An Austrian/Bavarian Pair in Saxon Frohna

Let me set the scene for today’s story. The Stephanite immigration that took place in 1839 included hundreds of people who came primarily from Saxony, Germany and settled in the the towns around Altenburg, Frohna, and Uniontown. Another group of immigrants, several of which arrived even before the Saxons, were from Bavaria, Germany, and many settled around the area of Friedenberg and Longtown. A third group of immigrants came from Austria and mostly settled in the vicinity of New Wells and Pocahontas. Today’s post is about an Austrian man who marries a Bavarian woman who end up living in Frohna, primarily a Saxon town. This couple would be celebrating their 150th wedding anniversary today.

I will begin with the groom. Joseph Matthias Oberndorfer was born on February 21, 1849 in Austria. Joseph was the son of Matthias and Anna (Meyr) Oberndorfer. When he was just 3 years old, his Oberndorfer family came to America aboard the ship, Deutschland, in 1852. Included on this passenger list, you will see some Meyr’s, Anna’s family, as well as some Mirly’s, who were Austrians that settled near New Wells.

Oberndorfer names – Deutschland passenger list

While other Austrians found land in northern Cape Girardeau County, Matthias Oberndorfer was able to purchase some land in the Brazeau Township of Perry County. When more children were born in America, the ones born in 1852 and 1856 were baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. However, when Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg was established in 1857, Matthias was one of that congregation’s charter members. Joseph was confirmed at Immanuel in 1862. The Oberndorfer household is found in the 1860 census when Joseph is listed as being 9 years old. I figure he was closer to 11.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Joseph is found in one more census as a single man in 1870. He was 21 years old at the time.

1870 census – Brazeau Tonwship, MO

We will now take a look at the woman who would become Joseph’s Bavarian bride. Her name was Catherine Hacker, who was born on August 15, 1850 in Bavaria. She was the daughter of Andreas and Barbara (Knob) Hacker. I was unable to pinpoint an exact location for Catherine’s birthplace in Bavaria. I also was not able to pinpoint the exact time that the Hacker family came to America. Three later census records give the different years of 1853, 1854, and 1855. Catherine is found in the 1860 census living in the Cinque Homme Township at the age of 10. Catherine’s mother had died in 1856, and her father married Brigitta Friedmann in 1857. The immigration year becomes even more confusing in this record. Catherine’s younger sister, Margaret is called 9 years old and born in Missouri, which would indicate that the Hacker’s would have been in America around 1851. Their next child, John, is reportedly one of the first babies baptized at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. That event took place in 1853.

1860 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

I was unsuccessful at locating Catherine in the 1870 census. She would have been around 20 years old and may have been “working out” and living in some other household.

Joseph Oberndorfer married Catherine Hacker on September 5, 1872 at Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. I am unable to display a church record for this event, but there is a Perry County civil record that we can view.

Oberndorfer/Hacker marriage record – Perry County, MO

At this point, let me say that this Oberndorfer/Hacker wedding was not the only one to occur, but it was the first. In 1879, Ernst Oberndorfer, Joseph’s brother, married Gertrude Hacker, Catherine’s half-sister. That story has already been told on this blog in a post titled, Longtown Oberndorfers.

The German Family Tree lists 10 children born to Joseph and Catherine. The first 3 were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Beginning in 1880, the rest of their children were baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. The 1880 census is the first one in which we find this married couple. They were living with Joseph’s parents and had 3 children by this time. Both Joseph and his father were farmers.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

All their other children were born before 1900, so when we view the Oberndorfer’s in that year’s census entry, their family had gotten much larger. Two of their children had already gotten married by that time.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find the Oberndorfer’s in the 1910 census. Joseph was a farmer all his life.

1910 census – Brazeau Tonwship, MO

When the 1915 plat maps were produced for Perry County, we find the Oberndorfer farm located just south of Frohna.

Jos. Oberndorfer land map – 1915

The last census in which we find Joseph was the one taken in 1920. At the age of 70, he was still farming.

1920 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Joseph Oberndorfer died in 1929 at the age of 80. We can view his death certificate.

Joseph Oberndorfer death certificate

Catherine is found in two more census entries. In 1930, she was living with her daughter, Flora, who had married Fred Seibel. Fred had a blacksmith shop in Frohna.

1930 census – Frohna, MO

In the 1940 census, Catherine was living with another daughter, Amalia, who had married Joseph Kramer, but by this time, Amalia was also a widow.

1940 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Catherine Oberndorfer died during the same year as the above census, 1940. Her death certificate, as well as the above census entry, say that she was 89 years old when she died.

Catherine Oberndorfer death certificate

Both Joseph and Catherine were buried in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna.

I wonder about one thing with this Oberndorfer pair. I know that, even though they all spoke what would be described as German, there were differences in the dialects of Austrians, Bavarians, and Saxons. Would there have been subtle differences between how Joseph and Catherine spoke? Also, would they each have spoken somewhat differently than most of the folks at their church in Frohna?


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