Joachim from Jacob and His Uniontown Bride

The story you will read today was inspired by a marriage that took place on December 1st back in the 1880’s. It may be an exception to a tradition of weddings not taking place during the seasons of Lent and Advent in German Lutheran churches. I think the marriage highlighted in this story did take place near the beginning of the Advent season in 1887. If Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois had mid-week Advent services on Wednesdays, then this marriage took place on the Thursday right after the first Wednesday Advent service during that winter.

I am going to begin this story by looking at the bride. Catharina Korte was born on March 2, 1865 in Scheeβel, Germany. Catharina was the daughter of Hans and Sophia (Wahlers) Korte. According to the 1900 census in which we later find her, the year of her immigration to America took place in 1886. I found a passenger list for a 21 year-old Catharina Korte for a ship that landed in Baltimore during that year. That list included a few other Korte men who likely were Catharina’s brothers. The passenger list is so hard to read that I am not going to display it here. Since she came to this country so close to the date of her marriage, perhaps there was already correspondence between her and her future husband prior to her arrival.

Catharina’s husband was going to be Joachim Rathjen, who was born on September 9, 1863 in Ostervesede, Germany. He was the son of Friedrich and Anna (Boesch) Rathjen. You can see the proximity of Ostervesede to Scheeβel in the map below.

Ostervesede, Germany map

The Rathjen family arrived in America in the 1870’s. The church books of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois includes information about certain families that were members of that congregation back in the 1800’s. These pages are like miniature family trees for these families. On the page for Joachim’s parents, you find this information about Joachim, the 2nd child in this Rathjen family.

Joachim Rathjen information – Christ, Jacob, IL

In the above document, it states that Joachim was confirmed in Altenburg, Missouri (most likely at Trinity Lutheran Church). That confirmation likely occurred around 1877, but that was a time when confirmation records are not found in Trinity’s books. It was during the time when Rev. J.F. Koestering was their pastor. Joachim is found living in the Fountain Bluff Township in Jackson County, Illinois when the 1880 census was taken. The census taker wrote their surname as Rogers in this entry, which sound a bit like Rott-jen, which is how the name Rathjen is pronounced. Joachim is given the Americanized version of his name, Joseph, in this image. He was 17 years old at the time. His father was a farmer.

1880 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Joachim Rathjen married Catharina Korte on December 1, 1887 at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob. The church record for this wedding is shown here. This marriage took place when Rev. Estel (a pastor who has connections to the 1839 immigration to Perry County) was serving at this congregation. He authored very detailed marriage records which included much more information about the bride and groom than you usually find in such a record. In this document, it states that Catharina was from Uniontown, Missouri.

Rathjen/Korte marriage record – Christ, Jacob, IL

According to our German Family Tree, there were 7 children born to Joachim and Catharina. All of them were baptized at Christ, Jacob. Five of their children were born before the 1900 census was taken. We see the Rathjen household in the entry below. Joachim was a farmer.

1900 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Two more children were born during the first decade of the 20th century. However, there were also 3 other deaths that occurred before the 1910 census was taken. First off all, their oldest son, Henry, died of meningitis in 1908. Then, January of 1910 was a tragic month for this family. First, their youngest child, Maria Alma, died on January 16th from croop. Six days later, Catharina died at the age of 44. Her death record in the church books is displayed below. It states that she died of tuberculosis.

Catharina Rathjen death record – Christ, Jacob, IL

The above document also says that Catharina died in an insane asylum. I am only speculating, but perhaps the deaths of her children may have impacted her mental health. It also may have been the case that she was sent to an institution to isolate her because of her tuberculosis. I do wonder whether she was already in an institution when her daughter died a week earlier.

The 1910 census shows Joachim as a widower with his 5 remaining children.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

In the next census taken in 1920, we see that one of Joachim’s daughters, Frieda, had married Gustav Wagner. The Wagner’s were included in Joachim’s household.

1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

The last census in which we find Joachim was the one taken in 1930. This time, Joachim was living in his son, Fred’s, family. Fred had married Maria Zerbst.

1930 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Joachim Rathjen died in 1939 at the age of 75. Since he died while he was a patient in a St. Louis hospital, we can look at his Missouri death certificate.

Joachim Rathjen death certificate

We can also read what was written in his obituary printed in a local newspaper.

Joachim Rathjen obituary

Both Joachim and Catharina Rathjen are buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Jacob, Illinois.

The marriage of Joachim and Catharina is yet another one that involved a man from Jacob, Illinois finding his bride across the river in Perry County, Missouri.


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