I have stated in a previous post that if I find a bicentennial birthday for an ancestor from this area, it must mean that birthday took place in Germany. Not always so. I did not think about the folks who once settled the Shawnee Township of northern Cape Girardeau County. That vicinity was a place where plenty of Austrians made their new homes. Today, I found an Austrian bicentennial birthday.
Josef Kieninger was born on April 16, 1820, so if he was still alive, 200 candles would be required for his birthday cake. There is alternative information that says he could have been born on April 15, but even if it was, it is still worth our while to give Josef the attention today. Josef was the son of Michael and Rosina (Schiffbaenker) Kieninger and born in Gosau, Austria. Below is a map showing the location of his hometown in the Austrian Alps.
In 1852, Joseph (I will use the Americanized spelling of Josef) married Eva Katherina Puz. In America, her surname is mostly spelled Putz. Eva Puz was the daughter of Matthias and Katharina (Pomberger) Puz. She was born on February 2, 1823, also in Gosau, Austria. Three children were born into this Kieninger family before Joseph decided to take them to America in 1858. The Kieninger family landed in Baltimore, Maryland, but we do not know the name of the ship on which they traveled. A passenger list in which we see them is described as being on “various ships” that landed there. That passenger list includes several names of folks that settled in Shawnee Township…Reisenbichler, Putz, and Pilz. It also included Johann, Leopold, and Magdalena Kieninger.
I have not figured out if Leopold and Magdalena were a married couple or a brother and sister. Leopold is found in the 1860 census living in another person’s household as a farm laborer. Magdalena Kieninger died in 1860 and was buried at the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells. That’s all I could find for those two.
We find the Joseph Kieninger family in the 1860 census for Shawnee Township. The Kieninger surname was butchered by the census taker.
It was earlier in 1860 when the first American-born child was baptized at Immanuel, New Wells.
Joseph Kieninger participated in the Civil War during the early 1860’s. I was unable to find his military record in this database for Missouri soldiers using the name Joseph Kieninger.
Soldiers’ Records: War of 1812 – World War I
However, I did find a Joseph Kinsinger, and I think this was the right record for Joseph Kieninger. It says Joseph had 90 days of service.
In 1864, young men had to register for a Civil War draft. We find Joseph on this entry for that registration. It indicates that he had 90 days of service in the E.M.M. (Enrolled Missouri Militia), which gives credence that the above record was indeed Joseph Kieninger’s.
If you would like to read an article about the activities of the 56th E.M.M. during the Civil War, click on the link below.
Next, we find this Kieninger family in the 1870 census. You can see that a few more children were added to their family. The Kieninger’s are documented as having 6 children according to our German Family Tree, but the one born in 1862 does not show up on this census, so he must have died.
The last census in which we see Joseph and Eva was the 1880 census. This entry shows two John Kieninger’s…one who is a nephew.
Eva Kieninger died on the last day of 1881 at the age of 58. She was buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells.
Joseph Kieninger almost made it to the 1900 census. He died in 1898 at the age of 78. Here is his death record from the Immanuel, New Wells books.
Joseph is said to be buried in the same cemetery, but Findagrave.com has no photo of his gravestone, if there is one.
Joseph and Eva Kieninger were the ancestors from which come most of the group that calls themselves the Wittenberg Cousins. This group makes a pilgrimage to Altenburg twice a year to share memories of their childhoods growing up in East Perry County. Sadly, this group was unable to gather this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a photo from several years ago of this fun group.
It would have been great if this group could have gathered here today to celebrate Joseph Kieninger’s Bicentennial Birthday. Perhaps they can come on February 2, 2023 to celebrate Eva Kieninger’s 200th birthday.