Strawberry Fields Forever

“Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields”

The next line of this Beatles song goes, “Nothing is real”.  But today I’m going to take you to Strawberry Fields for real.

“Strawberry Fields forever”

Our story starts out in Altenburg, Missouri, but eventually takes us to the fields of Strawberry.  I do not usually write a story about an infant who is born on a given day that dies in infancy.  After all, that baby does not go on to live a full, eventful life.  However, the baby’s birth which took place on this date was part of a family that drew my interest.  I guess that is because I was a Lutheran teacher, and stories about Lutheran educators get my attention.

Clara Mueller was born on July 16, 1901.  With a name like Mueller, this baby could be connected to any number of Mueller clans in Perry County.  However, in this case, the Mueller’s came from elsewhere and were here only a short time.  Clara’s parents were Paul and Catharine (Gerken) Mueller.  Paul was born and raised in Okawville, Illinois, which is not that far from here in our neighboring state.  We find Paul living in Okawville in the 1880 census.  Paul was 5 years old.

Paul Mueller 1880 census Okawville IL
1880 census – Okawville, IL

His wife, Catharine, was from Pittsburg, Kansas.  Paul and Catherine were married on July 15, 1897 in Pittsburg.  Here is a portion of their marriage license.

Mueller Gerken marriage license
Mueller/Gerken Kansas marriage license

I do not know for sure, but I think since Paul Mueller became a Lutheran teacher, he was teaching in Pittsburg when he met Catharine.  One child, Otto Mueller, was born in Pittsburg before this family moved to Altenburg, Missouri where Paul became a teacher at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  In this photo of some early teachers at Trinity, we find Paul Mueller in the upper right corner.  He succeeded another Teacher Mueller, Ed. Mueller.

Early teachers Trinity Altenburg

Teacher Paul Mueller served Trinity Lutheran School from 1900-1903.  While he was here, two children were born and are included in our German Family Tree.  One of them was Clara, who was born on this date in 1901 and died a day later.  The other was Walter Mueller who was born on August 4, 1903.  We do find Teacher Mueller in the 1900 census for Altenburg before the births which took place here.

Paul Mueller 1900 census Altenburg MO
1900 census – Altenburg, MO

When he left Altenburg, it looks as if he next went to Trinity Lutheran Church near Paola, Kansas.  That would have placed his family much closer to Pittsburg where his wife’s family was located.  We find the Mueller’s in the 1910 census in Valley Township, which is just south of Paola.  The census says Paul was a public school teacher, but I have my doubts about that.  By 1910, another daughter, Selma had been born.

Paul Mueller 1910 census Valley Township Miami County KS
1910 census – Valley Township, Miami County, KS

In 1915, Catharine Mueller died.  I managed to run across her obituary.

Catharine Mueller obituary
Catherine Mueller obituary

As the obituary states, her body was taken to Pittsburg, Kansas where she is buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery.

Catherine Mueller gravestone Zion Pittsburg KS
Catherine Mueller gravestone – Zion, Pittsburg, KS

Sometime after his wife’s death and before 1920, Paul moved to Strawberry, Kansas which is located just west of Linn, Kansas.  Several Perry County characters have passed through or settled in the Linn, Kansas area.  Paul is shown to be widowed on this entry.  There are also a few additional members of Paul’s family listed, including his mother.

Paul Mueller 1920 census Strawberry KS
1920 census – Strawberry Township, KS

I purposely included a portion of this census above the Mueller household.  That is because when Selma Mueller married, her husband was August Beikmann, who is also seen in the Beikmann household on this image.  Paul was the teacher at Immanuel Lutheran Church which was located in the town of Strawberry.  That town is a ghost town now, so when looking for Immanuel Lutheran Church, it is usually described as being outside Linn, Kansas.  Below is what that church looks like now.

Immanuel Lutheran Church Linn KS
Immanuel Lutheran Church – Linn, KS

I guess you could say that you are looking the Strawberry fields when you look at the surrounding area near this church.

The oldest son in the Mueller family, Otto Mueller, became a Lutheran pastor.  Most of his career was spent in Smith County, Kansas, which is not far from the Strawberry fields.  When Otto had his World War I draft registration form filled out, he was a divinity students at St. Paul’s Lutheran College in Concordia, Missouri.

Otto Mueller – WWI draft registration

His father, Paul, had one of these draft registrations filled out.  It is shown below.

Paul Mueller – WWI draft registration

His form says he was a clergyman in rural Linn, Kansas.  I do not think he was a pastor.  I think it was just a term used on forms like this to describe one who was in full-time church work.

I would like to spend a little time discussing Selma Mueller, another daughter of Paul and Catherine Mueller.  As I pointed out earlier, Selma married August Beikmann.  Back in my early days of teaching in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, another nearby Lutheran school had a principal by the name of Ralph Beikmann.  I did some investigation and discovered that Ralph had his roots in the area around Linn, Kansas.  As near as I can tell, Selma’s husband was some sort of cousin to Ralph.  Ralph was an outstanding Lutheran educator and leader who had also spent quite a few years as a missionary in Africa.

In 1920, Paul Mueller married again.  His second wife was Anna Viebrock, whose mother also happened to be a Beikmann.  Four more children were born into this household.  We find them still living in the Strawberry Township in the 1930 census.

Paul Mueller 1920 census Strawberry Township KS
1930 census – Strawberry Township, KS

By the time of the 1940 census, Paul had moved back to one of his old stomping grounds near Paola, Kansas.  He was 65 years, and he was then a farmer.  I guess you could say he left the Strawberry fields to take care of some fields of his own.

Paul Mueller 1940 census Valley Township KS
1940 census – Valley Township, KS

Paul died in 1948 at the age of 72.  He is buried in the Block Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Block, Kansas.  That is where his second wife, Anna, is also buried.

Teacher Paul Mueller spent almost his entire teaching career in the state of Kansas.  However, he spent about 3 years in Altenburg.  Most of his years were spent in the church found in the Strawberry fields.  From what I was able to ascertain, that church in the Strawberry fields was also a place where full-time church workers were bred and raised.  One of them came from the Teacher Mueller that once inhabited Altenburg.

I am going to close by mentioning another person who was involved in the business of Lutheran education.  When I began teaching in Ft. Lauderdale back in the 1970’s, my first principal was Orlyn Schlie.  Orlyn was a wonderful leader and educator, just like his colleague from down the road, Ralph Beikmann.  Orlyn died this past week at the age of 96, and his funeral was held yesterday in Oviedo, Florida.  He and Ralph were outstanding examples for young teachers like me back in those days.  They are now enjoying the fields of heaven forever.

Orlyn Schlie principal


One thought on “Strawberry Fields Forever

  1. Love this post. Maybe because I live in Miami and was interested to hear of your connection to the Ft. Lauderdale school. Maybe because we have a member at Concordia, Miami, by the name of Catherine Mueller (forwarded to her) or because one of our pastors was Rev. David A. Mueller. Also, my sons attended UCF in Oviedo and we’ve attended St. Luke’s several times, and one of our interims, Rev. Harold Storm lived in Luther Haven in Oviedo.


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