Today’s birthday girl is Theresia J. Wunderlich, who was born on February 11, 1890. That means if Theresia was still alive today, she would have to blow out 133 candles on her birthday cake. I found it somewhat surprising that she was not born in either Perry County or Cape Girardeau County in Missouri. She was born across the river in Union County, Illinois. Theresia was the daughter of Eduard and Emma (Schaeffer) Wunderlich. If you go back into this Wunderlich family tree, you find that Theresia’s father was baptized in Frohna, but then when her grandfather, Zachariah lost his first wife and married a Ludwig, that Wunderlich family would be found living in New Wells. Then, Eduard would make his way across the Mississippi to Union County, Illinois where he would get married in 1889, probably at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Kornthal, Illinois. Theresia would then become that couple’s first child in 1890. A previous story has been written about Eduard and Emma titled,Edward and His Emma’s.
We have a binder that contains records from the Kornthal church in our research library. The records found in that binder are rather sporadic prior to 1894, so I could not find a baptism record for Theresia. Nor could I find a marriage record for her parents. But I did find a baptism record for a younger sister of Theresia’s who was born in 1896. The page on which we find that baptism record gives us evidence of the close connection between the church in New Wells and the one in Kornthal. Both of those congregations have a history of being churches with plenty of immigrants from Austria. You will see quite a few names on this page that can also be found in the Immanuel, New Wells books…Schaefer, Kasten, Meyr, Ludwig, etc.
Theresia is found in her first census in 1900 at the age of 10. Her father was a farmer in Reynoldsville, Illinois.
The map below displays both the populated area known as Reynoldsville and the location of the Lutheran church in Kornthal. This map also includes other places that will be discussed later in this post.
In 1901, Theresia’s mother died, and her father married again at the end of that year. His second wife was another Emma…Emma Schaumloeffel. By the time of the 1910 census, Theresia’s parents had moved back across the river and could be found living in the Shawnee Township. Her father was still a farmer.
The last census in which we find Theresia as a single woman was the one that was taken in 1920.
Next, we need to take a look at the man who would become Theresia’s husband. His name was Johann Alfred Gross. His family can be traced back to a Grosse family that was part of the Gesellschaft in 1839. It looks as if somewhere along the line, the final “e” was taken off their surname. John was born on October 3, 1893, the son of Edward and Elizabeth (Wallmann) Gross. John was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. We can take a look at his baptism record from that congregation’s books.
John is found in the 1900 census at the age of 7. His father was a farmer in the Shawnee Township.
John’s father died in 1908, so when the 1910 census was taken, his mother was the head of the household. John was 16 years old and called a farm laborer. Elizabeth Gross’s mother and father were also included in this household.
In 1917, John had a World War I draft registration completed. This document says that John was a farm laborer employed by August Meyr.
John did get called into service during that war. He was sent overseas for active duty as well. A military record for his service is shown below.
On rare occasions, I have run across a photograph of a World War I soldier in uniform. That is the case for John.
The last census in which we find John as a single man was the one taken in 1920. As the oldest son in the family, he was called a farmer, and two younger brothers were laborers on the farm.
John Gross married Theresia Wunderlich later that year on November 21, 1920. That wedding took place at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells. The church record for that event is shown here.
The marriage license for this couple can also be viewed. This document says that John was from Fruitland.
A wedding photograph was taken for this occasion that included the whole wedding party.
Our German Family Tree lists 2 children born to this couple, but there were actually 3. The 2 in our GFT were baptized at Zion Lutheran Church in Pocahontas. Those 2 children died in 1926, so they never show up in a census. A 3rd child, a boy named Gilbert, was born in 1928. We see this small Gross family (Small Gross is actually humorous because gross means large in German) in the 1930 census living in the town of Gordonville. I am guessing that the baptism record for Gilbert would be found in the books of Christ Lutheran Church in Gordonville. This time, John was called a blacksmith.
John Gross died in 1939 at the age of 45. His death certificate is pictured here.
Theresia is found as a widow in the 1940 census. She was living with her 11 year-old son, Gilbert.
Once again, in 1950, we find Theresia and Gilbert, but Theresia’s father was also living with them. Theresia was doing washing and ironing from her home in Gordonville, and Gilbert was a truck driver.
Theresia Gross died in 1970 at the age of 80. Her death certificate says she was a patient at the Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau when she died.
John and Theresia Gross are each buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery in Gordonville. John’s gravestone recognizes his military service during World War I.
I do not recall writing another story on this blog that includes both the locations of Kornthal and Gordonville. I think this is a first.