Dancing with the Best

Charles William Best was born on January 3, 1855, so if he was still alive today, he would have to blow out 167 candles on his birthday cake. Charles was the son of William and Louisa (Lowes) Best. We do not have much in our German Family Tree on the Best family. It is a family that was part of the Arnsberg church when it was in existence. In the Arnsberg binder that we have, we find some information on the Best’s. First, here is some data on Charles’s parents. This is where we find that this Best family arrived in America in 1850.

William Best information – Arnsberg binder

Next, here is a list of the children born to William and Louisa Best. Charles is #4 on the list. Not much information is given about the birth, marriage, death, and burial of most of these children, but Charles at least has a birth date.

William Best children information – Arnsberg binder

I thought that Charles Best may have been baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim. That church was established before 1855. The Arnsberg church began not long after Charles was born. We have the Trinity, Friedheim church books in our museum’s research library, but at this time, they are not indexed, and therefore not yet a part of our German Family Tree. However, I did not find a baptism record for Charles in those books. The first census in which we find Charles was the one taken in 1860, in which we find this family living in the Apple Creek Township of Cape Girardeau County. That is where Arnsberg was located. This entry says Charles was 6 years old. This entry gives evidence that there may have been another older child named Frederick that is not on the above list of children.

1860 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Next, we find Charles as a teenager in the 1870 census. His father was a farmer.

1870 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Now, we need to take a look at the woman who would become Charles’s first wife and the mother of all his children. Her name was Annette Caroline Wilke, who was born on June 26, 1855. I looked all over Ancestry.com and could not find a family history that included this woman which identified her parents. However, based on some evidence I found, I think her parents were John and Henrietta (Zimmermann) Wilke. We find this couple in the Arnsberg binder, but it does not list any of the children born to them.

John Wilke information – Arnsberg binder

If you combine the above information that includes the fact that Henrietta died in 1874, the state census entry from Missouri for 1876 shown below probably is an entry for this family. It includes a girl of the right age group that is named Nettie C. I think this is Annette Caroline Wilke.

1876 Missouri state census – Apple Creek Township, MO

On April 5, 1877, Charles Best married Caroline Wilke. For this marriage, I was successful at finding a church record for this event in the books of Trintiy Lutheran Church in Friedheim.

Best/Wilke marriage record – Trinity, Friedheim, MO

There is also a civil marriage record that we can view for this pair.

Best/Wilke marriage record – Cape Girardeau County, MO

According to a well-documented family history on Ancestry, along with what is seen in census entries, it appears that this couple had 6 children. We find this family in the 1880 census with 2 children. Charles’s father died in 1879, and his mother was living in his household at this time.

1880 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

On a plat map for a portion of the Apple Creek Township, we find the Charles Best farm. You cannot tell this from the map, but it was not far from Arnsberg.

Charles Best land map

The only photo I located for any of the characters in this post is this one of Charles Best. It is found in the Arnsberg binder. I do not know when it was taken.

The next census we can view is the one taken in 1900. Charles, like his father, was a farmer all his life.

1900 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Caroline Best died in 1904 at the age of 49. Then, on September 16, 1906, Charles married Alvina Ernestine (Danz)(Scholl) Suhr. Alvina had previously been married twice. I am not going to go into detail about her life because it was told in the post, Schmidt and Scholl – Another “Sch-” Couple. Charles married Alvina at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas.

Best/Suhr marriage record – Zion, Pocahontas, MO

Forgive my silliness, but since Alvina’s maiden name was Danz, which means dance in German, one could say that as a result of this marriage, she was “Dancing with the Best”, as opposed to “Dancing with the Stars”.

It is Alvina that we see as Charles’s wife in the 1910 census. Just one son was left in this household.

1910 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

The last census in which we find Charles was the one taken in 1920. There were no more Best children in the household. Charles and Alvina were both in their 60’s.

1920 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Charles Best died in 1928 at the age of 73. His death certificate says he died as a result of an intestinal obstruction.

Charles Best death certificate

Both Charles and his first wife, Caroline, were buried in the Kurreville Cemetery in Millersville, Missouri. Findagrave has an entry for them, but no gravestone photos.

Alvina Best died in 1933 and is buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Pocahontas.

Alvina Best gravestone – Zion, Pocahontas, MO

There are several Best’s living around here these days. I cannot say for sure whether they descend from the original Best’s in this story, but I think there’s a good chance that they are. At least that is my Best guess.


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