Today I will share the story of W.W……..Wilhelm Wachter. His story is not without its puzzles. I hope I get it right. I tell his story today because December 29th was the date of his second marriage in 1870. But before I get to that, let me go back.
Wilhelm came to America when he was just 9 years old. We find his name on this passenger list from the Minerva in 1853.
This list begins the puzzle. It looks like Wilhelm came to America with Henry and Catherina Zoepfele……with Catherina being 13 years older than Henry. Meanwhile, a few church records state that the father of the Wachter children was Johann Erdmann Wachter. Also, several family histories on Ancestry.com claim that the mother was Catherine Grosskopf. The best explanation for this is that after Johann Erdmann died in Germany, Catherine married Henry. By the way, the name Zoepfele is believed to be an alternate spelling for the surname Saalfeld. There were even some Saalfelds included in the original immigration in 1839. In the 1860 census, we find this entry.
Wilhelm and two other Wachter siblings are living in the Henry Zaphel family. In 1867, Wilhelm had his first marriage. His first wife was Christiana Krause. She was the daughter of John and Christiana (Denhardt) Krause. Both of Wilhelm’s marriages took place during the Koestering Hole, so we do not find them in church records, but we do find documents in the civil records. Here is the record for this marriage which took place on June 11, 1867.
You can see Rev. Koestering’s name in there if you know where to look. He was serving both Trinity in Altenburg and Concordia in Frohna at the time, but this marriage almost certainly took place at Trinity. If so, it must have been one of the last marriages performed in the 1845 church sanctuary. The new church was dedicated in October of 1867.
One daughter, Christine Pauline Wachter, was born into this family, but the marriage would not last long. On March 12, 1870, Wilhelm’s first wife died. Wilhelm would marry again before that year would end, but in between his first wife’s death and his second marriage, this 1870 census was recorded.
Wilhelm was living with his mother, whose last name is now spelled Saalfeld, Regina Krause, who must have been his sister-in-law, his daughter Pauline, and a farm worker by the name of Levi Abernathy. This leads up to Wilhelm’s second marriage which took place on this date in 1870. Here is the civil record of his marriage to his second wife, Ernstine Bodenschatz.
Here is where there is another puzzle. Just where does this Ernstine Bodenschatz fit into the picture? It does not appear that she has any connection to the other numerous Bodenschatzes in Perry County. She is said to have immigrated to America around 1869. If you look closely at the Minerva passenger list, you will see that there was an Auguste Bodenschatz right below the Wachters. She doesn’t appear to be connected to others in the Bodenschatz family either. However, Wilhelm was the sponsor for a baptism of a Bodenschatz girl in 1864. If you are not confused enough already, add to it the fact that this Bodenschatz girl was named Ernstine, and her father’s name was Johann Erdmann Bodenschatz. (remember? Wilhelm’s father was Johann Erdmann Wachter) And this Ernstine Bodenschatz’s mother had the maiden name of Wachter. My head is spinning if yours is not.
The young girl from Wilhelm’s first marriage was not included in the 1876 Missouri census, so it is assumed that she must have died fairly early. Rev. Koestering also did not record deaths during this time period.
Wilhelm was a farmer that lived on land which was located south of Altenburg. Here is a 1915 map which shows the location of this land. By that time, it was listed under Charles Wachter, one of Wilhelm’s sons.
Now let’s take a look at a few photos. First, here is one showing just Wilhelm and Ernstine.
Wilhelm and Ernstine had nine children. This photo was taken of all nine of them when they were considerably older.
Back row (L to R): Ernst, Louise, Paul, Tillie, and Charles Front row (L to R): Theodore, Lina Enke, Herman, and Ida Eggers.
Many of these children and spouses can be seen in this earlier photo taken in front of the Wachter homestead.
Ernstine and Wilhelm can be seen standing in the back, the second and third persons from the left.
Ernstine died in 1916; Wilhelm died in 1924. They are both buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg. Here are their gravestones.
There are plenty of pages in our German Family Tree that include the surnames of Wachter and Bodenschatz. In my mind anyway, there are still questions to be answered about the connections between these two families. Maybe someone with a little more inside information can answer these questions for me someday. It is also likely that these two family names will show up on this blog in future posts.