Our story today includes two topics that show up much more in today’s day and age than they did back in the days gone by. Those two topics are divorce and cremation. As I write stories for this blog, I do not find many occurrences of divorce. Cremation, on the other hand, was a process that has not been smiled upon in Lutheran circles in the past.
Clara Mathilde Palisch is today’s birthday girl. She was born on July 22, 1871 in Altenburg, Missouri and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church. She was the daughter of Bernhard and Louise (Seise) Palisch. That also made her a granddaughter of J.G. Palisch, the patriarch of the many Palisch descendants we find in our German Family Tree. J.G.’s story was told in the post, The Palisch Patriarch.
After her birth in 1871, the next four births in that family ended in early deaths. In 1873, a pair of twins lived just 26 days. Not only were they born on the same day, but they died on the same day also. That story was told in the post, The Palisch Twins. There are 13 children recorded in the German Family Tree that were born into this Palisch family.
The 1900 census shows Mathilde as still living with her parents in Perry County. She is called Tillie.
I do not have any proof to back this up, but I believe Mathilde may have moved to St. Louis after this census was taken. There are many examples of young single ladies going to work in St. Louis during those days. If she did, it would explain the fact that she married a man from St. Louis in 1904. Her marriage to Joseph Kleiner took place on November 29, 1904 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Here is their marriage license.
Who was this Joseph Kleiner? The first record I could find of him is in an 1889 city directory from St. Louis.
As you can see, he was a butcher. I found three different words for butcher on Google Translate…metzger, fleischer, and schlächter. I decided on the latter when I wrote today’s title. Then we find Joseph in the 1900 census from St. Louis. He is living in the Joseph Meyer household, a household that contained three butchers.
One other fact that we find in this census is that the column for marriage status shows a “D” which indicates that he was divorced. I could not find a previous marriage record for Joseph Kleiner. This census gives another new fact. It says Joseph came to America in 1888.
I found this wedding photo for Joseph and Mathilde in a Palisch family history binder that we have in our museum.
I must admit, I cannot look at this photograph without thinking of another butcher. Maybe you remember this TV character. In the television series, The Andy Griffith Show, they occasionally featured a butcher by the name of Mr. Foley. His real name was Frank Ferguson.
In all the census records in which I found Joseph Kleiner he was listed as a butcher, although the 1940 census described him as a poultry dresser. Joseph and Mathilde had no children.
Both Joseph and Mathilde died in 1944. Joseph was the first to die. He died in February. Here is his death certificate.
It is on this death certificate that we find Joseph’s birth date. He was born on July 26, 1870, so he and his wife had birthdays that took place within one week of each other. It would have been nice to find out his parents’ names on this form, but it says they were unknown.
Joseph was cremated at the Missouri Crematory. In fact, he was cremated on Leap Year Day of 1944. That business did not start until the late 1800’s. The first cremation to be performed in St. Louis took place in 1888. Here is a photo of the Missouri Crematory.
Mathilde died in June. Here is her death certificate.
Mathilde’s body was brought back to Altenburg and buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery. Here is her gravestone.
I will close with this note found in the Palisch binder we have at the museum.
It says Joseph’s ashes were placed inside Mathilde’s casket. Joseph did end up in Altenburg. At least his ashes did.