Tillie and Her Girls

A little over a month ago, I posted a story titled, Tales from a Tombstone…in a Barn.  In that story, this photo was posted with a question about who Gertrude Mueller might be.  I now know who Gertrude was and will include her in today’s story.  Here is that photo.


I tell this story today because it would have been the 160th birthday of Martha Mathilda (Buenger) Mueller.  She was born on May 5, 1858 in Altenburg, Missouri and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church.  Our German Family Tree says she was the 12th of 14 children born in her family.  Two years ago, I wrote a post about Mathilda, who I will call Tillie, that was titled, Yet Another Mueller Question, but that article actually focused more on Tillie’s husband, Joseph Mueller, than it did on Tillie.  Today, I will focus my attention on the girls in that family.

Tillie had quite an important and famous father.  His name was Dr.Ernst Eduard Buenger, who not only was one of the original immigrants, but also the first medical doctor to serve in Perry County.  This also means that she was the granddaughter of Christiane Buenger, the main character in my book, Mama Buenger: Mother of a Synod.  Here is a photo of Tillie’s father later in his life.  The child on his lap is not Tillie.

Ernst Eduard Buenger
Dr. Ernst Eduard Buenger

When Mathilda was 21 years old, she married Joseph Mueller.  Even though both of them were from Perry County, they were married in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Here is their Indiana marriage license.

Mueller Buenger marriage license IN
Mueller/Buenger marriage license

Rev. F.W. Stellhorn performed the marriage.  Pastor Stellhorn was married to Mathilda’s sister, Christiane.  This marriage took place on June 22, 1879.  Joseph and Tillie’s first child, Martha, was born on June 11, 1880 and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  So we know this couple moved back to Perry County not long after their marriage.  Joseph and Tillie had six children all together.  The first four were girls, and the last two were boys.  I will highlight the four girls today.  Here are their names and dates of birth:

  • Martha Amalie Mueller – June 11, 1880
  • Gertrude Josephine Mueller – September 2, 1883
  • Esther Maria Mueller – November 8, 1885
  • Agnes Dorothea Mueller – November 20 (or 21), 1887

Martha married Otto Petzoldt in 1901.  Otto was a farmer in the Wittenberg area.  Here are photos of Martha and Otto.


I cannot resist saying on this Kentucky Derby Day that Martha’s hat could very well fit right in at the Derby today.  Martha and Otto had four children.  One of them, Rev. Waldemar Petzoldt, spent part of his ministry serving at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois.

Gertrude Mueller was the girl on the mysterious gravestone located in my barn.  Sadly, she lived only a little more than three years.  She died on December 2, 1886 and was buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg, but for some reason, her gravestone must have broken and fallen.  Over time it must have been misplaced so that the location of Gertrude’s grave is unknown now.

Esther Mueller married William Kieninger on May 6, 1906 in Wittenberg.  Unfortunately, by the time of this wedding, her mother, Tillie, had already died.  Esther and William had four boys.  Their story was told in the post titled, This Pitcher Had 4 K’s.  Those four boys are the parents of most of the folks who call themselves the Wittenberg Cousins who visit Altenburg twice a year.  Here is the wedding photo of William and Esther.


Dorothea Mueller was another daughter who lived a very short time.  She died on April 15, 1890 before she was even three years old.  She is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.  Her gravestone has managed to stay where it was first placed back in 1890.

Dorothea Mueller gravestone Trinity Altenburg MO
Dorothea Mueller gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

You can see that Gertrude and Dorothea had the same style of gravestones.  Based on Trinity’s procedures for burial, Gertrude is probably buried very close to Dorothea since they died just 4 years apart.

I will leave you with this terrific photo of the birthday girl, Tillie Mueller, standing in front of her Wittenberg home.

Mathilda Buenger Mueller

Tillie will be a minor character in my upcoming historical novel about Wittenberg.


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