(Note: I have more questions about this image than answers, so anything you see in it that is of note to you, please call it out!)

Johan Bauer and his wife Anna Hagen had three children, a son and two daughters. The silhouettes depict two men and a woman, and the dates around the silhouette perimeters don't seem to match with any information given elsewhere in the image. If not the family (based on the information in the image) then to whom might the silhouettes belong?

Bauer Family

(full size here.)

Other questions related to this image:

  • What is this thing? A pre-photography family photo? Is this a common object in German/European/American families in the mid-1800s, or is this unique?
  • If the above is a common pre-photography heirloom, does it help identify when it was created?
  • "Catharine Elisabeth Wilhelmine Bauer" is known as "Minna Bauer" in every record in which she is found (and similar for other family members). On Ancestry.com how would I document her actual name v. the name she is most commonly known by (v., apparently, the name they are given at baptism)?
  • 4
    Based on the dates around the silhouetted figures I'd bet the upper left is Johan's Mother and the Upper right is his father. Since I can't seen the name on the bottom one I'm clueless on that one. Dec 15, 2012 at 5:21
  • 6
    @AndyHatchett - Should that be an answer?
    – Those Legs
    Dec 15, 2012 at 8:05
  • 1
    Not really, as it is a guess on my part and not really a factual answer. Dec 16, 2012 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


My sense is that there are more than two generations here, and that the portraits are not of the children. Here's what I've been able to read from the image:

Info from the images

Top left picture: Johanna Louise Auguste [per comments] Wilhelmine Bauer nee Schade? b. 27 May 1794, d. 31 Dec 1838

Top right: Baptized Johann Bauer, b. 23 Apr 1789, m. 1818, d. 13 Nov 1832

Bottom: b. 1797, d. 25 Feb 1859

Names on top

Johan Anton Philipp Bauer (b. 23 Dec 1825 in Blankeburg/Harz)


Anna Louise Hagen (b. Jan 1835, m. 22 Mar 1856)

Names of children

Hans Carl Friedrich Bauer (b. 3 Jan 1857 in San Francisco)

Catherine Elisabeth Wilhelmine Bauer (b. 2 Aug 1863 in San Francisco)

Auguste Christine Louise Bauer (b. 3 Dec 1864 in Mannheim)


Johann Bauer (1789-1832) married Johana Louisa Auguste Wilhelmine nee Schade? (1794-1838) in 1818. Their son Johan Anton Philipp Bauer (1825-) married Anna Louise Hagen (1835-) in 1856. They had three children (born in 1857, 1863, and 1864).

It is not clear who is represented by the bottom image, as his name is cut off by the frame.

Edited to correct names per comments below

  • 1
    Maybe: Top left picture: Johanna? Louise? Auguste? Wilhelmine Bauer nee Schade b. 27 Mai 1794, d. 31 Dec 1838. Also Blankenburg a/Harz near top.
    – bgwiehle
    Dec 15, 2012 at 20:13
  • I am not sure about "Schade" as a last name and there are a few squiggles following it. Hard to tell. Dec 15, 2012 at 20:44
  • I originally thought the squiggles were a flourish, but nothing else on the image has a flourish so I'm guessing they are part of the name. "Schade?ne"? Or perhaps it's "Schade • ne" (aka "nee Schade")?
    – fbrereto
    Dec 15, 2012 at 21:34
  • Nevermind - "geborne" apparently translates "born" or "née" in this context. "Schade?ne" then?
    – fbrereto
    Dec 15, 2012 at 21:37
  • 3
    For general knowledge of German abbreviations: a/ = am, a line over an n indicates nn, t after a number is ordinal (short for -te and -ten). Because of the gap after Schade, I thought the following squiggle was a flourish. The marks after Harz may be another word (different ink quality) but it's not legible.
    – bgwiehle
    Dec 16, 2012 at 14:09

Looks like the three silhouettes (parents + godfather?) were done in Germany around 1820, and brought to California by a descendant. Then sometime after 1864 they were incorporated into this family tree collage.

Are you related, or simply curious?

I would say the top right male was done first and originally read "Johann Bauer 1818". Perhaps a gift for his betrothed. This was later changed to "Baptist Johann Bauer, married 1818 November 14" and birth/death dates added. I assume his full name was Johann Baptist Bauer, and the changes were made to differentiate him from his son. These additions are in a different hand, and overlap the oval into the silhouette.

The other two silhouettes were probably created at a later date (pre-1830). They are both of the same scale, but also of a slightly larger scale than the first. Note that the first has a chalky background.

Then another person, of lesser cutting skill, created an oval for the female silhouette, trying to match the first. Again, the female appears to have originally read "~ Wilhelmine Bauer, born Schade ~". Full name and birth added later, then thirdly the death.

The birth date for the bottom male was added after the entire collage was completed, as you can see an overlap onto the main paper, and a new scribe with unique 7's. His name appears to be C. Philipp something. My guess would be that he is the godfather of the younger Johann, as often Germans incorporated a godparent's name into the godchild's name. The initial C is most likely Carl, Christian, or Christoph. Last name possibly Bauer or Schade.

I'd say this collage was pieced together in the 1870's or 1880's, after it was obvious that they were done having children. Perhaps one of the daughters created it.

In answer to your naming question, Catharine Elisabeth Wilhelmine "Minna" Bauer is how I present a nickname within a proper name.

  • Johan Anton Philipp Bauer (known to me as John Bauer) is my 3rd great grandfather.
    – fbrereto
    Dec 16, 2012 at 4:37
  • 1
    Rusty, on what do you base your 1820 date and German origin for the silhouettes?
    – Sue Adams
    Dec 16, 2012 at 8:39
  • Rusty thank you for your thorough answer. The question about naming was more about names recorded being completely different than names as they might appear e.g., in family records. For example "Minna" Bauer is commonly known as "Minna Cramer Bauer", though I have no idea where "Cramer" came from. That said, it's her whole name that appears different, not just a nickname, and I was wondering how you track that kind of a difference on ancestry.com?
    – fbrereto
    Dec 17, 2012 at 6:54

The object contains 3 silhouette portraits. According to History of Antique Silhouette this type of portraiture was popular both before photography and up to 19th century. The embellishments suggest a late 1800s date for the images. The images do not necessarily depict a particular individual as stock cutouts were used.

Taken as a whole, I would interpret the object as an illustrated family tree, but it is not in a form we are familiar with today. The annotations give dates ranging from 1729 to 1864. The annotations encircling the silhouettes probably refer to earlier generations, those on the mounting mat (top layer) appear to be a couple plus 3 children.

Using 'old fashioned' imagery to convey a link to the past is a device still commonly used.

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