Esther and Her Swiss Fritz

I will begin with a photo today that has been used on this blog in the past.

Heinrich and Emilie Grother 50th wedding anniversary

The photo shows Heinrich and Emilie (Palisch) Grother who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Altenburg, Missouri in 1921.  The back row is occupied by several of the Grother children, and the front row shows several of the Grother grandchildren.  The spouses of the children were not included in this photograph.  For today’s purposes, we will focus on a birthday girl in this picture.  She is standing in the back row on the far left.  Her name was Esther Grother.

Esther was born on December 10, 1886 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Both sets of her grandparents were charter members of Immanuel.  Esther was the youngest sibling who lived into adulthood.  One other sister had been born into this family after Esther, but she died when she was just seven years old. Below is Esther’s baptism record from Immanuel.  Please note that she was baptized on Christmas Day in 1886, which was a Saturday.  (There are two images.)

Esther Grother baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Here is a another photograph of Esther’s parents.

The first census showing Esther was the 1900 census from Brazeau Township.  She was 13 years old.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Two years before Esther was born in Altenburg, a boy by the name of Frederick “Fritz” Buholzer was born in Zurich, Switzerland.  He was born on April 1, 1884.  He did not come to America until sometime in the early 1900’s. 

One document that records Fritz’s presence in America before 1910 is his naturalization form which says that he applied for naturalization in 1909.  He would later receive his citizenship in 1917.

Fritz Buholzer naturalization record

According to some family histories on Ancestry.com, Fritz and Esther were married on Christmas Day in 1913.  I was unable to find any documentation for that event.  The first child born into their family was another Frederick, who was born in 1915.  Sadly, however, this boy only lived a little over 7 months before his death in 1916.  Below is his death certificate.

Frederick Buholzer death certificate

One year later, another son, Erwin, was born in 1917.  A daughter, Margaretta, was born in 1918.  These two children are in the Grother 50th anniversary photo.  Margaretta is seated between her grandparents.  Erwin is seated in the front row right in front of his sister.

Fritz filled out his World War I draft registration one year after he became a citizen of the United States. 

Frederick Buholzer – WWI draft registration

This form says Fritz was a carpenter.  It is also a document that states his birthday as April 1, 1884.  I find it interesting that Fritz claims a Mrs. Anna Elizabeth Buholzer from Zurich, Switzerland as his nearest relative, not his wife.

The 1920 census shows the Buholzer family living in the same residence as is shown on the WWI draft form.  I attempted to find 1922 Penn St. on an online map program, but failed.  I eventually discovered that Penn St. was later renamed as Senate St., and I was then able to find it.  It was located not far from the Soulard area of St. Louis.

1920 census – St. Louis, MO

We find a number of people with the name, Buholzer, in this 1932 St. Louis city directory.

Buholzer names in 1932 St. Louis city directory

This document states that Fritz was a carpenter for Southwest Bell Telephone Company.  The family was now living at 3220 California Ave.  Below is a photo of the building at this address as it looks today. 

There is a Joseph Buholzer in the above city directory.  Some other entries there are connected to him.  Joseph’s family can be found in the Holy Cross Lutheran Church records.  Several of his children were baptized there.  However, I was unable to find a family connection between Fritz and Joseph Buholzer.

I found this wonderful photograph of Fritz, Esther, and their two children.

Fritz Buholzer family

There are two other photographs within this picture.  I thought the one on the mantle might be the one we have of Esther’s parents, but in that photograph (shown earlier in this post), Heinrich was sitting and Emilie standing, which is the opposite of the photograph in this picture.  The large portrait hanging on the wall is also interesting.  I do not think it is Esther’s mother.  Maybe both of these photos portray members of Fritz’s family.  I am hoping that our friend and researcher, Kathy Berkbigler, who has both Palisch and Grother ancestors, may be able to help with identification here.

Fritz died in 1937 at the age of 53.  In the 1940 census, we find a very interesting situation.  Erwin and Margaretta are still living with their mother, but there are also four rather young Parker children who are living with them.

1940 census – St. Louis, MO

A note on a Findagrave.com page states that this family had taken in four young girls when they were abandoned by their mother.

Esther died in 1973 at the age of 86.  She and her husband, along with Margaretta, are buried together in the Saint Trinity Cemetery in St. Louis.

Fritz and Esther Buholzer gravestone – St. Trinity Cemetery, St. Louis, MO

One final comment:  One of the legacies that comes out of the German Lutheran culture found in Perry County was their willingness to take in children who were in need of homes.  That legacy was even carried on as those with that upbringing went on to live elsewhere.


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