I call it an “act of God”. Just a day or so ago, I received a message from a man with the surname Rathjen, who asked about his family’s connection to the Miesner family mentioned in the story, Perry County Percolating into Coffeyville. This gentleman expressed an interest in finding out more about his family’s roots in this area. As it turns out, in the process of looking for a story for today, I ran across a boy with the surname, Rathjen, who was born on this day, February 15th. So you are getting that story today.
Just a quick note. I mentioned the name Rathjen to some local folks and pronouced it RATH-jen. I was told that is pronounce ROT-jen around these here parts.
Joseph Ernst Rathjen was born on February 15, 1899 and baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. His parents were Joachim and Katherine (Korte) Rathjen. Below is Joseph’s baptism record in two images.
Before moving on with Joseph’s story, I want to go back in time. The first Rathjen that shows up in our German Family Tree was Friedrich Rathjen who immigrated to the Jacob, Illinois area in about 1874. The baptism record for this Friedrich Rathjen can be found in the church records in Scheeβel, Hanover, Germany. That record is shown below. It is the bottom record.
Friedrich’s parents are shown to be Claus and Cathrina (Luedemann) Rathjen. Friedrich was born on January 12, 1831 and baptized on January 16th. If you look at the record shown above Friedrich’s, you will see that another Rathjen baby was born on January 12th and baptized on January 16th, but the parents are Heinrich and Anna (Luedemann) Rathjen. I find that amazing. However, that is not all. If you look at the adjoining page in that parish’s records, you will find yet another Rathjen baptism.
This boy, named Peter Rathjen, was born on January 19, 1831 and baptized on January 23rd. His parents were Hans Heinrich and Margaretha (Brunkhorst) Rathjen. So there were three Rathjen baptisms in just 2 weeks at that parish. Wow!
Friedrich would get married to Anna Boesch and have a son named Joachim Rathjen. Joachim came with the family to America in 1874. Joachim would then marry Katherine Korte in 1887. That marriage is recorded in the Christ Lutheran, Jacob church books. That record is shown below.
This record says that Katherine was from Uniontown, so Joachim must have found his bride across the river in Missouri. That leads us back to Joseph’s birth to this couple in 1899. He was the fifth child in this family.
Joseph can be found as a very young boy living in Fountain Bluff Township in Illinois in the 1900 census. His father was a farmer.
The 1900 census is one that records the date of immigration, and this one states that Joachim came to America in 1874.
In the 1910 census, Joseph is still living in the Fountain Bluff Township.
I find it interesting that in the 1900 census, there was a boarder by the name of Henry Wichern living in this household, and in the 1910 census, there was an Adolph Holschen living with them. The Wichern and Holschen names are ones found across the river living on The Ridge. There were also Wichern and Holschens involved in running ferries across the river from Missouri to the Brunkhorst Landing in Illinois.
Please note that Joseph had a sister named Hulda who was two years older.
I am going to skip ahead to the 1930 census. We find Joseph Rathjen living in Beemer, Nebraska working on a Martin Krause farm.
Martin Krause’s wife, Hulda, was Joseph’s sister. That is why Joseph ended up in Nebraska for a while. We do know that he did not remain in Nebraska for too long. In 1939, we find Joseph getting married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. His bride was Hildegard Doering. Below is the marriage record for this couple in the Trinity books.
This record says that Joseph was from Crystal City, Missouri. We know from some other records that Joseph was an employee of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company located in Crystal City. We have this wedding photo for Joseph and Hildegard.
Hildegard Doering was born on April 10, 1915 and baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri. She was the daughter of Theodore and Maria (Hilpert) Doering. Here is her baptism record.
Hildegard was the granddaughter of Gustav Doering and can be found in the photo of his family below. Hildegard is sitting in front on the right of her grandfather. Her parents are the third and fourth persons from the right in the back row.
The 1940 census shows Joseph and Hildegard living in Jefferson County, Missouri with Joseph working at the glass company. That same census shows Martin and Hulda Krause living in that area with Martin working as a truck driver for a lumber company. So the Krause’s didn’t live in Nebraska very long either. When Joseph filled out his World War II draft card, he indicated that he was employed at Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.
Joseph and Hildegard would have several children, but I cannot get at any of those records. Most of what I know about their children comes from obituaries. Joseph was the first to die. He died in 1982. I have this obituary for him. It indicates that Joseph later returned to Fountain Bluff Township to become a farmer there. So after all his travels during his life, he returned to his original home in Illinois.
Hildegard died in 2004. Here is her obituary.
One of their daughters, Lillian, who never married, also has an obituary that contains more family information.
Joseph and Hildegard are buried together in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.
This Rathjen story includes connections to so many other surnames that we call “Jacob” names: Amschler, Brunkhorst, Luedemann, Weseloh, Guetersloh, and Miesner. Just to mention a few. The gentleman who asked questions about his Rathjen relatives comes from another of Joachim Rathjen’s brothers. We are hoping he comes to visit us at the museum soon.