006c.1851, Parents of Mary Gesellchen

Gertrud Mertes Gesellchen and Peter Gesellchen, with their first baby, we believe, in this daguerreotype. Gertrud Mertes immigrated from Germany with her father Anton and brothers and sisters in 1846. Peter Gesellchen immigrated from Germany on his own in 1846 and met Gertrud when she was 16. They married when she was 18. They went on to have 14 children, 8 of whom survived. Gertrude Mertes Gesellchen and Peter Gesellechen had difficult times in 1860. The miller of the town was repairing his grinding wheel with lead. The lead got into the bread that was distributed and Gertrude was pregnant with Mary at the time. Gertrude had a suspicion about the bread and she refused to eat it, as she was confined to bed during her pregnancy. 3 of their children, John, Matt and little Gertrude, died of lead poisoning that year, in 1860, when Mary was born. Young Joseph died of a stomach ailment the same year. Kate died at birth and Louie, of a stomach ailment as well, though we don’t know the dates. This photo seems to be when they were very young and may be when they had their first child.

Gertrude’s father, Anton Mertes, was a tailor in Gillenbeuren, Germany. His ancestors’ records travel through Germany and back to the Netherlands. Joseph listed above is Mathias Joseph. He and his two sons, Mathias Joseph and Jacob Mertes stayed in Wisconsin.
Gertrude Mertes Gesellchen and Peter Gesellechen c.1880.