Many folks from East Perry County remember Dixie Degenhardt cruising the roads of Altenburg in his pick-up truck. Dixie lived to almost 100 years old and died a few years back. Today would have been the 104th wedding anniversary of Dixie’s Uncle Paul and Aunt Sophia Degenhardt.
We will start with Paul. He was the son of August and Bertha (Engert) Degenhardt and born on December 1, 1886. Here are photos of Paul’s parents.
Paul’s baptism took place at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Paul was the 10th of 12 children born into this family. Dixie’s father, August, was the 9th one in line. In the 1900 census, we find Paul working as a farm laborer on his father’s place in Seelitz.
When Paul was 27 years old, he married Sophia Sebald at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg. They were married on this date, April 19, 1914. Here is their marriage license.
Sophia was the daughter of John and Barbara (Dornhoefer) Sebald. She was born on March 21, 1882 and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Even though her baptism is included in the Trinity, Altenburg books, I believe the Sebald family lived in Wittenberg. When Sophia was just 3 years old, her father drowned in a fishing accident, probably on the Mississippi River. Here is a photo of the Sebald family that must have been taken sometime after John’s drowning.
Sophia is sitting next to her mother on the right.
After her husband died, Barbara Sebald bought the Goehring Store in Wittenberg. Here is a photo of Barbara standing in front of that store.
The Sebald home can be seen on the left. Later, that became the home of Paul and Sophia Degenhardt. You can see that this house and store were located right at the base of the bluff in Wittenberg. The store can be found on this later aerial photo of Wittenberg and labeled #1. This photo gives you an idea of how close their home was to the railroad tracks.
Here is another photo of Sophia and her mother. Once again, she is seated to the right of her mother.
When Paul filled out his World War I draft registration form, it recorded that he was working for the railroad in Wittenberg.
Here is a photo of Paul along with several other men who were part of a section crew for the railroad. The photo was taken in Wittenberg, and Paul is the second person from the right. I believe you can see the Sebald/Degenhardt house in the background.
There is another reference which indicates that Paul once worked for the Schirmer sawmill in Wittenberg for a while.
At the time when Paul filled out his World War I registration, he and Sophia had one child. That would have been Lambert Degenhardt. Sadly, Lambert died the next year in October of 1918. He is the only Degenhardt buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Wittenberg.
Earlier in 1918, a second child was born to this family, and then in 1921, another child was born. All of their children were boys. We have this photo of the Paul Degenhardt family.
The two boys are Martin (the older one) and Gilbert.
A 1940 census shows that Paul and Sophia had moved to St. Louis, and Paul had become a maintenance man at a publishing company. Paul’s World War II draft card indicates that this publishing company was Concordia Publishing House.
Paul died in 1961; Sophia died in 1969. The two are buried together in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in St. Louis. Here is their gravestone.
I am sure that this couple would not have had any idea that they would have a grand nephew who would be the creator of our German Family Tree which I was able to use to study their Degenhardt family history.