Clara the Mystery Woman

We know she was Clara Holschen.  In fact, we know she was Clara Holschen twice.  But before she was Clara Holschen, who was she, and who were her parents.  I will present you with the facts that we have to work with, and I will give you a theory about who she was, but in the end, I have to admit that I really don’t know who she was.

I am going to start the story at the end.  Here is Clara Holschen’s gravestone in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.

Clara Holschen gravestone Immanuel Altenburg
Clara Holschen gravestone – Immanuel, Altenburg

You can see that today would have been her 147th birthday.

We have her death certificate to look at.

Clara Holschen death certificate
Clara Holschen death certificate

As you can see, it doesn’t help much.   For the names of her father and mother, it simply says, “Don’t know”.   One thing that you can see on this form is that John Holschen was the informant.  That was her husband.  Clara had married John Holschen on May 11, 1901.  Here are images of this marriage record found in the Immanuel Lutheran church books.  Immanuel’s church books stretch the record out over two pages, so I will always have to show these records with two images.

Johann Holschen Hampton marriage record 1 Immanuel Altenburg

Johann Holschen Hampton marriage record 2 Immanuel Altenburg
John Holschen marriage record

Actually, this marriage was the second one for both the bride and the groom.  John had been married previously to Lydia Rhyne.  They were married on September 18, 1894.  Here is that record.

Johann Holschen Rhyne marriage record 1 Immanuel Altenburg

Johann Holschen Rhyne marriage record 2 Immanuel Altenburg
John Holschen marriage record

When Lydia married John, she was not a Lutheran.  Two years after their marriage, Lydia was confirmed at Immanuel Lutheran Church in 1896.  It is thought that Lydia died before 1901, but I could find no record of her death or burial.

Clara, on the other hand, had previously been married to John’s cousin, Ludwig Holschen.  Here is that marriage record.

Ludwig Holschen Hampton marriage record Immanuel Altenburg

Ludwig Holschen Hampton marriage record 2 Immanuel Altenburg
Ludwig Holschen marriage record

In both of Clara’s marriage records, it says that she was raised in the home of Traugott Thurm, who lived on The Ridge.  The Holschens were also residents on The Ridge.  On Ludwig’s marriage record, it says Clara’s name was Clara Hampton.  This is the first clue we have seen concerning who Clara was.

If we backtrack a little farther, the only census record in which Clara was unmarried was the one in 1880 which shows her living in the Traugott Thurm household.

Traugott Thurm 1880 census Altenburg MO
1880 census – Altenburg, MO

Clara is listed as Clara Hamilton on this record, but that is likely a misspelling of the name, Hampton.

Going back even further, we come across Clara’s confirmation record.

Clara Hampton Thurm confirmation record Immanuel Altenburg
Clara Thurm – confirmation record

Here, Clara is called Clara Thurm, but in the parents column, it includes the names McDaul and Hampton.  It also says that she was the foster child of Traugott Thurm.  Now we have two names that are associated with Clara…McDaul and Hampton.

The last fact that we have to look at is actually the first record we have in our German Family Tree for Clara.  It is her baptism record.

Clara McDaul Hampton baptism record Immanuel Altenburg
Clara Hampton baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg

Even though she was born on May 10, 1871, she was not baptized until May 30, 1878.  On this record, we see that McDaul is shown as the father’s name and Hampton is shown corresponding with the mother.  It once again refers to Clara being the foster child of Traugott Thurm.  It is also interesting to note that one of her sponsors was Emilie Holschen, whose maiden name was Thurm.

The big question is where the names McDaul and Hampton originate.  Now comes a theory.  After spending way too much time trying to find the answer to this question and going down a lot of dead ends, I ran across a marriage that took place in Perry County in 1865 in which a Hampton married a McDowell.  Here is that marriage record.  It is not easy to read.

Hampton McDowell marriage license 1865
Hampton/McDowell marriage record

The marriage was performed by a justice of the peace by the name of Emanuel Estel, who also happens to be included in our German Family Tree.  My question:  Could it be that McDaul was just a different spelling for McDowell?  One of the Thurm family binders we have in our research library does use the McDowell spelling when referring to this name.

If you pursue this Hampton groom, whose name was Marion Lafayette Hampton, you find out some interesting things.  He was from Tennessee, but was registered for the Civil War draft, and at that time he was living in Cape Girardeau.  The bride’s name was Martha L. McDowell.  We can find her name in an 1850 census record for Saline Township in Perry County, Missouri.

Martha McDowell 1850 census Saline Township Perry MO
1850 census – Saline Township, Perry County

She was one year old in 1850.  That would have made her only 16 years old if she married in 1865.  Martha McDowell had an older sister by the name of Susan.  I found another marriage record for Marion Lafayette Hampton with him marrying Susan McDowell in 1867 in Scott County, Missouri.

Hampton Susan McDowell marriage license Scott Co MO 1867
Hampton/Susan McDowell marriage license – Scott County, MO

The 1870 census shows Martha McDowell (not Martha Hampton) once again living with her widowed mother in Saline Township when she was 21 years old.

Martha McDowell 1870 census Saline Township Perry MO
1870 census – Saline Township, Perry County, MO

Marion Lafayette Hampton was certainly an interesting character.  One family history on Ancestry.com claimed he had six different wives.  There definitely seems to be some fidelity issues in his life.  Could it be that he is Clara’s father.  The time period when he was around southeast Missouri certainly would add credence to the theory.

However, there is one huge problem with this.  The baptism record for Clara says it was the father who had the name McDaul and the mother who had the name Hampton.  So, as far as I am concerned, I still do not know who Clara Holschen was.  Maybe you can help me out.

Clara was the mother of four children, only three of which lived to adulthood.  She had one child with her first husband and the others with her second husband.  I wonder if any of them knew who their mother was.


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