A Traveling Salesman Story

Ernst Rudolph Estel would have turned 147 years old today.  He was born on July 30, 1871.  He was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church, but he was probably born in Wittenberg.  His parents were shown running a store in Wittenberg in the 1870 census.  Here is his baptism record.

Rudolph Estel baptism record Trinity Altenburg MO
Rudolph Estel baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Rudolph went by the name Rudi most of his life.  In some of his business dealings, he went by R.E. Estel.  In 1880, we find Rudi in the first census in which he appears.  His family at that time was living in St. Louis where his father was a merchant.

Rudolph Estel 1880 census St. Louis MO
1880 census – St. Louis, MO

They lived near Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis, so I looked in their records for any evidence of Estels.  I found that two children were born in St. Louis.  One of them was Natalie, who is shown in this census.  The other was born one year earlier and was given no name, so that baby probably died right away or was stillborn.  The Rosine Nitschke listed was Rudi’s grandmother.

We know that the Estel family moved back to Perry County before 1888 because it is said that he was the Justice of the Peace in Wittenberg during that year.  Rudi’s father, Emanuel, also became involved in Democratic Party politics.  He attended some meetings in St. Louis in 1896 dealing with the campaign for William Jennings Bryant, who was the Democratic candidate for President.  In that same year, 1896, it is also reported that Emanuel was elected as the Collector of Revenue for Perry County.  That is what probably precipitated the move of the Estel family to Perryville, Missouri.

On May 27, 1897, Rudi married Clara Doering.  Clara was the daughter of George and Theresia (Schlimpert) Doering.  I believe the Doering family farm was located in the Seelitz area.  Here is their marriage license.

Estel Doering marriage license
Estel/Doering marriage license

The 1900 census shows Rudi and Clara living in Perryville and having one daughter.  Rudi was working at his father’s farm machinery business.

Rudolph Estel 1900 censusPerryville MO
1900 census – Perryville, MO

By the way, in 1900, both Emanuel and his son, Rudi, lived on W. St. Joseph Street in Perryville, but in different homes.

A photograph that I have shown on this blog before was taken of the Emanuel Estel family in Perryville.   It is said to be taken around 1904.

Immanuel Estel family

Here is an enlargement of Rudi and Clara with their second daughter, Mildred.

Emanuel Estel family Perryville (2)

I think the 1904 date is about right because Mildred was born in August of 1903.  The older daughter, Euphemia, is siiting shyly on the left in the front.  Rudi and Clara would have one more child after this photo.  That was a boy named Laclede Estel.

The 1910 census shows a slight change in Rudi’s occupation.  He is still working for the farm implement business, but now he is shown to be their salesman.  Their traveling salesman.

Rudolph Estel 1910 census Perryville MO occupation
1910 census -Perryville, MO

Most of Rudi’s career was spent as a traveling salesman. This letterhead comes from some stationery that was used by this farm machinery company.

E. Estel & Son stationery

I am going to show the 1920 census from Perryville not just to show you Rudi and his family, but also his neighbors.

Rudolph Estel 1920 census Perryville MO and neighbors
1920 census – Perryville, MO

Rudi is shown here as living at 700 W. St. Joseph St.  Living at 705 W. St. Joseph St., across the street from Rudi, was a Rozier family.  Living at 704 W. St. Joseph St., next door to the Estels, was a Guyot family.  If you would go to this location today, you would see what is in the photo below.

Guyot Lumber Company Perryville MO

Two prominent businesses in Perryville today are the Rozier’s mercantile stores, and the Guyot Lumber Company.  If I was to guess, I think the Estel home would have been located in the parking lot of the lumber company.

It was in the time period between the 1910 census and the 1920 census that the letter correspondence between Rudi Estel and Adolph Schmidt of Altenburg took place in 1914.  A post was written about this bit of Perry County political history called Perry County Politics.

Rudi died in 1959.  Here is his death certificate.  Toward the end of his life, Rudi was a salesman for a food company.

Rudolph Estel death certificate
Rudolph Estel death certificate

Clara died in 1965.  Here is her death certificate.

Clara Estel death certificate
Clara Estel death certificate

Rudi and Clara are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.  Here is their gravestone.

Rudi and Clara Estel gravestone Immanuel Perryville MO
Rudolph and Clara Estel gravestone – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

Rudi’s job as a traveling salesman must have provided him opportunities to promote his political ambitions in Perry County.

I am going to leave you today with one other quick story.  A photograph of the Estel and Charles Weber families was taken in 1906.

Charles Weber Emanuel Estel family church Rudi and Clara Estel

Rudi and Clara are highlighted with red arrows.  The Estel family is shown on the left and the Charles Weber family is shown on the right.  The two couples shown in this photo were part of a double wedding which took place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg on October 23, 1856. Here are their marriage records from the Trinity church books.

The photo above was taken on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversaries.  It was taken inside Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville.   That event would have taken place in 1906.  Two of the girls in the front row on the left must have been Rudi and Clara’s daughters, but I am not sure which ones.  All I know is that based on this photo and the one shown above of the Estel family, large hair bows must have been in style for young girls.




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