Solving Mysteries with Death Records

We begin today with a birth that took place in Paitzdorf, Germany.  Maria Hemmann, a member of what I call the Hemmann Herd, was born on July 26, 1829.  She was the daughter of J.G. Hemmann and his first wife, Maria Bachmann, so I suppose she may have been named after her mother.  We have some records from the church in Paitzdorf in our museum, but the baptism records do not go as far as 1829, so I could not find her baptism record.  Regardless, she is today’s birthday girl.  We find her in this passenger list for the Hemmann’s on the Johann Georg at the end of 1839 as part of the Gruber Group.

Hemmann passenger list
Hemmann names = Johann Georg passenger list

About nine years after Maria Hemmann arrived in America, her future husband made the voyage here in 1848.  I do not have a passenger list for him, but his marriage record says that is the year that he arrived.  His name was William Brandes, who was the son of Heinrich Brandes.  I do not know his mother’s name.  William was born on October 12, 1823 in Winzlor, Hannover, Germany.

On May 9, 1850, William Brandes married Maria Hemmann at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, Missouri.  We have a civil record for that marriage.

Brandes Hemmann marriage record Perry County MO
Brandes/Hemmann marriage record – Perry County, MO

A church record from Grace Lutheran Church is shown below.  It has to be shown in two images.

Brandes Hemmann marriage record 1 Grace Uniontown MO

Brandes Hemmann marriage record 2 Grace Uniontown MO
Brandes/Hemmann marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

The entry above says (in German) that William was a farmer and carpenter.  We find this family in the 1860 census for Cinque Hommes Township in Perry County.  William is called a carpenter and two children are included.

William Brandes 1860 census Cinque Hommes Township MO
1860 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

I could not find this Brandes family in the 1870 census, but they were found in the 1876 Missouri state census.  However, that document is quite unreadable, so I will not display it.

In 1875, Maria Brandes died, so she was not included in the 1876 Missouri census.  She was buried in the Grace Lutheran Cemetery in Uniontown.

Maria Brandes gravestone Grace Uniontown MO
Maria Brandes gravestone – Grace, Uniontown, MO

This presents the first mystery for today.  The gravestone looks like the death date for Maria was July 7, 1875.  However, if you look at the death record in the Grace, Uniontown church books, it says she died on July 26, 1875….her birthday.

Maria Brandes death record Grace Uniontown MO
Maria Brandes death reccord – Grace, Uniontown, MO

You would think that if Maria died on her birthday, she would be exactly a certain number of years old when she died.  The above record says she was so many years, so many months, and so many days old.  And even then, it looks like it says she was 44 years old, which doesn’t make sense if she was born in 1829 and died in 1875.  In this case, I think the death record causes a mystery instead of solving one.

On April 26, 1877, William married again.  His second wife was Katherine (Jungclaus) Mueller, whose first husband, Gottfried Mueller (who was a saddler), had died in 1870.  That marriage took place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Here is that church record.

Brandes Mueller marriage record Trinity Altenburg MO
Brandes/Mueller marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

When we get to the 1880 census, we run into a recurring issue regarding some long-missing records that have only recently been found.  Union Township was formed not long before 1880, so the household had not moved.  They were just living in a newly-designated township.  Here is the Brandes family in the Union Township census for 1880.

William Brandes 1880 census Union Township MO
1880 census – Union Township, MO

This census entry presents a very interesting situation.  In addition to this household including several of William’s children, his new wife, Katherine brings one of her children into the household.  His name was Martin Mueller, and he would later marry Elise Brandes, his step-sister who was also living in the same house in 1880.  I also find it interesting that Martin, whose father was a saddler and his step-father was a carpenter and farmer, would later establish the Mueller Hardware Store in Altenburg.

A land map produced in 1915 shows some land in the Brandes name that I think was the land farmed by William.  It is not far from the land that I figure was farmed by J.G. Hemmann, Maria’s father.

B H Brandes land map 1915
Brandes land map – 1915

The next census in which we find William and Katherine was the one taken in 1900.   They were living with one of William’s sons, Conrad, and his family.

William Brandes 1900 census Union Township MO
1900 census – Union Township, MO

Toward the end of their lives, William and Katherine must have moved to Altenburg to live with their daughter/step-daughter, Elise Mueller.  By that time, Martin Mueller had died (in 1908).

William Brandes 1910 census Brazeau Township MO
1910 census – Altenburg, MO

It was in 1911 that both William and Katharine Brandes died.  Katharine was the first to die.  She died on March 9th.  Here is her death certificate.

Katherine Brandes death certificate
Katherine Brandes death certificate

We also have the death record shown below from the Trinity, Altenburg books.

Kathreine Brandes death record Trinity Altenburg MO
Katherine Brandes death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

I included the entry below Katherine’s for Gustav Schroeder on purpose.  You will find out why soon.

All indications point to the fact that Katherine was buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.  However, if you go to, you will not find a record for her being buried there.  We have another mystery.

It was not long until William also died.  He died on July 19, 1911.  Below is his death certificate.

William Brandes death certificate
William Brandes death certificate

We also have his death record from Trinity.

William Brandes death record Trinity Altenburg MO
William Brandes death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Once again, one would expect William to be buried in the Trinity, Altenburg cemetery, but once again, he is not to be found on  Yet another mystery.

I must admit that my first thought was that this was another case where people were buried in this cemetery and did not get marked with a gravestone.  I knew there was only one way to check this out.  So off to the cemetery I went this morning.

Before I tell you what I found, let me tell you what I was looking for.  If you look at Katherine’s death record above, she is listed as death #3, even though the one for Gustav Schroeder beneath her record is said to be #1.  These were not recorded in chronological order.  Next, you can see that William was death #9 for 1911.  Upon further looking, I discovered that death #2, as well as all the deaths from #4-#8, were the deaths of young children, and they are buried in another location in the cemetery.  So then it follows that since people in our cemetery are usually buried in the order that they die, I should be looking for a gravestone after the one for Gustav Schroeder.  Then both Katherine and William should be next in line.  Would there be an empty spot, or even two empty spots when I got there?

Here is what I found.  Below is a gravestone that definitely says Brandes on it.

William and Katherine Brandes gravestone Trinity Altenburg MO
Brandes gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

However, I could not find any first name or death date on this stone.

Next to this stone, you can see the one for Gustav Schroeder.  It does look like there is some extra space between these two markers.

Brandes gravestone and nearby stones
Brandes gravestone (left) and Schroeder gravestone (right)

I was still puzzled after checking out other nearby gravestones and was about to give up.  I had found a Brandes gravestone, but not two of them.  Then I got distracted.  I noticed that a sunflower had been planted on the edge of the cemetery, and it was blooming.  I decided to go over and take a photo.  I thought it was kind of nice that a live flower was blooming in a cemetery.

Sunflower in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery Altenburg

Then I strolled back to the Brandes gravestone to take one more look.  When I walked by the side of that stone once again, the answer to the mystery was staring at me.  On the side of the Brandes gravestone, I found the following inscription.

William Brandes gravestone side Trinity Altenburg MO
William Brandes inscription on side of stone

It says that William Brandes was born on October 12, 1823 and died on July 19, 1911.  I had seen a few of these types of gravestones in the past, so I knew that it was likely that I would find Katherine’s information on the other side.  However, the other side was unreadable, although I am confident that it once displayed an inscription concerning Katherine’s birth and death dates.

Katherine Brandes gravestone side Trinity Altenburg MO
Katherine Brandes side of stone

A stone like this is placed where two people are buried, and it would require a little extra space for two bodies to be buried, not just one.  That would explain the extra space between the stones.  Mysteries solved!

I stood for quite a bit of time in front of that Brandes stone without seeing the solution on the side.  My wife will tell you that I am often guilty of having something right in front of my face and yet not seeing it, especially when it’s in the refrigerator.  I guess it’s another one of my curses.  In this case, it was a good thing that sunflower got my attention, so that I would later attack the mystery from another direction.  Maybe it was an act of God.

One more thing:  Maybe our friend, “Miss Findagrave” Diane Anderson, can remedy the missing Brandes pair on the website for us.  I hereby give her permission to use any photos in this post for those purposes.





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