Edwin Oswald Engert was born on April 13, 1896, making today his 126th birthday. Edwin did not have a normal childhood, which will be evident as I tell his story. His parents were August and Liberta (Palisch) Engert. That makes Edwin a grandchild and great grandchild of two very prolific patriarchs that were part of the Gesellschaft in 1839…August Engert and J.G. Palisch. Edwin was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Below is his baptism record from that congregation’s books in two images.
I do not know what Edwin was told when he was growing up, but even before Edwin shows up in his first census in 1900, his father had been institutionalized. His father’s story was told in the post, A Troubling Topic. August E. Engert spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. I cannot even say if Edwin ever remembered seeing his father or not. Edwin had an older brother, Alfred, and a younger sister, Flora. We see this Engert household in the 1900 census. Edwin was 4 years old.
Then, another tragedy struck Edwin’s family. His mother, Liberta, died in 1906 at the age of 33. Edwin had not even reached his 10th birthday. This left the 3 Engert children with no parent to care for them. They were farmed out. The oldest boy, Alfred, went to live with his uncle, Arthur Palisch, and his wife, Magdalena (Grosse). Edwin and his sister, Flora went to live with their uncle, Oswald and Paulina (Petzoldt) Palisch. The 1900 census entry that included Edwin is displayed below. Edwin was 14 years old at the time.
In 1917, Edwin had a World War I draft registration completed. When he completed this form, he was working on the August Stark farm in West Point, Nebraska.
Edwin did serve in the military during that war. Below is a record that gives the dates that he served.
When the 1920 census was taken, we find Edwin back living in Perry County. He was a farm hand on the Herman Lichtenegger farm. The wife in this house, Alwine, was a Palisch.
Now, we will take a look at the woman who would become his bride. Her name was Amanda Rosina Schilling, who was born on November 10, 1902. Amanda was the daughter of Ferdinand and Anna (Kasten) Schilling. She was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We can take a look at her baptism record.
Amanda is found in her first census in 1910. Amanda was 7 years old, and her father was a farmer.
Next, we find Amanda in the 1920 census as a teenager.
Edwin Engert married Amanda Schilling on November 20, 1922 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. The church record is pictured here.
We can also view the marriage license for this couple. This document states that both Edwin and Amanda were from Wittenberg.
Our German Family Tree lists 3 children born to this pair. Two of them were born before the 1930 census was taken. Edwin was a farmer.
Another son, Norman, was born in 1932. In the 1940 census, we find all 3 children in the household. A lodger by the name of Harry Thurm was working on his farm.
The last census we can view is the one recently released to the public, the one taken in 1950. In that entry, we find the Engert family with just two children. The Engert farm was located in the bottoms just north of the village of Wittenberg.
I do not know when it happened, but toward the end of Edwin’s life, he became blind. Also, at some point in time, Edwin and Amanda moved into the town of Altenburg. Gerard Fiehler shared a few stories with me this morning about Edwin because he remembers him. Apparently, Edwin became quite skillful at walking with his familiar white cane through town. That leads me to talking about what I was really referring to in the title of this article.
There was actually an Edwin Engert post in town. I do not know who put it there, but right across the street from the Altenburg post office, there was once a post near the sidewalk. It was placed there so Edwin would know where to cross the street to check his mail. He would come down the sidewalk, and when his cane hit this post, he knew that he was directly across the street from his destination. That post is no longer there, but there is evidence where it was. Gerard took me to the place where this post was located, and I took a few photos so you could see it.
Edwin Engert died in 1974 at the age of 78; Amanda Engert died in 1995 at the age of 92. Both of them were buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.
Recently, our museum lost one of its docents, our dear Gladys Engert. Gladys was married to Edwin’s youngest son, Norman, so she would have called Edwin and Amanda her father-in-law and mother-in-law. Also, this past Sunday, five young people were confirmed at Trinity, Altenburg. One of those was an Engert who could call Edwin his great grandfather.
Sad to say, Edwin was not able to see his father when he was growing up. Later in his life, he was also not able to see his grandchildren.