From Old Appleton to San Francisco – With Stops in Kansas and Idaho

A marriage at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown is the starting point for today’s tale. You will be reading about a couple and their family who made their way west across our country during their lives. Their stops along the way happen to be places where other Perry County natives migrated. The story doesn’t end until this couple makes its way to San Francisco, California. Hang on while we take this journey across the country.

Johann Gottfried Heinrich Schaefer was born on January 21, 1863, the son of Christian and Juliana (Bruhl) Schaefer. A previous post about John’s parents was published a few years back titled, Another Juliane Bruhl. I have these two photos of John’s parents.

Christian and Juliana Schaefer

John Schaefer was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. His baptism record from that congregation’s books is shown here.

John Schaefer baptism record – Immanuel, New Wells, MO

The first census in which we find John was the one taken in 1870 when he was 6 years old. His family was living in the Apple Creek Township where his father was a farmer.

1870 census – Apple Creek Township, MO

The Schaefer family must have become members of Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown at some point in time because John was confirmed there in 1877. John was a teenager when the 1880 census was taken. He was working on his father’s farm. This would be the last census in which we see John described as being involved in farming.

1880 census – Appleton, MO

Because John would get married not long after this census, we will take a look at the woman who would become his bride. Her name was Wilhelmine Bingenheimer, who was born on June 6, 1864. Wilhelmine was the daughter of Phillip and Wilhelmine (Dickmann) Bingenheimer. I do not know where she was baptized. I thought she might have been baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim, but I did not find a record in that congregation’s books. Wilhelmine is found in the 1870 census at the age of 6. Both she and her mother were called Minnie in this entry. Wilhelmine’s father was a farmer in the Cinque Hommes Township.

1870 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

I had to look in the long-lost pages of the 1880 Union Township census to find the Bingenheimer family. Wilhelmina’s father died in 1878, so we see her mother as the head of the family. Wilhelmine (called Mena this time) was 15 years old.

1880 census – Union Township, MO

John Schaefer married Wilhelmine Bingenheimer on November 11, 1888, making today their 134th anniversary. These two were married at Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown. The church record for this wedding is pictured below.

Schaefer/Bingenheimer marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

The marriage license for this couple can also be viewed.

Schaefer/Bingenheimer marriage license

Our German Family Tree lists 7 children born to this couple. One was stillborn and not baptized. The other 6 were baptized at Grace, Uniontown. Two other children died before their first birthday. When we view the 1900 census, we find 3 children in the household. John was a merchant in Old Appleton.

1900 census – Appleton, MO

Below is an image of an advertisement for John’s store.

J.H. Schaefer General Store ad

Toward the end of 1908, an article appeared in the Perry County Republican that told of John’s sale of his store to Joseph Schnurbusch.

John Schaefer – PCR article 1908

The last church record we see for a member of this Schaefer family was the confirmation record of Flora Schaefer, who was confirmed in April of 1909. When the 1910 census was taken, we no longer find the Schaefer’s living in Missouri. The family was living in the Madison Township of Riley County, Kansas. That location is especially known because it is where Fort Riley, a U.S. Army base, is located. Once again, we see that John is a merchant at a general store. Four children and John’s younger sister, Emilie, were living in the household.

1910 census – Madison Township, KS

When the United States became involved in World War I, Fort Riley became a training camp for thousands of American soldiers. I am not sure if the Schaefer’s were still in Kansas when that was taking place. I do know that when the 1920 census was taken, the Schaefer’s were living in Twin Falls, Idaho. Once again, we find John as a retail merchant in a general store.

1920 census – Twin Falls, ID

The 1930 census finds John and Minnie still living in Twin Falls. These two had an empty nest, and, at the age of 66, John no longer had an occupation.

1930 census – Twin Falls, ID

John Schaefer died in 1937 at the age of 74. Sometime before this time, it looks like John and Minnie had moved to California. I know that at least one of their children was living in California, so that might explain this move. A California death index includes several men with the name, John Schaefer. I have highlighted the correct one in the image below.

John Schaefer – CA death index

Wilhelmina was still alive when the 1940 census was taken, and we find her living in San Francisco. Two daughters, both in their 40’s, were still living with their mother. This entry says that the Schaefer’s were living in the same place 5 years before the census was taken, so they must have moved to California by 1935.

1940 census – San Francisco, CA

Wilhelmine Schaefer died in 1946 at the age of 82. There is a different-looking California death index for her that includes several facts that confirm this is the right person.

Wilhelmine Schaefer – CA death index

I was unable to find burial information for John and Wilhelmine, but they were most likely buried somewhere in or near San Francisco. So, we’ve come to the end of this wild ride through the lives of John and Minnie Schaefer. As I often do when I write such a story that ends up far away from Perry County, I wonder if they managed to get back to their original birthplaces sometime during their lives.

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