Born in 1827 in rural Berks County, PA, Maria Mensch married blacksmith, coal miner and farmer Benjamin Charles Gaumer and made a longtime home in the neighboring Lehigh Church community of Alburtis, Lehigh County.
As with many housewives of the era, she learned the art of spinning and clothes-making and is seen here at her wheel. Her hair is pulled back tightly, following the style of the era, and she wears what appears to be a more formal dress. The date is not known.
When she was an infant, of an age of about a month-and-a-half, Maria received Christian baptism on June 10, 1827 by the hand of Rev. C. Herman. A godparent stood at the ceremony, the unmarried Magdalena Unterkoble. A record of the event was written, in German script, on a special hand-colored certificate known as a taufschein, which may be viewed on the Gaumers’ biography.
Maria and Benjamin produced these eight known children – William Gaumer, Henry “Benjamin” Gaumer, Christiana Helfrich, Elvenia H. “Ella” Hopkins, James Henry Gaumer, Maria L. “Maryan” Wenner, Hannah R. Gaumer and Laura Elizabeth Sigfried.
Very little more about Maria’s life is known.
In January 1905, the 75-year-old Maria slipped on ice and fractured her hip while on her way to attend services at the Lehigh Church, a short distance from their home. Sadly, she died the following month, on Feb. 6, 1905, at the age of 77. She passed “after an illness of four weeks,” said the Allentown Morning Call. Funeral services were held at Lehigh Church, with Rev. C.E. Sandt preaching the sermon.
This wonderful image graciously has been shared by Maria and Benjamin’s great-great-great grandson, David Helfrich.
You may view an enlarged version of this photograph which is the May 2019 “Photo of the Month” on Minerd.com.