Barbara Koob – a Saint from Heppenheim

Saint Marianne Cope

Peter Koob, a farmer and day laborer, was married to Barbara Witzenbacher from Hambach and had 6 children with her. His daughter Barbara was born on January 23, 1838 in Friedrichstrasse in Heppenheim and was baptized the next day in the Catholic Church of St. Peter.  She was named Maria Anna Barbara Koob. 

Part of the beautiful old section of Heppenheim. This is what our ancestors saw.

In 1839 the Koob family emigrated to the USA on the ship Ariosta which left the port of Antwerp, Belgium, and docked in New York harbor on Oct 16, 1839. The majority of the passengers were families from Heppenheim and the nearby villages of Kirschhausen, Sonderbach, and Erbach. Most of them moved to Randolph and Suffield townships in Portage County, Ohio.

However, the Koob family settled on farmland in Utica, New York, where they became American citizens named Cope. From a young age, Barbara felt called to the monastic life, but at the same time, she was obliged to contribute to the livelihood of her family through hard factory work. It was only after her father’s death in 1862 that she entered the St. Anthony Convent of the Franciscan Sisters in Syracuse, New York at the age of 24. There she made her vows on November 19, 1863, and took the name Sister Marianne.  The schools and hospitals of her order were particularly important to her. Because of her assertiveness, she and several other sisters turned a saloon into a hospital that also treated alcoholics and African-Americans, and which still exists today. Due to her skills in organization and administration, she was appointed Superior of the St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1875 and two years later as Provincial Superior of her order.

When the King of Hawaii was looking for volunteers to care for lepers in 1883, Mother Marianne’s Order was the only one willing to undertake this difficult task. “It will be my greatest joy to serve the abandoned lepers,” said Mother Marianne.  Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) meant rotting alive, which at the time could only be prevented by isolating the sick. There was no cure.  A leprosy epidemic broke out in the 1860s, and in 1864 Hawaii’s government passed isolation laws to contain the disease. In 1866 the island of Moloka’i was designated a leper colony.

The conditions in the colony were terrible. Sick people were often torn from their families by the authorities and taken to the leprosy hospital in Kaka’ako, Honolulu, where they usually disappeared without a trace.

Sister Marianne and her fellow sisters cared for over 200 lepers in the colony. As early as 1885 she founded the Kapiolani Home for the healthy daughters of lepers. She not only took care of the physical ailments of the sick through devoted care but also introduced hygienic measures and had new clothes tailored for the lepers in the girls’ home.

When the hospital was closed in 1888, all the lepers were evacuated to Moloka’i, which means “island of the dead.”   The lepers eked out an existence without any medical care and were left to their fate.

At the request of Father Damien de Veusters, a Flemish friar and long-time director of the home for boys, Mother Marianne and 3 Franciscan Sisters arrived in Moloka’i in November 1888, just in time to take over the management of the home and to care for those with leprosy until their deaths.  She first founded a home for girls and women with leprosy to protect them from violent and assaulting men. She worked for the lepers for another 30 years.

Intensive care, hygienic measures and the procurement of medicines from abroad improved the living conditions on Molokai’i to the extent that the epidemic was contained and many of the leper’s children were saved from infection.

Mother Marianne was spared the illness and cared for the sick until her death on August 9, 1918. She was honored for her self-sacrificing, long-term work under the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Beatified on May 14, 2005, and canonized in Rome on October 21, 2012. 

In the church of St. Peter in Heppenheim, a memorial plaque and a statue of mother Marianne on the high altar honor a courageous, generous and determined woman, a true saint from Heppenheim. 

The above information was taken from

You are probably wondering why I am including the story of an American saint in my family history blog.  The reason is that passengers on the ship Ariosta that brought the Koob family to American included our ancestors Peter Klein and his wife Barbara Greisemer.  Their five children included our ancestor, John Klein-Kline born 1820 in Sonderbach, a village near Heppenheim, died 1855 at Randolph township, Portage County, Ohio.  John married Margaret May born in 1824 at Kirschhausen, near Heppenheim.  Some of her relatives were also on the ship Ariosta.  Their son, John J. Kline born in 1848 in Portage County and died in 1914 in Hamilton County, Nebraska was my generation’s great-grandfather. 


Juniata’s Bandstand and Town Pump

Juniata’s Town Pump and Bandstand

Few people living today remember Juniata’s iconic bandstand, windmill and hand pump which stood in the center of Juniata Avenue’s intersection with 10th Street.

The history of the public water supply in Juniata goes back to the town’s very beginning when in the spring of 1871 the B & M Railroad bored the first well.  It was located east of Juniata Avenue on railroad property.   The well was to provide water for the railroad’s steam engines but was also used by the settlers.  Then in November 1874 a well 87 feet deep and six feet in diameter was dug for the use of the steam-powered flour mill.  In September 1878 a public windmill was erected east of Juniata Avenue on 10th Street.

The 1884 Birds Eye View drawing of Juniata shows the large railroad windmill and large windmills at the Commercial House Hotel and the livery barn both just south of the tracks on Juniata Avenue.   Twelve other windmills are shown, one by the livery stable at Juniata Avenue. and 8th Street, the remainder at private houses.  Only two windmills are shown north of the tracks.  The majority of houses did not have a water supply.  They either hauled water from the town windmill located on the south side of 10th Street between Juniata and Adams Avenues or got their water from a neighbor’s well.  Hauling water would have been a huge inconvenience.  No wonder they only took a bath on Saturday nights and everyone in the household used the same water.  During the winter months, they seldom if ever bathed.

Looking north on Juniata Avenue in 1909.
In this postcard photo, the camera is looking north on Juniata Avenue.  The stamp was canceled in January 1909.

The village bandstand was built in September 1904.  It stood in the center of the intersection of Juniata Avenue and 10th Street and could be seen from four directions.  In October 1905 the village put down a new well on the north side of the bandstand and moved the windmill there.  A large cistern was constructed for the public water supply and for water in case of a fire.

In this photo taken about1915, the camera is pointed northeast. The building to the right stood where the current post office is located and was the Juniata Herald newspaper office and printing plant.
In this photo taken about1915, the camera is pointed northeast. The building to the right stood where the current post office is located and was the Juniata Herald newspaper office and printing plant.


The photographer stood in the intersection of Juniata Avenue and 9th Street to take this photo.
The photographer stood in the intersection of Juniata Avenue and 9th Street to take this photo.  The first building on the left was an auto repair shop.  During the late ’40s, it was used by A. B. Wymore as a hatchery.


About 1943 an electric pump was installed on the well to fill the cistern in the middle of the street and the landmark windmill was removed.


This photo was taken about 1950.
This photo was taken about 1950.  The windmill has been replaced by the well-house which contained an electric motor on the well. The bandstand has been reduced to ground level.  Notice the cement street light poles. They were made in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration. The small building to the right stood along the alley. Ben Carl, who ran a restaurant, owned it during the 1930s. If a destitute family came to town, he let them live there and gave them food. Later the building was the Longstaff barbershop. The large building facing Juniata Avenue was the school gymnasium which burned down in December 1961 when I was a sophomore.


Juniata installed a water and sewer system in 1957, making the well and cistern obsolete.  A 1960 tornado damaged several buildings in town, including the railroad depot, and it was at that time that the last portion of the bandstand was removed.

This photo was taken in 1977.
Sometime in the mid-’70s, Wiseman Construction built a replica of the lowered bandstand.  This photo was taken in 1977.  The building to the left is the State Bank of Juniata building.  It was being used as the town hall at this time.  The box on the side of the building was a pay telephone.


The gazebo in the downtown park is a replica of the lowered bandstand constructed in the 1970s by Wiseman Construction.  It was placed in the center of the intersection where the original had stood until it was deemed a traffic hazard and removed.