The immigration of German people into the United States surged during the mid 1800s. This was especially evident in New York City, the primary port of immigration during this period. The records of German Lutheran Churches in the city provide a wealth of information about these immigrants. The records can be used to establish genealogical connections to the origins of the immigrants in Germany as well as their ultimate destination in the United States.
The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Geissenhainer, Sr. and his son of the same name were prominent pastors to German Lutheran congregations from 1808 through 1879. Rev. Geissenhainer Jr. was the assistant pastor of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church from 1827 – 1840. He served the English-speaking congregation while his father preached in German. At the end of his ministry with St. Matthew’s, Rev. Geissenhainer transcribed the events he presided over from the church books into two new ledgers.
In 1841 Rev. Geissenhainer Jr. was called to be the pastor of the United German Evangelical Lutheran Church (later St. Paul’s) and remained there until his death in 1879. He maintained St. Paul’s records in three additional volumes. After his death, the volumes remained in the possession of his family until 1919, when they were donated to the New-York Historical Society (NYHS). From the front pages of Volume II of the records:
The five volumes of records were given to the Society on June 9, 1919, by the estate of Frederick W. Hunter, a member of the Society, and a grandson of the Rev. Geissenhainer. The records came to us from the Lutheran Cemetery office at Maspeth, Long Island.
These records are only available at the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library of the New-York Historical Society in New York City. The five volumes include records of baptism, confirmation, marriage, death, and church attendance. They represent an untapped source of information about German immigrants during one of the periods of highest immigration.
MAGS has an ongoing project to transcribe and index the baptism, confirmation, and marriage records. These three databases enable you to search each of the record groups by name and date. The entire content of each record is presented on the details screen. When you find information of interest you can contact the NYHS Library to request a photographic copy of the original record.
Rev. Geissenhainer recorded more than just pastoral acts in the church books. He included some history of the congregations he served. In addition, he recorded detailed obituaries of his parents and wife in the books. These documents have been transcribed and are available from the links below. A detailed inventory of the five volumes is also available.