Benjamin Charles Gaumer was born on Nov. 5, 1823 in Lehigh County, PA, the son of Johann "Adam" and Christiana (Wesco) Gaumer.
When Benjamin was not quite three months old, on Jan. 30, 1824, he was baptized by Rev. Benjamin German, a local German-speaking pastor. The godparents standing with the family at the ceremony were godparents were Heinrich Diefenderfer and his wife Susanna. A record of the event was written, in German script, on a special hand-colored certificate known as a taufschein. A study of the document shows that the baby's name was written as "Lanjamin Caol."
As a young man, Benjamin was united in holy matrimony with Maria Mensch (April 30, 1827-1905), daughter of John "Adam" and Catharine (Gruber) Mensch of nearby Hereford Township, Berks County, PA. When she too was an infant, of an age of about a month-and-a-half, she received Christian baptism on June 10, 1827 by the hand of Rev. C. Herman. Only one godparent stood at the ceremony, the unmarried Magdalena Unterkoble.
The Gaumers resided near Lehigh Church in the Alburtis community of Lehigh County. They produced these eight known children – William Gaumer, Henry "Benjamin" Gaumer, Christiana Helfrich, Elvenia H. “Ella” Hopkins, James A. Gaumer, Maria L. “Maryan” Wenner, Hannah R. Gaumer and Laura Elizabeth Seigfried.
Sadly, son William is believed to have died young, during the decade of the 1850s.
Benjamin was an early iron ore miner and farmer. Iron mines were scattered all throughout the region, with the ore processed at a furnace such as the Lock Ridge Furnace in Alburtis. He also learned the trade of blacksmithing and earned a living with that work over the decades.
When the federal census enumeration was made in 1850, the young couple and their infant son William dwelled in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, just a few doors away from his parents. At that time, Benjamin's occpuation was blacksmith.
The 1860 U.S. Census shows the family in Lower Macungie, near the Breinigsville post office, with Benjamin continuing his trade as a blacksmith.
In 1870, the federal census lists the Gaumers in Lower Macungie, with Benjamin laboring in a coal mine.
Benjamin eventually retired but stayed active in farm work.
In January 1905, the 75-year-old Maria slipped on ice and fractured her hip while on her way to attend services at the Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church, a short distance from their Alburtis home.
Sadly, she died the following month, on Feb. 6, 1905, at the age of 77 years, nine months and six days. Her passing occurred "after an illness of four weeks," reported the Allentown Morning Call. Her funeral services were held at Zion Lehigh Church, with Rev. C.E. Sandt preaching the sermon.
Benjamin outlived Maria by about four-and-a-half years. He celebrated his 82nd birthday in November 1905. In reporting on the milestone, the Morning Call said that “During the past season he harvested his own crops and in addition has done the blacksmith work for a neighboring stone-quarry and is a remarkably well-preserved man. Mr. Gaumer has four brothers and sisters older them himself.”
In August 1909, Benjamin suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died eight days later on Aug. 24, 1909, at the age of 85 years, nine months and 19 days. Interment was beside Maria in the Zion Lehigh church cemetery.
~ Son Henry "Benjamin" Gaumer ~
Son Henry "Benjamin" Gaumer (1853-1929) was born on Feb. 18, 1853 in Alburtis.
In about 1877, at the age of 24, he married Martha A. Haas (Aug. 3, 1857-1923), daughter of Peter and Maria A. (Arner) Haas of Haas Valley, Whitehall Township and granddaughter of Abraham and Sarah Haas.
Their only known chidren were Victoria M. Zellner and Efenger Steward Samuel Gaumer.
Benjamin earned a living over the years as a millwright. They lived in Lowhill Township, Lehigh County in 1876 at the birth of their daughter and in 1884 at Hoffmansville, Montgomery County, PA at the birth of their son. They dwelled in 1909 in West Coplay, Lehigh County.
Martha and her father were mentioned in a Haas family history printed in the Allentown Morning Call on Aug. 21, 1911.
Sadly Martha suffered apoplexy and died at the age of 65 on Jan. 8, 1923. Funeral services were held in the home of her daughter Victoria Zellner, with interment in West Coplay Cemetery.
Burdened with hardening of the arteries, he died in Allentown State Hospital at the age of 76 on April 25, 1929. Burial was beside his wife.
Daughter Victoria M. Gaumer (1876-1935) was born on Dec. 30, 1876 in Lowhill Township, Lehigh County. In about 1898, when she was age 21, she married Edward Frank "E.F." Zellner (Aug. 7, 1876-1956), son of Tilghman and Sarah (Newhard) Zellner. The couple bore a son, Clarence Gaumer Zellner. Their home in 1929 was on Poplar Street in West Coplay and in 1935 at 140 Maple Street. Frank earned a living as a contractor but eventually went into farming full-time. He retired in about 1940. He was a member of the Masons lodge in Allentown, the Lehigh lodge of the International Order of Odd Fellows and the Coplay Fire Company. He is believed to have attended the national convention in Memphis, TN of the Patriotic Order of the Sons of America in 1930. Sadly, suffering from chronic heart disease, Victoria passed away at home on Feb. 16, 1935, at the age of 58. Her remains were placed into repose in Coplay Cemetery, with Rev. Harry T. Sell and Rev. B. Werkheiser officiating. Her pallbearers included Floyd George, Marcus George, Edward Rader, George Gaumer, Oscar Ritter and George Zellner. Edward survived his bride by more than two decades. He moved to a new residence at 117 North Sixth Street. He contracted prostate cancer and succumbed on May 25, 1956. An obituary was published in the Allentown Morning Call. Erma Reinert signed the official Pennsylvania certificate of death.
Son Efenger Steward Samuel Gaumer (1884-1946) was born on Dec. 8, 1884 in Hoffmansville, Montgomery County. In 1904, when he was about 20 years old, Efenger was united in holy matrimony with Mary Elizabeth Williams (July 4, 1883-1937), a native of Hokendauqua, Lehigh County. Their only known son was Dr. George W. Gaumer. Efenger was employed by C.Y. Schelly and Bro. as a bookkeeper circa 1911. In August 1912, he accepted a federal government position in Washington, DC with the postal saving department. Reported the Allentown Morning Call, "Out of a total of five hundred applicants, Mr. Gaumer was twelfth upon the list." Circa 1923, they dwelled in Philadelphia. Mary Elizabeth passed away first, on June 26, 1937, just a few weeks before her 54th birthday. He died on Nov. 3, 1946 in Abington, Montgomery County. Burial was in Whitemarsh Memorial Park in Ambler, Montgomery County.
~ Daughter Christianna (Gaumer) Helfrich ~
Daughter Christianna Gaumer (1855-1880) was born on Dec. 2, 1855 in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County.
She wedded Daniel P. Helfrich (April 15, 1855-1917), son of Charles and Amelia (Hoffman) Helfrich of Kutztown in nearby Berks County.
During their brief married life, they produced two known sons -- Edgar "Harry" Wellington Helfrich and Vincent A. Helfrich.
The family relocated to New York City, where Daniel was engaged as an “expert accountant” and bookkeeper with several businesses, including an egg dealership where his father and brother also worked. He also was a member of the Diamond Lodge of the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), a national fraternity of men devoted to the Judeo-Christian values of charity and reciprocity.
Grief blanketed the young family when Christianna died on Jan. 10, 1880 at the age of 24. The cause of her untimely passing is not yet known but will be reported here when learned. Her remains were lowered into eternal repose in the cemetery of Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church. A stone was erected at the grave, referring to her as "Christiana Helfrich nee Gaumer."
Her young sons -- ages four and two -- were taken in by her parents. The boys are shown in the Gaumer household in Lower Macungie in 1880, when the U.S. Census was made. The widowed Daniel moved back into his parents' home in New York.
After two years of grieving, Daniel wedded again in about 1881, in New York City, to Maria S. Hoffman (March 1855 or 1862-1917).
They lived in New York and bore two children of their own, Ada Cecil Sassaman (born May 1882) and Harry Martin Helfrich (born June 1884).
The federal census enumeration of 1900 shows Daniel and Maria residing in Manhattan, along East 82nd Street, with their two children in the household. His occupation that year was marked as bookkeeper. Also living under their roof in 1900 were Daniel's 75-year-old widowed mother, brother James Helfrich and cousin Emma C. Rothenberger.
By 1910, the couple had relocated to a dwelling on 123rd Street in Manhattan. Census records for that year show him employed as a bookkeeper in a bakery.
After retirement at age 60, in about 1915, Daniel moved to Emmaus and then in October 1916 relocated to 608½ North 12th Street in Allentown.
While visiting his son Edgar in early May 1917, Daniel complained of not feeling well but nonetheless “appeared to be in good spirits,” said the Allentown Democrat. He was felled by a stroke of apoplexy and died while seated in a chair a day or two later on May 5, 1917.
After funeral services at the Helfrich home, his remains were transported to Flushing, Long Island on the Lehigh Valley Railroad for burial in Cedar Grove Cemetery. Obituaries were printed in Allentown newspapers. Son Vincent -- from the first marriage -- was named executor of the estate.
Maria survived her husband by a number of years. Circa 1939, when her stepson Vincent died, she made her home in New York.
Son Edgar "Harry" Wellington Helfrich (1876-1933) was born on Nov. 11, 1876 in Lower Macungie. He was but a very young boy when his mother died. As a young man, he attended Keystone State Teachers College in Kutztown and went on to teach in Lower Macungie for four years, from 1897 to about 1901, including at Brookdale School. He married Emma M. Wehr (Jan. 5, 1877-1944), the daughter of Joel A. and Matilda (Metzger) Wehr of Heidelberg Township, Lehigh County. The Helfrichs produced two sons, Harold W. Helfrich and Elwood V. Helfrich. They dwelled in Allentown, where Edgar was involved with several businesses, initially involving coal, ice, building construction and life insurance. In 1912, he was a partner with the firm of Helfrich, Geary & Company, engaged in constructing "modern" houses on Tilghman Street. He also was a member of a school board and helped organize the John Hay Republican Club, of which he was secretary. Their home in 1917 was at 939 Tilghman Street. In 1917, he went into the floral business by forming the Sawyer and Helfrich Flower Company with his partner Otto J. Sawyer. Otto left the firm within a few years, and Edgar ran it by himself until about 1926 when his health forced him to stop. He was a member of the Salem Reformed Church, where for 23 years he taught the English Bible Sunday School class and became secretary of the congregation. He also was active with the Jordan lodge of the Masons, the Allen Camp of the U.V. and the Knights of Friendship. Suffering from angina and heart ailments, Edgar passed away on July 30, 1933 at age 56. Burial was in Greenwood Mausoleum, with son Elwood, of 708 Turner Street in Allentown, signing the death certificate. Emma survived her spouse by 11 years. She dwelled at 518 North 24th Street. At the age of 67, having suffered from hardening of the arteries and heart disease, she died on Nov. 23, 1944. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery.
Great-grandson Leonard W. Helfrich ( ? - ? ) resided in Allentown in 1956. He was married and the father of three sons -- Douglas Helfrich, Leonard Helfrich and Keith Helfrich.
Son Vincent A. Helfrich (1878-1939) was born on March 3, 1878 at Lehigh Church, Lehigh County. He was only two years of age when his mother died and he was taken into the home of his Gaumer grandparents. Vincent never married but lived with his beloved aunts over the years. When a young man, he graduated from the Keystone State Normal School and at the age of 21, in 1899, taught in the Saul School in Hensingersville, Lower Macungie. He left that work to accept a position as traveling auditor for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Circa 1909, he and his aunt Ella Hopkins lived in New York City, possibly in Brooklyn. He was an accountant in 1911-1912 with the Metropolitan firm but, plagued with poor health, returned to Allentown to recover and live with his brother at 939 Tilghman Street. He left the Metropolitan and sold real estate for eight years in the Allentown area. Later, he was employed as a tire sales manager by the Pennsylvania Independent Oil Company. Over the years, he was a member of the Charity Lodge of the Masons in New York and the Palestine Commandery of the Knights Templar and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Vincent’s address in the late 1930s was 1925 Tilghman Street in Allentown. Afflicted with heart disease at the age of 60, he succumbed on Jan. 11, 1939, with a death notice printed in the Allentown Morning Call. Burial was beside his mother in Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery, reunited in eternal sleep after a separation of 59 years.
~ Daughter Elvenia H. "Ella" (Gaumer) Hopkins ~
Daughter Elvenia H. “Ella” Gaumer (1857-1938) -- also spelled "Ellaminda" and "Ellen" -- was born on May 19, 1857 in Alburtis, Lower Macungie.
She married Effenger G. Hopkins (1852-1927), also spelled "Efinger," son of William and Abigail (Stein) Hopkins of Pottstown, PA.
They were the parents of an only child, Laura Rebecca Berkey.
Their home in 1903-1927 was in Brooklyn, NY, and she belonged to the Central Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. Her daughter as well as nephew Vincent A. Helfrich may have resided with her about that time. She is known to have spent several weeks in June-July 1921 at the home of her brother Henry on Maple Street in Coplay.
Effenger was employed for 35 years by H.C. Vogel & Company, commission merchants. Their home in 1927 was located at 208 Lincoln Road, Brooklyn.
Sadly, Effenger was burdened for the final year of his life with heart problems. He passed away in their home at the age of 75 on Valentine's Day 1927. Word of his death was sent to relatives in Allentown, and the Allentown Morning Call printed an obituary which said that he "was well known to many Allentown people..." His remains were shipped via the Lehigh Valley Railroad back to Allentown, with burial taking place in the mausoleum of Greenwood Cemetery.
With her health failing, Elvenia relocated back to Allentown in September 1937, making her residence with her daughter at 1925 Tilghman Street.
On June 7, 1938, at the age of 81, she passed away after having been felled by a cerebral hemorrhage. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery mausoleum. Daughter Laura Burkey signed the Pennsylvania certificate of death. An obituary in the Morning Call said that she "lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the greater part of her life."
Daughter Laura Rebecca Hopkins (1880-1956). In about 1905, she wedded Peter Howard Burkey ( ? - ? ). The couple is known to have borne a son, Kenneth Leslie Burkey. Their addresses over the years included 1925 Tilghman Street in Allentown (circa 1938) and 234 Fenimore Street in Brooklyn (1927-1956). Laura is believed to have been a member of the Brooklyn Woman's Club.
Great-grandson Kenneth "Steele" Burkey ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). On Aug. 31, 1957, he married Patricia Lynn "Pat" Binkley (Nov. 30, 1936-2018). They were the parents of Clinton Steele Burkey, Clayton Wade Burkey and Robert Bauer. Steele served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He was assigned to the USS Oak Hill, a dock landing ship, with a homeport in San Diego. After leaving the Navy in 1969, the family settled in Columbia City, IN.
Great-grandson Peter H. Burkey ( ? - ? ) studied physics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Circa August 1970, he is believed to have been united in matrimony with Lynette Marie Dostatni ( ? - ? ), daughter of Walter J. Dostatni Jr. of Whiting. He resided in Holland, MI.
Great-granddaughter Carolyn Burkey married (?) Blacker. Her home in 1990 was in Italy.
Great-granddaughter Joan Burkey ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). She attended Indiana University in Bloomington. She then moved to San Diego where she obtained a job with Fed. Mart Corporation. On June 20, 1970, in nuptials held at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Whiting, she wedded Jack Lopez Baralt Jr. ( ? - ? ), son of Jack L. Baralt Sr. of Coral Gables, FL. Jack held a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Miami and had been employed in San Diego with Security Pacific National Bank. The newlyweds first lived in Coral Gables on Calatrava Avenue. Later, she married (?) Schulkers. She dwelled in Largo, FL in 1990.
~ Son James A. Gaumer ~
Son James A. Gaumer (1862-1873) was born on Sept. 3, 1862 in the community near the Lehigh Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.
James was not destined for a long life.
He spent his boyhood years in his parents' home in Lower Macungie Township, and attended school, and was counted in the 1870 federal census.
Grief blanketed the family when James was carried away by the Angel of Death at the age of 10 on July 20, 1873. The cause is not yet known, and no newspaper obituary has yet been found.
His remains were lowered into repose in the nearby Lehigh Zion churchyard. A stone was erected to mark the site, with the word "Brother" inscribed at the base. The marker was photographed in Sept. 2019 by the founder of this website.
~ Daughter Maria L. "Maryan" (Gaumer) Wenner ~
Daughter Maria L. "Maryann" Gaumer (1864-1914) was born on Sept. 8, 1864.
In about 1883, when she would have been 18 or 19 years of age, Maria wedded 24-year-old Alfred P. Wenner (Jan. 7, 1859-1928). He was the son of Solomon and Julia (Wickert) Wenner and a native of Wennersville, a town named after Alfred's grandfather William.
The couple did not reproduce but helped raise their motherless nephew, Vincent Helfrich.
They moved to Allentown in about 1895. There, they resided at 19 North Madison Street along with her sister Hannah R. Gaumer and nephew Vincent A. Helfrich.
Circa 1900, living in Allentown, Alfred's occupation was insurance superintendent. Their address that year was North 12th Street. Then in about 1902, he founded a coal and ice business bearing his name, and operated it for a quarter century until his death. They were members of the Lutheran wing of the Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Maryann suffered a stroke and became paralyzed and was bedfast for the last 15 weeks of her life. At the age of only 49 years, six months and six days, she succumbed at home on March 14, 1914. Reported the Allentown Morning Call, “She is well and favorably known in this city, having been a resident here for the last nineteen years.” Interment was in the Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery, following funeral services held at home and then at the church. Helfrich was the informant for the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. The Allentown Leader printed an obituary.
Alfred outlived his bride by 14 years, with an address of 38 North 12th Street. He was stricken with diabetes and an atrophied pancreas, added to acute kidney disease. He was admitted to Allentown Hospital where he joined her in death, just a few weeks shy of his 70th birthday, on Dec. 9, 1928. Rev. Neudoerfer led the funeral service. Said the Morning Call, "The funeral was largely attended and there were many floral offerings presented as the last tributes from a large circle of friends." The obituary also noted that it was the third death in a month, with his sister Mary Jane Kocher and niece Mrs. Harry Bartholomew the others. Victor Wenner of Tilghman Street signed the death certificate.
They are buried side-by-side in the Zion Lehigh cemetery. On the face of their grave marker -- of a design almost identical to her parents' stone -- her maiden name of "Gaumer" was inscribed beneath her married name.
~ Daughter Hannah R. Gaumer ~
Daughter Hannah R. Gaumer (1867-1919) was born in on Sept. 8, 1867 at Lehigh Church near Alburtis, Lehigh County.
She never married, and for many years, she lived at home with her parents. After her mother passed away, for four years, she shared a home with her widowed father near Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church, until he died as well.
The federal census enumeration of 1900, when Hannah was 32 years of age, shows that her occupation was "dress maker."
Hannah also was known for her cake-baking and displayed a lemon sponge cake at the Great Allentown Fair in September 1898.
She was a member of the Lutheran congregation of the Zion Lehigh church. The week before Christmas 1896, she attended a wedding for Clement J.C. and Annie M. (Wagenhorst) Lichtenwalner, of the local church congregation. Her name often was in the gossip columns of the Allentown newspapers for the social events she attended. In October 1907, she traveled to New York City.
In Sept. 1902, when she turned 45, friends threw a surprise birthday party. “The surprise was complete in every respect,” said the Allentown Leader. “An elegant table had been set of which all partook freely.”
The United States Census of 1910 counts Hannah as living alone on a rented farm in Alburtis, in Lower Macungie Township, and earning an income as a farmer.
At some point, she began spending her winters in Allentown. She eventually moved into a residence at 19 North Madison, where she kept house for her widowed brother-in-law Alvin P. Wenner. She was named executrix of her father's estate and in April 1910 oversaw a public auction of his real estate and belongings. The property included four acres of land, a frame house and barn in addition to a frame house on Church Street in Macungie.
At the age of 51, she suffered a stroke and died on May 15, 1919. Her nephew Vincent A. Helfrich, with whom she lived, signed her death certificate. Funeral services wee held in the Wenner home, and burial was in Zion Lehigh Church Cemetery. An obituary was published in the Allentown Morning Call.
Many years later, in late October 1955, the Morning Call published a vintage photograph of Hannah and others attending a party in her residence in 1902.
~ Daughter Laura Elizabeth (Gaumer) Seigfried ~
Daughter Laura Elizabeth Gaumer (1870-1889) was born on June 13, 1870 in Lower Macungie Township.
At the age of 17, on Christmas Eve 1887, she was joined in wedlock with 21-year-old flour miller Sylvester F. Seigfried (Aug. 20, 1866-1947), also spelled "Sigfried," the son of immigrants Peter and Sally (Ebert) Seigfried of Kutztown, Berks County. Rev. A.R. Horne officiated at the ceremony held in Allentown.
Because Laura was legally underage, her father had to sign his consent to the union. She likely was pregnant at the time, as a baby was born five months later.
The Seigfrieds' only known son, Elwood Quinton Seigfried, born on May 23, 1888.
Heartbreak shook the young couple when their beloved baby passed away in early October 1888. He was only four months and 10 days old. His tender remains were placed into eternal repose in Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery in Alburtis. An inscribed granite stone was placed at the grave so that he would be memorialized and not forgotten.
Tragically, the cycle of grief was not yet ended, and their marriage proved to be short-lived. Only four months after the death of their son, Laura became seriously ill, and all hope of recovery faded away into despair. On Feb. 3, 1889, she succumbed in Lower Macungie at the age of 18 years, seven months and 21 days.
Her remains were lowered into eternal repose in Zion Lehigh cemetery. A marker -- with the upper point facing heaven -- was inscribed and set at her grave. No obituary has been found to date in Allentown newspapers.
Evidence hints that Sylvester went an extended period of mourning. He opened his own professional photography business. Circa 1900, after a dozen years as a widower, he was still single and boarded in the home of Lula Hickey in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA.
He married again in about 1907. His second bride was 23-year-old Clara Korn (April 20, 1884-1917), daughter of German immigrants Leonard and Margaret (Keller) Korn of New York. Census records for 1910 show them in Wilkes-Barre, with his maintaining his photography work. They were the parents of Florence Siegfried, born in 1909.
Clara contracted fibroids on her uterus, and she underwent a hysterectomy in Mercy Hospital in Wilkes-Barre. Tragically, eight days after the surgery, she suffered a blockage in the artery leading to her heart -- a "pulmonary embolism" and died there on April 25, 1917, at the age of 33. Burial was in Oaklawn Cemetery in Hanover, Luzerne County. Sylvester thus was rendered a widower for the second time.
The 1920 census shows Sylvester, daughter Florence and 19-year-old sister in law Alice Korn in their household, in Wilkes-Barre.
During the 1920s, he married his third wife, Sephyrine "Sephrina" Daugert (1891- ? ), a native of Colorado whose parents were Lithuanian/Polish immigrants. He was 23 years older than she. She apparently brought a son into the marriage, Franklin.
They moved into Philadelphia, where in 1930 he continued to earn a living as a photographer and primarily spelled his surname "Siegfried." Also in their residence in 1930 were brother-in-law Emilia Daugart and his wife Margaret. By 1940, they were back in the Wilkes-Barre area.
The Siegfrieds also appear to have had a residence in Mountain Top, Rice Township, Luzerne County.
On Dec. 7, 1947, he suffered a heart attack and died in Mountain Top. His remains were placed into rest in Oaklawn Cemetery.
Daughter Florence Siegfried (1909- ? ) -- from the second marriage -- married John Urangst and made their home with her father in 1940 in Dorrance, Luzerne County.
Stepson Franklin Siegfried (1918- ? ) -- from the third marriage -- was a radio musician in the Wilkes-Barre area circa 1940.