Birth registers for the Catholic Church in Neuershausen, Baden, Germany, record the christening of Severin Seiler on the day he was born, 24 October 1837. He was the sixth of sixteen children born to Joseph and Franziska (Elison) Seiler. Joseph supported his large family as a land surveyor. Severin must have been uniquely healthy among the Seiler children, since nine of his siblings died before their first birthday.

Emigration records, found in the Landesarchiv, Baden-Württemberg, at Freiburg, document a February 1857 request by nineteen-year-old Severin, eighteen-year-old Franziska, and sixteen-year-old Wilhelm Seiler for permission to emigrate to the United States. After the request was published in several newspapers, permission was granted by the government on March 23rd. An arrival record for the ship Hemisphere has the three teens arriving in New York from La Havre, France, on 19 May 1857.

The 1860 Herkimer County, New York, census enumerates Severin and Wilhelm in a boarding house in the town of Russia. No record has been found to locate Franziska at that time, but her marriage is recorded a year later to George Christmann at St. Peter Catholic Church in Kirkwood, St. Louis County. Although no letters have been found, Severin and Wilhelm must have written back to Germany with favorable descriptions of their life in upstate New York, since their older brother, Michael, joined them in 1861. Michael arrived in New York City aboard the ship Enterprise on April 3rd.

The Civil War saw numerous regiments being raised in New York, with Michael and Wilhelm responding to the call. Compiled military service records show Michael joining the 97th New York Infantry Regiment on 6 October 1861. He was discharged on 29 October 1864, having completed his enlistment contract and receiving a disabling gunshot wound to the right leg. Michael must have returned to Herkimer County upon discharge, since he lived with Severin most of his remaining life. Wilhelm joined the 121st New York Infantry Regiment on 2 August 1862 and served until he was killed at the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864. Severin did not serve in the military, but he supported the war effort by working in the Remington Arms plant at Illion, New York.

Severin Seiler
Severin Seiler
Photo in the collection of Richard Seiler.
Used with permission

A front-page article in the 8 August 1913 edition of the St. Louis County Watchman-Advocate reports on the golden wedding anniversary of Severin and Magdalena (Jacobs) Seiler. The article indicates they moved on 31 July 1865 to St. Louis County “to engage in farming.” Plat maps show their farm on Conway Road, just west of Mason. The article also indicates they had nine sons and a daughter, with six of their sons (William, Ferdinand, Frederick, Henry, Gustav, and Edward) living at the time.

While Severin was raised Catholic, Magdalena was Protestant and all of their children (except New York-born William) were christened at Zion Evangelical (now Parkway UCC) Church on Ballas Road. His death certificate shows he died on 10 January 1922 with burial in the little cemetery behind Zion Church.

Written by great-grandson, Richard Seiler
March 2017
© 2017, St. Louis Genealogical Society

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 19:36