John Stueve Got Himself the Bess

I often tell my wife that she is the best…and, in my opinion, she is.  Today, you will be told the story of John Stueve, and you will discover how he got himself the Bess.  But, first, let me remind you about the pronunciation of the surname, Stueve.  Back in the old country, the name was spelled Stüve.  Not only do Americans not use an umlaut in the English language, but we also are mostly unaware of the sound that vowel with an umlaut actually makes.  I vaguely remember my high school German teacher, Herr Streufert, trying to teach us how to pronounce such vowels.  I admit I was not good at it back then, and I’m not good at it now.  As it turns out, the closest we come to pronouncing Stüve in the German tradition is by saying Steve.  However, since the umlaut “u” was replaced by putting an “e” after the “u”, making it Stueve, many Americans look at it and want to pronounce it “Stew-vee”.  In fact, several Stueve’s moved to California many years ago, and that is how many of those Stueve’s pronounce their name to this day.  There was a Stueve reunion held here recently, and that is how some of them pronounced their name.  However, I must say that we are the ones that pronounce it more in line with how a German would say the name, Stüve.

We have to be careful in discussing John Stueve because there are other John Stueve’s also found in our German Family Tree.  Today’s John Stueve was a son of Peter and Margaret (Crum) Stueve.  He was born on December 21, 1869 and baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri.  His baptism record shows that he was born before Christmas and baptized after Christmas.  His full name shown on this record was Casten (probably should have been Carsten) Johann Stüve.  John’s grandfather was Carsten Stüve.  I find it interesting that he had two sponsors with the name Cl. Stüve.  I think I have written previously that this area has had an abundance of Claus Stueve’s also.

John C. Stueve baptism record Concordia Frohna MO
John C. Stueve baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

This listing showing the children of Carsten Stueve may help explain the names on the above baptism record.

Carston Stueve children Ancestry

John can be found in the 1870 census.

Carsten Johann Stueve 1870 census Brazeau Township MO
1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we see John in the census taken in 1880.  Several more children were added to the family.

Carsten Johann Stueve 1880 census Salem Township MO
1880 census – Salem Township, MO

Now let’s take a look at John’s future wife.  Her name was Maria Johanna Bess, the daughter of Jasper and Sally Sarah (Lee) Bess.  That means Mary’s mother was a Sarah Lee, but not the Sara Lee of frozen food fame.  Her death certificate even calls her Sarah.  I will discuss that death certificate later.  On Mary’s death certificate, it states that she was born in Yount, which is located in West Perry County.  Mary was born on November 15, 1872.

Mary’s father died in 1878, so when we find her in her first census, her mother had a second husband, Ignatius Zahner.  In this entry, Mary is called Jennie, which comes from her other name, Johanna.  This blended household consisted of 5 Zahner’s and 3 Bess’s.

Maria Johanna Bess 1880 census Cinque Hommes Township MO
1880 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

That leads us up to the marriage of John Stueve and Mary Bess.  Today would have been their 125th wedding anniversary because they were married on April 24, 1895.  We do not find a church marriage record for this couple because they were married by a judge.  In fact, that judge was Charles Weber, a member of the Gesellschaft who has shown up on this blog on several occasions.  Here is the marriage license.  I don’t see many of these documents that show that the couple applied for the license, were married, and the document was officially recorded on the same day.  By the way, April 24th was a Wednesday in 1895.

Stueve Bess marriage license
Stueve/Bess marriage license

We find this married couple in the 1900 census with their first two of their four children.

Carsten Johann Stueve 1900 census Salem Township MO
1900 census – Salem Township, MO

The first two children were baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar.  Their last two children were baptized at Zion Lutheran Church in Crosstown.  Also, their oldest child was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Point Rest.  The next census in which we find this family was in 1910.  Their daughter, Ida, died in 1907, and one more child would be born in 1911.

Carsten Johann Stueve 1910 census Salem Township MO
1910 census – Salem Township, MO

We find this Stueve household in the 1920 census.

Carsten Johann Stueve 1920 census 1 Salem Township MO

Carsten Johann Stueve 1920 census 2 Salem Township MO
1920 census – Salem Township, MO

I want to take a side trip to the death of Mary’s mother which took place in 1928.  Let’s take a look at her death certificate.

Sarah Prost death certificate
Sarah Prost death certificate

After her second husband had died in 1894, Sarah married yet again in 1900.  Her third husband was Albin Prost, and he died in 1911, leaving her a widow again.  The above document says she was a patient at the County Farm.  The obituary for Sarah tells a little more about this.

Sarah Prost obituary
Sarah Prost obituary

I located a story done on a local TV station several years ago about the attempt to find the cemetery associated with the Perry County Poor Farm.  Even though Sarah was not buried in that lost cemetery, I found the story very interesting.  If you would like to read it, you can click on the link below.

Let’s return to the Stueve’s.  The last census in which we can view this couple was the 1940 census.  They had a grandson living with them.

Carsten Johann Stueve 1940 census Salem Township MO
1940 census – Salem Township, MO

A few photos are available for John and Mary.  First, here is a photo of this couple that must have been taken later in their lives.

John and Mary Stueve
John and Mary Stueve

We also have this photograph of Mary and the Cleary grandchild which likely was taken at about the time of the 1940 census.

Mary Stueve and Eddie Clary

The Stueve home that is seen in the background of the above photo is also shown in the picture below.


John and Mary Stueve home

We also have this photo of Mary Stueve standing all by herself.

Mary Bess Stueve
Mary Stueve

John Stueve died in 1951 at the age of 81.  We can take a look at his death certificate.

John C. Stueve death certificate
John Stueve death certificate

Mary Stueve died in 1953 at the age of 80.  Her death certificate shown below says her mother’s maiden name was Probst, but that is incorrect.

Mary Stueve death certificate
Mary Stueve death certificate

John and Mary are buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Crosstown.


A family story I found says this was another case where a Lutheran man married a Catholic woman, which might help explain why there was no church wedding for this couple.  Some such couples have the Catholic spouse becoming Lutheran such as this one.  Others have the Lutheran spouse becoming Catholic, and in a few rare occurrences, you find one in which they each retain their Lutheran or Catholic faith.



2 thoughts on “John Stueve Got Himself the Bess

  1. My wife’s family pronounce as Stew-ve as well. They are the Nebraska branch and she has relatives on her side of Clau Stueve and Peter Hermann Stueve.


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