The Cornehlsen Chronicles: Part II

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s post, The Cornehlsen Chronicles: Part I. Yesterday, you heard about Martha Holschen and her first marriage with Heinrich Stelling. Today, you will learn about her second marriage. However, the main focus will be on her son, Theodore Cornehlsen, who was the main inspiration for these two stories.

Following the death of her first husband, Martha married Heinrich Cornehlsen on January 10, 1882 at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.

Heinrich Cornehlsen and Martha Stelling Marriage Record – Concordia Lutheran Church, Frohna
Heinrich Cornehlsen and Martha Stelling Marriage License – Perry County

Heinrich Cornehlsen was born on November 8, 1850, in Germany. He came to the United States in 1865. In the 1880 Census, he was living in the household of Henry Mahnke as a boarder in Brazeau Township. His occupation is listed as a cooper being from Hanover, Germany. 

1880 Census – Brazeau Township, Perry County

Heinrich and Martha Cornehlsen would have a total of five children, but the only one this post will focus on is their fourth child, Theodore. Theodore Gotthilf Cornehlsen was born on November 7, 1889, and baptized on November 10 of the same year at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.

Theodore Cornehlsen Baptism Record – Concordia, Frohna

Martha Cornehlsen lived only a few years after the birth of Theodore. She died on July 30, 1893, and she is buried at Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna.

Martha Cornehlsen Headstone – Concordia, Frohna

Following the death of Martha, Heinrich must have been deemed incapable of caring for the children. In the next couple of censuses, none of the children are shown living with Heinrich and are instead living with other family members. In the 1900 Census, Heinrich is living in the household of Juliana Palisch as a laborer in Brazeau Township.

1900 Census – Brazeau Township, Perry County

Heinrich Cornehlsen died on April 29, 1927, and is buried at Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Farrar. His death certificate may provide an explanation for why he might have been determined incapable of caring for the children. His death certificate states he died from senility. I do not know how long Heinrich was determined senile, but I believe this may have had an impact on the lives of his children following the death of their mother.

Henry Cornehlsen Headstone – Salem, Farrar
Henry Cornehlsen Death Certificate – Missouri

It is at this point that a couple of people from yesterday’s story become important. Following the death of their mother, Theodore and his younger sister Martha were sent to live with half-siblings from their mother’s first marriage. In the 1900 Census, we find Theodore and Martha living in the household of Julius Magwitz. Julius Magwitz was the husband of Emilie Stelling. Theodore is listed as a brother-in-law to the head of the household.

1900 Census – Salem Township, Perry County

Theodore and Martha didn’t stay here long, since Emilie died in 1902. Following the death of their sister, Theodore and Martha went to live with another half-sister, Marie Stelling Hadler. They can be found in the 1910 Census in the household of Heinrich Hadler. Theodore is once again listed as a brother-in-law at 20 years old.

1910 Census – Bois Brule Township, Perry County

I can find no other records for Theodore until 1917 when he filled out his draft card for World War I. This record states that Theodore was working as a farm laborer for Emanuel Lesch in Bois Brule Township. 

Theodore Cornehlsen World War I Draft Card

Theodore would serve as a soldier in World War I. A record from Missouri Digital Heritage gives an overview of Theodore’s service in the war.

Theodore Cornehlsen Service Record – Missouri Digital Heritage

Theodore was inducted at Perryville on February 22, 1918 at 28 ¼ years old. He was first stationed at Camp Funston at Fort Riley near Manhattan, Kansas as a private in the 29th Company, 169th Depot Brigade. The purpose of depot brigades was to serve as a temporary unit where recruits went through basic training, received their equipment and supplies, and were assigned to their permanent unit. Theodore served in the 169th Depot Brigade from February 25 through March 27, 1918.

Following training, Theodore was assigned to Company C of the 314th Ammunition Train, 89th Division. The 89th Division was known as the “Middle West Division.” It served in the Battle of Saint Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Theodore would serve with this unit until his death.

Pictures from the website of the National World War I Museum in Kansas City show some moments of the 314th Ammunition Train in the war in Europe.

“‘Captured German dugouts now being used as headquarters for 314th Ammunition Train, 89th Division. St. Baussant, Meurthe et Moselle, France, October 17, 1918.'” ~ The National World War I Museum and Memorial
“Members of the 314th Ammunition Train, 89th Division holding a banner depicting the Kaiser fleeing towards Holland while being followed by an American artillery shell. Inscribed on verso “Banner of the 314th Ammo Train”, “The Kaiser bound for Holland”. ~ The National World War I Museum and Memorial
“‘314th Ammunition Train, 89th division, passing through Essey on way to Benney. Essey et Maizerais, Meurthe et Moselle, France, November 16, 1918.'” ~ The National World War I Museum and Memorial

The 314th Train was stationed in Gindorf, Germany from December, 1918, until May, 1919. Theodore died shortly before his unit returned, as he died on May 15, 1919, from septicemia. His remains were sent back September 20-29, 1920 on the ship U.S.A.T. (United States Army Transport) Antigone. 

Theodore Cornehlsen Remains Manifest – U.S.A.T. Antigone

After his remains were brought back to the United States, Pvt. Theodore Cornehlsen was laid to rest at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Point Rest.

Pvt. Theodore Cornehlsen Headstone – Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, Point Rest, MO
Pvt. Theodore Cornehlsen Headstone – Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, Point Rest, MO

I find this story to be very fitting for a couple of reasons. Not only does it tell the story of a man whose birthday is today, but it tells the story of a local soldier from Perry County who fought in World War I. I do not believe there is any more appropriate time to tell this story than right before Veteran’s Day, which has its origins as Armistice Day, which was established to celebrate the ending of the First World War. It was this very war Theodore fought in.

With this post, I not only want to thank Theodore and World War I veterans for their service, but all veterans from all wars. We thank God that our freedom to practice our Christian faith has been protected through these veterans’ actions. We also pray that all wars might someday come to an end.

“Heavenly Father, God of all concord, it is Your gracious will that Your children on earth live together in harmony and peace. Defeat the plans of all those who would stir up violence and strife, destroy the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and, according to Your will, end all conflicts in the world. Teach us to examine our hearts that we may recognize our own inclination toward envy, malice, hatred, and enmity. Help up, by Your Word and Spirit, to search our hearts and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that in our lives we may be at peace with all people. Fill us with zeal for the work of Your Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring that peace which is beyond all understanding; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen” ~ Collect for peace in the world, Lutheran Service Book, p. 314.

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