I am working at a disadvantage today. I am away from Altenburg and cannot display any church records in this post. I do know what some of the church records say because we have transcriptions of them in our German Family Tree, but that is not the same as being able to display an image of an actual church record. Also, today’s story may have your head spinning by the time I get to the end. It involves men and women who had multiple marriages because of deaths of their spouses. The setting for this tale is Jacob, Illinois.
Johann Weseloh was born in Scheesel, Germany on October 8, 1859. He was the son of Claus and Adelheid (Behrens) Weseloh. In a later 1900 census, it says John came to America in 1871. Before he ended up in Illinois, we find John living in the Salem Township of Perry County, Missouri when the Missouri state census was taken in 1876. It looks like he may have been living in the household of Claus Miesner at the age of 18.
I was unsuccessful at finding John in an 1880 census. A record from the Christ Lutheran Church books says that John Weseloh became a voting member of that congregation in 1883.
Let’s take a look at the woman who would become John’s first wife. Her maiden name was Engel Luedemann, who was born on August 25, 1864, and just like John Weseloh, she was born in the Schessel region of Germany. Her parents were Heinrich and Engel (Bosselmann) Luedemann, both of which lived and died in Germany. I do not know when Engel arrived in America, but on November 19, 1885, she married Heinrich Johann Versemann at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. We can view a civil marriage index from Illinois for this wedding.
The Versemann/Luedemann pair produced one daughter that was born in 1886, but then in 1887, John Versemann died, making Engel a widow with a very young child. There is no marriage record that I could find for Engel’s next marriage, but she married John Weseloh sometime around 1888. Then, in 1891, when a daughter was born to Engel, she and the baby died. That left John Weseloh as a widower.
John’s second wife would be another Luedemann. Her name was Anna Margaretha Luedemann, who is today’s birthday girl. She was born on August 6, 1874, also in Schessell, Germany. The marriage record in the Christ, Jacob books says that Anna Margaretha was an illegitimate daughter of Margaretha Luedemann, who was the older sister of John’s first wife, Engel Luedemann. It looks like Anna Margaretha Luedemann arrived in this country in 1891. We see an Anna Luedemann leaving Germany aboard the ship, Augusta Victoria, in that year.
John Weseloh married Anna Luedemann on February 9, 1893 at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. I cannot display that church record, but below is an Illinois record of that wedding.
The German Family Tree lists 6 children born to John and Anna Weseloh. When the 1900 census was taken, we see this Weseloh household living in the Fountain Bluff Township. There were 3 Weseloh children, all daughters, along with the Versemann daughter who was born to John’s first wife, Engel, when she was married to a Versemann. John Weseloh was a farmer.
Two more Weseloh children were born in the early 1900’s. Then, John Weseloh died in 1904 at the age of 45. The church death record says he died from pneumonia. That left Anna as a widow with 5 children. The Versemann daughter would get married in 1907, so when the 1910 census was taken, we see the following Weseloh household. Their oldest daughter was living with a Weber family as a servant by this time, so we see just 4 children, all daughters.
Anna Weseloh got married again in 1911. Her second husband was Friedrich Oetjen, who was born on November 26, 1858 in Germany. Before he married Anna, Fred had been married twice. His first wife had been Anna Rathjen. His second wife had been Margaretha Dreyer. So, after being married to an Anna and a Margaretha, Fred then married an Anna Margaretha. This Oetjen/Weseloh marriage took place on March 23, 1911 at Christ, Jacob. One more child would be born to this couple. The 1920 census shows the following Oetjen family. It was made up of several Oetjen children, along with the remaining Weseloh children.
Anna Oetjen died in 1924 at the age of 50. Her church record says she died of a stroke. Fred Oetjen is found in the 1930 census as a widower and living with his son, Paul Oetjen and his wife.
Fred Oetjen died in 1934 at the age of 75. Engel Weseloh, John Weseloh, Anna Oetjen, and Fred Oetjen are all buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.
If you count the previous marriages of Fred Oetjen, this story includes 6 different marriages. None of those marriages could be called long-lasting ones, but all of them ended as a result of death, not divorce. I know I was challenged to keep them all straight. If you search this blog, you should be able to find several stories about children born to the marriages included in this post.