The Arbeiters – Fred and Lena

I have a special birthday to highlight today. A baby boy by the name of Jakob Friedrich Arbeiter was born on August 19, 1871, making today his 150th birthday. This child would later go by the name of Fred or Frederick. He was born in Ittlingen, Germany. The map below illustrates how close that town is to Stuttgart, Germany and the France/Germany border.

Ittlingen, Germany map

We have an Arbeiter Family Binder in our research library that was put together by our friend, Sally Gustin, who is a descendant of an Arbeiter. In that binder is this photo of the Ittlinger town sign.

Fred’s father was Wilhelm Arbeiter. Wilhelm was first married to Anna Maria Hering, who died in 1867. The image below shows that Wilhelm had quite a few children by this first wife. Several of these children died early. The highlighted names are the ones that came to America.

Wilhelm Arbeiter children by first marriage

Wilhelm’s second wife was Magdalena Schlauch. The list below of the children born to his second wife prove that Wilhelm was quite a prolific father, except many of those children died not long after birth. You might notice that another Jakob Friedrich Arbeiter was born in 1870, but that boy died not long after. The parents must have decided to try that name again on the next child, and he was today’s birthday boy.

Wilhelm Arbeiter children by second marriage

A transcription of Fred’s baptism record can be viewed.

Fred Arbeiter baptism record – Ittlingen, Germany

According to a later American census record, Fred made the trip to America in 1889. He would get married in 1896, so we do not find him in a census record till after he was married. So, we will turn our attention briefly to his future wife’s early history. Her name was Margaretha Magdalena Heeszel who was born on August 2, 1875. Magdalena, who was often called Lena on documents, was the daughter of Johann and Maria (Oetjen) Heeszel. She was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below is an image of her baptism record.

Magdalena Heeszel baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Right about that time, across the river in Jackson County, Illinois, the congregation that became known as Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois was being established around 1875. As you can see in that church’s history, Magdalena’s father, Johann Heeszel, was one of that church’s founders.

Christ Lutheran Church, Jacob, IL history

Madgalena’s younger siblings were baptized at Christ, Jacob, and when the 1880 census was taken, we find the Heeszel family living in the Fountain Bluff Township.

1880 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Fred Arbeiter married Magdalena Heeszel on February 13, 1896 at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. The church record displayed below is one of those wonderful ones written by Rev. Estel who wrote so neatly and included all kinds of extra information.

Arbeiter/Heeszel marriage record – Christ, Jacob, IL

The German Family Tree lists 9 children born to this couple. Only one of them was a girl. Two boys and the only girl either died early or were stillborn, so that left this family with 6 boys that lived to adulthood. The 1900 census shows this Arbeiter household with one son. I have also displayed the household Magdalena’s parents right below theirs, and below that is the household of Henry Arbeiter, who would have been Fred’s half brother. Fred was a farmer.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The 1910 census shows the following Arbeiter household. This time there were 4 boys in the family.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

In the course of researching Fred Arbeiter, I ran across this fascinating article written in the Perry County Republican in 1915. It mentions a Fred Arbeiter that was a baseball pitcher.

Fred Arbeiter article – 1915

That sent me down another rabbit hole. The article says Fred Arbeiter had recently pitched for the St. Louis Federals. After some searching, I have concluded that this team was actually called the St. Louis Terriers, who played in the Federal League. I found evidence that there was an Arbeiter on this team in 1913. He was a pitcher who only played in 2 games. I even located the stats for this Arbeiter, which are displayed below.

Arbeiter stats – 1913 St. Louis Terriers

I also discovered that around that time, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown was the manager of the Terriers. Mordecai Brown is an esteemed member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I found this image of Mordecai Brown on a baseball card that was produced when he was with the Terriers.

Mordecai Brown – St. Louis Terriers

If the baseball player mentioned in the 1915 article was today’s birthday boy, he would have been 42 years old when he pitched for the Terriers. That does not sound reasonable. I found another Fred Arbeiter in our German Family Tree that was the son of Henry Arbeiter, which would have made him the nephew of today’s birthday boy (more accurately, his half-nephew), and he would have been 24 years old in 1913. I think the baseball pitcher was Henry Arbeiter’s son. Perhaps Sally Gustin can help verify this.

Two more boys were born in the 1910’s. When the 1920 census was taken, we find the following entry for Fred and Lena. All 6 sons are listed.

1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Next, we find the Arbeiter family in the 1930 census. This entry spills over two pages, and below Fred’s family, you will find that of one of his sons, Arthur Arbeiter.

1930 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The last census we can view for Fred and Lena is the one taken in 1940. Three sons remained in his household.

1940 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Fred Arbeiter died in 1944 at the age of 72. Magdalena Arbiter died in 1951 at the age of 76. We can take a look at the obituary for Magdalena.

Magdalene Arbeiter obituary

Fred and Magdalena Arbeiter were buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

Fred and Magdalena Arbeiter gravestone – Christ, Jacob, IL

The story of this Fred Arbeiter is one that I find interesting. However, my curiosity is piqued. I may have to write a story about the Fred Arbeiter who was the son of Henry, especially if I find out that he once pitched for the St. Louis Terriers.


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