Otto and Gustie – The Steiners

Otto Herman Steiner was born on September 23, 1890…or was he? I am thinking that he wasn’t, but I’m going to write his story today anyway. If it is his birthday today, he would be celebrating his 131st birthday. Otto was the son of Matthias and Auguste (Mirly) Steiner. He was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Below is his baptism record from that congregation’s books. It definitely gives September 23rd as Otto’s birth date.

Otto is found in his first census in 1900 living in the Shawnee Township. His age was first written as 9 but then changed to 8. I think 9 was the correct age. Otto’s father was a farmer.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

In 1904, Otto was confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas. His confirmation record gives his birthday as September 21, 1890, not September 23rd.

Otto Steiner baptism record – Zion, Pocahontas, MO

Next, we find Otto and his family in the 1910 census when Otto was 19 years old. He was working on his father’s farm. Another teenage boy by the name of Benjamin Dost is listed in their household who is referred to as a stepson. Benjamin was actually a nephew of Matthias Steiner and therefore, a cousin of Otto. Benjamin’s parents had both died before the 1910 census.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Now, we will take a look at Otto’s future wife, Ida Augusta Petzoldt. Augusta was born on August 28, 1893, the daughter of Adolph and Alma (Engert) Petzoldt. That makes her a granddaughter of Friedrich Florian “The Face” Petzoldt who has been mentioned in so many previous posts. I found a few places that called her Gustie, so I am going to use that name for her. Augusta was the baby in her Petzoldt family. She was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. An image of her baptism record is pictured here.

Augusta Petzoldt baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Gustie is found in the 1900 census at the age of 7. Her father was a farmer in the Shawnee Township.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Gustie is next found in the 1910 census as a teenager.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

That leads us up to the marriage of Otto Steiner and Augusta Petzoldt, which took place on December 26, 1915. This couple was married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. The church record for this wedding is shown here.

Steiner/Petzoldt marriage record – Trinity, Cape Girardeau, MO

This was another one of those marriages that took place the day after Christmas, which was also the end of the penitential Advent season, during which marriages were not conducted in most Lutheran churches in those days. By the way, I did find another marriage that took place at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas on that date, so perhaps this marriage was conducted by the pastor in Cape Girardeau because the pastor in Pocahontas had already scheduled another wedding on that day.

Steiner/Petzoldt marriage license

Otto Steiner had his World War I draft registration completed in 1917. Once again, we see his birthday as September 21, 1890.

Otto Steiner – WWI draft registration

The German Family Tree lists 5 children born to this couple. All of their children were baptized at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas. When the 1920 census was taken, we see the first 2 children included in the entry. Otto’s father had died in 1912, so his mother was living with him in his household also. In addition, a 22 year-old farm laborer named Benjamin Meyr was living with them.

1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Next, we find the Steiner’s in the 1930 census. Four children are included, and one more would be born in 1933. Once again, this entry shows a farm laborer named Reinhold Jungclaus living in their household.

1930 census – Shawnee Township, MO

The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. This is the only census entry in which we see all 5 children.

1940 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Otto Steiner died on the last day of 1962 at the age of 72, although his death certificate says he was 73. Here is where we once again come across evidence that Otto was born on September 21st, not September 23rd.

Otto Steiner death certificate

Gustie died in 1979 at the age of 85. She died too recently to be able to view a death certificate. Otto and Gustie are each buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Pocahontas. Otto’s gravestone is another place where we see a birth date of September 21, 1890.

I happen to have a personal connection to this story. Back when I was teaching in Memphis, one of my colleagues was Bertha Steiner, who was married to Rev. Mark Gilbert Steiner, a local pastor. Rev. Steiner would later become a military chaplain. He is a grandson of Otto and Gustie Stiener.

The only document on which we find a September 23rd birthday was his baptism record. All the other documentation that includes his birthday says he was born on September 21st. I probably should have written this story two days ago.


Before I close, let me tell you that this is the week of the East Perry Community Fair. The next few days, I will have grandchildren in town and will spend a lot of my time at the fair. I will not be able to find time to do anyone’s family history, but I will be taking photos at the fair and posting them on this blog like I have done in the past. This morning, I took some photos of the deserted fairgrounds that show evidence that preparations have been made for this weekend’s festivities. I will post a gallery of this morning’s photos here. The can be clicked to enlarge them. The fun begins tomorrow.

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