A Zschoch-ing Death

I must start today’s post with a little lesson on pronunciation.  One of the most unusual names to enter Perry County over the years was the name of one of pastors of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.  His name was Rev. Wilhelm Zschoche.  A previous post was written about his family titled, A Zschoch-ing Wedding.  Actually, there are both spelling and pronunciation issues with this name.  I have heard this name pronounced several different ways and spelled several different ways.  I have even met with several descendants from this family, and they don’t even agree on how this name is to be spelled or pronounced.  For the purpose of this post, especially this post’s title, I am going with the pronunciation as “shock-ee”.  I even found some indication that a few children from today’s highlighted character changed their last name to Shockey.

Rev. Wilhelm and Emily (Richter) Zschoche had five children.  The last two were born in Frohna after Pastor Zschoche became the minister there.  Child #4, Carl Traugott Adolph, died in infancy.  Their youngest child was born on April 3, 1886, and is the main character in today’s story.  His name was Wilhelm Gotthilf Heinrich Zschoche.

In 1900, we see the following people living in the Zschoche household in Frohna.

Zschoche 1900 census
1900 census – Frohna, MO

Wilhelm G.H. was 14 years old, and was the only one of the Zschoche children still at home.  Two nieces, Clara and Maria, were living with this family.

Five years later, we find Wilhelm living in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and attending Concordia College.  He is listed in a Ft. Wayne city directory in 1905.

Zschoche Ft. Wayne 1905
Ft. Wayne, Indiana city directory – 1905

Wilhelm married Gertrude Reinders in 1909.  Gertrude was the daughter of a farmer in Athens, Illinois.  A few family trees on Ancestry.com indicate that these two were married on October 31…..Reformation Day.  It just so happens that Reformation Day was on a Sunday in 1909.  I could not find any official documentation for this marriage, so I do not know where this wedding took place.

From some historical records we have from Trinity Lutheran Church in Shawneetown, Missouri, Wilhelm became the first called pastor of that congregation.  He was installed on August 29, 1909.  If his marriage record is accurate, he was still single at the time.  Shawneetown is just across the Apple Creek in the northern part of Cape Girardeau County.  Here is a present-day photo of their church.

Trinity Lutheran Shawneetown
Trinity Lutheran Church, Shawneetown, MO

Three children were born to the Zschoches while they were in Shawneetown.  Here is an image of their first child’s baptism record at Trinity.  Her name was Jeanette Lydia Zschoche.

Jeanette Zschoche baptism record Shawneetown

Pastor Zschoche served Trinity until late in 1915.  The next place we find him is in Appleton City, Missouri.  The document that places him there is this World War I draft registration form.


This document was filled out in September of 1918, and it indicates that Wilhelm was a minister of a Lutheran church in Appleton City.  The Lutheran church there is also named Trinity.  Here is a present-day photo of that church.

Trinity Appleton City Missouri
Trinity Lutheran Church, Appleton City, MO

Wilhelm did not remain there long, because in 1919, we find him serving Zion Lutheran Church in Lone Elm, Missouri.  Here is a present-day photo of that church.

Zion Lutheran Lone Elm, MO
Zion Lutheran Church, Lone Elm, MO

Pastor Zschoche must have just arrived on the scene in 1919 when he died on January 15, 1919 at the very young age of 32.  To put this into perspective, according to my reckoning, Gertrude was pregnant with their next child when the draft registration form was filled out the previous September.  What makes this story even sadder is the fact that Gertrude, his wife, gave birth to a son two days later on January 17, 1919.  Imagine, if you can, a woman giving birth to a child two days after her husband died.  Add the fact that her husband was also her pastor.  She would be the one who would have to officially name this new son, and she chose to name him Wilhelm Herbert Zschoche.  Her husband’s name was carried by this son.  Here is Wilhelm’s death certificate.

Wilhelm Zschoche death certificate

Wilhelm died of pneumonia following a bout with influenza.  One year after his death, we find his widow living with her children back in Athens, Illinois where she grew up.

Wilhelm lived such a short life, but he managed to do so many things during that time.  He fathered four children and served three different congregations as pastor.  We have an exhibit at the museum right now that highlights the Zschoche family.  This particular member of that family is not highlighted, but maybe he should be included.


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