John Jr. and Martha Oetjen

A post that was published at the beginning of 2021 told the story of John Oetjen, Sr. That post was titled, Land for a Church. Today, you will be told the story of his oldest son, John Oetjen, Jr. John, Sr. married a woman named Mary. John Jr. married a woman named Martha. It sounds sorta Biblical. I will begin with Martha today because she is our birthday girl.

Martha Maria Catherina Brunkhorst was born on September 18, 1887, the daughter of Henry and Katherine (Wichern) Brunkhorst. She was baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. An image of her baptism record is pictured below. These baptism records spread over two pages, so I have to display two images. I find it interesting that one of Martha’s sponsors, Friedrich Oetjen, was the uncle of her future husband.

Martha Brunkhorst baptism record – Christ, Jacob, IL

Martha shows up in the census taken in 1900 at the age of 12. That was one year before she was confirmed in 1901. That event also took place at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. Her father was a farmer.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Now, we will take a look at John, Jr. Johann Friedrich Oetjen was born on September 24, 1881, the firstborn child of Johann, Sr. and Maria (Luedemann) Oetjen. Like his future wife, he was baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. His baptism record is displayed here. Once again, Friedrich Oetjen was one of the sponsors. So, both the bride and groom in today’s story had Friedrich Oetjen as a sponsor.

John Oetjen, Jr. – Christ, Jacob, IL

In the 1900 census, we find John, Jr. at the age of 18. He was working on his father’s farm. Included in this household was a school teacher named Henry Keinitz. I assume he was a teacher at the school operated by Christ Lutheran Church. After all John, Sr. had sold this congregation some land for the purpose of building a church and school.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

That leads us up to the wedding of John Oetjen, Jr and Martha Brunkhorst. That occasion took place on November 7, 1907. As you would expect, this couple was married at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. We can take a look at this couple’s church marriage record.

Oetjen/Brunkhorst marriage record – Christ, Jacob, IL

This couple had only one child, a son named Alfred Wilhelm Oetjen, born in 1909. When the 1910 census was taken, we find this small family.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Fairly early in his life, John, Jr.’s photo was taken. It is displayed below.

John Oetjen, Jr.

In 1918, John Oetjen, Jr. had his World War I draft registration completed.

John Oetjen, Jr. – WWI draft registration

Next, we find the Oetjen household in the 1920 census. Right below John, Jr’s entry, you find that of John, Sr.

1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

In a previous post, I published this land map that shows the property owned by John Oetjen. I’m not sure which John Oetjen this was, but I don’t think it mattered. You can see that is located right on the banks of the Mississippi River, and there is a Brunkhorst property not far away.

John Oetjen land map

The same situation is found in the 1930 census. Both John, Sr. and John, Jr. were farmers.

1930 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The last census we can view for this Oetjen family is the one taken in 1940. John, Sr. had died in 1937. John, Jr.’s mother was living in his household. Right below John, Jr.’s entry is that of his son, Alfred, who had married Anna Stegmann.

1940 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Martha Oetjen died in 1947 at the age of 60; John Oetjen, Jr. died in 1962 at the age of 80. These two are buried together in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

John and Martha Oetjen gravestone – Christ, Jacob, IL

This all means that the story of John and Martha Oetjen is one of those tales in which both the husband and wife were born, baptized, confirmed, married, and buried at the same congregation.

It just so happens that Gerard Fiehler and I will be headed to that congregation tomorrow. We have been asked to tell the story of the 1839 German Lutheran immigration to a the Heins Family Reunion that is taking place in the afternoon. Gerard and I will be attending worship at Christ Lutheran Church and then doing some exploring in the Jacob neighborhood before giving our presentation. It will be my first trip to visit this church that I write about so often. I am looking forward to it. However, this will also mean that I will not have the time to post a story tomorrow. Perhaps my next post will be a story about the experiences we have in Jacob, Illinois.


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