You will discover today that the life of Elizabeth Amalie Burroughs was a struggle from the beginning to the end. During her life, she could have been called an orphan (or an abandoned child), a foster child, a divorcee, a mother of two sets of twins, and a widow. There is also some indication that she may have had the nickname Lisette, and I choose to use that name for her today.
Lisette was born on April 13, 1856 somewhere in Tennessee. She was the daughter of Robert Samuel and Sarah Jane (Charles) Burroughs. The Burroughs family moved to Gorham, Illinois around the time of the Civil War. In 1863, the father died, supposedly of war wounds, and the mother must have determined that she could not care for her four children. The story is told that she heard that the Germans in the town of Wittenberg across the river in Missouri were known for taking in orphans and unwanted children. So, Sarah Jane brought her 3 boys and 1 girl to Wittenberg, where she left them to be farmed out to local people’s homes. Lisette was the one girl.
This must have taken place sometime around 1864 because the 3 boys all had baptism records for July and August of that year. Lisette’s baptism was handled differently. First of all, let me say that Lisette was taken in by the family of Friedrich and Caroline Neupert of Wittenberg. We find her in the 1870 census. At least I think this is Lisette. The name shown here certainly looks like Elizabeth Burns. The other issue with this record is that it says Elizabeth was born in Missouri.
Just prior to the above census, Lisette was baptized. Her baptism record says she was the foster child of Friedrich Neupert. It also says she made her own statement of faith, not requiring sponsors to answer on her behalf.
A Missouri state census was taken in 1876, and we find an Elizabeth Burns in that record also.
There’s a problem with this document if Elizabeth Burns is indeed Elizabeth Burroughs. On May 20, 1875, Elizabeth Burroughs married Alois Schmidt. We have this civil record for that marriage.
There is also a church record for this marriage. It is from the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.
If Lisette got married in 1875 to a Schmidt, why is she still living with the Neupert’s with the surname Burns (Burroughs) in 1876? The 1880 census offers some answers.
First of all, this time Elizabeth is shown as being a daughter of Friedrich and Caroline Neupert and living in their household. Second, this entry says she was born in Missouri, but her parents were born in Tennessee. Third, the “D” in the box after “Daughter” indicates that she was divorced.
Alois Schmidt would later get married two more times and lived the rest of his life in Jackson County, Illinois not far from where Lisette had spent a short portion of her life. I’m not going to tell the rest of his story…at least not today.
Lisette got married again in 1881. Her second husband was Gottlieb Heinrich Oehlert, the son of Tobias and Christiana (Harnagel) Oehlert. He was the oldest child in his family. I recently wrote about two other siblings in the post, A Pair of Oehlert-Huber Pairs. Also, another sister, Wilhelmine Oehlert, married Dr. Johann Neumueller, who was one of East Perry County’s doctors at one time. Dr. Neumueller’s story was told in the post, Altenburg’s Early Docs. Henry Oehlert married Lisette Burroughs on the day after Christmas, December 26, 1881. They were not married at a church. They were married by a Justice of the Peace. Below is their marriage license. I never found a document that shows Lisette using the married name, Schmidt.
Between 1882 and 1892, Henry and Lisette had 6 children. They were all baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Included in that list were two sets of twins, and both sets of twins were of the boy/girl twin variety. The first two children were part of the first set of twins, and those two, interestingly, both married spouses with the surname Ahrens who were siblings (but not twins). There are a few Perry County birth records I was able to find. I find them interesting. First, here is a birth record for Louise Wilhelmine, their 3rd child.
In the last column, it lists a midwife, and below that it shows the doctor being Dr. Johann Neumueller, Lisette’s brother-in-law. Next, we can take a look at the birth record for the 2nd set of twins, Mary Josephine and Paul Johannes Oehlert.
There is a different midwife this time, but it is still Dr. Neumueller shown as the doctor. Next, we can view the birth record of their last child, Sarah (or is it Sahra) Oehlert.
This time, there is yet another midwife, Magdalena Mueller, with no doctor listed. However, it is interesting that Magdalena Mueller was the daughter of Dr. Ernst Buenger, who had served Altenburg for many years also. Before I move on, let me show a photograph of Lisette that was taken somewhere along the line.
The last child was born toward the end of 1892, and by the time of the 1900 census, we find Lisette called a widow. I was not able to find any death record, but Henry must have died during the interim. I suspect that Henry moved his family to St. Louis during that time because Findagrave.com lists him as being buried in Concordia Cemetery in St. Louis. There is no photo for a gravestone, however. We find the remaining Oehlert’s living in St. Louis in the 1900 census. This entry states that Lisette was born in Tennessee.
The last census in which we find Lisette is the one taken in 1910. It says she was a laundress for a private family. Here we see that unusual spelling of her daughter’s name, Sahra (or Sarhra).
Lisette died in 1911 at the age of 54. We have her death certificate.
She was buried in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in St. Louis, and we do have a photo of her gravestone.
I am always fascinated by the Burroughs family story. It’s a non-German name that ended up in East Perry County because the German Lutherans always seemed to step up to the plate when it came time to assist with a child that was lacking parents. The Burroughs name continues to be found around here, and for me it is a reminder about this area’s legacy of caring for children.