Grosse Pfeiffer

I will begin with a discussion of German words today. The word, grosse, in German can be translated to the word large in English. I also found evidence that the German surname, Pfeiffer, can be translated as fifer, one who plays the fife. When I think of a fife, I think of a fife and drum corps, which has some members playing what could also be called a piccolo. The tale you will read today will detail the life of a couple made up of a Grosse and a Pfeiffer.

We will start with a girl by the name of Sarah Lina Grosse, who was born on December 29, 1880, making today her 140th birthday. Sarah was the daughter of John and Ernestine (Petzoldt) Grosse. Sarah was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We can see the baptism record for Sarah in the two images below. You can see that Sarah is another one who was born in one year and baptized in the next. She was the first baptism of the year 1881 at Immanuel.

Sarah Grosse baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Sarah does not show up until we find her in the 1900 census at the age of 9. Her father was a carpenter.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Not long before the above census was taken, the Grosse’s had a family photo taken. Sarah is standing in the back row, the second person from the right (also the first girl from the right).

John Grosse family

In the same year as the 1900 census, Sarah’s mother died, leaving her father as a widower with all of those children, many of which were girls.

Now, we will take a look at Sarah’s future husband. His name was Albert Ernst Pfeiffer. Albert was born on May 28, 1883, the son of Herman and Louise (Klaus) Pfeiffer. He was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells, Missouri. Below is his baptism record from that congregation.

Albert Pfeiffer baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Albert can be found in the 1900 census at the age of 17. His father was a farmer. This Pfeiffer family had plenty of boys.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

On November 20, 1904, Albert Pfeiffer married Sarah Grosse at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Their church marriage record takes up two pages in that congregation’s records.

Pfeiffer/Grosse marriage record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

We can also view the marriage license for this couple.

Pfeiffer/Grosse marriage license

In a Grosse family binder we have in our research library, I found a wedding photograph for Albert and Sarah.

Albert and Sarah Pfeiffer wedding

I almost chose not to write this story because I discovered quite early in my research that this couple had no children. It is usually quite difficult to find documents on a couple with no children. However, in my experience writing on this blog, I have found that many childless couples would at some point in their marriage take in children that needed homes. Such was the case with Albert and Sarah, but not right away. The first census in which we find this married couple was the one taken in 1910. Albert was a farmer in Shawnee Township.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

It is in the 1920 census that we find some children living in the Pfeiffer household. These children were already teenagers.

1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Let me explain this situation. Sarah’s older sister, Juliane, first married a man named John Zwosta in 1900. That couple had three children, two girls and a boy, by the end of 1905. It must not have been long after 1905 that John Zwosta died. Juliane then married Martin Degenhardt around 1908. We find this couple living in St. Louis in the 1910 census. We see the 3 Zwosta step-children in this entry.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

Juliane died in 1915, and apparently Martin Degenhardt felt he could not adequately care for his step-children, so they were “farmed out”. Albert and Florence went to live with the Pfeiffer’s in Shawnee Township. Elenora went to living in the Arthur Palisch household in Brazeau Township. Arthur’s wife was another of the Grosse girls, Magdalena. We see Elenora in this entry from the 1920 census.

1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

All 3 of these Zwosta siblings were married in the 1920’s, so we do not find any of them living with the Pfeiffer’s in the 1930 census. However, this couple was now living in the Brazeau Township of Perry County. Albert was still a farmer.

1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The last census we can view was taken in 1940, and we find this pair living in Altenburg. Based on the other households listed nearby in the census, I think he was living on the side of town near Immanuel Lutheran Church.

1940 census – Altenburg, MO

Fairly late in her life, Sarah was pictured with 5 of her sisters. She is the third woman from the left.

6 Grosse sisters

Albert and Sarah both died in 1965 about one month apart from one another. Albert died in April of that year at the age of 81. His death certificate says he was a resident at the Deal Nursing Home in Jackson, Missouri.

Albert Pfeiffer death certificate

Sarah died in May at the age of 84. She, too, was a resident of that same nursing home.

Sarah Pfeiffer death certificate

Albert and Sarah are buried together in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.

Albert and Sarah Pfeiffer gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

The Pfeiffer couple’s story is yet another one in which people provide a place for children to be raised in times of need. Quite a few of those situations are resolved by having them taken in by childless couples like Albert and Sarah. If you look closely at the death certificates of these two, you will see that the informant in both cases has the surname, Zwosta. Apparently, this couple had an impact on the lives of those Zwosta children all the way up to the time of their deaths.

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