She Died of a Broken Heart

Today, I must embellish a story that has already been told….a couple times…on this blog.  However, I simply cannot resist discussing a record that I found in the church books of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg.  Here is that record:


On this day in 1920, Maria Weinhold died, and yes, it does say that the cause of her death was…….a broken heart.

Maria (Bretscher) Weinhold (sometimes you see her maiden name spelled Bredscher) was married to Joseph Weinhold who lived most of his life in Wittenberg.


Two stories have already been posted here about this family…..Concordia Student Meets Concordia? and Surrounded by Good Lookin’ Women.  Those stories focused more on the father of this family.  This one will concentrate on the mother.

There is another interesting document connected with this story.  The 1920 census lists both Maria and Joseph.

1920 census – Wittenberg, MO

They are listed with the household of Otto Lueders.  Lydia Lueders was one of the daughters of Maria and Joseph.  What is interesting is that in the “Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced” column, Joseph is listed as “dead”.  In fact, Joseph died on September 21, 1919.  It is somewhat humorous because in the margin of this census page, it says, “Count this dead man…no death date”.

This census record though does give us evidence that Maria was still in Wittenberg on January 6, 1920, which is the date shown when this census was taken.  I had some difficulty finding Maria’s death certificate because I figured she died in Perry County.  I finally found her death certificate by searching in St.Louis.  Here is that death certificate.

Maria Weinhold death certificate

Her death certificate says her cause of death was chronic bronchitis.  The informant was Concordia Bundenthal, another one of her daughters, who had married Rev. Theodore Bundenthal.  Theodore had died in 1915 in Atchison, Kansas, so at this time, Concordia was a widow.  And because Joseph, Marie’s husband had died toward the end of 1919, she was a widow also.

This brings us back to the church record where Rev. William Bartz wrote that Maria died of a broken heart.  Maria’s body was brought back down to Wittenberg where she was buried with her husband in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery.


One can only speculate why Rev. Bartz would write that Maria died from a broken heart.  He may have known how sad Maria was.  She had lost her husband just a matter of months before.  Two of her daughters, Concordia and Emilie, had both become widows five years earlier.  One of her daughters, Martha, whose husband was Rev. Theodore Keyl, reportedly died in 1918.  In addition, as we wrote in an earlier post, many of Maria’s daughters and grandchildren lived far away from Perry County.  All of these factors may have led Rev. Bartz to notice that Maria was a very sad woman before she died.  However, there may be another explanation.

I had an aunt and an uncle who died within about the same length of time as Joseph and Maria.  My uncle passed away in October of 1996, and his wife died in March of 1997.  The story which is told in our family is that my aunt died of a broken heart.  This couple was one of those couples that was inseparable.  And once one died, the other one lost their will to live.  You could argue that the great amount of love that they had for each other contributed to their death.  Maybe the same could be said about the Weinholds.

UPDATE:  After I posted this article, I found this photo of Joseph and Maria with a bunch of grandchildren.


2 thoughts on “She Died of a Broken Heart

  1. Dear Mr. Schmidt;
    I came across your article about Maria Weinhold’s passing two days ago. My brother, sister, and I are among the many great grandchildren of Maria Weinhold. We all enjoyed the article very much. Our father, Paul Lehner, was the son of Adele Weinhold, Maria and Joseph’s youngest child shown in the photo with the grandchildren. Dad’s father, Rudy Lehner, was from Pocahontas, but worked in Wittenberg for Otto Leuders.

    Among the information Dad passed on to us was that Maria and Joseph lived at their home in St. Louis prior to and at the time of their deaths. Dad indicated that he had clear memories of Maria, but not of Joseph. Dad was born in 1916, so would have been 2 1/2 or 3 in 1919. The doctor who signed Maria’s death certificate also delivered our father and his sister, Martha.

    Not sure this matters a lot, but wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the article.


    Richard Lehner

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