Yesterday, I was searching for a story to write for today and thought I had found one. Then I received a message from one of our guest bloggers, Clayton Erdmann, who asked if he could do a story for today. Lo, and behold, he wanted to write about the same people I was considering. Consequently, today you get this story told by someone who is much more knowledgeable about this family and a person who has so many more photos and documents to share. I hope you enjoy today’s story written by our friend, Clayton Erdmann as he relates a story about some of his ancestors.
October 23rd was a day of celebration in the lives of the Kasten family I am writing about today. It was on this date in 1887 that Wilhelm Kasten and Clara Bodenschatz were married at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, Missouri. Wilhelm was the son of Christoph Heinrich and Wilhelmina Grebe/Graefel Kasten. Clara’s parents were Karl and Johanna Hopfer Bodenschatz. Here are photos of their parents.
This is a copy of Wilhelm and Clara’s wedding certificate. I am always intrigued by the artwork and symbols included on these old documents. They are such a visual reminder of the vows that were taken and helped to illustrate what God’s Word says about marriage and family.
Wilhelm and Clara’s first child, Karl Arthur Kasten, was born on their first anniversary. His birth took place on their farm which is on F road, near Uniontown. This picture shows Wilhelm in front of the family home where Karl was born.
Karl was baptized on October 28, 1888 and on March 23, 1902 he was confirmed. Both events happened at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. The documents of these two events also include illustrations of God’s good gifts given through Word and the sacraments.
Here is a picture of Wilhelm and Clara with all four of their children. From left to right: Josephine Tanz, William, Karl, and Oscar.
There are a couple reasons why I was so encouraged to share information about this family. First, Karl is my great grandfather, meaning Wilhelm and Clara are my great great grandparents. However, something recently happened that had Karl on my mind.
I am a 5th grade teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School in Olivette, MO. Over the years, I have found that there are a fair number of connections between Immanuel and Perry County. This fact was made very clear in the events that unfolded over the past couple weeks.
This is my tenth year teaching 5th grade at Immanuel. After the second or third year, I decided I should go through the cabinets in my classroom. As I sorted through a variety of things, I stumbled across two large ledger books. Being interested in “old things,” I carefully flipped through the pages. You can imagine my surprise when I read that they were from a school in Uniontown, MO. At the time, I recognized some of the last names, but none of the first names stood out to me and I had no idea who the books had belonged to, so I tucked them away in my cabinet.
Two weeks ago, my class went on a fishing/outdoor education field trip. We encourage parents and grandparents to join us to assist the students while they are fishing. One of the grandparents who came along was a retired teacher who had taught at Immanuel for over 40 years. As we were talking, he asked if I had ever run across two old school ledgers that were from a school in Uniontown, MO. I let him describe them for a bit and then told him that I knew exactly where they were. He was surprised that they were still around. I told him I would dig them out and return them to him as soon as possible. The teacher’s connection to Uniontown is through his wife. Her maiden name was Meyr and her father and his siblings are listed in those ledgers.
The next Monday, I quickly pulled out the old record books. I wanted to take one last look through them just to make sure that I had not missed any of my own family members. Just like the first time, last names seemed familiar, but I could not find any names of my direct ancestors. However, there was a smaller book tucked inside one of the larger ledgers. This book was older than the larger books, with its earliest school year listed as 1902-1903. As I began to look at the old, fragile book, I couldn’t believe my eyes. On the first line, of the first page was listed Karl Kasten. I quickly did the math to make sure that this really was my great grandfather. The math confirmed that it was! I am still not sure how I missed seeing that the first time I looked through the books, but I am thankful that I took another look. The heading listed the name of the school as the Schneider School and the teacher that year was W.J.Schnurbusch. I have included Karl’s confirmation picture here, because it was taken the spring before this school year and shows what Karl looked like when he attended the Schneider School.
The next day, I returned all of the books to their rightful owner. I told him how amazed I was that my great grandfather was listed in the smallest book and that I couldn’t believe it had been in my classroom for all those years! I asked him if I could have an opportunity to electronically scan the pages for my collection. Instead, he graciously gave me the book to keep.
Over the last week, I have had a chance to study the book more closely. It has uncovered some things that I never knew about Karl. I was most surprised to see that he went to school until he was 18 years old. Some years he only attended a handful of days, but I had thought most young men during that time had not received more than an 8th grade education. A generation later, Karl’s own sons did not go to school past the 8th grade.
In all, Karl is listed 5 times in the little book. In 2016, I scanned a school picture that I have not yet positively identified. I think it is likely that it is a picture of Karl and his classmates at the Schneider School during the 05-06 school year. I put a star above the young man who I think is Karl and an arrow pointing to a girl that I think may be his sister Josephine. What really amuses me about this picture is that the teacher appears to be sitting in snow!
A few closing pieces of information about Karl’s adult life. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a farmer. In fact, he never left the farm on which he was born. Also, during most of his adult life Karl actually went by Charles. This was not uncommon, because Charles is the English version of the German name Karl.
In 1913, he married Elsa Bultmann. I have a written a couple blogs about the Bultmann family, including one about her brother, Rev. Ernst Bultmann.
Karl/Charles and Elsa had 4 children. Their first son was stillborn. Their other children were Ernst, Paul, and Elda Mangels. Here is a photo taken of their family before Paul left for service in World War II.
Karl/Charles died on January 20, 1954, at the age of 65. Here is the obituary that was printed at the time of his death and a photo of his tombstone. He was buried in the New Grace Lutheran Church Cemetery in Uniontown, MO.
The moral of this blog is that you never know where you will uncover a piece of your family’s history!