Claus’s Angel

Since today is exactly one month away from Christmas Day, you might look at today’s title and think that this will be some sort of post with a Christmas theme, but that is not the case.  What we have today is a young German Lutheran woman whose first name was Engel, which gets translated as “angel” in English.  She gets married to a young German Lutheran man whose first name is Claus.  They were married on November 25, 1869 at either Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg or Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.  Here is the civil marriage record from Perry County for this wedding.

Detjen/Finken marriage record – Perry County, MO

I know this record is quite difficult to read, but there are two places in this document that indicate Rev. J.F. Koestering was the pastor.  In 1869, Rev. Koestering was serving at both the Altenburg and the Frohna churches.  He also is know as being a pastor that did not always put certain records into the church books.  There is no record for this wedding in either the Trinity or Concordia church books.

The bride in this wedding was Engel Finken.  Engel is the only person in our German Family Tree with the surname Finken.  She was born on November 20, 1843, but I could not find a specific location in Germany where she was born.  The best I can do is tell you that she was born in the Hanover area.  I also do not know the names of her parents.  The 1900 census was the one which documents the year of a person’s immigration, and that census says Engel came to America in 1866.  I was unable to find a ship’s passenger list  for an Engel Finken.

We have a little more information for the groom.  His name was Claus Detjen, and he, like Engel, had a November birthday.  He was born on November 15, 1845, making him about two years younger than his bride.  Claus was born in Bargstedt, Germany, and we have a baptism record for him from the parish in that town.

Claus Detjen baptism record – Bargstedt, German

His parents were Heinrich and Clara Engel (Zible) Detjen.  From the same 1900 census, we find that Claus may have also immigrated in 1866.

After Claus and Engel were married, we find them in the 1870 census from Brazeau Township.  At least, I think we do.  Let’s take a look.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The surname looks like Dette, and in fact, that is how Ancestry.com shows this entry.  What makes that interesting is that there was a Dette family in Perry County at the time, and that family is included in a list of families that were charter members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. 

The Detjen surname is also found sometimes as Detje.  This may be one of those cases which is similar to the Mahnken family, which sometimes gets recorded as Mahnke.  I’ve been told that it has something to do with the German language indicating feminine or masculine gender on a word by putting an “n” at the end or not.

I’m going to say just a few words about census records.  It appears to me that census takers in the earlier years of the settlement in Perry County were English-speaking people.  There must have been issues with these English-speaking people understanding folks that were speaking primarily German.  The spellings of German names were not often correct in these early census records .  They probably spelled the name as they heard it being spoken.  Later, some of the local Germans took over the census-taking roles, and the spelling of the names improved greatly.

Our German Family Tree includes some other Detjens, some of which have arrived in Perry County before Claus did.   In addition to some in Perry County, there were some that ended up in the New Wells area in northern Cape Girardeau County.  However, most of those with that surname lived in the vicinity of Farrar.

The 1880 census shows the Claus Detjen family living near Farrar where Claus was a farmer.

1880 census – Salem Township, MO

The GFT states that there were eight children born into the Detjen family, but several of them died very young.  This is the 1900 census from Farrar.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

The 1910 census is much easier to read.  By that time, there were some grandchildren living with them.

1910 census – Salem Township, MO

The 1920 census is the last one in which we see both Claus and Engel. Engel died in 1928; Claus died in 1934.  They are both buried in the Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Farrar.

Quite a few descendants came from this Detjen family.  Claus and his angel brought many gifts to Perry County. 




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