Otto, An Ahrens Boy

He may not have been an errands boy, but this Ahrens boy certainly was involved in several types of occupations during his lifetime.  And although his life began in Perry County, Missouri, he lived in a few other locations over the years.  I will tell his tale today.

Otto Gottfried Heinrich Ahrens was born on April 17, 1886 and baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri.  Otto was the son of Friedrich and Clara (Burfeind) Ahrens.  Below is his baptism record.

Otto Ahrens baptism record Concordia Frohna MO
Otto Ahrens baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

In 1897, Otto’s father died at the age of 38, leaving Clara as a widow.

An interesting situation occurs in the year 1900 regarding Otto.  First of all, on April 8th, he was confirmed at Concordia.  Below is a list of the members of his confirmation class.  Otto is #3 on the list.

1900 confirmation class - Concordia Frohna MO

The 1900 census was taken in June of that year.  When we look at the Ahrens household, we find Clara as a widow, and her occupation was “dressmaker”.  However, Otto was not listed as being part of her household.

Clara Ahrens 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Instead, we find Otto was living in the Ferdinand Schuessler household where he was a farm laborer.

Otto Ahrens 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Clara’s mother was a Schuessler, so these folks are part of her family.  However, at the age of 14, just two months after his confirmation, Otto is already documented as being a farmhand.

By 1910, Clara moved her family (Otto included) to St. Louis.  In this entry, we see that Otto was a wagon driver for an ice company.

Otto Ahrens 1910 census St. Louis MO
1910 census – St. Louis, MO

Sometime before 1917, Otto got married.  His bride was Sophia Goetting from Red Bud, Illinois.  I was unable to find a marriage record for this wedding.  Sophia was born on April 16, 1886, so she was born just one day before Otto.  I wonder if Otto ever made fun of Sophia for being “so much older” than he was.  Sophia’s father was a thresherman.  This couple’s first child, Roy, was born on October 2, 1917 and baptized at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg, Missouri.  Below is Roy’s baptism record.

Roy Ahrens baptism record St. Paul's Wittenberg MO
Roy Ahrens baptism record – St. Paul’s, Wittenberg, MO

It is interesting to me that on the above image, Sophia’s maiden name is spelled Oetting, yet a few of the sponsors are shown with the correct spelling of Goetting.

When Otto had his World War I draft registration filled out in 1918, he was living in Gorham, Illinois and doing farm work for Gottlieb Miesner.

Otto Ahrens – WWI draft registration

Otto was still in the Fountain Bluff Township in Illinois for the 1920 census.  That document says Otto was then working for the railroad.  At that time, there were two children in the family.

Otto Ahrens 1920 census Fountain Bluff Township IL
1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Their second child, Bernice, had been baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois.  That baptism took place in 1918.  The baptism record shown below also states that Bernice was born in Reiley Lake, Illinois which was located just north of Chester, near Kaskaskia.

Bernice Ahrens baptism record Christ Jacob IL
Bernice Ahrens baptism record – Christ, Jacob, IL

The last Ahrens child to be baptized at Christ Lutheran Church was born in 1923.  After that, the family moved back to St. Louis.  The 1930 census shows that Otto was a shipping clerk for a wholesale business.  This census shows all 7 children for this family.  Only one child was a girl.

Otto Ahrens 1930 census St. Louis MO
1930 census – St. Louis, MO

A 1931 St. Louis city directory shows Otto working as a clerk for Butler Bros. Company.

Otto Ahrens 1931 St. Louis city directory
Otto Ahrens – 1931 St. Louis city directory

Here is a photo of the building that housed the Butler Brothers Company.

Butler Bros. building

This company sold general merchandise and is credited with inspiring business like Ben Franklin stores which described themselves as “five and dime” stores.

It appears that Otto was still employed by this company in 1940.  We see the census for that year below.

Otto Ahrens 1940 census St. Louis MO
1940 census – St. Louis, MO

However, just two years later, when Otto had his World War II draft card filled out, he had a different employer.  He was working for the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Otto Ahrens – WWII draft card

Otto died in 1951 at the age of 65.  We have his death certificate.  They have an interesting spelling for Clara’s last name, Burfeind, on this form.

Otto Ahrens death certificate
Otto Ahrens death certificate

Sophia died in 1965 at Lutheran Hospital at the age of 78.  This form is of no help in identifying Sophia’s maiden name or her mother’s maiden name.  Usually, these certificates are helpful in determining those facts.

Sophia Ahrens death certificate
Sophia Ahrens death certificate

Otto and Sophia are buried together in the New St. Marcus Cemetery in St. Louis.

Otto and Sophia Ahrens gravestone New St. Marcus St. Louis MO
Otto and Sophia Ahrens gravestone – New St. Marcus, St. Louis, MO

I do not have a photo of Otto, but I was able to find one of Sophia.

Sophia Goetting Ahrens
Sophia Goetting Ahrens

One other thing that I find notable is the fact that four sons of Otto and Sophia are buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.   Between all of these four men, they served our country in World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War.




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