PROFILE: Searching for the past
They are the Holy Scriptures and at the same time they are the repository for important family events. Often times, the front pages of Bibles were used to list births, deaths and marriages, the family’s own heritage inscribed on the pages of their spiritual one.
Kenneth E. “Kenny” Hummel and his father, Kenneth A. Hummel, of Hooper, Utah, are on a quest to find a missing Bible that they believe may connect them with their family’s history — a history that began in the Old World with a mysterious ancestor but has been lost to time.
The American branch of the Hummel family tree began in the 1850s when Johannes Frederick (or maybe Frederick Johann) Hummel immigrated to the United States from Wurttemberg, Germany.
“He spent some time in Scioto County and then moved to Lawrence County and settled in Ironton,” Kenneth A. Hummel said.
Johann brought few possessions and the ones he did bring were, well, curious.
“(He brought) two muzzle loading shotguns with a powder horn and what appeared to be a high ranking military uniform accompanied by a sword (saber),” Kenny Hummel said.
A military uniform? Muzzle loading shotguns? Just who was Johann Hummel?
“He was a high-ranking officer, I don’t know what rank. He was kind of secretive and the family didn’t talk too much about it,” Kenneth A. Hummel said.
If Johann’s life in Germany was enigmatic, his life in the New World was straight-forward and uneventful.
Johann married Anna Maria Schmidt, whose family was already settled in Scioto County.
“I understand that her father was a wealthy merchant. Their marriage was prearranged while they were both children,” Kenny Hummel explained.
Johann and Anna lived in a house at the corner of North Second Street and Means streets. Johann made a living in the pig iron industry, as so many Lawrence Countians did then. He died in 1897 when he fell from a furnace stack he was inspecting, Kenneth A. Hummel recalled.
Like many other families, each family Hummel birth and death family lineage was noted in the family Bible that may have been in either the Schmidt or Hummel family prior to Johann and Anna’s marriage. It may have been written in German. Kenneth A. Hummel recalled having seen it as a child.
“It had a hard cover,” he said. “If I recall it may have been cushioned on top. It was a heavy, covered Bible and it was large.”
Some names that would likely have been listed in the Bible would have been Johannes Frederick Hummel or Frederick Johann, Anna Maria Schmidt, William Henry, Frederick, Caroline, Franz August, Frederick Albert and Franz August, William Arnold, Pearl Emerson and Norman Henry.
“The missing Bible is of importance in that it may connect us with those members of the family that either remained in Germany or were ancestors of my great-great-grandfather,” Kenny Hummel said.
Johann and Anna Maria had at least two children, one of which was Kenneth A. Hummel’s grandfather, William Henry. Born in 1863 in Scioto County, he died in 1936 in Ironton. The Bible was left in his wife, Lydia’s possession when he died. Lydia died in the 1960s.
It was after her death that the Bible and many of Johann’s other possession were discovered to have disappeared. Kenneth A. Hummel suspects a family member may have pawned the items in Columbus before or after Lydia’s death.
In need of help
The Hummels hope someone will contact them with information that will lead them to the treasure they have sought and have yet to find: the family Bible.
Kenny Hummel may be reached at (801) 985-0917 or by mail at P.O. Box 10 (5429 West 5900 South), Hooper, Utah 84315.
Kenneth A. Hummel may be reached at (801) 985-7905.
His address is 6040 West 5600 South, Hooper, UT 84315-9781.
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