Boxmaker’s Wives and Kids

Johannes Heinrich Claus Kistenmacher was born on December 12, 1869, so he is today’s birthday boy. A marriage record from Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois says John was born in Wilhelmsburg, Hanover, Germany. That church record also states that John was the son of Heinrich and Maria (Schlichting) Kistenmacher. Our German Family Tree lists 3 boys who were part of this Kistenmacher family, and all 3 of them have church records for confirmations or deaths listed in church books in Perry County, Missouri. John is even mentioned in the church books of both Concordia, Frohna and Salem, Farrar as being confirmed there in 1883. One of the 3 boys never married and died in Perry County. The other 2 ended up living at least part of their lives in the Fountain Bluff Township in Jackson County, Illinois. Before I move on with John’s story, let me say that when I input the name Kistenmacher in Google Translate, it says that word means “boxmaker”.

We next will take a look at a woman who would later become John’s wife. Her maiden name was Katharina Weseloh. She was born on January 15, 1863. A later church record from Christ, Jacob says she was born in Westervesede, Hanover, Germany. I am guessing that members of the Weseloh family arrived in America in the early 1880’s. None of them are found in the 1880 census, but Katharina got married in 1883. She married Friedrich Rathjen on November 1, 1883 at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. The church record for that wedding is shown here in two images.

Rathjen/Weseloh marriage record – Christ, Jacob, IL

That Rathjen/Weseloh couple had 4 children before Friedrich died in 1891. Then, on January 18, 1894, Katharina Rathjen married John Kistenmacher. That marriage also took place at Christ, Jacob. We can take a look at that church record. This is the document that gives us plenty of information about these two individuals.

Kistenmacher/Rathjen marriage record – Christ, Jacob, IL

John and Katharina had two children, but then in 1899, Katharina died at the age of 36, leaving John as a widower with 4 Rathjen stepchildren and 2 children of his own. I found Katharina’s death record in the Christ Lutheran Church books. I cannot read it to tell what her cause of death was, but I did notice that there were quite a few death records for that congregation in 1899. I suspect there was some disease running through that community.

Katharine Kistenmacher death record – Christ, Jacob, IL

Katharina was buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

Katharina Kistenmacher gravestone – Christ, Jacob, IL

This set of circumstances explains the entry we see in the 1900 census for the Fountain Bluff Township. We never see Katharina (Weseloh)(Rathjen) Kistenmacher in a US census. A daughter born to John and Katharina in 1897, Minna Kistenmacher, may have been “farmed out” to another family. She does not show up in this household, but she will show up again later.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

John moved to St. Louis not long after this. It looks like the Rathjen stepchildren remained living in the Jacob, Illinois area. John married again in St. Louis. His second wife was Margaret Krekel. These two were married on June 12, 1903. We find the names of these two on a list of people who applied for marriage licenses.

Kistenmacher/Krekel marriage license application list

Margaret Krekel was born on September 8, 1869, the daughter of Henry and Margaret (Schmidt) Krekel. In 1904, this couple had a set of twins, John and Henry Kistenmacher. We can take a look at a St. Louis birth record for these twins.

Kistenmacher twins – St. Louis birth record.

When the 1910 census was taken, we see the Kistenmacher household shown below. John was a packer for a millinery company. We also see Minna Kistenmacher back living with her father.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

In July of 1911, the Kistenmacher twins died two days from each other at the age of 7. Their death certificates state they both died of typhoid fever.

John Kistenmacher death certificate
Henry Kistenmacher death certificate

Next, we find the Kistenmacher household in the 1920 census. John continued in the same occupation, and no more children lived with him and his wife.

1920 census – St. Louis, MO

The 1930 census is almost identical to the previous one except these two were 10 years older.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

The last census to view was the one taken in 1940. Once again, not much had changed.

1940 census – St. Louis, MO

Margaret Kistenmacher died in 1954 at the age of 85. We can view her death certificate.

Margaret Kistenmacher death certificate

John Kistenmacher died two years later in 1956 at the age of 86. His death certificate indicates that he died in the Mountain View Convalescent Home in Festus, Missouri.

John and Margaret Kistenmacher (as well as their twin sons) were buried in the St. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery in St. Louis.

John and Margaret Kistenmacher gravestone – St. Peter and Paul, St. Louis, MO

John Kistenmacher had quite the life. When he first married, he inherited a family of 4 children. Then, he had two children of his own with his first wife. That wife then died, leaving him with a half dozen children in his care. Then, when he married again, he was blessed with a set of twins, only to lose both of them after only 7 years. And through most of that life, John was packing up hats in boxes for a living. I guess it was a good thing he was a Kistenmacher…a boxmaker.


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