California is Calling

July 23, 1859 was the day a set of twins, one boy and one girl, were born in St. Louis, Missouri.  The parents of this set of twins were both part of the 1839 German Lutheran immigration, so that is how their story makes this blog.  Both of the parents came to America aboard the Olbers as teenagers.  One of the twins that were born on this day, the boy named Joseph, only lived 16 days.  The girl, Anna Dorothea, on the other hand, managed to live 86 years, and her story takes us all the way to the west coast.  She and her husband spent most of their lives in Oakland, California.

The parents of the twins were Johann Traugott and Anna Maria (Tirmenstein) Schuricht.  You should be able to find several posts published in the past about members of the Schuricht or Tirmenstein families on this blog.  These two families decided to spend most of their lives in St. Louis rather than to settle in Perry County.  Both families were original members of Old Trinity Lutheran Church in St.  Louis where the Walther brothers were the first two pastors.  Johann Traugott and Anna Maria were married in 1846 and began having children.  The twins were born 13 years later.

In 1878, Anna Dorothea Schuricht married Johann Heinrich Theiss.  Theiss is another Perry County name, but in this case, the groom did not have any connection that I could find to Perry County.  His father, Johann George Theiss, was a Lutheran pastor.  When Heinrich was born, his father was the pastor in Richmond, Indiana.  I managed to find his baptism certificate from St. John Lutheran Church.

Heinrich Theiss baptism record St. John Richmond IN
Johann Heinrich Theiss baptism record – St. John, Richmond, IN

Heinrich was born on February 15, 1855, so when he was married in 1878, he was 23 years old, and Dorothea was 19.  Heinrich became a Lutheran pastor in 1878 also and was called to Trinity Lutheran Church in Clark’s Fork, Missouri where he served until 1882.  Clark’s Fork is a rural area in the foothills of the Ozarks.  While there Rev. and Mrs. Theiss had two daughters.  In 1882, Rev. Theiss was called to be the first pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Oakland, California.  What a change that must have been!

This photograph may have been taken not long after Heinrich and Dorothea arrived in Oakland.

John and Dorothea Theiss w two daughters
Rev. Heinrich and Dorothea Theiss with two daughters

This ad was put into the Oakland Tribune in November of 1882.

Zion Lutheran Oakland newspaper ad

It must not have been long after Rev. Theiss arrived in Oakland that his brother took on the task of being the teacher of the Lutheran school at Zion.  His name was Johann George Theiss, the same name as his father.  We know he was in Oakland in 1884 because that is when and where he was married.

In 1887, this article appeared in the Oakland Tribune.

Zion Lutheran Oakland newspaper article
Oakland Tribune article

It sounds like the combination of the Theiss brothers was successfully drawing plenty of Germans living in Oakland to their church and school.  George Theiss was also apparently gifted in training musicians.  Here is a photo of the George Theiss family.

John George Theiss family
George Theiss family

This photograph was taken of Zion Lutheran Church in 1931.

Zion Lutheran Church Oakland CA

Rev. Heinrich Theiss died in 1930; Dorothea Theiss died in 1946.  They are buried together in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.  Here is their gravestone.

Rev. J.H. and Dorothea Theiss Mountain View Oakland CA
Rev. J.H. and Dorothea Theiss gravestone – Mountain View, Oakland, CA

I managed to find several photos of the Theiss family.  I will put them in a clickable thumbnail gallery.


One of the Theiss’s daughters, also named Anna Dorothea, married Christian Wessel.  He can be seen on the right in this photo of him and two of his siblings.

Wessel siblings Christian on right
Wessel siblings

I ran across the gravestone of Christian Wessel, and I cannot resist posting it here to go with this story.  I rarely see one of these.  His gravestone is found in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, and it indicates that Christian served in the military during the Spanish-American War.

Christian Wessel gravestone Golden Gate National Cemetery CA

On this application form for his military burial, it explains that the MUS shown on his gravestone is an abbreviation for musician.


It is not often that you see a gravestone for a Spanish-American War veteran.  Nor is it often that you see one that indicates a soldier’s military experience involved music.



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