Steamboat Mate’s Daughter to Submarine Chaser’s Wife

The story I tell today comes from two entirely different directions. It begins in Jacob, Illinois, meanders through Perry County for a short time, and moves up to St. Louis. A spouse’s life begins in Tennesseee, makes its way to Vancouver, Washington, and that life, too, ends up in St. Louis where these two individuals finally become a married couple. The story also includes a journey through a time when steamboats populated the Mississippi River all the way to a time when submarines patrolled the waters during World War I. I find this to be a fascinating tale.

Elsie Amalia Nennert was born on January 19, 1896, making her today’s birthday girl. Elsie was the daughter of Robert and Martha (Horn) Nennert. A previous story has been written about Elsie’s parents titled, Uncle Bob’s River Job. Elsie was baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. Below is her baptism record shown in two images.

Elsie Nennert baptism record – Christ, Jacob, IL

By the time the 1900 census was taken, the Nennert family had moved back across the river to Wittenberg, Missouri. Robert Nennert was called a steamboat mate. Elsie was 4 years old.

1900 census – Wittenberg, MO

Early on, a photograph was taken of the Robert Nennert family, even though her father was not included in the picture. Elsie is the girl standing to the right of her mother.

Robert Nennert family

When the 1910 census rolled around, the Nennert family was living in St. Louis. Robert was still a steamboat mate and Elsie was a teenager. Her older brother, Aurel, was a bookkeeper for an ice and coal company.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

In 1913, Elsie’s father died, so when the 1920 census was taken, her mother was the head of the household. Elsie was 23 years old, and she was a stenographer for a 5 and 10 cents store.

1920 census – St. Louis, MO

The 1930 census still finds this family in St. Louis. Elsie’s older brother, Aurele, was the head of the household. Elsie’s mother was still living in this household as well. At age 32, Elsie was a secretary of an electical company.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

The last census we can view was the one taken in 1940. Elsie was still a single woman at the age of 44.

1940 census – Webster Gardens, MO

The next document I was able to find for Elsie was a 1943 city directory for St. Louis, and we finally find her as a married woman. Her husband was Clarence Studer, so we will now turn our attention to his rather interesting life.

Clarence Studer – 1943 St. Louis city directory

Clarence Studer was born on September 26, 1895, the son of Jacob and Maggie (Amacher) Studer. I have this photograph of Jacob and Maggie Studer.

Jacob and Maggie Studer

Clarence was born in Belvidere, Tennessee. We have this document of his birth there. Clarence’s parents had roots in Switzerland.

Clarence Studer Tennessee birth record

The 1910 census finds the Studer household all the way across the country living in Vancouver, Washington. Clarence’s father was a carpenter and Clarence was a teenager.

1910 census – Vancouver, WA

Clarence Studer had his World War I draft registration completed in 1917. He was living in Vancouver. He was called a student and a mail carrier at the age of 21.

Clarence Studer – WWI draft registration

A short article can be found on Clarence’s Findagrave site that describes how he received a naval commission during his service in the military.

Clarence Studer article about his naval commission

This is where we find out about his service as a submarine chaser. Below is another WWI document showing Clarence’s transport during the war. He was brought back to his home in Vancouver.

Clarence Studer – transport record WWI

We find Clarence in the 1920 census for Vancouver. He was living with his parents and described as a college student.

1920 census – Vancouver, WA

We find Clarence all the way across the country by the time 1925 rolled around. He apparently was married to a woman named Lillian and they were living in Schenectady, New York. Here is a New York census showing this couple. Clarence was called an electrical engineer.

1925 NY state census – Schenectady, NY

The 1930 census finds this Studer couple living in St. Louis. Clarence was called a sales agent for electrical motors.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

Clarence and Lillian were living in the Webster Gardens area of St. Louis in 1940, which just so happens to be the same area where Elsie Nennert was living. This couple had a housekeeper by the name of Carrie Lorenz. That makes me wonder if this was a Lorenz from Perry County who might have known Elsie Nennert.

1940 census – Webster Gardens, MO

I do not know whether Clarence’s first wife, Lillian, died or they were divorced, but after this we find Clarence married to Elsie Nennert. Clarence died in 1963 at the age of 68. His death certificate describes him as an engineer.

Clarence Studer death certificate

Elsie would not die until 1990 at the age of 94. She died too recently for us to view her death certificate. Clarence and Elsie Studer are each buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery where Clarence’s military service is noted.

I find it interesting how these two lives managed to come together later in life in St. Louis after having been so divergent before that time. There is no evidence that Clarence and Elsie had any children. Something just fascinates me about Elsie’s connection to the Mississippi River steamboats and Clarence’s connection as a submarine chaser during World War I.


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