An E.Z. Story to Write: Susan Gets Zapfed

When I noticed a record in our German Family Tree that contained an event that occurred on March 26th, I did not know that I would end up telling a story that had several similarities to yesterday’s post about Rev. Joseph Schmidt. Here are some of those similarities.

  • The German Family Tree contains only a baptism record for this person.
  • The person spent most of their life away from Perry County.
  • The story includes a Lutheran pastor and professor.
  • The individual has no confirmation record.
  • The person is celebrating a special birthday.

Today’s special birthday girl is Sabine Regine Susanna Koestering who was born on March 26, 1871, making today her 150th birthday. She was a pastor’s kid, the daughter of Trinity’s minister, Rev. Johann Friedrich and Louisa (Boese) Koestering. She was baptized at Trinity, Altenburg. By that time, the present-day sanctuary for that congregation had been built. Her is Susanna’s baptism record.

Susanna Koestering baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Susanna is found in the 1880 census at the age of 9. Our German Family Tree lists 11 children in the Koestering family, and several of them are shown in this entry.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Let’s take a look at the fact that there is no confirmation record for Susanna. Our GFT only has one church record mentioned as you can see below.

Susanna Koestering – GFT entry

According to my reckoning, Susanna should have been confirmed in 1884 or 1885, and her father was still the pastor in Altenburg during those years, but there is no record of her confirmation. However, in this case, there is a simple explanation. She wasn’t the only one to not have a confirmation record during this time in Trinity’s history. I have mentioned the “Koestering Hole” which mostly refers to missing death records at that congregation during Rev. Koestering’s time of service. There is another aspect to the “Koestering Hole”. There are also no confirmation records to be found during this time, which explains why Susanna’s record is not to be found.

Rev. Koestering took a call to be a pastor in St. Louis in 1887. It must have been while Susanna was there that she met her future husband while he attended the seminary. His name was Emil Zapf. Let’s take a look at his beginnings.

Herman Emil Zapf was born on December 23, 1871, the son of John George and Christine (Huth) Zapf. We have photos of Emil’s parents.

Emil was born in Cleveland, Ohio where his father was a book binder. Emil should be found in an 1880 census for Cleveland, but I could not find him. I suspect that the surname, Zapf, was transcribed as some other unusual spelling when the census records were being indexed. We do know that Emil attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in the late 1880’s. He began his ministry in the Chicago area in 1891.

Although I cannot show any documentation, it is almost certain that Emil Zapf married Susanna Koestering in St. Louis in 1895. That wedding most likely took place in the congregation where Susanna’s father was the pastor. Emil was still a pastor in Chicago, but by the time he was married, he was serving the congregation of St. Paul Lutheran in Melrose Park. Rev. Zapf started serving that church in 1892, which was also the date when that congregation was established, so it appears that Emil was the first pastor of that church. Since he served there until 1927, I suspect that the church building displayed below was built during his tenure.

We find Emil and Susanna Zapf in the 1900 census with their first child, Armin.

1900 census – Proviso Township, IL

Next, we find the Zapf’s in the 1910 census. By that time, they had all 4 of their children, two boys and two girls.

1910 census – Proviso Township, IL

In 1918, Emil was named a professor at Concordia College in Springfield, Illinois according to this newspaper article.

I’m not sure that he ever moved to Springfield because he was once again living in Melrose Park in the 1920 census. All 4 children were still living in their household.

1920 census – Proviso Township, IL

Sometime along the line, a photo was taken of Rev. Emil Zapf.

Rev. Emil Zapf

The last census in which we find Emil Zapf was the one taken in 1930.

1930 census – Proviso Township, MO

Emil Zapf died in 1937 at the age of 65. We can view his Illinois death certificate.

Emil Zapf – Illinois death certificate

Emil’s obituary gives us some more details about his life and service.

Emil Zapf obituary

Susan Zapf can be found in the 1940 census, still living in Chicago. Her two daughters, Lydia and Mathilde, were still living with her. Each daughter was in her 30’s. These daughters never married.

1940 census – Chicago, IL

Susan Zapf died in 1941 at the age of 69. Emil and Susan are buried together in the St. Luke Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

Emil and Susan Zapf gravestone – St. Luke, Chicago, IL

Armin Zapf, the oldest child, became a Lutheran school teacher. I found evidence of him teaching in Chicago and Detroit. One census even referred to him as a piano teacher. The other son, Edmund Zapf, became a Lutheran pastor. He was a pastor in North Dakota, but we also find him in a 1959 city directory for Milwaukee, Wisconsin where it says he was an instructor at Concordia College. The Patricia Zapf in this image was Edmund’s daughter, and she was a teacher.

Edmund Zapf – 1959 Milwaukee city directory

Apparently, Concordia College, Milwaukee was also where Edmund had attended classes in his earlier years because I found this fascinating entry in a 1925 yearbook from that college.

Edmund Zapf – 1925 yearbook – Concordia, Milwaukee

Who would have ever thought that Rev. J.F. Koestering’s grandson would become a notable basketball player?

There is one more connection of this story to Perry County. In the photo below, which shows the gravestone of Emil and Susan, as well as their daughter, Mathilde’s, gravestone, there is also one identified as Doederlein.

That is the gravestone of Dr. Theodore Doederlein, the son of Rev. Ferdinand Doederlein. Rev. Doederlein was another pastor in the Chicago area, and his story was told in the post, Windy City Wife. You can read that post to find the Doederlein connection to Perry County, but I cannot find any sort of tie-in to the Zapf family.


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