I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad

There are times when I look at a very remote person who was involved in the history of East Perry County, hoping to find an interesting story.  That happened just the other day when I chose to look into the life of Teacher Schneider from Wittenberg.  Today I decided to take a quick look at the other person who was listed in the 1910 Wittenberg census boarding in the Birner Hotel.  His name was Henry Steger, and he was described in that census as being a telegrapher for the railroad.  I will attempt to tell you a little of his history.

I found a photo of him.

Henry Steger

Henry was born as the son of Leo and Wilhelmina (Beisswingert) Steger in Egypt Mills, Missouri, which is located in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.  His birthday was July 19, 1884.  There is a Lutheran church in Egypt Mills named Trinity.  Henry’s baptism record can be found in their church records, but it is interesting that although Henry was born in 1884, he was not baptized until Christmas Day in 1893 along with his baby sister, Clara.

Backtracking a little, we find that Leo and Wilhelmina were married in Kornthal, Illinois.  There was a Lutheran church in Kornthal that was formed out of the church in New Wells, located about 5 miles south of Altenburg.  Wilhelmina had spent part of her childhood in Apple Creek in Cape Girardeau County.

Henry’s father was a doctor.  He served in the Civil War. I would like to think that he would have served as a doctor when he was a soldier.

Dr. Leo Steger Civil War record

So in 1910, we find Henry Steger in Wittenberg as a telegrapher.  In 1911, we once again find him in the Trinity, Egypt Mills records as he married Cora Keyser on March 16th.  The first child born to this couple was born on March 31, 1912 (probably in Wittenberg) but died in June of 1913 at the age of 1.  This information can be found on a death certificate.

Kenneth Steger death certificate

The birth of another child an be found in Wittenberg and is recorded in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church records in 1913.  That record especially interests me because my father was born and baptized at St. Paul’s in 1913.


It is puzzling to me that this record indicates a birth, but not a baptism.  My best guess is that the child was born, but died before they had a chance to get her baptized.  Later, there was another baby born to this family, but that child was born in Wood River, Illinois in 1916.  We also see evidence of Henry living in Wood River in his draft registration for World War I in 1917-1918.


At this time, he was working for the Chicago-Alton Railroad as a telegrapher and towerman.

The 1940 census indicates that Henry and Cora were still living in Wood River with him still working for the railroad.  Henry would die on the day after Christmas in 1944.  It appears he spent his entire career, not only working for the railroad, but also living near the Mighty Mississippi.



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