Gustav and Bertha Koenig – MO to MI

I intended to write today’s story yesterday, but as it turned out, my time was taken up by other tasks. One of the events that took up my time was a special, unexpected event that took place yesterday. One of our local residents, Dale Roth, works on the Mississippi River as a towboat captain. I wrote his story several years ago in the post, Preacher on the River. Dale’s wife told me that there have only been about 3 times during Dale’s 40+ year career on the river when he would undergo a “shift change” right here in Wittenberg. I decided that I had to witness that event. Here are a few photos that I took. The boat in the background is not Dale’s boat. It was just a coincidence that it was going by when Dale and his crew were picked up at the Wittenberg landing. By the way, this is the exact location where the immigrants landed in Perry County in 1839.

Another task that I had to do for Trinity Lutheran Church and a meeting at our museum kept me from completing a blog. I had invested some time in a story for yesterday’s date, and I chose to write that story today, even though the special birthday was for yesterday’s date, August 3rd.

We begin today with the birthday of Bertha. Bertha Ida Ludwig was born on August 3, 1898, the daughter of Charles and Josephine (Dambach) Ludwig. A little over a week ago, I wrote the story of Bertha’s parents in the post titled, Maria Enters New Jerusalem. That story included the fact that Charles had first been married to Maria Koenig. You will discover that today’s story will include a Koenig as well. In that post, I displayed the image shown below from the binder we have that documents the history of the Lutheran church once located in Arnsberg.

Ludwig/Dambach information – Arnsberg binder

Bertha was the oldest girl in this family, with only one older brother. I found Bertha’s baptism record in the binder we have in our museum from St. John’s United Church of Christ which is located near Fruitland, Missouri.

Bertha Ludwig baptism record – St. John’s UCC, Fruitland, MO

Bertha is found in the 1900 census, in which we see her family living in the Apple Creek Township of Cape Girardeau County.

1900 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Next, we find Bertha in the 1910 census at the age of 11. Her father was a farmer.

1910 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Now, we will discuss the early life of her future husband. His name was Gustav Henry Koenig, who was born on September 27, 1896. He was the son of Gustav Adolph and Mary (Tiedemann) Koenig. His father and he shared their first name, but had different middle names. I found a photo of Gustav and Mary Koenig.

Gustav and Mary (Tiedemann) Koenig

Gustav was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells, Missouri. An image of that record is shown here.

Gustav Koenig baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Gustav is found in the 1900 census when he was 3 years old. The head of the household was Zacharias Koenig, who was Gustav’s grandfather.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The 1910 census shows Gustav as a teenager.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The year of the above census was also the year of Gustav’s confirmation. His confirmation record is in the books of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pocahontas. A list of information about Gustav from our St. John’s, Pocahontas binder is displayed below.

Gustav Koenig information – St. John’s, Pocahontas, MO

I was unable to find a World War I draft registration form for Gustav, but I did find records indicating that he did serve our country during that War. Below is a document describing his military record.

Gustav Koenig – WWI military record

A transcription of his military record shown below adds some more details.

Gustav Koenig – WWI military record

Another record shown here displays Gustav on a passenger list for the ship, Kroonland, which brought him back to the United States after his service was complete.

Gustav Koenig – Kroonland passenger list – WWI

It must have been during the time of his service that the following photo of Gustav and several of his sisters was taken. He is wearing his military uniform.

Gustav Koenig and sisters

Not long after his discharge from the military, Gustav Koenig married Bertha Ludwig on December 21, 1919. The marriage license for this couple is displayed below. This document states that this marriage took place at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pocahontas.

Koenig/Ludwig marriage license

I have two photos that are separate, but I think they come from a wedding photo of Gustav and Bertha.

Our German Family Tree only gives one child born to this couple, but they moved away from here, and it appears that they had another child later. We find this couple in the 1920 census, which was taken before they had their first child. Gustav was called a harness man.

1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Before the 1930 census was taken, Gustav and Bertha moved their family to Michigan. That census shows them living in Flint, Michigan with Gustav working as a machinist in an automobile factory. This census indicates another child had recently been born in Michigan.

1930 census – Flint, MI

The next census shows Gustav and his household still living in the same location. This is a strange entry because their two children, Melvin and Mildred are listed above their names and are actually listed as step-children in another family’s household. I think they were placed in the wrong spot on the form. Gustav is called a laborer in a place involved with automobiles.

1940 census – Flint, MI

Gustav had his World War II draft card completed in 1942. This form gives a more specific description of his place of work. It says he was working at the Chevrolet Motor Company – Plant 4.

Gustav Koenig – WWII draft card

I found another document showing Gustav and Bertha living in Flint, Michigan. It is the 1956 Flint city directory displayed here. Gustav was working in the business of shoe repair.

Gustav Koenig – 1956 Flint city directory

In 1958, Gustav returned to Pocahontas to attend the funeral of his mother at St. John’s, Pocahontas. The photo below was taken of Gustav and several of his siblings. Gustav is said to be the man in the brown suit.

Gustav Koenig and siblings – 1958

Another photo of Gustav was taken later in his life.

Gustav Koenig

Gustav and Bertha both died in 1984. Bertha died in April; Gustav died in July. They are buried in the Flushing Cemetery in Flushing, Michigan. There is a plaque attached to their gravestone honoring Gustav’s military service.

I have been experiencing a “photo famine” lately. I haven’t found too many photographs of the people involved in the stories I write. I’m glad I found one in which I could show you what these folks looked like.


While driving through town this morning, I saw that an old building was being taken down. It’s a building that was included in the story, Apples and Appliances. Once, it was the Noennig Appliance Store. It was in a terrible state of disrepair, but I still find it sad that it is being dismantled.

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