I was presented with a problem today. Our German Family Tree says that Emma Paulina Petzoldt was born on May 28, 1881. Her death certificate says she was born on May 23, 1880, and her gravestone says she was born on May 23, 1878. I decided to research this story based on what is found in our German Family Tree, but now I am wondering whether that information is correct.
Emma Petzoldt was the daughter of Adolph and Alma (Engert) Petzoldt. That makes Emma a granddaughter of Friedrich Florian “The Face” Petzoldt. Emma was child #3 of 9 children born to her parents. She was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We can view the baptism record for Emma from the books of that congregation. It definitely says she was born on May 28, 1881.
This branch of the Petzoldt family had moved to the Shawnee Township of northern Cape Girardeau County, so that is where we find Emma when she was confirmed. In 1895, Emma was confirmed at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. It’s another place where it definitely says she was born on May 28th.
The first census in which I found Emma was the one taken in 1900. She is listed as being 17 years old, but if the GFT is correct, then that age is not correct. Her father was a farmer.
I was unable to find Emma in the 1910 census when she would have been in her 20’s. So, we will take a look at the man who would become her husband. His name was Herbert William Boren, who was born on May 19th. That is a date in which I have a fair amount of confidence. However, believe it or not, I also found 3 different years of birth for Herbert. They all say he was born on May 19th, but the year of birth is debatable. Herbert was the son of Taylor and Carolina (Schatteis) Boren. I do not know where Herbert was baptized. He is found in the 1880 census living in the Shawnee Township. This entry says he is one year old, but that is not likely correct.
I was not able to find Herbert in the 1900 census. The next one we can view, and also the last one in which we find Herbert as a single man, was the one taken in 1910. He was a house carpenter at that time.
Herbert Boren married Emma Petzoldt on March 23, 1913 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Our images of marriage records for Immanuel only go up to 1910, so I cannot display such an image today. I can tell you that our GFT says that Emma married an auto repairer from New Wells. I can show the marriage license for this couple.
A reliable family history on Ancestry.com (because it is one created by our friend, Diane Anderson) lists 5 children born to Herbert and Emma . I discovered that these children were baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. This confirms the fact that a later obituary states that this couple moved to Cape Girardeau after they got married.
In 1918, Herbert had his World War I draft registration completed. It says he was a garage owner in Cape Girardeau. His birthday is given as May 19, 1878.
We find this couple in the 1920 census living in Cape Girardeau with 3 children. Herbert was called the proprietor of a garage.
The 1930 census shows that Herbert is back to being a house carpenter. There were 5 children in the Boren household.
Next, we find the Boren family in the 1940 census. This time, Herbert was called a contractor.
Even though he was already 65 years old, he had to complete a World War II draft card. This time, it says his birthday was May 19, 1877.
Emma Boren died in 1944 at the age of 63 (depending on the year of her birth, that is). Her death certificate says that she was born on May 23, 1880.
I found a death record for Emma in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. If I calculate correctly, this death record would indicate that she was born on May 29, 1881. Is this yet another date of birth for her?
We can also view Emma’s obituary which states that Emma was born on May 23, 1878. Based on that date of birth, she was 65 years old when she died, which is what this obituary says.
Herbert is found in the 1950 census at the age of 73. Other children and grandchildren were living in his household.
Herbert Boren died in 1952. His death certificate says he was born on May 19, 1875, thus making him 76 years old when he died (if that birth year is correct).
I also found a death record for Herbert in the Trinity, Cape Girardeau books. If I calculate correctly (and I may very well be wrong), Herbert would have been born on July 21, 1875. Wow! Another potential date of birth.
Herbert and Emma Boren are each buried in the Cape County Memorial Park in Cape Girardeau. You can see the dates of birth on each marker. I’ll let you judge if they are correct.
The conflicting dates of birth in the documents included in this story are truly amazing as well as quite confusing. I’ll let you decide which dates of birth are correct and how old each of them were when they died. It makes me wonder if each of them actually knew how old they were at any given time during their lives.