Woodwork by the River

Otto Hemmann died on October 20, 1952.  The first thing about Otto’s death that caught my eye was the fact that he died in Hannibal, Missouri.  Facts like that always make me wonder how someone who I know started out in Perry County ended up in such a unique location.  In Otto’s case, he was born in Wittenberg and ended up in another river town upstream.

Otto was the son of Benjamin and Emma (Sackman) Hemmann.  A previous blog post about Benjamin was titled The Last of the Hemmann Herd….Teacher Hemmann.  Otto was born in 1892 when his father was the teacher at the Lutheran school in Wittenberg.

In 1915. Otto married Lucia Buenger at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  By that time, Otto’s father was the teacher at the Trinity school.  Lucia was the daughter of Johannes Friedrich and Ida (Hellwege) Buenger and the granddaughter of Altenburg’s first doctor, Ernst Eduard Buenger.

Hemmann/Buenger marriage certificate

The 1910 census shows that when Otto was 17 years old, he was an apprentice carpenter.  Working with wood would become his lifelong occupation.  At the age of 27, we know that Otto was a manager at the swing factory in Wittenberg.  This factory was the subject of the blog post, Frogtown Furniture.  In that post, it was noted that the swing factory closed in the mid-twenties.  This fact was probably the reason that the next census record we find of Otto and Lucia indicates that they were living in Hannibal, Missouri in 1930, and Otto was a foreman of a woodworking company.

Otto Hemmann

In the process of researching for this story, I discovered that Hannibal, Missouri is not just known for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  It also has quite a history in the lumber industry.  The Mississippi River and the railroad contributed to that.  While Hannibal’s lumber industry has dwindled, that industry has become the leading industry in East Perry County.

Throughout the documents you find relating to Otto’s life, we see words like foreman, manager, and superintendent. These descriptions indicate to me that not only was he a skilled craftsman, but he had leadership qualities. Otto died in 1952 of heart disease at the age of 59.  This is his death certificate.


The Mississippi River and lumber seemed to describe the life of Otto Hemmann.  He and Lucy are buried in the Grand View Burial Park in Hannibal.  They had four children, one of which may still be living.

I’ll add one more bonus feature.  Here is a baby picture of Lucia Buenger.  If you have a baby picture, you’ve got to use it.

Lucia Buenger


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