Lydia of La Junta

Lydia Bruhl is today’s birthday girl. She was born on September 20, 1892, the daughter of Charles and Juliana (Popp) Bruhl. She was the firstborn child in this Bruhl family. Lydia was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri. Here is an image of her baptism record. We see evidence that the Bruhl surname by this time had been spelled Brul.

Lydia Bruhl baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

Not long ago, I published a post about Lydia’s parents titled, A-Standin’ with the Coroner in Winslow, Arizona. We are going to see a close connection between that story and Lydia’s story today.

Lydia shows up in her first census in 1900. Her family was living near Frohna where her father was a farmer. Her grandparents, Johann and Elizabeth Bruhl were living nearby. Lydia was 7 years old.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

When the 1910 census rolled around, we find Lydia living in St. Louis where she was a servant in the Hartmann household.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

Now, we will turn our attention to Lydia’s future husband, Robert Gerler. Robert was born on November 22, 1887, the son of Friedrich and Lena (Lindner) Gerler. That makes Robert one of what we call the “Lake Gerler’s”. He was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below is his baptism record.

Robert Gerler baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Robert was the brother of Christian Gerler, who was featured in the post, Mayor of Birmingham.

Robert is found in his first census in 1900 at the age of 12.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We find Robert once again in the 1910 census at the age of 22.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

On April 27, 1913, Robert Gerler married Lydia Bruhl at Concordia, Frohna. Here is the church record for that wedding.

Gerler/Bruhl marriage record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

We can also view the Perry County marriage license for this couple.

Gerler/Bruhl marriage license

Not long after his marriage, Robert had to have a World War I draft registration completed.

Robert Gerler – World War I draft registration

It looks like Robert was farming on the Gerler ancestral land when the 1920 census was taken. We see other Gerler brothers next to his household.

1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Sometime before 1926, Robert moved his family to Colorado. His last child, Robert, Jr. was born in 1926 in that state. The evidence points to the fact that Lydia’s parents moved to La Junta, Colorado at the same time that Robert and his family moved there. We find the Gerler’s living in Otero County, Colorado. I find it interesting that the neighbors of the Gerler’s were from Japan. It is difficult to read the surname, but it definitely states that the parents in that household were born in Japan.

1930 census – Otero County, CO

The Gerler’s were still living in the same location in the 1940 census. Robert was a farmer. Once again, we find a neighboring family in which the parents were from Japan. There were also a few other Japanese families found nearby in this census. There must be a story in these Japanese names, but I did not take the time to pursue it.

1940 census – Otero County, CO

Robert Gerler had a World War II draft card completed in 1942 at the age of 54.

Robert Gerler – WWII draft card

La Junta, Colorado is the county seat of Otero County in Colorado. It is located in the eastern part of that state where you still find flatter prairie land before you get to the mountainous areas of western Colorado. The Arkansas River flows through La Junta, as seen on this 1880 map of that area. Already by 1880, the Atchison-Topeka-Santa Fe railroad also ran through that town.

La Junta, Colorado – 1880 map

A present-day satellite map shows how the vegetation near the river is quite green, but as you move away from it, the land is more arid.

La Junta, Colorado – present-day satellite map

Robert Gerler died in 1977 at the age of 89; Lydia died in 1987 at the age of 94. They are buried together in the Fairview Cemetery in La Junta.

Robert and Lydia Gerler gravestone – Fairview, La Junta, Colorado

That is the same cemetery where you find several gravestones of members of the Brul family. I guess you can say there is a mini-settlement of Perry County natives to be found in La Junta.


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