In the early 1900’s in Wittenberg, Missouri, William and Esther (Mueller) Kieninger had four children, all boys. One of these boys, Nelson Kieninger, was born on January 25, 1909. He was the second born son.
William started out as a farm laborer in Pocahontas, Missouri, but after he married Esther Mueller, in 1906, he became a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wittenberg. Their four sons were Marvin, Nelson, Willard, and Tilden. One of the things that William was noted for was being a pitcher on the Wittenberg baseball team. And for a while, Nelson was the catcher. William also became employed at his father-in-law, Joseph Mueller’s, general store in Wittenberg.
When Nelson was baptized, a special cup was made. It was donated by the family to our museum and is on display here. If any of you know the story behind cups like this, we would love to hear about it.
One photograph of Nelson in his childhood has been preserved. Here it is.
In 1936, Nelson married Helen Louise Adams in Chester, Illinois. Helen was born in Sparta, Illinois, but it appears that her family moved around the country occasionally. Her father’s job was as a lineman for a railroad company. This might explain how a Wittenberg boy in a new railroad town may have become acquainted with a railroad worker’s daughter.
Twice a year, a group of folks visit Altenburg, and they always stop by the museum. They call themselves the Wittenberg Cousins. Most of these people come out of William Kieninger’s family. The children of his four boys are cousins who have maintained a close connection over the years and cherish their Wittenberg roots. We always look forward to their visits because they always provide us with plenty of smiles and laughs.
We know that the Kieninger family has done very excellent research into their family’s history. We hope to get a copy of their work in our research library soon. I know that if we had that research available today, this story would probably be longer.
In 1975, we find Nelson and Helen living in a house very near the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. That happens to be where Nelson’s brother, Tilden, would later be buried. Nelson and Helen Kieninger, as well as Nelson’s father, William, are all buried in a cemetery which is located right across the road from where I attended high school at Lutheran High School North in St. Louis. Someday, I may learn the story about how they came to be buried there.
I am guessing that there will be more Kieninger stories told on this blog in days to come.