Winter’s Alone Yet Together in Oklahoma

It looks like it going to be a typical winter day here in the Midwest. What better day than to write about some historical Winter’s in the Midwest. And where better to start than the birth of a Winter.

Ernst Friederich Jacob Winter was born on January 14, 1861, so today would be his 162nd birthday. You will discover, however, that Ernst did not make it to his 30th birthday. But don’t fret, the story of the others in his family will continue well beyond that. Ernst was the 3rd of 9 children born to his parents, Friedrich and Christine (Jahn) Winter. A post was written on this blog back in 2018 about Ernst’s parents titled, Hark! Jahn-Winter Dost Woo. That post also included the photo of his parents shown below.

Friedrich and Christine Winter

Ernst was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. We can view an image of his baptism record from that church’s books.

Ernst Winter – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

When Ernst was very young, his father served in the Union Army during the Civil War. A copy of his military record is pictured here.

Friedrich Winter – Civil War military record

Ernst shows up in his first census in 1870 at the age of 9. His father is called a laborer in this entry, but Ernst’s baptism record is more specific about his occupation. It called him a builder. Ernst’s grandfather from his mother’s side of the family was living in this Winter household.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find Ernst in the 1880 census at the age of 19. He was working on his father’s farm. This time, his father was called both a carpenter and a farmer. They were then living in the Union Township.

1880 census – Union Township, MO

Let’s now take a look at the woman who would become Ernst’s bride. Her name was Elizabeth Katherina Hesse, who was born on August 31, 1861. Names of towns like Antonia, Barnhardt, and Kimmswick are named in family trees on Ancestry as Elizabeth’s place of birth. I think it’s safe to say she was born in Jefferson County, Missouri, which is located near St. Louis. She was the daughter of Christian and Fredericka (Kerckhoff) Hesse. I located this photo of Elizabeth’s parents, which was taken later in their lives.

Christian and Fredericka Hesse

Elizabeth is found in the 1870 census at the age of 9. Her father was a farmer in the Joachim Township. You can see that she was also part of a rather large family.

1870 census – Joachim Township, MO

I was not able to find Elizabeth in the 1880 census. I know she was not listed in her parents’ census entry for that year. I suspect she may have been working in St. Louis, but I could not find her there. Her surname may have been butchered by the census taker. That leads us up to the marriage between Ernst Winter and Elizabeth Hesse that took place on June 1, 1884. I was only able to find the Missouri marriage license for this event. That document is shown below. It is a document for Perry County, but it also looks like the pastor (and perhaps even the ceremony) was from St. Louis. There is no church marriage record for Ernst and Elizabeth in our German Family Tree. The pastor’s name looks like Rev. Mayer or Mayes. This form also states that Elizabeth was from St. Louis.

Winter/Hesse marriage license

Since Ernst Winter was going to die in 1890, this couple was not married for very long. Between 1884 and 1890, they had 4 children in just 6 years. This is more understandable when you realize their first children was a set of twin boys, Rudolph and John. Also, since we cannot view the 1890 census, we do not get to see what Ernst’s occupation was after he got married in such an entry. However, in the Perry County birth record for his daughter, Clara Winter, it says that he was a farmer.

Clara Winter birth record – Perry County, MO

Ernst Winter died in December of 1890, and I find it fascinating that his death record from the Trinity Lutheran Church books says he died of “winter fever”. At this point, let me say that a lot of death records back in those days say that people died of “summer fever” also. But, you’ve got to admit that it is interesting that a Winter would die from winter fever.

[AltenburgMO-Trinity]: Ernst Friedrich Jacob Winter, Died 13 Dec 1890 from winter fever, Buried 15 Dec 1890, 29y-11m old, survived by wife & 4 children

Ernst Winter death record – GFT

Ernst died at a time when Perry County also kept death records, and those records had a column in which to list the cause of death. In Ernst’s death record below, you will see that it says Ernst died of pleuritis, which likely was what is now called pleurisy, a lung disease.

Ernst Winter death record – Perry County, MO

After her husband’s death, Elizabeth moved her family back to her hometown. We find her in the household of her parents, who were living in the Rock Township in Jefferson County. This is quite an unusual entry. It also includes 2 other Hesse daughters who were married and listed along with some of their children. However, their husbands were not included. If you look in Perry County census records for that same year, you find the husbands, and their households include these same wives and even some additional children. The best explanation I can come up with is that the Dreyer and Walther families, without the husbands, were visiting the Hesse’s when the census taker showed up on the scene. Elizabeth is shown as being married on this form also, but she was a widow.

1900 census – Rock Township, MO

In 1910, we find this Winter household still living in the same location, however, this time their son, John, one of the twins, was called the head of the household. He and some siblings were farming. This time, Elizabeth is correctly called a widow.

1910 census – Rock Township, MO

In the next decade, Rudolph and Dorothy Winter each got married. One got married in Illinois, and the other in Indiana. Yet, somehow, all 4 of the Winter children, some of which were now married with children, were living in Fairland, Oklahoma. Some of the details of those other marriages are described in the post, Winters on Route 66. They are all included in the census for Fairland, but I will only show the entry which shows Elizabeth and her two unmarried children, John and Clara.

1920 census – Fairland, OK

Fairland is located in the extreme northeast corner of Oklahoma. That is where Elizabeth and these two children who never married would live for the rest of their lives. The 1930 census once again shows this trio, only this time, Elizabeth is back to being called the head of the household.

1930 census – Fairland, OK

Next, we find the same household of people in the 1940 census.

1940 census – Fairland, OK

The last census we can view is the one that was taken in 1950. Elizabeth was in her upper 80’s and still living with her two single children, who were then in their 60’s.

1950 census – Fairland, OK

Elizabeth Winter died in 1952 at the age of 91. Clara would die in 1965 and John in 1968. The mother and two children are buried together in the Fairland Cemetery in Fairland, Oklahoma.

Elizabeth, Clara, and John Winter gravestone – Fairland, OK

The title of this post was intended to demonstrate that the above three who were buried in Fairland were alone in one way. They each were without spouses. For a lot of years, Elizabeth, as a widow, was without her spouse. John and Clara never had spouses. Yet, despite all that, you could say that these 3 had each other for a whole lot of years. Also, I didn’t mention that Rudolph and his wife are also buried in this same cemetery. So, Elizabeth, Clara, and John also had other family living close by. So, they were alone, yet together.


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