1860-1877 – A Life Well Lived.

It’s clear in our family records, that sometime soon after 1860, George F. Boller, left his beloved Wayne County, Ohio, spending his final years living with his oldest daughter Christiana (nicknamed Anna C.) and the Benjamin B. Stutzman family on the Mennonite farmlands of Elkhart County – Clinton Township – near Goshen, Indiana.

1865 Indiana Tax Records from Elkhart County, IN.

This Indiana District 10 tax document (above) from 1865 lists area residents – Elkhart County – their professions, and the state tax paid from their work. George Boller is listed here, Clinton Township, and shows him as a 4th clap peddler with $10 of tax paid in 1865. I’m assuming a “peddler” simply means a salesman, but for the life of me, I can’t find any information on what a ‘4th clap’ is!

Through the help of Wanda Kauffman Hoffman in Goshen, we’ve located a copy of George’s last will and testament that was written on July 14, 1876. This will was recorded in the Elkhart County Courthouse in Goshen, Indiana on December 24, 1877, following George’s death.

Here we have the only document “signed” by George F. Boller. His “X” was his mark.

George F. Boller is buried in the Clinton Union Cemetery – located on County Road 36, four miles east of Hwy 33 – in Goshen, Indiana – right next to his oldest daughter, Anna C. (Christiana) and her husband Benjamin Stutzman.

Over the years, we’ve made several visits to the grave site – which, amazingly, is only a couple of miles east of LaVonne Unrue’s home – Sandy’s mother – in Goshen. In 2016 – as part of Our Boller Story 200th Year in America Celebration – we replaced the old grave stone which had fallen into dis-repair. Click here to read the full story.

As we were working on an extensive re-write of this George F. Boller story in January 2022, we were able to recover on-line – via Ancestry.com – 52 amazing documents that we’ve never seen before in our 25+ years of research…

Indiana, U.S., Wills and Probate Records for George F. Boller documents #714-#766

As these records show, after George died in 1877, his son, George Z. Boller, served as executor of his will. As I sorted through these many pages, I’m amazed at how precisely George, Jr. cared for George’s assets of $404.59 (see inventory sheets above – one signed by Benjamin B. Stutzman, George’s son-in-law – Anna C’s husband) with whom he was living at the time of his death).

Another amazing piece of paperwork we found (above) was both the order and the paid receipt ($20) for George’s original gravestone from C.V. Inks Marble Works of Ligonier, Indiana. This paperwork offers us some valuable information that no one had ever been able to recover – until now. And there it is – surprise – surprise…

If you notice the condition of the stone as we first found it in July 2002 (see picture above left), our “best guess” on George’s date of death was Dec 8, which when calculating back 83 years, 10 months, and 20 days, we arrived at George’s “best guess” birth date of January 18, 1794. I should also note here that the original tombstone (in 2 pieces) is my possession – in my home office in Iowa City.

Now, with this new bit of information – George passing on October 8, 1877 and not December 8 – I guess we’ll need to add an asterisk to our new gravestone! Because now, the world knows that George F. Boller’s true birthday was actually two months earlier than we’ve recorded in the past! It’s “officially” November 18, 1793 – not January 18, 1794!

This paperwork found in these newly-discovered files confirms George’s date of death – October 8, 1877.

In my drive for accuracy, I seriously considered in 2022 to go back to the good folks in Goshen, Indiana and see if we could correct the gravestone. I had a great talk with Wes, the owner of LaGrange Monument Works, who said that these kind of things happen on occasion. He told me that he could either make a whole new headstone with the corrected dates or we could engrave a copper plate to mount over the present one. The cost? $700-$1000.

I seriously talked it over with my wife, Sandy, but realized that, like Wes said, when trying to follow the historical trail of any relative, the further back one goes in time, the more likely it is that accurate dates may never be found. So, for now, I’m gonna leave George’s “history” as we set it before this latest discovery and since the dates are off by only two months, it really doesn’t change any of the rest of his story.

For now, a little photo-shopping will have to do!

Sorry, George, for the long-standing boo-boo! But hey, what’s 2 months when compared to 83 years, right? To make it up to you, I’ll buy you a Bavarian beer when we all get together on the other side!

Another wonderful insight that’s come to us from this long-lost paperwork on George’s gravestone is the re-discovery of the Bible text that was engraved on his stone. Worn away by the sands of time, we were never able to read it. But now – we know!

“Verse No 154 to go on Said Stone”

The only Psalm that has a 154th verse is Psalm 119. I’m sure this was the text chosen…

Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to Thy Word.

The NIV Bible translates Verse 154 this way…

Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to Your promise.

In closing, allow me to tell you this touching story…

In a November 1882 Mennonite obituary written for the death of George’s daughter, Christiana (Anna C.) we find a very interesting tidbit that touches my heart…

“A few days previous to her departure, she (Anna C.) bade her husband and children all farewell, and just shortly before her death she said, ‘I see angels and hear them sing.’ She also saw her departed father and mother (George and Elizabeth). She suddenly awoke from her trance and exclaimed, ‘O there is my mother whom I have not seen for so long’ (1840)…then she closed her eyes in calm repose, and fell asleep in Jesus.”

It’s obvious from this story that there was a great love in Christiana’s heart for her dear father and mother – George & Elizabeth Boller. Certainly, God honored that love with such a peaceful vision just prior to her homecoming with her family in the Lord’s presence!

As we come to the end of the first chapter of Our Boller Story, suffice to say that George F. Boller and Elizabeth Zook were very brave and resilient people. George’s resolve to resist submission to Napoleon’s oppressive rule, to leave his German homeland, and cross the Atlantic Ocean to settle in a fresh new land, took a deep on-going trust in God. His willingness to step out in faith has benefited our Boller family for countless generations.

While their exact records may always be hard to finalize, we do know enough about George & Elizabeth Boller to be thankful for their willingness to continually persevere with their new start here in the United States of America. Maybe someday, you’ll be able to further trace George’s & Elizabeth’s family roots in Germany and throughout Europe, finding out more about our Boller family prior to the late 1700’s.

For example, one ancestry website states that “George L. Boller had 2 sisters, Katharine Boller, and one other sibling.” I’ve not been able to track down any other facts surrounding this tidbit, but maybe you can run with this fragment of data and see if it leads you anywhere. I’ll be rooting for you from above!

George F. Boller (1793-1877), Elizabeth (Zook) Boller (1790-1840)

* Editor’s note: When we placed a new gravestone for George F. Boller in 2016, we had no idea that in 2022, more papers would be found that would actually push George’s birth date and death date back by two months! The newly revised dates are: (b) November 18, 1793 (d) October 8, 1877. Fortunately, this slight two-month revision doesn’t alter any of the basic information we’ve presented in Our Boller Story.

Christiana (Boller) Stutzman (1821-1882), John Boller (1823-1895), Jacob B. Boller (1825-1907)

Elizabeth (Boller) Stutzman (1827-1882), George Z. Boller (1828-1883), Magdalena (Boller) McKibbin (1831-1894)

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Instructions to Enumerators Concerning Occupations at the Censuses of 1870-1900, www.census.gov

Wanda Kauffman Hoffman listings, Clinton Union Cemetery, Goshen, Indiana, Interment.net

Elizabeth F. Zook Boller, Find-A-Grave

George F. Boller, Find-A-Grave

Elizabeth Boller Stutzman, Find-A-Grave

John Boller, Find-A-Grave

Jacob B. Boller, Find-A-Grave

George Z. Boller, Find-A-Grave

Magdalena M. Boller McKibbin, Find-A-Grave

Anna Christiana Boller Stutzman, Find-A-Grave

Click here to go on to Boller Generation Two…

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