and settled in Port Huron.
George and Augusta had three children: Theodore George Ernst, who ultimately settled down, married Edna L. Mudge and raised a
family of six children (including my mother) in Port Huron; Arthur William Ernst, who moved to Detroit, married Mae S. Baird, and raised
two boys; and Vera C. Ernst, who lived to be only about 2 ½.
|My Mother's maiden name was
Helen Augusta Ernst
My Ernst family originates in Staffort, Karlsruhe, the former Grand Duchy of Baden,
Germany. Staffort is an old German village between Karlsruhe and Bruchsal - since 1975
the village is part of the town Stutensee which was created by joining together with
Blankenloch, Friedrichstal and Spöck. Stutensee-Staffort has around 2000 inhabitants
The word "Staffort" means "constant ford" (stete Furt) - the location was the only feasible
place to cross the Pfinz River, and so was strategically important in the wider region
already on ancient times. Excavations and artifacts that were discovered evidence a
settlement existing near by the Pfinz 25 AD. The first mention of Staffort occurred in 1110
when the Emperor Heinrich V. named the village Stafphort in an official document.
According to Artur Hauer (1965) in his book, "Das Hardtdorf Spöck," the Ernst family is recorded in Staffort as early as 1563. A
transcription of the Ernst information from Hauer's book follows:
"Ernst, Hans and Jacob
Citizens in Staffort in 1563. The family was located in Spöck after the Thirty-Years' War, where five families of the line were found in
1668. As tradesmen and artisans, they were wagon makers, coopers or blacksmiths. Jacob Ernst is recorded as a grenadier and
corporal in the fusiliers in 1781, who actually brought the troops of Baden to the district adjutant of the Swabian contingent. Numerous
bearers of this name departed to the New World in 1867. Georg Martin Ernst, a 59 year citizen, was killed by a building timber in 1747.
Ferdinand Ernst, the missionary of Basel and pioneer in Balilande (Cameroon) died in 1909 in his home town. Teacher Albert Ernst --
one of the best -- who left in 1914, fell at the side of a brave comrade at a place of importance in the Champagne in 1916."
|George Lewis Ernst
Theodore was known as "Tao". He enlisted the U.S.
Navy at age 17 and served as a Radioman aboard
the USS Texas and USS Louisiana. It was aboard the
Louisiana in 1906 that he met up with another
Theodore, President Teddy Roosevelt. The President
often came to the radio room to receive and send
dispatches to/from Washington. During one such
trip, the President asked young Theodore what his
name was and commented that they had the same
given name. Later, Tao was a detective with the
Pinkerton Agency, a Police Officer with the Port Huron
Police Department, the Police Chief at Lake City, MI, a
member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and finally
worked for Mueller Brass Co.
Art was a real athlete as a youngster. He was a
Baseball and Football Letterman at Port Huron High
School and was the Quarterback for the Michigan
State Football Champions Port Huron Big Reds in
about 1908. Art was with the US Army during WWI.
He first trained at Camp Pike Arkansas and then
deployed to Europe. After the war, he moved to
Detroit and worked at the Lincoln plant. He applied
for a job with the Border Patrol and after being
accepted, he was stationed at the Detroit end of the
train tunnel to Windsor. In the early 1930s, Art
transferred to the Immigration Department and was
stationed at different times at the Ambassador Bridge
and at the tunnel. When he retired, he was the Detroit
area Immigration Director.
|Arthur W. Ernst
U.S. Army WW I
Theodore G. Ernst