There were two Clara Schmidt’s that were born in East Perry County in the 1880’s. One of them was my Great Aunt Clara, the sister of my grandfather, Emanuel. She was born in 1882. I call her the Altenburg Clara Schmidt. There was also a Frohna Clara Schmidt. She was born on March 9, 1886. She is today’s birthday girl and the focus of today’s post.
Clara Pauline Schmidt was the daughter of Lebrecht and Magdalena (Froebel) Schmidt of Frohna. A previous post was written about Clara’s parents. It was titled, Butch’s Mom and Dad. Butch was Clara’s brother. Butch got the nickname because he became a butcher in Altenburg. He was two years older than his sister, Clara, who was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. Below is her baptism record.
Clara had a rather famous sponsor for her baptism. In the second from the last box on the right, you will see the name, J.A.F.W. Mueller. That was Rev. Mueller who at that time was serving the Lutheran church in Chester, Illinois. We at the museum usually refer to him as “Alphabet” Mueller, who was also the first graduate from the Log Cabin College in Altenburg.
Seven years later, in Altenburg, Oswald Fritsche was born. He was the son of Henry and Anna (Schade) Fritsche. He was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below are two images of his baptism record.
Oswald Fritsche and Clara Schmidt were married on September 13, 1917. They were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Here is their marriage license.
Gerard and I had some fun trying to put together a timetable for this part of Clara’s life. First of all, let’s take a look at what was taking place in Oswald’s family. Sometime before 1915, Oswald’s father, a carpenter, built a store in Altenburg. The photo below was supposedly taken around 1915.
The store in the foreground has a sign reading Fritsche Noennig. Oswald and his brother, Reinhold, were in the business of operating this store during that era. So when Clara married Oswald, she moved to Altenburg to live with a storekeeper. In that previous post about Clara’s brother, Butch, it indicated that this was about the time that Butch moved to Altenburg to open up his butcher shop. That butcher shop was located almost directly across Main Street from the Fritsche store. Let’s take a look at a map of the village of Altenburg that was produced in 1915.
The blue box is probably the location of the Fritsche-Noennig Store. The red arrow points to the house that would become the home and shop of Butch Schmidt. In 1915, it was occupied by John David Rall. The yellow arrow points to a house that would become the home of Oswald and Clara Fritsche, but in 1915, it was occupied by a Kuntze.
John David Rall can be found in the 1880 Altenburg census where it says he was a bartender. As far as we know, the only bar in Altenburg during that time was Gabriel Lottes’s Angel Saloon. Gabe Lottes’s property can be found not far down from John Rall’s house on the map above. That is where he operated his saloon.
There is some evidence that a Fritsche and a Kuntze were once partners in the store. When August Kuntze filled out his World War I draft registration shown below, he was living in St. Louis in 1918.
That means the Kuntze house was likely available for the newlyweds, Oswald and Clara Fritsche, to occupy after their wedding in 1917. Meanwhile, John Rall died in October of 1917, one month after Clara and Oswald were married. He was a widower at the time with only one daughter. It is also likely that after his death in the fall of 1917, his home was for sale. It was about that time that we know Butch Schmidt opened his butcher shop in Altenburg at that location. Below is Butch Schmidt’s World War I draft registration.
By September of 1918, Butch was operating his shop in Altenburg. Since Mr. Rall did not die until after the Fritsche/Schmidt wedding, our best guess is that Clara moved to Altenburg before her brother, Butch, did. Perhaps she was the one who suggested to her brother that a home was available for Butch along Main Street in Altenburg.
We have this photo of Oswald standing in front of the store with several others who likely worked there. Oswald is pictured second from the right.
Below is a photo of the Oswald Fritsche home next to Immanuel Lutheran Church. It can be seen on the right. That house used to occupy the space where Immanuel now has a parking lot.
Clara Fritsche died in 1944 at the age of 58. Her death certificate shown below indicates the cause of death as cancer of the breast.
We also have this obituary for Clara.
After her death, Oswald married again. His second wife was also a widow. She was Maria (Hemmann) Reisenbichler. Maria was yet another child in the Gustav Hemmann family from Shawnee Township. We can find her in this family photo that has been shown in a few other posts. She is standing in the back, second from the right. She was not one of the triple twins that were born into that family.
Oswald died in 1958. Both Clara and Oswald are buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.
On the map of Altenburg shown earlier, you can see that it was a relatively short trip from Oswald’s home (yellow arrow) to the store where he worked (blue box). Stories are told that Oswald often made this trip on a bicycle. That bicycle is still around. In fact, Gerard owns it now. Gerard has shared with me two photos of him riding Oswald’s old bicycle in the Fair Parade. First, here is a photo taken about where the parade starts in front of the Immanuel Church Parsonage.
The sign on the front of the bike says “Oswald Fritsche Bicycle – Early 1900’s”. Next, we see Gerard riding the bicycle as it goes by the Old Bank building (now the Old Bank Coffee Shop).
Maybe we need to get both that bicycle and its rider out to ride in a parade again someday.