According to my understanding, there are several levels used when describing skill levels in certain occupations such as plumbers. A person would start learning plumbing skills as an apprentice. After gathering experience and learning certain skills, one could advance to the level of a journeyman plumber. The top level is described as a master plumber, one who has learned many advanced skills and also trains future plumbers. In German, the word for master is meister, and the word for plumber is klempner. Today, I will be discussing the lives a few members of the Meister family who became plumbers. Thus, the title.
The birthday boy for today is Anton Gotthilf Meister. He was born on October 15, 1877 and baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, Missouri. He was the son of Anton F. and Gabriella (Hopfer) Meister. This is his baptism record.
At this point, let me say that while I was researching for this story, I realized there is entirely too much material for just one post. My intention is to continue this story tomorrow. Just a sneak peek: Anton’s parents had 13 children including a set of twins and a set of triplets. What amazes me the most is that there is not one death record in the German Family Tree for anyone in this family, including the parents.
Anton G. Meister was the last of the Meister children to be baptized at Grace Lutheran in Uniontown. In the 1880 census, we find this family living in the Shawnee Township in Cape Girardeau County.
Anton is one of six children shown here. Anton was the 7th child in the family, so one of the children must have died, but there is no death record in any of the local church books. In an 1885 record, we find that Anton’s father was the postmaster in Shawneetown, Missouri.
The next record we find for Anton and his family can be found in the 1900 census for Capps Creek, Missouri.
Anton’s father is listed as a farmer, and Anton is shown as a 23 year-old plumber. I actually think that Anton is found in two censuses in 1900. Look at this 1900 census from Fort Smith, Arkansas.
There is a Tony Meister, born in Missouri, who is a 22 year old plumber. He is even given an October birthday. Anton also had a brother named William who is shown in the above census.
I could not locate Anton Meister in the 1910 census. At least, I could not find this Anton Meister. I did find his father and mother living with Frank Speaker and his wife Alma in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
The Alma Speaker in this census is Anton’s sister. She was one of the Meister triplets. Let’s go back to the 1900 census from Fort Smith to see the Speaker family.
You can see that Frank Speaker is the son of John and Bettie Speaker. You can also see that Frank has an older sister by the name of Mamie. Mamie became the wife of Anton G. Meister. I could not find a marriage record, but this couple did have a child in 1912. We find Anton, Mamie, and their daughter, Geraldine, in this 1920 census from Fort Smith.
Let’s go back to 1907. In this city directory from Fort Smith, Arkansas, we find several Meister names, including the Meister Bros. Plumbers, Gas, and Steam Fitters. It is in two images. Anton is referred to here as Anthony.
Anton’s World War I draft registration form gives some other interesting information.
The business shown here is the Meister Bros. Bracht Co. I found another city directory entry that used this terminology, but I could not find any indication that “bracht” had anything to do with plumbing. This form also states that Anton had lost one eye.
The last census I could locate for Anton Meister was the 1930 census for Tulsa, Oklahoma where he is shown as a wholesaler in plumbing supplies.
Anton died in 1953. I found some evidence that he died in Texas. Mamie (Mary) died in 1970. She died in Mission, Texas. That is where her daughter was living. This is her Texas death certificate.
This form says her body was removed to Fort Smith, Arkansas and mentions the Forest Park Cemetery. There is a Forest Park Cemetery in Fort Smith, and I checked to see if Anton and Mary were buried there. I found a few Meisters there, but not these two.
I plan to make a return trip to the previous generation of Meisters tomorrow.