Stellings in Sylvan Grove

A marriage that took place on this day is what caused me to research the couple highlighted in this article. The couple had its roots in Perry County, Missouri, but that would not be where they would spend most of their lives. I have discussed on this blog before the fact that there were several out-migrations from Perry County to other special locations around the country. One of those locations was Sylvan Grove, Kansas. In the case of today’s couple, I can give with a certain level of certainty, why they chose to move to Sylvan Grove.

Let’s start by looking at the early life of the groom in today’s wedding. His name was Friedrich Heinrich Stelling. As is the case with lots of Friedrich’s, he was called Frederick, Fred, and even Fritz. Friedrich was born on March 7, 1874, the son of John and Mary (Popp) Stelling. He was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri. The only census in which we find Friedrich as a single person, and the only one we find him living in Perry County, was the one taken in 1880. He was 6 years old, and his father was a mill worker. That would likely have been the mill operated by the Weinhold brothers in Frohna.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we take a look at the bride. Her name was Sarah Christiana Jacob. She was born on April 15, 1877, the daughter of Heinrich and Hanna (Hinkelmann) Jacob. Sarah was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We find Sarah in the 1880 census at the age of 3. Like her husband, this is the only census in which we find her living in Perry County and single.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

On January 8, 1899, Friedrich Stelling married Sarah Jacob at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Here is the marriage license for this couple.

Stelling/Jacob marriage license

When this couple got married, they may have already made plans to move elsewhere. We find this pair living in Linn, Missouri when the 1900 census was taken where Friedrich was a farmer. A 6 month-old baby was now part of their family. A sister of Sarah’s, Emma Jacob, was living in their household.

1900 census – Linn, MO

Sometime between that census and the next one, this couple moved again. The rest of their lives, you will find them living in Lincoln County, Kansas, which is where Sylvan Grove is found. Here is a map of that county.

Lincoln County, Kansas map

You might wonder what drew this family to that area of Kansas. In a history of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sylvan Grove, Kansas, we find this list of some of their early pastors. You will find a Rev. J.H. Jacob serving that congregation from 1897-1910. He was a half-brother of Sarah. Rev. Jacob was likely the drawing card for the Stelling’s to move there.

Early pastors – Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Sylvan Grove, KS

Here is the entry for the Stelling’s in the 1910 census. Their family had grown, and now they had 5 children. Fred was a farmer. Their 9 year-old child, Concordia, was listed on this form as being born in Kansas, so it must not have been long after the 1900 census that this family moved to Kansas.

1910 census – Vesper Township, KS

Friedrich had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918. His address is given as Sylvan Grove, Kansas.

Friedrich Stelling – WWI draft registration

Next, we find the Stelling’s in the 1920 census. This time, there was another of Sarah’s sisters, Rosa Jacob, living with them. There were 6 children in their family.

1920 census – Pleasant Township, KS

The 1930 census only has one child still living at home, but an addition is Henry Jacob, Sarah’s father, who was 91 years old.

1930 census – Grove Township, KS

I wrote a post a while back that asked the question, Which of the Original Immigrants Was the Last to Die? Part 2. Unless we find an original immigrant who lived longer than Henry Jacob, who died in 1931, he will be the last of the original immigrants to die.

Sarah Stelling died in 1935 at the age of 58. We still find Friedrich in the next census in 1940. He was living with his daughter, Ruth, who had married Raymond Eckelmann. Raymond was a merchant, and Fred was a delivery man for that store.

1940 census – Sylvan Grove, KS

Friedrich Stelling died in 1952 at the age of 78. Friedrich and Sarah are buried in the Bethlehem Lutheran Cemetery in Sylvan Grove.

Frederick and Sarah Stelling gravestone – Bethlehem, Sylvan Grove, KS

I think this couple was one of the first natives of Perry County to settle in the area around Sylvan Grove. The fact that there was also a pastor in Sylvan Grove who came from Perry County, probably contributed to the out-migration of several of others from this area to Kansas. The late 1800’s and early 1900’s was a time when young men were unable to find land on which to farm in Perry County. Kansas offered a place where land was still available, so many from here were drawn to that area. Surnames such as Eggers, Etzoldt, Stueve, and Kaempfe are found in the same cemetery as Friedrich and Sarah Stelling.


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