Oregon’s Oetjen Cousins – Part 1

I began looking at a February 24th birthday today, thinking it might be worth a post.  For a while, I was not convinced I could find enough for a story.  However, as time went by, I eventually decided it was not worth a story; it was worth two stories.  So today you will get the first of two posts about a family with the surname, Oetjen.  I have seen this surname before.  When I have looked at it, I have been guilty of first seeing a different surname, Detjen.  Looking closer, I realized I was looking at a whole new surname which began with the letter “O”, not “D”.  The Oetjen surname originates in the Jackson County, Illinois area, and that name can be first found in the books of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois.

The big reason that this story developed into one that will require two days to tell is that I discovered an Oetjen family binder in our research library.  It was full of information and photos, but it was written entirely in German.  I wish I could read it all, but I gleaned what I could from it, and it was plenty.

Oetjen family binder
Oetjen family binder

Heinrich and Margaretha (Luedemann) Oetjen of Ostervesede, Germany, had three children who came to America, two men and a woman.  Today, we will look at a son that was born to one of the boys, Friedrich Oetjen.  Friedrich was married twice.  His first wife was Anna Rathjen; his second wife was Margaretha Dreyer.  The first child born to Friedrich died right away.  Today’s birthday boy was the next child born to Friedrich and his first wife, Anna.  Heinrich Joachim Oetjen was born on February 24, 1886 and baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois.

Henry Oetjen baptism record Christ Jacob IL
Heinrich Oetjen baptism record – Christ, Jacob, IL

I do not have a photo of both of Henry’s parents, but I do have this photo of his father with his second wife, Margaretha.

Friedrich and Frieda Dreyer Oetjen
Friedrich and Margaretha Oetjen

I also have this photo of the Oetjen house located in Jacob, Illinois with some family members shown in front.  Since only two children came from Henry’s mother, Anna, the woman in this photo must also be Margaretha because we see four children.  I figure Henry must be one of the older boys in the photo.

Friedrich Oetjen home Jacob IL

The only census in which we find Henry living in Jackson County, Illinois is the one taken in 1900.  He was 14 years old.

Henry Oetjen 1900 census Fountain Bluff Township IL
1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

A 1906 record of communicants in the Christ Lutheran Church books states that Henry was given a release to Oregon in that year.  All of the documents we see for Henry from that time until his death indicate he was living in Corvallis, Oregon.  On October 10, 1907, Henry married Anna Viola Leder in Oregon.  We have a transcription of their marriage record from that state.

Oetjen Leder marriage record Oregon
Oetjen/Leder marriage record – Oregon

Anna Leder was born on February 13, 1889.  She was the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Mollet) Leder.  I do not have any documentation, but some family histories on Ancestry.com say that Anna was born in Ulm, Arkansas.  A few previous posts have described people with Perry County roots who lived in that small Arkansas community, but the Leder family has none of those connections, although they did spend some time in Illinois.

Henry and Anna would have 7 children.  Two were boys and five were girls.  The first two children were born by the time the 1910 census was taken.  Henry’s occupation is simply stated that he was a “laborer on street”.

Henry Oetjen 1910 census Corvallis OR
1910 census – Corvallis, OR

Henry had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918.  It is difficult to read, but it says he was working for the railroad.

Henry Oetjen – WWI draft registration

Three additional children were born before the 1920 census.  This document, like the WWI draft registration, states that Henry worked for the railroad.

Henry Oetjen 1920 census Corvallis OR
1920 census – Corvallis, OR

The last two children, both girls, were born in the 1920’s.  Below is what the Oetjen household looked like in the 1930 census.  Henry had changed occupations.  This time it says he was a fireman for a sawmill.  A fireman would be the person in charge of keeping the engines operating.

Henry Oetjen 1930 census 1 Corvallis OR

Henry Oetjen 1930 census 2 Corvallis OR
1930 census – Corvallis, OR

One more census can be viewed.  The 1940 census shows Henry once again as a sawmill fireman.  One of his daughters, Wilma Oetjen, was a waitress at a tea room.

Henry Oetjen 1940 census Corvallis OR
1940 census – Corvallis, OR

Thanks to the Oetjen family binder, we have several photos that pertain to this Henry Oetjen family, including photos of all of their children.  I am going to include these photos in a thumbnail gallery.  They can all be clicked to enlarge.  The first 7 photos show the children of Henry and Anna in the order of their birth.

Anna Viola Oetjen died in 1963 at the age of 74; Henry Oetjen died in 1968 at the age of 82.  They are both buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Corvallis, Oregon, indicating this couple remained Lutherans until their deaths.

The reason I have to spend another day telling this Oetjen story is the fact that I have now found at least 3 of Henry’s cousins also buried in this same cemetery in Corvallis.  Tomorrow, I will attempt to tell the stories of those cousins.



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