Today I will attempt to tell the tale of a family of Brunkhorsts who hailed from across the river in Jackson County, Illinois and were members of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob for a while.  It is a story which involves several Johann Brunkhorsts, and I was confused for a short time.  I hope I get it right.  If I do not, I hope someone let’s me know so I can correct matters.

Here is where I was confused for a while.  In the 1915 atlas of land ownership in Perry County, I located a Johann Brunkhorst.

Brunkhorst land map

That parcel of land is located on the The Ridge and was near the intersection where you found the Ridge School and the Weber Store.  However, after a little searching in the German Family Tree, I found that this Johann Brunkhorst is a different one than the one across the river.  This is the only Brunkhorst I saw in the German Family Tree that was on the Missouri side of the river, and they were members of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.

So we’ll go back over to Illinois where we find a Johann Brunkhorst who is operating a grocery store in the 1900 census.  Although I cannot tell for sure, his father may have also been a Johann Brunkhorst.  This Brunkhorst arrived in America sometime around 1869.  Here is a photo of him taken later in life.

John H. Brunkhorst
Johann Brunkhorst

Johann was married three times.  It is reported that his first two wives died from complications involving childbirth.  His first wife was Maria Bellman.  She died in 1881.  His second wife was Margaretha Luedemann.  She died in 1884.  Then in 1885, he married Maria Versemann.  It was from this last wife that we see the main character of today’s story being born.  Here is a rather grainy photo of this Maria.

Maria Versemann Brunkhorst
Maria (Versemann) Brunkhorst

I am not quite sure where Johann Brunkhorst’s store was located, but we do know that there was a small collection of businesses that developed right along the Mississippi River that became known as Brunkhorst’s Landing.  That landing was located right where the Mississippi River made a bend to the west, as you can see on this map.

Brunkhorst landing map

River pilots need to be able to identify this location so that they can navigate this turn properly.

That gets us to today’s birthday boy who was named Johann Wilhelm Brunkhorst.  He was born on June 19, 1887 and baptized later at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois.  I have found a few sources that refer to him as JW, and thus the title of this post.  In the same 1900 census mentioned earlier, JW was shown as a 12 year old sales boy at the grocery store.

In the 1910 census, we find the Brunkhorst family living in the Sand Ridge area, which is a location a little farther away from the river.  Father Johann was running a general store and JW was a salesman.  JW managed to find his bride in Perry County, Missouri.  Her name was Elizabeth Lohmann.  Here are photos of JW and Elizabeth.  Even though they are separate photos, I am guessing they were both cropped out of the same wedding photo, which I do not have.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter and Wilhelmina (Mueller) Lohmann who lived in Altenburg where Peter was a shoemaker.  Interestingly, Elizabeth had an older brother who was managing a hardware store in that town.  That older brother, Rudolph, was married to a Versemann from Illinois.  This may be how JW and Elizabeth met, since JW’s mother was a Versemann.

JW and Elizabeth were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg on JW’s birthday, June 19, 1910.  The next time I find JW is when he filled out a World War I draft registration form.  Here is that form.


JW and Elizabeth were then living in St. Louis where JW was a clerk at Shapleigh Hardware Company.  In a post titled, Building a Baseball Team, it was pointed out that one of the players on the Farrar Reds, Gottfried Lorenz, was an employee of Shapleigh Hardware.  That information also came from a World War I draft registration form.

Shapleigh Hardware had become quite a hardware powerhouse with its headquarters in St. Louis.  Here is their business which was located very near where the Gateway Arch is now found.

shapleigh hardware 3

This company became well-known for their cutting tools with the Diamond Edge trademark.

Diamond Edge logo

In a 1917 city directory for St. Louis, we find both John Brunkhorst (JW’s dad) and JW living on the same street, Emerson Ave., possibly within a block of one another.

Brunkhorst St. Louis city directory 1917
St. Louis city directory – 1917

The draft registration above lists yet another address nearby on Emerson Ave.  It’s puzzling.

In the 1920 census, JW is an oiler for an electrical company.  That seems different.  Up to this point, he has been involved in sales.  The 1930 census has him as a clerk for the railroad.

JW died rather early in 1938 as a result of tuberculosis.  He died at the age of 50.  Here is his death certificate.

John W. Brunkhorst death certificate
John W. Brunkhorst death certificate

Elizabeth would not died until 1974.  They are buried together in New Bethlehem Cemetery in St. Louis.  JW’s parents are also buried in that cemetery.  Here is the gravestone of JW and Elise (Elizabeth).

John W and Elizabeth Brunkhorst gravestone

I often find stories where people from around Perry County end up in St. Louis.  It is the largest metropolitan area nearby.  It offered more employment opportunities than may have been available in a rural area like ours.  My family is such a family where my father started out in Wittenberg and ended up spending his working years in St. Louis and raising our family.  The Brunkhorst family history is another such story.




3 thoughts on “JW

  1. I am really enjoying tthese stories. My age lends itself to remember many of these name since I grew up in St. Louis but spent summers at my Grandparents place in Frohna, the home of William & Elsie (Grebing) Oberndorfer.
    My mother Martha FIEDLER is buried in Frohna church cemetery. She is one of six of their children. Diane Leimbach is my sister.
    It’s wonderful to hear the many names your stories unfold.


  2. My namr is William Brinkhorst .My Dads name was William Brinkhorst also he had brothers who were named Brunkhorst. This name change came because the brothers all wanted to work in the BROWN SHOE FACTORY IN St.LOuis Mo..My father died in 1933 at the age of 32.I have not kept up with the Brinkhorst family relatives.


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