One of the fascinating early photos that we have is the one shown below of Emma Marie Palisch.
Emma would go on to marry Friedrich Albert Fischer and have 9 children. The first girl born into this family was another Emma. Since the only older child in this Fischer family died about two months before Emma was born, Emma became the oldest child.
Emma Henrietta Pauline Fischer was born on November 11, 1856, making today her 165th birthday. Both of her parents were original immigrants who came with the Gesellschaft in 1839. Her baptism record from Trinity Lutheran Church’s books says that she was born at 11:30 at night.
One year after this baptism, the split between Trinity, Altenburg and the newly-formed Immanuel Lutheran Church took place. The Palisch family became part of Immanuel, but the Fischer family remained at Trinity. One can only imagine what kind of family strife this may have caused.
Emma Fischer is found in her first census in 1860 at the age of 3. Her father was called a wagon maker, and two other young men were living in this household who were also wagon makers.
Emma was a teenager when we find her in her next census in 1870. This time, her father was called a retail dry goods merchant. Emma was just one of 6 children in this household, and she was the only girl.
I have a sneaking suspicion that not long after this census was taken, Emma moved to St. Louis to find work. That is where she got married in 1875. Let’s take a look at her future husband.
Frank Alvin Mehnert was born on May 4, 1852, the son of Herman and Johanna Christina (Banquite) Mehnert. Frank was born in Germany, but I do not know when his family came to America, but it had to be before 1870 because we find Frank (Alvin) and his family living in St. Louis in that year’s census. This entry says that Frank was an 18 year-old printer apprentice. His father was a clothes dyer.
Frank Mehnert married Emma Fischer on January 1, 1875. We can take a look at a St. Louis marriage record for this couple. It’s not very easy to read.
I have to rely on information found on Ancestry.com and census records to determine how many children this couple would have. It looks like they had 7 children, 2 boys and 5 girls. We find this Mehnert family in the 1880 census for St. Louis with their first 2 children, a boy and a girl. Frank had a cigar store.
Emma’s father died in 1881. Although there is no death record for him in the Trinity, Altenburg books, there is a notation in a Palisch family binder that we have saying that was the year that he died.
Frank Mehnert died in 1895 at the age of 42. We can take a look at a St. Louis death record in two images. This document says Frank was a saloon keeper at the time of his death. The doctor, G.S. Schuricht, was married to an Estel. Both of them were descendants of original Gesellschaft immigrants.
Frank Alvin Mehnert was buried in the Bethany Cemetery in Wellston, but there is no gravestone photo for him on Findagrave.
Sometime between 1898 and 1903, a Fischer family photo was taken. Emma’s younger sister, Hulda, was married in 1898, and she is shown in this photo with her husband, Bruno Schade. Emma’s mother died in 1903, so we know the photo was taken before that. This is the only photo I found that contains today’s birthday girl, Emma (Fischer) Mehnert. She is sitting in the front on the left. She was a widow by the time this photograph was taken.
Emma Mehnert would remain a widow for about 60 years, so we find her in plenty of census records. The 1900 census was the first one to list her as a widow. Four daughters were included in her household.
The 1910 census shows Emma with 3 daughters. Two of these daughters were bookkeepers.
When we look at the 1920 census, we see a young lawyer by the name of Adolph Halter living as a lodger in this home.
This Adolph Halter got married during that year (1920), but he was killed when he was struck by an automobile in 1923. Next, we find Emma’s household in the 1930 census. Just her 49 year-old daughter, Esther, who was a salesman at a department store, was living with her.
The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. Emma was 83 years old. Edward and Esther Helmuth were living in their household, but I was unable to find anything about them.
Emma Mehnert died in 1952 at the age of 95. Pneumonia is given as the cause of death.
The above death certificate says Emma was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Louis. There is an entry for her in that cemetery on Findagrave, but there is no gravestone photo.
The two Emma Fischer’s in this story spent quite a bit of time as widows during their lifetimes. Emma (Palisch) Fischer spent a little over 20 years as a widow. Her daughter, Emma Mehnert, was a widow for almost 60 years.