Bendel the Burier

A wedding took place on this day 121 years ago at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas, Missouri.  The groom was August Bendel; the bride was Emma Kranawetter.  Their story is yet another case in which the people involved began living in Missouri, but spent most of their lives in Illinois.

August Bendel was born on March 22, 1874, the son of Friedrich and Elizabeth (Burger) Bendel.  August was born in New Wells, Missouri and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in that town.  In the late 1880’s, three children in the Bendel family were confirmed at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Missouri.  I am still not able to display images of church records, although I should be back in Altenburg before too long.  The first census in which we see August Bendel was the one taken in 1880 when his family was living in Shawnee Township in northern Cape Girardeau County.  August’s father was a blacksmith.

August Bendel 1880 census Shawnee Township MO
1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Emma Kranawetter was born on August 29, 1874, the daughter of Joseph and Ernestine (Ruehling) Kranawetter.  Not long ago, I wrote the story about Emma’s parents titled, Zwickelhuber Becomes Kranawetter.  Emma was the 2nd of 9 children in her family and the 1st girl.  She was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells.  She can be found in the 1880 census for Shawnee Township.

Emma Kranawetter 1880 census Shawnee Township MO
1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Because this couple was married in 1899, the 1880 census was the only one in which we find these two as being single.  August Bendel married Emma Kranawetter on May 22, 1899 at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas.  Here is the marriage license for this couple, although it is very difficult to read.

Bendel Kranawetter marriage license
Bendel/Kranawetter marriage license

This marriage license and the church marriage record state that August was from Fountain Bluff Township in Illinois, so he must have moved across the river into Jackson County before he was married.  That is where we find this couple in the 1900 census.  They were still childless at the time, and August was a farmer.

August Bendel 1900 census Fountain Bluff Township IL
1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The Bendel couple had 6 children, 4 of them girls, between 1903 and 1915.  Five of them were baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois.  One of their sons died of whooping cough at the age of one.  We find this family in the 1910 census still in the Fountain Bluff Township.

August Bendel 1910 census Fountain Bluff Township IL
1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Two more children were added to this family before the next census.  We also find that they had moved to Randolph County, Illinois.  The were living in the Palestine Township not far from Chester when the 1920 census was taken.  August was still a farmer.

August Bendel 1920 census Palestine Township IL
1920 census – Palestine Township, IL

When we find the Bendel’s in the 1930 census, a few changes had taken place.  First, this family had moved to the city of Chester, Illinois.  Secondly, August is no longer called a farmer.  Instead, we see his job title as sexton of a city cemetery.

A sexton is basically a person who is responsible for keeping a cemetery organized and maintained.  The job description includes keeping a plan for where burials would take place in a cemetery.  Such a person might also be responsible for digging graves, or making sure someone else gets a grave dug.  A sexton may also be responsible for keeping the cemetery’s records up-to-date.  I know that many churches that have their own cemeteries will have a person in their congregation who is chosen to be their sexton.  My church in Altenburg has such a person.

There are 3 rather large cemeteries located in Chester, Illinois.  One of them is a Catholic cemetery, one a Lutheran cemetery, and the other is a city cemetery.  I am not sure which one at which August was working.  I know it was almost certainly not the Catholic one.  Since it says “city cemetery”, he may have been working at the Evergreen Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Chester.  However, because he was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, he may have been the sexton there.  When the 1940 census was taken, August was still described as being a sexton.

August Bendel 1940 census Chester IL
1940 census – Chester, IL

August Bendel died in 1959 at the age of 85.  Emma Bendel died in 1967 at the age of 92.  These two are buried together in the St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Chester, Illinois.

August and Emma Bendel gravestone – St. John’s, Chester, IL

I know that I am happy to be part of a Lutheran congregation that has its own cemetery.  Our cemetery has been in existence for a lot of years and continues to need constant care and attention.  Not many newer congregations, and especially congregations in larger cities, have their own cemeteries anymore.  When a church has its own cemetery, it is important to have a person like August Bendel to be in charge of its care.

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