Pilz on the Prairie

Johann Martin Pilz began his life on the hilly area of East Perry County referred to as The Ridge, also called Friedland.  He would later make his way to the flatlands of Nebraska.  It is his story that I will attempt to tell today.

John was born on December 23, 1894, but was not baptized until 1895.  He was baptized on New Year’s Day.  He was the son of Henry and Maria (Stueve) Pilz.  This is his baptism record from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Missouri.  It is in two images.

Johann Pilz baptism record Immanuel Altenburg MO

Johann Pilz baptism record 2 Immanuel Altenburg MO
John Pilz baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

This record, along with his confirmation record, are the only church documents to be found for John in Perry County.  The first census in which we find John was the one taken in 1900.  He, as expected, was living with his family on The Ridge.

John Pilz 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The Pilz land is shown on this 1915 land map.  They were neighbors to the Braeuners who were the subject of a recent post.  If you look closely at his baptism record, you will see one of John’s sponsors was a Braeuner.

Pilz land map 1915
Pilz land map – 1915

When John was just 10 years old, his father died.  Then, when he was 15 years old, the 1910 census showed him working as a hired hand in the Benjamin Kasten household.

John Pilz 1910 census Brazeau Township MO
1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

It may have actually been the Ernst Wachter farm.  The census shows all these people as being in the same household.  The 1915 map below shows where the Ernst Wachter land was located.

Ernst Wachter land map 1915
Ernst Wachter land map – 1915

The next record I was able to locate for John is his World War I draft registration.  He was no longer living in Perry County.  In fact, he was no longer living in Missouri.  We find him as a farm laborer near Norfolk, Nebraska.

John Pilz – WWI draft registration

He was working for Charles Braasch in Hadar, Nebraska, a small town in Pierce County.  One interesting thing to note is that he is said to have been missing parts of his first and second finger on his right hand.  I wonder if a farm accident had occurred back in Perry County.  He is also still a single man.

On January 19, 1919, John married Grace Hickmann.  The Math teacher in me causes me to notice  that this couple was married on 1/19/1919.  Grace was the daughter of John and Anna (Smith) Hackmann.  Grace had been born on November 18, 1891.  This 1900 census from Mulhall, Oklahoma says she was born in Kansas, but a few other census records state that she was born in Wisconsin.

Grace Hickmann 1900 census Mulhall OK
1900 census – Mulhall, OK

This family appears to have moved around quite a bit.  By 1919, they were in Nebraska, where Grace was getting married.

John was a farmer near Norfolk for most of his life.  In a 1930 Norfolk city directory, it states that John and Grace lived about one mile north of Benjamin Ave. on 13th St.

John Pilz 1930 Norfolk city directory
John Pilz – 1930 Norfolk, NE city directory

The map below shows the area in which I think their farm was located.

Pilz property Norfolk NE
Pilz land? North of Norfolk, NE

One interesting piece of geography here is the fact that very near this red box, you will see where two dashed lines cross.  This little map area actually shows portions of four different Nebraska counties.  The World War I draft registration shown before indicated John working in Pierce County.  The city of Norfolk is located in Madison County.  In some previous blog posts, I have told the stories of individuals from Perry County ending up in Cuming County.  Those are three of the four counties shown on this little map.

No children are ever shown on any census for John and Grace, but there is a family history on Ancestry.com that indicates one child, but it gives no information about that child….if there was one.  Grace died in 1966; John died in 1976.  They are buried together in the Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Norfolk.

John and Grace Pilz gravestone Hillcrest Memorial Norfolk NE
John and Grace Pilz gravestone – Hillcrest Memorial, Norfolk, NE

There were quite a few Perry County natives who migrated to the same general area where John Pilz lived most of his life.  I consider it another out-migration area, along with others we have identified, along with Alva, Oklahoma, Sylvan Grove, Kansas, and Potter, Nebraska.  John Pilz was another man who started his life in the hills of Perry County and ended up on the plains of Nebraska.



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