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+Anna Maria Engel Nolton (c.1815-1897)

Anna Maria Engel Nolten was born in Hanover Province, Germany probably in April of 1815. She came to America, to Pittsburgh, where she met Gerrit Jan Walvoord. She and Gerrit Jan were married in Pittsburgh probably around the year 1846. Their first child, Henry, was born in 1847.

Anna Maria had dark hair, blue eyes, and was of medium height. She never had her picture taken because she thought it was a sin (to make an image). She was said to be a talker, and had an excellent memory; she could hear a sermon and recite it word for word.

Louise Walvoord was told by someone who knew Anna Maria that she was a good cook.

Anna Maria believed, “No girl is ready to be married until she knows how to make sixteen different kinds of soup.”

Anna Maria’s husband, Gerrit Jan, died on July 11, 1856. They were together less than a decade. But during that time they had five children together: Henry, Jane, Mary, Tonia and Delia.

After Gerrit Jan’s death, the family moved to a farm near Amsterdam, Wisconsin to live with Hendrik Walvoord’s family. Anna Maria did much manual labor on the farm. She had a spinning wheel and used it. Eventually she moved out from the large farm home and lived in a small house across from the Cedar Swamp.

Henry Walvoord and his sisters

Henry Walvoord and his sisters, (left to right) Delia Lawson, Jane Hoopman and Mary Sweemer c. 1897. This photo was taken on the occasion of their mother Anna Maria Engel (Nolten) Walvoords death. Another sister, Tonia, died in 1873.

Henry, her son, once borrowed one hundred dollars from her. She told him that if he could pay it back, he should send it to the American Bible Society. Henry did this, although he had to support her during the last years of her life.

When she came to America, Anna Maria could not read or write. Because of this, she lost track of her relatives back in Germany (the Nolten family). Her son Henry tried to locate her relatives (she had two brothers who also had come to America), but Henry had no success finding them.

After all of her children were married, Anna Maria moved to Chester, Iowa to live with her youngest daughter Delia (then Delia Lawson). Delia’s husband, Frank Lawson, had gone insane. There Anna Maria helped with the farming until the Lawson boys, John and Herbert, became adults. She lived there until she was nearly eighty-years-old.

In her old age, Anna Maria had very little hair and wore a black hood or cap. She often used a foot warmer. And she became childish.

When she left Iowa, Anna Maria came back to Wisconsin and lived with her daughter Mary. But after her money was gone, she went to live with the Henry Walvoord family for a few years until her death. Her daughters Jane and Delia came out for the funeral. Their brother Henry paid their train fare. She died on September 5, 1897 at the age of eighty-two.

Updated: September 12, 2016 — 7:57 PM
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