Carburetor Men

I will tell another story today about a man who was born and raised in Perry County, but upon becoming a young man, made the decision to move elsewhere to find a place to work and also found a wife in the process. Johann Heinrich (John Henry) Versemann was born on June 23, 1884, making today his 137th birthday. John was the son of Henry and Ernestine (Eggers) Versemann. John was the firstborn child to Henry and Ernestine. That couple had 3 children, all boys. John was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Missouri. His baptism record from that congregation’s books is shown here.

John Versemann baptism record – Salem, Farrar, MO

John was born at a time when Perry County was producing birth records. We have such a record for John’s birth. It has to be displayed in two images.

Johann Heinrich Versemann birth record – Perry County, MO

When John was just 5 years old, his mother died. His father, Henry, remarried. His second wife was Emma Koenig, and that couple went on to have 12 more Versemann children, making a grand total of 15 children fathered by Henry Versemann. John is not found in a census until he was 15 years old. He is found in that 1900 Salem Township census that is so difficult to read. This entry is particularly bad. John is found in the row that is a different color in this image.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

The above record is the last one in which we find John Versemann living in Perry County. He would get married in St. Charles County, Missouri in 1910. I was unable to find John in a census record for the year of his marriage. I do know that he was no longer living with his family in the Salem Township. I have run across situations like this before in which I am unable to find a person in the census taken during the year of their marriage. I am thinking that there is a higher chance of a person missing out on a census in this situation. A person like John may have moved away from one place before the census taker shows up on the scene, and moves to a place where the census taker has already finished his job. I know when I moved to Altenburg in 2010, the circumstances were such that I did not get counted. Some day when someone may be researching my life, they may be puzzled about where I was living in 2010.

Let’s take a little look at the early life of John’s future wife. Her name was Ida Scholle who was born on September 15, 1886, the daughter of William and Marie (Weber) Scholle. I found this photo of William and Marie that includes a couple of other individuals, one of which must be a daughter. I doubt that this daughter is Ida.

William Scholl family

Ida is found as a 13 year-old in the 1900 census living in St. Charles County. Her father was a farmer.

1900 census – St. Charles County, MO

John Versemann and Ida Scholle were married on August 24, 1910. We can take a look at this couple’s marriage license.

Versemann/Scholle marriage license

Rev. J.A. Friedrich, who is listed on this license, was the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Charles in 1910 according to this list of pastors at that congregation over the years.

Immanuel, St. Charles list of pastors

John Versemann had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918. John was a machinist for the Davis Boring Tool Company in St. Louis.

John Versemann – WWI draft registration

All indications point to the fact that John and Ida had 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls. We find this Versemann family in the 1920 census in which they are shown as living in St. Louis. John is described as being a machinist at a motor company.

1920 census – St. Louis, MO

The last census in which we find John was taken in 1930. He was called a toolmaker at a tool company.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

John Versemann died in 1939 at the age of 55. His death certificate says he was a machinist at Carter Carburetor Co.

John Versemann death certificate

Ida Versemann is found in the 1940 census as the head of her household. The oldest child, Herbert, is mistakenly called the “wife” in this entry. Two of her sons were working for a carburetor company…almost certainly Carter Carburetor Company.

1940 census – St. Louis, MO

Below is a photo of the Carter Carburetor building as it looked after it closed. This factory was found near the ball park where the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns played…the Old, Old Busch Stadium. The advent of fuel injectors in automobiles resulted in no more market for carburetors.

Carter Carburetor Company

It was not long after her husband’s death that the United States became involved in World War II. All three of Ida’s sons were required to complete World War II draft cards, which are displayed below.

I found evidence that two of these sons, Herbert and Elmer, did serve in the military in that war, Elmer in the Air Force and Herbert in the Army Air Corps. They are each buried in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. I cannot help but think about how concerned Ida must have been to have 2 sons off fighting in a war just a matter of a few years after she lost her husband.

Ida Versemann died in 1975 at the age of 89. She and John were each buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Louis.

There are still plenty of Versemann’s around this area to this day. We also know that some Versemann’s moved elsewhere to other areas to raise families. I know of some in the New Wells area, the Jacob, Illinois area, and the St. Louis area. When these Versemann’s are traced back to where they first arrived in America, we see them originating here in Perry County, and more specifically, in Farrar at Salem Lutheran Church.

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By the way, I just wanted to wish Gerard Fiehler a Happy Birthday today. I won’t tell you how old he is, but he will always be younger than me.


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