O. and Henry – The Sauerhage’s

O. Henry is an American writer well-known for his short stories with surprise endings. Two of my favorite O. Henry short stories are The Last Leaf and The Gift of the Magi. I could not get O. Henry out of my brain as I researched for this blog. I am about to tell the tale of a girl named Olinda who married a man named Henry. You, too, will read a short story today about O. and Henry. However, I cannot promise a surprise ending.

Olinda Emma Philipine Beck was born on April 1, 1893, so today would be her 130th birthday. Olinda was the daughter of Louis and Caroline (Schmidt) Beck. She was born in St. Clair County in Illinois, which is where we find the city of Belleville. Her parents were later buried in a cemetery in Lenzburg, Illinois, so perhaps that is where she was born. Olinda is found in her first census in 1900 at the age of 7. Her father was a farmer. There was an Adolph Schmidt living in this household, which is a famous Altenburg name, but the Schmidt’s in this story have no connection to anyone in Perry County, Missouri. You can see that everyone in this census entry was born in Illinois.

1900 census – St. Clair Township, IL

Next, we find Olinda in the 1910 census as a teenager. More Beck children had been added to this family since the previous census. In this entry, Olinda is called Linda.

1910 census – St. Clair Township, IL

Olinda would get married before the next census, so we will now take a look at the man who would become her husband. She married a man named Henry Wilhelm Sauerhage, who was born on March 10, 1894. Henry was the son of George and Mary (Byers) Sauerhage. Henry was born in Harrisonville, Illinois, which is located in Monroe County, not that far from Belleville. Harrisonville is located right along the Mississippi River, as the map below shows.

Harrisonville, IL map

Henry is found in the 1900 census at the age of 6. This entry says the Sauerhage’s were living in Mitchie, Illinois, which can also be seen on the map above. Henry’s father was a farmer.

1900 census – Mitchie, IL

By the time of the 1910 census, the Sauerhage family had relocated. They can be found in a census entry for the Fountain Bluff Township. George Sauerhage was still a farmer, and the 16 year-old Henry was working for his father.

1910 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Henry Sauerhage married Olinda Beck on April 10, 1917. This is where we find these two characters entering the books of Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. Those church books are included in our German Family Tree, so that is how I located the O. and Henry story for today. We can take a look at the church marriage record below.

Sauerhage/Beck marriage record – Christ, Jacob, IL

There is an interesting coincidence here. The pastor at Christ, Jacob was Rev. G.H. Haertling (initials G.H.H.). Pastor Haertling was the uncle of Otto Haertling, who was a main character in yesterday’s story about a Haertling marrying a Koenig. It just so happens that Rev. Haertling’s wife was also a Koenig tied to the Koenig family highlighted yesterday. Rev. Haertling’s story can be read in the blog post, Navigating the Haertling-Koenig Labyrinth.

Just two months later, in June of 1917, Henry had a World War I draft registration completed. At that time, Henry had a Festus, Missouri address, and he was employed by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company in Crystal City. Festus and Crystal City are two more cities that can be seen in the map shown earlier. They were just across the Mississippi River from Harrisville and Mitchie, Illinois. This form also says that Henry had a wife.

Henry Sauerhage – WWI draft registration

Henry apparently did not remain in Missouri for very long. When the 1920 census was taken, we find Henry back in the Fountain Bluff Township, and he was a farm laborer. The Sauerhage’s had two children, one that was born in Missouri. When their 2nd child was born in 1919, that son was baptized at Christ, Jacob.

1920 census – Fountain Bluff Township, IL

Three more children were born in the 1920’s and baptized at Christ, Jacob. They had several more children later, but when a child was born in 1929, we do not find that baptism in the books of the congregation in Jacob. In the 1930 census, we find the Sauerhage’s living in the Kincaid Township, which, like the Fountain Bluff Township, is located in Jackson County. Henry was still farming, and the Sauerhage family had gotten quite large.

1930 census – Kinkaid Township, IL

The map below should help you keep track of the places mentioned in this post. Kinkaid Township is the square-shaped area just north of Jacob.

Ava and Jacob, IL map

In the 1940 census, the Sauerhage’s are found in the Bradley Township, also found in Jackson County. The Bradley Township is the area shaped like a trapezoid that contains the town of Ava. Now, this Sauerhage family had 10 children in their household.

1940 census – Bradley Township, IL

In 1942, Henry had a World War II draft card completed. His address is given as rural Ava, Illinois.

Henry Sauerhage – WWII draft card

The last census we can look at is the one taken in 1950. This time, the Sauerhage’s were living in the Engelmann Township, which is near Mascoutah, Illinois not far from Belleville and closer to Henry’s birthplace. Henry continued farming.

1950 census – Engelmann Township, IL

Henry Sauerhage died in 1970 at the age of 75; Olinda Sauerhage died a year later in 1971 at the age of 78. These two are buried together in the Mascoutah City Cemetery in Mascoutah.

Henry and Olinda Sauerhage gravestone – Mascoutah, IL

O. Henry often had unexpected endings to his short stories. About the only thing that I found that was unexpected in this tale of O. and Henry was the fact that they moved all around southern Illinois during their lifetime. Just a short portion of that lifetime was spent getting some of their family’s church records into our German Family Tree. I will also add that the Sauerhage story wandered through the Ava vicinity for a while, and that will likely get our friend, Diane Anderson, who lives in Ava, to consider publishing this story in the newspaper that she edits, the Ava Citizen.

2 thoughts on “O. and Henry – The Sauerhage’s

  1. These are my great grandparents but Henry Sauerhage was not a writer. The writer you referenced as O. Henry is a pen name for William Sydney Porter of Greensboro, NC.


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