The selection of this story began with me finding what would have been a 100th anniversary celebration today. I thought that should be worthy fodder for a story right there. However, when I looked into this situation, I discovered that it was the third marriage for Joseph Schuessler of Frohna. Therefore, you are going to get an accounting of all three of Joe’s wives. One of them happened to be one of my great aunts.
Let’s start with Joe’s life. He was born on January 31, 1873 and baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. His full name was Carl Friedrich Joseph Schuessler. He was the son of Gottfried and Mary (Jahn) Schuessler. This is his baptism record.
In 1880, we find Joe in his first census in Frohna.
Since there is no 1890 census available, the next census in which we find Joe is in 1900. He is still living with his parents as a farm laborer.
On June 1, 1902, Joseph married for the first time at the age of 29. His bride was Louise Schmidt, who was the daughter of Gottwerth and Wilhelmine (Seibel) Schmidt (also my great grandparents). Just two years before their marriage, we find Louise living in St. Louis as a servant.
The Riesmeyer family must have been quite wealthy. Gustav Riesmeyer was a distiller and had four different types of servants living in his household.
Here is the marriage license for Joseph and Louise. This is the only one of Joseph’s marriages to take place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.
Joe and Louise had one child, Paula, in June of 1903, but in August of that year, Louise died of a stomach infection, leaving Joe a widower for the first time with a very young child. Because of the timing of their marriage and her death, we never find this couple in a census together. Louise was buried in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna, as are all of the characters in today’s story.
A little over a year after Louise died, Joseph remarried. His second bride was Lina Fiehler. They were married on November 20, 1904 at Concordia Lutheran in Frohna. Here is their marriage license.
This was Lina’s only marriage. She was the daughter of Robert and Magdalena (Naumann) Fiehler. If you look again at Joseph’s baptism record, you will see that Lina’s father was one of his sponsors. Joe and Lina had four children, 3 girls and a boy. We find this couple in the 1910 Frohna census with their first two children plus Paula from Joe’s first marriage. I also included Joe’s father and brother and their families in this image.
Two more children were born after this census, but then in July of 1916, Lina died of consumption (a.k.a. tuberculosis). Here is her gravestone in the Concordia Cemetery.
Joseph filled out a World War I draft registration in 1918.
What makes this form interesting is that it was completed during a time period in his life when he was a widower once again. The “nearest relative” on this form was his oldest child, Paula Schuessler.
At this point, let me point out what I believe is the land on which Joseph farmed. This 1915 land map shows a piece of property identified as being owned by G Schuessler, who I believe was Joe’s father, Gottfried.
At the age of 45, Joseph married for the third time on September 15, 1918 (three days after he filled out his WWI draft registration). This is the marriage from exactly 100 years ago today. Joe’s bride this time was Martha (Schade) Brunkhorst. Here is that marriage license.
Martha is a little bit of a puzzle. I found some evidence that her maiden name was Schade, but I could find no evidence of a marriage to a Brunkhorst. However, this 1900 census record shows Martha living in the John Brunkhorst family as a servant.
There is no wife listed here, and John Brunkhorst died in February of 1918.
Two years after this marriage, we find an interesting situation in the 1920 census. First, we find Joe and Martha in the Frohna census.
This census just has four children listed. There should be a 7 year old daughter named Lucinda (or Lucy), but she is not there. I found her in the 1920 census for Shawnee Township living with her uncle, Paul Schuessler and his wife, Mary.
My best guess about how this situation arose is that when Lina died in 1916, Lucy was “shipped out” to her aunt and uncle to help take care of her. She would have been 3 years old at the time.
Joseph died in 1947 at the age of 74. Here is his death certificate.
Martha died one year after Joseph in 1948. The two are buried with similar grave markers in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna.
This is a story that illustrates how you can sometimes come to conclusions based on official documents about someone’s life story. In this case, some speculations can be made on what happened after a wife’s death, especially with regard to the children.
If you want to spend some time looking at connections to this story, I know you can find them by putting any of the names, Schuessler, Schmidt, Fiehler, or Brunkhorst in the search box for this web page.