Yesterday, I told the story of a Gotthold who was born 150 years ago. Today, you will be told the story of another Gotthold. This one today was born 170 years ago. Gotthold Heinrich Ahner was born on February 21, 1850, the son of August and Johanna Maria (Groban) Ahner. He was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri. Below is his baptism record from Concordia.
Gotthold shows up in the 1860 census as a 9 year-old. His father was a farmer.
We find Gotthold once again in the 1870 census. He is called Henry in this entry, and he was 20 years old. This is the last census in which we find him living in Perry County, Missouri.
Gotthold’s wife would be Ernestine Pauline Hecht, the daughter of Wilhelm and Wilhelmina (Weber) Hecht. She was born on April 10, 1856 and baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, Missouri. Here is her baptism record from that church.
In the 1860 census, she is called Ernestine, but most of her life she was called Pauline. One other Hecht child was born before Pauline, but that child died as an infant, so for all practical purposes, Pauline was the eldest child in that family. This census entry extends over two pages.
Ten years later, we find Pauline in the 1870 census. She was 14 years old.
That leads us up to the marriage of Gotthold Ahner and Pauline Hecht which took place on November 22, 1873. This marriage took place at a time when Rev. J.F. Koestering was pastor of both Trinity, Altenburg and Concordia, Frohna. He was also the pastor at a time in the church records when marriage and death records are not found. As said so often before, this is what we call the “Koestering Hole”. We do have a civil record for this marriage, and it says Rev. J.F. Koestering officiated the wedding. Since Gotthold was a member of Concordia, the likelihood is that this wedding took place at Concordia.
The above record is the last document showing Gotthold and Pauline in Perry County. When this couple had their first child in 1876, the baby was born in Nebraska. According to a later census record, their first two children were born in Nebraska, but that is very debatable. Family histories show that this first child was born in Olive Branch, Nebraska, which is not far from Lincoln. Just a few days ago, I wrote about Rev. Pebler who many years later was the minister in Olive Branch. The Ahner family moved to Kansas before the 1880 census was taken. We find them living in Rawlins County, Kansas in this census entry.
Rawlins County is located in Northwest Kansas, and Gotthold, often called George, was a farmer there. This is the census that states that their second child, Minnie, was born in Nebraska, but all the rest of the censuses for Minnie say she was born in Kansas.
It is at this point that we enter another “hole”. Because the 1890 census was lost in a fire, there is a span of 20 years between the 1880 and 1900 censuses in which we cannot keep track of people’s locations. Add to that the fact that this Ahner couple was outside the realm of our church books from Perry County, and it makes it difficult to determine where they lived during that time period. What I do have are a few family histories on Ancestry.com that tell the story. However, I have to be careful with such histories on Ancestry because I have found so many of them that are inaccurate over the years. In this case, I am going to use one that comes from our friend, Diane Anderson. In her case, I do not know why she has such a detailed history because I don’t know of a connection between her roots and those of this Ahner family. Despite that, here is what I find on her Ancestry.com page for Gotthold and Pauline.
Between 1880 and 1890, several children were born in different counties throughout the state of Kansas. The way I have it figured is that Gotthold either had poor farming experiences or was dissatisfied living in a certain place that led him and his family to move around so often. Then sometime after 1890, this family moved to Oklahoma. In 1893, we find them in Chandler, Oklahoma according to the above list. However, when the 1900 census rolls around, this family was living in Ponca City, Oklahoma. I have included the Parker household right under the Ahner’s because Minnie Parker was one of the daughters of Gotthold and Pauline. Gotthold’s occupation shows “day labor” for this census.
We find the Ahner’s still living in Ponca City for the 1910 census when Gotthold was 60 years old. You cannot see it, but it recorded that Gotthold was back to being a farmer.
When the 1920 census was taken, Gotthold and Pauline were living in Payne County, Oklahoma, which is where the city of Stillwater is located. Not far underneath their census entry, you will find the household of Willie Ahner, who was their youngest child.
Gotthold Ahner died in 1926 at the age of 76; Pauline died in 1931 at the age of 75. They are both buried in the Fairlawn Cemetery in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Gotthold’s gravestone shows plenty of grass growing around it. There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t let the grass grow under your feet.” That phrase is often used to say that when someone is presented with a new opportunity, they are willing to move to take advantage of it. I have come to the conclusion that Gotthold and his wife, Pauline, Ahner may have the most grass they ever experienced showing up under their tombstone. They certainly moved around a lot.