The First Ben Kasten

Around these here parts, almost everyone knows Ben Kasten. Over the years, he has been the “go to” guy when you needed small engine work done or you needed to buy a new mower. Ben’s given name is Bob Kasten, but almost everyone calls him by his middle name, Ben. I soon discovered after moving to Altenburg that Ben’s aunt, Melba “Mousie” Schmidt was also my aunt. Ben and I are also able to call each other neighbors. Today, I will tell the story of another Ben Kasten. If I have it figured correctly, the Ben Kasten in today’s post would have been the brother of my neighbor’s grandpa.

Emmanuel Benjamin Kasten was born on June 11, 1873, the son of Christian and Seraphine (Hopfer) Kasten. He was the 3rd child out of 8 listed in our German Family Tree. Benjamin was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, Missouri. An image of the baptism record from that congregation’s books is shown below.

Benjamin Kasten baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

I had to look in the long-lost 1880 Union Township pages to find Ben in his first census. He was 6 years old, and his father was a farmer.

1880 census – Union Township, MO

Benjamin would get married before the 1900 census, which is the next one we can view, so we will now take a look at his wife’s origins. Her name was Maria Grebing. She was born on September 16, 1874, the daughter of Heinrich and Wilhelmina (Rabold) Grebing. That makes Maria a granddaughter of the original Grebing to settle in Altenburg, Hartmann Grebing. Maria was the oldest of 3 children in her family, and they were all girls. Maria’s baptism record from the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg is displayed here.

Maria Grebing baptism record – Trintiy, Altenburg, MO

We can find Maria in her first census in 1880 where her family was living in the Brazeau Township. She was 5 years old, and her father was a farmer.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Benjamin Kasten married Maria Grebing on May 6, 1897, so today would be this pair’s 124th wedding anniversary. They were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. The church record for this wedding is shown here.

Kasten/Grebing marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

We can also take a look at the marriage license for this couple.

Kasten/Grebing marriage license

Our German Family Tree lists 7 children born to Ben and Maria. A set of twins was included in that list, and one of those twins died right away. We find the Kasten’s in the 1900 census. Apparently, the marriage of Ben to a Grebing led him to settle near Altenburg rather than Uniontown. They were living in the Brazeau Township, and right next to them in the census was the family of Maria’s parents. Ben was called a farm laborer, and I am guessing he was helping on the farm of his father-in-law.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Maria’s father died in 1908, and since he only had daughters, Ben probably took over his farm. We find this Kasten household in the 1910 census. Ben is the head of the household, and his mother-in-law and sister-in-law were also included.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

When the plat maps for Perry County were produced in 1915, we find a piece of property in the name of Wilhelmina Grebing. This is likely the land farmed by Ben Kasten. The land was located right on the Apple Creek.

Wilhelmina Grebing land map – 1915

Ben Kasten had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918.

Benjamin Kasten – WWI draft registration

Next, we find the Kasten’s in the 1920 census. Six children were listed along with Maria’s sister, Martha Grebing, and a public school teacher named Ethel Tacke.

1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The Kasten household is even larger in the 1930 census. Since one of his sons married a Bertha, and one of their daughters was named Bertha, we find two Bertha Kasten’s in this entry. Maria’s sister, Martha, is still living with the Kasten’s, but she would become Martin Bellmann’s 4th wife later that year.

1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. We once again see 2 Bertha Kasten’s.

1940 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Marie Kasten died in 1953 at the age of 78. A fracture of her hip is given as a cause of her death on her death certificate.

Maria Kasten death certificate

Benjamin Kasten died in 1960 at the age of 87. We can also view his death certificate.

Benjamin Kasten death certificate

Both Ben and Maria were buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.

There are still several Kasten’s living around here. Some of them are likely to come from the Kasten couple described in today’s story. I can even say that a Kasten once lived in my house. I bought the home once owned by Herb and Melba “Mousie” (Kasten) Schmidt.


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