Ted and Thekla at Two Trinity’s

Theodore Wachter was born on September 27, 1886 so today would have been his 133rd birthday.  He was the son of Wilhelm and Ernestine (Bodenschatz) Wachter and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Here is his baptism record.

Theodore Wachter baptism record Trinity Altenburg MO
Theodore Wachter baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

When Theodore was rather young, he was included in a Wachter family photo taken in front of that family’s home.  Theodore is said to be the boy standing in the front on the left.

William Wachter homestead
Wilhelm Wachter family photo

We find Theodore in the 1900 census for Brazeau Township at the age of 13.

Theodore Wachter 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Right before his marriage during the same year, we find Theodore living in the Shawnee Township of Cape Girardeau County, just across the Apple Creek from where he had grown up.  His older sister, Tillie, was living with him as well as hired man by the name of Martin Eggers.  I can imagine that a young bachelor could use a hired hand to help with the farming and a sister to help with housekeeping.

Theodore Wachter 1910 census Shawnee Township MO
1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Now, let’s look at the beginning years of Theodore’s future wife, Thekla Degenhardt.  Thekla was born on January 4, 1883 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Missouri.  She was the daughter of August and Bertha (Engert) Degenhardt who lived in the Seelitz area.  Below is her baptism record in two images.

Thekla Degenhardt baptism record Immanuel Altenburg MO

Thekla Degenhardt baptism record 2 Immanuel Altenburg MO
Thekla Degenhardt baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

I find it interesting that Thekla was confirmed at Trinity, Altenburg.  We see her confirmation record below.  Her birth year is shown as 1882, but I think that is a mistake.

Thekla Degenhardt confirmation record Trinity Altenburg MO
Thekla Degenhardt confirmation record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

What I find interesting is that all of Thekla’s siblings, including some after her, were confirmed at Immanuel, Altenburg.  Why would Thekla be the only child in that family confirmed at Trinity?

We find Thekla in the 1900 census for Brazeau Township at the age of 17.  Her mother had died in 1892.  Thekla was likely the housekeeper for her father.

Thekla Degenhardt 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Ten years later, we find Thekla still living with her father at the age of 27.

Thekla Degenhardt 1910 census Brazeau Township MO
1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

According to the date listed on the form, this census was submitted 13 days before Theodore and Thekla were married.  They were united in marriage on May 16, 1910.  We have their marriage license.

Wachter Degenhardt marriage license
Wachter/Degenhardt marriage license

These two were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Here is the marriage record from that congregation.  I included the marriage record of Thekla’s brother, August, who was married a month later at Trinity.

Wachter Degenhardt marriage record Trinity Altenburg MO
Wachter/Degenhardt marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

In 1917, Theodore had his World War I draft registration completed.  It states that he and his family were living in Shawneetown.

Theodore Wachter – WWI draft registration

The first census in which we find this couple was the one taken in 1920.  There was one more child on the next page of the census that I did not show.  Also, their last child was born later in 1920, making a total of 5 children.

Theodore Wachter 1920 census Shawnee Township MO
1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The first two children in this family were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells, Missouri, but after that all the future records for them can be found in the Trinity Lutheran books in Shawneetown.  I am skipping the 1930 census, but the 1940 census is interesting.  Their daughter, Bertha, had married Leo Fiedler, and that couple had 2 children, but in late 1939, Bertha died.  The rest of the Fiedler’s were living in the Wachter household in 1940.

Theodore Wachter 1940 census Shawnee Township MO
1940 census – Shawnee Township, MO

At some point, a family photo was taken of Theodore’s Wachter family.  Theodore is sitting the front on the left.

Wilhelm Wachter family
Wilhelm Wachter family photo

Thekla died in 1956 at the age of 73.  Here is her death certificate.

Thekla Wachter death certificate
Thekla Wachter death certificate

Theodore died in 1967 at the age of 80.  We also have his death certificate.

Theodore Wachter death certificate
Theodore Wachter death certificate

Both Theodore and Thekla are buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Shawneetown, Missouri.


Theodore and Thekla spent their childhoods north of the Apple Creek in Perry County.  Once they were married, the rest of their lives were spent just south of the Apple Creek in Cape Girardeau County.  Theodore and Thekla spent all or part of their early lives attending Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Then they spent much of the rest of their lives as members of another Trinity, the one in Shawneetown.



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