I do not have a new surname in today’s post. I have a new first name. That name is Pancratius. I did a search in our German Family Tree for this unusual name and discovered that it only occurs within the Muench family. There are sites online that indicate this name means “all powerful”.
Pancratius John Muench was born on March 1, 1858, the 2nd of 7 children born to John Pancratz and Rosina (Meyer) Muench. This child was mostly called John during his life, but I am going to refer to him in this article as P. John. Records for this Muench family are mostly found in the books of Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg, so P. John was likely baptized at that congregation. I was unable to find P. John or his family in the 1860 census, so the first census entry for him that I can display is the one from 1870. That family was living in the Saline Township of Perry County. P. John was 12 years old at the time, and his father was a farmer.
The last census entry in which we find P. John as a single man was the one taken in 1880. The Muench’s were then living in the Central Township, and P. John was working on his father’s farm.
Next, we will focus some attention on the woman who would become P. John’s wife. Her name was Anna Caroline Elizabeth Ochs, who was born on November 19, 1863. Caroline was the daughter of John Conrad and Magdalena (Springer) Ochs. Our German Family Tree says that Caroline was the first child of 6 children in this Ochs family, but I think there were more. That family has several church records found in the Peace, Friedenberg books, so it is likely that Caroline was baptized there.
There is a bit of a puzzle when we look at the 1870 census. No census entry for the Ochs family can be found in Perry County. However, there is an entry for an Ochs family in that year’s census for St. Clair County in Illinois. The father’s name was Frantz, which does not fit any names we have for Caroline’s father. The mother’s name, along with Caroline and John, matches our GFT information. However, this entry says Caroline and John were born in Illinois. Between the information in this entry and the next one in 1880, I think there is enough evidence to indicate this is the correct Ochs family.
Let’s take a look at that 1880 census entry. The Ochs family is found once again in Perry County living in the Bois Brule Township. This entry says Caroline was born in Missouri, followed by John, Mary, and Frederick, who were born in Illinois. The youngest, Anna, was once again born in Missouri. This supports a move to Illinois and a return to Missouri later. Now, Caroline’s father is called a miller. The son, John, also works in a mill. A boarder, George Springer, Magdalena’s brother, was also working in a saw mill. I suspect these 3 all worked at a saw mill operated by Conrad Ochs.
P. John Muench married Caroline Ochs on June 14, 1885, so today would be this couple’s 137th wedding anniversary. These two were married at Cross Lutheran Church near Longtown. I am not able to display a church record for this event, but I can show this pair’s marriage license. This is a document that uses the first name of Pancratius.
Our German Family Tree lists 4 children born to P. John and Caroline. Three of them were girls. All of these children were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. When the 1900 census was taken, we find the following Muench household with 3 of those children. P. John was a farmer in the Central Township.
Next, we find the Muench’s in the 1910 census.
When the 1915 plat maps were produced for Perry County, we find a parcel of land owned by John P. Muench located just north of the city of Perryville.
The 1920 census has just two remaining children living with P. John and Caroline.
The last census in which we find P. John and Caroline was the one taken in 1930. Only their son, John, was still living with them.
Caroline Muench died in 1938 at the age of 74. Her death certificate says she died suddenly.
An obituary for Caroline was published in a local newspaper. This article provides more confirmation that Caroline was born in Perry County, not Illinois.
Pancratius John Muench died in January of 1940, too early during that year to make it into the next census. His death certificate says that he was 81 years old when he died of stomach cancer.
We can also look at an obituary for P. John that was published at the time of his death.
P. John and Caroline Muench are buried together with one of their daughters, Ella, who died not long after her mother in 1938. Their gravestone is found in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.
I know that this is the first person I have run across in my life that carried the name, Pancratius. I don’t think it has ever been a common first name, and I know it is not common nowadays.