Wm. Kurre – Leather Goods Salesman

I have absolutely no church records from Lutheran churches in East Perry County to accompany today’s story. It is a tale that takes place almost entirely in St. Louis. However, the two main characters had families that originated in this area. It begins with the birth of a Telle.

Martha Amalia Telle was born on February 13, 1888 in St. Louis. Some family histories on Ancestry.com say Martha was born in Uniontown, but I would think that there would have been a baptism record for her in our German Family Tree if that was the case. Martha was the daughter of Martin Gotthilf and Bertha (Gerharter) Telle. A previous post told the story of Martha’s father titled, Telle’s Deli. I have also written a story about one of Martha’s brothers called Telle’s Deli – Gen 2 (and 3). Here is a photo of Martha’s father.

Martin Gotthilf Telle

Martha is found in the 1900 census at the age of 12. Her father is called a butcher, but he ran a delicatessen that I have given my own name, Telle’s Deli.

1900 census – St. Louis, MO

Next, we will take a look at the man that would become Martha’s husband. His name was William Frederick Kurre, who was born on May 22, 1879. Family histories on Ancestry.com say that he was born in Uniontown. William was the son of Charles and Emma (Unseld) Kurre. He is found in the 1880 census at the age of 1. His family was living in Perryville, and his father was a tinsmith. This census entry is the only document I located for this story from Perry County.

1880 census – Perryville, MO

William’s father died when he was only 4 years old, and his mother remarried. Her second husband was John Angermann. John also died before the next census that can be viewed. In the 1900 census, we find the Kurre/Angermann household living in St. Louis. William was a 21 year-old clerk. There is a Martha in the household, but that is William’s younger sister.

1900 census – St. Louis, MO

William Kurre married Martha Telle on May 20, 1908 in St. Louis. The only document I found was a record published in a St. Louis newspaper. I am not subscribed to Newspapers.com so I cannot view it. I am almost certain that William and Martha lived in St. Louis when the 1910 census was taken, but I could not locate them in that enumeration.

In 1917 or 1918, William had his World War I draft registration completed. This document says he was living in Kirkwood, which is a municipality in the greater St. Louis area. It also says William was working as a salesman for the James Clark Leather Company.

William Kurre – WWI draft registration

I found a sales receipt from the James Clark Leather Company that gives a little more information about that business.

James Clark Leather Co. receipt

In the 1920 census, we find the Kurre family with 5 children. William was described as a traveling salesman for a wholesale leather company.

1920 census – Kirkwood, MO

Next, we find the Kurre household in the 1930 census. This time, three were 6 children listed. William had the same occupation.

1930 census – Kirkwood, MO

The last census we can view is the one taken in 1940. Only one unmarried daughter was still living with William and Martha. Also, a nephew named Walter Telle was included in their household. That must have been a son of one of Martha’s brothers.

1940 census – Kirkwood, MO

In 1942, William had to complete a World War II draft card even though he was 62 years old. This document says that William’s employer was the Standard Leather Company.

William Kurre – WWII draft card

Over the years, William and Martha appeared in several St. Louis city directories. I will just display one from 1958.

William Kurre – 1958 St. Louis city directory

William Kurre died in 1976 at the age of 96; Martha Kurre died in 1981 at the age of 92. These two were buried together in the Bellerive Heritage Gardens in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

William and Martha Kurre gravestone – Bellerive, Creve Coeur, MO

William Kurre was a traveling salesman for most of his life. Because of modern technology, especially the use of the internet, that is an occupation that has mostly disappeared. Growing up in the late 1800’s, William must have been familiar with horse and buggy travel. William might have begun his career as a salesman in the early 1900’s traveling aboard trains to visit his clients. Later, he may have used automobiles and even possibly airplanes to get where he needed to go. What amazing changes people who lived during those times must have witnessed during their lifetimes. And what adjustments they had to make to the changing technologies.


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