Bruno, the Baker and Milkman

Robert Bruno Constantine Nennert is today’s birthday boy. He was born on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1898, so that makes today his 125th birthday. By the way, the first Groundhog Day took place in 1887, before this birth. Early in his life, we see him called Bruno, but later, he took on the name, Robert. I mainly used the name Bruno in the title because it sounded good. I suppose I could have called him Bob, the Baker and Milkman, but I never see a document that uses that name. Robert was the son of Simon “Samuel” and Maria (Schuessler) Nennert, whose story was told in the post, Mary and Simon. If you read that post, you will discover that Robert was the grandson of the Nennert’s who established the Nennert Hotel that once existed in Wittenberg. That hotel was one of two hotels that could be found in Wittenberg in 1903 and 1904, and they are indeed mentioned in my two books about Wittenberg.

Nennert Hotel – Wittenberg, MO

Robert’s baptism record is found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, but he is one of those persons who was likely baptized in the church/school that was located in Wittenberg. Prior to 1903, when the folks attending church in that location officially organized their own congregation and called their first permanent pastor, the minister from Trinity would make the trip to Wittenberg to conduct worship services and perform ceremonies such as baptisms and marriages. Our German Family Tree contains this information about Robert’s baptism from Trinity’s books.

[AltenburgMO-Trinity]:  Born 2 Feb 1898, Baptized 13 Feb 1898, Father: Simon Nennert, Mother: Marie nee Schuessler, Sponsors: Jacob Bischof, Sarah Schuessler, Herrmann Schuessler, Magdalene Schaumburg, Baptized by Pastor P. Roesener

Robert was baptized on February 13th, and that was a Sunday in 1898. Rev. Roesner likely preached in Wittenberg that day, and Robert was also baptized. I will add here that it was not long after this baptism took place that Robert’s aunt and uncle, Loretta (Swan) and Charles Nennert died in 1899 and 1900, leaving several of Robert’s cousins as orphans. Those orphans were “farmed out” to other local families in the Wittenberg area. Some stories have been written on this blog about those orphans.

Robert is found in his first census in 1900 at the age of 2. His father was a cooper. I think it is likely that he was making barrels at the Weinhold Mill in Wittenberg. This is the only record in which Robert is called Bruno. At this point in time, Robert was the only boy in his family. An older brother had died early on, and one more younger brother was born in 1902.

1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

I was unable to find Robert and his family in the 1910 census, but I have reason to believe that he was still living in or near Wittenberg. That is because he was confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg in 1911. There is a 1914 city directory for St. Louis that includes Robert’s father, Samuel, so this Nennert family had relocated to that city.

Nennert names – 1914 St. Louis city directory

The next document I located for Robert was his World War I draft registration that was completed in 1918. This form gives Bruno as his middle name. His employer was the Childs Restaurant where Robert was a baker.

Robert Nennert – WWI draft registration

When the 1920 census was taken, we find Robert living in Kansas City, Missouri. He was living in a hotel and working as a baker at a restaurant. I was amazed by this census entry. At least 4 census pages included lodgers who were residing at the same hotel.

1920 census – Kansas City, MO

I am not sure exactly when Robert got married, but I figure it must have been shortly after the 1920 census was enumerated. His first child was born in 1923. Let’s take a look at the woman who became his bride. Her name was Louise M. Keena, who was born on May 6, 1902. She was the daughter of John, Jr. and Florence (Mateker) Keena. I am not real confident about the name of her mother. I found it in an family tree, but Louise’s later death certificate does not confirm it. A pretty convincing fact is that Florence Keena was later buried with Louise. Apparently, something unusual happened to Louise’s parents because we find Louise living with her grandparents, John, Sr. and Louisa (Jahn) Keena when the 1910 census was taken. That name, Jahn, caused my eyebrows to go up because Jahn is a surname found in our German Family Tree. However, I found no connection. Louise’s grandfather was a street inspector, and her grandmother was the keeper of a rooming house.

1910 census – St. Louis, MO

I found Louise in the 1920 census living with her mother, Florence Keena. It says Florence was a widow, but I found evidence that John Keena, Jr. died in 1943. His entry says he married Elizabeth Justice in 1920. Florence was a cook at a cracker company, and Louise was a stenographer at a cracker company. I know there was a Nabisco factory in St. Louis. Perhaps that is where they worked.

1920 census – St. Louis, MO

Robert Nennert married Louise Keena sometime in the early 1920’s. The 1930 census finds this couple living in St. Louis where Robert was a salesman for a retail milk company. Three children were included in this entry.

1930 census – St. Louis, MO

Next, we find Robert and Louise in the 1940 census. Robert was a driver for a wholesale dairy, and there were 4 children in the household.

1940 census – St. Louis, MO

Robert had a World War II draft card completed in 1942. This time Robert gives his middle name as Constantine. Robert’s employer was the Pevely Dairy Company.

Robert Nennert – WWII draft card

This is what a Pevely milk delivery truck looked like back in the days when Robert worked for that company. I remember drinking Pevely milk back in my boyhood days in St. Louis.

Pevely milk delivery truck

The last census we can view is the one taken in 1950. Robert was called a milk driver for a wholesale dairy company.

1950 census – St. Louis, MO

Robert Nennert died in 1961 at the age of 63. His death certificate says he was a retired Pevely milk driver.

Robert Nennert death certificate

Louise Nennert died in 1963 at the age of 60. Her death certificate gives her father’s name as John Keena, but her mother’s maiden name is unknown.

Louise Nennert death certificate

Robert and Louise Nennert, along with others in this Nennert family, are buried together in the St. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery in St. Louis. You will find the names, Keena and Mateker, included at this burial site.

Robert and Louise Nennert gravestone – St. Peter and Paul, St. Louis, MO

Both the Nennert and the Keena sides of this marriage duo proved to be a research challenge. It led me to a lot of census dead ends. And, as far as family histories on go, I did not find any of them that had all the census entries that I have included in this post. Maybe if some of those folks who have those family trees on Ancestry find this blog post, they will add some more documentation to their trees.

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