Lights On in Altenburg

Altenburg and Frohna, Missouri recently had a Christmas lighting contest called, Light Up the Towns. I discovered a birthday boy today that led me to a Light Up the Town story. The birthday boy was instrumental in bringing electricity to the town of Altenburg.

George Ludwig (or Louis) Schweizer was born on January 2, 1895, making today his 127th birthday. George was the son of Lawrenz and Ida (Boehme) Schweizer. A previous post was written about George’s parents titled, Lorenz and Ida – The Schweizer’s. George was born in Jackson County, Illinois and baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. A pair of images below show George’s baptism record from that congregation’s books.

George Schweizer baptism record – Christ, Jacob, IL

George is found in his first census in 1900 at the age of 5. His family was living in the Fountain Bluff Township.

1900 – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

George was a teenager when the 1910 census was taken. His father was a salesman at a general store. There is a little hint in this entry about how George may have met his bride. Ernst Seibel, the hired hand, had a mother whose maiden name was Koestering and related to Rev. F.J. Koestering, a prior pastor in Altenburg.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

George’s parents moved to Chester, Illinois before 1920. That explains why George’s address was given as Chester when his World War I draft registration was completed in 1917.

George Schweizer – WWI draft registration

The above form also states that George was working in Altenburg, Missouri at the time. It says two things of interest. One, he was working as a automobile machinist, and two, he was employed by the Altenburg Light & Power Company. Stories are told that George was involved with bringing electricity to Altenburg when he was working at the Altenburg Garage, which was operated by Joseph Fiehler, Gerard’s grandfather. I found this early photo of George.

George Schweizer

Now, we need to look at George’s future bride. Her name was Martha Maria Magdalena Koestering, who was born on October 1, 1896. Martha was the daughter of Frederick and Susanna (Fischer) Koestering. I find it a little puzzling that Martha was baptized at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas. Here is an image of her baptism record.

Martha Koestering baptism record – Zion, Pocahontas, MO

I wish I could have found Martha and her family in the 1900 census, but I was unsuccessful. In 1905, when Martha was just 9 years old, her mother died. I wrote a previous post about how Emilie Weinhold became a nanny for this family to help Fred Koestering raise his children. That post was called Kindermädchen Emilie. Martha’s father operated a store in Altenburg. The post, Koestering Store, told about that place of business. That store was located where the Altenburg City Hall now stands.

Koestering Store

We find the Koestering’s in the 1910 census.

1910 census – Brazeau Township, MO

George Schweizer married Martha Koestering on August 25, 1919. I am once again puzzled by the fact that this couple’s church marriage record is found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. This record says George was from Chester, Illinois, and Martha was from Altenburg.

Schweizer/Koestering marriage record – Trinity, Cape Girardeau, MO

Although I could not find the Schweizer household in a census for Chester, Illinois for 1920, I believe that is where this couple was living. I found evidence that their first son was born in Chester in 1920. In future census entries, all three sons of George and Martha were said to be born in Illiniois. A few photos of Martha and her first son were taken in the 1920’s. In the photo below, Martha is sitting in front on the left. Her son, Ralph, was being held by her father.

Fred Koestering family

In this next photo, we see just Martha, Ralph, Fred, and a dog.

Martha and Ralph Schweizer with Fred Koestering

I found evidence that in 1928, the Schweizer’s were living in Burlington, Iowa, which is located in the southeast corner of that state right on the Mississippi River. We find them in a 1928 Burlington city directory. George was the manager of the Burlington Farm Machinery Company.

George Schweizer – 1928 Burlington city directory

The 1930 census shows the Schweizer family living in Burlington, where they would live the rest of their lives. Three sons were living in their household. George was still managing a farm implement company.

1930 census – Burlington, IA

The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. It looks very similar to the one taken in 1930.

1940 census – Burlington, IA

Apparently, George and Martha took a trip out of the country in 1952. They are found on a passenger list for a ship named Queen of Bermuda that was returning in October. Perhaps they went to Bermuda.

George and Martha Schweizer – Queen of Bermuda passenger list 1952

About a month after returning on that trip, George died at the age of 57. I found a document that indicates George may have had some military experience.

George Schweizer death information

Martha Schweizer died in 1978. She must have been around 82 years old when she died. Both George and Martha were buried in the Burlington Memorial Park in Burlington, Iowa. They have entries on, but no gravestone photos. Neither of their entries mention a year of birth.

George and Martha Schweizer entries – Findagrave

This was a story that caused me to find little bits of information about the two main characters in different sources. No one resource said much about this couple, so I had to put this story together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Leave a Reply