Happy Birthday, Great Great Grandpa Theiss

I am sure that I am not the only one who has roots in Perry County who can call today’s birthday boy as one of their ancestors. I know there are 5 pages of his descendants in our German Family Tree. As for me, I can call him my great great grandfather. The way I have it figured, people have 8 sets of great great grandparents, and that means 8 great great grandfathers and 8 great great grandmothers. So, today’s birthday boy, Johann Conrad Theiss is one of my great great grandpas.

Johann Conrad Theiss would be celebrating his 210th birthday today because he was born on March 30, 1811. In his case, as far as I know, the only way we get his birthday is by looking at his tombstone, which fortunately can still be read rather plainly. Not many gravestones from the 1870’s are still readable. Since Johann Conrad died during the time of the “Koestering Hole”, we cannot view a church death record. Also, since he was born in Germany, we do not have a baptism record to view. According to several family histories on Ancestry.com that are not documented, Johann Conrad’s parents were Johann Conrad and Catherine (Moebus) Theiss. His father likely died in Germany, but his mother came to America and shows up in a few records here.

I am not sure exactly when or how Conrad arrived in America, but it must not have been long after the Gesellschaft and New York Group arrived in 1839. He was a baptismal sponsor for Johann Conrad Kalbfleisch in August of 1839. Could this baby have been named after Johann Conrad Theiss? That baptism record is found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below, we can see that baptism record.

Johann Conrad Kalbfleisch baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Not long after that, Conrad was the sponsor for Jacob Seibel, the daughter of Johann and Elizabeth Seibel. Elizabeth was Conrad’s sister. That baptism record is shown below. I highlighted the name of Conrad Theiss twice in this image to demonstrate that this was the very next baptism record in those books.

It just so happens that Johann Seibel, Conrad’s brother-in-law, was born exactly two years earlier on March 30, 1809. I published a post about the Seibel’s exactly two years ago titled, Tales from a Tombstone…in a Barn.

When Conrad came to America, he was married to a woman named Catherine. There had been one child, Johann, born to this couple in 1841 whose baptism record is displayed below. This record indicates Conrad living in Cape Girardeau County, which makes me wonder if he was living in the Johannisberg settlement.

Johann Theiss baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Catherine died in 1844, leaving Conrad as a widower. Her death record also shows Cape Girardeau County.

Catherine Theiss death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Conrad married again, so let’s take a look at his second wife. Wilhelmine Maria Dorthea Rabold was born on November 8, 1828, making her about 17 years younger than Conrad. She was the daughter of Johann Christian and Eva (Stark) Rabold. The Rabold family came to America aboard the Favorite in 1842.

Rabold family – Favorite passenger liist – 1842

On July 19, 1846, Johann Conrad Theiss married Wilhelmine Rabold at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. If this was a church wedding, it would have taken place in Trinity’s 1845 church building, which is now part of our museum. Below is the church record for that wedding.

Theiss/Rabold marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Our German Family Tree lists 7 children born to this couple. When the 1850 census was taken, we find this Theiss household. Conrad was a tailor. Wilhelmine’s mother was living in their household, along with a physician by the name of Augustus Birwirth. The John Theiss who was 9 years old was the son born to the first marriage.

1850 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find the Theiss household in the 1860 census.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The last census in which we find Conrad was the one taken in 1870.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Johann Conrad Theiss died in 1872 at the age of 61. He was buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg. This is the gravestone that contains his date of birth.

Johann Conrad Theiss gravestone – Trintiy, Altenburg, MO

Wilhelmine was living with her son, Henry in the 1880 census.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We find Wilhelmine once again living in the Henry Theiss household in 1900.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

When the 1910 census was taken, Wilhelmine was living with her daughter, Elizabeth, who had married Joseph Schuessler, in St. Louis. Joseph was a cigar maker, whose story was written in the post, Schuessler Stogies.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

In April of 1916, Wilhelmine’s granddaughter, Clara Loebs, was confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg. When that confirmation took place, a four generation photo was taken that included Wilhelmine.


Clara Loebs is the young girl in front. Behind her is her mother, Bertha (Mueller) Loebs. In fact, when this photo was taken, Bertha was Bertha Schmidt, who married my grandfather, Emanuel Schmidt, after her first husband died. On the right is Bertha’s mother, Amelia (Theiss) Mueller. The photo is mislabeled because the woman on the left is Wilhelmine (Rabold) Theiss, Clara’s great grandmother.

Clara Loebs is also Gerard Fiehler’s grandmother. Bertha Mueller is not only Gerard’s great grandmother, but she is my grandmother.

It was not long after this photo was taken that Wilhelmine died. Her death record is found in the books of St. Paul’s, Wittenberg. She died in November of 1916.

Wilhelmine Theiss death record – St. Paul’s, Wittenberg, MO

Even though Wilhelmine died in Wittenberg, she was buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.

Wilhelmine Theiss gravestone – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

This may end up confusing you, but Wilhelmine’s older sister, Caroline Rabold, married Jacob Seibel (the brother of the Johann Seibel who married Conrad’s sister) in 1843. Jacob and Caroline had a daughter, another Wilhelmine. That Wilhelmine Seibel married my great grandpa, Gottwerth Schmidt. So, Jacob and Caroline Seibel were another set of my great great grandparents. But that may have to be a story on this blog another day.

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Great Great Grandpa Theiss

      1. Clara’s brother, George, had 4 sons named Loebs. Clara married Rudy Schilling, so her children were Schilling’s.


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