Escape to Eden

I really debated whether to tell today’s story.  There indeed are some events that I decide not to include in posts.  Suicides are a type of occurrence that I choose on occasion to leave out of stories.  There are no suicides in today’s story, but it does include circumstances that must have been hard for the family to deal with.  However, there are also aspects to this story that are certainly interesting and are indicative of the types of things that have taken place in many Perry County families.

In the process of looking for stories in the past, I have run across this photograph.  I have wanted to do a story about the children in it.  Today, I will.

August Engert children
August Engert children

I am going to start today’s story by talking about the father of these children.  His name was August Immanuel Engert.  One of the notable characteristics of his life is that he was the last of 23 children to be fathered by August Friedrich Wilhelm Engert, Sr.  His second wife was Anna Margaretha Junclaus, and August Immanuel was her 13th child.  The story of this large Engert family was told in the post, Another Fertile Father.

August Immanuel Engert married Liberta Palisch at the beginning of 1894.  Liberta was a descendant in another large family…..the J.G. Palisch family.  Later in 1894, August and Liberta had their first child, a son named Alfred Arthur Engert.  Alfred was born on this day, September 25th during that year.  In the above photo, he is the child in the middle.  Both the Engerts and the Palisches were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg.

The Engert land was located along what is now Highway Y which leads out toward The Ridge north of Altenburg.

Engert land 1915

In 1906, when Alfred was just 12 years old, and his sister and brother were even younger, his mother died of typhus.  Then before 1910, we find their father living at the State Hospital in Farmington.  He would be institutionalized there until his death in 1945.  As a result, the children needed homes.  Alfred would go to live with his uncle, Martin Palisch, and worked as a 15 year old farm laborer.  The younger siblings, Edward and Flora, went to live with their grandparents, Moritz and Pauline Palisch.

Moritz and Pauline Palisch

In 1916, Alfred married Mamie Wagner, who had been born and raised in Cutler, Illinois, which is located in Perry County, Illinois, not far from Steeleville.  Here is their wedding photo.

Alfred and Mamie Engert wedding
Alfred and Mamie (Wagner) Engert

I am not sure where this wedding took place.  I do know that it did not take place here in Altenburg.  Sometime between the 1910 and 1920 censuses, members of Mamie’s family moved to Eden, Idaho.  That is also where we find Alfred and Mamie living in the 1920 census after their marriage.  In fact, we find this interesting entry in the Eden, Idaho 1920 census.

Alfred Engert 1920 census Eden ID
1920 census – Eden, ID

You will notice not only the Engerts at the top, but also the Wagners at the bottom.  Mamie’s mother’s maiden name was Brune, and we see several Brunes in between.  When Alfred registered for the WWI draft in either 1917 or 1918, he was already living in Eden.  The best I can conclude is that Alfred getting married pretty much corresponded with his wife’s family moving to Idaho.

The Engerts went on to live very long lives and had four children.  Sometime between 1920 and 1930, they moved even farther north, almost to the Canadian border.  Their new home was in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Eden and Bonners Ferry ID

Alfred was always a farmer.  It makes me wonder if he grew potatoes.  More tragedy entered their lives because the Engerts had to watch two of their sons die before their own deaths.  In 1964, their son, Herbert, was killed in a car crash.  Here is his death certificate.


Another son, August, died in 1970.  I do not know the cause.

We have two photos of Alfred taken in 1986.  The first one was taken here in Perry County in June.  He is gathered with other members of his extended family in this photo.  I am guessing there was some sort of family reunion.

Alfred Engert 1986

Then later that year, Alfred and Mamie celebrated their 70th anniversary in Idaho.  Their two other children are in the photo also.

Alfred and Mamie Engert 70th anniversary

Mamie died in 1987; Alfred died in 1988.  They are buried together in Grandview Cemetery in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Alfred and Mamie Engert gravestone

One thing always amazes me about Perry County folks who move elsewhere around the country.  They always manage to move to places where there is a Lutheran church.  There are Lutheran churches in both Eden and Bonners Ferry, Idaho.  In many cases, we see evidence of how these Perry County transplants are involved in starting a congregation where they moved.

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