I really want to tell this story, but I have to admit that it has me flummoxed. The tale will focus on the life of Rosa Amalia Nennert. I can document many events that took place in her early life, and I can document much about her later life, but the stuff in the middle is really a mystery. Gerard Fiehler and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday in an attempt to piece together this story, but we eventually gave up. One other reason I want to tell Rose’s story today is the fact that she was mentioned briefly in a post written just days ago.
Rosa Amalia Nennert was born on September 6, 1897, making this a very special birthday…her 125th. Rose was the daughter of Charles and Loretta (Swan) Nennert. Rose was baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. We can take a look at two images of her baptism record from that congregation’s books.
Charles Nennert, Rose’s father, had been born in Altenburg and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church. Our German Family Tree says he became a member of Christ, Jacob in 1891. He became a postmaster in the Fountain Bluff Township, and the post office in the populated place where he lived was named after him as Nennert, Illinois (sometimes spelled Neunert). In fact, Neunert is located closer to Christ Lutheran Church than the town of Jacob is. When I visited that church a year ago, I took this photo of an intersection not far from the church.
Rose was the last of 4 children born to this family. One died shortly after his first birthday. Then, in January of 1899, Rose’s father died at the age of 32, leaving Loretta as a single mother with 3 young children. She decided to bring her children back to Perry County. While here, she managed to have her last will and testament written. I will display a portion of it here. In the document, she names Wm. Lueders to be the guardian of her 3 children, Viola, Richard, and Rosina, in the case of her death. William Lueders is a main character in my Wittenberg books.
I think Loretta knew that she was sick and close to death when she had her will drawn up. She died on July 5, 1899 at the age of 27. I am picturing her death record below that is found in the books of Trinty, Altenburg.
She is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg. Her gravestone photo is not on Findagrave.com, but because I know who is buried on each side of her, I took the photo of her unreadable gravestone that is shown below.
Since William Lueders was the guardian, he probably made the arrangements for the care of the 3 Nennert children. We find two interesting census entries in 1900. First, in one of the most amazing census entries I have seen, we find Viola and Richard living in or near Wittenberg in a household made up of 3 young bachelors, all in their 20’s. Viola and Richard are called orphans.
Rose is found living in the Nennert Hotel located in Wittenberg that was operated by her grandmother, Amanda Nennert, who by this time was a widow. Rose is called a daughter in this entry, but that is not the case. She should have been called either a granddaughter or an orphan.
Amanda Nennert, the hotel keeper, would die later in 1900, causing all kinds of disruption in this group of Nennert’s as well. I chose to call Amalia Nennert, the 26 year-old in the above entry, the hotel keeper in my Wittenberg books, and attempted to describe her challenges of operating a hotel while also attempting to raise her younger siblings.
Let’s follow Rose and her siblings to the 1910 census. First of all, the oldest, Viola, was living in the Henry Reisenbichler family in the Shawnee Township when that census was taken.
Richard was living in the Willaim Lueders household and called a ward in that year’s census. William was the postmaster in Wittenberg. This may also have been about the time when Richard was attending the Lutheran Teachers Seminary in Addison, Illinois, studying to become a Lutheran teacher.
Rose, as was pointed out in a post written a few days ago, Lumberman Landgraf Linked with Lina and Lena, was living in the Rudolph Landgraf household in 1910. Amazingly, Rudolph’s first wife had just died in 1909, so he was a widower attempting to help raise the orphan, Rose Nennert.
Rose would be confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas in 1920. That record is shown here.
Here is where Rose goes off the radar. About the only reliable document I found is a Social Security death record that calls her Rose A. Friend. The other notable fact is that her Social Security card was issued in Connecticut.
There are some family histories on Ancestry.com that tie Rose to a man by the name of Harvey Raymond Friend. However, I have doubts that he was her husband. I’m going to display a few records pertaining to Harvey Friend. First, here is a Virginia marriage record for Harvey Friend. It says Harvey married a girl named Rose from Missouri.
Right before Harvey died, he is found in a census entry for Reading, Pennsylvania, and his wife’s name was Rose.
Next, here is Harvey’s death certificate from the state of Pennsylvania. It says his wife was Annabelle R. Friend.
Here is where it gets interesting. Harvey Friend’s gravestone lists his wife’s name right below his. It says her name was R. Annabelle Rodgers, and her birthday is given as the same birthday as Rose Nennert, September 6th, but it says she was born in 1900.
My best guess is that someone on Ancestry.com tied this Harvey Friend to Rose Nennert, but did so incorrectly. We do know that Rose took on the surname, Friend, somewhere along the line, but I was unable to find any documentation.
We do know that at a later date, Rose Friend came back to this area. Her brother, Charles Richard Nennert, after retiring from teaching, moved back to Wittenberg. His sister would join him there for a while. We have a photo of these two taken in Wittenberg.
I have to say at this point that Gerard Fiehler not only remembers Rose Friend, but he also remembers working on her Oldsmobile that is seen in the background of this photo.
Another photo was taken of Rose, probably after her brother died in 1967. Rose was one of 9 official residents left in the town of Wittenberg, and 8 of them are shown in this photo sitting in front of the Wittenberg post office.
The paragraph below lists the people in the photo. I think some of the information may be incorrect.
Rose Friend, toward the end of her long life, moved to Pocahontas. Gerard tells me that Rose would tell him about her connections to the Landgraf family there. Rose died in 1988 at the age of 90. She is buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Pocahontas.
I find this story fascinating. It has such an interesting beginning and an interesting end, but the middle is one big question mark. Maybe one of our readers would be able to provide some answers.