You may want to read the blog post, Orphan Marries Orphan before reading this story. That post highlighted the life of Henry Voerster. I will tell the tale of Henry’s brother, George, today. These two brothers spent much of their early lives in Perry County, Missouri, but they both ended up in Arkansas. You might also want to read another previous blog post, Tracking the Elusive Hadlers, because it is another post that mentions the same place in Arkansas, and it contains a common name with this post.
The common location in these posts is a small town by the name of Ulm, Arkansas. That town is located not far from a larger city named Stuttgart, Arkansas. That area is fairly well known for being one of the largest, if not the largest, producer of rice in America. It is also known as a city with a German history like we have in Perry County. Take a look at this map showing both Stuttgart and Ulm in Arkansas.
Now look at a map of Germany which shows Stuttgart and Ulm.
Rev. George Adam Buerkle, a Lutheran minister, brought a group of 48 people to the Stuttgart area in 1878, and he named the city, Stuttgart. His original home in Germany was Plattenhardt, which is located just outside Stuttgart, Germany. So Stuttgart, Arkansas has a story involving a Lutheran pastor leading a group of Lutherans to start a colony, similar to our story.
Let’s get back to Perry County, where our story begins. George Voerster was born on September 7, 1861. He was the son of Friedrich and Mary (Kaufmann) Voerster, who were married by Rev. Johann F. Buenger in St. Louis. Friedrich was a stone mason living with his family in Cape Girardeau, Missouri in the 1860 census. However, this family must have moved to Altenburg right about then, because George was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church. Below is his baptism record.
George’s father died in 1867; his mother died in 1869. That left the Voerster children as orphans. In the 1880 census, we find George living in the Claus Miesner family in the Salem Township.
Now let’s take a look at George’s future bride, Margaretha Heidt. Margaretha was born in Germany on November 27, 1862. Her parents were Herman and Adelheid (Sticht) Heidt. In 1866, the Heidt family immigrated to America aboard the ship, Carl, along with many others who mostly settled in Salem Township. Here we find them on that passenger list. Margaretha was just 4 years old.
We find an interesting situation in the 1880 census. Living in the Heidt household was Henry Hadler, who was an 8 year old orphan.
George Voerster and Margaretha Heidt were married at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar on May 18, 1884. That makes today the 135th anniversary of that wedding. Here is their marriage license.
The church record for this wedding is shown below. Please note that George’s last name is spelled Forster. “V’s” are pronounced like “F’s” by Germans.
We have this photograph which is said to be their wedding photo.
In 1895, after having a few children in Perry County, this family moved to Ulm, Arkansas. I am guessing that along with the family came Margaretha’s father, Herman Heidt, who was a widower by then. That would explain why he is buried in Ulm. I am also guessing that Henry Hadler came with them also, which would explain his short stint in Arkansas. He, however, would later return to Perry County to become the patriarch of the present-day Hadler Herd.
We find the Voerster family in the 1900 census for Ulm. George was a farmer.
The Voerster’s would remain in Ulm, Arkansas the remainder of their lives and were almost certainly members of Zion Lutheran Church since they are buried in that church’s cemetery.
Five children lived to adulthood in this family. The last census in which we find George and Margaretha was the one taken in 1930. Three children were still in their household.
In 1934, this Voerster couple celebrated their 50th anniversary. A photo was taken of them which probably took place when their golden anniversary was celebrated, quite possibly on today’s date during that year.
George and Margaretha both died in 1937. George died in April; Margaretha died in November. Martha Voerster, one of their daughters, copied information that appeared in a local paper when George died. It is in two images.
This document gives evidence of the exact year that this family moved to Arkansas.
George and Margaretha are buried together in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Ulm, Arkansas.
I have located several other photos connected to this story. I am including them in a gallery with thumbnails that can be clicked for enlargement.
Before I finish, I need to say a few things about spelling and pronunciation. I used the name, Voerster, throughout this story. However, if you look at George and Margaretha’s gravestone, the name is spelled slightly different. The O and E are reversed. This branch of the family seems to be the only one that spells their name Veorster. Even this World War I draft registration for one of the sons shows this spelling.
There are Voersters and Veorsters from this extended family buried in Arkansas cemeteries.
Here is what I think. I believe the original name was Vörster. In fact, if you look at their wedding photo, it identifies them as Vorster. As I’ve pointed out before, the usual way for umlauts to be dealt with in America was to eliminate the umlaut and place an “e” after that letter. All of George’s brothers and sisters appear to have used the Voerster spelling. If you actually pronounce Vörster, it actually comes out sounding more like Verster than it does Voerster. I suspect the story has something to do with how eliminating the umlaut was handled by different members of this family.