The Hunt for Leo

Leo Wunderlich was born on January 12, 1888, so he would have been 132 years old today.  Leo was the son of Bernhard and Julia (Kasten) Wunderlich who lived in Shawnee Township of northern Cape Girardeau County when Leo was born.  Leo was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells, Missouri.  Below is an image of Leo’s baptism record.

Leo Wunderlich baptism record Immanuel New Wells MO
Leo Wunderlich baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Leo is seen in the 1900 census for Shawnee Township.  He was 12 years old.  Our German Family Tree says that there were 13 children born into this Wunderlich family.  Leo was the second-born.

Leo Wunderlich 1900 census Shawnee Township MO
1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

When the time for the 1910 census came around, Leo was renting a farm in Shawnee Township.  It looks like the land he farmed was owned by 65 year-old Josephine Putz who was living with her grandchild, Ida Putz.

Leo Wunderlich 1910 census Shawnee Township MO
1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Now let’s move to Leo’s future wife.  Her name was Lydia Hunt, the daughter of George and Martha Magdalena (Ruehling) Hunt.  I ran across photos of both of Lydia’s parents.

You might think that the surname, Hunt, does not sound very German, but I looked back in the family history of George Hunt, and his ancestors were from the Baden area of Germany, and that name may possibly have been spelled Hund at one time.  Lydia Hunt was born on May 30, 1893 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Below is her baptism record in two images.

Lydia Hunt baptism record 1 Immanuel Altenburg MO

Lydia Hunt baptism record 2 Immanuel Altenburg MO
Lydia Hunt baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Lydia can be found in the 1900 census for Brazeau Township where her father was a farmer.  Our German Family Tree includes 11 children in this Hunt family, and Lydia was the second-born child.

Lydia Hunt 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find Lydia living in the same household in the 1910 census.

Lydia Hunt 1910 census Brazeau Township MO
1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The George Hunt land can be seen on this 1915 map.  You can see that the Hunt family did not live far from the Shawnee Township just across the Apple Creek.

George C Hunt land map 1915
Geo C Hunt land map – 1915

On May 11, 1914, Leo Wunderlich married Lydia Hunt.  Below is their marriage license.  I do not know why this is the case, but, based on the name of the pastor on this form, it looks like they got married at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jackson, Missouri.

Wunderlich Hunt marriage license
Wunderlich/Hunt marriage license

The first two children in this Wunderlich family were baptized at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas, Missouri.  However, when Leo had his World War I draft registration completed in 1917, he was living and working in Longtown, Missouri.

Leo Wunderlich – WWI draft registration

The above form states that Leo was working in a garage.  Those were the early days in the era of the automobile, so I suspect Leo was one of the earliest auto mechanics in East Perry County.  His experience in a garage would also be beneficial to his future trade.

The 1920 census shows this family living in Brazeau Township, and Leo had gone back to farming.  I have included Ferdinand Wunderlich’s family in this entry.  Ferdinand was Leo’s older brother, and I am guessing that they may have been farming on the same land.

Leo Wunderlich 1920 census Brazeau Township MO
1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Leo and Lydia had their last child, a daughter, in 1923, and that child was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  We then find this family in the 1930 census, where Leo has a different occupation.  It says he was a truck driver hauling gravel.

Leo Wunderlich 1930 census Brazeau Township MO
1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Leo’s truck driving eventually developed into a trucking business called LW Transfer.  He and other drivers would haul mostly cattle up to the stockyards in St. Louis and haul other supplies from St. Louis back to Perry County.   We find the Leo Wunderlich family in the 1940 census where it says that Leo was the manager of a truck line.

Leo Wunderlich 1940 census Altenburg MO

Leo Wunderlich 1940 census 2 Altenburg MO
1940 census – Altenburg, MO

I have read and been told that Leo and Lydia lived in a house located behind the Altenburg Public School.  The above census included a one year-old girl, Norma Jean Meinz who was described on the census as an adopted daughter.  I know that Lydia’s sister, Theresia, married a Meinz, but I could not find a girl by the name of Norma Meinz in our German Family Tree.  Maybe one of our readers can help me understand that situation.  There was a Floyd Schuessler living in that household also, and he was working as a trucker for Leo’s business.

I also know that Leo’s daughter, Marjella, married Elmer “Foxy” Engert, who also would work for Leo’s trucking business.  In addition, I have also been told that “Poker” Enke was a driver for Leo’s business.

Lydia Wunderlich died in 1961 at the age of 68.  Her death certificate shown below indicates that she had a stroke and fell down the cellar stairs.

Lydia Wunderlich death certificate
Lydia Wunderlich death certificate

Leo Wunderlich died in 1968 at the age of 80.  Only recently were the death certificates for 1968 made available for the public to view.  His death certificate mentions both a fractured hip and cardiac arrest.  He died at Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau.

Leo Wunderlich death certificate
Leo Wunderlich death certificate

Leo and Lydia are buried together in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.

Leo and Lydia Wunderlich gravestone Trinity Altenburg MO
Leo and Lydia Wunderlich gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

I cannot resist including a photo that we have showing Leo Wunderlich along with two Schmidt brothers, Butch and Lebrecht, who were involved in the butchering business in Altenburg.  A story about the Schmidt Butcher Shop was written on this blog titled, Butch and His Sister Move to Altenburg.  The photo shows these three men on a buggy, and the sign on the buggy says “Traveling Thru Arkansas – Will Be Home Soon”.  This must be some sort of clever photo-op.  I cannot imagine they were really making that type of trip using such a conveyance.

Wunderlich & Schmidt ox cart

I will also point out that another story was written on this blog about Leo and Lydia’s only son, Leroy.  That post was titled, Three Consecutive Celebrations.

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