Mathilda – Henry’s Valentine

Mathilda Magdalena Lorenz was one of those girls who was always going to be celebrating Valentine’s Day on the same day as her birthday.  Mathilda was born on February 14, 1891 and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  She was the daughter of Johann and Caroline (Mueller) Lorenz.  Below is her baptism record.

Mathilda Lorenz baptism record Trinity Altenburg MO
Mathilda Lorenz baptism record – Trinity Altenburg MO

There were two Lorenz names among the original immigrants in 1839.  One was part of the Gruber Group that arrived at the end of 1839.  Mathilda was  part of the other group that came aboard the Copernicus, which was the first ship to arrive in America on December 31, 1838.  This Lorenz family is primarily found in the church records of Trinity, Altenburg while the other Lorenz family ended up mostly in the church records of Salem, Farrar.

Four years before Mathilda was born, her future husband was born.  His name was Herman Henry Steffens.  Henry was born on February 18, 1887, so he and Mathilda would have birthdays quite near each other on the calendar.  He was the son of Claus and Pauline (Thurm) Steffens.  Pauline was Claus’s third wife, and Henry was that couple’s first child.  We have this birth record for him from Perry County.  I will only show the portion of the record that shows his place of birth.

Henry Steffens birth record Perry County
Henry Steffens birth record – Perry County, MO

Note that Henry was born at the Holschen Place.  Take a look at this 1915 plat map which highlights the property of Henry’s parents.

Claus Steffens land map 1915
Claus Steffens land map – 1915

There are several Holschen places near the Steffens property.  I am not sure which one was the location of Henry’s birth, but it certainly must have been one of these Holschen places found on The Ridge.  Below is Henry’s baptism record from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  It is shown in two images.  Also note that it says Henry was born in Friedland, which was once another name for The Ridge.

Henry Steffens baptism record Immanuel Altenburg MO

Henry Steffens baptism record 2 Immanuel Altenburg MO
Henry Steffens baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

We find both Mathilda and Henry in the 1900 census from Brazeau Township.  First, here is the entry containing Mathilda.

Mathilda Lorenz 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Here is the entry for Henry.

Henry Steffens 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

On December 19, 1909, Henry and Mathilda were married at Trinity Lutheran Church.  Here is the record from that church’s books.

Steffens Lorenz marriage record Trinity Altenburg MO
Steffens/Lorenz marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Below is their marriage license.

Steffens Lorenz marriage license
Steffens/Lorenz marriage license

When Henry filled out his World War I draft registration in 1917, he indicated he was living in Wittenberg and working for the Miesner Lumber & Manufacturing Company.  That business is what is often referred to as the swing factory.


It has been a while since I have shown a photo of the swing factory, so I will show it again today.

Miesner Manufacturing X
Swing Factory – Wittienberg, MO

Henry and Mathilda would have four children, three girls and a boy.  We find this family living in Wittenberg when the 1920 census was taken and they had two of those children by that time.  He was still working at the swing factory.

Henry Steffens 1920 census Wittenberg MO
1920 census – Wittenberg, MO

The 1930 census shows the Steffens family still living in the Brazeau Township where Henry is now called an electrical engineer.  One more girl would be born after this census.

Henry Steffens 1930 census Brazeau Township MO
1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The 1940 census shows Henry laboring in road work construction.

Henry Steffens 1940 census Brazeau Township MO
1940 census – Brazeau Township, MO

In 1943, there was a devastating flood in Wittenberg.  The photo below was taken of the Henry Steffens home, and someone from that family even wrote on it that this flood was the reason that the Steffens family left Wittenberg.

Henry Steffens home in 1943 Wittenberg flood

The 1940 census is the last census that the public can see, so we cannot keep track of this family through any more censuses.  However, in this St. Louis city directory for 1956, we find Henry and Mathilda living in that city where Henry was employed by Concordia Publishing House.

Henry Steffens St. Louis city directory 1956
Henry Steffens – 1956 St. Louis city directory

Mathilda died in 1972; Henry died in 1975.  They are buried together in the St. Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in St. Louis.

Henry and Mathilda Steffens gravestone St. Trinity St. Louis MO

I don’t know why this is the case, but in all the census records while this family lived in Perry County, the name Henry was used for this person, but after getting to St. Louis, we see him called Herman in both the city directory and his gravestone.

Henry may have had to stop by the greeting card aisle to pick up not only a Valentine card for his bride, but also a birthday card.

Please allow me to give a shout out to my Valentine, Sandi Schmidt, who is so good to me.  One of her many good qualities is that she patiently permits me to spend so much of my time researching and writing for this blog.

Warren and Sandi sharing a milkshake


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