Emma Takes Over a Family

Today’s birthday girl is Emma Ruehling.  She was born on May 30, 1869 in Altenburg, Missouri.  Her parents were Frederick and Martha (Goethe) Ruehling.  She was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Her parents were one of the last couples married in Trinity’s old church, and Emma was one of the first children to be baptized at their new church which had been dedicated in 1867.  I am still “on the road”, so I am once again unable to show any images of church records today.

The first census in which we find Emma was the 1870 census for Brazeau Township.  She was just one year old, and her father was a farmer.  The “Mary” in this census would have been Martha’s mother, Mary Goethe.

Emma Ruehling 1870 census Brazeau Township MO
1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Ten years later, we find Emma in the 1880 census from the same place.  I have learned to recognize this handwriting because my great grandfather, G.F. Schmidt, was in charge of compiling that 1880 census.  Emma had some other siblings by then.

Emma Ruehling 1880 census Brazeau Township MO
1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Because we cannot see the 1890 census, the next one in which we see Emma came after she was married.  However, before we return to Emma, let’s take a look at her future husband, Theodore Koenig, who was born on December 18, 1866.  His parents were Herman and Mary (Jacob) Koenig, and he was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar.

Theodore is found living in the Salem Township in the 1880 census.  His parents were shown on the previous page, which I have not displayed.

Theodore Koenig 1880 census Salem Township MO
1880 census – Salem Township, MO

Theodore Koenig married Louise Popp in 1893.  That wedding took place at the Friedenberg congregation.  Here is their marriage license.

Koenig Popp marriage license
Koenig/Popp marriage license

This couple had two children.  The second one was born in 1896, and Louise died in 1896.  My first thought was that her death was associated with childbirth, but that was not the case.  Her death occurred several months later, and her death record in the Salem church books say she died of malaria.  The bottom line, however, is that Theodore was now a widower with two young children, one of them a baby.  He needed help.

Theodore’s mother probably helped as much as she could, but in August of 1897, she, too, died.  Her death was caused by typhoid.

It was on August 24, 1898 that Theodore married Emma Ruehling at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Below is that marriage license.

Koenig Ruehling marriage license
Koenig/Ruehling marriage license

Emma became an “instant mother”, taking over the raising of Theodore’s two children.  Theodore and Emma would have a set of twin girls in 1899, but both of them died right away.  I might add here that Theodore also had a set of twin brothers born into his Koenig family.  The 1900 census for Salem Township is the one that is so hard to read.  I will not show it.  It does indicate that the household consisted of Theodore, Emma, and Theodore’s two children.  After the turn of the 20th century, Theodore and Emma had three more children.  We see five children in the Koenig household in 1910.

Theodore Koenig 1910 census Salem Township MO
1910 census – Salem Township, MO

Theodore was a farmer in the area near Farrar and Crosstown.  We see his property on this 1915 map.  His farm was also not far from the Mississippi River.

Theodore Koenig land map 1915
Theodore Koenig land map – 1915

The last census in which we see Emma was the one taken in 1930.  We see that entry below.  Two single sons in their 20’s were still living in that household.

Theodore Koenig 1930 census Salem Farrar MO
1930 census – Salem Township, MO

Emma died in 1937 at the age of 67.  We have her death certificate.

Emma Koenig death certificate
Emma Koenig death certificate

In the 1940 census, we see Theodore living in the household of his son, Reinhold.

Theodore Koenig 1940 census Salem Township MO
1940 census – Salem Township, MO

Theodore died in 1944 at the age of 77.  Here is his death certificate.

Theodore Koenig death certificate
Theodore Koenig death certificate

Both Theodore and Emma are buried in the Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Farrar.

When Theodore needed a mother for his children, Emma stepped up to the plate and went to bat for him.  I have seen so many stories like this from East Perry County’s past because of so many deaths that occurred back in those days.  We cannot go back to find out if these kinds of marriages were because of “love”, but these marriages were likely also marriages of necessity.


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