Elsa: Promise of God

Today’s post is a contribution by our friend, Clayton Erdmann. I contacted him last night for a little help with this story, and he ended up writing most of it. Clayton is the expert on this tale because he is writing about a special person in his family tree. I have added a few extra documents that I could find using resources that Clayton does not have, so this is a collaboration.


Today’s birthday boy is Karl (Charles) Arthur Kasten. He was born on this date in 1888. His story was told in the post Classroom Records: From Uniontown to Olivette shared three years ago, so today’s post is going to focus on his bride, Elsa Anna Bultmann.

Elsa was born on November 5, 1884 near Uniontown, Missouri and she was baptized the same day. She was the third child born to Ernst and Martha Bultmann nee Telle. Elsa’s childhood is one of tragedy. Her mother died when she was only 1 week old, leaving her father to raise Elsa and her older brother, Enrst, alone. Then, when she was only 12 years old her father died of tuberculosis, leaving her an orphan. Following her father’s death, Elsa was raised by her grandparents, Herman and Eva Hemmann Telle, and by other aunts and uncles who lived in the area.

Here is an image of Elsa’s baptism record from the Grace Lutheran Church’s books.

Elsa Bultmann baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO
Elsa Bultmann baptism certificate – Grace, Uniontown,MO

Elsa was also confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown on March 26, 1899.

Elsa Bultmann confirmation certificate

During her teens and twenties Elsa worked hard and suffered physically because of it. She was a housekeeper or servant for people in the area. However, she often had to walk miles to get to her employers. This was true even in the cold winter months. My grandfather, her son, told of how she suffered frostbite on her feet from the long, cold journeys.

Elsa Bultmann – 1907

The 1910 census shows Elsa working as a servant in the Gottwerth Telle household. Gottwerth was her uncle.

1910 census – Union Township, MO

On May 4, 1913, at the age of 28, Elsa and Karl (Charles) were married. Karl (Charles) was also from the Uniontown area and was almost 4 years younger than Elsa. They were married at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, MO. Below is the church record for this occasion.

Kasten/Bultmann marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

Here is this couple’s wedding photograph.

Charles Kasten and Elsa Bultmann Wedding, Best Man: William Kasten, brother of the groom. Maid of Honor: Ruth Schaefer, cousin of the bride

Tragedy again struck in December 1914, when Elsa gave birth to a stillborn son and the delivery left her physically crippled for an extended time. By God’s grace she recovered and was later blessed with 3 healthy children. Her children were Ernst, Paul, and Elda Mangles.

Charles and Elsa with children

We can see the Kasten household with all 3 children in the 1930 census. Karl’s parents were living with them.

1930 census – Union Township, MO

Elsa and her family lived on the Kasten farm, near Uniontown, MO. Although Karl (Charles) died when he was only 65; Elsa lived to be 75 years old, far outliving either of her parents. She died on April 7, 1960 and is buried in the New Cemetery at Grace Lutheran in Uniontown.

Kasten Farm – Elsa’s home for her entire married life
Elsa Kasten gravestone – Grace, Uniontown, MO

I find it a good reminder that Elsa, derived from the name Elizabeth, means “promise of God” in Hebrew. With all of the tragedies and difficult times that Elsa faced, what hope and comfort she had in knowing the promises made by God to be with her, forgive her, and grant her eternal life. By God’s grace she remained faithful to her Lord and Savior and was a lifelong member of Grace Lutheran Church. May the promises of God, especially the promise that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection have completely and freely saved us and restored our relationship with God, provide us with comfort, peace, hope, and courage to deal with the uncertainties and difficulties of our own life too! 

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