I get to tell the tale involving a brand new surname for this blog today. That name is Gerstacker. Today’s birthday girl is Emma Gerstacker, the daughter of Johann George and Eva (Bergmann) Gerstacker. She was born on June 29, 1882 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville, Missouri. On Ancestry.com, many of the family histories that include Emma give her birth date as October 15th, which is her husband’s birthday. I see this as an example of how one person’s mistake often gets repeated over and over again on Ancestry. The Immanuel, Perryville baptism record as well as her death certificate and gravestone document a June 29th birthday.
We find Emma Gerstacker in her first census in 1900. Emma was the firstborn child in the Gerstacker family.
Emma’s future husband would be John Moldenhauer, who was born on October 15, 1881. The names of John’s parents are the reason for some further discussion. First of all, John’s father was Albert Friedrich Moldenhauer, but he was almost always called Fritz. John’s mother’s maiden name is a matter for debate. Our German Family Tree gives her maiden name as Linz. If I was in Altenburg today, I could look up a few church records that give the Linz name, but I am reasonably sure all of them would be transcriptions and not images of the actual church records. Some others on Ancestry give the maiden name as either Sant or Sanz. There were two sets of twins in this Moldenhauer family, and when the 2nd set was born in 1884, a birth record can be found from Perry County. A portion of that that birth record is shown below.
The maiden name for the top twin looks like Sant, and the bottom twin looks to me like it says Sans. I found two photographs of Margaretha on Ancestry. I just have to show them here. Placed side-by-side, these photos remind me of those types of images where you are challenged to point out as many differences between two pictures.
Margaretha was married twice. Her first husband was Frederick Hoehn, and her second husband was Fritz Moldenhauer. I also have photos of both of her husbands. Frederick Hoehn is on the left and Fritz Moldenhauer is on the right.
Let’s return to John Moldenhauer. In a photo that was reported to be taken around 1898, John is included in a group of men working at Fritz’s sawmill near Menfro, Missouri. John would have been just 17 year old at the time, so I’ll let you decide which one in the picture might be him. Also, it is said that John Gerstacker is one shown in the photo. That would either be Emma’s father or a brother named John, who would have been 13 years old at that time.
John can first be found in the 1900 census at the age of 18.
On April 2, 1905, John Moldenhauer married Emma Gerstacker. Our GFT does not document a marriage date, and several Ancestry histories say this couple was married in Perry County, but I found an Illinois marriage record for St. Clair County that appears to be this couple’s wedding.
It would only be a guess of mine about why they were not married in Perry County. When John’s parents were buried, Margaretha was buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Crosstown, but Fritz was buried in the Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery, also in Crosstown. Perhaps there were questions about religious practices. Margaret Moldenhauer died about a month after John and Emma were married.
Next, we see this couple with 3 of their 6 children in the 1910 census.
When the 1915 plat maps were produced, we find some farm land located in the river bottoms near Menfro. I have also shown land owned by Fritz and some owned by John Gerstacker.
Where you see the railroad, it demarcates the forested hills from the Mississippi River bottoms. It can be seen more clearly in this present-day aerial map.
We find the John Moldenhauer family in the 1920 census with a larger family. Most of their children were girls. Fritz was also living in this household at age 73.
When the 1930 census was taken, we find the following household of Moldenhauer’s.
The last census we can view was the one taken in 1940. John and Emma had an empty nest.
Emma Moldenhauer died in 1942 at the age of 60. Her death certificate says she died of colon cancer.
John Moldenhauer died more than 30 years later in 1974 at the age of 92. We cannot view his death certificate. John and Emma are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville. Their gravestone is one of those that includes a photo of the people buried there. This is the only photo of either of these two people that I found.
I am 99.9% sure that this Moldenhauer family is connected to Trish Erzfeld, the Perry County Tourism Director. Perhaps she could resolve the issue concerning Fritz’s wife’s surname. Do you see a resemblance?