Wittenberg Roth’s

Today, I will once again choose to write about a family that has been briefly mentioned in previous posts. I feel this family deserves more thorough attention, so that is what I hope to do. There are several Roth families that presently live around Wittenberg (which is basically a ghost town now). I am pretty sure that the Roth family I will discuss was the original one that moved to this area and continues to reside there. Perhaps there are so many Roth’s living around here due to the fact that, of the 9 children born to today’s couple, 7 of them were boys and carried on the Roth name to the next generation.

The starting point for today is the birth of Magdalene Agnes Schuessler, who was born on August 20, 1868. She went by the name, Agnes. She was the daughter of Johann and Maria (Jahn) Schuessler. Agnes was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. An image of her baptism record from that congregation’s books is displayed here.

Agnes Schuessler baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

Agnes is found in her first census in 1900 at the age of 1. Her father was a farmer.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Agnes is next found in the 1880 census in which it says she was 12 years old. It indicates she was at school. Agnes would have been one of the early students of Teacher Wukasch, who taught in Frohna for 50 years. You can see that Agnes was part of a large Schuessler family.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we will take a look at the future husband of Agnes. His name was Christian George Roth who was born on April 12, 1863 during the time when America was fighting the Civil War. Christian was the firstborn child of Christian and Magdalena (Landgraf) Roth. Christian’s father participated in the Civil War in 1864 when today’s Christian was very young. Like Agnes, Christian was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. We can view his baptism record below.

Christian Roth baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

In the 1870 census, we find Christian called Friedrich at the age of 7, and his father was a farmer.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We have to look in the long-lost pages of the 1880 Union Township census to find the Christian Roth family. In fact, this Roth family is the very first family listed on those pages. This time, he is called Christian, and he was listed as a 17 year-old laborer.

1880 census – Union Township, MO

That leads us up to the marriage of Christian Roth and Agnes Schuessler which took place on May 16, 1889 at Concordia, Frohna. We can take a look at the church record for this wedding.

Roth/Schuessler marriage record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

The civil marriage license is shown below. Christian is called Christian Roth, Jr. on this form.

Roth/Schuessler marriage license

As said before, this Roth family had 9 children. All of them, except their last one born in 1905, were baptized at Concordia, Frohna. Their last son, Theophil Roth, was baptized at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg. We find the Roth’s still living in Frohna when the 1900 census was taken. Christian was a teamster who most likely worked for the Frohna Flour Mill.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

I have no proof, but in my mind, I picture Christian as driving a wagon loaded with bags of flour down to Wittenberg to deliver them to waiting steamboats. I have managed to sneak Christian into my upcoming book Wittenberg ’04: Coming of a Railroad because all indications are that Christian began farming near Wittenberg in 1904 and starts showing up in the church records for St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at that time.

In 1905, not even two weeks after the birth of their last son, Agnes died. Her death record in the St. Paul’s books indicate she died of childbirth fever. That left Christian a widower with a bunch of children, one of which was a newly-born baby just weeks old. I do know that this young baby survived this set of circumstances to live to adulthood. Before speculating on how that baby survived, let me show the 1910 census including Christian.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Right above the Roth household, you will see that of Emanuel Schmidt, who happens to be my grandfather. Emanuel had married Bertha Loebs in 1907, not long after her first husband, Henry Loebs, had died in September of 1905. She had a son, George, who was born in September of 1904. So, in 1905, both Christian Roth and Bertha Loebs lost their spouses, and each of them had very young children. The census indicates they also lived quite near one another. I cannot help but ask if it is possible that my grandmother, Bertha, may have assisted Christian in helping his baby survive. Is it possible that she may have performed as a wet nurse for his baby? I do not have an answer to that question, but the possibility fascinates me.

Henry Loebs and Agnes Roth were the first two adult burials in the St. Paul’s Cemetery in Wittenberg. Those two gravestones are pictured below.

Agnes Roth (L) and Henry Loebs (R) gravestones – St. Paul’s, Wittenberg, MO

Next, we find the Roth household in the 1920 census. Christian was living with his son, Leo, and his young family.

1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The photograph below shows Christian with all 9 of his children. It was reportedly taken in 1927 or 1928, but it is also said to be have been taken at the wedding of that youngest son, Theophil, which took place in 1931. Christian is the fourth person from the right with the suspenders.

Christian Roth with his children

The last census in which we find Christian was the one taken in 1930. This time he is listed with his son, Hugo, and his wife Renata.

1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Christian Roth died in 1936 at the age of 72. An article appeared in the Perry County Republican describing the details of how his body was discovered behind the barber shop in Altenburg.

Christian Roth newspaper article

Christian’s death certificate is shown below.

Christian Roth death certificate

Christian and Agnes Roth were buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Wittenberg. On Agnes’s stone, the only word that can be deciphered is the name, Roth, near the bottom. If you look in the background of Christian’s gravestone photo, you may be able to identify Agnes’s in the back row of gravestones.

The move that Christian and Agnes Roth made to Wittenberg in 1904 was the beginning of what now exists in that area. Quite a few farms in the Wittenberg area are still owned by people with the surname, Roth. Others may not carry the name, Roth, but they are the residences of descendants of Christian and Agnes.

If you visit Altenburg someday, make sure you stop in the Old Band Coffee Shop to have breakfast. The operator, Lindy Roth, is married to a great grandson of Christian and Agnes Roth. I highly recommend it. Best coffee in town.


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