Another Theodore Ernst

If you read yesterday’s blog post, you know that one of the major characters was named Theodore Ernst. Today, I happened to run across a birthday boy who was also named Theodore Ernst. In fact, I had better call him Theodore Ernst Wachter because I have already written a post about another Theodore Wachter that was titled, Ted and Thekla at Two Trinity’s. Also, each of the Theodore’s had a connection to the Fiedler surname. The two Theodore Wachter’s were first cousins. Before I begin, let me say that I am once again away from Altenburg and will not be able to display church records for a few days.

Theodore Ernst Wachter was born on May 28, 1871, so today is not only his birthday, it is one of those special birthdays. He would have been 150 years old if he was still alive today. Theodore Ernst was the son of Christian Friedrich Valentin and Johanne Christiane Friederike (Reiss) Wachter. There were 7 children in this Wachter family, and Theodore Ernst was child #6. Theodore Ernst was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells, Missouri. The first census in which we find him was the one taken in 1880 when he was 9 years old. His father was a farmer.

1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

It would be 20 years later before we are able to see Theodore Ernst in another census. His father had died in 1883, so we do not see him in this 1900 census entry. Theodore Ernst was a farm laborer.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

There was a Lena Mirly in the Wachter household. Lena was the daughter of Theodore Ernst’s sister, Louise, who had married Henry Mirly. Both Louise and Henry had died in the 1890’s, so Lena ended up living with her grandmother.

Now, we will turn our attention to the future wife of Theodore Ernst. Her name was Anna Dorothea Magdalene Fiedler, who was born on March 27, 1880. That means she had the same birthday as Martha Loeber, who was discussed in yesterday’s post. Anna was the daughter of Valentine and Marie (Kasten) Fiedler. Both the bride and the groom in today’s story had fathers who had a Valentine in their names. Anna was child #5 in a family of 9 children. She, like Theodore Ernst, was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Anna is already found in the census that was taken during the year of her birth. Her father was a farmer. Anna’s mother had previously been married to Herman Koenig, so she had a few Koenig half-sisters.

1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

We find Anna living in St. Louis when the 1900 census was taken. Like so many young women in those days, she went to the big city to work as a servant in someone’s household. In her case, she was living in the household of William Popp. I thought this might be a Popp from this area, but it does not look like it. I find it interesting that the Popp family included 3 single men in their 20’s, a florist, a physician, and a brewer, and yet Anna, at the age of 20, did not end up marrying any one of those young men.

1900 census – St. Louis, MO

That leads us up to the marriage of Theodore Ernst Wachter and Anna Fiedler, which took place on November 8, 1903 at Immanuel, New Wells. Below is the marriage license for this couple.

Wachter/Fiedler marriage license

Our German Family Tree lists 9 children born to this Wachter pair. Four of these nine were boys, but all 4 of the boys died as infants. One of the girls married a man by the name of Oscar Meyr. I’m going to have to write that story someday. We find the Wachter household in the 1910 census where we find Theodore Ernst as a farmer. Theodore Ernst’s mother had died in 1905, so now we see Lena Mirly living with Theodore Ernst and Anna.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The 1920 census is the last one in which we find Theodore Ernst. Four daughters are listed in their household.

1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

I am actually rather amazed that Theodore Ernst was listed in that census because he died on January 8, 1920 at the age of 48. We can take a look at his death certificate.

Theodore Ernst Wachter death certificate

Anna was pregnant when her husband died. She gave birth to a son on March 7, 1920. I have seen this situation before. When a son was born soon after her husband died, the mother often named him after her lost husband. However, Theodore Ernst Wachter, Jr. died when he was just a little over a year old. We can look at another death certificate for a Theodore Ernst Wachter. Cholera is given as a cause of death. Anna lost two Theodore Ernst Wachter’s in the course of just a little over a year.

Theodore Ernst Wachter, Jr. death certificate

Anna Wachter is still found in two more census records. In both of them, she is living with her daughter, Alieda, who had married Rudolf Hecht. Here is the 1930 census entry.

1930 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The 1930 Cape Girardeau plat maps show a parcel of land with the name, Theo. Wachter, et al. It was found just south of New Wells along present-day Highway C.

Theo. Wachter land map – Cape Girardeau County 1930

Next, we can look at the 1940 census entry for the Wachter/Hecht household.

1940 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Anna Wachter died in 1953 at the age of 73. Her death certificate is displayed below.

Anna Wachter death certificate

Theodore Ernst and Anna are both buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells.

There are 17 pages of Wachter’s in our German Family Tree, and there are several local folks with that surname to this day. However, none of them came from Theodore Ernst’s family because all his boys died at an early age.


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