Hardware Rudy’s

You may have done business with a company called Hardware Hank.  It’s a company based in Minnesota and is a co-op of hardware store owners similar to Ace Hardware, True Value, or Do It Best.

Hardware Hank

In days gone by, you might have done business with a hardware store that very well could have been called Hardware Rudy’s.  Over the years, a couple of Rudy’s owned and worked in this hardware store.  Today, I will focus on one of those Rudy’s.  However, I will do so mainly because his wife was born on this day.  Let’s start with her.

Clara Oberndorfer was born on October 28, 1894  and baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri.  Clara was the daughter of August and Wilhelmine (Ruehling) Oberndorfer.  Clara’s father was a cooper.

On October 5, 1919, Clara married Rudolph Ernst Mueller at Concordia.  When we look at the life of Rudy Mueller, we have to be really careful.  Rudolph Ernst Mueller was born on June 1, 1894  and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  However, here’s the rub.  About two months earlier in 1894, Rudolph EUGENE Mueller was born in Uniontown.  So in the records, you find two Rudolph E. Muellers living in Perry county who were born in 1894.  Add to that the fact that these two Rudy Muellers also died within two months of each other in 1948.  As people often said when I lived in Minnesota, “Uff da!”

The Rudy Mueller that married Clara Oberndorfer was the son of Martin Heinrich and Elise (Brandes) Mueller of Altenburg.  It was Martin that originally owned the hardware store in Altenburg.  Here is a photo of Martin.

Martin Mueller

When Martin owned the hardware store, it looked like this.  Martin is standing on the right.

Mueller & Moeckel in front of store M
M.H. Mueller hardware store

Martin died quite early.  He died in 1908 at the age of 44.  For a while, his wife, Elise, was the proprietor of the hardware store.  Another Rudy actually managed the store during those days.  His name was Rudy Lohmann.  I will probably tell his story on another day.  Here is a photo of the store which has a sign on it indicating that it was the store of Mrs. M.H. Mueller.

Mrs. M.H. Mueller hardware store

Here is an enlargement of that sign.

Mrs. Martin Mueller sign

This advertisement for this store also indicates her ownership and the fact that Rudy Lohmann was the manager.

Mrs. Martin Mueller advertisement

Back to Rudolph.  Here is his World War I draft registration form.


His occupation, as was his father’s, was that of a tinner.  Rudy did enter the military.  Here is his record for World War I.

Rudolph Ernst Mueller military record
Rudolph Ernst Mueller military record

By the way, we know this is the correct Rudolph E. Mueller because it has the right birthday listed.  Rudy did not get sent overseas or end up having any disabilities.  Then, not long after getting discharged, he married Clara.

For a while, Rudy Mueller was the proprietor of the hardware store.  We have this delightful picture of a bunch of men inside the Rudy Mueller Store clowning around.  Rudy is seated in the front on the right.  It appears that everyone in the photo grabbed something that was on sale in the store before they posed for this photograph.

Inside Rudy Mueller Hardware tif

The calendar below is hanging now in the Old Bank Coffee Shop which is located across Main Street from the old hardware store.  It is a calendar which indicates R.E. Mueller as the owner of the store, and it is a calendar that is from 1939, the year that was the 100th anniversary of the 1839 immigration.  It also has the same days of the week that we have in this year’s 2017 calendar.

R.E. Mueller Hardware calendar 1939

Rudy and Clara are shown in this photo which was taken in 1947 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

MM Rudy Mueller tif

The Muellers had two children.  One died after only three days.  The other died of disease at the age of 19.  By the time of the above photo, they were childless.  Like his father, Rudy died rather early at the age of 53.  He died in 1948.  Here is his death certificate.

Rudolph Ernst Mueller death certificate
Rudolph Ernst Mueller death certificate

In 1959, Clara married again.  Her second husband was Otto Richter.  Otto had a livery stable and was involved with running the hotel in Altenburg.  Otto’s World War II draft card also indicates his employment as a telephone operator.


He, too, died before Clara did.  He died in 1965.  His death certificate below shows his involvement with the hotel.  I also find it interesting that Clara is still listed as Clara Mueller on this form even though she was then married to Otto Richter.

Otto Richter death certificate
Otto Richter death certificate

Clara died in 1988 at the age of 93.  She is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.  The inscription on her gravestone says she was the widow of both Rudolph Mueller and Otto Richter.

If you want more details on what happened to the hardware store after Rudy owned it, you can find it in a previous post titled, A Building in Transition.  In that post which was written a little over a year ago, it was said that the hardware building was being updated for a new business that was going to be run there.  At that time, I was not at liberty to tell what that business was going to be.  Now I can.  The new business is called Say Grace.  It is a food catering business that hosts meals for special occasions.  Here is what it looks like today.

You can get a better sense of what it looks like on the inside by looking at this photo.

Say Grace at night

Also, the Muellers lived in the house next door to their store.  That house still stands.

Martin Mueller house today
Mueller home

Say Grace is operated by Kim Ponder.  In this photograph, we see Kim standing on the far right along with some of her regular “crew” that serves meals there.  By the way, today is Kim’s birthday.  I don’t dare tell you how old she is, but I do know.  If you happen to see her today, give her some birthday greetings.

Say Grace staff

For more details on her business, you can check out their Facebook page which can be found here:


Just one more thing that I must say.  Kim’s husband has a nickname that almost everyone in town uses.  It’s…………………..Rudy.


3 thoughts on “Hardware Rudy’s

  1. Reblogged this on Warren R. Schmidt and commented:

    The Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum is hosting its immigtration conference the next three days, so we will be re-blogging some previously published posts. Today you will have a chance to read a post that was published on this day four years ago.

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