From the Ridge to the Mountains by Way of the Beach

Many stories that are written on this blog never reach out beyond the borders of Perry County, Missouri. People are born, live, and die right here. Not so today. Get ready to be transported all over the place. It all starts on The Ridge.

This story is also populated with a type of event that I have not had to write about very much. That would be divorce. And today’s story starts with what ended up as a failed marriage. On December 19, 1912, Theodore Seibel married Clara Wichern at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Their marriage was not the first one between a Seibel and a Wichern. Theodore’s sister, Sarah, had earlier married Clara’s brother, Claus. Their story was told in the post below.

The Wichern’s Home on the Hill

Theodore, the son of Conrad and Anna (Grother) Seibel and Clara, the daughter of Daniel and Mary (Imbach) Wichern were both from families that lived on The Ridge, a very hilly area that runs along a ridge north of Altenburg. Both Theodore and Clara were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

Here is the marriage license for this couple’s wedding.

Theodore and Clara had two children, Richard and Olga. We find this family living in Brazeau Township in the 1920 census, and Theodore was working as a farm laborer.

The photo below may have been what Clara looked like during her early married life. I do not have a photo of Theodore.

According to my reckoning, sometime shortly after this census was taken, Theodore and Clara moved to East St. Louis, Illinois. It was there that apparently the wheels came off of their marriage. It is reported that Theodore and Clara were divorced in 1924. In this city directory for East St. Louis from 1924, you can see that Theodore and Clara are no longer living with each other. Theodore was a butcher and Clara was a waitress.

In the same 1924 directory, we find the name of James Catevenis, who was a chef.

James was also a Greek immigrant who had arrived in America in 1907. Here is his name on the passenger list for the ship, Hudson.

We can see the three addresses of the two Seibels and James Catevenis on this map.

I find it interesting that all three of these individuals were involved in food service. it would not surprise me if all three of them had worked at the same place at one time. On January 16, 1925, Clara married James Catevenis in Wood River, Illinois.

Before I continue with the rest of Clara’s life, let me give you an idea of what happened to Theodore Seibel. The 1930 census shows him living in St. Louis and working in a lunch room. Apparently, Theodore was granted custody of his children because they were living with him.

Theodore died in 1957 at the age of 75. This is his death certificate.

Theodore’s body was taken to Altenburg where he was buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery.

In 1930, we find James and Clara in a new location. They were living in Metropolis, Illinois and proprietors of a barbecue business.

As early as 1936, we find James and Clara living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In this city directory we see this family living there with James….and quite possibly also Clara….working at the Orange Blossom Restaurant.

In the city directory below, you can see businesses that could be found in downtown Ft. Lauderdale on Andrews Ave. You can see that the Orange Blossom Restaurant was found across the street from Hotel Broward.

The photo below shows Andrews Ave. looking south in those days. You cannot make out the Orange Blossom Restaurant, but you can see the Hotel Broward. You can figure that the restaurant was just across the street.

In the next photo below, which is looking north, the Hotel Broward is a tall building on the right.

When I was teaching in Ft. Lauderdale back in the 70’s and 80’s, my school, Lutheran Central School, was about a mile south of this location.

In a later city directory, James was working at Jim’s Place, probably a restaurant named after himself.

In 1939, James (who was once called Demetro) became a citizen of the United States. Here is a portion of his naturalization papers.

Some very valuable information can be found on this form, including documentation for the wedding date for James and Clara. You can also see where James was from in Greece.

We have this photo of Clara that is said to have been taken in 1943.

We even have this photo of the Catevenis family celebrating Christmas in 1947. The photo included a grandson.

Rose Mary, their daughter, is listed with the surname, Catevenis, in this photo. I found records that indicate she was married twice and divorced twice. She probably went back to her maiden name. I will return to her and the grandson later. In 1968, a photo was taken of Clara, who by that time was a widow, along with her two children from her marriage to Theodore Seibel. I’m guessing that the photo was taken in Florida.

James died in 1958; Clara died in 1984. They are buried together in the Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in Ft. Lauderdale.

I found evidence that Rose Mary had a hair salon in Ft. Lauderdale. It must have been her son who was shown in the Christmas photo above. There was also another James E. Catenevis who shows up in some Ft. Lauderdale records. He was a 1962 graduate of Stranahan High School. That would correspond to the boy’s apparent age in the 1947 picture. He is shown in a fairly recent photo below.

I also believe he is the same James E. Catenevis who became quite a well-known medical doctor in Maryland. You will find his name in an article about a young man who was said to be brought back from the dead in the link below:

It also appears that this Dr. Catevenis has a son who is apparently quite an accomplished snowboarder in the Colorado Rockies. He is shown in the photo below.

One more photo of Clara.

Who would have ever thought the story of the little girl in her mother’s arms in this picture would take her from her birthplace on The Ridge, along with a husband from Greece, to places like Metropolis, the now self-proclaimed home of Superman, the beaches of the Gold Coast of South Florida, a school of medicine in Maryland, and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado?

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