I have written several stories over the years that begin with a rather lonely church record and then proceed to take place beyond the confines of our German Family Tree. Today, you will read another one of those tales.
The only record in our GFT for a man by the name of Ernst Andrew Diefenbach is a baptism record found in the books of Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. Ernst was born on September 9, 1894, so today would be his 128th birthday. He was the son of William and Dialinda (Leine) Diefenbach. I love the sound of Ernst’s mother’s name…Dialinda Diefenbach. Below is an image of Ernst Diefenbach’s baptism record from Immanuel’s books.
I was able to locate photos of Ernst’s parents that were taken later in their lives.
We find Ernst in his first census in 1900 when he was 6 years old. His family was living in Jackson, Missouri where his father was a marble cutter. Ernst was the 5th of 6 children in his family.
Ernst was a teenager when the 1910 census was taken. The information in this entry is very similar to that in the previous census.
Now, we will take a look at the early history of the woman who would become Ernst’s wife. It will be a very brief look because I was unable to find much about her. Her name was Addilie Thomas, who was born on October 6, 1888, so she was about 6 years older than Ernst. Her first name is spelled several different ways in documents. I will be using the spelling that is found on her gravestone. I do not know the names of her parents. We do know that she was born somewhere in Missouri. The only census entry I found in which I have relative confidence that it is the correct person is the 1910 census from the city of St. Louis shown below. Addilie was a 19 year-old servant in the household of a public school principal, Paul Miller.
Ernst Diefenbach married Addilie Thomas on April 8, 1917. The marriage license shown below indicates that this wedding took place at the Lutheran church in Friedheim.
The mention of the Lutheran church in Friedheim led me to look in the books of Trinity, Friedheim that we have in our museum’s research library. When I looked, I actually found 2 different records. Below is an image of a typical church record from Trinity’s books.
Trinity also has marriage certificates in their records. Below is the one for Ernst and Addilie’s wedding. This document says that Ernst was from Daisy, Missouri and Addilie (here called Adelia) was from Hildebrand, Missouri, both small populated places in that vicinity of Friedheim.
In 1917, Ernst had a World War I draft registration completed. He is called a blacksmith machinist living in Daisy, Missouri.
Based on later census entries, this couple had 4 children. In addition to that, we know a 5th child would be born and died in 1924 because there is a grave site on Findagrave.com. When the 1920 census was taken, the Diefenbach’s were living in St. Louis where Ernst was a machinist at an automobile factory. There were 2 children in the household.
Before the 1930 census was taken, Ernst and Addilie moved their family across the Mississippi River to East St. Louis, Illinois. They were living in a neighborhood called Washington Park. Ernst was the manager of an auto repair business.
The 1940 census shows Ernst with a different occupation. He is called a landscaper for the W.P.A.
Ernst had a World War II draft card completed in 1942. It says his employer was the National Youth Administration, which by then was part of the W.P.A.
In a city directory for East St. Louis from 1948, it indicates that Ernst’s employer was Mepham’s.
I found an ad for a company in East St. Louis called Geo. S. Mepham Corporation. The ad was placed in a newspaper in 1934.
Several documents indicate that the Diefenbach’s lived at 4809 N. Park Drive in Washington Park. The map below shows that location, and illustrates how close it was to downtown St. Louis.
Addilie Diefenbach died in 1950 at the age of 61. Ernst should be found in the 1950 census, but I was unable to find him. Ernst Diefenbach died on 1960 at the age of 66. These two were each buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Belleville, Illinois.
The Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum has some pretty amazing resources that I am able to use when researching the stories I write on this blog. Yet, we have ways that we can continue to add to the resources we have. Getting the church records into our German Family Tree is one of those ways that we can improve. We could always use more help in making these improvements.