The beginning place for this post is a birthday that took place on this day 150 years ago. Normally, such a starting point leads to that person finding a spouse, discussing a wedding, which is usually followed by the birth of several children, and ending with a husband and wife dying and being buried. This story will be different. There was no wedding for this birthday girl, but her story also led me to the story of her two sisters. The common thread is that this trio of sisters were all single throughout their lives. That, however, did not stop them from serving families.
Clara Kasten was born on November 24, 1870, the daughter of Christian and Seraphina (Hopfer) Kasten. Clara was the second child and the first daughter out of a total of 8 children born into this Kasten family. She was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. Below is her baptism record.
Clara was born too late in 1870 to make it into that year’s census. However, before I move on with Clara’s life, I want to discuss her sisters. There were 4 Kasten sisters. The last one, a twin, died right away, so we will look at the other three. A second daughter of Christian and Seraphina was born in 1878. Her name was Emilie Kasten, who was born on July 3, 1878. Like all the other Kasten children, she was baptized at Grace, Uniontown. Here is an image of her baptism record.
There is a little bit of a puzzle on the above record. It looks like Emilie’s birthday was June 29, not July 3. Our German Family Tree transcribes this record as July 3, and later death records show her birthday as July 3, 1878.
We have to look at the long-lost 1880 census records from Union Township in Perry County to find the first census in which Clara and Emilie are found. I included Christopher and Wilhelmina Kasten to show you that Clara and Emilie’s grandparents were living nearby. Clara was 9 years old, and Emelie (Amalia) was 1.
The third of the Kasten sisters, Marie Kasten, was born on March 27, 1881. Her baptism record is displayed below.
The next census we can view, the one taken in 1900, shows this Kasten household. Clara and Marie are included, but Emilie is missing.
Emilie can be found living with her brother, Rudolph Kasten, and called a servant. Rudolph was involved in establishing the business, Kasten Masonry, which is a well-known business in Jackson to this day. Rudolph’s story was told in the post, The Kasten Ziegelbrenners.
When the 1910 census was taken, we find this household for Christian and Seraphina Kasten. This time Clara and Emilie are included, but Marie is not.
Marie is found living in St. Louis in 1910. She was a servant in a Benz household, who lived on South Jefferson Avenue, about 4 blocks away from Concordia Publishing House and Concordia Seminary.
Christian and Seraphina Kasten died between the 1910 census and the 1920 census, so these sisters no longer not only did not have elderly parents to care for, but living in the same house might not have been an option. Let’s take a look at where these 3 sisters ended up in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses.
First, we will look at Clara. She could be found living with her younger brother, Arthur, who had married Agnes Telle, and had several children by this time. Here is that 1930 census entry.
Emilie was living in St. Louis and serving as a maid in the Anna Riesmeyer household.
Marie was still living in St. Louis, but with a different family. She was a maid for George and Sophia Beck, who were both in their 60’s.
What I find most interesting is the fact that Marie was living at 3009 Hawthorne Blvd., and Emilie was living at 3112 Hawthorne Blvd. If you look at the map below, you will see that they are just a matter of a block or two away from each other.
The neighborhood in which they lived was called Compton Heights, which is still a rather well-to-do neighborhood in the St. Louis area. There must be a story to how these two sisters ended up as maids in the same neighborhood. I figure it was a compliment for whichever of these two sisters first began working in this area, and a neighbor was told how their wonderful maid had a sister who was available to serve in a similar way.
Now, let’s look at where these sisters were in 1930. As it turns out, each of these 3 sisters was living in the same household as they were in 1920. Clara was still in the Arthur Kasten household.
Emilie was still in the Anna Riesmeyer household. That household had 3 family members and 3 servants.
Marie is still found in the Beck household.
Clara Kasten died in 1936 at the age of 65. Her death certificate says she died of influenza.
The 1940 census shows both Emilie and Marie still serving in the same households. Here is the entry showing Emilie. The other servant, Marie Seibert, apparently also served this Riesmeyer family for many years.
Next, we can see the entry for Marie. The Beck’s were then in their 80’s.
Emilie and Marie both died within about a month from each other toward the end of 1966. Emilie died on November 27th at the age of 86. Her death certificate backs up the July 3rd birthday for Emilie.
Marie Kasten died on the last day of 1966, December 31st. She was 85 years old when she died. Here is her death certificate.
The address listed for both Emilie and Marie when they died was the same address as the informant, Theophil Kasten. Theo was the nephew of these 3 sisters. He comes out of the family of Arthur Kasten. Theo spent much of his childhood with Clara Kasten living in his household. I find it interesting that he must have been helping care for two other aunts who were sisters of Clara.
Emilie and Clara’s death certificates both say that they were to be buried in Peace Lutheran Cemetery in Uniontown. That must be a mistake. There is no Peace Lutheran in Uniontown. They must have meant Grace Lutheran. All 3 of the Kasten sisters are said to be buried in that cemetery according to those death certificates. However, we only find one listed on Findagrave, and that one is Marie. Here is her gravestone.
I am glad I chose to write this story. I have seen so many examples of single women who never had the opportunity to have children of their own. It just never seems to be the case that these women never get to care for others. In fact, I see just the opposite happening. All 3 of these Kasten sisters were involved in caring for other people, both children and older adults. They were very important parts of the households in which they lived. Being a maid or servant is not the only way that single women serve others. One of our docents, Susan Fiehler, spent her career helping young parents prepare for childbirth by showing them images of their unborn babies. The principal of the local Lutheran School, Cheryl Honoree, has been serving children and their parents throughout her teaching career. I have known several other single women who became wonderful, caring teachers.
I, myself, was single for quite a long time, and was an advocate for single people being capable of serving others in their chosen professions. I still am. Please don’t ever belittle the contributions of the single people in your lives. In many ways, they can serve others in ways that married people with children cannot.