It Helps to Have a Goodbrake on a Streetcar

Yesterday’s post described a Scholl couple that was married on December 28, 1897. Today, you will read about another wedding that took place in Perry County the next day. You will be reading the story of a woman who was born in Perry County, but spent most of her life in St. Louis. Also, because this woman was baptized and married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville, I will not be able to display actual church records, only ones which have been transcribed.

A few years ago, a post was published on this blog called Bergmann’s Abound. That article told the story of a Bergmann/Bergmann wedding that took place in 1858 in which Ferdinand Bergmann married Anna Margaret Bergmann. Seven children were born to that couple, and today you will read about the 6th child. Her name was Anna Barbara Bergmann who was born on September 12, 1873. Anna was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. Below is a transcription of her baptism record from a binder that we have in our research library containing that congregation’s records.

Anna Bergmann baptism record – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

Anna is found in the 1880 census at the age of 6. She was called Anna B., probably to distinguish her from her mother who was another Anna. Also, the “B” stands for Barbara, and Anna had an older sister who went by that name already. Anna’s father was a farmer in the Central Township of Perry County.

1880 census – Central Township, MO

Anna, as mentioned earlier, would get married in 1897, so we cannot view another census in which she was single. So, let’s take a look at the family from which her future husband came. Anna’s future in-laws were John Thomas and Margaret (Bristow) Goodbrake. John T. Goodbrake was a captain in the Civil War. He was from Lexington, Missouri, a town located along the Missouri River near Concordia, Missouri. Captain Goodbrake served in a Missouri State Militia unit that pursued the Confederate guerilla, General Sterling Price, during his raid through Missouri. I located this photo of Captain Goodbrake.

Captain John T. Goodbrake

Captain Goodbrake is buried in the Machpelah Cemetery in Lexington. His gravestone acknowledges his Civil War service in the 1st Missouri State Militia Cavalry.

Captain John T. Goodbrake gravestone – Machpelah, Lexington, MO

On November 2, 1869, a son was born to the Goodbrake couple, and that baby was named after his father. So today’s highlighted character was John T. Goodbrake, Jr. He was born in Lexington. We find this young child in the 1870 census for Lexington. His father had quite an unusual occupation. He was the superintendent of a poor farm. I did not show the entire entry for this household. The list of people on the poor farm goes all the way to the bottom of the page.

1870 census – Lexington, MO

John T. Goodbrake, Sr. died in 1876, so when the 1880 census was taken, we find John T., Jr’s widowed mother as the head of the household. John was 10 years old at the time.

1880 census – Lexington, MO

At some point in time before his marriage, John T., Jr. moved to St. Louis. I highly suspect that Anna Bergmann had also moved to St. Louis prior to this marriage to find work. That would explain how these two individuals met each other. John T. Goodbrake married Anna B. Bergmann on December 29, 1897 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. That makes today this couple’s 125th anniversary. A record of that marriage is found in the Immanuel, Perryville binder.

Goodbrake/Bergmann marriage record – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

We can also view the marriage license for this pair. You can see that this form and the one above say John T. was from the city of St. Louis.

Goodbrake/Bergmann marriage license

According to my reckoning based on looking at census records, John and Anna had 8 children. In the 1900 census, there was one child in their family. They were living in St. Louis where John is called a “gripman St. R.R.” Based on future census entries, I figured that this was a term referring to a motorman on a streetcar. I figure the “St. R.R.” referred to street railroad. After a little looking, I also discovered that a streetcar was also sometimes referred to as a grip car.

1900 census – St. Louis, MO

Next, we find the Goodbrake’s in the 1910 census. There were 3 more children added to this family in the previous decade. John T. was called a motorman on a streetcar.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

The 1920 census lists 6 children in the Goodbrake family. John T. had the same occupation. A few of their older children were already part of the workforce.

1920 census – St. Louis, MO

The last census in which we find John T. was the one taken in 1930. Two additional children had been born since the previous census, bringing their total number of children to 8.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

John T. Goodbrake died in 1932 at the age of 62. His death certificate gives a few examples of heart problems as his cause of death. This document also refers to his occupation being a motorman.

John T. Goodbrake death certificate

Anna Goodbrake is found as a widow in the 1940 census. Her son, Edgar, was the head of the household that included a daughter named Hulda.

1940 census – St. Louis, MO

Anna was still alive in 1950, but I was unable to find her in a census entry for that year. Anna Goodbrake died in 1951 at the age of 77. I cannot help but notice that she died on my very first birthday. I was probably having some birthday cake jammed into my face on that day.

Anna Goodbrake death certificate

John T. and Anna Goodbrake are buried in the Our Redeemer Cemetery in Affton. Their gravestone looks as if they might have reserved a spot on it for a future burial, perhaps for a single child.

John T. and Anna Goodbrake gravestone – Our Redeemer, Affton, MO

For those of you that might need a reminder of what streetcars looked like, here is a photo of one that has shown up on a previous blog post that discussed streetcars. The picture was taken in St. Louis. This photo may also have been taken around this time of the year based on some of the decorations seen on the street and the coats being worn by the people.

Streetcar – St. Louis, MO

I grew up in St. Louis. When my family travelled closer to the downtown area, I recall seeing streetcars in operation. I also remember our car having to bounce over the streetcar tracks as we went through intersections. I also have memories of seeing the overhead lines that were necessary for their operation. I figure I was being raised at a time when streetcars were on their decline and the use of motorized busses were becoming the most used forms of public transportation. I found a video showing some of the later-model streetcars that were in use in St. Louis. Perhaps you might want to watch a portion of it to get a feel for what it must have been like to see a streetcar or ride one.

One thought on “It Helps to Have a Goodbrake on a Streetcar

  1. Thanks especially for the video link to the St. Louis streetcars. Our family moved from Altenburg to Altamont IL in 1955, and my mother (Rose (Mahnke) Popp) enjoyed an annual family shopping trip to St. Louis. Stix, Baer, & Fuller, and Famous Barr were two of the favorite stores downtown, and while I didn’t enjoy the shopping, I did enjoy the city sites including the streetcars, which had a turnaround at the end of the line downtown. We never rode them, but they were fascinating.


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