Paul Joseph Ahner was born on April 30, 1887, so today would be his 132nd birthday. Before I proceed any further, let me say that around here, the name Ahner is pronouced the same as the word “honor”. Paul was the son of August and Anna (Lungwitz) Ahner and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We have this photo of Paul’s parents.
Below is an image of Paul’s baptism record.
The first census in which we find Paul was the 1900 census for Brazeau Township, MO. Paul was one of the last children born into this family.
The 1910 census is not very easy to read, but it once again shows Paul living with his parents in Brazeau Township. In 1910, Paul’s father was already 61 years old and the census does not indicate that he is still farming, but Paul was at the age of 22. I am not going to show that census. The Ahner family had a piece of property located south and east of Altenburg.
Four years before Paul was born, his future wife was born in Uniontown. Laura Hemmann was born on December 5, 1883. She was the daughter of Martin and Caroline (Thauwald) Hemmann. Laura was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. Here is her baptism record.
I was unable to find Laura in either a 1900 or 1910 census. There was a Laura Hemmann living in St. Louis in 1910, but some of the information on the form did not quite fit. Paul and Laura were married on September 17, 1911 at Grace, Uniontown. Here is their marriage license.
I was unable to find a wedding photo of Paul and Laura, but there is a family photo in which they are included with several other members of the Ahner family. Paul and Laura are indicated by the red arrows.
Sometime between 1911 and 1920, Paul and Laura moved to Fountain Bluff Township in Jackson County, Illinois where Paul was a farmer. The 1920 census shows them living there with four children. The first child which was said to be born in Illinois was a little over 4 years old, so I am guessing they moved to Illinois in about 1915.
I am going to skip a census and move to the one taken in 1940 where we find only Laura living in the family household, not Paul.
This entry had me snookered for a little while because it says Laura was a widow. That is not the case. I found some evidence that she was divorced. First of all, in an Ahner family binder that we have in our museum we find the following information about Paul Ahner.
To the left of the name Anna Laura Hemmann, you will see the word, “Divorced”. I could not find Paul in a 1940 census, but I did find his World War II draft card.
He was living in Tolono, Illinois, which is located in Champaign County. His birthday is correct, although the year of birth is wrong, and it does say that he was born in Altenburg, so I have no doubt that this is the correct Paul Ahner. Here is where we find an unusual situation. In the Bailey Memorial Cemetery in Tolono, Illinois, you will find the gravestone shown below.
One can assume that Paul married again to a woman by the name of Harriett, who died in 1956. Paul’s year of death is also correct on this marker. I was unable to discover Harriett’s maiden name. However, Paul is not buried there. We have a death record for Paul in the Trinity, Altenburg church books. And we have a gravestone in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.
Laura Ahner died in 1954, two years prior to the death of Paul’s second wife, Harriett. Laura’s gravestone can be found in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.
In closing, I would like to relate a fact that just remotely relates to this story. Laura was the granddaughter of one of the original immigrants, J.G. Hemmann. J.G. Hemmann fathered 21 children during his life with two different wives. Laura’s father, Martin, was one of the last children born into this family in 1857. I just had to look. I found a granddaughter to J.G. Hemmann who was born in 1844. She was born to J.G.’s oldest son. The last child to be born to J.G. Hemmann was Benjamin Hemmann (a.k.a. Teacher Hemmann) who was born in 1864. That means when Benjamin was born, he was an uncle to a niece who was 20 years old already. I find that fascinating.