Answers in Death Certificates

Eight children were born to the couple, Christian and Juliane (Kuehnert) Saalfeld. Of those eight, there were 3 sets of twins. There was one set of twin boys that died not long after birth. The other two sets of twins were girls, and only two of those 4 girls lived to adulthood. The remaining 2 children that were not twins were also girls. Since Christian was the only male Saalfeld in this area, that surname died out after he did. I will be discussing the life of one of those non-twin girls today. Since my great great grandmother was a Saalfeld, this story had special interest to me. Today’s character was my great great grandparents’ niece.

Anna Maria Saalfeld was born on January 23, 1853, making today her 169th birthday. Her parents mentioned before were both members of the Gesellschaft that arrived in Perry County in 1839. Not much information is given in our German Family Tree about Anna.

B6.SAALFELD, “Anna” Maria (Born 23 Jan 1853) [AltenburgMO-Trinity]: Anna Maria Saalfeld, Father: Johann Christian Friedrich Saalfeld, farmer, Mother: Johanne Juliane nee Kuehnert, Born 23 Jan 1853 at 8:30 in the morning, 6th child, 1st marriage, Baptized: 27 Jan 1853 at home, Sponsors: Gottworth Friedrich Schmidt; Christiane Rahel, wife of Gottlob Frenzel, farmer in Paizdorf; Anna Elisabeth wife of Christian Kuehnert; Maria Kuehnert; [AltenburgMO-Trinity]: Anna Saalfeld was a baptismal sponsor for Dorothea Mathilde Schuessler, daughter of Gottlieb & Dorothea Schuessler, Born 21 Nov 1868

As you can see, Anna was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. One of her sponsors was my great grandfather, Gottwerth Schmidt. Below is an image of Anna’s baptism record.

Anna Saalfeld baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

The last evidence found of Anna in our GFT was the fact that she was a baptismal sponsor for Dorothea Mathilde Schuessler in 1868. Anna’s sister, Sarah, had married Gotthilf Schuessler (these two are misnamed in the GFT record), so Anna was a sponsor for her niece.

Since I was unable to find Anna in the 1860 census, the first census I can display that includes her was the one taken in 1870. She was 16 years old at the time. Her father was a farmer.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

We find Anna in one more census living in Perry County. That was the census taken in 1880. At the age of 27, Anna was still single.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

At this point, Anna disappears from sight. Anna’s two other sisters, Martha and Magdalena, never married, so I thought that might be the case for Anna as well. I also was unable to find any information about her death. I almost gave up on this story. However, it was while I was looking for evidence of her death that I came across a document that was the key to discovering what happened to Anna. I ran across the death certificate for a girl by the name of Philippine Young. That document is displayed below.

Philippine Young death certificate

The mother’s maiden name on this form was Anna Saalfeld. I found it very interesting that Philippine was living in Altenburg at the time of her death. Philippine was born in 1885, so if her mother was today’s birthday girl, Anna most likely got married to a man named George Young between 1880 and 1885. That led me to search for information about George Young. That is not the easiest thing in the world because Young is such a common name. One of my first thoughts is that he might have been originally named Jung and then had his name Americanized to Young. I found no evidence of that. I eventually ran across a George W. Young who was born in 1849, the son of Franklin and Adeline (Proffer) Young. There are numerous family trees on for Franklin Young, George’s father. They all state that this Young family was from Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Although I cannot be 100% sure if this is the right Young family, I think it is. None of George’s family trees on Ancestry give the name of his spouse, and, like the case of Anna Saalfeld, George disappears from sight. I never did find a marriage record for George W. Young marrying Anna Saalfeld. Once again, I almost gave up on this story.

I went back to Philippine’s death certificate and noticed that it says she was buried in the St. Matthew’s Cemetery in St. Louis. Philippine does have an entry on in that cemetery. So, I decided to see if I could find her parents in that cemetery also. First of all, let me say that there are 102 gravesites in that cemetery that have the name Young. Four of them are Anna Young’s. All of those Anna Young’s are given years of their deaths, but none of them give a year of birth. I chose one that died in 1927 and looked for an Anna Young death certificate from the year 1927. I got the right one. That death certificate is pictured below. It shows her father’s name as Christian Saalfeld. Bingo!

Anna Young death certificate

This death certificate even contains the name of Dr. Schuricht, who was another descendant of the original immigrants. It also indicates that Anna was a widow when she died. That means George Young died prior to 1927.

I decided to look for the Young family in census records for St. Louis. I found an entry for them in the 1900 census. We find that this couple had 2 children, another George and Philippine. George’s occupation is given as second hand merchant.

1900 census – St. Louis, MO

We then find Anna Young in the 1910 census, but she is called a widow. That means George must have died between 1900 and 1910.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

Unfortunately, since George died before 1910, we will not find a death certificate for him. There are 4 grave sites in the St. Matthew’s Cemetery by the name of George Young. None of them have birth years, and 2 of them have death years between 1900 and 1910. I have no idea which one is today’s George Young. However, I did find a George Young that died in 1935 that was the son of George and Anna. He was 21 years old and single when he died.

George Young, Jr. death certificate

I was not able to find Anna in the 1920 census. I was also unable to find Philippine in the 1930 census. However, we find a very revealing entry for her in the 1940 census. She was living in the Brazeau Township, and all indications are that she was living in downtown Altenburg.

1940 census – Altenburg, MO

In a previous blog post, Trios of Twins and Spinsters, I noted that there were questions about Anna Saalfeld. I think I now have answered some of those questions with this post. A lot of Saalfeld descendants ended up single. Even Anna and George’s children never married. The only Saalfeld child that had descendants was Sarah Saalfeld, who married Gotthilf Schuessler. That couple had 11 children.

This story was a real research challenge. I would urge anyone who is doing family research to look for clues in death certificates. Fortunately for us, Missouri has a great site for finding death certificates that were completed between 1910 and 1970. I read a few days ago that soon some more death certificates beyond 1970 will be available soon. The link below will take you to the site where you can search for Missouri death certificates.

4 thoughts on “Answers in Death Certificates

  1. I think I was able to find some of the answers you seek about George Young. I did an obituary search in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and found this from September 1905:

    It says that he was the “beloved husband of Annie Young (née [sic] Saalseld), father of George and Philpina Young” and was born in “Landan, Sutzelsas, Rittershofen, Germany”. To me, that second word looked a lot like the German word for “Alsace”, the historically German-speaking region that is now part of northeast France. The 1900 census says he was born in September 1852, so I decided to go to the Archives for that region of France and was able to find a birth certificate for a Georg Jung, born 26 September 1852 in Rittershofen (upper right):

    Since Alsace went back and forth between Germany and France, it also made sense that his son’s death certificate would say he was born in France, while George seemed to identify primarily as German. I decided to double back to the St. Louis death records and found his death certificate, stating that he was born 26 September 1852 — the dates match!:

    According to the birth certificate above, his parents were shoemaker Georg Jung (b.~1823) & his wife, Cécile Struver (b. ~1830). Given the date of the burial permit listed on the death certificate above, this would appear to be his FindAGrave entry:


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