Susie’s Pensel

As it turns out, I am going to wish Fritz and Susie Pensel a belated “Happy Anniversary” today. Our German Family Tree, which gets its information from the binder of records we have from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pocahontas, says these two were married on June 7, 1894, but I discovered that other official documents state that their wedding took place on June 4th. I am telling their story anyway.

I begin by presenting you with a new surname to this blog. That name is Pensel, which I figure could be pronounced just like the writing utensil, pencil, but most likely pronounced as penzel. Frederick Pensel was born on September 18, 1865, as the Civil War was coming to a close. Most census entries for him say that Frederick was born in Germany. That fact is confirmed by his death certificate. Frederick’s parents were John and Mary (Miller) Pensel. A few census entries say that the Pensel family came to America in 1870. One says that took place in 1869. When the German Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Church near Fruitland was established in 1877, Frederick’s father was one of the original signers of their constitution. That church is now called St. John’s United Church of Christ.

St. John’s Church – Fruitland signers of constitution

The first census in which I found the Pensel household was the one taken in 1880. This entry is the one that says Frederick was born in Missouri. Frederick was 15 years old at the time.

1880 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

That would be the only census in which we find Frederick, who was often called Fritz, as a single man. So, we will turn our attention to the woman who would become his wife. Her name was Amalie Susanna Hoehl, who was born on March 12, 1868. She was the first child of Johann and Maria (Heinig) Hoehl. During her life, she was alternately called either Amalie or Susanna (Susie). Susanna was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. We can take a look at her baptism record from that congregation’s books.

Amalie Susanna Hoehle baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

I was unable to find any census entries for the Hoehl family prior to Susie’s marriage. I do know that by the time of her confirmation, that event took place at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pocahontas.

Fritz Pensel married Susie Hoehl on June 4, 1894 at St. John’s, Pocahontas. The record found in the church books is displayed here. This is the record that gives June 7th as the date of the wedding.

Pensel/Hoehl marriage record – St. John’s, Pocahontas, MO

I found two civil records that document that event, and each of them say they were married on June 4th. First, here is an application for a marriage license.

Pensel/Hoehl marriage license application – Cape Girardeau County, MO

The license for this couple’s marriage is pictured here. Like the one above, it also says the marriage took place on June 4th.

Pensel/Hoehl marriage license

Fritz and Susie had 3 children, all sons. These children were all baptized at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Fruitland. I will display the first of those baptism records.

Albert Pensel baptism record – St. John’s UCC, Fruitland, MO

When the 1900 census was taken, we find this family living in the Apple Creek Township of Cape Girardeau County. All three sons are listed. Fritz was a farmer.

1900 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Next, we find the Pensel’s in the 1910 census. Fritz and Susie were in their 40’s at that time.

1910 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Only their youngest son, Otto, remained in the Pensel household when the 1920 census was taken.

1920 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

The 1930 census would be the last one in which we find Susie. The Pensel couple had an empty nest.

1930 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

In the same year as the above census, plat maps were produced for Cape Girardeau County. We find a parcel of land belonging to Fritz Pensel located just west of Fruitland.

Fritz Pensel land map – 1930

Susie Pensel died in 1934 at the age of 65. Tuberculosis is mentioned on her death certificate as contributing to her death.

Susanna Pensel death certificate

We can also take a look at the obituary for Susie that was published in a local paper. This is a document that uses her name, Amalia.

Susannah Pensel obituary

We find Susie’s death record in the books of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Fruitland.

Susie Pensel death record – St. John’s UCC, Fruitland, MO

Fritz is found as a widower in the 1940 census. He was living by himself.

1940 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

At the age of 85, Fritz is still found in the 1950 census and still living alone.

1950 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Fritz Pensel died in 1954 at the age of 88. His death certificate says he was born in 1864, so using that year of birth, it says he was 89 years old when he died.

Frederick Pensel death certificate

The church death record for Fritz is pictured here.

Frederick Pensel death record – St. John’s UCC, Fruitland, MO

We can also take a look at Fritz’s obituary.

Frederick Pensel obituary

There are a few questionable facts in this obituary. First, this article says Fritz was born in 1864, not 1865. The record in the St. John’s, Pocahontas binder that we have in our research library also gives his birth year as 1864, but his gravestone gives it as 1865. Also, this obituary says Susie’s maiden name was Koehler. I think this comes from a misreading of Fritz’s death certificate where it looks to me like Hoehler. Somehow, an extra “er” was placed at the end of the surname, Hoehl.

Fritz and Susie Pensel are each buried in the St. John’s United Church of Christ Cemetery near Fruitland.

There are times when I have to be careful when looking at the names of churches involved in the lives of the people who are subjects of blog posts. This story includes two different churches with the name, St. John’s. One is St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pocahontas. The other is what is now called St. John’s United Church of Christ just down the road near Fruitland. The church near Fruitland was a Lutheran church at one time, but it later became a United Church of Christ.

I must admit that after looking at the binder that we have from the St. John’s United Church of Christ in our research library, I began to doubt if Susie was actually a Hoehl. The St. John’s congregation has plenty of Hoehler’s and Koehler’s in its records. Even some of the records I displayed above show Susie with one of those other maiden names. However, I think I have enough evidence in this post to substantiate her being a Hoehl.

One more thing. According to the Facebook page for St. John’s UCC in Fruitland, their present-day pastor is Rev. Rodney Pensel. I’d be interested to find out if he comes from the Pensel’s in this post.

One thought on “Susie’s Pensel

  1. I am a descendant of the Pensel family. My Great, Great Grandfather was Wolfgang who also signed the church charter for St. John’s. I believe that Wolfgang, Johan, and Fritz were brothers. Christ Pensel bought Fritz land and it remained in the family until about 3 years ago.


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