In my own personal family tree, you will find a set of my great-grandparents who were made up of a Mueller man and a Theiss woman. One of their daughters, Bertha Mueller, went on to marry a Schmidt, and the rest is my history. In that same generation, there was yet another combination of one of those Theiss’s and one of those Mueller’s. It’s that “other” Theiss-Mueller” pair that will be highlighted today.
As a boy, when my family would travel from St. Louis to Perry County to visit my father’s relatives, we would almost always attend Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Occasionally, we would attend events at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg, which was where my father was baptized and confirmed. After the Wittenberg church closed in 1987, those two congregations were more or less combined. On those Sundays when we attended Trinity, when the service ended and people assembled outside the church, my parents would almost always gravitate to one of two couples. One of those couples was Robert and Lillian Fiehler. Lillian was my dad’s niece, and Bob had served in the Army during World War II just like my father, so they had a lot to talk about. Robert Fiehler always had plenty to say, just like his son, Gerard Fiehler. The other couple with which my folks would chat was Gilbert “Gib” and Viola “Meetz” Theiss, who lived in Wittenberg. I knew that Gib and my dad had those Wittenberg roots. I also knew that Gib was another World War II veteran. And I think somewhere along the line, I was told that Gib and my father were somehow related. Today’s story details the family connection between these two men. I will also point out that Gib Theiss also had the gift of gab, just like Robert Fiehler. My father, on the other hand, was the quiet man in the group…just like me???
We begin with the birth of Conrad Heinrich Ferdinand Theiss on June 4, 1857. He was called Henry during his lifetime. He was the son of Johann Conrad and Wilhelmine (Rabold) Theiss. At this point, let me show you a photograph that circulates in my family.
The woman on the left is Henry’s mother, Wilhelmine Theiss. The woman on the right is Henry’s sister, Amalia Theiss, the other Theiss who married a Mueller. The woman in the back is Bertha Mueller, whose husbands were Henry Loebs and Emanuel Schmidt. The young girl in front is Clara Loebs. I called her Aunt Clara. Gerard called her Grandma Schilling.
Henry Theiss was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below is his baptism record.
I thought this might be one of the last baptisms performed by Rev. Georg Schieferdecker at Trinity, since he was kicked out of that church later that year. However, the handwriting of the baptisms for that year do not change until after baptism #38, and this is baptism #22. I was amazed to find that there were 43 baptisms at Trinity in 1857.
Henry is found for the first time in the 1860 census. His father was a tailor.
Next, we find Henry in the 1870 census for Altenburg. This would be the last census in which we find his father. He would die in 1872.
We see Wilhelmine as the head of the Theiss household in the 1880 census. They were living in the Union Township.
Later during the year of the above census, Henry Theiss was married. His bride was Ernestine Mueller, the daughter of Johann Gottlob and Johanna Christine (Theilig) Mueller. Here is where things get complicated. Johann Gottlob had previously been married to Christine Fredricke Hellwig. That couple had 6 children according to our GFT. J.G. Mueller married again in 1850 to Ernestine’s mother. Ernestine’s mother’s life story is even more complicated. She came to America as part of the Gruber Group along with a Schumann girl who was likely her illegitimate child. The story of that child was told in the post, The Trail of Christiane Theilig’s Out of Wedlock Child. Once in America she had three husbands, Johann Christian Richter (4 children), Johann Carl Christian Wunderlich (no children), and Johann Gottlob Mueller (4 children). In that last marriage, you will find my great grandfather, Johann Ferdinand Mueller and Ernestine Mueller, who both married Theiss’s.
Ernestine Mueller was the last child born into this Mueller family. She was born on February 13, 1858 and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church. Here is her baptism record. The pastor at that time was Rev. Beyer.
Ernestine can be found in the 1860 census. This was quite the blended family.
Ernestine’s father died sometime between the above census and the one taken in 1870. Christine is the head of the household in this entry which is shown in two images.
We find this interesting entry in the 1880 census. The Caroline Lorenz was Ernestine’s sister. Ernestine’s mother was shown as being a midwife.
Henry Theiss married Ernestine Mueller on October 28, 1880 at Trinity, Altenburg. The other Mueller/Theiss marriage had already taken place in 1875. Here is the church record for this Theiss/Mueller marriage.
We can also look at two different civil records for this wedding.
Our German Family Tree shows 5 children born to Henry and Ernestine. We find this couple for the first time in the 1900 census, and by then all 5 of their children had been born. The oldest child, Wilhelmine, is shown as a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg when it was formed in 1903, but she is not on this census entry. She disappears from our records after that. Henry’s mother was included in this household in 1900.
Ernestine Theiss died at a the rather early age of 43 in 1901. She is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg, but her gravestone does not show up on Findagrave (at least not yet). That sent me on a quick journey to the cemetery. I found a gravestone where it should be located, and I could determine the year 1858 (her birth year) on it, so I am reasonably sure it is Ernestine’s. I took this photo.
Henry can be found in 3 more census entries. His land was located in the Wittenberg bottoms.
Here is the Henry Theiss household in the 1910 census.
Next, here is the entry for this family in the 1920 census. Linda Mueller was a daughter in the other Mueller/Theiss family.
The last census in which we find Henry was the 1930 census. Henry was living in his son, Alfred’s, household which was listed next to another son, Paul’s household. Gib Theiss was 6 years old in this census.
Henry died in 1937 at the age of 79. Here is his death certificate.
Henry is buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Wittenberg.
I occasionally run into Gib Theiss’s children, Kathy, Nancy, and Bud. I guess next time I see one of them, I’ll point out that we all have the same great grandparents with the Theiss surname as well as some great grandparents with the Mueller surname. If I have this figured correctly, we would be third cousins.