Our birthday boy for this post would have turned 120 years old today. His name was Paul Alfred Gemeinhardt. A few days ago, in another story written about Gemeinhardts titled, Selma’s Last, this photo was included.
There are two Gemeinhardt houses on this photo. Paul Gemeinhardt was born into the Martin Gemeinhardt family which lived in the home labeled as #11. As near as I can tell, just based on records that we have in our museum, there were two Gemeinhardt men who showed up in Perry County in about 1870. One of these men settled in Frohna and the other in Wittenberg. I suspect that they were related to each other, but I cannot tell for sure. Since they both ended up working alongside members of the flour-milling Weinhold family, I suspect that there was some sort of connection between these two men and the Weinholds. I like to call one family the Frohna Gemeinhardts and the other the Wittenberg Gemeinhardts. Martin happened to be a Frohna Gemeinhardt who later lived in Wittenberg.
Paul was the son of Martin and Dorothea (Fiehler) Gemeinhardt. He was the third child born into their family. The first child, a daughter, died the same day she was born. Paul’s baptism is included in the Trinity, Altenburg church books, but it is likely that he was baptized at their Wittenberg location, which consisted of a building that was used for both a church and a school in those days. When this family’s fifth child was born in 1904, she was baptized at the new congregation that was formed at Wittenberg in 1903 and called St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Here is Paul’s record from Trinity.
Paul was confirmed at St. Paul’s in Wittenberg in 1912. Here is that confirmation record.
When Paul filled out his World War I draft registration in 1918, we find two changes.
First, Paul’s father, Martin is now living in Fruitland, Missouri which is located near Jackson in Cape Girardeau County. A census record indicates that he was working in another mill in that city. Secondly, Paul is now living in Illmo, Missouri in Scott County. That city would eventually be called Scott City.
Paul gives his occupation as baker. His employer was Gebb Martin. Gebhardt Martin had recently started a bakery in Illmo which would grow to become quite a large operation which served much of Southeast Missouri with its baked goods. This 1920 census shows Paul not only working in the Martin Bakery, but also living in the Gebhardt Martin household.
Sometime in the 1920’s, Paul moved to St. Louis. The 1930 census shows him still working as a baker, only this time he is a baker in a restaurant, and we also find him married, although I could not locate a marriage record. I put two images together here to eliminate much of the unneeded census information.
Paul’s wife was named Helen. Her maiden name was Helen Vahle. You can see on this census record that Paul’s family was living in the same building with Helen’s parents, George and Emilie Vahle. Their address was 4235 Red Bud Ave. A streetside map program shows the house the way it looks today. The woman sitting on the porch is obviously not one of the characters in this story.
I am thinking that Paul’s family lived on the top floor. Before I move on, please note in the census above that Paul’s younger brother, Richard, was also living with them and working as a baker.
There is a little bit of a mystery in that 1930 census. It states that there is a son by the name of Paul and another son by the name of M. Vahle, and both of them are shown as being 5 years old. My best guess is that Helen may have had a child out of wedlock not long before she married Paul, and then Paul and Helen had a child of their own right away. Your guess is as good as mine.
I found this entry in a St. Louis city directory that indicates Paul was a baker at the Dew Drop Inn restaurant.
I was able to find out that there was a Dew Drop Inn located on Grand Ave. back in those days which was not far from where the Gemeinhardts lived.
The 1940 census shows this family still living at the same address, but Paul’s occupation has a slight change.
Paul is still a baker, but he is a baker at a seminary. This made me ask the question right away, “Is it possible that Paul was working at Concordia Seminary?” I found the answer in this 1960 St. Louis city directory.
Indeed, Paul was serving potential preachers their pastries at Concordia Seminary at their relatively new campus in Clayton. Once again, I found a streetside view of the new address shown here which is much closer to the Seminary.
The Gemeinhardts were already living at this house in 1950 when Helen died. Paul died in 1975 at the age of 77. These two are buried together in the New Bethlehem Cemetery in St. Louis.
In the course of researching this story, I couldn’t resist going down another rabbit hole, and now I cannot resist sharing what I found. Since I was searching for evidence of Paul Gemeinhardt, I also ran across some info about his son who carried the same name. Paul G. Gemeinhardt attended Beaumont High School, and I found his senior yearbook photo.
In the same yearbook was this photo of that school’s Male Glee Club in which Paul is said to have been this group’s secretary.
I think Paul is the one seated in front on the right. What I found personally interesting is that there is also supposed to be a Paul Sieveking in this photo. I had a classmate and friend at Lutheran High School North by that same name. I am thinking that the Paul Sieveking in this photo was my buddy’s father. I do know that my friend went on to become a pastor who also became the President of the Iowa West District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. I am in the process of attempting to find out whether his father is in this picture.
Paul Gemeinhardt’s confirmation verse was John 12:26.
“Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
I think Paul followed through in serving his Lord wherever he was led.