Maria Elisabeth Kessler was born 11 June 1721 in Steinbach, Oberhessen. She married Johann Henrich Arnold on 9 February 1741, and they had had eight children by 1755. Three of the children died by their mid-teen years. The church books of Steinbach note in 1763 that Johann Heinrich had abandoned his wife and children years before.
In 1766, Maria Elisabeth took her youngest daughter Anna Elisabeth (born 14 September 1755) and went to Russia. Maria Elisabeth's oldest son had gone to Belgium earlier.
Maria Elisabeth and her daughter arrived from Lübeck at the port in Oraninebaum on 8 August 1766 on the Anna Catharina, along with many other emigrants from Oberhessen. Neither one of them show up in the Volga German colonies on the 1767 Census, probably indicating that Maria Elisabeth had remarried and they are recorded under that surname. There is an Anna Margaretha Arnold who appears on the 1798 Census in Hockerberg (Household No. Hb04) where there are other families from Steinbach living.
- Mai, Brent Alan. 1798 Census of the German Colonies along the Volga: Economy, Population, and Agriculture (Lincoln, NE: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1999).
- Parish records of Steinbach.
- Pleve, Igor. Lists of Colonists to Russia in 1766: Reports by Ivan Kulberg (Saratov: Saratov State Technical University, 2010): 257.
- Stumpf, Otto & Hanno Müller. Familienbuch Steinbach: Kreis Gießen (Darmstadt: Hessische Familienseschichtliche Vereinigung, 1994): 27.