Today’s post is another one written by a guest blogger. This one was written by Cal Eggers who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is the first article he has written for us, and I hope it will be followed up by many more. Cal got some help from his brother, Fred, one of our other contributors, who helped him obtain some images to go along with his story. Thanks, Cal.
Today would be the 151st birthday of Emma Hesse Eggers Dreyer and while this story is centered on her, it takes some detours to illustrate some of the mysteries, perils, and discoveries that are encountered in genealogical work.
Sometimes as a conversation starter at a birthday party or other social occasion one might ask: “Where did you meet your spouse?” For some time we had wondered how our great-aunt Emma would have answered that question.
While we have no actual statistics, after reading hundreds of family histories it seems that the majority of 19th century Perry County couples would have answered that question: “At church or school.” Most weddings of men at Farrar seemed to be to Salem women; Frohna to Concordia women; Ridge to Immanuel women; Altenburg to Trinity women. As time passed and mobility increased there were more “mixed marriages”: Farrar to Frohna; Altenburg to Wittenberg or New Wells, and so on. And some young people met spouses at office or factory work in St. Louis or at farm work in Kansas or Nebraska.
Given that pattern, we were puzzled about the second wife of our grandfather. Henry Eggers was born near Altenburg in 1856 and after marrying Katherine Anne Soehl of Farrar in 1879 they began farming near Farrar near what is now Route C.
Henry Eggers and Catherine Soehl Wedding
The union was blessed with 5 boys and 3 girls. Tragically, in 1901, Katherine died at the age of 44, leaving Henry with a farm to run and seven children to raise, aged 1 to 17. (Jane, the eldest daughter, had married Dr. Albert Lueders of Wittenberg four months earlier.)
As with many widowers in the early history of East Perry, it was not surprising that Henry remarried 15 months later. The surprise was that his new bride, Fredericke Hesse, was from House Springs, Jefferson County, about 80 miles away. How did they get together?
A solution presented itself as we expanded the tree to include more branches of the Eggers family and learned that Henry’s younger brother, Arno Emmanuel (known in most records as Emmanuel), born 1862, had in 1886 married Emma Hesse, a younger sister of Fredericke. It was thus logical to assume that when Henry became a widower, his sister-in-law Emma would introduce him to her sister, by now aged 38 (and in those times probably considered a “spinster”). Fredericke might have even been an occasional visitor to Perry County.
With this discovery, the mystery now shifted to: “How then did Emma from Jefferson County meet Emmanuel?”
Warren Schmidt provided a likely answer in his blog on September 15, 2017, Merchant by the Mill, where we learned that a third Perry County man, Herman Walther, had married another of the Hesse sisters – Maria Sophia – on September 9, 1880. And how did they meet? Quoting the blog: “The story goes that Herman was on a steamboat going to St. Louis to buy merchandise for his store when he originally met the girl who was going to become his bride.” That’s much more dramatic than meeting in church, isn’t it? So we could now assume that Sophia (Hesse) Walther introduced Emma Hesse to Emmanuel Eggers and then Emma introduced Fredericke Hesse to Henry Eggers. We will never know for sure but it sounds good to us.
(Arno) Emmanuel Eggers and Emma Hesse were married in 1886 at Zion Lutheran, Sandy Creek (which now has a Hillsboro address) in Jefferson County, Missouri. They had two sons, John born 1887 and Emmanuel born 1890.
Emmanuel and John Eggers
Soon another tragedy: Arno Emmanuel died at age 28, in May 1890, two months before his second son was born. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 after the boys, John and Emmanuel, had reached adulthood they moved to Sylvan Grove, Kansas, where their Aunt Dorothea (Eggers) Stuive was already living. Both men married and farmed in the area; John had no children, while Emmanuel had two daughters. A great-grandson, John Sorensen, his wife Dena, and their children from that area visited the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum this summer.
As we researched the Hesse family we encountered a new mystery in an ancestry.com record of Emma Hesse:
Was this a mistaken identity? Did Emma move in the middle of the year? In fact, both entries were accurately based on actual census records: on June 1, 1900, in Jefferson County and on June 4, 1900. Here is an image of the record from Jefferson County:
1900 census – Jefferson County, MO
It appears that Mary (Hesse) Walter and Emma (Hesse) Dreyer, along with their children were visiting with their parents, Christian and Hannah Hesse, along with some of their children and other family members. Possibly an overly-ambitious census enumerator recorded not just the persons that resided there but all persons who were there. Why were they there? June 1, 1900, was a Friday and they may have come to visit their parents for the weekend. Or they could have been celebrating a month early for the 50th wedding anniversary of their parents who were married on July 1, 1850.
Christian Hesse was born in 1824 and baptized at St. Peters Evangelical Church in Kirchlinteln, Hanover, about 100 km from Lamstedt, the Eggers ancestral home, and only 34 km from Scheeßel, the home church of many other immigrants to East Perry County, including Henry Dreyer who came from the village of Stemmen near there.
St. Peters Lutheran Church, Kirchlinteln, Hanover
In 1844 Christian immigrated to the St. Louis area by way of New Orleans with his parents and siblings. His family was active in the founding of Zion Lutheran at Sandy Creek in 1847. For an interesting condensed history of Zion in the context of Lutheranism and the Missouri Synod, see the following link:
Looking back to that 1900 census record, we next asked, ‘who was Elizabeth Winter and what was she doing there?’ It turns out this was another sister, Katherina Elizabeth Hesse, born 1861, who apparently went by Elizabeth much of her life and later by Lizzie. She had been married in 1884 to yet another Perry County man, Ernest Friedrich Jacob Winter (1861-1890). Widowed at the age of 29 with four children, she moved back to Jefferson County for a time, and then to Ottawa County, Oklahoma, where her sons farmed, and where she died in 1952. By the way, even though the two boys in the pictures barely look like brothers, they are, in fact twins, both born July 2, 1885, in Altenburg.
Now, back to the marriage of Henry Eggers and Fredericke Hesse in 1902 and another mystery. Here is what we found on ancestry.
This does not seem credible for two reasons. First, it is highly unlikely that members of two staunch Lutheran families would marry in a Catholic church. Second, we were not able to find a church by that name, or even a saint by that name. (Even we invoke the belief in the sainthood of all believers.)
Other family trees showed the location as St. Paul’s Lutheran, Antonio (now with an Imperial address), without any citation of a source. On the image on the Missouri Marriage Record the description of the location was not legible but we were able to make out the officiant as what looked like Rev. Dautenhahn. Contact with the current Pastor of St. Paul’s confirmed that a Rev. Carl Dautenhahn served there from 1887 to 1913 and that the church records included the Eggers-Hesse wedding (though not legible enough to provide a copy). So, when in doubt, trust Lutheran church records, not the Mormons.
Henry and Fredericke had no children together (although several family trees on Ancestry ascribe two children in Jefferson City to her). Henry died in 1914 and Fredericke died in 1920 by which time the youngest of the Eggers boys (our father Walter) had reached adulthood. One aunt described her as having been a loving step-mother.
Now, how did the widow Emma Hesse Eggers meet her second husband, after Emmanuel had died and left her with 2 small children and a farm to run?
Not much mystery there; it turns out that she was married to her farm hand, Henry Dreyer on August 8, 1892, at St. Paul’s Lutheran, Antonio, by the same Rev. Dautenhahn who later officiated at the wedding of her sister Fredericke.
Henry was born in Germany in 1868 and immigrated in 1884.
It is rare to read a first person account of early East Perry residents, but sometime ago Edgar Dreyer gave us a copy of a letter written by Henry to a niece in Germany in about 1958 when he was about 90. (The original letter was written in German and someone later interpreted it and typed a copy.) Here are some excerpts. We are sure that the reference to “Lady Meyers” is actually Emma Hesse Eggers. We were not sure about the reference to a Rev. Lohmann; however, Edgar Dreyer tells us that Rev. A. M. Lohmann’s father Peter was a half-brother to Henry Dreyer’s mother.
Henry and Emma had nine children of their own, seven of which lived to adulthood. This photo, probably taken in 1942, includes Henry (A) and Emma (B), Emma’s sons John (C) and Emmanuel Eggers (D), and the Dreyer children:
- Anna married Ernst Walther and they lived on a farm in the Pocahontas area
- Paul who farmed in Nebraska
- Lydia married Karl Gross and the lived for a time in Menfro and later in Illinois.
- Martin was a Lutheran minister in Nebraska
- Arthur who farmed in Nebraska
- Ernest was a Lutheran minister in Nebraska
- Herbert who farmed the home farm near Altenburg
Emma Hesse Eggers Dreyer died at the age of 87 in 1956 and Henry Dreyer died in 1960 at the age of 91. They are buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.
The following 1898 Perry County Plat Map outlines the location (1) of the land purchased by Hermann Eggers from the United States Land Office in 1853, which was owned by Henry and Emma Dreyer in 1898. Also shown are the property owned at that time by Hermann’s brother John Henry Eggers (2), by his sister Catherina and her husband Henry Henn (3), and by Gottlieb Walther, the father-in-law of Maria Hesse Walther (4).
Finally, here is an artifact associated with Fredericke Hesse Eggers.
The provenance of this wine set is as follows: It was a birthday gift in 1909 to Fredericke Hesse Eggers from Anna Klaus, the mother-in-law of Henry Eggers’s son, Emmanuel Herman. Sometime later it came into the hands of Henry’s daughter, Ida, who moved to the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area and married Henry Helmke in 1919. Then 50+ years later in 1971, Ida “re-gifted” it as a wedding present to Nancy (Schmalzried) Maylath, great-granddaughter of Anna, the original donor, and step-great-granddaughter of Fredericke the recipient. Nancy still treasures it today in West Lafayette, Indiana.
This has been a story of several Lutheran couples coming across the miles and in various ways overcoming tragedies to keep their families together. We are certain that their strong faith was a factor in their life and the decisions that they made.