Theresia Kranawetter-Zwickelhuber-Oehlert-Dietrich

According to our German Family Tree, Theresia Kranawetter would be celebrating her 200th birthday either today or tomorrow. I lean toward the February 15th birthday, but I am going to write Theresia’s story today anyway. Theresia has been mentioned in several other posts on this blog, especially the one titled, Zwickelhuber Becomes Kranawetter. A Kranawetter family binder that we have in our research library states that Theresia was born on February 15, 1823 to her parents, Matthias and Katharina (Braendstaetter) Kranawetter. She was born in Neukematen, Austria. That binder also states that Theresia married Paulus Zwickelhuber on May 12, 1846 in Austria. If you just use this marriage as a basis for a post title, it might be Kranawetter Becomes Zwickelhuber. If that is the correct wedding date, then we have a bit of a moral dilemma. That is because a son named Joseph was born in 1843, and a son named Paul was born in 1845. That would mean that Theresia was the mother of 2 children before she was married. I will return to this issue later.

The Zwickelhuber family came to America in 1853 aboard the ship, Ernst Moritz Arndt. That ship arrived in New Orleans on June 15, 1853. The passenger list shown below lists Theresia and Paulus with 4 Zwickelhuber children. As near as I can tell, there was a missing Zwickelhuber child that should have been on this list. A boy named Johann had been born in June of 1852 and should have been an infant on this entry.

Zwickelhuber names – Ernst Moritz Arndt passenger list 1853

The Kranawetter family binder has a drawing on its cover showing the ship, Ernst Moritz Arndt. I am guessing that someone in the Kranawetter family was the artist.

Kranawetter family binder cover

The year, 1853, should have been an exciting time for this Zwickelhuber family, but that year turned out to be a tragic one. They must have just gotten to Altenburg, Missouri when Paulus Zwickelhuber died on July 27th, a little over a month after landing in New Orleans. His death record is found in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.

Paulus Zwickelhuber death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

That was only the beginning of the tragedy in this family. Johann Zwickelhuber, who was just a little over 1 year old, died on August 30th. That death record is also found in the Trinity, Altenburg books.

Johann Zwickelhuber death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Then, to make matters worse, 5 year-old Martin Zwickelhuber died on October 1, 1853. We can also view his death record.

Martin Zwickelhuber death record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Theresia had been in the United States about 4 months, and she had already lost her husband and two sons. One can only imagine how she was feeling toward the end of 1853. Now I have to share a story, and it is not one that is told in the Kranawetter binder. It’s a story that I have been told by a few local folks. I cannot vouch for its truth, but I can say that it fits the facts. It also includes some of my speculation.

According to the story, Theresia went to talk with her pastor, Rev. Georg Schieferdecker. I figure she went there for consolation. I think she may have been questioning the decision she and her husband had made to immigrate. Perhaps in the process of pouring out her soul to her new pastor, she also confessed that her first son was not the son of her husband, Paulus Zwickelhuber. She may also have confessed to the fact that another son, whose father was Paulus, was born prior to her marriage. I have every reason to believe that Rev. Schieferdecker was willing to forgive Theresia and made an effort to comfort the grieving widow and mother. However, the story, as it is told, is that Rev. Schieferdecker insisted that Theresia’s oldest son, Joseph, could no longer be called a Zwickelhuber, but had to go by his mother’s maiden name, Kranawetter. So, this is how a child who came to America as Joseph Zwickelhuber came to be known as Joseph Kranawetter, and this is why we have a Kranawetter family binder, not a Zwickelhuber family binder.

Theresia would get married again in 1855. Her second husband was Johannes Gottfried Oehlert. These two were married on October 2, 1855 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Gottfried had also been married before. His first wife, Rosina (Pietsch) Oehlert had died in 1854 after that couple had 5 children. Those Oehlert children take up many pages in our German Family Tree. The church marriage record for Theresia and Gottfried is pictured here.

Oehlert/Zwickelhuber marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

I can also display a civil record for this wedding.

Oehlert/Zwickelhuber marriage record – Perry County, MO

Our German Family Tree lists 3 more children born to this couple. One of them died in infancy. I wish I could show you an 1860 census. It would have likely included a few Zwickelhuber children along with Oehlert children from both of Gottfried’s wives. Joseph Kranawetter, however, is found living in an Abernathy family in the Shawnee Township by that time. I was unsuccessful at finding such an 1860 census for the Oehlert’s. Then, in 1864, Theresia lost her second husband.

Theresia would marry a third time. She married Louis Dietrich on April 26, 1866. These two were married by the Justice of the Peace, Emanuel Estel.

Dietrich/Oehlert marriage record – Perry County, MO

Before I move on, let me say that there was another Zwickelhuber son named Paul who disappears from our GFT. I thought he may have died during the “Koestering Hole”, but the Kranawetter family binder includes 2 letters that Paul wrote to his half-brother, Joseph Kranawetter in 1868. Paul was living in Illinois at the time. I know nothing about Paul after that time, but a photo of him is found in the Kranawetter binder.

Paul Zwickelhuber

We find the Dietrich household in the 1870 census. There is a girl that looks as if she is called Anna Dietrich, but she was actually Johanna Oehlert, a daughter of Theresia and her 2nd husband. Louis Dietrich was a gun smith in Wittenberg.

1870 census – Wittenberg, MO

Next, we find the Dietrich’s in the 1880 census. The same individuals are found in this entry as the previous one.

1880 census – Wittenberg, MO

Louis Dietrich died in 1884 at the age of 67, so for the 3rd time in her life, Theresia was left as a widow. She was still living in Wittenberg when the 1900 census was taken.

1900 census – Wittenberg, MO

Later in her life, Theresia had a photo taken. It is shown below.

Theresia Kranawetter Zwickelhuber Oehlert Dietrich

Theresia died in 1906 at the age of 83. A story is told in the Kranawetter binder about how she died in Wittenberg and was transported to Pocahontas for burial.

Theresia Kranawetter death story

When Theresia’s body made it to Pocahontas, there was a problem getting her buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery, so she was buried in the St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in that town.

Theresia Kranawetter burial story

It appears that at some time, the Kranawetter family must have added a more modern stone to Theresia’s grave site. It gives the surnames of all 3 of her husbands.

Theresia Zwickelhuber-Oehlert-Dietrich gravetone – St. John’s, Pocahontas, MO

Theresia is the pioneer Kranawetter for this area. It is her maiden name, given to her first son, that begins a Kranawetter family tree that makes up a family binder that is several inches thick. We wish her a bicentennial birthday today…and tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “Theresia Kranawetter-Zwickelhuber-Oehlert-Dietrich

  1. This is a comment on something mentioned in the “Engert the Egger” article. You showed a photo of my Great-grandmother, Martha Mueller Engert, which was shown from the photo on her gravestone. I think you said that it was the only picture you could find of her. I have a copy of their wedding photo (it’s a xeroxed copy given to me by a cousin, of the original) and I would be happy to take a picture of it and text it to you. Please let me know via my email address if this would be of interest.


  2. Ben Kranawetter’s account of his grandmother Theresia’s death and burial was very interesting! In looking at her baptism record from Neukematen, I noticed something unusual: beneath her name are the words “Gest[orben] 25.03.1906 Altenburg, Missouri, USA” (Gestorben = died). While it’s not unusual for baptism records to include notes written later about who/when/where someone married and either an immigration destination or when they died, it is a bit unusual for it to include the death date and location when it occurred on the other side of the Atlantic and more than 80 years after the birth/baptism. The pastors in Neukematen were exceptionally good recordkeepers!

    Johann Zwickelhuber’s absence from the Ernst Moritz Arndt passenger manifest can likely be explained by the fee structure. Most of the passenger lines at this time charged no fare for children under 2 and children under 10 were generally only charged a half fare. Although passenger lines were generally obligated to have a record of all souls on board, since children under 2 were not officially ticketed passengers, many of the manifests do not include them by name. Occasionally, there is some sort of marking that essentially indicates “baby on board”, but I don’t see any evidence of that on the Ernst Moritz Arndt manifest.

    In the 1860 census, Gottfried & Theresia Oehlert were enumerated as family #305 in Brazeau Township as “Godfried Elert Sr & Rosa Elert”. I think the name “Rosa” might have been a false interpretation of “Resa”, deriving from “Theresia”. Her daughter, Theresia Zwickelhuber, was also called “Rosa Elert” and her daughter, Johanna Christine Oehlert, was called “Chrystal Elert”. “Godfried Elert Jr” was enumerated just above them.

    Last May, I shared some additional information about Paul & Joseph’s baptisms & Theresia’s wedding as a comment to your earlier Kranawetter/Zwickelhuber post.


  3. We were always told that when Joe started school, a pastor advised Theresia to change his name back to Joe Kranawetter. Our family has always joked that we came very close to being Zwickelhubers.!! And yes several years ago the family donated funds to give grandma Theresia a new tombstone.


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