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 John Gerd Mohlman

John Gerd Mohlman

Death 12 Sep 1881 (aged 53)
Wasatch County, Utah, USA
Burial Midway, Wasatch County, Utah, USA
Memorial ID 53846 · View Source
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John married Anna Caroline Galli born 23 Dec 1838 and died 25 April 1870

From Germany
To Utah - 1828-1881
Lucille Mohlman


Johann was born in the little village of Astrup, Germany, on February 12, 1828. He was the youngest of eight children born to Gerd Henrich Anton Mohlman (ANTON) and Maria Elisabeth Kuhlmann. Astrup is a small village about 1 mile outside of Visbek, the larger city where the church is located that the Mohlman family attended. Astrup is well kept and clean and tidy. It is quite a rural area. According to Josef Maehlmann, a distant relative in Germany, the name Moehlmann means "man near a mill." He also states that the Mohlmans originated in a town called "Siedenbogen near Visbek. In Siedenbogen the original Mohlman farm has 4 or 5 old watermills ˆ hence the name!

Johann Gerd's father, Anton, was first married to Maria Helen Muhle in 1791. She died in 1798. There were two sons born to this marriage, Gerhard Henrich Anton Joseph born 1792 and Johanes Henrich born 1794. These children took their mother's last name of MUHLE. This was a common practice if the woman owned property and the man did not.

Anton then married Maria Elisabeth Kuhlmann in 1799. There were 8 children born to this marriage. Their ages at the time of Johann's birth:
1) Johannes Heinrich, born in 1800 was 28 years old and married.
2) Anna Maria, born in 1805 had died at the age of 5 years in 1811.
3) Herman Henrich, born in 1809 was 19.
4) Maria Elisabeth, born in 1812 was 16.
5) Catharine, born in 1816 was 12.
6) Marie Anna, born in 1819 was 9.

7) Johann Henrich Anton died in 1825 at the age of 18 months, before Johann was born.
8) Johann Gerd, born in 1828.

Johann's father was 66 years old when he was born and his mother was 46 years old. His father died in 1831 at the age of 69 when Johann was only 3 years old. I have not found any record showing that his mother remarried. His father and mother were 20 years apart in age. The age disparity between his parents may have been one reason he found nothing unusual about marrying Anna Galli who was 16 years younger than he was. Apparently Johann was raised by his mother along with his three older sisters.

According to Josef Maehlmann, the Moehlmann family has lived in this area since around 900 AD. They attended St. Vitus Catholic Church in Visbek where the records go back into the 1600's. The church in Visbek has a plaque inside that shows the church beginning there in about 860 AD.
Several Mohlman cousins have been to Visbek and Astrup. A couple of them met Josef Maehlmann who was very helpful and gracious to show them around the area. Following are some pictures of Visbek and St. Vitus Catholic Church located there.

IMMIGRATION ˆ 11 November 1853
After much research, I feel this immigration record showing a Joh Mohlmann entering the country at Port of New Orleans on 11 November 1853 is most likely our Johann. His age of 24 years would be correct having been born in 1828. He does not appear in the 1850 US Census so it appears Johann immigrated sometime between 1850 and 1854 when he enlisted in the US Army. Again this immigration record fits. I have found other Johan Mohlmans in the immigration records but none fit the age and time frame to be Johann Gerd.

It is not known where Johann settled once he came to the United States, but there are some interesting clues. First of all, if the immigration record is indeed Johann Gerd, he listed St. Louis as his destination. Laura Bircumshaw's writings state he settled in Iowa and married and they had a baby girl. Shortly thereafter or in childbirth, his wife died, leaving him to care for a new baby. Laura then states that he joined the Army to run from his heartache and loneliness, leaving his baby daughter in the care of his "parents." Clearly, from the records, we know he could not have left his baby with his "parents" since they had both died in Germany. Therefore, it is safe to assume he left his daughter in the care of his wife's parents or perhaps some other relative. Either way, the family has no record of his first wife or his daughter and years of searching have yet to turn up a marriage or death record.
Johann enlisted in the Army at Newport, Kentucky. If he had been living in Iowa or St. Louis, why did he go all the way to Kentucky to enlist? I believe he may have settled around Cinncinati, Ohio, after he entered the country. In the 1850's, Cincinnati had a very large German population. Cincinnati is also just across the river from Newport, Kentucky, where he enlisted in the 7th Infantry Division. Another clue that he might have settled in Cincinnati, is a reference made about Johann in a book entitled, "Utah Since Statehood: Historical and Biographical, Volume III": The article is about his son, Orson, but a reference is made to John:

"Orson Hyde Mohlman, captain of the detective department of the police service of Ogden, was born October 22, 1873, at Midway, Utah. His father, the late John Mohlman, was a native of Germany and came to America with Captain Johnston's army, a Mormon contingent that journeyed to Utah from Cincinnati, Ohio, where Mr. Mohlman had first located. He was a shoemaker by trade and followed that business throughout his life."
There is an obvious error here. Johnston's Army was NOT a "Mormon contingent that journeyed to Utah" but was part of the US Army. But finding a reference to Cincinnati as being the "place he settled" was exciting!

Johann was christened in the Catholic Church in Visbek where the family records for several generations are located. There is no record of his marriage in the Visbek church so he must have been married in the United States. It is a good possibility that there may be a record of his marriage to his first wife in one of the Catholic Churches in Cinncinati. The first US Census record where Johann appears is the 1860 Census. He is found in Fairfield, Utah, age 32 years old showing "bootmaker" as his profession. By this time he had been discharged from the Army in the Utah Territory. Apparently he stayed around Camp Floyd and set up a boot and shoe shop.

Josef Maehlmann's records indicate that Johann had two nephews and four nieces (children of his oldest brother Johannes Heinrich from whose line he is a descendant) who came to the United States. Maria "Elisabeth", Maria "Anna", Mary "Gertrude", Anna "Catherine", Johann Wilhelm "John William" and Johann Franz "Frank". Frank and John William settled in Putnam County, Ohio. Maria Elisabeth and Anna Catherine settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, Gertrude settled around the Cleveland area and Maria Anna headed to Pittsburgh. It appears they all immigrated after Johann joined the Army and left the area. This could be another clue that points to Johann settling in Ohio. Although these nieces and nephews were born in the 1840s and 1850s in Germany, and probably would not have come to the United States until they were older, it is significant that when they did come, they settled in Ohio. People tended to settle where others of their family settled.

An explanation as to the spelling change from Moehlmann to Maehlmann:
Josef Maehlmann, explained that in the beginning of the 19th century, it was modern to change the names from "flat-German" ("old German" ?) to "high German," so the name changed from Moehlmann to Maehlmann. One part of the family went into the neighboring area of Cappeln and kept the "Maehlmann" spelling. The side that stayed around Visbek eventually returned to the "Mohlmann or Moehlmann" spelling.

Johann enlisted in the Army on the 8th day of November 1854 at Newport, Kentucky. The following is a copy of his enlistment papers received from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It doesn't give us any new information but it does show his signature. This is the first and only piece of original evidence I have found from him ˆ his very own signature! Everything else I have found is only ABOUT him.

A summary of Johann's Army enlistment record can be found in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, film #350330 page 140. This information is gleaned from the original record shown above.
The record indicates some interesting details about Johann:
Johann G. Mohlmann
Oldenburg, Germany
Age 27
Enlisted: Newport, Kentucky - November 8, 1854
Enlisted for 5 years
Blue eyes
Black Hair
Light complexion
Height: 5 feet 5 3/4 inches
Enlisted in the 7th Infantry Division
Discharged: November 8, 1859 after the expiration of his 5 years Remarks (hard to read): At Camp Floyd, UT? (Utah Territory?) Musician

Since there is no known picture of him, this information gives us a clue as to what he looked like. Johann was medium height - just shy of 5 feet 6 inches. He had dark hair and blue eyes. The picture of his son, Ephraim Manassah, at around the same age may be as close as we get to knowing what he may have looked like.

Johann was a bugler in the Army. According to Laura's writings, he loved to sing and played several instruments. He passed his love of music on to his children. His son, Ephraim, at one time played the horn in the Midway band. Johann's enlistment record indicates he enlisted in Newport, Kentucky.

Johann spent the years between 1854 and 1859 in the Army. He did not come to Utah until 1858, so four years of his service was spent somewhere in the Midwest, possibly at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Research on Ft. Leavenworth resulted in this information which substantiates this conclusion.

History 19th century
During these early years, soldiers from Fort Leavenworth protected wagon trains hauling supplies over the Santa Fe Trail, Oregon Trail, and other trails to most forts, posts and military camps of the West, some as far as the Pacific Ocean. There are still evidences of the Oregon Trail ruts on the Post. When the Kansas Territory was organized in 1854 Governor Andrew Reeder set up executive offices on post and lived for a short time in the quarters now known as "The Rookery". During the 1850's, troops from Ft. Leavenworth were mobilized to control the "Mormon Problem" in Utah.
In 1847, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or "Mormons" as they were sometimes called had fled to the uninhabited valley of the Great Salt Lake to avoid persecution. Only ten years later, in 1857, after the area had become a territory of the United States, President James Buchanan was told that the Mormons were committing treason, for not upholding the territorial government. President Buchanan sent a new Territorial governor to replace Brigham Young along with a very large contingent of soldiers, almost π of the entire US Army to the Utah Territory to force "those Mormons" to submit to the "law." Brigham Young was not notified officially of the ordered change. So, when Mormon messengers brought word that a large army was headed to Utah, Brigham Young worried that old persecutions were being renewed ˆ and that the Army was coming to kill and scatter church leaders. He determined that the saints would stand their ground.

Brigham Young, however, sought to avoid any bloodshed and tried to keep the Army away and buy time for negotiations. So he sent militia to harass and slow the Army. Their supply wagons were burned, their cattle scattered causing many delays and much suffering by the soldiers. Because of the problems caused by the Mormon "guerilla fighters," the entire army was forced to winter at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, but the winter was extremely difficult as the Mormons had burned down the fort before their arrival.
However miserable the winter was for the Army and the Mormon militia hidden in the hills to watch the Army, it bought time for cooler heads to prevail and negotiate peace. Political sentiments back in Washington also became unfavorable for Buchanan and the "Utah War" was being touted as "Buchanan's Blunder." Pres. Buchanan began to look for a way out of the mess. Buchanan sent ambassadors and emissaries to negotiate peace. He eventually offered "amnesty" to the church leaders. In exchange, the Army would be allowed to establish a permanent fort nearby; Camp Floyd in Cedar Valley. Colonel Johnston was not happy. As he marched troops through Salt Lake City the next June, he told Major Porter that he "would give up his plantation for a chance to bombard the city for 15 minutes." (see article in the Deseret News, Sunday, July 9, 2006 entitled: "American's Forgotten War.")

Johann was a participant in this "war" and suffered along with the other soldiers in their march to Utah. One wonders what he was thinking during this time. Did he know why he was coming? If he did understand, did he agree or disagree with what was happening? He died suddenly at age 53. Was his health adversely affected because of the difficulties he endured on the trek West? Could he speak much English? What did he think of the "Mormons?" Why did he decide to stay in the area after he was discharged when he had a child back East? The questions are endless!


Gravesite Details There is no grave stone for John




  • Maintained by: Diana Enos Hammock
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 53846
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Gerd Mohlman (12 Feb 1828–12 Sep 1881), Find A Grave Memorial no. 53846, citing Midway Cemetery, Midway, Wasatch County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Diana Enos Hammock (contributor 46863126) .