Fischer Man Struck by Lightning

Because of the title of this post, I decided to do an internet search on “fisherman struck by lightning” and found this link:

NOAA study finds fishing tops U.S. lightning death activities


It really does not have much to do with this post, but it is a reminder about lightning safety.  However, lightning is part of this story.

Before I tell this story about a death in 1905, let me give some background.  In a previous post titled, Unraveling the Palisch/Fischer Connectons, an explanation was given for how a group of Fischers ended up living in Frohna, Missouri.  It told about Friedrich Fischer from Altenburg marrying Martha Weihold from Frohna.  It also focused on one of their daughters, Martha, who married Henry Palisch, who ran a general store in Frohna.

One of Martha’s brothers was Joseph Fischer who was born in 1861.  Joseph married Marie Estel of Wittenberg in 1886.  Maria was the daughter of Theodosius Christian and Henrietta (Gerlach) Estel.  That marriage is recorded in the Trinity, Altenburg books.  When the Fischers began having children in 1887, according to this 1900 census record, their first son was born in Iowa.  Here is where today’s date comes into play.  This firstborn son was born on August 9, 1887.

Joseph Fischer 1900 census Frohna
1900 census – Frohna, MO

The next two children were born in Illinois in 1892 and 1893.  Their next child, Otto Ernst, was born in 1897 in Frohna, but he died after living a little over one year.  Otto did not live long enough to make this 1900 census.  So in the first ten years of their marriage, the Fischer family had lived in three different states.

Here is what I think happened to cause this family to move so often.  There are a few places in the church records that refer to Joseph as Pastor Joseph Fischer.  I found Joseph in the 1880 census from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Joseph Fischer 1880 census Ft. Wayne IN
1880 census – Ft. Wayne, IN

The margin on this page of the census says these young men were students at Concordia German Lutheran College.  Joseph was studying for the ministry.  I am guessing that after he finished his studies and was ordained, his first call must have been to some location in Iowa.  Then sometime before 1892, Joseph must have taken a call to serve a congregation in Illinois.  I am thinking that if we had the 1890 census, there is a good chance we would find him living in Conant, Illinois.  When their son, Adolph filled out his World War II draft card, he noted that he was born in Conant, a city just outside Pinckneyville, in Perry County, Illinois.

Adolph Fischer – WWII draft card

Trinity Lutheran Church is located in Conant, Illinois.  Joseph was probably the pastor at that church at the end of the 19th century.

Trinity Lutheran Conant IL
Trinity Lutheran, Conant, IL

You cannot see it in the 1900 Frohna census above, but it says that Joseph was a furniture dealer.  Joseph must have left the ministry and moved his family back to his hometown to become a furniture dealer.  However, Joseph died in 1910 at the age of 48.  Here is his death certificate which indicates that he died of tuberculosis.

Joseph Fischer death certificate
Joseph Fischer – death certificate

We also now know that Joseph was living in Frohna for 13 years, which means he moved back to this area in 1897.  And we have more evidence that he had previously lived in Conant, Illinois.  Joseph is buried in Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna.

Now we finally get to the story about a death that took place in 1905, five years before Joseph’s death.  The church books of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna state that on May 18, 1905, Joseph’s oldest son, Walther Friedrich Theodosius Fischer, died at the age of 17 because he was struck by lightning.  I was unable to find any other details about this death.  I was hoping there would have been a record of it in a local newspaper, but I found none in the records that are accessible to me.  Here is the record as it appears in the Concordia, Frohna books.

Walther Fischer death record Concordia Frohna
Walther Fischer death record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

In the space after the dates on the left, you will see the word, Blitz, which is the German word for lightning.

There is a puzzling fact that enters this Fischer family earlier in the year 1890.  In that year, on June 10, their second-born son by the name of Martin Luther Fischer, died and his death record shows up in the Trinity Lutheran Church, Altenburg books.  Here is that record.

Martin Luther Fischer death record Trinity Altenburg
Martin Luther Fischer – death record, Trinity, Altenburg, MO

It is also this record that states that the child’s father was Pastor Joseph Fischer.  The German word, pfarrer, in front of J. Fischer means pastor.  This child was 11 months and 2 days old at the time of his death.  A couple of possible explanations for this come to my mind.

  1.   Maybe Joseph was between calls when this death occurred.  Possibly he was in Perry County visiting his wife’s family in Wittenberg before traveling across the river to take over his new congregation in Conant, Illinois.  It may then have happened that their young child, Martin Luther, died.
  2.   Maybe Joseph was already serving at the Conant church, and his family came across the river for a visit, and the child died while here.

We do know that two more children were born after 1890 in Conant before Joseph moved back to Frohna.  Then Otto Ernst was born in Frohna in 1897 and died in 1898.  Their last child, Martha, was born in 1901 in Frohna.  We also know that all of the other Fischer children moved out of Perry County later in life.

Maria died in St. Louis where she was living with her only daughter, Martha (Fischer) Katt.  Maria is buried in Our Redeemer Cemetery in St. Louis.  Here is her death certificate.

Maria Fischer death certificate St. Louis MO
Maria Fischer – death certificate

Maria Fischer certainly faced some hardship during those early years of her life.  She lost two infant children, a teenage son, and a husband by the time she was 43 years old.  This story is yet another one which illustrates the amount of death that had to be experienced by these people back in those days.  Yet the folks remained strong in their faith which assured them all of a blessed reunion in heaven.



One thought on “Fischer Man Struck by Lightning

  1. I’m a granddaughter of A.G. Fischer, born to Joseph and Maria in 1893. A few years ago, we donated Walther’s baptismal gown to the museum along with fabric woven by Joseph’s father. Walther’s sudden death made a marked impression on Grandpa, who would tell us the story of that day quite often. Thanks for bringing our family story to light.


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