Theodore Steffens – To Kansas and Back for a Bride

Theodore Immanuel Conrad Steffens was born on January 8, 1897, making today his 126th birthday. Theodore was the son of Henry and Martha (Hesse) Steffens. He was the last of 6 children in his family. Theodore was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar. We can take a look at an image of his baptism record from that church’s books. This baptism record does not include the name Conrad as part of his name, but a later military record uses it. One of his sponsors was named Conrad, and another had a name that included Immanuel. I have been told that children back in those days often had middle names that included names of their sponsors.

Theodore Steffens baptism record – Salem, Farrar, MO

Theodore is found in his first census in 1900 at the age of 3. The census pages where we find him are quite difficult to read. I have mentioned these pages from the 1900 Salem Township census previously on this blog. Sometimes I have this urge to be able to go back in time, find this census taker, and give him a good pen to use. Theodore’s father was a farmer.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

Next, we find Theodore in the 1910 census as a teenager. A year after this census was taken, he was confirmed at Salem, Farrar.

1910 census – Salem Township, MO

We find Theodore in a different location when he had a World War I draft registration completed in 1918. This form was completed at a draft board located in Hoxie, Kansas, and it says that Theodore was living in Selden, Kansas. Both Hoxie and Selden are locations that have appeared on this blog before. The stories that have been told about those cities in Kansas were about Hemmann’s, Mueller’s, and Steffens’s. All of those families originated in Farrar. This document is the one that says Conrad was Theodore’s middle name.

Theodore Steffens – WWI draft registration

The map below shows the location of Hoxie and Selden in the northwest corner of that state.

Selden and Hoxie, Kansas map

Theodore did serve in the military during World War I, but the military record shown below indicates that he did not get sent overseas.

Theodore Steffens military record – WWI

We find this interesting entry from the Bloomfield Township, Kansas pages of that year’s census. Bloomfield Township is where Selden is located. This entry has appeared on this blog before because I have already written posts about the two Hemmann’s that are living in the same household with Theodore Steffens. Louis and Paul Hemmann, along with Theodore were farming together.

1920 census – Bloomfield, KS

I will add at this point that there was another Hemmann named Martin who is found living in Selden when his World War I draft registration was completed. Martin would return to Farrar before the 1920 census was taken. As it turns out, Theodore Steffens would follow in the footsteps of Martin Hemmann and return to Farrar. In his case, he returned and found a bride. I have a theory about how this happened. Keep in mind that this is only a theory.

Theodore’s older brother, Louis Steffens, died in September of 1924. Perhaps Theodore returned to Farrar for his brother’s funeral. Louis Steffens’s wife was Mary Versemann. I figure that Theodore was already familiar with the Versemann family, but maybe after attending Louis’s funeral, a romantic relationship was sparked between Theodore and Hilda Versemann, Mary’s younger sister. Let’s take a look at Hilda’s early years.

Hilda Alwine Versemann was born on January 5, 1904. That means her birthday was just 3 days away from Theodore’s. Hilda was the 7th of 12 children born into the family of Henry and Emma (Koenig) Versemann according to our German Family Tree. Also, Henry had been married before, so he had additional children from that marriage. Hilda was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar. We can take a look at her baptism record below. One of her sponsors was named Alwine.

Hilda Versemann baptism record – Salem, Farrar, MO

Hilda is found in the 1910 census at the age of 6. Her father was a farmer in the Salem Township.

1910 census – Salem Township, MO

Next, we find Hilda in the 1920 census as a teenager.

1920 census – Salem Township, MO

Theodore Steffens married Hilda Versemann on December 14, 1924. That was just 3 months after the death of Theodore’s brother, who was also Hilda’s brother-in-law. This marriage took place during the Advent season, which was not common. The church record is found in the books of Salem, Farrar, however, the wedding was performed by Rev. Hafner, who had just begun serving at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. At that time, Rev. Krueger had just left Salem, Farrar, so this church temporarily did not have a pastor. We can view the church marriage record for this event here. It is found between the last marriage recorded by Rev. Krueger and the first one recorded by their next pastor. This Steffens/Versemann record looks like it was inserted in this place at a later time.

Steffens/Versemann marriage record – Salem, Farrar, MO

We can also take a look at the marriage license for this couple.

Steffens/Versemann marriage license

The German Family Tree lists 5 children born to Theodore and Hilda. Two of them were born prior to the 1930 census. Theodore’s parents were included in this entry, but Theodore was listed as the head of the household.

1930 census – Salem Township, MO

The Henry Steffens farm found in this 1915 plat map is probably the land on which Theodore farmed. You can see its proximity to Farrar.

Henry Steffens land map – 1915

Let me point out that in 1930, Martin Hemmann, one of the men who was once living in Selden, Kansas and mentioned earlier, married the widow, Mary Steffens, who had once been married to Louis Steffens, Theodore’s older brother.

The 1940 census lists all 5 Steffens children. Theodore’s mother had died in 1935, but his father, Henry, was still living with them.

1940 census – Salem Township, MO

Theodore had a World War II draft card completed in 1942. This documents says Theodore was born on January 5th, not January 8th. That was actually his wife’s birthday, although she was not born in 1897.

Theodore Steffens – WWII draft card

The last census we can view for the Steffens couple was the one taken in 1950. Four children remained in their household, and all of them were said to be involved in farming, including their daughter, Elaine.

1950 census – Salem Township, MO

Theodore Steffens died in 1981 at the age of 84; Hilda Steffens died in 1988 at the age of 84. Both of them died much too recently to view their death certificates. Theodore and Hilda are each buried in the Salem Lutheran Cemetery in Farrar. Theodore’s gravestone acknowledges his military service.

I am fascinated by the fact that several young men from Farrar found themselves in northwest Kansas at about the time when the United States got involved in World War I. Most of those young men managed to find their way back to Farrar. If you are interested in reading previous posts written about these Farrar men who once resided in Kansas, place the names, Selden or Hoxie, in the search box on this website. It should lead you to those posts.

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