Piano Man

A rather interesting marriage took place on November 26, 1845 in Altenburg, Missouri.  The circumstances that make this story interesting are the ones that occurred before this wedding took place.  However, at this point, I will quickly mention that the wedding we will discuss today was the fourth wedding that took place in the new Altenburg church that was dedicated earlier in 1845.  Pastor Loeber was still the pastor.

The marriage that took place on this day in 1845 was that of George Kluegel and Justine Goehring.  I should probably state that these two surnames started out as Klügel and Göring.  Both George and Justine were original immigrants who were part of the Gesellschaft.  They also both made the voyage aboard the Copernicus.  Here are images of the passenger list showing these two passengers.

Kluegel family passenger list Copernicus Justine Goehring passenger list Copernicus

Here we see them as they are listed in the book, Zion on the Mississippi.    First, the Kluegels from Paitzdorf.

Kluegel family Zion on the Mississippi Kluegels – Zion on the Mississippi

The George Kluegel who got married on this day was the George listed here as a 38 year old farmer from Paitzdorf.  The Gottlob (should be Gottlieb) Kluegel who was a Candidate of Theology was also a brother in this family.  Also, the 38 year old George was actually George Kluegel IV.  His father was George Kluegel III. These are the Goehrings as listed in Zion on the Mississippi.

Goehring family Zion on the Mississippi Goehrings – Zion on the Mississippi

Justine was just 11 (or 12) years old when she arrived in America.  Her mother came as a widow, and her occupation was listed as midwife.  Justine was about 27 years younger than George Kluegel, whom she would later marry.  The Goehrings were from Jonaswalde in Germany.  The map below shows that Paitzdorf and Jonaswalde were rather near one another.    

 I found George Kluegel’s baptism record in the Paitzdorf church books from Germany.  He was born on May 25, 1800. 

George Kluegel baptism record – Paitzdorf, Germany

Once the Kluegels arrived in America, plenty of tragedy hit them.  Even before the immigrants arrived in Perry County in May of 1839, the youngest daughter, Justine, died in St. Louis.  Her death record is in the section of the Trinity, Altenburg church books that lists deaths that took place in St. Louis before they moved to Perry County.

Justine Kluegel death record – Trinity, Altenburg

This was just the beginning of a litany of deaths that took place in this family in the 1840’s.  Next to die was the father, George Kluegel III.  He died on March 12, 1842.  This is the beginning of his death record.  It is at the bottom of a page in the church books.

George Kluegel III death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

This is shown as #4 in the death records for that year.  On the next page, you not only find the rest of George’s death record, but #6 in the list is the death record for Gottlob Kluegel, another son in that family.  He died at the age of 30 as the result of an accident on July 26, 1842.

Gottlob Kluegel death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Then, on October 1, 1844, Wilhelm Kluegel died of nerve fever.  This is his death record.

Wilhelm Kluegel death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

That left just George and his mother, Rosine.  On September 27, 1845, she died after a long illness.  Here is her death record.

Rosine Kluegel death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Now, George was all by himself.  He still had a brother that was a pastor, but he was no longer in Perry County.  By this time, George was 45 years old.  I will be bold enough to say that this was a man who needed a wife.  And that is just what he got two months after his mother died on November 26, 1845.  Here is the marriage record from Trinity for George and Justine.  This marriage took place on a Wednesday.

Kluegel/Goehring marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

We also have this civil record of this wedding in Perry County.

Kluegel/Goehring marriage record – Perry County, M

On an early map of the Altenburg area, we find some parcels of land that were granted to George Kluegel.  Two parcels would be #5 and #XXII on this image.

Here is another early map that is said to have been made around 1860.  It also shows some Kluegel land in the same vicinity.  It is plot #29.

This land would be located near the Altenburg City Hall now.

About a year after George and Justine were married, they had the first of their four children. Justine’s mother, Rosine, was living with the Kluegels in the 1850 and 1860 censuses, so her midwife skills were probably used to deliver all the Kluegel babies.  There was also a grandson of George that became a doctor in Altenburg for a very short time. 

George died in 1853 at the age of 53.  I found an item in his last will and testament that fascinated me. 

He made sure his will stipulated that his wife would get his piano, which was valued at $150.  One hundred fifty dollars was a lot of money in those days.  I find it very interesting that a farmer in Altenburg in 1853 would be the owner of a piano worth that much money.  I also wonder what happened to that piano.

Rev. C.F.W. Walther had a piano that is now on display at the museum in the LCMS International Center in St. Louis.

I wonder if the Kluegel piano looked anything like this one.

Justine died in 1899.  George’s gravestone can be found in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg, but not Justine’s.  It may  not be legible.

George Kluegel gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

I believe that many times in the past, marriages have been the result of necessity more than a result of love.  I do not know if this is the case with George and Justine, but the circumstances seem to indicate that.  On the other hand, I do know that in his will, he describes Justine as his “beloved wife”.

3 thoughts on “Piano Man

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:

    Since this post was published back in 2018, I have discovered more about the Kluegel piano. Not only that, but we now have that piano in our museum’s collection. Perhaps someday we can get it restored and put on display.


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