From Hotel to Hospital

We have already written several posts about the Wagner Hotel and the Wagner family.

Just What Went on at the Wagner Hotel?

More Hotel History

A Lonesome Tombstone

Today, the saga continues.  And there is likely to be another post after today.

Today’s story starts by looking at the death certificate of Martin Louis Wagner, the fourth child of Gustav and Theresa (Palisch) Wagner.  He was born on March 9, 1864, as the Civil War was drawing to an end.  Here is his death certificate.

Martin Louis Wagner death certificate

The first thing you may notice is that Martin died in St. Louis, Missouri.  It says he died on June 29, 1892 as a result of heart failure.  Martin was just 28 years of age.  The certificate also makes mention that his occupation was working at a livery stable.  What I would really like to focus on today, though, is the fact that he died at the Lutheran Hospital in St. Louis.

Very early in the history of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, we find evidence in St. Louis of an effort by congregations to provide ways to serve not only people’s spiritual needs, but also their physical needs… this case, their medical needs.  Here is a photo of the building in which Martin likely died.  It includes a caption which gives a little history of the Lutheran Hospital.


Lutheran Hospital first opened in St. Louis in December 1858. Its first location was in two rooms of a private residence on Carondelet Avenue (Broadway) and Emmet Street (now Geyer Avenue). In 1864 two adjoining houses at Seventh and Sidney Streets were purchased, increasing the capacity of the hospital to 30-40 patients. Demand for the hospital grew and a larger residence at Ohio Avenue and Potomac Street was purchased in 1883. Several enlargements and improvements were made to the hospital over the years, increasing its capacity to 150 beds. The postcard pictured above shows Lutheran Hospital around the year 1900.

I am guessing that the efforts to begin a Lutheran hospital may have been the result of these early Lutherans witnessing so many people dying of diseases, such as in the cholera epidemic of 1849, and also the number of deaths which took place when women went through childbirth.  One of the real forces behind the establishment of the Lutheran Hospital was Rev. J.F. Buenger, whose first wife, several young children, and his mother all died of a variety of diseases.

Johann Friedrich Buenger
Rev. Johann Friedrich Buenger

Here is what this building on Potomac and Ohio Streets looks like today according to Google Street View.


You can see that is now a campus of the St. Alexius Hospital.

Martin Louis Wagner’s death certificate also indicates that the doctor verifying this death was Dr. Henry Schulz.  Since we know that there was a Dr. G.B. Schulz that was conducting his practice out of the Wagner Hotel in Altenburg, we were curious if this Dr. Schulz could be connected to the one in St. Louis, and maybe this is the reason Martin ended up in that institution.  We did not find a connection.  However, when we found a census that listed Dr. Henry Schulz in St. Louis, it noted that there was a George Busch living in the same building with him, and it was also the case that George Busch was a brewer.  Being the good beer-drinking Lutherans that we are, Gerard and I just had to pursue this a bit farther.  We did find a connection between this George Busch and the Anheuser-Busch brewing family.  We even found an interesting story about another Busch brewery in Washington, Missouri and the possibility of it being haunted.  This is why we posted the Sidetracked article a few days ago.  If you want to find more info about the ghost story, you can find it at

Another note on Martin’s death certificate is that the place of burial is said to be at Wittenberg Landing in Perry County, Missouri.  Likely, this means that Martin’s body was going to be transported by boat and delivered in Wittenberg.  Martin’s death is noted in the Trinity Lutheran church books in Altenburg, but there is no gravestone in their cemetery for Martin.  However, there is a stone for Martin’s brother, Theodor, who died at about the same time.  Here is his gravestone.

Theodor Wagner gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg Cemetery

At this point, let me tell you a little about Trinity’s cemetery.  Over the years, a new person was buried in the next location available after the previous person was buried.  Therefore, people in general can be found in this cemetery by finding the location where other people were buried at about the same time.  If you want to be buried with your spouse in this cemetery, you have to make special arrangements and pay a fee for this privilege.

Here is the location of the Theodor Wagner gravestone in the Trinity Cemetery.

Trinity, Altenburg Cemetery

Notice that there are several locations here where bodies may have been buried, but they may not have been marked.  Also, I can tell you that the large marker is that of Dr. E.E. Buenger and his wife, Amalia.  Amalia died in January of 1893, while her husband died six years later.  You are also looking away from the cemetery entrance, and bodies are generally buried later as you move away from the entrance.

Now we have another issue.  On the Theodor Wagner gravestone, the date of death is listed as January 29, 1892.  The Trinity church records say that Theodor died on January 21, 1893.  A Perry County death record says the same thing.  Both the day of death and the year of death are different than that on his gravestone.  Here is what seems curious.  His brother, Martin died on June 29, 1892, which is very similar to the January 29, 1892 date on this gravestone, and Martin does not have a gravestone.  I happen to think there were a variety of mistakes made here, and they had to do with these two brothers dying at about the same time but different places.  Oh, the joys of doing research like this.


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