It is not often that I base a story on a baptism date, but when 3 young siblings are baptized on the same day, it gets my attention. Not only that, but that baptismal date occurred 125 years ago, making it a special anniversary today.
The year was 1897. The village of Wittenberg had become a bustling little river town with multiple stores, a large flour mill, along with a building that was used as both a church and a school. Of all the little communities in East Perry County, Wittenberg was probably the one with the most diverse population. And what I mean by a diverse community, I mean that they were not just German. They were not just Lutheran. You will be reading about a family that was not German, and likely spent little time being associated with the Lutheran church.
I do not know exactly when or why the George Boyse family arrived and became residents in the Wittenberg area, but they were there in 1897, and 3 of their children, Mamie Myrtle, George Washington, and Pearliny, were baptized by the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Rev. Roesner. The formation of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg would not happen until 1903, so this was still a time when pastors from local congregations traveled to Wittenberg to conduct worship services and officiate such things as baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
The baptism records for the 3 Boyse children that took place on April 25, 1897 are shown below. They are from the books of Trinity, Altenburg. This record gives the parents’ names as George L. and Lissy (Whippo) Boyse.
The sponsors for these baptisms were Joseph Weinhold, the prominent flour mill owner in Wittenberg, Concordia Weinhold, his daughter, and August Winter, another prominent Wittenberg businessman. I think I have written previous blog posts about each one of these sponsors.
Another child was born to the Boyse family in 1898 and baptized by Pastor Roesner. When the 1900 census was taken, we find the Boyse household without a mother. She likely died not long after the last child was born, or perhaps there was a divorce. Also, the child named Pearliny likely died as well because she is missing from this list.
The Boyse family was still living in East Perry County when the 1910 census was taken. The father was a laborer on the railroad that had first started running through Wittenberg in 1904.
I am now going to focus on one child in this family, mainly because he was the one for which I was able to find the most information. It is the child with the interesting name, George Washington Boyse, who was born on April 19, 1894. I was not able to find him in the 1920 census, nor could I find a World War I draft registration for him, but I do know that he did serve his country in that war. I found this military record for him. This document states that George was living in Cape Girardeau.
In 1924, George W. Boyse married Flora Alexander in Jackson, Missouri. Here is a record I found of their wedding.
Flora Alexander is another elusive character. I know she was born in Arkansas on January 12, 1892, but not much else. When the 1930 census was taken we find George and Flora living in St. Louis. George was working as a sausage maker.
This couple was still living in St. Louis when the next census was taken in 1940. I found no evidence that George and Flora had any children. This time, George was called a meat man.
In 1942, George had a World War II draft card completed. It says that George’s employer was Muehling Packing Company.
George Washington Boyse died in 1954 at the age of 60. Even though he is still shown as living in St. Louis, an Arkansas death certificate shows him dying at the VA hospital in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
A U.S. Headstone Application gives a few more details about George’s military service during World War I.
An obituary was placed in a Cape Girardeau newspaper for George.
Flora Boyse died in 1964 at the age of 71. She died in the Hamilton Convalescent Center in St. Louis.
Both George and Flora were buried in the Fairmount Cemetery in Cape Girardeau, but only George has a gravestone photo on Findagrave.com.
I did find a little bit of information about Mamie Myrtle Boyse, the other child baptized on this day that lived to adulthood, but not much. I was amazed at how many people in the United States have had the surname, Boyse. There were even several with the name George Washington Boyse. It’s a surname I have never encountered until writing this story today.
It looks to me like Rev. Roesner and the Lutheran residents in Wittenberg made efforts to reach out with the Gospel to those in that community that were unchurched. This story gives an example of 3 youngsters that became children of God on the same day back in 1897. Another post on this blog told of Rev. Deye in Wittenberg baptizing 5 young children on the same day in 1933. If you’re interested, you can click on this link to find that story.