Drifting Darnstaedt

A while back, I wrote a story about a Darnstaedt who did some moving around during his lifetime. That post was titled, Joseph and Anna – To Illinois and Back. After you read today’s tale, you may come to the conclusion that Joseph Darnstaedt had nothing on his son, Ernst, when it came to moving around during his lifetime.

Ernst Gottlob Darnstaedt was born on November 30, 1893 in Jacob, Illinois. He was the son of Joseph and Anna (Weber) Darnstaedt and baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. Ernst was the firstborn child in his family. Here is his baptism record in two images from that congregation’s records.

Ernst Darnstaedt baptism record – Christ, Jacob, IL

Ernst is found in the 1900 census for Fountain Bluff Township in Jackson County, Illinois, which is where the town of Jacob is found. Ernst was listed as 5 years old, but the census also gives his birth year as 1894, which is incorrect. He should have been 6 years old.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Sometime between 1901 and 1904, Ernst’s family moved across the river to Perry County. Ernst was confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg in 1908. His birth date is incorrect on this record.

Ernst Darnstaedt confirmation record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

When the 1910 census was taken, Ernst’s family can be found living in Altenburg, but Ernst is found living in the Frederick Hilpert family as a farm laborer.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The next document I found for Ernst was the World War I draft registration that was completed in 1917. This form says that Ernst was working on his Uncle John’s farm in Jacob, Illinois. Ernst did serve in the military during this war. I will show evidence later.

Ernst Darnstaedt – WWI draft registration

The 1920 census finds Ernst in yet another location. He was living in Potter, Nebraska in a Reitz (or Rutz) household and working as a farm laborer.

1920 census – Potter, NE

We have an interesting connection here. The above census record has shown up in a previous blog, Cheyenne Schubarths. Right under Ernst Darnstaedt’s name in the above census, you find the name, Adolph Schubarth. Adolph had some roots in both Perry County, Missouri and Jackson County, Illinois. He also had been married to Agnes Fehnke. In the same year as this census, Ernst Darnstaedt married Bertha Fehnke. I could not find a documented connection between these two Fehnke women, but I did find evidence that each of them had roots in the Norfolk, Nebraska area. I suspect there was some sort of relationship between the two. Before we discuss Ernst’s marriage, let’s take a look at his bride, Bertha Fehnke.

Bertha Fehnke was born on November 30, 1893 in Wayne County, Nebraska. Yes, this means that if this birth date is correct, Bertha was born on the same day and the same year as Ernst. For a while, I doubted that birth date because I didn’t have any documentation. However, I later discovered that Bertha’s gravestone gives November 30, 1893 as her date of birth. Bertha was the daughter of John and Mary (Laase) Fehnke. I found this Fehnke family in the 1910 census living in Cuming County, Nebraska. Bertha was 16 years old.

1910 census – Cuming County, NE

I couldn’t find Bertha in the 1920 census, but that is the year that she and Ernst were married. I figure that Ernst living with Adolph Schubarth in Potter somehow explains him finding a Fehnke bride across the state of Nebraska.

Once again, I do not have any official documentation, but an Ancestry family history that seems pretty reliable says the Ernst Darnstaedt married Bertha Fehnke in St. Edwards, Nebraska on November 30, 1920. That’s right. It appears that this couple was married on the same day as both of their birthdays. I think it makes some sense that this couple might have gone out of their way to be married on their birthday(s). Is it fair for me (an old man who has memory issues) to say that Ernst would have especially found it much easier to remember his anniversary if it was on his and his wife’s birthday?

It appears that Ernst and Bertha had 8 children. According to that family tree on Ancestry, the first child, a son named Ervin, was born in Plainview, Nebraska. Then, the next 5 children born to this couple are to be found in our German Family Tree. Two children born in the 1920’s were baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. Then, a daughter was born in 1928 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells, Missouri. On the occasion of two of those baptisms, there were Schubarth’s who were sponsors. We find the Darnstaedt family living in the Shawnee Township in the 1930 census. The child born in Missouri, Ruby Darnstaedt, is mysteriously missing from this census. She shows up in the next census, so she hadn’t died.

1930 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Two more children were born and baptized at Immanuel, New Wells in 1930 and 1932. Their next child was said to be born in Ware, Illinois which is across the river from Cape Girardeau in Union County. The child born after that was said to be born in Sparta, Illinois in Randolph County. I think the photo below was taken when Ernst’s youngest sister, Adela, was married in 1934. I think Ernst may be the man on the far left. We know that Ernst was the oldest sibling.

Darnstaedt siblings – 1934?

If that is not enough, we find this family in yet another location when the 1940 census was taken. They were living in Lively Grove in Washington County, Illinois. Ruby, Edna, and Willie were born in Missouri and are recorded incorrectly in this entry.

1940 census – Lively Grove, IL

Bertha Darnstaedt died in 1965 at the age of 71. Ernst Darnstaedt died in 1968 at the age of 75. After Ernst died, a request was made for a military headstone to indicate his service to his county during World War I. The headstone application form is shown below.

Ernst Darnstaedt – Military Headstone Application

Ernst and Bertha Darnstaedt were buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in New Athens, Illinois. As you can see, these two are both given the birth date of November 30, 1893 on their gravestones.

This story surely presented a challenge to find all the census records in so many different locations. Ernst certainly drifted from one place to the next. I think this is the first time I have run across a husband and wife that not only had the same birthday, but they were also born in the same year. Then, you add to that the fact that it seems that they were also married on that same date in 1920. I find that amazing, but understandable.

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