Angels’ Children

The Christmas season is the time of year when we hear of angels most often. That’s one of the reasons that I could not resist today’s story. You will read about a couple in which both the bride and groom were the children of angels. Of course, you must understand that in German, the word for angel is engel.

Let’s begin with the bride because today is a special birthday for her. She was Anna Marie Adelheid Mangels. Her father was Johann Mangels. I suppose you could say that he had “angels” in his name also. Anna’s mother was Engel Mahnke…or Angel Mahnke. Anna was born on December 27, 1870 and baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Missouri. Today would have been her 150th birthday. She was the oldest of the Mangels children in this family. An image of her baptism record is shown below.

Anna Maria Mangels baptism record – Salem, Farrar, MO

Anna was born way too late to be included in the 1870 census, so the first census in which we find her was the one taken in 1880 when she was 10 years old. This would be the only census entry in which we find Anna as a single person.

1880 census – Salem Township, MO

Now, we will look at Anna’s future groom. His name was Johann Versemann, who was born on April 30, 1868. Johann’s father was another Johann Versemann. His mother was Engel Hollmann…or Angel Hollmann. Johann was child #5 in a family of 8 children. Johann was born and baptized in the Hannover region of Germany right before his family immigrated to America. We find the baby Johann on a passenger list for the ship, Berlin, which arrived in America in August of 1868. Their family spilled over two pages of this passenger list.

Versemann family – Berlin passenger list – 1868

The Versemann family can be found in the 1870 census living in the Brazeau Township where Johann’s father was a farmer.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We find the Versemann household living in the Salem Township in the 1880 census. In fact, when I found this family in that census, I was surprised to see that they were listed right under the Mangels family. I have highlighted both Anna and John. When John got around to courting his future bride, he must not have had to travel very far.

1880 census – Salem Township, MO

The two angel mothers can be seen in the above image also, along with the two fathers named John.

On April 30, 1891, John Versemann married Anna Mangels at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar. “Angel” Versemann had died in 1886, so only “Angel” Mangels would have attended the wedding. The pastor at Salem, Rev. H. Albrecht, had died in January of 1891, so that congregation was without a pastor when this marriage took place. Here is the marriage license for John and Anna. You will see that Rev. Zschoche from Concordia, Frohna was the pastor who performed this ceremony.

Versemann/Mangels marriage license

We can also view this couple’s church record for their wedding. You can see three different handwritings on this image. The top two records were entered by Rev. H. Albrecht. Then you see the record for John and Anna entered by Rev. Zschoche, followed by a record entered by Rev. F. Schriefer in August of that year after he had arrived to serve Salem.

I also located the wedding photo of this couple in a Mangels family book that we have in our research library. It’s another one of those photos where you see the bride and groom shaking hands.

John and Anna Versemann wedding

As near as I can tell, John and Anna moved across the river into Jackson County, Illinois for a while. Their first child’s baptism record can be found in the books of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. Here is Hulda Versemann’s baptism record.

Hulda Versemann baptism record – Christ, Jacob, IL

In 1894, their second child was baptized at Salem, Farrar, so this pair must have moved back to Perry County. We find them in that horrid 1900 census for Salem Township where John is called a farmer. By then, 5 of their 11 children had been born. One of those died before this census was taken.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

When the 1910 census was taken, we find this couple living in the Fountain Bluff Township of Jackson County, Illinois. John was called a carpenter, and the household was rather full of children.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The youngest child in the above image, Ella, was baptized in 1908 at Christ, Jacob, so it must have been around that time that this family relocated across the river in Illinois. Two more children were born and baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois after the above census. Next we find this Versemann household in the 1920 census in the same location, but John was a farmer.

1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

We find the Versemann family in a slightly different place when the 1930 census was enumerated. They were living in Degognia, Illinois, another location in Jackson County.

1930 census – Degognia, IL

The last census that can be viewed is the one taken in 1940, and we find John and Anna living in Ava, Illinois, yet another town in Jackson County.

1940 census – Ava, IL

John Versemann died in 1944 at the age of 76; Anna Versemann died in 1956 at the age of 85. These two are buried together in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

John and Anna Versemann gravestone – Christ, Jacob, IL

Anna Versemann was not the only child in her Mangels family that was born in December. Three out of Engel Mangels’ children were born in December. That month seems to be a very good month for an angel to give birth. The two children of angels in today’s story might as well have had wings considering how many moves they made during their lifetimes.

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Just one more thing. My pastor and his wife gave me the present shown below for Christmas this year. This ornament came from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, which happens to be another area like Perry County which was one of the early German Lutheran communities in America that joined to form the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.


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