I will share a story today which I consider amazingly unique. It will tell the tale of a man whose occupations during his life took an amazing turn as he became older. Since it involves flowers, I find it to be an appropriate story to tell on this Mother’s Day. Add to that the fact that we have a woman who gives birth to 13 children, and that makes it also the story of an incredible mother.
Being born on May 12, 1845, Gottlob Ehregott Ahner would have been 174 years old today. He was the son of August Friedrich and Maria Rosine (Groben) Ahner and baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri. Below is his baptism record. Just a reminder: Ahner is pronounced like the word “honor”.
Before I move on, let me say that it was difficult for me to settle on what to call this person. Over the years in documents, he was referred to a Gottlob, Gottlieb, Ehregott, or G.E. I choose to use the name Gottlob.
We find Gottlob in the 1860 census for Brazeau Township. He was 15 years old.
Gottlob started studying to become a Lutheran pastor in 1863 and graduated in 1868. There was a written notice in Der Lutheraner that listed the graduates from Concordia Seminary in 1868.
Der Lutheraner also had a notification for Rev. Ahner’s ordination. He began his ministry in Blue Earth City, Minnesota.
Gottlob’s future frau was born in Franklin County, Indiana. Her name was Johanna Elisabeth John. LIke her husband, sometimes she was called Johanna and sometimes Elisabeth. I will call her Johanna. She was the daughter of Friedrich and Mary (Barth) John and born on May 13, 1851, so her birthday would be celebrated one day after Gottlob’s. I have found this photograph of Johanna’s parents.
We find the John family living in Caesar Creek, Indiana in the 1860 census where the father was described as both a farmer and a preacher. Johanna was 9 years old.
On May 13, 1869, Gottlob married Johanna at the Lutheran church in Illmo, Missouri (which is now called Scott City). Johanna’s father was the pastor there at that time. They were married on Johanna’s 18th birthday and the day after Gottlob’s 24th birthday.
We find Gottlob and Johanna in the 1870 census for the Emerald Township in Minnesota. They had their first child by then. While in Blue Earth, Rev. Ahner served numerous preaching stations throughout that area of Minnesota. I might add that the present pastor at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Rev. Roger Abernathy, once served at Fairmont, which is one of the preaching stations Rev. Ahner served during those days.
The 1880 census shows them still in Minnesota, but now living in Green Isle.
From 1889-1891, Gottlob served a church in Dayton, Iowa, but we have no census documentation for that time period. Then from 1891-1904, Pastor Ahner returned to his home state of Missouri. He served Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Boeuff Creek which is near New Haven, Missouri. It is there that we find him in the 1900 census.
A family history on Ancestry.com that seems reliable states that 13 children were born into this Ahner family, a few of which died in infancy. I was able to find this description of Rev. Ahner’s history as a minister.
The photo below must have been taken fairly late in the lives of Gottlob and Johanna.
It is told that later in his ministry, Rev. Ahner developed an interest in growing flowers and even was able to supplement his pastor’s salary by doing so. After his retirement, he moved to Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. We find him there in the 1910 census. At the age of 65, he is shown to be a farmer and florist. One of his sons, Adolph, is also shown on this entry as being a florist.
The final census in which we find Gottlob and Johanna is the one taken in 1920. Gottlob and a son named Otto are both listed as florists.
Gottlob died in 1924 at the age of 79. We have his death certificate.
His occupation on this form indicated he was a retired minister, but says nothing about being a florist. Johanna died in 1929. Here is her death certificate.
These two are buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Des Peres, Missouri. Johanna’s birth date is incorrect, unless this is the wrong tombstone.
This story does not end with the deaths of these two Ahner’s. The florist business that began with a Lutheran pastor has now continued for five generations. In 1940, an Ahner family moved across the river to New Baden, Illinois and started a florist business there. That business, Ahner Florists and Greenhouses, still exists today. I found this history of the florist business in this family.
An Ahner store can now be found in Lebanon, Illinois in their historic district. The video below shows an interview featuring this Ahner Florist business.
This business grows their own plants. The video below takes you on a trip through their greenhouses.
Maybe you got the chance to see special flowers placed on your church altar today in honor of Mother’s Day. I suppose there might have been some women in Illinois who were blessed to have Ahner flowers in honor of Mother’s Day. It’s the season for buying flowers. If you are in the area near the Ahner Florist and Greenhouses, give them some of your business.