Today’s story begins with the birth of Laura Ottilie Mueller on December 3, 1883 in Altenburg. She was the daughter of Johann Ferdinand and Amalie (Theiss) Mueller. When she was 22 years old in 1906, she married Otto Schuessler at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.
According to Trinity Lutheran Church records in Altenburg, MO, the witness for this wedding were Joe Richter, Ernst Kuehnert, Alfred Theiss, Lena Mueller, Matilda Schuessler, and Philipine Jung.
Sadly, this marriage would not last long because by 1909, both Laura and Otto had died. Laura died in January and Otto died in November of that year. However, before they died, they had a son, Walter Schuessler, who was born in April of 1908. Young Walter went to live with his grandparents after his parents died.
I could not locate Walter in the 1920 census, but he must have been still in Perry County because he was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in 1922. By 1930, Walter was living in Woods County, Oklahoma, boarding with the Joe Lohmann family.
Walter married Edna Rauh on May 27, 1934. Both Lohmann and Rauh are Perry County names, and indeed these two families did have their beginnings in this area. In fact, if you look at the names of people found in the Lutheran Cemetery in Alva, Oklahoma (which is located in Woods County), you will find quite a list of names which could have had their roots in Perry County. These names include Bodenschatz, Burroughs, Groh, Kirmse, Lohmann, Meyer, Rauh, Schaefer, Schuessler, Stelling, Wagner, and Weber. It appear that, for some reason, many people moved from Perry County to the area around Alva, Oklahoma. That is why I jokingly refer to some areas like this as suburbs of Perry County.
At this point, I must tell a personal story. Sometime back in the 1960’s, my family traveled from St. Louis to Alva, Oklahoma to visit a family there. I probably was told at the time that we were visiting my father’s cousin, but it was only recently that I discovered that Walter Schuessler was my dad’s cousin. I don’t have the greatest memory, but in this case a few things have stuck with me about this trip. First of all, I remember being taken to a very large shed on Walter’s farm and seeing numerous combines being stored inside. Apparently, Walter operated a business in which he “followed the harvest” up the Midwest. He obviously was doing quite well with that venture.
The other memory I have is being taken to an area close by his home where there were sand dunes. We kids were taken on a joy ride in a dune buggy there. That place must have been Little Sahara State Recreation Area, which is located not far from Alva.
I was a clueless child who did not understand till now that this trip was connected to Perry County. And now I know a little more about just how much this area of western Oklahoma was influenced by the many German Lutherans who came from Missouri.