I have been honored to write for this blog. However, that is not why I have composed the above title. Instead, there was once a Lutheran pastor who could have said after his wedding, “I have been “Ahner”ed.” (The surname Ahner is pronounced the same as the word “honor”.) And since his surname was Iben, we could rewrite that quote as “Iben “Ahner”ed.”
Mary Ahner is today’s birthday girl. She was not born in Perry County like so many blog characters have, not did I find any evidence that Mary ever spent time in Perry County. However, she does have roots here, so I figure she is fair game for this blog.
Regular readers of this blog may remember the post written not long ago titled, A Flower Story for Mother’s Day. In that story, Mary’s father, Rev. G.E. Ahner, spent part of his ministry in Green Isle, Minnesota. That is where Mary was born on June 23, 1884. Since she was born after the 1880 census, the first census in which we find her was the one taken in 1900. However, we find her family in the 1880 census for Green Isle just a few years before she was born.
After living with her parents in Dayton, Iowa and Lyon, Missouri, we find her living with her brother, Adolph, and three other sisters in St. Louis in the 1900 census. All of these siblings were single at that time. Her father was still a pastor in Lyon.
Before I discuss Mary’s marriage in 1908, let’s take a look at her future husband’s roots. Theodore Iben was born on July 18, 1883 in Farmington, Missouri. He was the son of Ulfurt and Christiane (Jung) Iben. We find his parents living in Farmington a few years before Theodore’s birth in the 1880 census where it says his father was a minister.
Theodore’s father served as pastor in Farmington, Missouri when the state hospital which served people with mental health issues was about to be built. That institution opened its doors in 1903.
The first census in which we find Theodore was the 1900 census where we find his father as a minister in Omphghent Township Madison County, Illinois.
Theodore went on to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a Lutheran pastor. I do not have any documentation for it, but I assume he attended Concordia Seminary in the early 1900’s while Mary Ahner was also living in St. Louis. I would not find it unusual for a pastor’s son who was studying to become a pastor himself would come into contact with another pastor’s daughter living in the same city.
On May 10, 1908, Rev. Theodore Iben married Mary Ahner in St. Louis. Their marriage license is shown below.
I have enlarged a portion of this license to show that Theodore was from Logan County, Oklahoma. I think the Logan listed on the “County” line is incorrect, however. Enid, Oklahoma is located in Logan Township in Garfield County. A later document shows Theodore as living in Enid. I think Garfield should have been written on the “County” line.
According to a church history for Zion Lutheran Church in Litchfield, Illinois, Rev. Iben became a pastor at that congregation in 1911. It also says he came from Enid, Oklahoma.
Before they left Oklahoma, the 1910 census documents Theodore and Mary living in Logan Township, Oklahoma.
It was while Rev. Iben was in Litchfield that he had his World War I draft registration filled out.
The Iben family was still in Litchfield, Illinois in the 1920 census, but by then, they had four children.
In 1930, this family was living in East St. Louis, Illinois, and Theodore was still a pastor. Living with their family was Theodore’s mother, Christiane, and several lodgers. Theodore’s father had died in 1927.
The last census available to view publicly was the 1940 census which shows similar information as the one in 1930, so I chose not to show it.
Theodore’s World War II draft card was completed in 1942 with the following information. It provides us with the additional fact that it was St. Peter’s Lutheran Church where he was the pastor. We also get confirmation of the fact that Theodore was born in Farmington, Missouri.
A 1956 city directory for Portland, Oregon includes Rev. Theodore and Mary Iben.
Rev. Iben died in 1966 in Portland. I was unable to find a gravesite for him. Mary must have moved to Twin Falls, Idaho after her husband’s death. Their son, Rev. Harold Alfred Iben was a pastor there. According to an Ancestry.com family history, it was in Twin Falls that Mary died in 1986. If that is correct, she lived until she was 102 years old. I was also unable to find a gravesite for Mary.
Theodore Iben had a younger sister named Meta. Meta married Rev. J.H. Deye who was the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim, Missouri from 1925-1947. We find Theodore’s parents living in Friedheim with the Deye family when they died, according to their death certificates. His father, as said before, died in 1927. Later, in 1946, his mother, who must have moved back to Friedheim after living for a while with Theodore and Mary in East St. Louis, died. This adds another fact to the connections of today’s Iben/Ahner couple to the area of Perry and Cape Girardeau Counties.
In closing, let me just say that instead of saying Iben “Ahner”ed, maybe the real case was that it was Ahner who was “Iben”ed. After all, it was Mary who took the Iben name. But that doesn’t sound quite so clever.