Tombstone Trader

Today’s birthday boy is John Charles Boxdorfer, who was born on April 29, 1871. I have seen him called John C., J.C., and John Charles in documents. His gravestone calls him J. Charles. I choose to call him Charles, partly because I have already written a post about a John Boxdorfer. I think in his case, his gravestone becomes a very trustworthy place to look for how he preferred to be named because later in his life, Charles worked for the company that provided his tombstone.

Charles was the son of Heinrich and Elizabeth (Rauh) Boxdorfer. A previous post was written about Charles’s parents titled, Baltimore Boxdorfer. Charles was the firstborn child of 10 born to Henry and Elizabeth. Charles was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. A transcription of his baptism record is displayed here.

Charles Boxdorfer baptism record – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

Charles is found in the 1880 census at the age of 9. His father was a farmer.

1880 census – Central Township, MO

Now, we will turn our attention to Charles’s first wife. Her name was Catherine Stuebinger, who was born on December 16, 1871. She was the daughter of John and Eva (Herman) Stuebinger. Catherine was baptized at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. Information about Catherine can be found in the Friedenberg Remembrances book.

Catherine Stuebinger information – Friedenberg book

Catherine’s father died when she was just 4 years old, and her mother married again. Her second husband was Franz Eichhorn. That helps explain the census entry we see for 1880 that is shown below. At that time, Catherine was 8 years old.

1880 census – Salem Township, MO

On July 25, 1893, Charles Boxdorfer married Catherine Stuebinger. That marriage took place at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. The license application for that wedding is displayed below.

Boxdorfer/Stuebinger marriage license application

One child, a girl named Elsie, was born to this couple. However, when that child was just 3 years old, Catherine died at the age of 26, leaving Charles a widower. Catherine Boxdorfer was buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.

Catherine Boxdorfer gravestone – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

When the 1900 census was taken, we that Charles is called a widower. His sister, Emma, was living with him, probably helping him raise his young daughter. Charles was a farmer at this time in his life.

1900 census – Central Township, MO

Next, we will take a look at the women who would become Charles’s second wife. Her name was Serphinea Klobe, who was born on February 27, 1878. I am using the spelling of her first name that is found on her gravestone. The German Family Tree uses the spelling, Seraphine. She was the 7th of 14 children born to Adam and Margaretta (Bienlein) Klobe. Serphinea was baptized at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. Information about her is found in the Friedenberg Remembrances book.

Serphinea Klobe information – Friedenberg book

Serphinea is found in the 1880 census, only I think the census taker got her name wrong. The last two children in this list were both called Wilhelmine. Wilhelmine was born in the year of this census. I think the 3 year-old is actually Serphinea.

1880 census – Central Township, MO

Charles Boxdorfer married Serphinea Klobe on August 22, 1901 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. We can take a look at a transcription of the church record.

Boxdorfer/Klobe marriage record – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

The marriage license for this couple can also be viewed.

Boxdorfer/Klobe marriage license

This couple had 5 more children, all of which were baptized at Immanuel, Perryville. The Boxdorfer household is next found in the 1910 census. This time, they were living in Perryville, and Charles was a salesman in a general store.

1910 census – Perryville, MO

In 1920, there were 5 children in this household, and Charles is simply called a salesman.

1920 census – Perryville, MO

Charles is described as the county assessor when the 1930 census was taken. Just one son remained in their household.

1930 census – Perryville, MO

When the 1940 census is viewed, we see the first evidence of Charles working as a salesman for a monument company.

1940 census – Perryville, MO

His later death certificate would be more specific about his employer. It states he was a salesman for the Brewer Monument Company. When I looked into this company online, I discovered that they are celebrating their 125th anniversary this year. That means they must have been established in 1897. That also means that when Charles’s first wife died that same year, it is possible that her gravestone may have been one of the first sold by the Brewer Monument Company.

Early in its existence, this company was called the W.D. Brewer and Sons Monument Company. W.D. was William Dennis Brewer. Later, the name would be simplified to just Brewer Monument Company. Here is an advertisement for their business that was placed in the Perry County Republican in 1941.

Brewer Monument Co. ad – PCR 1941

Some old photos of the Brewer Monument Company can be found on their website. You can get there by clicking the link below.

Charles can be found in one more census. In the 1950 census, he and Serphinea had an empty nest. Charles worked in the office of the monument company at the age of 78.

1950 census – Perryville, MO

Charles Boxdorfer died in 1951 at the age of 80. His death certificate is pictured here.

Charles Boxdorfer death certificate

Serphinea Boxdorfer died in 1962 at the age of 84. We can also view her death certificate.

Serphinea Boxdorfer death certificate

J. Charles and Serphinea Boxdorfer are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville. After researching this story, I was especially looking forward to seeing the tombstone that would be chosen from the company for which Charles worked. It is a rather nice one.

J. Charles and Serphinea Boxdorfer gravestone – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

I would say that almost all the gravestones found in cemeteries around here for deaths that took place after 1897 have come from the Brewer Monument Company in Perryville. My wife and I are probably going to have to visit that business sometime to make arrangements to mark our future graves. Perhaps we should do that this year. Maybe we can get a 125th anniversary discount.

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