Claus’s Wives – Two Thurm’s and a Koenig

One of the common first names for Germans from the Hanover area that settled in Perry County is Claus. Also, there are two churches in this area that had several men included in their membership with the name, Claus. Those two churches are Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg and Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar. Today’s birthday boy is a Claus from Immanuel, Altenburg who lived on The Ridge. The Ridge was well-populated with Claus’s.

Claus Steffens was born on October 8, 1854 in Hanover, Germany. I am not completely sure about the names of his parents, but there is some indication on Ancestry.com that not only was his father’s name, Claus, but also his grandfather. So, it’s possible that he was Claus Steffens III. Claus came to America in 1871 aboard the ship, Koln. We can see his name on this passenger list, along with another name that looks like Herman Mangels.

Claus Steffens – Koln passenger list 1871

Herman Mangels would marry Katherine Katt in 1878. One of the possible maiden names found on Ancestry.com for Claus Steffens’s mother is Katt. Is there a connection?

We find Claus Steffens in the 1876 Missouri state census for the Salem Township in Perry County. He was living in the household of Louis Holschen. If this is Johann Luetje Holschen, his wife was Emilie Thurm. As the title of this post indicates, Claus would marry two women with the surname, Thurm.

1876 Missouri state census – Salem Township, MO

Next, we will take a look at the first woman that Claus Steffens would marry. Her name was Friedericke Alwine Pauline Thurm who was born on September 28, 1855. She was the daughter of Traugot and Johanna (Fuelle) Thurm. She was also the sister of Emilie Thurm, who had married Luetje Holschen. Alwine was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Her baptism record is shown here.

Alwine Thurm baptism record – Trinity, Altenbuerg, MO

In the 1860 census, Alwine was 5 years old.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, Alwine is found in the 1870 census as a teenager.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Claus Steffens married Alwine Thurm on October 9, 1879, the day after Claus’s 25th birthday. This marriage took place at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. The church record for this wedding is displayed below.

Steffens/Alwine Thurm marriage record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

We can also take a look at a civil marriage record from Perry County.

Steffens/Alwine Thurm marriage record – Perry County, MO

Not even one year later, Alwine died in August of 1880. The Immanuel death record says that she died of “childbed fever”. There is no evidence that a child was born.

Claus would marry again in 1882. His second wife was Klara Koenig, who was born on December 23, 1862. Klara was the daughter of Friedrich and Maria (Hecht) Koenig. She was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar. We can view her baptism record below.

Klara Koenig baptism record – Salem, Farrar, MO

Klara is found in the 1870 census at the age of 6. She was the firstborn child in her family.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find Klara in the 1880 census as a teenager.

1880 census – Salem Township, MO

Claus Steffens married Klara Koenig on February 12, 1882. The marriage license for this couple is pictured here.

Steffens/Koenig marriage license

The pastor listed on this license was Rev. Polack, who was serving both Grace, Uniontown and Salem, Farrar in 1882. Most likely, this marriage took place at Salem, but for some reason, there is no record of it in the Salem church books. In fact, there is another “hole” in this church’s records in which no marriage records are found between 1879 and 1884.

Once again, this marriage did not last long. A child by the name of Marie was born in March of 1883, but in January of 1884, Klara died of dropsy, leaving Claus as a widower again.

Claus married a third time in 1886. He married the younger sister of his first wife, Bertha Pauline Thurm. Pauline was born on July 29, 1862 and baptized at Immanuel, Altenburg. We can take a look at her baptism record. Her baptism was conducted by the same pastor as her older sister, Rev. Georg Schieferdecker, but because of the split that took place in 1857, he and the Thurm’s are at Immanuel, not Trinity.

Pauline Thurm baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Pauline can be seen in the 1870 census shown earlier for her sister. In 1880, we find Pauline as a teenager.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Claus Steffens married Pauline Thurm on April 30, 1886 at Immanuel, Altenburg. We can view the church record for that wedding.

Steffens/Pauline Thurm marriage record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

We can also look at the marriage license.

Steffens/Pauline Thurm marriage license

This Steffens couple was blessed with 8 children. Six of them plus the one born to Claus’s previous marriage are included in the household in the 1900 census.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find the Steffens family in the 1910 census. Claus was always called a farmer in the census records.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The plat maps for Perry County produced in 1915 show the Claus Steffens farm. It was located not far from the Weber Store and The Ridge School.

Claus Steffens land map – 1915

The 1920 census shows the following Steffens household. By this time, their son, Rudolph, had married Lydia Pilz, and that couple was living in this household.

1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find the Steffens family in the 1930 census. This time, Rudolph is called the head of the household.

1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

An article was published in 1930 that is the first indication I found that this Steffens family was involved in raising fruit.

Claus Steffens – PCR article 1930

In 1936, Claus and Pauline Steffens celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and had this family photo taken.

Another photo was taken of just Claus and Pauline.

We can also take a look at the home in which the Steffens family lived.

The last census we can view for Claus and Pauline was the one taken in 1940.

1940 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Claus Steffens died in 1943 at the age of 88. His death certificate indicates he died as a result of pneumonia.

Claus Steffens death certificate

We can also take a look at Claus’s obituary.

Claus Steffens obituary

Pauline Steffens died in 1945 at the age of 83. Her death certificate is pictured here.

Pauline Steffens death certificate

Her obituary was also published in a local paper.

Pauline Steffens obituary

Claus and all 3 of his wives are buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg. However, if there is a gravestone for Klara Steffens, it is not pictured on Findagrave.com. Here are the 3 gravestones that are found on that site.

As near as I can tell, a few sons in the next generation became involved in operating a fruit orchard. I found this ad for peaches in the Perry County Republican in 1931.

Peaches ad – PCR 1931

I also found this interesting article published in the Perry County Republican in 1929 that lists Rudolph Steffens with other men in Perry County that were involved in operating orchards.

PCR article – 1929

Plenty of folks still associate the Steffens name with the orchard that operated in this area for so many years. There are also several Steffens descendants in this neighborhood.


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