A while back, when I published the story, Two Succumb to the Flu, I included a photograph of a wedding party that I captioned as the Wilke/Stueve wedding. Here is that photo.
After researching this post, I now realize that I misidentified this photograph. If you look at the upper right corner, the name given to the bride is Mary Struve, not Mary Stueve. I now know that there was another surname found in and around Friedheim, Missouri that was spelled either Struve or Strueve (both of which probably come from the German spelling, Strϋve). I guess I got snookered because I see so many folks with the name, Stueve, in our records, that I assumed Mary was just another Stueve.
Before I move on to tell the story of the bride and groom in the above picture, let me add a few observations. First, Mary Struve was wearing a wedding dress that I have previously referred to as a black and white wedding dress. I also find it unusual where the bride and groom are found in this photo. In wedding party photos that I have seen, the bride and groom can be found in the middle of the photo, and if not there, I’ve seen a few where the bride and groom are found on the left side of the picture. Also, in photos showing two rows of people, the bride and groom are almost always in the front row. It seems odd to see the bride and groom in the back row and on the right in this photograph.
It is the birthday of the groom that is the starting point for this post. However, I intended to write this story yesterday, but did not accomplish that task. Friedrich Wilke was born on November 14, 1870, making yesterday his 150th birthday. Friedrick, often called Fritz, was the son of Friedrich and Louisa (Damme) Wilke. Fritz was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim. His full name was Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Wilke.
It would be ten years before Fritz shows up in a census. We find him living in the Apple Creek Township in the 1880 census. Already at the age of 10, it says Friedrich is a farm helper in the occupation column.
Next, we will look at the bride, Mary Anna Strueve. She was born on December 22, 1875. I was only able to find that on her death certificate. I looked for her baptism record in the books of Trinity, Friedheim, but she is not found there. Mary’s parents were William and Louisa (Maintz) Strueve. Her father died when Mary was about 3 years old, so he does not show up in the 1880 census for Apple Creek Township. The Strueve and Wilke families are only a few pages away from each other in this census. There is one more Strueve child on the next page of this census that I chose not to display.
Fritz Wilke and Mary Strueve were married on November 8, 1894 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim. I was able to find this couple’s marriage record in that congregation’s books. The names of the witnesses on this form correspond with those on the previously shown wedding photo.
This couple can be next found in the 1900 census, in which Fritz is called a farmer. Mary’s mother and sister are included in their household.
Sometime between 1900 and 1910, this couple moved to Perryville where Fritz became the proprietor of a farm machinery business. In the 1910 census, we find two children that are said to be adopted. They are Clara Welker, age 16, and Leo Shaw, age 12. Mary’s mother was also still living with this family. Mary’s half-sister had married a Welker. It doesn’t appear that Fritz and Mary had any children of their own.
The 1920 census shows just Fritz, Mary, and Mary’s mother in the Wilke household.
Next we find the Wilke couple in the 1930 census. This time Fritz is listed as a salesman in a grocery store. We find Gerald and Delores Gagnepain living in their household. They were quite young. It took a little looking, but eventually, I discovered that these two were likely the children of the Clara Welker we saw in a census earlier, who had married Zeno Gagnepain. Zeno died in January of 1930, and Clara must have allowed the Wilke’s to look after her children. Clara can be found in the same 1930 census living as a widow by herself. Mary’s mother, Louisa Struve, is still found in this household as well.
The last census in which we find the Wilke’s was the one taken in 1940. Fritz and Mary have an empty nest, and Fritz was shown as having no occupation.
Fritz Wilke died in 1950 at the age of 79. We can view his death certificate below.
Mary Wilke died in 1966 at the age of 90. Her death certificate says she died at Perry County Memorial Hospital.
Fritz and Mary Wilke are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville, Missouri.
The story of Fritz and Mary is another one of those stories in which a childless couple ends up helping to raise several children anyway. I found it to be a very interesting tale.
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