Kaempfe Tragedy….and a Tornado Too

Here is our birthday girl for today.

louise-kaempfe

Her name was Louise Wilhelmina Kaempfe, and she was born on February 8, 1866.  She is just a starting point for a story that involves several other members of the Kaempfe family.  In 1885, she married Claus Stueve, Jr.  We will get back to her.

Louise’s younger brother, Otto Kaempfe married Magdalena Mueller in 1895.  By 1911, this couple had five children.  The last of these children, Rudolph Kaempfe, was born in June of 1911.  Two months later, Magdalena committed suicide.  Here is her death certificate.

magdalena-kaempfe-death-certificate

This left Otto as a widower with a two month old baby.  He would remarry the following year to Martha Gemeinhardt.  She became the step-mother, and especially must have been instrumental in raising young Rudolph.  Just four years later, Otto died at the age of 45.  Martha then went to live with Otto’s sister, Louise, at the Claus Stueve, Jr. farm.  Here is the 1920 census that shows this situation.

claus-stueve-1920-census
1920 census – Perry County, MO

Claus took in Martha along with three of her step-sons.  Another Kaempfe brother, Ernest, was also living on that farm near the Mississippi River.

Then came the famous Tri-State Tornado in March of 1925, the most deadly tornado in American history.  In a reprint of a newpaper article from the Perry County Republican that was published 20 years after the event, we find a list of the people who either died or were seriously injured during this tornado.

1925-tornado-newspaper-article

In this article it mentions that Martha Kaempfe was killed immediately by this tornado.  Here is her death certificate.

martha-kaempfe-death-certificate

It is reported that Martha’s body was found about 100 yards away from the farmhouse which was destroyed, badly bruised with her neck broken.

The newspaper above also indicates that Louise Kaempfe was seriously injured by the tornado.  Two days after this article was originally printed, Louise died from her injuries on March 28, 1925.  Here is her death certificate.

stueve-louise-death-cert

That leads to this interesting collection of family members living with Claus Stueve in 1930.

claus-stueve-1930-census
1930 census – Perry County

Claus had remarried in 1927 to Clara Burfeind.  Ernest is still living there, and Rudolph is now eighteen years old.

Here is an earlier photo of the Kaempfe family.

traugott-kaempfe-family

Louise is the third from the left in the back.  Otto is the third from the right in the back, and Ernest is the last one on the right.

Here is a map of the area where Claus Stueve’s farm was located in a 1915 atlas.

stueve-land-1915

Some photos of the Tri-State Tornado appeared in a blog post last march called The Deadliest Tornado.  I am going to include some of those same photos here that came from the Stueve, Leimbach, and Weber farms that you can see on this map.

This Kaempfe family had plenty of tragedy even before this massive tornado.  Yet we know that there are still Kaempfes and Stueves still around Perry County to this day.  They did endure.

I have this feeling that the newspaper article above may be the inspiration for future blog posts.  I know it causes me to ask several questions that I may just have to pursue.  Here is one:

Why was the Altenburg doctor, Theodore Estel, seriously injured in this tornado?  His home was in downtown Altenburg which was not impacted by this tornado.  I may never know the answer, but that will not stop me from trying to find out.  Maybe someone in the blogosphere knows……

 

 


9 thoughts on “Kaempfe Tragedy….and a Tornado Too

    1. Fred Eggers (I am guessing he may be a relative of yours) told me today that the doctor who was supposed to deliver Homer Eggers was a Dr. Schall. But I do believe that Dr. Estel was probably out there in the area of the tornado possibly making a house call on someone.

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    2. There was a doctor en route to help with the home delivery. His car was blown off the road and he was injured. I am not sure of the doctor’s name but have seen a photo (perhaps Les and Wanda Kaempfe own it?) of the car wreck. Homer was delivered with help of a local midwife, Mattie Klaus. My mom, Vera was 6 years old at the time. She told me that she and her sisters had been sent to stay with a neighbor and when they returned home to greet their new baby brother, were confused why there was so much crying. The adults were grieving the news of Louise and Martha.

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  1. I find your blog so interesting and informative. In the article of the tornado it mentioned a John Geringer from Biehle had been hurt. I wonder if this was the father in law of my aunt Sylvia Weber Geringer Meyer, her husband Herbert Geringer would have been about 3 yrs old at the time of the tornado, his father’s name was John Geringer and they lived in Biehle.

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