If You’re Gonna Be a Fiedler, You Gotta Have a Schmidt in the Band

I believe that if you look at the family trees of folks that live in this area, you will eventually discover a Schmidt amongst the branches. We will be looking at the Fiedler family tree today, and, lo and behold, one of the Fiedler’s married a Schmidt. However, the Schmidt bride in today’s story did not come from one of the numerous Schmidt clans found around here. By the way, there are quite a few folks around these her parts that pronounce the name Fiedler as fiddler.

We begin with the Schmidt bride who happens to be today’s birthday girl. Her name was Mathilde E. Schmidt, who was born on July 28, 1879. That makes today her 143rd birthday. Mathilde was the daughter of Jacob and Fredericke (Scheel) Schmidt. There was a very prolific Jacob Schmidt from Altenburg, but this was not that Jacob Schmidt, nor was he even from Missouri. Mathilde’s parents lived in Monroe County, Illinois. In the first census I was able to find, the one taken in 1900, Mathilde was already 20 years old and living in Waterloo, Illinois. She is called Tillie in this entry, and her father was a farmer.

1900 census – Waterloo, IL

This is another one of those posts in which a man and a woman manage to find each other in fairly distant places (especially considering the means of transportation and communication of their day). There has to be a story behind how these two meet and court each other, but I do not know what that story is. I wish I did.

Mathilde’s groom was going to be Martin Paul Fiedler, who was born on January 28, 1874. Martin was the son of Valentin and Marie (Kasten) Fiedler who lived in the Shawnee Township of northern Cape Girardeau County. Martin was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. We can take a look at an image of his baptism record from that congregation’s books.

Martin Fiedler baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

Martin was 6 years old when he shows up in the 1880 census. His mother had previously been married to a Koenig, so there are a few Koenig stepchildren in this household. Martin is said to be going to school. I figure he must have just gotten started in his school career.

1880 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Martin was confirmed at Immanuel, New Wells in 1887. He is found in the list below of that year’s confirmation class. It is full of names that were commonly found in New Wells back in those days…Scholl, Vogel, Mirly, Kutscher, and Holt.

Immanuel, New Wells confirmation class – 1887

It would not be until 1900 that we can once again view Martin in a census. He was 26 years old and still living with his parents. He was working on his father’s farm.

1900 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Martin Fiedler travelled to Illinois to get married to Mathilde Schmidt in 1905. I was not able to find an exact date for the wedding. Below is an Illinois marriage record for the event.

Fiedler/Schmidt – Illinois marriage record

Likely, this marriage took place at Mathilde’s church. I figure that was probably either Immanuel Lutheran Church in Waterloo which was established in 1901 or Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wartburg which was established a lot earlier in 1841.

Martin brought Mathilde back to the Shawnee Township to raise their family. According to our German Family Tree, these two had 6 children, all of which were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. The first census in which we find this married couple was the one taken in 1910. There were 3 children in the household, and Martin was a farmer.

1910 census – Shawnee Township, MO

In 1918, Martin had a World War I draft registration completed.

Martin Fiedler – World War I draft registration

The 1920 census includes all 6 of the Fiedler children.

1920 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Next, we find the Fiedler’s in the 1930 census. The household had gotten smaller, with only 2 remaining children.

1930 census – Shawnee Township, MO

1930 was also the year that plat maps were produced for Cape Girardeau County. We find the M. Fiedler farm located just north of New Wells and Shawneetown.

M. Fiedler land map – 1930

By the time of the 1940 census, only one son remained living with Martin and Mathilde.

1940 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Mathilde Fiedler died in 1944 at the age of 65. Her death certificate is one of the places that can confirm her birthday and the names of her parents, including the maiden name of her mother.

Mathilde Fiedler death certificate

Martin Fiedler is found in the recently-released 1950 census as a widower. He and his 43 year-old son, Melvin, were the only ones left.

1950 census – Shawnee Township, MO

Martin Fiedler died in 1951 at the age of 77. His death certificate says he died at the Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau.

Martin Fiedler death certificate

Martin and Mathilde were each buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in New Wells.

From the looks of all the documents found in this post, Martin Fiedler spent his whole life in the Shawnee Township of Cape Girardeau County. That is, except for the time he is found getting married around Waterloo, Illinois. The basic means of transportation back in those days was horse and buggy, and in addition, the trip to Waterloo would have required crossing the Mississippi River before any bridges had been built in this area. I would certainly like to know the circumstances that led to a farmer’s boy from New Wells meeting up with a farmer’s girl form Waterloo. I’m sure it would add plenty of interest to the story I just wrote.

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