John Wichern – Machinist and Mechanic

John Wichern is our birthday boy today.  He was born on February 13, 1893, so he would have been 127 years old today.  John was the son of Henry and Louise (Leible) Wichern, the 4th of 9 children born into that family.  Only 3 of the 9 were boys.  I have written several stories that have come out of the Daniel Wichern family.  Daniel and Henry were brothers, although our German Family Tree does not tie them together.  That may be because when Henry married Louise Leible, it appears he may have become a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Apple Creek, Missouri.  That is where Henry and Louise Wichern are buried.  Here is a photograph of John’s parents.

Louise and Henry Wichern

We have a transcription of John’s baptism record from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

John Wichern baptism record St. Joseph Catholic Apple Creek MO
John Wichern baptism record – St. Joseph’s Catholic, Apple Creek, MO

John can be found in the 1900 census living in the Union Township of Perry County.  He was 6 years old.

John Wichern 1900 census Union Township MO
1900 census – Union Township, MO

It must have been about the time of that census when the photograph below was taken.  It shows father, Henry, with his two oldest sons, Charles and John.  The 3rd son had yet to be born.

Henry Charles and John Wichern

John can be seen in the 1910 census living in the Ignatius Trapp household.  Henry’s mother, Louise, had been married for a short time to Anton Ponder, and that couple had one daughter named Barbara.  About the time that Barbara was born, Anton died, and Louise would later marry Henry Wichern.  Barbara Ponder married Ignatius Trapp, and it was with that family that John was living in 1910.

John Wichern 1910 census Union Township MO
1910 census – Union Township, MO

Below is a photo of Ignatius and Barbara Trapp.

Ignatius Trapp and Barbara Ponder

John had his World War I draft registration completed in 1917.  At that time, he was living in St. Louis and working as a repairman for Curtis Manufacturing Company.  He was still single at the time.  For a while, I wondered if this was the correct John Wichern, but the correct birth date confirmed it in my mind.

John Wichern – WWI draft registration

Here is where there is a little mystery in this story.  I found a John Wichern living in St. Louis in the 1920 census.  He was about the right age and called a machinist in a machine shop, which all makes sense to me.  However, this census says John had a wife named Anna.

John Wichern 1920 census St. Louis MO
1920 census – St. Louis, MO

The entry says John was living with a brother-in-law and sister-in-law with the name Pfenninger.  I looked for a marriage record for John and an Anna Pfenninger that took place before 1920, but I found none.  The only marriage record I could find for John was the one I am about to discuss which took place in Altenburg.

John’s future wife from Perry County was to be Emma Noennig of Altenburg.  Emma was born on September 2, 1897, the daughter of Gottfried and Emma (Kuehnert) Noennig.  Emma was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Below is her baptism record.

Emma Noennig baptism record Trinity Altenburg MO
Emma Noennig baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Emma can first be seen in the 1900 census for Brazeau Township.  She was shown to be 2 years old.

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

When Emma was quite young, she was included in a photograph of the Noennig children.  There are two young girls dressed alike in the picture, and one of them is Emma.  The other is her sister, Amanda who was a little younger.

Gottfried Noennig children on farm

Another photograph was taken of the Gottfried Noennig family in a studio.  Emma is standing to the right of her mother wearing a white dress.

Gottfried Noennig family 1
Gottfried Noennig family

We find Emma again in the 1910 census for Altenburg.

Emma Noennig 1910 census Brazeau Township MO
1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

In the 1920 census, we find Emma in what I refer to as an infamous census entry.  She is living with the Otto Lueders family in Wittenberg as a servant.  However, this entry also shows Joseph Weinhold, and he is shown as being “dead”.  I don’t think I’ve seen another census stating that situation.

Emma Noennig 1920 census Wittenberg MO
1920 census – Wittenberg, MO

That leads us up to the marriage of John Wichern and Emma Noennig which took place on May 27, 1923 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Here is the church record for that wedding.  I have included the marriage shown just above theirs which also took place in 1923.  That was the wedding of Joseph Fiehler and Ida Meyr.  Joseph will show up later in this story.

Wichern Noennig marriage record Trinity Altenburg MO
Wichern/Noennig marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

We also have the marriage license for this couple.

Wichern Noennig marriage license
Wichern/Noennig marriage license

John and Emma had two children, both girls.  Their names were Mary Jane and Velma.  When we look at the 1930 census, we see the following Wichern household.  I included the Joseph Fiehler household above the Wichern’s.  John Wichern was called a salesman for an auto repair shop, and that shop was owned by Joseph Fiehler.

John Wichern 1930 census Brazeau Township MO
1930 census – Altenburg, MO

We have this photo of John Wichern and Joseph Fiehler standing in front of the Altenburg Garage.  The photo is said to have been taken sometime around 1930.

Fiehler Altenburg garage early 1930's
John Wichern(L) and Joseph Fiehler(R) at Altenburg Garage

The 1940 census has the Wichern family still living in Altenburg.  John was still a mechanic at the garage.

John Wichern 1940 census Altenburg MO
1940 census – Altenburg, MO

It was about this time that John moved his family to Perryville.  His World War II draft card filled out in 1942 indicates he was living in Perryville and working at the Frohna Machine Shop that was located there.

John Wichern – WWII draft card

I am going to include a small gallery of photos here which pertain to this Wichern couple.  The thumbnails may be clicked to enlarge them.

John Wichern died in 1971 at the age of 78,  Emma Wichern died in 1998 at the age of 100.  She died on her husband’s birthday, February 13th.  John and Emma are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.

John and Emma Wichern gravestone Immanuel Perryville MO
John and Emma Wichern gravestone – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

I really enjoy writing stories about the Wichern family.  Someone in that family has not only gathered a nice collection of family photos, but has placed nice captions on them.  It makes things so much easier for me.  I wish that was the case for every story I write.  I am a hypocrite, however, because I have not done this with my own family photos.

4 thoughts on “John Wichern – Machinist and Mechanic

  1. Thank you so much for this article. John and Emma were my grandparents. Mary Jane is my mother and lives in the Lutheran home in Cape she is 95 years old. I have some of these pictures but not all. I am so excited to share this with my son who just graduated college with two Automotive degrees. It is in his bloodline.
    Thank you again. Tina Mattes-Medlin


  2. I have been trying to unsubscribe. And it has not worked. Can you please help me? Thank you Rhonda Williams

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. I worked for Mr. Wichern in the Perryville city park the summer of 1955 I believe . At that time he was custodian. He was a great man to work for. His daughter Velma Davis still lives in Perryville, in addition to haer 2 daughters Barb and Sharon Wibbenmeyer.

    Liked by 1 person

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