I never know what I am going to encounter when I travel to The Ridge to do a story. Today’s account is no exception to that. I find myself just shaking my head in disbelief. In fact, today’s post will probably be just the first installment on what I discovered this time around. It is likely you will get another installment tomorrow.
It all starts with a wedding. On May 13, 1885, Gerhardt Thurm married Johanna Kutscher. Gerhardt was the son of Traugott and Johanna (Fuelle) Thurm. Yesterday’s character, Ida (Thurm) Fritsche would have called him Uncle Gerhardt. The Thurms were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Johanna was the daughter of John and Henrietta (Krause) Kutscher of Shawnee Township in northern Cape Girardeau County. They were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Here is an image of this couple’s marriage license.
The record of this marriage was included in both the Immanuel, Altenburg and Immanuel, New Wells books, but we can tell the marriage took place in New Wells because the pastor listed on this document, Rev. F.W. Pennekamp, was the pastor in New Wells.
The only photo I have for this story is one of Gerhardt Thurm, and it is not a very clear picture.
The Thurms lived on a farm on The Ridge not far from where the Ridge School and the Weber Store were located. Here is a portion of the 1915 atlas of land ownership that shows the area where they lived.
A satellite map of this area now shows this image.
My best guess is that the Thurm property was inside the black rectangle.
The Thurms and the Ridge School did not escape the 1925 Tri-State Tornado. Here is a photo showing the damage done on Gerhardt Thurm’s property.
Johanna Thurm gave birth to ten children. Only seven of them lived to adulthood, and the ones who lived to adulthood were all boys. The last one, Rudolph, was born on August 16, 1905. That birth was also the cause of Johanna’s death on that same day. So often you see that such a baby whose mother dies in childbirth will not survive, but this is not the case with Rudolph. He lived till he was 75 years old.
After Johanna died, Gerhardt remarried. His second wife’s maiden name was Anna Jungclaus. I will tell more about her tomorrow. Anna was put into the position of being a step-mother to a whole passel of boys. There were seven of them.
Out of those seven brothers, only one, Rudolph, remained in Perry County the rest of his life. I found five of the Thurm boys living and dying in Iowa, and one boy living and dying in Nebraska. All of the Thurms in Iowa were in Bremer County. Here is a map of that county.
The Thurm boys left their trail in Denver, Tripoli, Waverly, and Readlyn….all cities in this county…..plus Fairbank which is just outside the county. I found several cemeteries in that county that have as many as twelve people with the surname Thurm buried in them. One other son is buried in Fremont, Nebraska.
I have seen this scenerio repeated over and over again. A family with not much tillable land has numerous children including many boys. There just isn’t enough farmland to support a huge family, and that, along with the fact that young men couldn’t find work in this area, led to many of them leaving Perry County and living elsewhere. The Thurm boys are certainly evidence of this trend.
Gerhardt died in 1935; Anna died in 1944. Gerhardt and both his wives are buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.