Although today’s story begins in Perry County, it certainly does not end there. The story involves lumber, cabinet making, furniture, and casket making. What do all these activities have in common? Trees. Perry County certainly has plenty of trees, but the family involved in today’s episode later moved to another area known for its trees.
We begin with the birth of Clara Miesner, who was born on May 8, 1874, so today would have been her 145th birthday. She was the daughter of Johann and Maria (Meier) Miesner and baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Missouri. Clara was the middle child of three Miesner children that were born into that family and grew to adulthood. She had an older brother and a younger brother.
We have to go back in time a bit farther to find the origin of her future husband, John Heeszel. John was born on June 7, 1866 in Ostervesede, Scheeβel, Germany. He was the son of Johann and Maria (Oetjen) Heeszel. At the age of 2, John’s family came to America aboard the ship, Berlin. Below is the passenger list for that ship showing the Heeszel family.
By the way, around here, the name Heeszel is pronounced the same way as the word, hazel.
The Heeszel’s ended up settling across the river from Perry County in Jackson County, Illinois where they became members of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. The Heeszel family can be found in the 1880 census for Fountain Bluff Township, Illinois.
On his 22nd birthday, John married Gesche Guetersloh on June 7, 1888. Here is their church marriage record.
Our German Family Tree documents three children born to this couple. One of them died in infancy. Then Gesche died in 1896 when their youngest son was just one year old. We find Gesche’s gravestone in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob.
I figure John was in desperate need for a mother for his young children, and he found another bride in Perry County. That second wife was today’s birthday girl, Clara Miesner. John and Clara were married at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar on May 27, 1897. Below is the church record for that occasion.
Here is the marriage license for that couple.
We also can show their wedding photograph. I cannot resist pointing out that this was a black and white wedding dress (or at least some color and white) with a one button at the top suit coat.
John and Clara took up residence in the Fountain Bluff Township in Illinois, and we find them in the 1900 census. At this point in his life, John was a farmer.
The first two children in the list are the ones from John’s first marriage. The other two are from his second marriage.
Things changed in the Heeszel family in 1906. They moved their family to Oregon. We find evidence of this in the communicant register for Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. This is a page from the year 1906.
It is written in German, but there is a note in the record that says this family was given a peaceful release to Oregon. The last time that this family communed was on Maundy Thursday of 1906. I have now learned the term, Grundonnerstag means Maundy Thursday.
We find this family living in Corvallis, Oregon in the 1910 census, and now John is described as a house carpenter. It also appears that a set of twins has been added to the family.
Meanwhile, let’s return to Perry County and once again look at the history of Clara’s brother, Martin Miesner. Several previous stories have been told on this blog about Clara’s two brothers and their business ventures in Altenburg and Wittenberg. I encourage you to go back and read these stories.
All of these businesses in which the Miesner brothers started involved wood and carpentry. Let me take a quick side trip to tell you that Martin Miesner married another Clara. Her name was Clara Heins, and she was from Altenburg. It is probably because of her that these Farrar Miesner’s came to Altenburg to set up a lumber company. Here is a wedding photo of Martin and Clara.
After the swing factory in Wittenberg burned in 1915, Martin Miesner moved to Oregon. I speculate that he moved there because of his sister’s presence there. When we look at the World War I draft registrations for both John Heeszel and Martin Miesner, they both give Oregon as the state in which they live. First, here is the one for John Heeszel.
Next, here is the form for Martin Miesner.
Although Martin is not far away in Portland and working at a furniture factory, John states that he is working at a business called the Miesner-Heeszel Co. Eventually, both of these families are living in Portland, Oregon. A 1918 Portland city directory shows John as a vice president of Western Furniture Manufacturing Co.
In a 1920 Portland city directory, we find several Heeszel names, all living at the same address. John and his son, Herman, were machinists, while two daughters were seamstresses.
I might add here that Oregon is another location that has plenty of trees and known for its timber industry, just like Perry County. The 1920 census also shows the Heeszel family living in Portland. John is shown as a machinist for a phonograph company. Their daughter is described as doing fancy sewing for a casket company.
I could not find John Heeszel in the 1930 census, but I did find Martin Miesner living in Alameda, California during that year. Martin was a cabinet maker.
In the 1940 census, I found John and Clara Heeszel living in Petaluma, California. John was 73 years old and no longer had an occupation listed. The form also indicates that in 1935, the family was living in Oakland, which for all practical purposes is Alameda, California, where Martin Miesner was found in 1930.
John Heeszel died in 1949; Clara Heeszel died in 1954. They are buried together in the Evergreen Cemetery in Alameda.
I found a California death index that says Martin and Clara Miesner also died in Alameda, but I could not locate their place of burial.
I found several California voter registration documents that included both the Heeszel’s and the Miesner’s. I found it interesting that over the years both these couples, depending on the year, were registered sometimes as Democrats and sometimes as Republicans.
One more thing. I did a search for Alameda on our blog. I discovered that this is the fourth post that has been written which shows Perry County names (all different families, I might add) that ended up in that location. Interesting.