John Mehner – Longtown Saddler

I will tell the story of a man who became a harness maker in the village of Longtown today. The amazing thing to me has to do with when he became a saddler. As far as I can tell, this man changed occupations in the late 1920’s to operate a saddle shop at a time when horses were not used as much for transportation or farm use. Automobiles, trucks, and tractors had become more widely used by the time this person entered the harness-making business.

John Michael Mehner was born on December 6, 1889, making today his 132nd birthday. John was the son of Frederick and Elizabeth (Hilleman) Mehner. He was the 10th child in a family of 11. It is likely that John was baptized at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. Since we cannot view a baptism record from that congregation, the first document in which we find John was the 1900 census. His family was living in the Salem Township. The census entry is difficult to read. John was 10 years old at the time.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

When the 1910 census was taken, we find John living in the August Ochs family and working on that farm.

1910 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

That census would be the last one in which we see John as a single man. We will now turn our attention to his bride. Her name was Pauline Lydia Frentzel, who was born on August 12, 1887. She was the daughter of Victor and Pauline (Telle) Frentzel. Possibly because her mother was a Pauline, this girl went by the name of Lydia throughout her life. The Frentzel family was another one that had 11 children, and Lydia was child #3. She was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. Her baptism record is pictured below. With names on it like Frentzel, Telle, and Hopfer, you can be almost certain it is a record from the Grace, Uniontown books.

Lydia Frentzel baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

Lydia is found in her first census in 1900. Lydia was 12 years old, and her father was a farmer.

1900 census – Union Township, MO

Lydia would have been in her early 20’s when the 1910 census was taken. I was unable to find her in that census. At that age, she could have been living in another household and working as a servant. I looked in St. Louis for her. I used the index we have for the Perry County 1910 census. However, all my efforts were unsuccessful.

John Mehner married Lydia Frentzel on December 3, 1911. December 3rd was a Sunday in 1911, and if I have it calculated correctly, that was the first day of the Advent season. It was also 3 days before John’s 22nd birthday. This wedding took place at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. We can view the church marriage record for this couple which states that John was from Perryville.

Mehner/Frentzel marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

We can also take a look at this pair’s marriage license.

Mehner/Frentzel marriage license

Both John and Lydia Mehner have entries in the Friedenberg Remembrances book. I have highlighted each of them in the image below.

John and Lydia Mehner information – Friedenberg book

Our German Family Tree lists 4 children born to this couple. I found evidence that John and Lydia lived in several different locations over the years. In the year that John and Lydia were married, this article appeared in the Perry County Republican describing the purchase of a farm by John that was near Longtown.

John Mehner – PCR article 1911

The 1915 plat maps show the John Mehner farm located not far from Longtown.

John Mehner land map – 1915

In 1915, the article shown below was published in that same newspaper.

John Mehner – PCR article 1915

Then, in 1917, when John had his World War I draft registration completed, he had a St. Louis address. It said he was a bill clerk for a hardware company.

John Mehner – WWI draft registration

Another later newspaper article which I will not show, says John sent a letter to that paper while being in Stanton, Nebraska. However, when the 1920 census was taken, we find him living in Perry County in the Central Township. He was a farm laborer.

1920 census – Central Township, MO

John must have gotten some land near Uniontown prior to 1928 because in that year, a notice of John Mehner’s public sale was posted in the Perry County Republican. I will just display the beginning and ending of that notice.

John Mehner – PCR public sale notice

The Ben Oberndorfer farm that is mentioned is found on the 1915 plat maps.

B.J. Oberndorfer land map – 1915

I think this sale precipitated John’s move to the village of Longtown at this time. In the remaining two census entries that we can view, that is where we find this Mehner household. In the 1930 census, John was called a proprietor of a saddle shop.

1930 census – Longtown, MO

The 1940 census calls John a harness maker. He and Lydia were in their 50’s.

1940 census – Longtown, MO

Both John and Lydia died in the 1970’s, too recently to view their death certificates. Lydia died in 1970 at the age of 82; John died in 1979 at the age of 89. These two are buried together in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Longtown.

John and Lydia Mehner gravestone – Zion, Longtown, MO

This pair, especially John, really did a lot of moving around during their lifetimes. It made it quite the challenge to figure out what was going on in their lives. I not only may have arrived at incorrect conclusions, but I may have missed some other locations that they may have lived along the way. I am also guessing that John Mehner may have been the last of the saddlers to be found in Longtown.

3 thoughts on “John Mehner – Longtown Saddler

  1. John and Lydia were my grandparents too. I am the son of Luella Mehner Blackwell. We use to go up there on A Sunday for chicken dinner and I would watch grandpa chopped the head off the chicken that we were going to eat for dinner.
    I was always amazed of the outhouse they had and for the longest time I didn’t know what the Sears catalog was all about.
    I too would play in his shop and he kept a John Deere pedal tractor in the shop and I would tour the shop on it.
    One thing I remember well that he had a St. Louis post dispatch parade magazine cover hanging on the wall of Stan Musical rookie of the year. Grandpa was a big Cardinals fan.


  2. I meet John when I was in Longtown visiting relatives in the mid 70’s and I in my 20’s. My grandmother’s brother Ruben Popp lived next to John’s shop and home. Uncle Johnny was an amazing man. His leather working shop was filled with tons of tools which each had a special place on the walls. Out back he had a huge purple wisteria. 💜 I was in Longtown several years ago and saw no sign of his shop. It should have been in a museum.


    1. I just found this info. John Mehner was my grandfather. I am Lillian’s daughter. What a wonderful find. We used to go into the shop and get the brushes going at top speed working the foot pedals. I remember Reuben calling my grandfather Uncle Johnny and thought it so funny.


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