Killer Mules

Back in September, I wrote a post titled, A Killer Mule. That story included a death certificate that included a mule in a man’s cause of death. You will get a story with a similar end today, only this time there was more than one mule.

Johann Wahlers was born on October 24, 1856 in Scheeβel, Germany. A church record from the Concordia, Frohna books says John was the son of Joachim and Marie Wahlers. A later census record states that John immigrated to America in 1881. The first church record I could find for John Walhers was one found in the books of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois which states that he became a voting member of that congregation in 1883. That record also states that he moved to Frohna, Missouri.

The next record we can find for John Wahlers was for his marriage in 1887. He married Margaretha Stelling. Let’s take a look at her early life. Margaret’s birthday was only one day away from John’s. She was born on October 25, 1868, the daughter of Henry and Martha (Holschen) Stelling. Margaret’s mother was the sister of Friedrich Holschen, who was the father of the two Holschen children that were part of the double wedding ceremony that was described in yesterday’s post. That also means Margaret was a cousin to those two Holschen siblings. Margaret was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Baptism and confirmation records for children in this Stelling family can be found not only in the books of Immanuel, Altenburg, but also the books of Salem, Farrar and Concordia, Frohna. Below is Margaret’s baptism record which just so happens to be on the same page as yesterday’s character, Anna Marie Holschen.

Margaret Stelling baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

We find Margaret in the 1870 census for Brazeau Township at the age of 3, although I think that age must be a little off.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find Margaret in the 1880 census at the age of 11.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Margaret was confirmed in 1882 at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.

Margaret Stelling confirmation record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

The marriage of John Wahlers and Margaret Stelling took place on April 11, 1887 at Concordia, Frohna. Here is the marriage license for this couple.

Wahlers/Stelling marriage license

We can also view the church record for this wedding.

Wahlers/Stelling marriage record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

The German Family Tree lists 12 children born to this couple. As you can guess, some of those children did not live to adulthood. The 1900 census for this family proved to be a challenge to find. They were found in the infamous 1900 census from Salem Township that is so difficult to read. Ancestry.com lists the surname for this couple as Mahlres. They had 4 children in their household by this time. Good luck reading this.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

Another record from Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois sneaks into this family’s story. It says that John Wahlers once again became a member of that church across the Mississippi River in 1906, but he then leaves in 1910 to move to Crosstown, Missouri. We then find this Wahlers household in the 1910 census.

1910 census – Salem Township, MO

When the plat maps for Perry County were produced in 1915, we find the John Wahlers farm located just west of the village of Crosstown.

John Wahlers land map – 1915

The 1920 census turned out to be the last one in which we find John Wahlers.

1920 census – Salem Township, MO

John Wahlers died in 1926 at the age of 67. A coroner determined that he was killed by a team of mules that ran away while he was working with hay, breaking his neck.

John Wahlers death certificate

Margaret can still be found in two more census entries after her husband’s death. Here we see her in the 1930 census in which she was living in the household of her son, Theodore Wahlers.

1930 census – Salem Township, MO

The last census in which we see Margaret Wahlers was the one taken in 1940. Once again, we see her in Theodore’s household.

1940 census – Salem Township, MO

Margaret Wahlers died in 1946 at the age of 77. Here is her death certificate.

Margaret Wahlers death certificate

John and Margaret are each buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Crosstown, Missouri.

I think when John was killed in 1926, it was a time of transition between the use of animal power and the use of machine power like tractors. Regardless of which form of power that was being used, there was still some danger involved. This story tells the tale of a death caused by mules being spooked. One could also find causes of death over the years that mentioned tractors and other farm machinery. Over the years, I have witnessed many farmers who were missing fingers or with game legs. Farming has always had its hazards.


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