Ludwig Friedrich Heinrich Ernst Bauer and Louisa Prahl

                 My Great-grandparents






                                                           Ludwig and Augusta




   circa 1896

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Ludwig Friedrich Heinrich Ernst Bauer was my great-grandfather.  He was born November 23, 1839 in Pepelow, Germany. He was the eldest of nine children born to Friedrich Wilhelm Bauer and Marie (Mary) Dorothea Roggensack. He was baptized November 24, 1839 with his baptism sponsors being:  Ludwig Pingel, Freiderick Dernehl, Heinrich Bauer, and Ernst Schroder. He was later confirmed in 1854.


On November 2, 1871, at the age of 32, he married my great-grandmother, Elisa Sophia Louise Prahl. They were married in Alt-Bukow, Mecklenberg, Germany. Great-grandma Louisa was born June 11, 1848 to Heinrich Johann Ehrenfried Prahl and Marie Dorothea Blievernicht. She was the fifth out of ten children.


After the death of their first child, who lived less than a month, my great-grandparents must have talked it over, and decided to immigrate to America, to get a fresh start. They boarded a ship in Hamburg, Germany, called the Frisa, and arrived a few weeks later on October 9, 1872, in New York City.

  The S.S.Frisa

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The ship manifest showing Ludwig and Marie (Louisa) Bauer.



Becoming an American citizen must have been very important to Ludwig. After being here only about ten months, he decided to take the necessary steps to achieve his dream.

Ludwig sent his declaration of intent to be naturalized in August, 1873. 

On November 12, 1895, a Christ Kastner spoke for Ludwig for his naturalization.  This was the last step for him to become naturalized. He was formally naturalized on November 14, 1895.
  Declaration Of Intention for Naturalization
  Naturalization Document, page 1
  Naturalization Document and Oath, page 2

It is unclear why Ludwig and Louisa decided to settle in Zilwaukee, Michigan; however, through our research, we have discovered that there were many residents from that part of Germany who had previously immigrated to this area. My best guess is that they had read letters and heard tales about the “riches in America” from relatives of their neighbors and friends who had already made the trip. In any case, they did indeed come to Michigan, and settle in Zilwaukee, which, at that time was spelled “Zilwaukie”.

Ludwig and Louisa must have also written home extolling the virtues of life in this new country, because the following year, Ludwig’s younger brother Heinrich, sisters Christiana, Marie, and Wilhelmina, and his mother Marie, a widow,  all immigrated to the US. They arrived on the ship Thuringia on December 10, 1873.

  Thuringia's manifest showing Marie, Heinrich, Marie, Christe, and Wilhelmina

The Thuringia was an iron ship with one funnel and two masts that were rigged for sail. It had a speed of 12 knots. It was a 3,133 gross ton ship, length 350.3 feet, beam 40 feet. It was launched May 18, 1870, and laid up in 1875 and sold to the Russian Navy in 1878. It was a sister ship to the Frisa.


Ludwig and Louisa had five more children while living in Zilwaukee. They were: Henry Louis (my grandfather), John Friedrich, Elsie E., Anna Marie, and Louisa. It was during the birth of baby Louisa that Great-grandma encountered difficulty. She and the baby both lost their lives. She died Oct 16, 1883, and the baby died the next day.

On the 1880 census,  it shows Ludwig working in the local Salt Block. At that time the Saginaw area had several salt mines, and obviously, Ludwig had found steady work that ensured a good income for his family. They were living only three doors down from his mother and sister Anna, (who had also immigrated), and not far from brother Henry.


Having four small children to raise on his own, must have been difficult for Ludwig, They needed a mother and he needed a wife, so on February 27, 1884, he married Henrietta Knipple. The following year, they had a son together, Louis; and in 1886, a baby that was stillborn. There must have been complications with the birth of this last child, because a month later, on September18, 1886, Ludwig lost Henrietta.

Again Ludwig tried to cope with being a father and holding down a job. We don’t know for sure, but perhaps his own mother or maybe his sisters helped to care for his children. But just five months later, February 9, 1887, he again remarried; this time to Sophia Johanna Friederica Welzhein. Sophia had also been previously married, and brought five of her own children to the marriage. However, life must have been good, because they proceeded to have three more children together: Bertha, Harry and Alvina.

Life went on for the couple and their growing family until 1887 when Sophia must have taken ill. She died on March 1, 1894, once again leaving Ludwig a lonely widower.


I’m guessing my great-grandfather was either a resilient man, an extremely lonely man, or just plain foolish, because eight months later, November 22, 1894, he remarried for the fourth time. This time, he proposed to Augusta Knaack, a widow with five grown children.

According to the 1900 census, Ludwig and Augusta were still living in Zilwaukee, his occupation was listed as a farmer, and she as a housewife. Five of his children were living with them, John age 24, Anna age 18, Bertha age12, Harry age 10, and Alvina age 8.

By 1910, Ludwig owned his own farm in Zilwaukee, and even though he was 70 years old, he was still actively farming. It is unknown whether or not his children helped him. We do know that his daughter Bertha was mentally handicapped and continued to live at home.

After about 18 years of marriage, Augusta fell ill, and passed away on February 29, 1912. Ludwig continued living in Zilwaukee, not far from his son, Henry Louis, my grandfather. He remained an active man both at home and in the community.

On the 1920 census, his daughter Bertha was still at home with him. He never remarried again. Maybe he thought four times was enough, and besides, his children were now grown, some with families of their own. (except for Bertha).


He lived in Zilwaukee until his death on November 16, 1926. He passed away at home, the cause of death was listed as bronchitis. Below is his obituary from The Saginaw News Courier:

BAUER--Ludwig Bauer, 86, died Tuesday at his home in Zilwaukee. He was born in Germany November 23, 1839, was married there in 1871 and in 1872 came to this country and settled in Zilwaukee. He is survived by seven children. Henry L. Bauer and Bertha Bauer, Zilwaukee; John Bauer, Omena, Mich., Mrs. Albert Bauer,, Mrs. Albert Jahn and Mrs. Alvena Heinemann, Saginaw and Harry Bauer Bridgeport; one brother and two sisters, Henery Bauer, Zilwaukee, Mrs. John Elwardt, Bridgeport, and Mrs. Louis Kalzow, Flint. The funeral will take place at 1:30 p.m. Friday from the home and at 2 p.m. from St. John's Lutheran church, Zilwaukee. Rev. W. A. F. Grimm will officiate.

Ludwig and Augusta are both buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, plot 1951 and 1953, section 1A, Saginaw, Michigan.











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1877 map of Zilwaukee, showing location of Ludwig's land.