White Pearl Maker

Karl Oswald Gerhardt was born on July 31, 1869, the final child of Julius and Amalie (Leine) Gerhardt. If he was still alive today, he would be celebrating his 153rd birthday. Oswald’s baptism record can be found in the books of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. An image of that record is displayed below.

Oswald Gerhardt baptism record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Oswald is found in the 1870 census (at least I think he is) as a baby. The youngest child listed in this entry is called William. There was another child in this family named William, but he would have been 6 years old at this time. The people listed correspond to the other members of this Gerhardt family that are documented in our German Family Tree. I think it’s safe to say that Oswald was living in the Brazeau Township of Perry County in 1870, but his name is not in this entry. Oswald’s father was a shoemaker.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find Oswald in the 1880 census living in the newly-formed Union Township. His father must have died before 1880 because he is not included in this entry. This time, we see both William (age 16) and Oswald (age 10).

1880 census – Union Township, MO

Oswald got married before the next census we can view in 1900, so we will turn our attention to the woman who became his bride. Her name was Antonia Augusta Thauwald, who was born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1864 in Germany. Antonia was the daughter of Peter and Ernestine (Moeckel) Thauwald. A later census record indicates the Thauwald family arrived in America in 1869. Antonia appears in the 1870 census at the age of 6, but she is listed as a male child named Anton.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

You have to look in the recently-found pages of the 1880 Union Township census in order to find the Thauwald family. Believe it or not, Antonia is once again identified as a male child (Antone). She is said to be 17 years old in this entry.

1880 census – Union Township, MO

Oswald Gerhardt married Antonia Thauwald on September 19, 1894 at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. The church record from that congregation’s books is pictured here.

Gerhardt/Thauwald marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

The marriage license for this couple can also be viewed.

Gerhardt/Thauwald marriage license

Our German Family Tree lists 3 children for this couple, but there were more than that. One child born in 1897 died in 1899. When the 1900 census was taken, we find this Gerhardt family living in the Apple Creek Township of Cape Girardeau County where Oswald was a day laborer. Based on his later employment, I think it is possible that he worked at the brewery located in Old Appleton.

1900 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

Not long after the above census was taken, Oswald moved his family to St. Charles, Missouri. Their next child was born in 1903, but that child’s baptism, unlike the first 3 children, is not found in the books of Grace, Uniontown. A set of twins was also born in 1906. I found Oswald and Antonia in a 1906 city directory from St. Charles.

Oswald Gerhardt – 1906 St. Charles city directory

The above entry says Oswald was a brewer for Moerschel’s. There was a brewery called the Moerschel Spring Brewing Company in St. Charles at that time. Below is a letterhead for that business.

Moerschel Spring Brewery letterhead

The featured beer produced at that brewery during that time was called White Pearl. Here are some other photos I found for the Moerschel Brewery. The thumbnails can be clicked to enlarge them.

In the 1910 census, we find the following Gerhardt household. There were 5 children in this entry, and Oswald was a brewer.

1910 census – St. Charles, MO

The Gerhardt’s were still living in St. Charles when the 1920 census was taken. Oswald was still making White Pearl beer. The only son in the household, 16 year-old Ernst, was a machinist for the shoe works.

1920 census – St. Charles, MO

Antonia Gerhardt died in 1928 at the age of 64. Her death certificate says she died as a result of pneumonia. By the time of her death, the Gerhardt’s were living in St. Louis.

Antonia Gerhardt death certificate

Oswald can be found in the 1930 census living in St. Louis with 3 of his daughters who are mistakenly called Oswald’s sisters in this entry. He was a day watchman at a shoe factory. Two of his daughters also worked at a shoe factory.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

Oswald Gerhardt died in 1934 at the age of 65. Cancer of the larynx is given as the cause of death on his death certificate.

Oswald Gerhardt death certificate

Oswald and Antonia were buried together in the New Bethlehem Cemetery in St. Louis.

Oswald and Antonia Gerhardt gravestone – New Bethlehem, St. Louis, MO

The beer brewing profession is another one that was pursued by men (and at least one woman) that could trace their roots back to East Perry County. Several posts written on this blog have told the tales of such men. I have yet to tell her story (mainly because I limit my stories to folks that lived in days gone by), but there is presently a very talented woman who has experience at being a brewmaster at an Anheuser-Busch brewery who has Perry County roots. She continues a tradition of Perry County natives brewing beer that included the likes of Oswald Gerhardt who once was involved in the production of White Pearl beer in St. Charles, Missouri.

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