Single Sisters – Foster Brothers

I have a rather unusual story to tell today. Actually, part of it was told in earlier posts, but I was not aware of the connection to today’s tale. The setting for this story is now one of the historic sites located in Perry County…the Saxon Lutheran Memorial.

I will begin with today’s birthday girl, Emma Christiana Bergt, who was born on September 11, 1876. Emma was the daughter of Adolph Jr. and Magdalena (Weber) Bergt. She was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. Her baptism record is pictured below.

Emma Bergt baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

We find an interesting situation when we look at the 1880 census that includes Emma.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Starting at the top, we find Emma’s grandparents, Adolph Sr. and Louisa (Voelker) Bergt. Those two were original immigrants who were part of the Gesellschaft in 1839. Below that, we see Emma’s parents, who had two daughters, the oldest one being Emma. The other was Lina Bergt, who was born in 1877. We will discover that each of these two sisters never married. Next, we find Adolph, Jr.’s sister, Christiane Bergt, and she is another woman who never married. Finally, there is an 8 year-old boy named Emanuel Dietrich. It doesn’t indicate this, but Emanuel is called a foster child of Adoph, Jr. in other documentation.

Let’s take a quick look at the baptism record of Emma’s sister, Lina Louise Bergt, who was also baptized at Concordia, Frohna.

Lina Bergt baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

A lot of time passed by before we can view another census. The grandmother, Louisa, died in 1895, so she will not be listed in the 1900 census. Here is the entry for the the Bergt families for the 1900 census.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

This time, we see Christiane listed in the household of her father, Adolph Sr. The sisters, Emma and Lina, are in their 20’s, and we find another young man living with their family. His name was Gustav Weinhold. Again, later documentation calls Gustav another foster child of Adolph Jr and Magdalena. Gustav’s story was told in the post, Gustav Weinhold Rocks. His parents’ story was described in the post, The Two Lives of Paul Weinhold. When I wrote those posts, I did not understand why Gustav was listed with the Bergt’s in the 1900 census. I won’t go into more detail in this post about Gustav because you can read those posts to get plenty of information about his life.

Adolph Sr. died in 1908, so we no longer see him in the 1910 census. The Bergt household in 1910 just consisted of Adolph Jr., Magdalena, and their daughter, Emma, who was then 33 years old.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Emma’s sister, Lina, was not living in Perry County in 1910. We find her living in St. Louis and called a dressmaker for private families.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

Christiane Bergt died in 1917 at the age of 69. Her death record in the Concordia books says that she died of a concussion due to a fall.

Next, let’s take a look at the 1920 census for the Bergt family. Lina is once again living back in Perry County with her parents. Also, right below the Bergt’s, you find the Gustav Weinhold family. With Adolph Jr. now in his 70’s, I suspect Gustav was farming the Bergt land which now houses the Saxon Lutheran Memorial.

1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Adolph Jr. died in 1922. It is in Adolph’s obituary that we see that Emanuel Dietrich and Gustav Weinhold are called his foster sons.

Adolph Bergt obituary

Then, in 1930, Emma Bergt died at the age of 53. Her death certificate indicates that she died on February 14th. Somehow, it seems ironic to me that a woman who was never married dies on Valentine’s Day.

Emma Bergt death certificate

I found an obituary for Emma that was published in the Perry County Republican.

Emma Bergt obituary

Since Emma died before the census was taken in 1930, that year’s entry shows the following Bergt household. It consisted of Lina, her mother, and a servant named Laura Weinhold. Laura was one of Gustav Weinhold’s daughters, making her sort of a niece to Lina Bergt.

1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The 1940 census is the last one we can view until next year when the 1950 census is released to the public. Lina was living by herself because her mother had died in 1932. I suspect that the 1950 census will show the same thing…Lina living alone.

1940 census – Brazeau Township, MO

My memory is not the best, but I know I have heard some stories about Lina Bergt. I hope I don’t get this wrong. I understand that despite the fact that Lina lived alone, she had many friends in the Frohna community. She was loved by many. She would often visit her friends, but she would always walk because she never had a car. I think she also may have lived her life without electricity.

Lina Bergt died in 1957 at the age of 79. Her death certificate says she died at age 76, but the math doesn’t work to get that age. Lina died on All Saints Day. There’s nothing ironic about that.

Lina Bergt death certificate

Both Emma and Lina are buried in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna.

I don’t really like closing a story this way, but let me say that the other foster child of Adolph and Magdalena Bergt, Emanuel Dietrich, had a similar history to the Bergt sisters. He, too, was never married. However, his death certificate indicates that he died while at the Missouri State Hospital in Farmington, Missouri in 1951. That document says he was a resident there for over 44 years.

Emanuel Dietrich death certificate

It is not often that I run across a story that is packed with so many people who remained unmarried their entire lives. I’ve known many people over the years that fit into this category. I admit there was a time in my life when I thought I would be such a person. I didn’t get married until I was almost 40 years old. The unmarried folks I have come to know have lived lives that have been very fulfilling. They have been very active in their communities, and many of the female ones loved to work with children in some sort of teaching role. I have every reason to believe that the single Bergt women mentioned in this story would have fit that mold.

The next time you visit the Saxon Lutheran Memorial, perhaps you can imagine the characters in this post living their lives on that site.


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