A Swiss Cook Gets an Ahner

In the last several months, I have told some stories about a branch of the Ahner family with Perry County origins.  One story had to do with a Lutheran pastor who got involved with the establishment of a florist in the St. Louis area titled, A Flower Story for Mother’s Day.  A second story came out of that family in which an Ahner daughter married a Lutheran pastor which was titled, Iben “Ahner”ed.  I will once again tell a story from that family which has a similar theme:  An Ahner daughter marries a Lutheran pastor.

The birthday girl for today is Emma Ahner, who was born on July 13, 1882 in Green Isle, Minnesota.  Her parents were Rev. Gottlob and Elizabeth (John) Ahner.  Rev. Ahner was born and raised in Frohna.  We have an early photograph (not high quality) of some of the Ahner children which includes Emma.  If I have this figured correctly, Emma would be the one in the lower right with the #4.  The photo is said to have been taken in 1888 when Emma would have been about 6  years old.

Children of Rev. Gottlob Ahner

In her childhood, Emma lived in Dayton, Iowa and Boeuff Creek, Missouri.  We never find Emma in any census showing those locations.  The first census in which we find her was the one in 1900 where we find this interesting situation in the city of St. Louis.

Mary Ahner 1900 census St. Louis MO
1900 census – St. Louis, MO

Emma was one of 4 sisters who were living with their brother, Adolph, who was a farmer.  It lists them all as being born in Minnesota.  Emma was 17 years old at that time.

In the same 1900 census for St. Louis, we find Emma’s future husband, Walter Cook.  He was a student at Concordia Seminary, studying to be a Lutheran pastor.  This census entry, along with other subsequent ones, state that Walter was born in Switzerland.

Walter Cook 1900 census St. Louis MO
1900 census – St. Louis, MO

Also going to Concordia Seminary at that time were a few Perry County boys, Martin Weinhold and Adolph Vogel.

In 1902, we find Rev. Walter Cook serving Salem Lutheran Church in Springdale, Arkansas.  That congregation has a special place in my heart because it was the last place that I served before retiring as a Lutheran educator in 2010.  It is in Springdale that we also find an interesting connection between Rev. Cook and his future bride, Emma Ahner.  In 1902, Emma’s grandfather, Rev. F.W. John died in Benton County, Arkansas, about 25 miles from the church in Springdale.  Rev. John was a member of Salem Lutheran Church where Rev. Cook was serving.  Rev. Cook was known to have traveled often to visit the ailing, elderly Rev. John to share God’s Word and Holy Communion with him.  It was a 50 mile round trip by horseback or pony cart.  In 1902, Rev. John died and was buried in the Salem Lutheran Cemetery.  His funeral service was conducted by Rev. Cook.  Rev. John’s Findagrave.com entry shows this story.

Rev. F.W. John story Springdale AR

Here is Rev. F.W. John’s gravestone.

Rev. F.W. John Salem Springdale AR
Rev. F.W. John gravestone – Salem, Springdale, AR

As I see it, there are two ways that Emma and Walter may have became acquainted.  First, they may have met in St. Louis when Walter was a student at Concordia Seminary.  After, all, Emma’s sister met her husband, Rev. Iben that way.  Second, these two may have become acquainted if Emma attended the funeral of her grandfather in Springdale.  It possibly could have been a combination of both of these coincidences.  Regardless, it was on February 22, 1903 that Rev. Walter Cook married Emma Ahner in Franklin County, Missouri where her father was the pastor.  We have this marriage license.  It indicates that Walter was from Spring Dale, Arkansas.

Cook Ahner marriage license Franklin County MO
Cook/Ahner marriage license

Apparently, this couple lived in Springdale for a couple years after they were married.  Their first son was born there in 1904.  His name was Martin Luther Cook.  We also see evidence that Rev. Cook spent a little time in Oklahoma before we find his family in a census.

The first census in which we see this couple, the one taken in 1910, they are no longer in Springdale.  We find them living in Logan Township in Lincoln County, Kansas.  Lincoln County, Kansas is the same county in which we find Sylvan Grove, where so many Perry County natives ended up.  If you look at their second child, Dorothy, it says she was born in Oklahoma.

Walter Cook 1910 census Logan Township KS
1910 census – Logan Township, KS

When Walter had his World War I draft registration form filled out in 1918, he was living in Independence, Kansas, and he was not a preacher.  He was working for Baden Mercantile Company as a clerk.

Walter Cook – WWI draft registration

The 1920 census shows Walter and Emma still living in Independence.  Walter is said to be a laborer for Baden wholesale.

Walter Cook 1920 census Independence KS
1920 census – Independence, KS

In a 1925 Kansas census, we find Walter and his family living in Union Township in Clay County, Kansas where he is once again called a reverend.

Walter Cook 1925 Kansas census Union Township KS

In 1930, we find his family living in Union Township in Webster County, Missouri where Walter was a minister.  That location is near Springfield, Missouri.

Walter Cook 1930 census Union Township Webster County MO
1930 census – Union Township, Webster County, MO

The last census in which we find this family is the one taken in 1940.  They were still living in the same location.  According to an Ahner family binder that we have in our research library, the son, Earl, listed in this census and the one above, was adopted.

Walter Cook 1940 census Union Township Webster County MO
1940 census – Union Township, Webster County, MO

Rev. Walter Cook died in St. Louis in 1965 at the age of 82.  According to his death certificate shown below, he was living at the Lutheran Altenheim when he died.

Walter Cook death certificate
Walter Cook death certificate

Emma Cook lived till she was just beyond her 100th birthday.  She died in 1982 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.   A party was held on her 100th birthday, and the following article was published concerning it.

Emma Cook 100th birthday party article

The wonderful Ahner family binder that we have in our research library was dedicated to her and was produced at about the time of her 100th birthday.  A page found inside that binder states the following:

Dedication to Emma Ahner Cooik in Ahner family binder


I want to mention just one more story about this family.  The first son mentioned earlier, Martin Luther Cook, became a Lutheran chaplain in the military and served our country during World War II.  Not long after that war, while still serving in the military, he was killed in a plane crash over Japan in 1947.  Below is an application for burial in a national cemetery in Leavenworth, Kansas.


Here is his gravestone in that cemetery.

Martin Luther Cook gravestone Leavenworth National Cemetery
Martin Luther Cook gravestone – Leavenworth National Cemetery

Here is a photo of Martin Luther with his wife, Ruth (Nestler) Cook.

Martin Luther and Ruth Cook

As I looked through the Ahner family book, three things stood out to me.  First, there were quite a few members of this family who were involved in Lutheran ministry.  Second, a rather large number of both men and women in this family served in the military.  And third, quite a few descendants had occupations in the medical field.  It is a rather impressive family.





3 thoughts on “A Swiss Cook Gets an Ahner

  1. Martin and Ruth were my grandparents and their son, David, my father. Martin and Ruth’s son, Richard, also was a Lutheran pastor in Flagstaff AZ

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is amazing. Thank you for writing this. Martin and Ruth were my grandparents. I never knew much about my Grandfathers side of the family. This makes me so happy.


  3. The photo you have of the children are of Emma Ahner’s cousins from her uncle Gotthold (Gottlob’s brother) and aunt Paulina. One of the cousins was also named Emma.


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