The Baptist Church’s Nave

I found this definition of a church nave: “the principal longitudinal area of a church, extending from the main entrance or narthex to the chancel, usually flanked by aisles of less height and breadth: generally used only by the congregation.” Generally speaking, it is the central and usually the largest area within a church where the majority of worshipers sit. However, that is not the nave that I will consider in this blog post. Before we discuss today’s Nave, we will look at our birthday girl.

Ella Martha Bodenschatz was born on May 17, 1892, the daughter of Friedrich and Martha (von Roenn) Bodenschatz. Friedrich had 4 children with his first wife, and Ella was the first of 2 children born to his second wife, Martha. Ella was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Her baptism record from that congregation’s books is shown below.

Ella Bodenschatz baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Ella is found in several early census entries living in the Shawnee Township in which New Wells is located. The 1900 census shows Ella as an 8 year-old. Her father was a farmer.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

When Ella was confirmed, probably around 1906, the photograph shown below was taken. It is a typical confirmation photo from that era.

Ella Bodenschatz confirmation photo

The 1910 census shows Ella living in the Arthur Richter household as a 17 year-old servant.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Ella is back to living with her parents when the 1920 census was taken. At the age of 28, Ella is described as being a clerk in a restaurant. This time, her father was called a blacksmith.

1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Now we will turn our attention to Ella’s future husband. You will discover that this perosn is not a typical man who marries a local German Lutheran woman. His name was was John Rowland Nave, who was born in Kentucky on March 1, 1880. He was the son of John Robert and Emma (Rowland) Nave. This man is sometimes called John, sometimes Rowland, and sometimes other combinations. I will call him John, and he is found as a baby in the 1880 census for Woodford County, Kentucky. John’s father was a farmer.

1880 census – Woodford County, KY

Next, we find John and his family in the 1900 census living in Nevada, Missouri working as a farm hand. He was 20 years old and still single.

1900 census – Nevada, MO

In the 1910 census, John Nave is married to a woman named Emma. This entry says that this couple had been married for 5 years, indicating they must have been married in 1905. I was unable to find a Missouri marriage license for him. I believe his wife was previously married to a man named Geisler. That is the name that is crossed out on this form for the 3 children. The children are all older than 5, so they must have been children by her previous marriage.

1910 census – Maries County, MO

I was unable to find John Nave in the 1920 census. I suspect he was living in St. Louis. I located a 1914 St. Louis city directory that lists him.

John Nave – 1914 St. Louis city directory

We also see his address on his World War I draft registration. The address is the same as is listed on the city directory. Also, Emma is listed as his wife, and he was working as a motorman for the United R. Way. I have reason to believe that he was driving a street car.

John Nave – WWI draft registration

That leads us up to the marriage of John Nave and Ella Bodenschatz. Since I know that John’s first wife was still alive when this marriage took place in 1929, I suspect John’s first marriage ended in divorce. The marriage took place in Ste. Genevieve County on September 13, 1929. Let’s take a look at this couple’s marriage license.

Nave/Bodenschatz marriage license

There are several interesting items on this form. First of all, it says that both John and Ella are from St. Louis. Ella must have moved to St. Louis after the 1920 census, and that must have been how these two met each other. Also, this marriage was performed by a probate judge, so it was not a church wedding. Finally, we find a very curious note on this form from the judge. It says, “Please do me a favor and keep out of papers.”

Two explanations come to my mind concerning this marriage and the way it was conducted.

  1. A stigma may have been on a person getting married after a divorce in those days. This couple chose to have the marriage take place before a judge in a neutral location.
  2. From what I know, this marriage was one between a Lutheran bride and a Baptist groom. That fact may also have prevented its taking place in a church.

Perhaps it was a combination of the above circumstances.

We find this couple in the 1930 census living in St. Louis. John was a motorman for an electrical railway (a street car driver).

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

John’s first wife, Emma, died in 1933. Her obituary includes some other information. If I have it figured correctly, her maiden name was Pruitt, then married a Geisler, followed by her marriage to John Nave, followed by a marriage to a man named Thompson.

Emma Thompson obituary

The 1940 census is the last one we can view. In this entry, we find John and Ella back in Maries County, Missouri. They likely lived in High Gate, Missouri. At the age of 60, John had no occupation listed. It also says this couple had lived at this location five years earlier in 1935. There is no evidence that any children were born to John and Ella.

1940 census – Maries County, MO

Ella Nave died in 1941 at the age of 48. Her death certificate says she died in Belle, Missouri which is quite near High Gate.

Ella Nave death certificate

John had his World War II draft card completed in 1942.

John Nave – WWII draft card

John Nave died in 1952 at the age of 72. He died in St. Louis at the Pine Crest Nursing Home. This document states that his usual occupation was as a street car motorman.

John Nave death certificate

We can also view John Nave’s obituary.

John Nave obituary

Both John and Ella were buried in the High Gate Baptist Cemetery in High Gate, Missouri.

John and Ella Nave gravestone – High Gate Baptist, High Gate, MO

So, the local native, Ella Bodenschatz, ended up with a Baptist Nave. However, that Nave was not a place to sit when you worshiped. In German, schatz can mean sweetheart. Therefore, one could say a Lutheran sweetheart ended up quite near a Baptist Nave and in a Baptist cemetery.

3 thoughts on “The Baptist Church’s Nave

    1. Rosalie Mueller was Friedrich Bodenschatz’s first wife. The Ella in this post was the daughter of his second wife. Rosalie died in 1890, and then Friedrich married Martha von Roenn in 1891.


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