Migrations and Marriages of a Machinist

Karl Benjamin Kassel will be the main character in today’s tale. His birthday was July 24, 1890, making today his 131st birthday. Karl would later use the “Americanized” name of Charles, and even Charlie. Karl was the son of Christian and Sulamith (Hopfer) Kassel, whose story was told in the post, Kids from a Kassel. Karl was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, Missouri. His baptism record from that congregation’s books is shown here.

Charles Kassel baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

In the 1900 census, we find him at the age of 9 and already called Charles. His father was a farmer near Uniontown.

1900 census – Union Township, MO

In the 1910 census, we find Charles living in Frohna with Theodore Bachmann and his wife. Theodore operated a machine shop and Charles, at the age of 18, was a laborer at that shop.

1910 census – Frohna, MO

In a previous post, Frohna Machine Shop, it was told that Charles had a brother name Theodore who also worked at that machine shop, and in 1911, Theodore and Charles Kassel bought that machine shop from Theodore Bachmann.

Frohna Machine Shop

Charles found his first bride in Frohna. Her name was Martha Josephine Lueders, who was born on July 18, 1891. Martha was the daughter of Charles and Susanna (Palisch) Lueders. A previous story was written about how the children of two storeowners in Frohna whose businesses were located right across Main Street, got married. The two stores were the Lueders Store and the Palisch Store.

Martha was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. Below is her baptism record.

Martha Lueders baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

I think the photo of the Charles Lueders family shown here may have been taken in 1898. I think Martha is the girl standing behind the kneeling boy on the left.

Carl Lueders family

We find Martha in the 1900 census for Frohna at the age of 8. Her father was called a merchant.

1900 census – Frohna, MO

Next, we find Martha in the 1910 census as a teenager. She is living with her grandfather, August Lueders, and one of her uncles, Paul Lueders, who was a photographer. It says Martha was a servant for a private family.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The Lueders Store and the Frohna Machine Shop were located near one another on Main Street in Frohna, so it is not hard to see how Charles Kassel and Martha Lueders got to know one another. On May 12, 1912, these two were married at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. The church wedding record for this event is displayed here.

Kassel/Lueders marriage record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

We can also view this couple’s marriage license.

Kassel/Lueders marriage license

In 1917, Charles had his World War I draft registration completed. This form says he was a fireman for the city of Cape Girardeau.

Charles Kassel – WWI draft registration

The German Family Tree lists 3 children born to this pair, one boy followed by two girls. The family photo shown below must have been taken in 1918. Charles and Martha are indicated by the red arrows on the right side of the picture. The baby in Martha’s lap was born in December of 1917.

Christian Kassel family

It was not long after this photo was taken when Martha died in November of 1918. Her death certificate says she died of typhoid fever at the age of 27.

Martha Kassel death certificate

Martha was buried in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery, but there is no gravestone photo on Findagrave. Meanwhile, Charles was left as a widower with 3 young children, one of them just one year old. These 3 children show up in their grandparents’ household in the 1920 census in which we do not find Charles.

1920 census – Union Township, MO

At that time, I found Charles listed in a census entry for East St. Louis, Illinois. He was called a machinist for an auto supply company.

1920 census – East St. Louis, IL

In 1923, Charles would get married again. His second wife had the maiden name of Etta Mae Niswonger. She was born on August 4, 1897 in Millersville, Missouri. She was the daughter of Alvin and Nora (Walker) Niswonger. Etta was married twice before marrying Charles. Since her first two husbands lived beyond 1923, I must assume that these two marriages ended in divorce. Her first husband was Benjamin Franklin Penny. In a previous post about a Penny family, I found a man named George Washington Penny. As near as I can tell, despite both of these men being named after Founding Fathers, I don’t think they were from the same Penny family. By the way, I am still looking for an Abraham Lincoln Penny. Etta’s second husband was James Nothdurft. That is why we find Charles Kassel marrying Etta Nothdurft on June 13, 1923. Their marriage license shows that they were married by a Justice of the Peace.

Kassel/Nothdurft marriage license

I found 3 children born to this couple that were baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. Those records are not included in our German Family Tree (yet). Then in 1930, we find Charles and his family living in Rolla, Missouri where he was a machinist for a highway company. Hazel Penny was a child of Etta’s. Then, below the 3 children born to Charles and Etta, we see Paul Kassel, who was Charles’s younger brother. He was also a machinist for the highway company.

1930 census – Rolla, MO

In a 1939 city directory for Cape Girardeau, we find Charles once again living in that city. He was a machinist for the Erlbacher Brothers. You can see that there are several folks with the surname, Kassel, living in Cape Girardeau.

Charles Kassel – 1939 Cape Girardeau city directory

It was that year, 1939, that Charles died at the age of 48. His death certificate says he died at St. Francis Hospital in Cape Girardeau.

Charles Kassel death certificate

Below is the obituary for Charles. This article states that 5 children were born to Charles and Etta. The last two were probably born in Rolla.

Charles Kassel obituary

I don’t know much about what happened to Etta after Charles’s death. She died in 1990 at the age of 93 and apparently did not marry again. Charles and Etta Kassel are buried in the Cape County Memorial Park in Cape Girardeau. Charles’s gravestone even calls him Charlie.

Charles Kassel, in his short life, made several moves and helped raise several children, although it looks like there were 3 of his own children that were not raised by him. Through it all, he remained tied to a Lutheran church. I would not be surprised if a few baptism records would be found in the books of a Lutheran church in Rolla.


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