Simple curiosity took hold of George Bauer one day in the summer of 2016 at his home in Lees Summit, Missouri. But despite the itch to explore and research his family’s history, Bauer had no solid information on their origin.
“The only information I had on my
family was contained in a letter that my father sent to my cousin Joyce in 1978,” George said.
In it, his father wrote that his grandfather was born in Fosters Meadow, New York. The Bauers first arrived there from Bavaria in the 19th century. Henry, the family’s third son, was born in what would later become Elmont and lived as a farmer along Dutch Broadway. Many in the area still recognize his service to the Belmont Hook and Ladder Company and his 48 years on the Elmont Free Union School District Board of Education.
But while those are the facts about Henry, according to the Fosters Meadow Heritage Center, George found his focus shifting to his great uncle’s service as a trustee at the St. Paul’s German Presbyterian Church on Elmont Road, a church that the Bauers helped found when they arrived from Europe.
“I knew if I could locate the church records I would find more about the Bauer’s and St. Paul’s,” George said.
But one large obstacle stood in George’s way: the fire of 1905. As the Hempstead Sentinel and Long Island Farmer newspapers recounted, three unknown men approached the church building one night and attacked Joseph Denton, the guard on duty at the time, knocking him out with a surprise ambush.
“I ran to George Case’s barber shop with my face bleeding and asked him to fix up my wounds, telling him as fast as I could what had happened,” Denton said in a Farmers article, dated March 17, 1905.
By the time they got back to the church, it was already on fire and burned down by morning, despite efforts by neighbors to extinguish the flames. George Bauer had thought that the old church records were destroyed in the blaze, but that was not
As he hunted down records from the church and the Presbyterian Historical Society, Bauer learned that the Bauers had worked on the building of the new church in 1904, which was moved to a new site days before the old building burned down. Realizing that the church’s records must have been saved in the new building, George renewed his search last year and was eventually able to find the records, which had been uploaded to Ancestry.com. He shared his findings with the Foster Meadows Heritage Center.
“He has helped us out immensely,”
Raymond Hoeffner, of the Fosters Meadow Heritage Center, said. “So little was
known about St. Paul’s until George started his work.”
The records are split between three books, with links available on the Fosters Meadow Heritage Center’s website.
“I know that the records provided me with very valuable information on my family, and I hope others will use the records to research their family histories within the church records,” George said.