Birth/Baptismal Certificate Mary Ann Umstadt Born 1836






Ehegatten, Johannes Umstadt and seiner Hausfrau Catharina eine geborne Kalb ist eine Tochter geboren worden, den 21ten October im Jahr unsers Herrn, 1836. Diese Tochter ist geboren in Limbrük Taunship Montgomeri County, im Staat Pennsylvanien in Nord=Amerika, ist getauft worden und erhiest den Namen Mery En den ... Tag ... im Jahr unsers Herrn 1836 von Herrn Pf. E Müller. Taufzeugen waren: Der Großvater Samuel Kalb.


Married couple, To Johannes Umstadt and his wife Catharina, nee Kalb, a daughter was born, the 21st of October in the year of our Lord, 1836. This daughter was born in Limerick Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, North America; is baptised and named Mary An(n) the ... day ... in the year of our Lord 1836 by Pastor E Mueller. Witness: the grandfather Samuel Kalb.

Mary Ann was the daughter of John Umstead (Umstadt) who was born May 8, 1813, in Limerick Twp, Montgomery Co, PA. He died August 15, 1890, Montgomery Co.
He lived near Fruitville, PA. His parents were Joseph Umstead and Elizabeth Tyson Hunsberger. He married, May 22, 1836, at New Hanover/Falkner Swamp Lutheran Ch, New Hanover Twp, Montgomery Co, Catherine (Kalb) Kolb, born January 15, 1814, died November 11, 1895. Both are buried at New Hanover ELC, New Hanover, Montgomery Co.

The above certificate proves that Mary Ann was their daughter, and that she was born October 21, 1836, in Limerick Twp, Montgomery Co, PA. She died March 24, 1911. Mary Ann married her uncle*, Abraham Umstead, born May 11, 1827, Limerick Twp, Montgomery Co. He died August 20, 1902. Both are buried at New Hanover ELC, New Hanover, Montgomery Co. Abraham's parents were Joseph Umstead and Elizabeth Tyson Hunsberger*.

John and Mary Ann are said to have had five children, sons Irwin Umstead, born July 6, 1861, died February 9, 1912, and Abraham Umstead, born October 18, 1862, January 29, 1911. Both are buried at New Hanover ELC, New Hanover, Montg Co. Their three other children are unknown.

*Ulmer/Fry S32 identifies Mary Ann Umstead as daughter of Abraham's brother John, making her his niece. Abraham's parentage has not yet been proven to my satisfaction.

Barbara Wentz found this certificate at a flea market and shares it with us. Her comments:

It is really too bad about the damage at the top, but I guess better there than on the writing. The top of the certificate says Geburts- und [Taufschein would have been on
the other side if the bugs had not eaten it]. Birth and Baptismal Certificate

Allentaun, PA. gedruckt bie A. und W. Blumer 1836 - ALLENTOWN, PA printed by A & W Blumer, 1836.

On the back in pencil it says in English. "By H. C. Walt Limerick April th 19 1858" Second line: "For Abraham Umstit."


There were lots of Walts in Limerick and I found a Henry C. Walt, 27, carpenter (there was a word in front of carpenter that I could not make out).

The frame appears to be hand made, based solely on the fact that the dovetails are not uniform in size. One can see two dovetails on each side of the frame, which is what holds the frame together. There do not appear to be any nails holding the mitered corners together (even though they could have been countersunk and filled in (there are no signs that this is the case). I don't know what kind of wood it is but it is veneered on the front only and lifting in places. I don't know what kind of veneer it is, but it is somewhat striped. It is not oak or walnut or mahogany because I usually can tell those woods. There are small square/rectangular nails holding the back boards on, which is what the fraktur lies on. That is why it has been eaten by bugs!

Fraktur/fractur is technically a style of writing, but around here (Philadelphia area) fraktur generally means any old hand-drawn/lettered document, bookplate, house blesssing, marriage certificates, baptismal certificate, etc, done by Pennsylvania Germans.

Here is a definition found at "Fractur is a term referring to a style of writing as well at to the illuminated documents on which it was executed. Brought to Pennsylvania by German scribes, fractur was an art form peculiar to the Pennsylvania Germans. Fractur writing was based upon the sixteenth-century fractur typeface, a loose imitation of bold, rigid Gothic lettering. In the German manner, fractur painting followed the tradition of medieval manuscript illumination. The fractur writer held several positions within the Pennsylvania German community. As the representative of learning, he was often the schoolmaster as well as clergyman. With his skill in drawing and writing, he performed such services as illustrating books and hymnals, and drawing up important documents."

The Berks County Historical Society says this: The word “Fraktur” refers to a type of German lettering or typeface used from the fifteenth century until World War II. Fraktur lettering is decorative and is often compared to our Old English Gothic. Americans use the word “fraktur” to refer to decorated manuscripts made by and for Pennsylvania Germans and German-Americans.

Most fraktur are Geburts- und Taufscheine (birth and baptismal certificates). They were made primarily for Lutheran and Reformed families, for whom baptism is a sacrament. Most fraktur were made about 1745 to 1920 in southeast Pennsylvania. Following the Revolution, the demand for Taufscheine soared. Many schoolmasters, artists, and scriveners turned to printed forms to expedite production.

Berks County families preferred “personalized” forms. In this respect, Berks County held onto the fraktur tradition longer than did neighboring counties. Not only does Berks County fraktur represent a cornucopia because of sheer numbers of fraktur that came from this region, it also represents a microcosm of the history of American Taufscheine made possible by a mutually beneficial trade among schoolmasters, printers, and scriveners.



The original certificate is available to any interested descendant.


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last updated 23 May 2006