Pocahontas Undertaker

I’m going to begin with a little mathematics today. Today is September 2nd, or as is shown with just numbers, 9/2. 9 x 2 = 18. Also, 9 “squared” is 81. So, for my crazy mathematical brain, 9/2/1881 carries with it a special mathematical significance. And 9/2/1881 is the birthday for one of the main characters in today’s post.

Marie Margaretha Hemmann was born on September 2, 1881, the daughter of Gustav and Margaretha (Streit) Hemmann. She was child #4 out of eleven in this Hemmann family. Marie was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Here is that church’s baptism record for her.

Marie Hemmann baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Marie would not be found in a census until 1900 when she was 18 years old. You can see that she was part of a very large family.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Now, we will take a look at Marie’s first husband. His name was Christian Ernst Reisenbichler. Christian was born on Reformation Day, October 31, 1874, the son of Gottlieb and Anna Maria (Pilz) Reisenbichler. He, like Marie, was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Below is his baptism record.

Christian Reisenbichler baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Christian can be found for the first time in the 1880 census for Shawnee Township at the age of 5.

1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Next, we find Christian in the 1900 census. His father was a farmer, and Christian was working on that farm.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

On August 9, 1905, Christian Reisenbichler married Marie Hemmann in St. Louis. I suspect that Marie had gone to St. Louis to work as a servant in some family’s home there like so many other young women did back in those days.

Reisenbichler/Hemmann marriage license

In 1908, Christian and Marie had their only child, a daughter named Lorena. We find this Reisenbichler household in the 1910 census and living in Pocahontas. At this point in his life, Christian was a farmer.

1910 census – Pocahontas, MO

In the 1920 census, Christian is called a carpenter.

1920 census – Pocahontas, MO

In 1923, Marie’s parents celebrated their 50th anniversary and had a family photo taken. Marie is standing in the back row, the second person from the right. Several blog posts have already been published about people in this photo.

In 1925, Christian and Marie’s daughter, Lorene, died of typhoid fever at the age of 16. Below is the death record from the church books of Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas.

Lorene Reisenbichler death record – Zion, Pocahontas, MO

We also can view Lorene’s death certificate.

Lorene Reisenbichler death certificate

In the lower right corner of the above form, you will see the following information. At this time, Christian was in the undertaking business with a man named Putz. Christian’s father had a first wife with the name of Putz, so that name is connected with the Reisenbichler family. An undertaker back in those days was mainly responsible for making the caskets for someone who died, so it makes sense that an undertaker would be someone who worked with wood.

Reisenbichler & Putz Undertakers

It must have been heartbreaking for Christian to have to make a casket for his daughter. We then find Christian and Marie in the 1930 census, and it is then that we see the census calling Christian an undertaker.

1930 census – Pocahontas, MO

The last census we can view for this couple was the one taken in 1940. It looks almost identical to the previous entry.

1940 census – Pocahontas, MO

Christian Reisenbichler died in 1941 at the age of 66. I am a little surprised that Christian is called a retired farmer on his death certificate. He likely did both farming and carpentry work. The church death record says his cause of death was a stroke.

Christian Reisenbichler death certificate

On September 13, 1945, Marie married again. Her second husband was Oswald Fritsche from Altenburg, who had also lost his spouse. She had died in 1944. When they were married, Oswald was 52 years old and Marie was 64. Oswald had just one child, a boy named Lester, who would have been 24 years old when this marriage took place. I’m sure that these two men appreciated having a woman around the house taking care of them, and I suspect Marie enjoyed the fact that she was no longer living by herself. A previous post was written about Oswald Fritsche titled, Butch and His Sister Move to Altenburg.

Marie (Hemmann) (Reisenbichler) Fritsche died in 1974 at the age of 92. All three of the Reisenbichler’s were buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Pocahontas. There is a family marker along with separate markers for the three members of that family.

As I researched this story, I almost made a serious mistake. There were two Christian Reisenbichler’s who lived about the same time in about the same place, and they were cousins. The other one was Christian Johann Reisenbichler. C.J. Reisenbichler was born three years earlier than C.E. Reisenbichler. Christian J. had a lumber company in Cape Girardeau, so he, like Christian E. worked with wood. Not only that, each of these men had wives named Mary. It was a while before I discovered they were two different people.

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It looks like today will be the day that our website will reach its 500,000th view. It has taken us almost 5 years to reach that half-million mark. I want to take the time to thank you for visiting our museum’s website and reading our blog.

Many great things are happening at our museum. The construction of our new addition proceeds according to schedule. We have a new exhibit of quilts from the National Quilt Museum in Paducah that opens very soon. Also, our International Immigration Conference has been rescheduled for October of 2021. We will now have more time to get prepared for that event and it will enable us to also celebrate the state of Missouri’s bicentennial which occurs next year. Once again, thank you for all your support throughout the years. We look forward to many great years to come.


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