There was once a general store located on what is now Highway C just north of the Apple Creek called the Walther Store. A post written about that place of business was titled, Merchant by the Mill. That store is shown in the photo below.
Many of the stories I write for this blog are about farmers. Not so today. The Walther story you will read today is filled with evidence of people involved in selling their wares…merchants. Eventually I will get around to a birthday girl, but first, I begin with a man who was called Fred Walther. It is possible that the young boy in the above photo is Fred.
Friedrich Arthur Traugott Walther was born on October 1,1882, the son of Herman and Maria (Hesse) Walther. Friedrich was the 2nd child born in his family, but he was also the oldest son. He was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We are not able to view Friedrich in a census until the one taken in 1900 when he was 17 years old. He was already working at his father’s store and called a salesman.
Next, we find Friedrich in the 1910 census where he is still living in his parents’ household. His is also once again listed as a salesman at his father’s store.
Now we will take a look at today’s birthday girl, who also became Friedrich’s bride. Her name was Martha Frieda Christine Blanken who was born on April 13, 1887, making today her 134th birthday. She was the daughter of John and Emma (Meister) Blanken. Frieda was the 2nd child born into her family but also the oldest girl. A story was written about Frieda’s parents in the post titled, Emma – John’s Boss. Emma’s maiden name, Meister, means “master”, and thus, the title. Frieda was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. She is found in her first census in 1900 at the age of 13. Her father was a clock and watch repairer. I suppose you could call him a type of merchant also.
In the 1910 census, Frieda was no longer living with her parents. Like so many young girls of her time, she went to St. Louis to function as a servant in someone’s private home. She was working for the Jaeger family. William Jaeger was a wholesale merchant.
I was unable to find any documentation for the marriage of Friedrich Walther and Frieda Blanken, but it is reported on Ancestry.com family histories that they were married on September 10, 1916. I do know that there were some other changes happening in the Blanken family during this time. By the time of the 1910 census, Frieda’s parents were living in the St. Charles Township in St. Charles County, Missouri where her father had a jewelry store. I think it’s possible that Friedrich and Frieda were married somewhere near Wentzville, but I could easily be wrong. No record of their marriage is found in our German Family Tree.
Shortly after their marriage, Fred had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918. This form says this couple was living in Wittenberg, Missouri, and Friedrich was a salesman at the Joseph Mueller Store. Apparently Fred was not called into service during this war.
According to our German Family Tree, there were 3 children born to this couple. All of them were baptized at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg. We find the Walther family in the 1920 census living in Wittenberg with their first two children. Friedrich was a clerk in a general store.
We find a change in location before we find the Walther family in the 1930 census living in Wentzville, Missouri. This time Friedrich was the proprietor of a variety store. All three of their children are seen in this entry.
The Walther household can be found living in St. Louis when the 1940 census was taken. He was called a clerk in his own variety store.
In 1942, Fred had his World War II draft card completed. At that time, Fred was said to be employed at the Wictory Wave Supply Company. I believe this company dealt with women’s beauty products.
Fred Walther died in 1957 at the age of 74. His death certificate says he was a bookkeeper for a beauty supply company.
Frieda Walther died in 1966 at the age of 78. Her death certificate says she died at Incarnate Word Hospital.
Fred and Frieda’s death certificates state that they were buried in the Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in St. Louis. They are listed for that cemetery on Findagrave, but there are no photos of their gravestones.
There are ties between this Walther family and my Schmidt family. The family of Fred’s son, Wilbert, who managed to find a Perry County bride, Irma Roth, and was married at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, were members of St. Jacobi Lutheran Church in Jennings, Missouri. The families of the Walther’s and the Schmidt’s were faithful attenders of that congregation and often sat near each other in the pews. On occasion, we would gather together for a meal and socializing. I did not understand why our two families were on such friendly terms. I think I understand now that I have done research on the Walther family. My dad and Wilbert spent their boyhood days in Wittenberg, would both serve in the military during World War II, and would raise their families in Jennings and attend St. Jacobi. After my dad and Wilbert ended their careers, they and their wives would move to Florida in retirement and live fairly near one another. As a result, even in Florida, they were able to socialize on occasion. One of Wilbert’s daughters, Irene, is more or less the genealogist in this Walther family and has contributed a Walther family binder to our research library (which I could have used for this post if I was at home). The last time I visited with Irene occurred when she visited our museum several years ago. In other words, after many years elsewhere, a Walther and a Schmidt were once again reunited in Perry County.