Tracking down Isaac Mayer’s headstone

IMG_2433Kind and generous people have become somewhat of a rarity, but they are truly a blessing when they are a part of your life. One of these people is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary named Preston. He goes to my church, attends the same Bible study as me and who hails from a town near Augusta, Georgia.

When I found out that he was near Augusta, I mentioned to him my ancestor Isaac Mayer (3rd great grandfather) being from that area, and that I had recently found where he was buried – Magnolia Cemetery. Not only did he know where that was, but offered to try and find the headstone for me next time he went home. Here is some of what he wrote to me after he returned from this genealogical scavenger hunt on my behalf:

I’ve never actually been to that cemetery before, but it is a historical place so I took a lot of pictures just for fun. It turns out I have a few relatives buried there, though I don’t know where they’re buried.

About halfway through you’ll see I stumbled upon the Jewish plots (thanks to the map you sent me). The grave stones were interesting, most of them had some Hebrew on them. I haven’t translated any of it. It would be difficult for me since the vowel markings aren’t there, or put another way, the text is “unpointed.”

It took me a long time to actually find the grave, because Mayer is not a common family name in the Jewish plots at that cemetery, at least from what I saw. In fact, I only found two grave stones belonging to the Mayers, one of which is Isaac’s as best as I can tell

So you’ll see two Mayer grave stones in the last part of the album. The rectangular one says

To the memory of Benj. A. Mayer second son of Isaac & Elizabeth Mayer Born August 11th 1856 Died August 25th 1857.

The other gravestone belongs to Isaac himself. I almost didn’t even see it because it had broken and was resting face down, but I ended up flipping it over and cleaning it off. And sure enough, there it was. This is the best that I can make of what the stone says

To the memory of Issac Mayer Born March 1st 1818 at Osthofen Germany Died April 29th 1864 – Peace be to his ashes.

You’ll see on the back side some Hebrew text engraved there. I haven’t looked at it too closely, but I can perhaps find out what it says later if you want.

So, not only has my friend made this remarkable personal connection for me with the final resting place for my ancestor with pictures, but he has also helped me discover for the first time my ancestor’s hometown in Germany! Osthofen, Alzey-Worms, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany is where he was born, and it would appear that the Family History Library in Salt Lake City has some extensive church and civil records for this region. One scavenger hunt, as expected, has led to another! However, with Isaac being Jewish, it is unclear whether or not any records remain. The Nazis burned the synagogue to the ground in 1938, and the Jews in town were either murdered or driven out. My hope probably lies in civil records, though there is a Jewish cemetery in Osthofen that also may hold clues.


1 thought on “Tracking down Isaac Mayer’s headstone

  1. Wow! This confirms my suspicion that there were probably children that had died missing from online records. I have added Benjamin A. Mayer to the family of Isaac and Elizabeth Mayer. Thanks so much for that! Your friend is a wonderful human being. Thank him for me!

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