Otto Frentzel – Nebraska Banker

You will read another story today that has its beginnings in Perry County, Missouri, but certainly does not end there. Otto Alwin Theophilus Frentzel was born on April 23, 1886, making today his 136th birthday. Otto was the 4th of 11 children born to Alvin and Elizabeth (Ruhkopf) Frentzel. Since the first 3 children were girls, Otto was the oldest son in that family. Otto was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. Below is an image of his baptism record from that congregation’s books.

Otto Frentzel baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

Otto was born at that time when Perry County kept track of birth records. We can view Otto’s birth record in two images.

Otto Frentzel birth record – Perry County, MO

It would be 1900 before we can view Otto’s name in a federal census. At the age of 14, he was a farm laborer, but I don’t know if it was his family’s farm. His father was called a merchant.

1900 census – Union Township, MO

When 1910 rolled around, we do not find Otto still living with his parents. He was living in St. Louis in the Lunharett (at least that is how Ancestry transcribed his name) household. Otto was a bookkeeper for a dairy company. That occupation gives us a hint about his future.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

We find Otto in a much different place when we look at the World War I draft registration he had completed in 1918. He was living in Altona, Nebraska, but working in Wisner, Nebraska as a banker at the Citizen’s National Bank.

Otto Frentzel – WWI draft registration

The map below shows the relative locations of Altona and Wisner. Despite being in two different counties, these two locations were very near one another.

Altona and Wisner, NE map

The 1920 census indicates the Otto was living in the town of Wisner and had advanced to become the vice president of the bank. This entry also explains how Otto got to know his future bride. He was living with several folks with the surname, Denzien. A few of the Benzien’s were masons. Two slots above Otto’s name, you will see that of LaVerne Denzien, who would later become his wife. There was quite an age difference between these two.

1920 census – Wisner, NE

LaVerne Denzien was born on April 21, 1907, the daughter of Charles and Cecilia (Armbrust) Benzien. We find her family living in Wisner, Nebraska in the 1910 census. LaVerne was 3 years old, and her father was a brick mason.

1910 census – Wisner, NE

On July 6, 1926, Otto Frentzel married LaVerne Benzien. I cannot explain why, but they were married in Jackson County, Minnesota.

Frentzel/Benzien – Minnesota marriage record

LaVerne’s parents would be found living in Ventura County, California when the 1930 census was taken. Otto and LaVerne had a son in 1927, and a later military record for that son says he was born in Ventura County, California. It looks like after Otto and LaVerne were married, they spent some time in California. However, by the time of the 1930 census, the Frentzel’s were back living in Wisner, Nebraska. Otto was called a bank cashier.

1930 census – Wisner, NE

The Frentzel’s moved again before the 1940 census was taken. In that year’s census entry, they were living in Loup, Nebraska, which is farther west from Wisner in the Sand Hills region of that state. A daughter had been born into their family and was 8 years old at the time. This time, Otto was called a bank president.

1940 census – Loup, NE

At this point, I lost track of the Frentzel’s. The next documentation I located had to do with their deaths. Otto Frentzel died in 1977 at the age of 91; LaVerne Frentzel died in 1994 at the age of 86. These two are buried together in the Benson Cemetery in Benson, Minnesota.

Otto and LaVerne Frentzel gravestone – Benson, MN

It is puzzling to me that Otto and LaVerne were both married and buried in the state of Minnesota, but I found no other documentation that they lived there. I did find evidence that the Benzien family lived in a variety of locations over the years, but not in Minnesota. Although Otto had his beginnings in Perry County, evidence can be found that he was located in several other states during his time on earth.

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