On this date, May 7th, in 1893, Wilhelm Friedrich Bodenschatz, often called Fritz, was born. He was the son of Wilhelm F. and Maria (Degenhardt) Bodenschatz. I ran across a few places when Fritz was called Fred, Sr. which would be because he had a son by the name of Wilhelm Friedrich which would have made that child, Fred, Jr. However, it appears to me that today’s Fritz would have himself been a Junior. That would make his son, Wilhelm Friedrich Bodenschatz III. Fritz happened to be born during those few years that Perry County kept some birth records. The two images below show Fritz’s birth record.
Fritz’s baptism record is found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.
We find Fritz in the 1900 census for the Brazeau Township at the age of 7. His grandfather, Henry Bodenschatz, was shown to be the head of the household.
When Fritz was about 10 years old, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg was established. That was where Fritz was confirmed in 1906. We then find him in the 1910 census where we see that the family has grown even larger. Fritz was the oldest child.
Fritz’s father died in 1911, so when the 1915 plat maps were produced, we find a parcel of land owned by Maria Bodenschatz.
There is a creek running through this piece of land that is now called the Bodenschatz Branch. Also, on the road leading from Altenburg to Wittenberg, there is a hill that the locals now call, Bodenschatz Hill. That hill is shown below.
Now, it’s time to take a look at Fritz’s future wife. Her name was Lydia Engel Versemann. She was born on August 3, 1895, the daughter of John and Anna (Mangels) Versemann. Lydia was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Missouri. Here is the baptism record for Lydia.
Lydia is found in the hard-to-read 1900 census for the Salem Township where her father was a farmer. It’s almost impossible to decipher, but Lydia is the 5 year-old.
Next, we find Lydia in the 1910 census as a teenager. This time, the Versemann family was living in the Fountain Bluff Township in Jackson County, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from Perry County. They must have moved right before this census because the youngest child, Ella, is said to have been born in Missouri, not Illinois. It’s interesting that the oldest daughter, Hulda, is said to have been born in Illinois, so perhaps Lydia’s parents had lived in this area early in their marriage.
Fritz had his World War I draft registration completed in 1917.
That leads us up to the marriage of Fritz Bodenschatz and Lydia Versemann. These two were reportedly married on April 2, 1918. I use the term “reportedly” because I was unable to find either a church or civil record for this marriage. I have to rely on information provided by the Degenhardt family along with a date inscribed on their gravestone.
Seven children are listed for this couple in our German Family Tree. The first 4 were baptized at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg. Another one was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Point Rest. We find the Bodenschatz couple in the 1920 census. You have to be a little careful with this entry. Although it says there were a number of sons and daughters, only one was a daughter of Fritz and Lydia. The others were actually Fritz’s brothers and sister.
The 1930 census indicates a relocation of this family. They were then living in the Bois Brule Township. Some documents said they were living in the Belgique area. This entry was a combination household of Fritz’s family as well as his brother, Oscar’s family. Their mother was still living with them also.
The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. This time the Fritz and Oscar Bodenschatz families are listed separately.
When Fritz had his World War II draft card completed in 1942, his occupation was listed as “tenant farmer” in Belgique.
Fritz died in 1973 at the age of 80; Lydia died in 1974 at the age of 78. The state of Missouri recently made their death certificates available to the public up through 1970, but that is still not enough to enable us to see the ones for Fritz and Lydia. These two were buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.
The Bodenschatz surname is an interesting one in this area. We find pockets of folks with this name in different places over the years. There was a pocket in New Wells, another in Uniontown, and another in Altenburg. I know I have to be careful when researching this surname. Fritz’s story gave me the opportunity to also discuss a Bodenschatz that ended up farming in the Mississippi River bottoms east of Perryville. Quite a few of the Bodenschatz folks from today’s story are buried in the cemetery of Immanuel, Perryville. Yet, if you look at the cemetery of the congregation from which Lydia was baptized, Salem, Farrar, you will find no grave sites for the Bodenschatz surname. It’s either feast of famine in local cemeteries as to whether you will find people with the Bodenschatz surname.