One of the first things you can see upon entering our museum in Altenburg is the piece of furniture pictured below. On the back, you would find the stamped words, “G.A.O. Altenburg MO”. This piece of furniture was either made or sold by Gustav Adolph Oehlert, who is today’s birthday boy.
Gustav’s story was told in the first year of this blog, but by today’s standards, it was not very complete. That blog was titled, Often in a Coffin. I guess I’ve learned some tricks of the trade over the years that enable me to find more documentation for our blog posts. I will add all kinds of images today that were not in that 2016 post.
Gustav Adolph Oehlert (pronounced Ay-lert) was born on February 25, 1869, so today would be his 153rd birthday. Gustav was child #8 in a family of 13 born to Gottlieb and Wilhelmine (Krause) Oehlert according to our German Family Tree. Some died early. Gustav was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. However, because of the icy roads we have here today, I choose not to make the trip to the museum to get an image of his baptism record. Gustav is found as a youngster in the 1870 census living in the Brazeau Township. His father was a farmer.
In 1880, Gustav was 11 years old and going to school.
A lot of time went by before we find Gustav in the 1900 census, and when that time came, we find that he was still single at the age of 30. Gustav was still living with his parents, and his occupation is listed as a furniture dealer.
Gustav had a lumber, furniture, and coffin store in Altenburg. It is shown in the photograph below with Gustav standing on the right. It is reported that the young man on the left was a Lohmann who worked with Gustav.
Now, we will take a look at the life of Gustav’s bride prior to their marriage. He name was Maria Louise Jaeger (sometimes spelled Yaeger). She was born on October 18th, either in 1868 or 1869, the daughter of Christian and Wilhelmine (Woeltje) Jaeger. Her later obituary would state that she was born in Biehle, Missouri. The obituary says she was born in 1869, but her gravestone says 1868. Maria is found in her first census in 1870 living in the Apple Creek Township. Since this entry gives Maria’s age as 8/12, that gives credence to an 1869 birth year. Her father was a farmer.
By the time of the 1880 census, the Jaeger family had moved to Illinois. We find them living in the Fountain Bluff Township. Mary was listed as being 10 years old.
In 1892, Maria Jaeger married a man named William Schrell in Illinois. Here is an Illinois record for that marriage.
The 1900 census shows that William had already died by that time. Maria was living with her parents as a widow with 2 daughters, Flora and Clara.
I cannot verify the exact date, but a family history on Ancestry.com says Gustav Oehlert married Maria (Jaeger) Schrell on April 12, 1903 in Murphysboro. An Illinois marriage record confirms the year being 1903.
Apparently, after Gustav and Maria were married, the two Schrell daughters remained in Illinois. The 1910 census shows them living with their grandparents.
I think the photo displayed below may have been taken on the occasion of the 50th wedding anniversary of Gustav’s parents. That would have taken place in 1906. If so, both Gustav and Maria would be in this photo.
Gustav and his wife were living in Altenburg when the 1910 census was taken. They had two children of their own. They were living in the household of Gustav’s parents. Gustav’s occupation was given as a manufacturing and retail dealer of furniture. In other words, Gustav was not just selling furniture, he was also making it.
Next, we find Gustav in the 1920 census at the age of 50. One more daughter had been born to Oehlert’s. Gustav’s mother was still living with them.
Maria Oehlert died in 1922 at the age of 52. Her death certificate is shown here. It is another document that gives her birth year as 1869.
A story of Maria’s unexpected death appeared in the Perry County Republican.
A year after his wife’s death, another horrible event took place. His home burned down in a fire in 1923. It is described in another article in the Perry County Republican. The images can be clicked to enlarge.
The 1930 census shows the following Oehlert household. His son, George, had married Lena Hemmann, and they were also living in the household.
Another photo was taken of Gustav with several of his siblings. Gustav is standing in the back on the right.
The final census we can view was the one taken in 1940. Gustav was living in the household of his son, George.
Gustav Oehlert died in 1953 at the age of 84. This form says that he was a furniture merchant.
Both Gustav and Maria Oehlert are buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.
There you have it…a much more complete story of Gustav Oehlert and his wife, Maria. It looks so much different nowadays, but if you’re driving through Altenburg sometime, you may see the house below that was once the Oehlert Furniture Store.