DEEMER Genealogy
DEEMER Genealogy

 Last Updated:
  3 Feb 2021

Henry Deemer, 2021

Catherine DEEMER

Catherine was born about 1855, according to the 1860 census, and an affidavit sworn by her mother in a Civil War pension application in 1884.  Her birth location is uncertain.  The family was in Lebanon county in 1850, and Dauphin county in 1860.  A great-great granddaughter believes she might have been born in Lancaster county

She was married three times. Her first husband was William Combrobst. (The exact spelling of this surname is in question. It appears as Comborst, Combrose, and. Compropst.)  William and Catherine had two known children:

Emma:  born about 1869, she appears in the 1880 census living with her grandparents, John and Catherine Deemer, in Doutyville, Northumberland county, PA, near her mother, Catherine and step-father, Peter Heck
Mary E:  born 10 Oct 1871 in West Hanover Twp, Dauphin county, PA; died 20 Oct 1918, Philadelphia, PA.  She married twice, to Jeremiah Ebert and Samuel Steelfox

Little is known of Catherine's first husband, William Combrobst.  Either he died or they were divorced before 1880, since Catherine appears in the 1880 census married to her second husband, Peter Heck  Peter was a coal miner, born in Germany about 1846

The 1880 census at Doutyville, E. Cameron Twp. Northumberland Co., lists the Peter and Catherine living near Catherine's parents, John and Catherine Deemer. The following children are listed with the Heck surname: Alice, Maggie, Mary A. and Peter.

It's possible that the older children were actually children of William Combrobst.  Emma, a daughter of William and Catherine appear under the name Combrobst (or something close to that -- handwritting!) nearby with Catherine's parents.  Mary E. who used the Combrobst surname throughout her life does not appear in the 1880 census. records for Catherine's husband, Peter, include the burial of 3 unnamed children who died 25 February1888.  None of these could be the Alice or Mary A. as their death dates are lagter

The couple of Peter and Catherine Heck appear in numerous newspaper accounts in 1894. 

 The Mount Carmel Daily News of 23 May 1894 reported that Mrs. Peter Heck of Greenridge and James Dunson of Mt. Carmel, a married man with a family in Shamokin left on an early morning west-bound train.  (Greenridge was a mining community on the western edge of Mount Carmel.) The article states that Peter was a laborer at the Pennsylvania colliery of the Union Coal company at Greenridge.  Mrs. Heck took with her the $200 "rainy-day" fund that she and her husband held.  When Dunstan came to the home to collect Mrs. Heck her children tried to drive him away.  The eldest, Maggie hit him with a brick.  He walked to Excelsior.  Mrs. Heck dressed in her finest and took the Lehigh Valley train from Mt. Carmel to Shamokin.  Mr. Dunson met her on the train at Greenridge. The couple then departed from Shamokin on a train, probably to Union county. 

Peter Heck swore out charges against his wife charging her with violating the 6th commandment, larceny and desertion.  The 28 May 1894 edition of the Daily News reported that Dunson claimed to be drunk when Catherine Heck boarded the same train, and that he had no intention of eloping with her.  He claimed that all she had with her was $30.  He further claimed that he got off the train at Lost Creek 2 miles from Shenendoah to the east of Mount Carmel.  There he asked Mrs. Heck to accompany him to his mother's house because of his drunken condition. His mother raised a fuss about the presence of another woman so they left.  He claimed that he did not know where Mrs. Heck went and had not seen her since.  He also claimed that every man in Mount Carmel knew Catherine Heck.  Mrs. Dunson stated she believed her husband's story implicitly. 

The 23 June 1894 edition of the Shenendoah Evening Herald also reported the story.  The story stated that Mrs. Heck deserted her family at Mount Carmel with Mr. Dunson, who a few days later returned to his family at Shamokin.  Catherine Heck was still missing but said to be in Williamsport.  She took all of the money her husband had saved leaving him penniless with two small children, ages 5 and 7.  Dunson was reported by neighbors for maltreating his wife.

The Mount Carmel Daily News of 18 July 1894 reported that Peter Heck of Greenridge was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and battery on his wife.  He was released on bail awaiting an appearance in criminal court. 

Peter Heck's name appears in the newspapers again in a tragic incident.  At 7:30 a.m. on 11 October 1894 a boiler explosion occurred at the Henry Clay Clay colliery operated by the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Co. at Shamokin.  The steam plant consisting of 36 boilers was destroyed.  Five men were killed and many other severely burned.  One story reported Peter Heck, a fireman, had the side of his head crushed and suffered severe internal injuries from which he was not expected to survive.  Another said that his face was scalded.  The force of the explosion was so great that one of the boilers landed 1/4 mile away.  However severe Peter's injuries were, he evidently survived.  The Mount Carmel Item reported that Peter dropped dead on the street in Shamokin on 17 Oct. 1896

On 30 Aug 1898 Catherine married William Frederick Fabian.  He worked in the coal mines and was a widower who immigrated from Germany with his wife sometime prior to 1880.  The couple resided on South 7th St. in Shamokin, along with Catherine's son William Heck.

Catherine died 4 July 1911 at Shamokin and is buried in the Alaska Cemetery, Mt. Carmel.  William Fabian died 23 March 1920 and is buried with his first wife, Marie, in the Shamokin Cemetery.

Catherine's Children:

Emma appears in the 1880 census living her grandparents, John and Catherine Deemer in Doutyville, Cameron twp., Northumberland county, just over the mountain south of Shamokin.  She's listed as 11 years old making her birth year about 1869. Her mother also appears in the 1880 census in Doutyville with her husband, Peter Heck, and four children - Alice, Maggie, Mary, and Peter.  In the 1870 census Emma's mother, Catherine appears as a 15 year-old living with here parents, but no Emma is included.  Perhaps Emma was William Combrobst daughter be a previous marriage.  No other information about Emma has been located.

Mary E. Combrobst was born in West Hanover Twp., near Linglestown, Dauphin Co., PA. 10 Oct 1871.  She married twice, first to Jeremiah Ebert, 21 Jun 1888.  They had 7 know children.  (Refer to the database for more about these children.)  It appears that after Jeremiah's death Mary fell on some hard times.  The 1900 census shows her as a seamstress living on N. 6th St. in Mount Carmel with her eldest and youngest children, Leah, age 12, and George, less than 1.  Her other 5 children are found in orphanages in Reading.

She remarried Samuel Steelfox, 17 June 1901, at Shamokin.  They then had two children.  By 1910 most of the children were back with their mother in Mount Carmel.  Blanch appears as a 12-year-old telephone operator in Philadelphia.  George, age 11, was a boarding student at Philadelphia's Girard School.

Mary E. died in 20 Oct. 1918 in Philadelphia and was buried in  Westminster Cemetery in Montgomery Co.  Samuel returned to Mount Carmel. He died 19 Nov 1946 and was buried in the Mount Carmel Cemetery.

Some information is available about Catherine's children with Peter Heck.  Refer to the database for more about these children.