Widow Cordes in Alva, Oklahoma

Rotenburg, Germany is the setting for two baptisms today. The two who were baptized would travel to America and get married in Perry County, Missouri. Then when the wife becomes a widow, she moves with some family to Oklahoma where she spends the rest of her life. I will begin this story with a special birthday.

Margaretha Meier was born on September 21, 1847, making today her 175th birthday. Margaretha was the daughter of Peter and Anna (Gerken) Meier. We can take a look at her baptism record from a parish in Rotenburg.

Margaretha Meier baptism record – Rotenburg, Germany

The spelling of Margaretha’s surname on this form is definitely Meyer, and there are records in America that also give that spelling, but our German Family Tree uses the spelling, Meier, so that is what I will use in this post. Margaretha Meier came to America at the age of 22 in 1869. She and her family made the voyage to this country aboard the ship, Frankfort. The passenger list for that ship showing the Meier’s is displayed below. It is another document that uses the spelling, Meyer.

Meier names – Frankfort passenger list 1869

The Meier family settled in the Brazeau Township of Perry County, Missouri. That is where we find them in the 1870 census. Margaretha’s father was a farmer.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Not long after this census, Margaretha would get married, so let’s take a look at the man who would become her husband. His name was Heinrich Cordes, who was born on May 1, 1849. Henry was the son of Johann and Margaretha (Luedemann) Cordes. Once again, we can find a baptism record for Henry from Rotenburg, Germany.

Heinrich Cordes baptism record – Rotenburg, Germany

A post was written by Dale Kirmse and Lori Adams back in 2020 that spoke about some potential confusion between the surnames, Cordes and Korte. That post was titled, Confusing Two Heinrichs. So, this is not the first post to mention Henry Cordes.

Henry Cordes came to America a few years before Margaretha. At the age of 18, he came to this country aboard the ship, Uhland, in 1867. We can see him traveling alone on this passenger list for the Uhland.

Henry Cordes – Uhland passenger list 1867

When the 1870 census was taken, we find Henry living in the August Franke household as a 21 year-old farm worker.

1870 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

Henry Cordes married Margaretha Meier on February 16, 1871 at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar. We can take a look at the church record for that occasion. Their wedding was just the 4th one to take place at that congregation.

Cordes/Meier marriage record – Salem, Farrar, MO

There is also a civil marriage record from Perry County for this wedding.

Cordes/Meier marriage record – Perry County, MO

Our German Family Tree lists 6 children born to this couple. It appears that 3 of them died at an early age, including the only two boys, so this branch of the Cordes family tree would have no Cordes descendants. As it turns out, the only census we can look at that includes both Margaretha and Henry was the one taken in 1880. There were 2 daughters in the household, along with a teenager named Frederick Versemann. Henry was a farmer in the Salem Township.

1880 census – Salem Township, MO

Another girl was born in 1881, and then a boy was born in 1884, but I do not think he lived long. It must have been in the 1880’s that the family photo shown below was taken.

Henry and Margaretha Cordes family

Henry Cordes died in 1899 before the 1900 census and before his 50th birthday. That left Margaretha as a widow with 3 daughters. Henry has an entry on Findagrave.com in the Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Farrar, but there is no gravestone photo. We find Margaretha and her household in the 1900 census. Good luck reading the items in this image. There was a 26 year-old single man named Richard Fritsche living in this household. Later in 1900, Richard married Anna, one of the Cordes girls.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

Another significant event took place in 1904. Another of the Cordes girls, Martha, married Wilhelm Kirmse. When that couple began having children, the first one was born in Oklahoma in 1905. When the 1910 census was taken we find this Kirmse couple living in Ellis County, Oklahoma. Margaretha Cordes must have decided to move to Oklahoma with them because she is also found in this census entry.

1910 census – Ohio Township, Ellis County, OK

I was unable to find Margaretha in the 1920 census. I know the Kirmse’s could then be found living near Alva, Oklahoma, but Margaretha was not included in the household with them in the 1920 census. Then, Margaretha died in 1929 at the age of 81. She was buried at the Lutheran Cemetery in Alva Oklahoma.

Margaretha Cordes gravestone – Lutheran Cemetery, Alva, OK

I am going to display two more photos I located of Margaretha. One shows her at a younger age and was probably taken in Missouri. The other shows her older and was likely taken in Oklahoma.

Today’s birthday girl had quite the journey through her life. From Rotenburg, Germany to Farrar, Missouri, to a few locations in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, she lost her husband at quite a young age and spent a lot of years as a widow. Salem Lutheran Church was a young congregation when the Cordes couple got married, and Zion Lutheran Church in Alva, Oklahoma was established in 1899, just prior to Margaretha’s arrival in that state. Margaretha should have felt at least a little bit at home in Alva because quite a few Perry County natives migrated to that location and were instrumental in getting that congregation started.


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