Heinrich Carl Mehner was born on March 28, 1872, making today his 149th birthday. I will attempt to tell his story today. The Mehner family had arrived in this area in 1840, then not long after their arrival, Henry’s father was born in 1843. The Mehner family lived in a variety of townships in Perry County and northern Cape Girardeau County, and Henry’s grandfather was always a farmer. However, that was not the case with Henry’s father. At about the time of Henry’s birth, he was called a farmer and merchant in the Apple Creek Township. This appears to be the beginning of several generations of merchants, as you will see in today’s tale.
Henry’s parents were Friedrich and Elizabeth (Hilleman) Mehner. I am not sure where Henry was baptized. An older brother had been baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, but the rest of the Mehner children are not included in that congregation’s records. When we find Henry in his first census in 1880, his family was living in the Apple Creek Township. Henry was 8 years old, and this is where we see his father called a farmer and merchant.
I wish we could look at an 1890 census for Henry, but we cannot, so we will turn our attention to his future wife. Her name was Dorothea Christine Knoll, who was born on February 8, 1873. She was the daughter of Johann Nicholas and Catherine (Herman) Knoll. Dora’s Knoll family, including her father, had arrived in America in 1849 aboard the ship, Alesto.
The church records for the Knoll family can be found in the Friedenberg Remembrances book, so that is where Dora was likely baptized. We find Dora in her first census in 1880 as a 7 year-old. Her father was a farmer.
That would be the only census in which we find Dora as a single woman. At this time, I want to point out how Henry got to know Dora. Dora’s older brother, Johann Knoll, had married Henry’s older sister, Wilhelmine Mehner, in 1891, so Henry and Dora’s marriage was not the first between a Mehner and a Knoll. Henry Mehner married Dora Knoll on June 10, 1894 at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. We can view this couple’s marriage license.
Our German Family Tree says this couple had 4 children. The first two were baptized at Peace, Friedenberg. Then, we find this interesting bit of information from a document that listed postmasters for villages in Perry County. In 1898, Henry Mehner was named the postmaster of Point Rest, Missouri.
I was very fortunate to find Henry in the 1900 census. After searching unsuccessfully on Ancestry.com using all kinds of spellings, and then discovering that his sister had also married a Knoll, I decided to see if I could find his brother-in-law in that census. I had already found a plat map for the Point Rest village that shows a parcel of land with the name H.C. Mehner.
Right next to the Mehner land was a parcel with the name Knoll. After I found John Knoll in the census for Bois Brule Township, I checked some other nearby census pages. I was successful in finding Henry Mehner, and I understand why he is not found on Ancestry.com. Take a look at his family’s entry.
Smudges, rips, and tape make this entry difficult to read, and Ancestry does not even come close to calling him Henry Mehner. We see that in 1900, Henry was called a postmaster. In those days, postmasters almost always did their business within some sort of store. I suspect the same was true for Henry, thus qualifying him to be called a merchant. The Mehner’s 3rd child was born in 1900, and that child was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, which at that time may have been the nearest church to Point Rest. Trinity Lutheran Church in Point Rest was established in 1901, and when the Mehner’s last child was born in 1903, that child was baptized at this new congregation.
When the 1910 census was taken, we find Henry and his family living in the Union Township, and more specifically, in the village of Longtown. Henry was a retail merchant with a general store. Two of their children died at an early age before this census, so we see only two children in the household.
The above census would be the last one in which we find Henry. He died in 1919 at the age of 46. His death certificate says he died of pneumonia following him having influenza. This document also states that he was an automobile salesman.
Dora is found living in Longtown in the 1920 census. A 13 year-old niece named Emma Knoll lived in their household. Also, her son, Albert, is now called an automobile salesman.
The 1930 census has only one person living with Dora. That was her grandson, Leon, who was Albert’s son. In 1930, Albert was living in St. Louis, only his wife had a different name than Leon’s mother, so she either died or his first marriage ended in divorce.
In 1940, Dora was living with Albert’s family in St. Louis. Leon is back living with his father…and his grandmother. Albert was an automobile salesman in both the 1930 and 1940 St. Louis censuses. I would classify an automobile salesman as a merchant.
Dora Mehner died in 1947 at the age of 74. Her death certificate says she died in St. Louis, and Albert was the informant on this document.
Henry and Dora Mehner are buried together in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Longtown.
According to my reckoning, this story displays three generations of men who did not produce goods, but were in the business of selling goods to others. I wonder if the next generations of Mehner’s were also merchants of some sort.