From Frohna to Fountain Bluff

Yesterday’s story about a bride and groom from each side of the river, along with today’s story about a family that spent part of their lives on the Missouri side and part of their lives on the Illinois side, have gotten me wondering.  I look back in the history of this area and see so much evidence of movement back and forth across the river from several townships in Perry County, Missouri and the Fountain Bluff Township of Jackson County, Illinois during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  That movement was in large part made possible by ferries that crossed back and forth across the river during those days.  There were two primary ferry locations.  One went back and forth from the Wittenberg Landing to the Grand Tower.  The other went from Star Landing (also called the Holschen Landing) to the Brunkhorst Landing.  The earliest bridge near here, the one in Cape Girardeaus, was not completed until 1928.  The Chester Bridge was not completed until 1942.  Prior to those bridges being built, the ferries were about the only option people had for getting across the river.  I think they must have been more active in transporting people and goods across the river than I can even imagine.  Actually, I think an argument can be made that the construction of the two bridges brought an end to the close relationships between the German Lutherans on both sides of the river that once existed.

I have lived in Perry County for almost ten years, and I have yet to make the trip to Fountain Bluff Township.  I write about it all the time, and I have never been there.  I regret that.  By the way, that should be resolved this coming September, if not sooner, because Gerard Fiehler and I have agreed to speak at a family reunion which will be held at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob.

Now, on to today’s story.  Juliane Emma Bronnenkant was born on January 22, 1870, so today would have been a very special 150th birthday for her.  Most documents call her Julia, so I will too.  She was the daughter of Gabriel and Emma (Moeckel) Bronnenkant and baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri.  Below is her baptism record.

Julia Bronnenkant baptism record Concordia Frohna MO
Julia Bronnenkant baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

Because she was born so early in the year, Julia was included in the 1870 census when she was just a baby.  She was said to be 6/12 years old (6 months).

Julia Bronenkant 1870 census Brazeau Township MO
1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Meanwhile, Julia’s future husband, Gottfried Ross, was born on November 7, 1869, just a matter of months before Julia was born.  Johann Gottfried Ferdinand Ross was the son of Johann and Gertrude (Distle) Ross and also baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.  Here is his baptism record.

Gottfried Ross baptism record Concordia Frohna MO
Gottfried Ross baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO


Now, we have to deal with today’s mystery.  Julia was included in the 1870 census, but Gottfried Ross was not.  I found his family.  It is shown in two images below.

John Ross 1870 census Brazeau Township MO

John Ross 1870 census 2 Brazeau Township MO
1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We see seven children in this Ross household, but for some unknown reason, Gottfried, the youngest, is not to be seen.  Where is he?  The census wasn’t taken until August of 1870.  He should be there.  My best guess is that the census taker just made a mistake.

Here is another interesting, yet somewhat puzzling fact.  Despite the fact that Gottfried was a little older than Julia, she was confirmed in 1883, while Gottfried was confirmed the next year in 1884.  Since they were so close to each other in age, I thought there was a good chance they would have been in the same confirmation class, but they were not.

Let’s move on to the 1880 census.  Julia was easier to find.  Here is the Bronnenkant household.  Julia was 10 years old.

Julia Bronenkant 1880 census Brazeau Township MO
1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Gottfried Ross was a little harder to find because his family was living in Union Township, and that household was found in those lost 1880 Union Township census records that were only recently found and haven’t made their way onto yet.

Gottfried Ross 1880 census Union Township MO
1880 census – Union Township, MO

On September 25, 1892, Gottfried Ross married Julia Bronnenkant at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.  Below is the church record for that marriage.

Ross Bronnenkant marriage record Concordia Frohna MO
Ross/Bronnenkant marriage record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

We also have this couple’s marriage license from Perry County.

Ross Bronnenkant marriage license
Ross/Bronnenkant marriage license

The 1900 and 1910 censuses still had the Ross family living in Perry County.  First, here is the one taken in 1900.  Two children are listed.  There were 3 children born to this family in that decade, but one of them died right away.

Gottfried Ross 1900 census Union Township MO
1900 census – Union Township, MO

One more child was born in 1906, so we see this entry in 1910.

Gottfried Ross 1910 census Union Township MO
1910 census – Union Township, MO

According to Julia’s obituary, which I will display later, the Ross family moved to Fountain Bluff Township in Illinois in 1914.  This was before any bridges were built, so I envision this family, along with their goods, traveling by ferry across the Mississippi River.   We find them living in Fountain Bluff Township in the 1920 census.

Gottfried Ross 1920 census Fountain Bluff Township, IL
1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

That census would be the last one in which Julia shows up.  She died in 1926 at the age of 56.  We have her obituary.

Julia Ross obituary
Julia Ross obituary

Gottfried could still be found in the 1930 and 1940 census records.  Here is the one for 1930.  Gottfried was living with his son, Paul’s, family.

Gottfried Ross 1930 census Fountain Bluff Township, IL
1930 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Next, we find Gottfried in the 1940 census.  This time, he was living with his son-in-law, John Gruebmeyer, and his family.  Gottfried was 70 years old.

Gottfried Ross 1940 census Fountain Bluff Township IL
1940 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Gottfried Ross died in 1947 at the age of 77.  He and Julia were buried at the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

Gottfried and Julia Ross gravestone Christ Jacob IL
Gottfried and Julia Ross gravestone – Christ, Jacob, IL

When I hear the names Ross and Bronnenkant, I think of those names as Perry County, Missouri names.  I was a little surprised to find this Ross family ending up in Illinois.  Before I researched this story, I would not have included the Ross surname as what I might refer to as a “Jacob name”.  But it is.


3 thoughts on “From Frohna to Fountain Bluff

  1. To Warren Schmidt: Regarding Fountain Bluff, when a geology graduate student at SIU-Carbondale in the early 1970s, several of us often drove to the top of Fountain Bluff via a rough road. I encourage you and Gerard to try driving up – you will enjoy this “island” of nature. The access road is off Highway 3. Wikipedia has a nice write-up about Fountain Bluff.


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