The Emmas from Emma

The name Oetting has shown up in my own life on several occasions.  When I attended St. Jacobi Lutheran School in St. Louis, there was a Mr. Oetting that was a teacher there.  When I got to Concordia Teachers College in Seward, Nebraska, a few more Oettings were professors and coaches on that staff.  Not long ago, another Oetting visited our museum with his comfort dog.  I learned over the years that these Oettings all had their roots in a little Missouri town named Emma.  Emma is located very near Concordia, Missouri.  This is a map showing these two towns.

Emma Missouri map
Emma, Missouri map

The county line (a dashed line on this map) runs right through the center of Emma.  When you look at records of people in today’s story, you sometimes find them living in Lafayette County and sometimes in Saline County.

If you look into the history of Emma, Missouri, you will discover that the town is said to have been named after Rev. Charles Demetrio’s daughter, Emma.  That leads us to Perry County and today’s date.  Emma Demetrio was born on October 9, 1874 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville, Missouri.  She was the daughter of Rev. Charles and Emma (Kruse) Demetrio.  Her father was the pastor at Immanuel from 1869-1886.   Here is a photo of Rev. Charles and Emma Demetrio.

Rev. C.H. and Emma Demetrio

We do not have digital copies of the Immanuel church records in our museum, but the information from their records is found in our German Family Tree.  Here is some pertinent information for this story from that document.

Demetrio records German Family Tree
Demetrio family information – German Family Tree

If you look closely at these records, you should notice a few notable items.  From the first four children born into this Demetrio family, three of them died very young.  The only one out of these four that lived to adulthood was the Emma we are discussing today.  The first child was also named Emma, but she died right away.  Also, if you look at child #4 named Armin, he was also born on October 9th, today’s date, but he only lived a matter of days.

We find the Demetrio family living in Perryville in the 1880 census.

Emma Demetrio 1880 census Perryville MO
1880 census – Perryville, MO

You can see Emma, the mother, at age 28, and Emma, the daughter, at age 5.

In 1886, when Emma was about 12 years of age, her father took a call to become the pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in what eventually became known as Emma, Missouri.  I do not know exactly when it happened, but the village in which this church was located became known as Emma, and, as I said earlier, it was named after Rev. Demetrio’s daughter, Emma.  That would be the Emma from today’s story.

Rev. Demetrio served Holy Cross from 1886-1927.  The 1900 census shows the Demetrios living in Emma.

Rev. Charles Demetrio 1900 census Emma MO
1900 census – Emma, MO

You see another unfortunate fact here.  There is a daughter named Hulda in this household and she is described as being “invalid”.

Prior to the 1900 census, Emma married in 1895.  She married Martin Oetting on December 8, 1895.  Here is their marriage license.

Oetting Demetrio marriage license
Oetting/Demetrio marriage license

Interestingly, the pastor listed on this form is not her father.  It is Rev. F.J. Biltz, who also happens to have Perry County connections.  Rev. Biltz was an original immigrant and one of the five graduates of the Log Cabin College in Altenburg.

Martin Oetting was the son of Charles and Dorothea Oetting.  Charles was the son of Christian Oetting who was killed during the Civil War by a group of Confederate sympathizers.  Rev. Biltz almost lost his life in the same incident.

Martin and Emma Oetting had six children.  Martin was a farmer and later a grocer in  Emma.  We find him in this 1920 census as a grocer.

Martin Oetting 1920 census Emma MO
1920 census – Emma, MO

One of Emma’s brothers, Edwin Demetrio, also became a Lutheran minister.  Later in their lives, Rev. Charles and Emma Demetrio were living with their son in Memphis, Tennessee.  We find him there in the 1930 census.

Rev. George Demetrio 1930 census Memphis TN
1930 census – Memphis, TN

Emma Demetrio died in 1934; Rev. George Demetrio died in 1936.  Even though they both died in Memphis, they are buried together in the Holy Cross Lutheran Cemetery in Emma, Missouri.

Rev. Charles and Emma Demetrio gravestone – Holy Cross, Emma, MO

Martin Oetting died in 1926 at the age of 57; Emma Oetting died in 1957 at the age of 83.  These two are buried together in the same cemetery as Emma’s parents.

Martin and Emma Oetting gravestone – Holy Cross, Emma, MO

I have been familiar with Emma, Missouri for many years.  I even have a vague memory of having actually been in Emma at one time in my life.  I now know that this little village is connected to Perry County and its German Lutheran history.




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