The main character in today’s post has just one lonely document indexed in our German Family Tree.
As you can see, Theodore Meister was born on this day in 1876, making him today’s birthday boy. A previous post, The Senior Meister and His Angel, was written about his parents, Anton and Gabriele (Hopfer) Meister. There were 13 children born into that family. When Theodore was baptized, that family was still at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown, but starting in 1881, the children were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Below is Theodore’s baptism record from the Uniontown books.
The only other record I can show indicating Theodore living in this area was the 1880 census. In this entry, the Meister family was living in the Shawnee Township, where New Wells is located, at the age of 4.
The rest of this story is set in the Capp’s Creek Township of Barry County, Missouri. The map below shows this location not far from the city of Joplin.
Theodore is found living in the Capp’s Creek Township in the 1900 census. Theodore was called a farmer, likely working on his father’s farm.
Let’s now take a look at Theodore’s first wife. Her name was Julia Loehr, who was born on July 27, 1884. She was a twin. She was the daughter of George and Henrietta (Burkhaltz) Loehr. As it turns out, her twin sister, Adeline, married Theodore’s brother, Arthur Meister. I may have to write that story someday. We find the Loehr family living in the Capp’s Creek Township when the 1900 census was taken. I have highlighted the twin girls, both 15 years old at the time. I find it interesting that Theodore’s family also had a set of twins and a set of triplets and two Meister boys managed to marry a set of Loehr twins.
I was unable to locate a marriage record, but sometime before the 1910 census, Theodore Meister married Julia Loehr. The census for that year shows this interesting household that included both twin sisters, Julia and Lena, who were then married to Meister’s. I think it is reminiscent of the Schmidt twins who were married in Altenburg on the same day and ended up living in the same household. That story was told in the post, Two of a Kind….Later a Full House. The children listed in this household were born to Arthur and his wife. Walter, another Meister brother, was also living in this household.
In 1911, Julia died two days after Christmas, leaving Theodore as a widower. I found no evidence that any children were born to Theodore and Julia. We can take a look at Julia’s death certificate. Tuberculosis is given as the cause of death.
Theodore would marry again, so let’s inspect the life of his second wife. Her name was Wilhelmine Marie “Minnie” Ritzaur. She was born on January 29, 1876, the daughter of Charles and Auguste (Fenske) Ritzaur. A later death certificate says she was born in New York. When the 1880 census was taken, we find Minnie living in the Eldred Township of McKean County, Pennsylvania, which is in the northern part of that state, not far from the northern part of New York state. Minnie was 4 years old at the time.
By the time of the 1900 census, we find Minnie living in the Joplin, Missouri in the household of William Smith and working as a servant.
I was unable to find Minnie in the 1910 census. Then, on May 21, 1914, Theodore Meister married Minnie Ritzaur. This document says that Minnie was from Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. It also says the pastor was at Monett, Missouri.
Theodore had his World War I draft registration completed in 1918. Minnie Meister is listed as his wife.
I think 3 children were born to this couple. All 3 were born before the 1920 census was taken. However, we find a very unusual entry for the Meister family. First, Theodore was living in his parents’ household. All 3 children were included, but there is someone missing. Minnie is not to be found. Where is she?
Minnie is found in all the later census records. The next one in which we find the Meister’s was the one in 1930. Once again, we see the brothers, Theodore and Arthur, living near one another. Arthur had a very large family. Walter is still living in Theodore’s household, and so was his mother. His father had died in 1923.
The final census we can view is the one taken in 1940. All 3 of their children, now in their 20’s, were still living in with their parents.
Theodore Meister died in 1953 at the age of 76. Cancer of the stomach is given as the cause of death.
Minnie Meister died in 1961 at the age of 85. We can also view her death certificate.
Theodore and both of his wives, Julia and Minnie, are buried in the St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Purdy, Missouri. Theodore and Minnie are buried together.
Some stories written on this blog tell of people who remained in the same location their entire lives. Some of those occasionally tell of a married couple made up of two people who remained at the same church all the way to their burials. Then, there are those like today’s story, that tell of a person who began in this locality but moved to spend most of their lives elsewhere. I enjoy telling both these varieties of stories, especially when the folks discussed remain involved in Lutheran churches regardless of location.