In a recent post, Mary and Joseph of the Oehlert Clan, we learned that Mary Gruenwald married Joseph Oehlert. One of today’s characters will be Mary’s sister, Mathilda Gruenwald. We tell her story today because she married today’s birthday boy, Henry Degenhardt. Mary (Gruenwald) Oehlert was married in 1894. It would be 11 years later that Mathilda (Tillie) Gruenwald would marry a neighbor of her sister. Check out this 1915 map of the area known as Seelitz. You can see that Mary’s husband, Joseph Oehert, had property right next to several parcels of land owned by Henry Degenhardt’s father, August.
When I write stories for this blog, I often wonder how a bride and groom manage to find one another. You cannot find answers in the types of documents that are available to me. Census records and church records do not include such information. Every once in a while, I get to talk to a family member who knows how a couple managed to find each other, or I might find a story that has been written down somewhere, but those occasions are rather rare. However, I like to speculate how a couple got together. In the case of Tillie Gruenwald and Henry Degenhardt, it looks to me like these two might have had occasion to get to know one another when the Gruenwald family went to visit the Oehlerts in Seelitz. Our museum researcher, Lynn Degenhardt, has told me several times over the years about how the folks living in Seelitz often gathered on the occasion of a neighbor’s birthday. No invitations were made. People just showed up at their neighbors’ homes when there was a birthday, and they celebrated. I can just imagine Henry Degenhardt’s family doing such a thing when one of the Oehlert’s had a birthday. On such an occasion, Mary’s sister, Tillie may have been part of those gatherings. I think there must have been a connection between the Oehlert’s and the Gruenwald’s which brought a Degenhardt and a Gruenwald to the altar for marriage.
Let’s go back and look at the early histories of Henry and Tillie. First, we will take a look at Tillie. She was the daughter of Charles and Johanna (Schmidt) Gruenwald. She was born on July 3, 1884 and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below is her baptism record.
When someone was born in the 1880’s, we do not find them in a census until the one taken in 1900. We find Tillie living with her family during that year at the age of 15. Keep in mind that Tillie’s sister had been married before this census.
The location of the Gruenwald farm has been published before on this blog, but I will show it again. This farmland would later be the home of Henry and Tillie.
Henry Degenhardt was the son of August and Bertha (Engert) Degenhardt. He was born on this day, September 10th in 1880. Because he was born toward the end of the year, Henry did not make it into the 1880 census. Henry was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Here is his baptism record.
Henry can be found in the 1900 census where he was living with his father and sister. His mother, Bertha, had died in 1892.
That leads us up to the marriage of Henry Degenhardt and Mathilde Gruenwald on June 11, 1905. Old-timers around here may have called this a mixed marriage….a marriage between a member of Immanuel and a member of Trinity. This wedding took place at Trinity, Altenburg. Below is their marriage license.
We also have the church record for this wedding.
The first census in which we find this couple was the one taken in 1910. We find them living in the household of Tillie’s parents. Henry Degenhardt was a farmer. This gives evidence that Henry would farm the land once owned by the Gruenwald family. By 1910, one son had been born to this family.
Henry had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918.
This couple had 6 children, one of which died rather early. We find them once again in the 1920 census. Tillie’s mother was still living with them.
I’m going to skip to the 1940 census. It shows Henry and Tillie living near the family of Joseph Gruenwald’s son. Joseph was Tillie’s brother.
One last document you find for Henry was his World War II draft card. He was 62 years old at the time.
Henry died in 1948; Tillie died in 1956. I did manage to find Henry’s obituary.
Henry and Mathilda are both buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.
Every day I find out new facts about the history of families in East Perry County. Today’s research enabled that again. However my advancing age is making it harder and harder for me to remember these newly discovered facts. Don’t ask me about them next month. I won’t remember.