I am taking a little bit of liberty with the German language today. The name Oster could refer to “Easter”, and the name Muench could mean “monk”. Today I tell the story of a marriage between an Oster and a Muench, and thus, the title, Easter Monk. One thing that attracted me to this story was the fact that I don’t think I’ve written a story about someone with the Oster surname on this blog. I always like to work with a new name. In this case, the name is not new to me. I had a classmate from Kindergarten through high school by the name of Carol Oster. I know she has some connections to Perry County, so this added to my curiosity. It turned into a story that I think has some interesting characteristics.
Today would have been the 121st wedding anniversary of Willis Oster and his wife, Louisa Muench. They were married on November 24, 1898. I am going to start with the background of the groom, Willis Oster. Willis was the son of Peter and Martha Luticia (Bollinger) Oster. Right away, the surname, Bollinger, got my attention. An adjacent county is named Bollinger County, and there is a famous Bollinger Mill State Historic Site not far from here. As it turns out, there is a connection.
When I got around to following the Bollinger family back, it took me a while. I eventually got as far in history to a person named Hanai Meister who was born (most likely in Switzerland) in 1470. That’s in the neighborhood of the birth of Martin Luther who was born in 1483. I am going to show the pathway you take to get from Hanai Meister back to Willis Oster. By the way, the surname, Meister, is a name we do find in our German Family Tree, but I’m guessing those Meister’s were from Germany.
With the above name, we see the first individual to be living in America. The family arrived here prior to the American Revolution.
It looks like the Bollinger family was living in Pennsylvania at the time of the Revolutionary War, but was in North Carolina not long afterward. It was from North Carolina that George Frederick Bollinger led a group of about 20 people to Missouri which included three of his brothers. One of those brothers was Daniel Bollinger. It was George Frederick Bollinger who built and operated the famous Bollinger Mill.
It was also George Frederick who later had a county named after him. In fact, he had two counties named after him. Another nearby county is called Fredericktown County. I find it interesting that there was another famous local name included in that group in which the Bollinger’s came. That name was Limbaugh. Let’s move to the next name.
On April 19, 1840, not long after the Stephanites arrived in Perry County, Moses Bollinger married Eliza Kibler in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Here is that marriage record.
This couple’s first child was Martha Luticia Bollinger, the wife of Peter Oster. The Oster family arrived in America in 1853 according to a census record. Peter and Martha Luticia were married in 1862 and began having children. Willis Oster was born on October 23, 1867, only about a week before Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg was dedicating their new church building on Reformation Day. I managed to find a baptism record for Willis from the Whitewater Presbyterian Church which is in Lixville, Missouri. Based on what I see, that church must have just had “Baptism Sundays” on occasion. Many individuals were baptized on April 26, 1868, which was quite a few months after Willis was born.
We find Willis in the 1870 census for Union Township in Bollinger County.
The 1880 census shows this family living in a different township, but still in Bollinger County.
On October 23, 1894, Willis Oster married Katherine Geile. That means he got married on his birthday. Here is a marriage license for that couple.
One child was born to that couple, but it appears that Katherine did not live very long after they were married. Willis was getting married again on today’s date, November 24th, in 1898. His second wife was Louisa Muench. We also have that marriage license.
Louisa Muench was the daughter of Peter and Mary (Hoehn) Muench. Peter Muench had arrived in America in 1871 and had gotten married in 1872. Louisa was born on September 20, 1873. We find her in the 1880 census for Cinque Hommes Township in Perry County.
Willis and Louisa would have five more children. The 1900 census shows this family but it is so hard to read that I will not display it. It is that infamous 1900 census for Salem Township. Here is the 1910 census. One more child would be born after this census.
1913 was a very eventful year for the Oster’s. First, on February 27th, their daughter, Maria, shortly before her 4th birthday, died of diphtheria. Then about two weeks later, the last child in this family, Ruth, was born on March 15th. Finally, their 9 year-old daughter, Clara, died of pneumonia on April 10th. I shudder to think of a mother holding an infant in her arms, attending the funeral of the second of her children to die during just a matter of months.
1920 turned out to be a similar year. On February 3rd, their 20 year-old son, Ernst, died of pneumonia. Just 4 days later, their 13 year-old son, Emanuel, died of the same illness. The death records for these members of the Oster family can be found in the records of Zion Lutheran Church in Crosstown, Missouri.
The 1930 census shows a much smaller family.
Willis and Louisa had an empty nest in 1940.
An Oster pattern repeated itself in 1950. Once again there was a pair of deaths. This time it was the father and mother. Louise died in October at the age of 77. Here is her death certificate.
Willis died in December at the age of 84. We also have his death certificate.
Willis and Louisa are buried together in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Crosstown.
This story sent me down several rabbit holes, but I must say, this time those rabbit holes were interesting enough to include in the story.