Wolfe’s from Grand Tower

This post was discovered by finding a wedding anniversary for August 31st. You will read about a wedding that involved a bride from Perry County, Missouri and a groom from Jackson County, Illinois. Many such stories have been told on this blog, but most of them involved members of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. This one does not. Instead, it is a story that comes out of Grand Tower, a small town located just across the river from Wittenberg. Below is a map showing the proximity of Wittenberg and Grand Tower.

Wittenberg and Grand Tower map

We will begin with the bride, who has a much more noticeable presence in our German Family Tree. Her name is Agnes Ahner, who was born on July 10, 1872. If she was alive today, she would be 150 years old. Agnes was the daughter of August and Anna (Lungwitz) Ahner. She was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We can view an image of her baptism record from that congregation’s books.

Agnes Ahner baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

The only census we can view in which Agnes was a single woman was the one taken in 1880. She was just 8 years old. Her father was a farmer in the Brazeau Township.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Now, we will take a look at the man who would become Agnes’s husband. His name was George David Wolfe. Some documents list this surname as Wolf, without the final “e”, but most indicate the name with the “e”. Agnes’s gravestone is spelled with the “e”, so I will be using that spelling. George was born on October 28, 1876, the son of George and Elizabeth (Crowther) Wolfe. His later death record states that he was born in Grand Tower, Illinois. We have an Ahner family binder in our museum’s research library. In it, you can find a biography of George’s father, who is called Lieutenant George D. Wolfe. I will display it here so you have the opportunity to read it.

George Wolfe, Sr biography

I have no idea if or where George was baptized. We find the Wolfe family living in Grand Tower when the 1880 census was taken. George was 3 years old, and his father was a farmer. His mother had died in 1877, and his father had married Emma Albina in 1879.

1880 census – Grand Tower, IL

George Wolfe married Agnes Ahner on August 31, 1898, so today would be their 124th wedding anniversary. There is a little confusion about where these two were married. There is a church record for this wedding in the Trinity, Altenburg books. An image of that record is pictured here.

Wolfe/Ahner marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

However, we also have the transcription of an Illinois marriage record for this event displayed below. Perhaps Rev. Roesener from Trinity performed the marriage in Illinois.

Wolfe/Ahner – Illinois marriage record

By looking at census records, it appears that George and Agnes had 4 children. When they were first married, this couple lived in Grand Tower with George’s father. George’s brother, Charles, was in the household, along with the first child of George and Agnes, a boy named William.

1900 census – Grand Tower, IL

When we look at the 1910 census that includes this couple, we see indications of two moves. First of all, their second child was born in Oklahoma. That child would have been born when Oklahoma was still a territory. It did not become a state until 1907. I found no documentation for their stay in that location, but it may not have been for very long. Secondly, the 1910 census shows them living in Kelso, Missouri, where another child was born earlier that year. George is called an air inspector for the railroad. I have no idea what that means.

1910 census – Kelso, MO

George had a World War I draft registration completed in 1918. He indicated on that form that he had become a carpenter. It also gives his address as Illmo. This is a document that leaves off the final “e” in his name, but I think it looks like his signature does include the “e”.

George Wolfe – WWI draft registration

The map below shows the relative locations of Kelso, Illmo, and Scott City, Missouri.

Kelso, Illmo, and Scott City, MO map

The 1920 census for the Wolfe’s shows them living in Kelso where George was still a carpenter. Their last child had been born in 1918.

1920 census – Kelso, MO

It may have been about this time that Agnes’s Ahner family gathered for an anniversary and had a photograph taken. Someone has identified the children in the photo. Agnes can be found standing behind her father, and George is the one right behind her left shoulder with the tie.

August and Anna Ahner family

The 1930 census indicates that George was still a carpenter, but this time the entry shows them living in Illmo.

1930 census – Illmo, MO

The last census in which we find George Wolfe was the one taken in 1940. His daughter, Josephine, had married Herman Stroebel earlier that same year, and that young couple was living with George and Agnes.

1940 census – Illmo, MO

George Wolfe died in 1942 at the age of 67. His death certificate is pictured below.

George Wolfe death certificate

The above form says that George was to be buried at the Lightner Cemetery in Illmo. That cemetery is listed on Findagrave.com, but there is no entry for George. Agnes is found in the 1950 census living by herself in Illmo. She was 77 years old at the time.

1950 census – Illmo, MO

Agnes Wolfe died in 1965 at the age of 93. At the time of her death she was a resident of the Maple Crest Nursing Home in Cape Girardeau. She is one of those rare people who died on the same day as her birthday. One thing that is confusing on her death certificate is that it says she was born in Redtown, Illinois. I think it is pretty clear that she was born in Altenburg.

Agnes Wolfe death certificate

Agnes was buried in the Eisleben Lutheran Cemetery in Illmo.

Agnes Wolfe gravestone – Eisleben, Illmo, MO

Agnes married George Wolfe in 1898. Later, in 1905, her sister, Anna Ahner, married Horace Wolfe, George’s brother. I guess there’s another Wolfe/Ahner story that remains to be written.

In closing, let me point out that our school, United in Christ Lutheran School, has a new Kindergarten teacher named Michelle Wolfe. Since her husband has roots in the Portland, Oregon area, I am almost certain that there is no connection between the Wolfe’s in this story with the newly-arrived Wolfe’s in our community.

Josh and Michelle Wolfe family

2 thoughts on “Wolfe’s from Grand Tower

  1. Redtown is actually part of Grand Tower. It’s a community that’s just north of town and kind of separated from the main town by some fields, it is still called Redtown today to differentiate the location within Grand Tower.

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