Clara’s Car Guy

Carl Hugo Paffrath arrived in New York City in February of 1882 aboard the Vaderland.  We see his name on the passenger list shown below.

Carl Paffrath passenger list Vaderland 1882
Carl Paffrath passenger list – Vaderland, 1882

Little did Carl know that his family would cross paths with a girl from Perry County roots.  It was that girl who is today’s birthday girl.  Her name was Clara Gaebler.  She was the daughter of Samuel and Magdalena (Schilling) Gaebler and born on April 5, 1887.  Clara was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Here is her baptism record.  It is the only record we have today that is contained in our German Family Tree.

Clara Gaebler baptism record Trinity Altenburg MO
Clara Gaebler baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Clara was the last of the Gaebler children who was baptized at Trinity, Altenburg.  The next several Gaebler children were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells.  There was one child baptized at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas in 1896, where Samuel was listed as a charter member of that congregation.  After that, the Gaebler family moved to St. Louis where Samual would eventually open a grocery store.  His story was told in the post, Gaebler the Grocer.  We find the Gaebler’s in this St. Louis census for 1900.

Clara Gaebler 1900 census St. Louis MO
1900 census – St. Louis, MO

We find the record for Clara’s confirmation in the books of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis , but I cannot show you that record.

Now, we will go back to the Paffrath family.  After arriving in America, Carl Paffrath married Wilhelmine Heidelberg in 1883 in St. Louis.  Their second child, William, was born on February 3, 1886.  We can see William’s birth documented in this birth register for St. Louis.

William Paffrath birth record St. Louis MO
William Paffrath birth register – St. Louis, MO

We find William in this 1900 census for St. Louis.

William Paffrath 1900 census St. Louis MO
1900 census – St. Louis, MO

You might notice that Carl is shown in this census as “builder car”.  Building cars in 1900??  I just had to check into this.  As it turns out, Carl was working for the St. Louis Car Company, which in those days was building street cars.  Later, that company would also be involved in making automobiles.  We have a photo which is said to have been taken around 1900.  It includes three men from the Paffrath family.  It includes Carl, the father, and two sons, Hugo and William.  My guess is that this photo may be showing a group of men who were working for the St. Louis Car Company.

Paffrath men

However, before I say more about this company, let’s take a look at the Paffrath family in 1910.  They are no longer in St. Louis.  We find them in Bayonne, New Jersey, which is found just across the Hudson River from New York City.

Carl Paffrath 1910 census Hudson NJ.PNG
1910 census – Bayonne, NJ

I find it somewhat surprising that Carl was a boat carpenter there.  I point out this census because it helps explain the next document that we have.  Two years before the above census, William Paffrath married Clara Gaebler in New Jersey.

Paffrath Gaebler marriage record New Jersey
Paffrath/Gaebler marriage record – New Jersey

William and Clara were married in 1908.  I do not have an exact day.  If I have this figured out correctly, this couple met while they both lived in St. Louis, and Clara went to New Jersey to get married.  We do not find William and Clara in New Jersey or St. Louis in the 1910 census.  Instead, we find them in New Castle, Indiana.  Here is that entry in two images because it spills over two pages.

William Paffrath 1910 census New Castle IN

William Paffrath 1910 census 2 New Castle IN
1910 census – New Castle, IN

You cannot see it on these images, but William was described as an auto inspector.  After a short search, I discovered that there was an automobile factory in New Castle that made Maxwell automobiles.  Below is a post card that shows the inside of this factory at about the same time as the above census.  Maybe William is in this picture.

New Castle Maxwell Factory

Let’s return to William’s father for a moment.  Carl Paffrath must have made his way back to St. Louis before 1912 because we find that he died in that city.  We have his Missouri death certificate.  Sadly, the cause of his death was suicide.

Carl Paffrath death certificate
Carl Paffrath death certificate

This form says that Carl was working as a car builder for the St. Louis Car Co.  As said before, this company had been making street cars.  Here is an advertisement for their street cars.

St. Louis Car Co. streetcars

By 1912, this company was also making automobiles called the Standard Six.

Standard Six advertisement St. Louis Car Co.

William did not remain in Indiana very long.  When he had his World War I draft registration filled out in 1918, he was living in Columbus, Mississippi and working as an auto mechanic.

William Paffrath – WWI draft registration

I won’t post it here, but the 1920 census has William living in Columbus, Mississippi and surprisingly shows him as a farmer.  By 1930, William and his family had returned to New Jersey.  We find them living in Linden, New Jersey, which is very near Bayonne.  William was the proprietor of a garage.

William Paffrath 1930 census Linden NJ
1930 census – Linden, NJ

Sometime after his father’s death, a photo was taken of the Paffrath family.  William is standing in the back on the right.  I do not have a photo of Clara.

Paffrath family
Paffrath family

The last document I could find for William Paffrath was his World War II draft card.

William Paffrath – WWII draft card

This is the first time I have seen one of these WWII draft cards with a notation on it that the person was now deceased.  William died in 1943 at the age of 57.  Here is another type of record that I have never seen.

Clara Paffrath Elizabeth NJ city directory 1944
Elizabeth, New Jersey city directory – 1943

This city directory actually lists William as having died in 1943.  Clara can also be found in this image.  Clara died in 1977.  William and Clara are buried together in the Rosedale and Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.

William and Clara Paffrath gravestone New Jersey
William and Clara Paffrath gravestone – Rosedale and Rosehill Cemetery, Linden, NJ

We do not find too many stories like this one of Clara Gaebler Paffrath.  After being born in the tiny hamlet of Altenburg, she experienced living in several different parts of our country.  This may also be the first blog post I have written where someone ends up being buried in the state of New Jersey.

Closing note:  This weekend will be another one devoted to grandchildren.  It is likely this will be a weekend without any new blog posts.



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