One of the Altenburg Giants

Once again, today’s story has origins in East Perry County, but the rest of the story takes place elsewhere. We find only one church record in our German Family Tree associated with the main character. This is also a tale that involves a Dietrich family that was not included with the original immigrants, but arrived in Perry County already by 1840.

We will begin this story with a baby that was born and baptized in Perry County. His name was Franz Otto Dietrich who was born on either November 16 or November 18, 1870. Otto was the son of Jacob Gottlob and Louise (Vogel) Dietrich. When we view his baptism record from Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, we see his birth date to be November 16th. It takes two images to view this record.

Otto Dietrich baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

We need to backtrack a little. The grandfather of Otto brought his family to America in 1840 aboard the ship, Talma, which arrived in New Orleans in May of that year. They brought 8 children with them, one of them being Jacob Gottlob. The 1940 census for Perry County shows a John Dietritch family.

1840 census – Perry County, MO

Jacob Dietrich can be found in the 1850 census for Brazeau Township at the age of 26. His father had died in 1844.

1850 census -Brazeau Township, MO

Jacob Gottlob married Louise Vogel in 1852. Louise Vogel would have been August Vogel’s niece, so Louise does have connections to the August Vogel family that became quite prolific around here. The marriage record for this Dietrich/Vogel wedding is shown below.

Dietrich/Vogel marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

A translation of the above record is helpful here. Carl Salomo Vogel never lived in Perry County. He remained in Beardstown, Illinois where the Vogel family first settled in America.

Dietrich/Vogel marriage record translation

A Dietrich family binder we have in our research library has this photo of Gottlob and Louise Dietrich.

Gottlob and Louise Vogel

Gottlob and Louise had 9 children, and amazingly, they were all boys. The chances of a couple having 9 straight boys is 1 in 512. That is a probability of 0.2%. Otto was #8 out of the 9 boys, and when he was still fairly young, a photo was taken of all 9 of these boys. Otto is sitting on the right in front of his older brothers.

Gottlob Dietrich sons

A caption for the above photo is also found in the Dietrich binder.

Since Major League Baseball season began yesterday, let me say that the above “team” of 9 boys could be called the Altenburg Giants. I don’t suppose there are many families around that can field an entire baseball team of boys.

As the caption states, this large Dietrich family left Altenburg in 1877, and moved to Junction City, Kansas. The information in the binder says they moved to Kansas as a result of Louise’s cousin, Rev. Friedrich Mueller, who encouraged them to move there. Unfortunately, I cannot find an 1880 census entry for this family. Not long after they moved, Gottlob Dietrich died at the age of 60 in 1884 and was buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Junction City.

Gottlob Dietrich gravestone – St. Paul’s, Junction City, KS

Otto Dietrich would somehow find a bride who was from Beloit, Kansas, which is not that close to Junction City. Let’s take a look at his bride’s family history. Her name was Martha Jane Stilley who was born on April 2, 1871, making her today’s birthday girl. In fact, today would be her 150th birthday. She was the daughter of Hezekiah and Frankey (Duty) Stilley. I found these photos of Martha’s parents on Findagrave.

We find M.J. in the 1880 census for Asherville, Kansas which is not far from Beloit. Her father was a farmer. All of the individuals in this entry just have initials except for M.J.’s mother, Frankey.

1880 census – Asherville, KS

Otto Dietrich married Martha Jane Stilley on December 9, 1896. It is reported that they married in Beloit, Kansas. Since this couple lived way beyond the reach of our German Family Tree, I have to rely on other sources for their family information. The Dietrich binder shows 3 children born to this family. However, there is a grave site for an infant in Elmwood Cemetery where Otto and Martha would later be buried that is not one of the three. We find the Dietrich family in the 1900 census with their first child. Otto was a farmer.

1900 census – Smoky Hill Township, KS

Next, we find the Dietrich household in the 1910 census. Now, they were living in Martha’s hometown of Beloit, and Otto was a carpenter. We see all 3 of their children in this entry.

1910 census – Beloit, KS

That would be the last census in which we find Otto because he died in 1913 at the age of 42. When the 1920 census was taken, we find Martha and her family living in Dewey Township, Oklahoma. I do not know what drew them there. Her son, Foy, had a job at a cement plant.

1920 census – Dewey Township, OK

Martha Jane Dietrich died in 1928 at the age of 57. Otto and Martha Jane are buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Beloit, Kansas. There is a family marker with other stones for individuals nearby. Otto’s gravestone says he was born on November 18, not November 16.

The Dietrich family binder is a great resource for studying the folks tied to this surname. In it, I found a fold-out family tree that has an incredibly large amount of names on it. I took a photo of it.

Dietrich Family Tree

The portion regarding the Otto Dietrich branch of this tree is shown below.

Otto Dietrich branch of his family tree

I would guess that if this Dietrich family had remained in Perry County with all those boys, we would still have some Dietrich’s around here, but as far as I know, there are none.


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