Happy 150th Birthday to Mr. Crisler’s Grandma

Yesterday’s tale was about a woman who only spent a short time in Perry County before moving elsewhere. Today’s story is like that, but has important differences. I was led to todays’ story by the information found in this short entry in our German Family Tree.

Johanna Lang info – GFT

As you can see, it is not only Johanna Lang’s birthday today, but it is her 150th birthday. In every census entry that includes her, she is called Hannah. She was the daughter of Simon and Barbara (Schroeder) Lang. Her father arrived in America in 1868. We find him as a passenger on the ship, Ariel, in the image below. He was a 24 year-old butcher.

Simon Lang – Ariel passenger list 1868

Not long after his entry into this country, Simon married Anna Barbara Schroeder and that couple began having children. Between 1870 and 1888, they had 10 children, all baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville. Hannah was the 3rd child in line. A transcription of her baptism record is shown here.

Johanna Lang baptism record – Immanuel, Perryville, MO

In 1880, we find Hannah at the age of 7 and living in Perryville. Her father was a butcher.

1880 census – Perryville, MO

I do not know exactly when the move took place, but this Lang family relocated to the city of Chester, Illinois prior to the 1900 census. Hannah was in her 20’s and her father, as well as one of her brothers, were butchers. It is not often that you see a woman listed with an occupation back in those days, but in this case, Hannah’s mother is called a meat dealer.

1900 census – Chester, IL

Now, we will take a look at the man who became Hannah’s husband. His name was Gilbert Crisler, who was born on May 20, 1868. Gilbert was the son of William and Judith (Stanley) Crisler. He was born in Illinois, likely in or near Chester. I found a family tree on Ancestry.com that traces the Crisler family, which came from Germany, back to the early 1700’s in Virginia. You can track this family’s history from Virginia to Kentucky, and eventually to Chester, Illinois.

Tragically, Gilbert’s mother died later during 1868, leaving William as a widower with an infant son. I lost track of Gilbert during his childhood, but I do know that when his father showed up in the 1870 and 1880 censuses, he was a widower living either by himself or in another household and working as a farmer in the Randolph County, probably near Chester. Below is the 1870 census entry which shows William living among several other Crisler households. None of the other Crisler families has a 2 year-old child named Gilbert, living with them.

1870 census – Randolph County, IL

Perhaps someone in the Crisler family knows who raised Gilbert during his childhood. The first census in which I found Gilbert was the one taken in 1900. He was living in Chester in what was called a restaurant/hotel and was called a day laborer for the railroad.

1900 census – Chester, IL

Gilbert Crisler married Hannah Lang on November 11, 1903. I managed to locate this Illinois marriage record for this wedding.

Crisler/Lang – IL marriage record

Three of the children born to Gilbert and Hannah have their baptism records in the books of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Chester. I will display one of those baptism records here. Although this transcription does not give the name of the child, I believe her name was Sarah Crisler.

Sarah Crisler baptism record – St. John’s, Chester, IL

The 1910 census shows the Crisler family with 3 children. Gilbert continued to be a laborer for the railroad.

1910 census – Chester, IL

Next, we find the Crisler household in the 1920 census still living in Chester, but this time, Gilbert was an elevator man for a flour mill.

1920 census – Chester, IL

The 1930 census is the last one in which we find Hannah Crisler. Gilbert had advanced to become the superintendent of the flour mill elevator.

1930 census – Chester, IL

Hannah Crisler died in 1932 at the age of 58, leaving Gilbert as a widower. Then, we find him in the 1940 census at the age of 73, and he no longer had an occupation. He was living with his daughter, Sarah, who was a waitress at a café in Chester.

1940 census – Chester, IL

Gilbert was still alive in 1950, but I was unable to find him in that year’s census. Gilbert died in 1960 at the age of 91. An obituary for him was published in a regional newspaper. This article says Gilbert was born in Kentucky, but every census entry says he was born in Illinois.

Gilbert Crisler obituary

Both Gilbert and Hannah are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Chester. They each have entries on Findagrave.com, but neither one includes a gravestone photo.

Although I did not find Gilbert Crisler in the 1950 census, I did find his son, Gilbert Crisler, Jr., who by this time was married to Nellie Allmeyer, and had a family. That census entry shown here leads me to tell the rest of this story.

1950 census – Chester, IL

One of Gilbert, Jr.’s children was a 12 year-old boy named Paul G. Crisler. I believe his middle name was Gilbert. It was about 12 years later when I was attending St. Jacobi Lutheran School in Jennings, Missouri, that I entered the 6th grade, and Mr. Crisler from Chester, Illinois was my teacher, a recent graduate of Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois. I had Mr. Crisler as a teacher for 6th and 7th grade. Mr. Crisler had a big impact on my life. He had a special interest in mathematics and had a big influence in instilling in me a love for Math.

Mr Crisler was also a coach for several sports teams at St. Jacobi. I found an old photograph that shows Mr. Crisler with his basketball team. This photo was taken when I was in 7th grade and a member of this team. I am #5, second from the left in the front row. By the way, I think I can still name every boy in this photograph. I don’t know why, because these days, there are a lot of things that I have forgotten.

St. Jacobi Lutheran boys’ basketball team – c. 1963 Coach Crisler

There was also a time when Mr. Crisler took me aside and said to me, “Young man, have you ever considered becoming a Lutheran teacher. I think you’d make a good one.” First of all, let me say that Mr. Crisler knew that my future was not going to be playing basketball. I was just a little squirt back in those days. But, I think he saw in me what I did not see. I was an incredibly shy character back in those days and would never consider an occupation that would involve having to stand in front of people to talk. However, Mr. Crisler’s comment stuck with me, and I did go on to become a Lutheran teacher. I am so grateful for his impact on my life.

I could tell you quite a few stories about some of the other boys in the above basketball photo. I will just mention something special about 2 of them. There are 2 others in the photo that went on to become Lutheran teachers. One of them is my older brother, Dennis Schmidt (#3 standing in the back row). Dennis spent most of his teaching career in Michigan. The other is Dan Harms (2nd from the right in the front row). Dan became a high school teacher and spent most of his career at Lutheran High School South in St. Louis. There were even some years when Mr. Crisler was the Principal of Lutheran South at the same time Dan Harms was the Vice Principal.

I had no clue that when I found that simple entry in our GFT for Hannah Lang, that it would lead me to this connection to a man who became a special part of my life. It’s yet another case when I am surprised by what I find when I do research for these blog posts.

I have a simple request today. If anyone reads this blog post and has a way to share it with Mr. Crisler, I would really appreciate it if you did. I would like him to be reminded that today is his grandma’s 150th birthday.

One thought on “Happy 150th Birthday to Mr. Crisler’s Grandma

  1. Warren…What a great article…The only thing I knew about my grandmother (before today) is that she died at an early age and was deceased before I was born. My grandfather (Gilbert Sr.) died in 1960 (my first year at St. Jacobi). I was informed of the article by some friends in St. Louis. I just talked to Kirk Mueller (was my Assistant Principal at Lutheran North and still one of my best friends). He mention that we should go down to Perry County to see you and have lunch one of these days. Right now Kirk is recovering from surgery and will still be a few weeks in recovery. I would love to chat and hear about your (and Dennis’ experiences in Lutheran education). Thanks again for filling in a big void in my family’s history.

    Paul Crisler (I am not sure who is this Mr. Crisler person)

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