Land for a Church

Our story for today begins in the Scheeβel region of Lower Saxony, Germany. Both the bride and groom in today’s couple were born there, and the bride was born on this day. However, I will begin this article by discussing the groom.

Johann Oetjen was born on February 13, 1849 in Ostervesede, Germany. His parents were Heinrich and Margaretha (Luedemann) Oetjen. I was able to find the marriage record of Johann’s parents from some Scheeβel church records. They were married on May 7, 1841. I have to display it in two images.

Heinrich Oetjen/Margaretha Luedemann marriage record – Ostervesede, Germany

Johann’s baptism record was also located in these records. Once again, this record spills over two pages, so I must display two images.

Johann Oetjen baptism record – Ostervesede, Germany

We have an Oetjen family binder in our research library provided by Daniel Oetjen. It is a wonderful source of photographs, but it is also written in German, so there is much that I do not understand.

Oetjen family binder

In that binder, you can find the photo below in the section that describes the life of Johann Oetjen. I figure this must have been an early photo of him, and perhaps he had served in the military in Germany before coming to America.

If I have located the correct immigration document, Johann traveled to America aboard the ship, Donau, in 1876. In the passenger list shown below, I have included some other nearby names which also became common names in Jackson County, Illinois and members of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. Johann is listed as 27 years old, which corresponds with his year of birth.

Johann Oetjen – Donau passenger list – 1876

Next, we turn our attention to Johann’s future bride. She is today’s birthday girl. Her name was Maria Luedemann. Yes, Johann married a woman who shared the same surname as his mother. I believe this Luedemann surname was rather common in the Scheeβel region of Germany. Maria was born on January 3, 1858 in Vahlde, Germany. In the map below, you can see that Vahlde and Ostervesede are located quite near one another.

Vahde and Ostervesede, Germany map

Maria’s parents were Heinrich and Engel (Bostelmann) Luedemann. I managed to locate the marriage record for Maria’s parents. They were married on March 2, 1849 in the Scheeβel area. The record states that Heinrich was from Ostervesede and Engel was from Vahlde.

Heinrich Luedemann/Engel Bostelmann marriage record – Scheeβel, Germany

I thought I found the correct immigration document for Maria. A Maria Luedemann came to America on the same ship, the Donau, except she came in 1879. The Maria Luedemann on this list is said to be 17 years old which is close, but not the correct age. However, once again, we see some other surnames on this passenger list that were names that showed up in the Jacob, Illinois area.

Maria Luedemann – Donau passenger list – 1879

The marriage record for this couple is not found in the church records of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. However, I found a civil record for Johann and Maria which took place in Jackson County in 1877. This would discount the above passenger list as including the correct Maria Luedemann.

Oetjen/Luedemann marriage record – Jackson County, IL

That marriage year corresponds with later information in a census record. I was unable to find this Oetjen couple in the 1880 census. We do know that their first child was born in 1881, and that child was baptized at Christ, Jacob. According to our German Family Tree, this couple had 8 children. A map of Fountain Bluff Township that was produced not long before the turn of the century shows a parcel of land owned by John Oetjen right on the banks of the Mississippi River.

John Oetjen land map

When the 1900 census was taken, we find this Oetjen household. They had 5 children at that time, and John was a farmer. It is this entry that states this couple had been married for 23 years, thus putting their year of marriage at 1877.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

In 1904, Johann sold 5 acres of land to Christ Lutheran Church for the construction of a new church and school. That transaction is described in the history of that congregation.

Christ Lutheran Church, Jacob, Illinois history

The Oetjen binder also includes this photo of the Oetjen’s which credits them with providing the land for the Jacob church and school.

Here is a little better photograph of Johann Oetjen.

Johann Oetjen

We find the Oetjen family in the 1910 census where Johann is described as a salesman for a general store.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Next, the Oetjen household can be seen in the 1920 census. I included the household of his son, John, Jr.

1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The last census in which we find Johann was the one enumerated in 1930. Once again, you see the John, Jr. family right above Johann, Sr.’s family.

1930 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

John Oetjen died in 1937 at the age of 88. We can still find Mary in the 1940 census living with her son. Nearby was the household of Mary’s grandson, Alfred Oetjen.

1940 census – Fountain Bluff Township, MO

Mary Oetjen died in 1946 at the age of 88. John and Mary are buried together in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

John and Mary Oetjen gravestone – Christ, Jacob, IL

Two previous posts written about a few Oetjen cousins who ended up in Oregon. Those posts were titled, Oregon’s Oetjen Cousins – Part 1 and Oregon’s Oetjen Cousins – Part 2. One of those Oetjen’s was John’s son, Friedrich. Some of the Oetjen children moved elsewhere, and some remained around Jacob, Illinois. This family is definitely interesting to study, and the family binder from Daniel Oetjen is certainly helpful in telling that family’s history.

3 thoughts on “Land for a Church

  1. Regarding the 1880 Federal Census: It appears that the Oetjen surname was transcribed incorrectly as Oetjeie. John and Mary here appear to be the right age and living in Fountain Bluff. Oddly, the place, Bradenburg, is shown as their birthplace. Meyers Gazette shows no such town or village in Germany.


    1. I think the birthplace was transcribed incorrectly too. Ostervesede and Scheeßel have been part of the Amt Rotenburg during the 19th century. So Rotenburg was read as Bradenburg, probably because the transcriber knew Brandenburg, a german state.


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