My dad, Richard Schmidt, grew up in Wittenberg, Missouri, and for most of his school years he had one teacher, George Stohs. I would like to tell his story today.
Teacher Stohs did not have his roots here in Perry County. He was born on Valentine’s Day in 1893 in Bremen, Kansas. His parents were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church. Sometimes the community where the church was built was called Hermansberg. Here is their current sanctuary which was built in 1901. George must have watched this church being built when he was going to their school as a child.
When you look at a listing of burials in this church’s cemetery in findagrave.com, you find 35 which contain the name Stohs.
I do not know where George received his teacher training. The closest synodical schools to Bremen were the ones at Seward, Nebraska and Winfield, Kansas. Teacher Stohs arrived in Wittenberg in 1913, the year that my dad was born. Here is a class photo which reportedly was taken during his first year in Wittenberg.
One of the things I love about this photo is that it was taken inside his classroom. Most of the school photos back in those days were taken outside the building. When this photo was taken, this building was also used as a church on Sundays. In 1920, St. Paul’s built a new brick church. Then this building was just used as a school.
On October 23, 1921, George married Lorina Jacob. Today’s article started with my discovery that Lorina was born on February 22, 1904. Here is one of their wedding photos that includes their wedding party. In addition to George and Lorina, you can see Arnold Mueller (who also became a Lutheran teacher) and Clara Loebs on the left side of the photo. Clara Loebs was Gerard Fiehler’s grandmother and my half-aunt.
In a census record that I posted a few days ago, you can see George Stohs listed with the Otto Luedders family along with Joseph and Maria Weinhold. That home was within walking distance to the Lutheran school.
It was only one page before this one in the census that you find the Jacob family, so it is likely that the Jacobs lived close to George. Lorina’s father was shown as a mail carrier. Depending on when the Jacob family moved to Wittenberg, it is possible that Lorina could have been one of Teacher Stohs’s former students.
Here is another class photo including Teacher Stohs.
I count 54 students, and one of them is my dad. Supposedly, he is the second one from the right in the front row. There seems to be an overabundance of girls in this class. Teacher Stohs is in the back on the left with Rev. Deye on the right. This photo is dated as being taken in 1922.
Teacher Stohs remained in Wittenberg for 15 years. In 1928, he took a call to be a teacher in Altamont, Illinois. In the 1940 census, we find another Perry County name near the Stohs family.
W.O. Petzoldt was the pastor at that congregation at that time. Rev. Petzoldt was born and raised in Perry County. He would later be the pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. There are other Perry County connections to Altamont. Teacher Popp and Teacher Kassell from Altenburg spent some time teaching at this school. Also, one of our teachers here now at United in Christ Lutheran School, Nelda Koeberl, was born and raised in that area.
When I attended Concordia, Seward, one of the professors there was Reuben Stohs. He was a son of this Teacher Stohs. In fact, he was the last of the Stohs children to be born in Wittenberg. He was a professor of Physical Education and is said to have had a Ph.D. When I attended Concordia, he was the baseball coach, but I know he had experience coaching other sports as well.
Rueben died in St. Louis about three years ago. I found his obituary on the website of a funeral home there. Several relatives had posted memorial messages on that site. After reading them, I came away with the feeling that Reuben was not remembered in his own family for his experience in athletics. More comments were made about his interest and abilities in the area of music. Special mention was made to him playing the violin. Reference was also made to how Reuben learned those musical skills from his father, George. Here is the photo that was shown with Reuben’s obituary.
George and Lorina Stohs are both buried in the St. Peter Lutheran Cemetery, which is just down the road from Altamont. George was born on Valentine’s Day and died on Leap Year Day in 1968. When their son, Reuben, died three years ago, his body was taken to that same cemetery for burial. Reuben’s wife, Jayne, is also buried there. Here is the marker for George and Lorina.
I like to think my father was greatly influenced by Teacher Stohs. I know Dad would sometimes talk about him. His stories usually included some sort of stick, but when you have 50-60 students in a class, you almost had to use stern methods to maintain control. I think it was good for my dad, and I like to think that Teacher Stohs’s influence was handed down to me.