Frohna Machine Shop – Perryville Parts Guy

Oscar Christian Kassel was born on this day 125 years ago. It is his story that I will attempt to tell today. Oscar was the son of Christian and Sulamith (Hopfer) Kassel, born on October 13, 1897. That already puts him a rather large group. Our German Family Tree lists 15 children born to Christian and Sulamith. Oscar was #8, the child right in the middle of the birth order in this large family. Back in 2017, I wrote a post about Oscar’s parents titled, Kids from a Kassel. Oscar, like all of the Kassel kids, was baptized at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. His baptism record from that congregation’s books is pictured here.

Oscar Kassel baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

Oscar is found in his first census in 1900. His family was living in the Union Township, where his father was a farmer. Oscar was just 2 years old.

1900 census – Union Township, MO

In the 1910 census, Oscar was 12 years old. One year after this census was taken, Oscar was confirmed at Grace, Uniontown.

1910 census – Union Township, MO

Oscar had a World War I draft registration completed in 1918. It indicated that he was a farm hand for his father.

Oscar Kassel – WWI draft registration

I think it was about this time when a photo of the Christian Kassel family was taken because one of Oscar’s brothers, Paul Kassel, is shown wearing a military uniform. It is a photo that has appeared on this blog a few times before. Oscar is the second person from the right in the back row.

Christian Kassel family

The 1920 census shows Oscar at age 22 still described as a farm laborer. His father is called a thresherman, and two other older brothers are called an engineer and a sawyer. The father and those two brothers were all involved in operating machinery.

1920 census – Union Township, MO

At this point, I’d like to show some of the machinery that helped provide so many possibilities for income for this family. On the left is a picture of a machine used to produce molasses. It also includes several members of the Kassel family. The middle photo shows a threshing machine. The picture on the right shows the Kassel sawmill. If you desire to see a larger image, click on the thumbnails.

Even though he was already in his 30’s, Oscar was still single when the 1930 census was taken. Oscar’s father had died, so his mother was the head of the household. Oscar was called the manager of a saw mill.

1930 census – Union Township, MO

According to an article published in the Perry County Republican, some Kassel brothers purchased an implement business in Perryville in 1930 and began another branch of the Frohna Machine Shop. Oscar’s brother, Arthur, would manage that store, and Oscar would handle the parts department.

Kassel brothers article – PCR article 1930

Below is a photo of the Perryville location of the Frohna Machine Shop.

Frohna Machine Shop – Perryville, MO

We are finally getting to the point where Oscar gets married. Let’s take a look at his bride and her early life. Her name was Paula Alita Oberndorfer, who was born on August 14, 1910. That made Paula about 13 years younger than Oscar. She was the daughter of Benjamin and Bertha (Kramer) Oberndorfer. Like Oscar, Paula was baptized at Grace, Uniontown. Her baptism record is displayed below.

Paula Oberndorfer baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

When we look at the plat maps made in 1915, we see both the Kassel and Oberndorfer families lived in close proximity to one another outside Uniontown.

Kassel and Oberndorfer land map – 1915

Paula was born too late in 1910 to be included in that year’s census. So, the first one in which we find her was the one taken in 1920. She was 9 years old, and her father was a farmer. You can see that Paula was also from a large family. She was child #5 out of a family of 10.

1920 census – Union Township, MO

The 1930 census shows Paula at the age of 20 living in St. Louis. She was a servant for a pair of sisters in their 50’s, neither of which had an occupation.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

Oscar Kassel married Paula Oberndorfer on June 4, 1933 at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. We can take a look at the church record for this event.

Kassel/Oberndorfer marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

We can also view the marriage license for this couple.

Kassel/Oberndorfer marriage license

Oscar and Paula had two children. I am almost certain that they were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville, but we do not have those records because they are too recent. We find the Kassel family in the 1940 census for Perryville. Oscar is called a partner in an implement store.

1940 census – Perryville, MO

Oscar completed a World War II draft card in 1942.

Oscar Kassel – WWII draft card

We can view Oscar and Paula in one more census, the one taken in 1950. Oscar was still working at the machine shop.

1950 census – Perryville, MO

Later in their lives, Oscar and Paula had a photo taken together, and Paula had one taken of just her.

Oscar Kassel died in 1993 at the age of 95. His obituary is shown below.

Oscar Kassel obituary

Paula Kassel died in 2008 at the age of 97. We can also take a look at her obituary.

Paula Kassel obituary

Oscar and Paula Kassel are buried together in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Perryville.

Oscar and Paula Kassel – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

Oscar and Paula were two individuals who lived long and useful lives.

I cannot write this tale without also mentioning that the building that once housed the Frohna Machine Shop in Perryville is still in use. It is called the Catalyst Center which houses the American Tractor Museum. That building is pictured here.

Catalyst Center – American Tractor Museum – Perryville, MO

More information about that museum can be found on the website shown below.

If you come to visit our museum in Altenburg, you might consider a stop at this other museum in our neighborhood while you’re here.

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