Teacher Griebel

Today’s main character was born in California. It’s not often that I write the story of a person born in California. Of course, it is somewhat more believable when I tell you that he was born in California, Missouri. That town is located not far from Jefferson City as is shown in the map below.

California, Missouri map

Bernard Fred Griebel was born on August 28, 1888. If you write that date as 8/28/1888, that’s lot of 8’s. Bernard was the son of John and Flora (Klaechn) Griebel. When Bernard was born, his father was the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in California, Missouri. That congregation had been established in 1860. In 1892, Rev. John Griebel took a call to become the pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. So, when Bernard is found in his first census, he was a 12 year-old living in Perryville.

1900 census – Perryville, MO

We find an unusual circumstance when we look at Bernard in the 1910 census. We actually find him in two different entries. First, we find him in the Griebel household in Perryville. At the age of 21, he had no given occupation.

1910 census – Perryville, MO

However, we also find him in a census entry for St. Louis, where we find him in a long list of young men who were students at Concordia Seminary. At that time, Concordia Seminary was located near Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Concordia Publishing House.

1900 census – St. Louis, MO

Let’s now take a look at Bernard’s first wife. Her name was Wilhelmina Rosina Mehner, who was born on March 6, 1895. She was the daughter of Henry and Dorothea (Knoll) Mehner. The Friedenberg Remembrances book says Wilhelmina was born in Point Rest, and a record in the books of Zion Lutheran Church in Longtown says she was born in Longtown, but neither the Point Rest or Longtown churches had been established in 1895.

We find Wilhelmina in the 1900 census living in the Bois Brule Township where her father was a postmaster. She was 5 years old.

1900 census – Bois Brule Township, MO

Next, we find Wilhelmina in the 1910 census living with her family in the Union Township. Her father was a retail merchant, and Wilhelmina was a saleswoman in his store.

1910 census – Perryville, MO

Bernhard Griebel married Wilhelmina Mehner on June 18, 1916 at Zion Lutheran Church in Longtown. The church marriage record for this event is pictured below. This document calls him Lehrer Griebel which is German for Teacher Griebel.

Griebel/Mehner marriage record – Zion, Longtown, MO

We can also view the marriage license for Bernard and Wilhelmina. You can see that Bernard’s father performed the marriage despite not being the pastor in Longtown.

Griebel/Mehner marriage license

In 1917, Bernard had a World War I draft registration completed. It states that he was a teacher at a Lutheran school in Jackson, Missouri. I found no evidence that Bernard had become a pastor.

Bernard Griebel – WWI draft registration

Bernard was a teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Jackson. We see his name on a list of past teachers at that school in the book, Heart of Missouri.

St. Paul’s, Jackson pastors and teachers

One child was born to this couple in February of 1918, a boy named Melvin. However, later that same year in December, Wilhelmina died. Her death certificate says she died of pneumonia, but it also mentions a miscarriage as being contributory to the death.

Wilhelmina Griebel death certificate

Bernard married again in 1920. His second wife was another girl from Perry County. Her name was Elsa Bertha Holtmann, who was born on July 15, 1894. Elsa was the daughter of William and Anna (Popp) Holtmann. Elsa was baptized at Immanuel, Perryville by Bernard’s father. Elsa is found in the 1900 census at the age of 5. Her father operated a saloon in Perryville.

1900 census – Perryville, MO

Next, Elsa is found in the 1910 census. Her father had died in 1907, so her mother was the head of the household.

1910 census – Perryville, MO

Elsa is found in the 1920 census at the age of 25 prior to her marriage during that year.

1920 census – Perryville, MO

Bernard Griebel married Elsa Holtmann on June 6, 1920 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. The church record for that occasion is shown here.

Griebel/Holtmann marriage record – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

I can also display this couple’s marriage license.

Griebel/Holtmann marriage license

I’m not exactly sure how many children were born to Bernard and Elsa, but there were plenty. I was unable to find Bernard in the 1920 census, but a newspaper article published in St. Louis about his marriage says that his employer was Concordia Publishing House.

Griebel/Holtmann marriage article – St. Louis, MO

Then, when the 1930 census was taken, we find the Griebel’s living in Maplewood, a municipality in the St. Louis area. Bernard was called a parochial school teacher. There were 6 children in the household. Right below their entry, you will see the entry for Bernard’s parents. At the age of 74, his father was called an assistant minister of a Lutheran church.

1930 census – Maplewood, MO

The 1940 census lists 9 children in the Griebel family. Bernard is called a clerk and teacher. It also mentions that he was a P.W.A. teacher. Perhaps this should have been a W.P.A. teacher.

1940 census – Maplewood, MO

Bernard had a World War II draft card completed in 1942. It says he was employed by the Maplewood Board of Education.

Bernard Griebel – WWII draft card

We can view the Griebel’s in one more census. The 1950 census shows the Griebel’s still living in Maplewood. At the age of 61, Bernard was no longer teaching, but he was a maintenance man at a private school.

1950 census – Maplewood, MO

Elsa Griebel died in 1973 at the age of 78; Bernard Griebel died in 1980 at the age of 91. These two are buried in the Valhalla Cemetery in St. Louis, but Findagrave.com has no gravestone photos for them.

Bernard did not spend much of his life in Perry County. However, he found both of his wives here. Much of his life was spent as an educator.


Some photos were made available by our friend, Clayton Erdmann, for yesterday’s post about Julius and Josephine Tanz. I have updated that post, so if you want to see those great photos, go back to yesterday’s post, Julius Jitterbugs with Josephine.

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