Easter Hill

I know this is going to be quite a literary stretch, but I am always on the lookout for a play on words, and I could not resist sharing this one on this Easter Sunday.  A marriage took place on April 21, 1892, and one of the participants was a Bodenschatz.  Google Translate tells me that boden means “ground” in German, and schatz means “sweetheart”.  In Christian theology, Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Bridegroom and His church as being the Bride.  On this Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the fact that the ground has not been able to contain its sweetheart.  The Bridegroom is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Locally, we have a hill that is located between Altenburg and the Mississippi River which has taken on the name, “Bodenshatz Hill”. At the bottom of Bodenschatz Hill is the Bodenschatz Branch creek bed.  It was from that creek bed that the massive stones that were used in the building of the church sanctuary of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg were quarried back in 1867.  Those enormous stones (29 inches thick) had to be hauled up Bodenschatz Hill on their way to Altenburg.  Below is a photo looking up from the bottom of Bodenschatz Hill.


And one looking down from the top.


It is almost certain that the name Bodenschatz was attached to the hill and the creek bed after the rocks were quarried and hauled up the hill to the church.  That is because the Bodenschatz after whom the hill and creek bed were named did not come to America until 1865.

There were a few different folks who settled in this area by the name of Bodenschatz.  The original immigrant from today’s Bodenschatz family was Henry Bodenschatz, who settled in the Altenburg area.  It was not long after his arrival in 1865 that he married Wilhelmine Krause.  They were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg on November 9, 1867.  Here is the civil marriage record for Perry County.  Please note that the pastor performing this wedding was Rev. J.F. Koestering.

Bodenschatz Krause marriage record Perry County MO
Bodenschatz/Krause marriage record – Perry County, MO

Here is where we have to mention what appears to be a little “Oops” in this family’s history.  The first child in this couple’s family was born about a month before their marriage.  Their son, Wilhelm, was born on October 3, 1867.  We do not find a baptism record for Wilhelm in the church books of Trinity Lutheran (or any other Lutheran church in the area).  My guess is that this may be because this child was born out of wedlock.  That, however, does not mean the child was not baptized.

It was during that time period between when Wilhelm was born and his parents were married that the new church building using the stones from Bodenschatz creek bed was dedicated on October 31, 1867 (also the 350th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation).  Because this was during the time when Rev. Koestering did not record marriages in the church books, I have no proof, but I think the Bodenschatz/Krause wedding may have been the first one in the new church.  And if Wilhelm would have been baptized in church, he may have been the last one to be baptized in the old church.

If you look at this plat map produced in 1915, you can see that a few pieces of land adjacent to one another can be found between Altenburg and Wittenberg that are labeled with the Bodenschatz and Krause surnames.

Mary Bodenschatz land map 1915

Now we finally get up the the time when the wedding took place on this day in 1892.  Wilhelm Bodenschatz was the groom, and Maria Degenhardt was the bride.  Maria was the daughter of August and Bertha (Engert) Degenhardt.  The blue arrows on the above map indicate some parcels of land owned by the Degenhardt’s.  It appears that Wilhelm found his bride in his own neighborhood.  Here is the marriage license for this couple.

Bodenschatz Degenhardt marriage license
Bodenschatz/Degenhardt marriage license

It is interesting to note that this marriage took place in St. Louis.  It is also interesting that the pastor performing this wedding was the same pastor who had married Wilhelm’s parents, Rev. J.F. Koestering, who at that time was serving St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in St. Louis.  I really do not know why this couple went to St. Louis to get married.  They did not remain in St. Louis.  We find them in the 1900 census for Brazeau Township.

William Bodenschatz 1910 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The 1910 census shows this family in the same location, but Henry, Wilhelm’s father, was no longer described as the head of the family.

Wilhelm Bodenschatz 1910 census Brazeau Township MO
1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Our German Family Tree credits this Bodenschatz couple with 9 children, not all of which lived very long.  A set of twins was born and died on the same day in 1899.

Wilhelm died in 1911 at the age of 44.  The Dr. G.B. Schulz, who is credited with starting Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau, and who signed William’s death certificate, had spent some years having a practice in Altenburg.

William Bodenschatz death certificate
William Bodenschatz death certificate

Mary died in 1945 at the age of 75.  Below is her death certificate.

Mary Bodenschatz death certificate
Mary Bodenschatz death certificate

I ran across an obituary for Mary.  Her parents are mis-identified in this article as having the name Bodenschatz.  It should have been written as Degenhardt.

Maria Bodenschatz obituary
Mary Bodenschatz obituary

The Bodenschatz family had joined the St. Paul’s Lutheran congregation in Wittenberg when it opened in 1903, so these two were buried in their cemetery.


When Trinity built their new church in 1867, the land where the creek bed that housed the rocks was probably in the hands of the Krause family.  According to Google Translate, the word krause has several meanings.  One of those meanings is “gathering”.  I think that is a good word to describe a place of worship.  Today, many will gather there to celebrate another massive rock that was rolled away, revealing an empty tomb.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Hallelujah!


2 thoughts on “Easter Hill

  1. Great story Warren about the Bodenschatz family.i was just down at the Wittenberg cemetery and found Wilhelm tombstone his wife Mary is in the Lutheran cemetery in Perryville. Fred or Fritz my grandpa my dad Fred Wilhelm Bodenschatz Jr. . My grandpa told his dad fell off a horse and broke his hip and had complications. Wish I would have ask more questions.


  2. Warren, thank you for this wonderful story. William and Mary would have been my great grandparents since my Grandpa was Oscar E. Bodenschatz. I don’t remember seeing their tombstones before. I will need to make time for a trip to do that.
    Donna Young


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s