[Last updated: 26 July 2014]


Major Research Questions


* Annamaria Stempel : Middletown MD : 1811

Who was Annamaria Stempel who appears on the list of those confirmed in Middletown's (Maryland) Zion Lutheran Church on June 2, 1811? She was 17-years-old. Frederick Stempel was listed as one of the attendees. This was the first time Annamarie appeared in the Zion Lutheran Church records. The next time she appeared in the records was with a list of communicants at Whitsuntide two years later (June 6, 1813). Frederick Stem(pel) (last name spelled the same as Annamaria's) was just a few names above hers in the list. These are the only two records we have of her.

Based on her age at confirmation, Annamarie was born ca 1794. Both the 1800 and the 1810 censuses have a female of Annamaria's age living in Frederick's household that we have not been able to account for. Could she be the daughter of Frederick and Esther? Esther would have been 44 in 1794. Biologically it is possible, but it would be stretching it a bit. We know that Esther gave birth to her daughter Mary Margaret sometime between 1791 and 1800 (based on Mary's age given in the 1830 census). We also know that Frederick and Esther already had a daughter named Anna Maria born in 1775 (according to church records). We believe this Anna Maria died while still a child because we have no further record of her, i.e., no record of her confirmation, her marriage, and no mention of her in Frederick's Will.

The Annamaria confirmed in 1811 does not appear in Frederick's Will either. If she was Frederick and Esther's daughter, she was no longer living in 1838 when Frederick wrote his will (she would have been 44 years old). Or maybe she wasn't their daughter. If not, then who was she?

One possibility is that this Annamaria is, in fact, the daughter we know as Mary Margaret. So far I have not located any record of either Annamaria or Mary Margaret's birth. Dr. McLean, an earlier family genealogist, seems to have located the record of Mary Margaret's marriage to Jacob Hoffman, for his records contain the exact date of their marriage. I assume McLean found her middle name, Margaret, on her marriage record, for in Frederick's Will she is identified only as Mary. The 1800 census shows two females aged 0 - 10 living in Frederick's household. They could be Mary Margaret and Annamaria or they could be Mary/Annamaria and Mary Magdelina, the young daughter of Ann Catherine Grove, Frederick's oldest daughter.

It's almost certain that Ann Catherine's husband, Martin, died just before the census was taken, and that Ann Catherine had moved in with her father. The census, in fact, shows a female aged 26-45 living in Frederick's household that can't otherwise be accounted for (unfortunately the 1800 census doesn't seem to report the Stembels very accurately).

My best guess is that Mary Margaret and Annamaria are probably the same person. Hopefully, we will find more records that will settle this mystery.

RESEARCH QUESTION #2 [Resolved. See below]

* In a letter from Dr. William McLean dated September 30, 1984, he told of finding a tombstone of an Effie May Stembel in the Concord Church Cemetery, Champaign County, Ohio (about six miles northeast of Urbana). I assume this was on his visit to family members in the mid-1950s. According to Dr. McLean the tombstone showed only her name and the date of her death: March 31, 1839, according to Dr. McLean.

Since then I have located a photograph of Effie's tombstone on the Internet and, despite the fact that the photograph is clear and bright, the tombstone was too weathered at the time of the photograph (2007) to decipher the date, in fact only the last name, Stembel, is clearly visible. The person who took the photo and posted it on the Find-A-Grave website must have been very good at reading badly weathered inscriptions, or they had access to cemetery records that provided Effie's full name. However, if a record does exist and was used to determine her name, then the date of death that accompanies the photograph, March 31, 1880, might also come from the cemetery record and be the correct date of her demise. I've sent an inquiry to the photographer for more information.

This is a tough one, because 1839 is early in our family's tenure in America, so this narrows the range of possible Stembel parents considerably. However, if Effie died in 1880, that expands the possibilities of who she might have been.

For purposes of this research question file, I'm going to assume Effie May died in 1839 as Dr. McLean states, for two reasons. 1) the tombstone looks very old and not very professionally crafted, about what one would expect from cash-strapped settlers to a new region, and 2) I believe Dr. McLean observed the tombstone when he was doing much of his genealogy research in the mid-1950s, when the tombstone was less weathered and presumably more legible.

1. Because her last name is spelled STEMBEL (as opposed to STEMPLE or -PEL) and buried in a county where the Stembels lived in she is almost certainly a member of our family. This means she was one of the following: 1) the legitimate daughter of a male Stembel, 2) the illegitimate daughter of a female Stembel, or 3) a former slave who moved to Ohio with a Stembel family and took the last name Stembel. (There are other more remote possibilities as well.)
2. Is it significant that there is no date of birth or age at death on the tombstone? The tombstone was large enough to include her date of birth, but it wasn't included. Is it due to the extra cost, or was it because Effie May was very young when she died. From my experience, it would be unusual not to include the date of birth or the age at death (usually yrs/mo/days) on a tombstone for an adult in that era. Some of the most common exceptions are children who died just a short time after birth or a very elderly non-blood relative whose age was not known (or, again, a family facing hard times). She probably did not die soon after birth for she was given a name and the tombstone is not small.
3. The name Effie May is very unusual for that era, at least for Germans, and even in 1839, the German influence was still very strong in the Stembel family. This may, however, help us find the parent(s) for Germans almost always named their children after a relative or close friend. This distinctive name might be the clue that could guide us to the right parents.
4. Why is she buried in the Concord Church Cemetery? The only Stembel family living in the area at that time was John Stembel's family. They lived about four miles north of the cemetery. John and his family were members of the Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, which was just down the road from his farm...and it has a cemetery. Why wasn't Effie May buried there? The answer lies in the fact that Wesley Chapel was not organized until 1845. If Effie May died in 1839, she would have been buried in the church cemetery where John was attending at the time, which must have been the Concord Church (or maybe that was the only cemetery around at the time of her death in 1839). If Effie May died in 1880, then she would have most likely been buried in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery.
5. John and Eleanor had six children die in childhood, none of their names even remotely resembles Effie May. The births of all of John and Eleanor's children were entered in their family Bible. Those that died in childhood had their date of death entered as well. They all died before the family moved to Ohio. Eleanor had her last child, Joseph, about two years before moving to Ohio. She was 42 at the time of the move. I find it hard to believe that John and Elenor could have had a child that did not get entered in the family Bible (especially when you consider that Eleanor gave birth in 1810, '11, '12, '13, '15, '17, '19, '21, '23, '25, '27, and '28 - there is hardly any gap large enough for an unrecorded child!).
6. In the 1830 census, a white female aged 5-10 is recorded in John's household, but he had no daughters that age. It could be Effie May. However, John had a 3-year-old daughter (Maria Josephine) who is unaccounted for. Chances are this was just a mistake on the census enumerator's part.
7. It disturbs me that there is no mention whatsoever of Effie May Stembel in John's family Bible. Every child's birth and death is carefully recorded in the Bible. If Effie lived with John's family, and it seems almost certain that she did, why isn't her birth and death recorded?
8. There is a chance Effie May was a daughter born to a Stembel out of wedlock, and was thus left unrecorded in the family Bible, however it would only be injurious to speculate on something so embarassing for that era.
9. There is a tradition in the family that when the Stembels moved to Ohio, they brought some of the family's slaves from Maryland with them to insure their freedom. We know that there was one free Black girl, aged 0-9, living with Frederick, Jr.'s family in the 1830 census (in Xenia). Also, Mary Stembel Davis described in a letter dated 4 November 1986 how her father's life was saved by a former slave that John had brought to Ohio with the family. I believe there is a chance that Effie May was a former slave who died in 1839, one year before the 1840 census (but where was that former slave Mary Davis spoke of when the 1840 census was taken?). For that matter, Effie May could be the free black girl living with Frederick, Jr. in the 1830 census.

[UPDATE: I'm reasonably certain this has been resolved. John Virgil Stembel, a son of Joseph Van Swearingen Stembel, married Ethel Barger in 1879. Evidently Ethel's family lived near the Concord Church. After they married they acquired a farm near the Concord Church. New research shows that two of their five children are buried in the Concord Church Cemetery, as well as their wives. Four of their five children reached adulthood. The fifth died young. Family records indicate the name of that child as "Ebbie (or Effie)". Effie May's tombstone shows she died on March 31, 1880. This is nine months almost to the day after John and Ethel were married. I have also found the 1880 census's mortality schedule which recorded the names of all who died between June 1, 1879, and May 31, 1880. The schedule for Concord Township lists an Effie M. Stemble who died in March 1880 at the age of 5 months. I assume this is the Effie May Stembel buried in the Concord Cemetery, and John and Ethel's first born.]


* Who is the Willie Stremple in the 1900 census living in Johnson County, Missouri? He is listed on the same page as William Stembel and his family. In the census, Willie is listed as a farm laborer living with the family of Joseph Kinman. Willie's relationship to Joseph is "Nephew." The census shows his date of birth as April 1879, 21 years old, born in Missouri, both parents born in Ohio. A search of my data base turned up no William Stembels born around that time. Still, it seems almost too much of a coincidence to have a name like ours show up on the same page as another Stembel. Plus his parents were born in Ohio where so many Stembels lived.

RESEARCH QUESTION #4 [Resolved. See below]

* Anna Maria Stembel (daughter of Johan Friederich) married Daniel Sturm on April 7, 1761. Their marriage was recorded in the Evangelical Reformed Church of Frederick, Maryland, church records. We know they had at least one child, Johann Jacob Sturm, born October 14, 1771, and baptized in the Monocacy Lutheran Church in Frederick. This church record is the last positive record we have of Frederick's sister. In 1792, however, Barbara Ewerle (Eberle) (Frederick had a stepsister by this name), sponsored the baptism of Elisabetha, daughter of Jacob and Catherina Storm (Sturm was usually anglicized to Storm). Its likely this was the granddaughter of Anna Maria Stembel. Unfortunately, there was no Daniel or Anna Maria Sturm/Storm living in Frederick County at the time of the 1790 census. However, a Daniel Storm household and a Jacob Storm household was found in Addison Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Their census records' fit what little we know about them. I'm reasonably certain this is Anna Maria Stembel's husband and son.

[UPDATE: I have received information from a descendant of Daniel Sturm/Storms about this family. Daniel moved to Somerset County, PA, before 1788, and then on to Hamilton County, OH, in 1801. Both Anna Maria and Daniel died there soon after the move. Recently we discovered that Anna and Daniel had a number of children - possibly eight - and we know who two of their daughters married. Their oldest daughter, Mary, married Peter Helmick who fought in the Revolutionary War and whose offspring we've managed to identify. Another daughter, Juliana, married Emanual Vantreese and we've begun researching their family. Once I know more I will include it in the main body of the family history.]


* Who is the Cornelius Smith living with John Stembel's family in the 1850 census and mentioned in William McLean's letter of August 31, 1984? According to his letter, there is (or was, since I don't remember seeing it) a gravestone near John and Eleanor Stembel's grave which says Cornelia Smith "Little Sis" who died August 5, 1851, aged 9 years, 2 months, 18 days (which yields a date of birth of May 18, 1842). This sounds like the grave of a young girl. However, the child shown in the 1850 census is not Cornelia but Cornelius, an 8-year-old white male, born in Ohio. The only other non-Stembel living with John's family in the 1850 census was James Hays, age 19, listed as a farm helper.

UPDATE: A search of all the names in Wesley Chapel Cemetery on findagrave.com does not reveal a tombstone for Cornelia Smith. There are a few Smiths buried in the cemetery, but none that even comes close to the tombstone described in McLean's letter.


* John's 1850 census record also contains another mystery resident. There was a Margurete Stimble living with John's family. She was listed with the other non-family members of John's household, right after Cornelius Smith. The fact that her last name is spelled "Stimble" is of no consequence, since John's name was spelled similarly. Margurete was described as a white female, 26 years old. There is no entry for the state in which she was born, so evidently she was not present when the census taker visited. She was not a close relative or those in the household who provided her name would have known that. The problem is, I have no record of a 26-year-old Margurete (or Margaret) Stembel, in fact there are only two Margaret Stembels known to exist at the time of the 1850 census. One was John's younger sister...but she would have been almost 60 years old...and her married name was Hoffman. The other, and this is macabre, was John and Eleanor's daughter Margaret Isabella Stembel. She was born in 1821 so her age would have been just about right, but she died when she was two years old (and this comes directly from their family Bible which is in my possession).

There is another possibility. John's son, Oliver, married Margaret Sharp about four months before the census was taken. Since Oliver was living with his parents at the time of the 1850 census, one would expect Margaret to be included as well. Married couples were usually listed in the census as a separate family unit, but the Margaret in this case is listed with the non-family members. Also, my records show that Oliver's wife, Margaret was born November 26, 1830, so she would only be 19 at the time of the census. It is hard to believe anyone could mistake a 19-year-old for a 26-year-old. In the 1860 census Margaret's age is given correctly as 29.


* Jacob Stembel : Frederick Co, MD : 1789 - ?

Why is Jacob Stembel missing from Frederick's Will? We have a record of his birth in 1789 (in the Zion Lutheran Church records), so we know he existed. The censuses from 1790 through 1820 have a male his age present in Frederick's household, so it appears he was alive up through 1820 (he would have been 31 in 1820), but he is not mentioned in his father's will, written in 1838. I assume he died before the will was written, but the fact that no church record, newspaper record, or tombstone exists is worrisome for the son of a wealthy citizen.

RESEARCH QUESTION #8 [Resolved. See below]

* From 1927-1928 a company called Siems-Stembel in St. Paul, Minnesota, built railroad cars for the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern railroads (and possibly others). The most likely Stembel involved in this company is Clarence Stembel, adopted son of James McBride Stembel (son of Adm. Roger Nelson Stembel). Clarence lived in Minneapolis (he appeared in the Minneapolis City Directory from 1912 to 1932. To my knowledge, no other Stembel family lived in Minnesota at the time Siems-Stembel built the railroad cars.

[UPDATE: This Question has been fully resolved. The Stembel involved in the company was indeed, Clarence Stembel. This item is closed.]

RESEARCH QUESTION #9 [Resolved. See below]

* According to the 1873 Orleans (Louisiana) Parish Death Index, a boy named Julius Stembel, age 6, died on October 30, 1873. Orleans Parish contains New Orleans (Louisiana parishes are similar to counties). Who were Julius's parents? There is no obvious answer: no Stembel family is known to have lived in or near New Orleans at this time.

If Julius was 6 at the time he died, he was born about 1866-7. I made a list of all male Stembels who were over 15 or under 60 and alive in 1866. Here are the Stembels that fit this criteria, and their age in 1866:

James McBride Stembel, 20
Oliver F. Stembel, 41
Roger Nelson Stembel, 56
Staley F. Stembel, 25
Theophilus Stembel, 53

Let's examine each candidate.

James McBride Stembel: James was about 20 at the time of Julius's birth. We believe he was unmarried and attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, at the time, however, these have not been fully confirmed as of yet, thus James is a prime candidate.

Oliver F. Stembel: Oliver was about 42 at the time of Julius's birth. He was married and living in Ohio according to the 1860 and 1870 federal censuses. He had a son, born in Ohio, in 1862, and a daughter, born in Ohio, in 1869.

Roger Nelson Stembel: Roger was about 56 at Julius's birth. He was married (since 1843) and his wife was still living. He was also a high-ranking military officer. As part of his military duties, Roger might have had reason to be in New Orleans during this time and possibly fathered an illegitimate child (New Orleans has always had a reputation for lax sexual mores), but I find this unlikely.

Staley F. Stembel: Staley was about 25 at Julius's birth. He had just returned from serving in the Civil War and was about to move to Missouri with his mother and wife-to-be Libby. Staley's age makes him a candidate, but his family circumstances at the time makes his candidacy unlikely.

Theophilus Stembel: Theophilus was about 54 at the time of Julius's birth. He was married, his wife was still living and in fact gave birth to a son January 1867 and a daughter November 1868. There is no reason, nor no evidence that Theophilus was away from home during this time, and it isn't likely that his wife could have born an additional child between January 1867 and November 1868. Theophilus is not a likely candidate.

Of the three most likely candidates: James McBride, Roger Nelson, and Staley F., the most likely candidate to be Julius's father is James McBride. We know he married a widow sometime after 1869 who had at least one son whom James adopted and that son's last name became Stembel. It's very possible his wife had two sons by the previous marriage, and that second son was named Julius. We also know that James was in the Army and likely to be stationed in any part of the country. For instance we know he was stationed at Fort Russell, Wyoming, in 1870. He may have been stationed in New Orleans in 1873, at the time of Julius's death, or his wife may have been living there while James was stationed at a western fort or other remote location. It is also possible that Julius's father was one of the many unrelated Stembels that have immigrated to the United States since 1800. As the census records become better indexed, I have found more unrelated Stembels in the census records than I ever expected.

This is likely to be a relatively easy mystery to solve.

[UPDATE: Since writing this we now know that the Stembel surname is more common in Europe than we believed when this family history was begun. It's likely that a number of Stembels from other parts of Europe entered this country in the 1800s. It seems increasingly likely that Julius' Stembel father was not a member of our Stembel family.]

RESEARCH QUESTION #10 [Resolved. See below]

Mattie Sayles Gordon; Lezabeth Sayles. According to William McLean, our earlier Stembel family researcher, Sarah (Darby) and William Sayles had only one child, Mattie, who was born 27 June, 1857. She died 28 June, 1876, the day after her 19th birthday. We also know that Sarah Darby Sayles died 6 May, 1877 (less than a year after Mattie), and that her husband remarried a few months later (September 1877). Sarah, William, Mattie, and William's second wife, Lovina, are all buried in the Brownhelm Township cemetery (now called North Ridge cemetery). Transcripts of the cemetery records and the 1880 census tell us there may be more we don't know about this family.

According to the cemetery transcripts, Mattie's last name was not Sayles, but Gordon. She is buried right next to Sarah and William Sayles. Mattie Gordon's tombstone gives her date of death as 28 June, 1876, so there is little doubt that this is the same Mattie as Sarah and William's Mattie. McLean assumed Gordon was Mattie's middle name and that her last name was left off her tombstone. I doubt this. Middle names were rarely included on tombstones; more often a middle name was designated with an initial, thus I'm pretty sure that Mattie's last name at the time of her death was Gordon. A clue to this mystery might be found in the tombstone listed next to Sarah and William Sayle's. It is a William J. Gordon (mother, Elizabeth and father, James), who was born 1857 (the same year as Mattie), and died in 1927.

It's possible that Mattie married William J. Gordon sometime before her death. I assume William never remarried and was buried near Mattie after his death in 1927. This is a very tenuous conclusion however, and it needs further research.

When I checked the 1880 census to see if I could find a William Gordon (born 1857) living in Lorain County, there was no one that fit this scenario. However, I did find a second mystery: a daughter of William Sayles, Lezabeth (probably Elizabeth) Sayles, age 5, living with William and his new wife, Vine (Lovina). This daughter was born two years before Sarah's death and William married his new wife. If Lezabeth was Sarah's daughter, however, it meant Sarah was 51 years old when Lezabeth was born, a rare occurrence indeed. A better explanation would be that the Lezabeth was a daughter of Lovina by an earlier marriage. This needs to be confirmed.

[UPDATE: This confusion has been sorted out with information provided by family researcher, Elvin Pippert. For the solution, see the section devoted to Sarah Catherine Darby in Ann Catherine Stembel's chapter.]

Do you know this Stembel?

* In the May 1973 issue of the National Geographic magazine there is a picture on page 689 that shows a picture of a signpost along the Alaskan Highway where Alaska-bound travelers put up signs from their hometown. One of the signs clearly visible in the picture says Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, Ed Stembel & B. Bartlett." It was probably put there sometime between 1967 and 1971 (my estimate). Who is this Ed Stembel? In 1983, I checked the Oconomowoc phone book in the Library of Congress, but there were no Stembels listed. I called the only Bartlett listed, but the woman who answered said her husband had just passed away, but he had never been on the Alaska Highway.

Possibly Related

* Johan Peter Stembell : Philadelphia : 1737

Johan Peter Stembell arrived in Philadelphia on August 30, 1737, aboard the ship SAMUEL. This is the only record we have of him. Was he related to our family? Whatever happened to him/his family? Was he an unrelated Stemple whose surname was misspelled with a "B" in the ship's log?

* Valentin Stemple : Philadelphia : 1738

Valentin Stemple (probably Stembel) arrived with Johan Friederich Stembel on the ship DAVY in Philadelphia on October 25, 1738. Both had their names spelled Stemple in the Ship's log. We know Johan Friederich actually spelled his name Stembel from his signature on two oaths administered upon his arrival. Valentin did not sign these oaths, leaving us without the true spelling of his surname, but the fact that he did not sign the oaths may be the only clue we will ever have about him (e.g., major reasons for not signing were: 1. being underage, or 2. being infirm upon arrival). We have no record of Valetin after his arrival. Did he die soon after from a malady contracted while in transit?

* George, Sarah, Maria Stemple : Lancaster Co, PA : 1758

These three minors were appointed a guardian, Thomas Harris, in December of 1758. They lived on the north side of Conewago Creek, Derry Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This according to a letter from Dr. McLean dated 10/14/84. Who are their parents? Why was a guardian needed for them? What happened to them?

* Christian Stemple : Frederick/Washington Co MD : 1783+

Who is the Christian Stemple mentioned twice in the records of the Zion Lutheran Church, Middletown, in the years 1783-4? Evidently he moved to Hagerstown, Maryland, sometime after 1784, for we have a good record of his life and his children (last name usually spelled Stempfle) there, but the question here is, were he and Frederick related?

* Mary Ottilia Stempel - Mary married "John Fred (probably Johann Friedrich) Zeh" (?) on March 22, 1744, in Swatara, Lebanon Co., Pennsylvania [This was probably the Swatara Reformed Church mentioned on page 337 of "Pastors and People," Vol I]. This was reported in a letter from W. McLean dated 9-30-84.

* Joseph Stemple - Joseph was living in Frederick Co., Maryland, at the time of the 1790 census. He was listed on the same page as Frederick Stemple (Stembel)! He does not appear in the 1800 census, at least not in Frederick County.

* Jacob Stemple, Sr. & Jacob Stemple, Jr. - Both were living in Frederick Co., Maryland, at the time of the 1790 census. Jacob, Sr., was not found in the 1800 census, but Jacob, Jr., was living in the Taneytown election district of Frederick County (additional mystery: why does the 1790 census show no one over the age of 16 living in Jacob Stemble, Sr.'s household?!).

* Peter Stemble - He was living in Frederick County at the time of the 1790 and 1800 censuses (in the 1800 census he was living in the Libertytown election district, he was over 45 years old at the time of the census).

Interesting Stembel Sighting

* According to Clarence Stembel (Benton County, Indiana), a friend of his visited the University of Heidelberg (Germany) many years ago (probably in the 1960s). While there, he visited the Student Gaol and saw the Stembel (correct spelling) name inscribed on the wall. The Michelin Guide to Germany - Green Book, page 148, has this to say about the Student Gaol:

"Between 1778 and 1914 the gaol was occupied by too-uproarious students. Many passed their enforced leisure carving inscriptions, coats of arms, and outlines upon the walls commemorating their incarceration which was considered by many a mark of distinction."
This implies a "too-uproarious" Stembel once attended the University of Heidelberg sometime after 1778.

Other Immigrant Stembels in the U.S.?

* The more I research the Stembel family the more Stembel immigrants I've found who came to this country in the 1800s from all over Europe. The Stembel surname is more common in Europe than I imagined when I first began my search in 1980. I'm no longer confident that every Stembel in the United States today is a descendant of Friederich Stembel who arrived in Philadelphia in 1738.

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