Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Project Tags

view all

Profiles

  • Johann Friedrich Carl /Charles Gruner (1825 - 1900)
    Enlisted in Union Home Gaueds and USRC 1861-63, enlisted Co.H 34th Enrolled Militia April1864; orderd to Federal service Sept.- Nov. 1864 during Prices invasion. Purchased land in GlascondeCo. near B...

(See also the Enderlein Project and Souders Project for more information about those branches of my ancestors and my family tree at Geni.com.) The 19th Century Germany & Missouri Project provides more background. **** Johann Friedrich Carl (‘Charles’) Gruner (16 Apr 1825- 14 Apr 1900), my paternal great-grandfather, was born in Mellingen, which lies about five miles Southeast of the city of Weimar in the former Grand Duchy of Saxe (or Sachsen)-Weimar-Eisenach. His father was Georg Friedrich Gruner, b. 1796. No death certificate has been located for Georg Friedrich, so that may indicate that he left the Mellingen area sometime after the birth of his four sons. Charles’ parents married on 29 Jan. 1825 in Mellingen. Obviously, his mother (Barbara Heyers Gruner) was already pregnant, but apparently it was common practice in that part of Germany for a couple to live together in advance of the actual marriage ceremony. The economic background of Charles Gruner’s family is uncertain; his father was shown as a ‘laborer” in church records, just as Charles too was listed on the passenger list at the US port of immigration. Still, that doesn’t fit with his activities in America. 1850’s German church records indicate that one of Charles’ brothers (Adam) was a bricklayer, and another (Gottlieb) was a shoemaker in Weimar. Charles also appears to have had construction skills. His Grandfather and three uncles were linen weavers, and another relative (Godfather of brother Gottlieb) was a carpenter. Likely, his father had been displaced from the family’s small artisan status by industrial development in early 19th century Thüringen and Saxony. Georg Friedrich Gruner and his son may have become textile or other mill workers, a possible motivator for them to have been active in the Revolution of 1848.

Note: A couple of Mellingen residents I spoke with in 2010 referred to the Gruners as die Schmiede (blacksmith/forge workers). I believe they were referring to the Gruner family still living in Mellingen. The relationship of these Gruners to our family is yet unknown. The surname "Gruner" is probably based on a habitational reference to something "green.' That could be a specific house or tree, but most likely it refers to a town like Gruena or Gruenau in Southeast Thuringia near the border with Bohemia.

Perhaps Charles was related to other ‘Gruners’ who were climbing the economic ladder. There are suggestions in his activities that he may have come from the emerging artisan or middle class. His hand writing is so disciplined that it appears to be the product of strict training. His initial employment in America was clerical, according to family legend. He seemed to be quite comfortable with the English language and written communication, which seems inconsistent with a purely peasant background (but perhaps I’m falling victim to stereotyping). He was a Justice of the Peace (at age 43), executed a number of land, lease, sale, and loan contracts throughout his tenure in Missouri, and on at least one occasion, he may have served as a recorder for the state court at Linn. He demonstrated knowledge of basic construction techniques, brick making, and masonry, and he became a successful farmer and landowner (although his first farm was somewhat poorly located). Charles may have begun as an apprentice in the construction trades as one younger brother apparently did. Tradition required a minimum three years as an apprentice (Lehrling) to become a journeymen (Geselle), and thereafter, masons, carpenters and some other tradesmen were required to travel in search of work for a specified number of years before returning to their hometowns. (http://www.watzmann.net/scg/faq-2.html) If that were the case with Carl, it could explain how he came to know his future bride, Margarette, from Hessen.


The earliest reference in Mellingen Church records to a Gruner/Gruhner was 11 Nov 1651, when Hans Gruner (my 6th Great Uncle) married Martha Schaller, so his birth can be projected to circa 1630. Hans was the son of Hans Gruner (my 7th Great Grandfather), who was Master Shepherd of the Cöttendorf estate, a couple miles to the Southwest of Mellingen, and Martha Schaller’s father was the mayor (Burgermeister) of Magdala (or Engreda?), a few miles Southeast. Since the genitive ‘s’ at the end of Hans/Hanss means son of , that would also have been the name of his father too (i.e., Hans or Johann/Johannes). These Gruners would have been survivors of the 30 Years War, and their ancestors may have emigrated from the area nearer the Bohemian border to the southeast, Grüna or Grünau. The parish Pastor reported an encounter between Hans Gruner and the Devil in 1698, in which he indicated that Hans had been a resident of Mellingen since 1646. Hans must have been in his mid teens then, perhaps coming to Mellingen as a refugee. Working backward to Hans’ marriage, a German genealogical researcher was able to construct a verifiable line of descent down to our 3rd Great Grandfather, Georg Caspar Gruner (29 Jan 1763 - 8 Feb 1814). We already knew the more recent ancestors from records obtained by Frau Bauer.

Georg Caspar Gruner (my 3rd Great Grandfather) married Anna Elisabeth Werner 10 Jan 1792, the oldest daughter of Johann Jakob Werner of Ehringsdorf, which is about three miles northwest from Mellingen. Georg Caspar survived the Napoleonic invasions of his homeland somehow; perhaps he even participated in some of the battles. His death in Feb. 1814 corresponds to the German final attack on Napoleon’s France, but at age 51, he was probably too old to have gone on that offensive. Georg Caspar Gruner had at least 3 brothers and a sister. Johann Nicolaus/Nicol Gruner appears to be the oldest brother, a linenweaver and Adjuvant of the church choir; Johann Georg, and Johann Gottlieb were linenweavers also, and Gottlieb may have been with the choir too. Georg Caspar’s sister, Anna Sabina, married Johann Jakob Koerner. Anna Elisabeth Werner had at least two sisters. Maria Sophia married Johann Samuel Pulvers, and Rachel Werner was the youngest of the girls at the time of Anna Elisabeth’s wedding.

Note: Apparently, Johann (Hans) Nicolaus Gruner (below) sired Georg Caspar Gruner at age 59, when his wife was 37. Prior to the genealogy researcher’s report, I inferred that Georg Caspar Gruner’s father (my 4th Great Grandfather) may have been Johann Caspar Gruner (2 April 1727- 4 Jul 1800; m. Ms Rothe 9 Jan 1753) or Georg Friedrich Gruner (b. 28 Aug 1731; married Ms Fiedler 9 Jan 1757). That now has been shown to be erroneous. They were apparently cousins or uncles. Frau Bauer’s earlier transcription of church records did not distinguish between Johann/Hans Nicol Gruner (b. 1704) and his son, Johann Nicolaus Gruner (born 1759), and it produced confusion in the documents. I initially thought there was an intervening generation. Once that was resolved, the Genealogy researcher’s detailed examination of the Mellingen Church records made the line of descent clear. However, my family tree on geni.com, consequently, will show Johann/Hans Nicol Gruner and his wife Maria Barbara (Schmidt) twice erroneously. The software will not permit removal.

My 4th Great Grandfather was Johann (Hans) Nicol/Nicolaus Gruner. He was born c. 1704, along with a twin, Johann Georg, and died in an epidemic 23 Aug 1772. He married Maria Barbara Schmidt (Schmied), born 5 Dec. 1726, on 21 Nov 1754. Maria Barbara (Schmidt) Gruner died of cancer 12 Feb 1790. Johann Nicol Gruner was a linenweaver and leader of the parish choir. Maria Barbara (Schmidt) Gruner was the daughter of Hans Heinrich Schmidt (shoemaker?) and Anna Catherina (Britmann), who were married 22 June 1717. The Britmanns came from Taubach, a mile West of Mellingen. Anna Catherina Britmann’s father was Hans Heinrich Britmann; her mother was Anna Catherina Kötzchau of Hammerstedt, and they married 7 November 1686. Kötzchau lies a few miles East of Mellingen and grew up around a twelfth century Herrenhaus. J.F. Carl Gruner’s brother, Adam, married a woman whose mother was also a Kötzchau in 1858.

My 5th Great Grandfather was Hans Nicol Gruner (Feb 1674-8 July 1731), and his wife was Elisabeth Barbara Markart/Marquart (c. 1670-1754), daughter of Andreas Markart. My 6th Great Grandfather was Michael Gruner (Dec.1629-25 Mar 1703), son of Hans Gruner, Master Shepherd of Cöttendorf (my 7th Great Grandfather). Michaels’s wife, my 6th Great Grandmother, was Katherine (Harz) Gruner (c. 1633-1696), the daughter of George Harz of Hamerstett/Hammerstedt, between Mellingen and Jena. They were married in Mellingen on 6 Nov 1655.

Note: Cöttendorf was an agricultural estate about two miles South of Mellingen. A Herrenhaus was located there, and it was described by one writer as a refuge from the plague in the 1700’s. However, even older fortifications and/ or a schloss have long been in ruins. It was mentioned as early as 1253, and after the Dukes of Thüringen, it belonged to the Counts of Orlamünde. About 1440, it became a sub-fief of Ritter Hermann Buchfart, whose fortress lay about 3 KM West, but it was soon purchased by the Saxon Dukes Friedrich and Wilhelm for 400 Gulden. Cöttendorf became property of the Royal Weimar Court about 1697.

Note: An early church report, “Hans Gruner und der Teufel” (“…and the Devil”), relates a story from about 1698, when “Hans Grunner” of Mellingen may have sought preferment and special blessings after resisting the Devil’s offer of riches for his soul. In a parallel fictional tale, when “Hans, a shepherd of Mellingen” tried to tell a similar tale in Nürnberg (although the dates don’t align -- too early, 1560’s), the authorities got him to admit that he made it up, so they put him in the stocks, then ran him out of town and issued a pamphlet warning others against believing his lies. Whether there is any factual basis to either tale is undetermined; it’s quite possible both versions may be just symbolic in intent. It happened at a time when people were shifting their beliefs from a flesh-and-blood Satan to an appreciation for the inner conflict of inappropriate desire (sin) against the strictures of conscience. Clearly, the “Hans” of the Nürnberg fictional tale was a scammer who did wrong (committed sin) for personal gain, even though he knew his behavior was immoral, and maybe the 1698 Hans was too, although he is represented as a devout Christian who resisted sin. Even though he is the subject of a report by the Mellingen Pastor, he may have just confirmed what the Pastor wanted to hear. In the struggle between Rationalism and Pietism, rural churches were normally conservative and Pietist. If the 1698 Hans, a fisherman, has an actual factual base, then that would refer to my 6th Great Uncle. Likewise, if the Nürnberg story has any factual base, it could refer to a 8th or 9th Great Grandfather, but probably it may be mere literary license based on the 1698 pastor’s report.

When “Joh. Carl” (Charles) Gruner (spelled ‘Grüner’ on the passenger list, “age 21”) arrived at New Orleans from Bremen in Hanover, 17 June 1850, aboard the Uhland, he was with Johann Georg Grüner (36) -- not the Oberpfarrer from Neustadt --, Joh. Georg’s wife (Christiane, 33), and their five children (Carl-12, Hermann-10, Christian-8, Martin-5, Hulda-3), all listed as being from Hanover. One passenger (Heinze) is listed between the Gruner family and Charles; likely he is a servant or in-law of Joh. Georg. They all traveled in “steerage,” crammed in with 300 others. At that time, passage cost about $20 per individual. All were listed as traveling to Mississippi. There were at least two Gruner families in Mississippi from about 1820, Martin and John. The former held slaves, while the later didn’t. Anthony Gruner (born c. 1818) settled in New Orleans before the 1860 Census, but his whereabouts prior to that is undetermined. Whether these southern Gruners bear any relation to the immigrants is unknown. Thus far, no records of Johann Georg Grüner or his family have been discovered after arrival in America, nor can I find any further reference to them in German documents either. The family may have perished after arrival or returned to Germany, nor are there any further records about ‘Charles’ until his citizenship papers in 1855 at St Louis, MO. There was one death at sea on14 June 1850 (Louise Müller – age 24 of Hanover), so illness may have been aboard the Uhland.

Note: The inclusion of the umlaut over the “ü” in Grüner may have been the invention or misunderstanding of the preparer of the ship’s manifest. However, if Charles needed to alter his identity somewhat to secure exit papers (as so many Germans did at that time), the simplest way to do that would have been to add the umlaut and alter the “4” in his age of 24 to a ‘1.’

Traveling in steerage was unpleasant. Conditions were extremely cramped. If beds were available, they were frequently shared by 4-6 persons. If the passengers slept on the deck, each adult was allocated a space of about 17 inches, with children receiving half that. Usually, there was one toilet per fifty passengers, and no tables or chairs for eating meals. Prior to 1855, many of the ships provided only water, and the passengers were responsible for their own food. If the ship did provide food, the quality was usually poor and the quantities meager. If the weather was bad, passengers would have to stay below, and tempers often flared. The stench of seasickness mixed with that of the slop pot toilets. People in port cities said they could always smell the stench of an immigrant ship. Unsanitary conditions promoted illness. The voyage took from five weeks to three months, depending on the condition of the ship and weather, and burials at sea were commonplace. In 1854, Congress conducted an inquiry into the problem that concluded one in six either died or became seriously ill when crossing the Atlantic. (Burnett, Robyn and Ken Lubbering. German Settlement in Missouri. Columbia: U of MO, 1996 p. 14-17)

Note: August Rauschenbusch of Mount Sterling, MO, returned to Germany in 1854 to escort a new bride and some settlers to Osage County, MO. Based on his account, it would appear that the Uhland provided better service to passengers than many of the ships that departed from Bremerhaven. The ship was named to honor German poet and politician Ludwig Uhland, a member of the national parliament in 1848. The ship was 938 tons, and at its launching in 1847, it was the largest German merchant ship afloat. Its master from 1850-1853 was Johann Wächter. In Nov. 1852, a woman passenger was washed overboard and lost at sea. In its crossing to New Orleans (16 June 1852) the Uhland arrived with 297 passengers; Ten children and one adult had died at sea. It appears to have taken 46 days on this trip. After making repeated crossings for thirty years, the Uhland was sold to the Finns and abandoned at sea in 1889.

August Rauschenbusch Crossed on the Uhland in 1854; Bremen to New Orleans took 45 days, Oct 13. to Nov. 27. Rauschenbush kept a diary describing the trip, which was published in Germany. The Uhland was a three masted sailing ship. On the Rauschenbusch voyage, it carried 395 passengers and 30 crew. Once they reached the ocean waters, the rocking of the ship caused sea sickness among most of the passengers (about 75-80%). The first noon meal of pea soup went largely uneaten as most passengers were hanging over the railing throwing up or crouched in a corner suffering. Some food was provided, e.g., bread was distributed weekly, but it was so hard it had to be soaked in water to chew it. Water was provided, and coffee for breakfast. Lunch was typically a soup made of “peas, beans or barley or sausage or sauerkraut.” Sometimes butter, potatoes, or plums were distributed. Meat was served every day, and Rauschenbusch claims that most passengers were satisfied. Mainly, they complained that they didn’t get enough potatoes. Seawater was used for washing dishes and personal hygiene. Two children died and were buried at sea during this crossing. Although immigrant’s personal property was duty free, the Rauschenbush party had a problem with the customs agent who was inspecting everything minutely. Finally, the steamboat’s captain (selected for the trip up the Mississippi) gave him $30, and then everything after that was transferred without even a cursory look. Rauschenbusch indicated that the cost of the 500 hour trip up the Mississippi River on a steamboat was $3.50 per adult, but the children were free. (In spring, when the river was high, the trip could be made in about 175 hours) Passengers had to provide their own food, and the river towns inflated their prices appropriately. The riverboat was even more overcrowded than the Uhland; cargo was stacked everywhere, and the deck hands were “Irish of the worst kind.” They were “unclean, stole and fought.” Rauschenbush persuaded the Captain to let his people come out on the top deck for an hour each day. (Gasconade County History, Vol. 1, Owensville, Missouri, 1979. P. 38-40)

Charles Gruner entered the United States 14 June 1850, and he got his citizenship papers 30 July 1855 at St Louis Criminal Courts. Shortly thereafter, he married Margarethe Enderlein (15 Dec 1825-14 Jun 1911) on 18 August 1855 in St Louis, MO. One of the wedding witnesses was “Elise” Enderlein, Margarethe’s sister. The other witness, Joseph Wissert, is unidentified. Charles & Margarethe bought government land in Osage County (Jefferson Township) in October, 1857. Family legend maintains that he was a clerk in a St Louis store where he saved money to bring Margarethe to St Louis and buy a farm. While it isn’t known for sure whether he knew her in Germany or met her in the US, she came to the US about a year after Charles. Family legend says he sent for her, but they may have met in St Louis. Even so, he came from Mellingen near Weimar, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, in the modern German state of Thüringen, and she was born in Süss, Nentershausen, Hessen in today’s Kassel-Hesse (about 40 miles West of Erfurt, Germany and Erfurt is about 20 miles west of Mellingen). Some time ago my military service brought me into Northern Bavaria perhaps 60 miles South of Weimar. At that time, East and West Germany were divided and the borders heavily fortified. Even if I knew then what I have since learned about my ancestors, it would have been difficult to visit Easternmost Hesse and impossible to cross the DDR border to Thüringen. Now that I have actually been to these places in 2010, I believe I have a better understanding of why my ancestors may have left them.

Note: Charles and Margarette were married at Holy Ghost Evangelical Protestant Church in St Louis by Pastor Hugo Krebs. Holy Ghost Evangelical started services in 1834 when a group of Germans met at Benton School (6th & Locust) for worship. By 1836, Pastor George W. Wall arrived from Germany to shepherd the congregation. By 1840, Wall had collected enough money to build a church at 7th and Clark (about the site of present Busch Stadium). The Pietist Wall did not fit well with the largely Rationalist congregation at Holy Ghost. The members did not want the Pastor to be an active decision-maker. At one point in late 1842, disagreement became heated; Wall was vilified in the German-language press for his unification views, and friends watched over him for two weeks with loaded pistols. Wall remained until 1843, when he split off with part of the congregation (mostly poor laborers) to establish the German Evangelical Congregation in St Louis, meeting again at the Benton School. The Rev. Picker led the Holy Ghost church from 1843 to 1855, during which time the church constitution specifically excluded the pastor from executive meetings. In 1855, Picker split off and started a new church, leaving his assistant, Hugo Krebs, as the Holy Ghost Pastor. Krebs is noted, historically, for a Lincoln memorial sermon he preached at Holy Ghost on 19 April 1865, five days after Abraham Lincoln was shot. His analogy was based on Luke, xxiv, with emphasis of verses 21 and 5. Verse 21: “But we hoped it was he who would redeem Israel;” Verse 5: “Why seek ye the living among the dead” (Verse 6: “He is risen.”).


According to Minnie Gruner Fell, the newlywed Gruners started out on a farm in west-southwest St Louis County around the Glencoe-Manchester area, but there are no records that I have found. It was here that the first three children were born: Charles, Anna, and Julia. It seems unlikely that good land so close to St Louis would still have been available at a price affordable to an immigrant, but there is no reliable record of Great-Grandfather Gruner’s financial situation. It appears that he had significant resources as early as the fall of 1857 and thereafter. He bought and sold property, took out loans, and paid sums in cash, indicating savings.

The economic situation in St Louis County in the fall of 1857 was grim. A panic had caused Eastern banks to tighten credit, and factories closed when they couldn’t raise capital or borrow. Only three mills were still operating in October, 1857. Twenty-five percent of the work force, 10,000 workers (mostly German and Irish), were unemployed. One can’t help but wonder how Great-grandfather Charles Gruner prospered enough during the two previous years to make his move to Jefferson Township in fall, 1857, or maybe he got out just in time. After the bad winter of 1857, a wet spring delayed planting, and July and August were unusually dry, causing crop failures in the southern part of the state. Many Missourians pulled up stakes and moved on. Another problem made 1857 and 1858 bad years for agriculture. Chinchbugs devoured corn, wheat, and everything else but tobacco. 1859 and 1860 were good years, however. The Panic of 1857 was short-lived, and farmers in Missouri subsequently prospered during the Civil War. Prices for commodities rose. For example, corn which sold for 66 cents a bushel in 1852 was selling for $4 a bushel in 1862. The Union Quartermaster in St Louis paid $180,000,000 to secure supplies for Union troops during the Civil War, and farmers did quite well as a result.


Charles and Margarethe bought government land (249.6 acres in Jefferson Township) about 10 miles southeast of Linn, Osage County, MO, on 19 October 1857, and the family is shown there in the 1860 Census (husband, wife, and three children: Charles F., Anna, and Julia). The auction price cannot be determined, but subsequent transactions indicate a value of $1,000. Government lands were cheaper than improved farms in good locations. Good land sold for $8-20 dollars an acre, and Charles listed the value of his farm at $400 in the Census of 1860. Of course, there were always loan sharks hanging around the auctions, but their usual technique was to buy the land a settler wanted and then resell it at a higher price, charging 25% interest or more on the loan. In this case, the original, U.S. grant deed is made out to “John F. C. Gruner,” so it appears he had cash in hand. The farmstead runs across a south to north ridge that slopes down to the Valley of the Gasconade bottoms about four miles north. It is drained by an intermittent tributary of “Mistaken” creek on the West and watered by two tributaries of Third Creek on the East. It is about a mile long by a quarter mile wide with a kink in the middle. The soil is thin and rocky, particularly so on the western ridge. The area is best suited to grazing and subsistence gardening. I’m not sure $4 an acre was a reasonable price to pay. It makes me think that Charles’ expertise as a farmer was limited at that time, or there were other factors promoting the purchase. Of course, the best lands had been taken earlier and would have been higher priced. It is an unanswered question why the newlywed Gruners would buy 250 acres of probably uncleared, marginal land in an out of the way location for a cash price of $500-1,000. Most settlers bought 40 or 80 acres at a time and added to it when they could, but some Germans bought more land than they could farm so that it could be divided subsequently among heirs. That does not appear to be the motivation here.


Unless Charles and/or Margarethe had significant resources when they emigrated, I don’t see how they could have saved that much in a five year period. Thirty dollars monthly was good pay for skilled labor at that time. To save $1,000 would mean living on about a third of income and saving two-thirds; clearly they must have had some assets when they emigrated. That could mean that Charles wasn’t a peasant farmer or day laborer. Perhaps he was a small landowner or manager or a skilled/educated worker, and it’s also quite possible that Margarethe had a dowry of some sort since her mother sold property, including a large house, when the family left Germany.

J. F. Carl ‘Charles’ Gruner was a firm Union supporter during the Civil War, a Union Home Guards, Missouri State Militia, and USRC infantryman who served on state duty at Chamois (Osage County), Franklin (today’s Pacific), and perhaps Rolla in 1861. His unit mainly guarded the railroad bridges from St Louis to Jefferson City 1861-63, when they were mustered out, but portions were ordered to each of the locations above. Charles' patriotism may be measured by the fact that Governor Gamble only got a 14% response to his call for 42,000 six-month militia. Charles and other German immigrants made up a considerable share of those enlistments. Later, in 1864, he served in the Enrolled Missouri Militia during Price’s raid into Missouri.

I believe that Johann F. C. ‘Charles’ Gruner was also the “John Gruner” enlisted in Company D of MAJ Inks Pacific Battalion Home Guards early in Spring, 1861, under authority of CPT Lyon of St Louis. While the organization is credited to Franklin County, recruits came from several counties. The Pacific Home Guards Battalion guarded railroad bridges in St Louis and Franklin Counties and some part made “two scouts into Jefferson County” in pursuit of the notorious Bushwhacker Samuel Hildebrand and his gang in early September 1861.The Battalion was mustered out on 17-18 Sept. 1861, after Congress determined it had been improperly constituted. The men received a nominal $10 because they had not been properly mustered into service. In most of the later Home Guard/militia force structure, when a unit was mustered out during a reorganization, usually the men simply rolled over into a new organization. These frequent reorganizations during 1861-62 reflect the changes that were going on in Missouri’s state government and issues of command and control among factions within the state and between the state and the federal government. Finances were sometimes involved as well. Since the Pacific Battalion was never authorized by Congress, there is no pension application filed for benefits.

Note: CPT Idel, commanding Company D, lived in western Franklin County, perhaps 25 miles from Charles’ Osage County farm. Such an early enlistment may indicate that Charles was part of a “Wide-Awake” Club, or at least that he was profoundly moved by the Camp Jackson affair.

“Charles” (his preferred name and the one used for enlistment on the next occasion between June and Sept 1861) enlisted in Company D of the 2nd Battalion, Gasconade County Home Guards, (3 Months). This Battalion of 269 men was authorized by Captain Lyon to guard railroad bridges, scout, etc., but was disbanded 4 Sep 1861 and reorganized as Dallmeyers’ Battalion, 6 Months Missouri State Militia. Later this was reorganized into the 3rd Infantry Regiment Missouri State Militia, 6 months. The 3rd REGT MSM was organized in September, 1861, with a total of 570 men, mustered in at Camp Matthews, in Gasconade Co. as nine companies of Infantry. After remaining in the camp for a period, it marched to Chamois, MO, in the latter part of October 1861, and made that place its base of operations. A cache of rebel arms had been reported there, and a small supply was confiscated. Numerous scouts were sent out in search of rebels, but these encountered no serious opposition. About December 15, 1861, the command went to Franklin, MO, (modern “Pacific”) and spent the remainder of their term of enlistment there doing guard duty. Although the precise date of the mustering out of this command is not known, it was during the first part of February, 1862. (Dyer, Frederick. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, vol.III. 1908, p.1340) Subsequently, the Osage County Home Guard Battalion was recognized by the War Department as part of the U.S. forces for pension purposes, but recognition for the Gasconade County Unit was delayed for an extended period, perhaps an indicator of anti-German bias.

Later in the war (Apr 22, 1864), Charles Gruner enlisted in Company H, 34th Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia and was called to active service Sept. 29-Nov 11, 1864, to repel the invasion of Price’s Confederates. The 34th EMM was organized in Gasconade County, and most of its members lived there. The 34th Regiment EMM served at the defense of the Osage and Gasconade Rivers, the defense of Jefferson City, and an element had a skirmish at Big Piney, southwest of Rolla. The 34th EMM was also the regiment of my maternal Great-Grandfather (Jacob Souders) and some of his relatives in Company G.

Charles applied for federal pensions for his military service. It’s clear that he performed considerably more than the minimum expected of a loyal Unionist. He was among the first to enlist in the spring of 1861, and he answered Governor Gamble’s September 1861call for troops when the Home Guards were disbanded. He signed up for active state service a year before Missouri forced citizens to take sides in 1862 with General Order 19, which required all able-bodied men to report to local Union authorities and enroll for emergency military service. It’s unclear whether he ever actually received any pension payments for his early enlistments. His final service with the 34th EMM would not have qualified for pension benefits.

The 34th Regiment EMM was criticized by General E. B. Brown and others for their actions at the Gasconade and Osage River Railroad bridges during October 3-6, 1864. In fact, General Brown was so upset by the cowardice of some of its elements that he threatened to put the militia in the first line of rifle pits defending Jefferson City and shoot any that tried to run when the rebels attacked. Company B and most of Company A of the 34th EMM panicked under pressure at the Gasconade River, and many surrendered or deserted. CPT Eitzen, B Company Commander, was told to consider himself under arrest by Colonel Poser, the Regiment’s commander, when he returned to the Regiment. C and D Companies did little better at the Osage. The exact whereabouts of the other Companies, particularly G and H (units of our ancestors), is undetermined, but all fords on both rivers were covered.

Note: Most operational records concerning state military forces were lost as a consequence of the National Archives refusing to accept responsibility for them. Federal records only mention state forces obliquely as they may have impacted US forces.

In the days after the surrender at the Osage, those fords south of the Railroad bridge on the Osage were “warmly contested” according to Confederate General Price, while CSA General Shelby described the defense of the southern Osage fords as “stubborn and unyielding.” These fords were near ‘home territory’ of Charles Gruner and the men of Jefferson Twp. Confederate General Fagan also met “fierce resistance” at the Moreau River between the Osage and Jefferson City. Two of H Company’s men were captured in the fighting approaching Jefferson City, but that didn’t get reported until October 10; they could have been taken during the engagements on 5-7 October. The only mention of Company G in federal records occurred three weeks later when a patrol attacked four bushwhackers at Big Piney near Waynesville on November 1, 1864, wounding two and taking one captive who was subsequently shot and killed ‘attempting an escape’. (U.S. Department of War, War of the Rebellion) This action was reported by 2LT D. W. Cantrell, the man who later sold what eventually became the Gruner farm at Bem to Gottfried Enke in 1866. Charles Gruner acquired the farm from Enke about 1870

The actions at the Gasconade and Osage Rivers were potentially critical to Union victory. When Price left Arkansas, he had two primary terrain objectives. First, seize St Louis to revitalize southern sympathizers throughout the Missouri-Mississippi-Ohio drainage system and take Union troops away from the Eastern front in response. Second, seize Jefferson City to restore ‘Governor’ Reynolds to power and regain the civil seat of government. Of course, with the election of 1864 coming in November, success on Price’s part could also spell the end for Lincoln. Union Gen. Ewing’s success at Pilot knob and Leasburg (Leesburg) allowed enough time to reinforce St Louis, so Price could only turn at Union on Oct. 1 and strike for Jefferson City. There was little at the Capital City then to thwart Price, so time was needed to permit reinforcement. Price’s forces were following the state road on the south side of the Missouri River. It was imperative that the rebels be slowed at every obstacle. In the effort to reinforce Jefferson City, Union Gen. McNeil’s force marched out of Rolla early on Oct. 4, linking up with Gen. Sanborn’s Cavalry from Cuba at Vienna that evening in a driving rain. Trailing them was a wagon train of some sixty wagons carrying cannon, ammunition, and supplies. They moved into positions at Jefferson City on Oct. 6 and worked 36 hours straight to prepare the defense, while they repulsed rebel cavalry probes.

It’s fortunate that the units at the Gasconade and Osage fords performed better than those at the bridges, or McNeil might not have been able to bring his guns into play. As it finally turned out, Price did not believe he had the numbers to succeed at the Capital after McNeil’s reinforcement. His commanders agreed with him, and they headed for western Missouri and ultimate defeat. 

I believe that Companies F, G, H, I and K were the units sent to General McNeil initially by Colonel Poser (under the command of Major Goos). Col Poser’s early October strength reports of troops available to MG Brown from Herman are too small to have included Company H, one of his larger units at 3 Officers and 93 Enlisted men. Companies A, B, C, D, E, L, and M were enrolled mostly in Northern Gasconade County, while Companies F, G, H, I, and K came from the southern areas of the county. Companies A, B, C, D, E, L, & M of 34th EMM were relieved from duty on Oct. 31, 1864 – a total of 33 days from September 28. I doubt that these northern units returned to Rolla with General McNeil after the defense of Jefferson City. They were probably sent home directly from Jefferson City. LTC George Klinge of the 34th EMM reported the first two companies returning to Hermann on October 15th. Companies F, G, H, I, and K served longer periods, to 10-11 November, and it’s likely they returned with McNeal to Rolla. Certainly, that’s true of Company G which served the longest and recorded the skirmish with Bushwhackers on the Big Piney. It’s also likely that Company H defended the Gasconade fords and southern approaches in southwest Osage County during Price’s advance in early October, 1864. Elements of Company H were engaged on 4 October 1864 when 2LT William Diebold was killed in action, so the unit probably returned to Gasconade or Osage County soon after 29 September, when the EMM were pulled back from Railroad guard duty. General Shelby reports an ambush of a Union detachment along the Osage Bluffs with his usual hyperbole. The federal unit’s shocked members leapt off the bluffs to escape the fusillade of shots - even though to do so invited death or serious injury. There were also at least two prisoners of war (unidentified) from Company H taken by Shelby’s rebels in that area at about this time, according to 2LT Slinkman’s report to COL Poser on 10 Oct 1864. It is possible that H Company could have been deployed on the Southern Pacific RR with other EMM elements on 1 Oct, but when they were withdrawn, they probably moved directly to blocking or screening positions in southern Gasconade County. It would have been at least a forty mile ride through rough country to reach the Gasconade and farther to the Osage. It’s unlikely an unseasoned unit could do this in only a day. Gen McNeil didn’t begin the movement from Rolla until Oct 4, so it’s unlikely H Company was in his main column. Shelby’s Confederates reported facing significant resistance (“warmly contested”) in the vicinity of Castle Rock fords on Oct 4. While the only Union troops identified in dispatches concerning Castle Rock ford are MSM cavalry, there were some EMM elements with them.

Charles Gruner served as a Justice of the Peace in Osage County in 1868-69, a time when the Radical Republicans were still in control of Jefferson City and the Legislature, and that meant that he had to have unchallenged Union bona-fides in that part of the state. Osage County had important German leaders who were part of the radical establishment. With Radicals actively seeking to punish the defeated rebels, the man who could certify warrants had to be a trusted member of the party. Certainly, Charles was literate, and he wrote English in a clear, flowing, cursive style. Unlike most, the quality of his penmanship changes little over the course of his lifetime. The Branson Family Tree indicates a marriage Charles performed 8 Dec 1867 between Thomas James Baker and Rotha Jane Backer in Osage County during his term as Justice of the Peace.A partially legible receipt from the State Court at Linn (not written by Charles) concerns his official duties in some way. Charles was involved somehow in the case of Missouri v. William Rodgers, tried at Linn courthouse in July, 1870. It may be that Charles served as ‘clerk’ in this case, or the receipt following may have been issued by/to the clerk. He received/or paid six dollars. (Parts of this penned receipt are indecipherable. The signature (not written by Charles), is dated 11 July 1870). Unfortunately, the courthouse at Linn burned. All historical records were destroyed, and I have been unable to learn anything more about this trial.

The first Gruner farm in Osage County lies across a ridge with a finger running east-west. It is well-watered on the east end with two creeks running together before joining Little Third Creek about two hundred yards east of the property. The soil is heavy red clay and very rocky; it would have been extremely difficult to plow even after the timber was eliminated. I anticipate its use was mostly limited to stock grazing and subsistence gardening, although a small corn or grain crop might have been planted in the valley where the creeks converge. It’s likely that Charles and Margarette built on the east end where water wouldn’t have to be carried more than 100 yards or so. It’s unlikely they had a well in their early years. There are structures on the east end of the property that may have been started as early as their habitation there, with the well at the front of the house added later. It appears that another habitation once existed near the summit of the ridge finger, but all that remains are some foundation stones and a closed well. The current owner said that the Scneiderwinds lived at the ridge location in the later 19th century (Gustav Schniederwind, 1850-1909), and by the time of their habitation, technology had advanced enough for a well to be drilled.

Life in early Osage County

Based on diaries, letters, and other reminisces of pioneer Germans in Osage County in the mid-1850’s onward, we may gain some insights about what life was like for Charles and Margarette. Very few settlers had any cash, and stories of grueling hardship are common. Charles and Margarette, however, seemed to have some cash reserves and may have been better off than many. Often, the men in the family hired out for labor as soon as they had constructed a rude shelter, and the women and children cleared brush and burned it. Typically, they made the first planting using sticks to gouge holes for seed. The first livestock were usually bought on credit.

Osage County’s timbered hills were all that was left for most Germans; the better bottom and valley land had already been taken. Osage County Germans were mostly peasant farmers and tended to settle in family or village groups, and they stayed clannish. As late as 1900, residents of one Osage County German town couldn’t understand the dialect spoken in the neighboring German town a few miles away. Consequently, self-sufficiency and isolation were mutually reinforcing, inhibited growth, and maintained relative poverty in comparison with other counties. There were few towns and few craftsmen. In 1850, Osage County had 6,704 residents, compared to Gasconade County with 4,996, but Gasconade County had 117 craftsmen representing 26 trades, while Osage County had only 57 craftsmen, 20 of which were blacksmiths and 14 carpenters. (Van Ravenswaay, Charles. The Arts and Architecture of German Settlements in Missouri. 2006) Industry and commerce grew in Gasconade County, but languished in Osage County.

While land and timber were plentiful, just about everything else was scarce and costly. In the early days the timbers had to be hand worked or hauled to the sawmill for cutting. In the 1850’s there were few wagons or wagon roads, so that meant dragging logs with mules. At first, the roads meandered through valleys to connect the scattered farms, unlike the ridgetop routes of today. Solid disk wheels for ox carts could be sawed from sycamore tree trunks, and rope substitute was made from the bark of Paw-Paw or leatherwood trees. Even after wagons and wagon roads became common, rain would curtail travel. Footing was difficult for the animals, and the heavy clay clumped up around the wheels making the load difficult to pull; the stock soon wore out. There was no significant river port in Osage County because there was little back country trade to support one. Crossing the streams by ferry was an art. Depending on strength of the current, one or two men would pole the raft upstream a sufficient distance so that they could pole and drift into the docking site on the other side. Because of the dearth of roads, steamboats continued to ply the Gasconade as far up as Vienna until the end of the 19th century when the railroad through Bland and Belle made them unnecessary. Few cabins had windows because glass was hard to get and expensive. Often, the south wall of the cabin was left unchinked between the logs to let in light. A blanket could be hung over it in the winter to keep some of the wind and chill out. Candles, soap, furniture, and almost every ‘amenity’ had to be made at home.

Clothing was handmade, and cloth itself was usually home-spun until sometime after the Civil War. Usually this was accomplished by growing a small flax garden and working its fibers into yarn. As late as 1900, blue denim sold for 7-8 cents a yard. Clothing was, therefore, scanty in the early days; hardly anyone wore underwear. A set of long-johns for the winter was a luxury of sorts. There was no refrigeration, so the only fresh meat anyone ever had in summer was an occasional chicken. During the winter, hogs and cattle were slaughtered and portions were preserved by salting and drying. Potatoes, a major component of the German diet, were expensive and hard to come by in Missouri. A woman with some extra eggs to sell (for a few pennies a dozen) had to walk to the market and back home, which would have been almost eleven miles from the Gruner farm to Cooper Hill and back. If the fire went out, typically the wife would walk to a neighbor’s to borrow some coals. There is an old story about someone (likely a ‘blonde’) putting the coals in a wooden shoe and arriving home with neither shoe nor coals when they both burned up. Garden vegetables and fruit were canned in half-gallon or gallon jars/crocks or dried by the women and children to preserve them out of season. Sauerkraut was a big favorite. Farmers had to take the grain they harvested to the miller and wait their turn until their produce was ground to flour or meal, and the miller took his usual one-eighth cut. Exchanging a fixed number of bushels of wheat for a sack of ground flour didn’t happen until decades after the Civil War. Since rail fencing was so labor intensive, farmers might fence livestock out of their garden, but seldom fenced them in. Almost everyone lost some livestock that wandered off. A normal job for young children was herding.

In Germany, the church was the center of village life, not just church services but school and social activities as well. In Missouri, six to eight families might start a Church, and services were conducted by a lay preacher or a circuit rider every so often. Communities lucky enough to have a pastor had to share him a good part of the time as he traveled about on his circuit. At first, worship services and other activities would be in someone’s cabin or barn. Later when a church house was built (usually of logs), the men would sit on one side and the women on the other, with the children in front under all watchful eyes. Church services were held on Sunday mornings, with community activities and visiting in the afternoon. Usually, the Catechism as practiced in Heidelberg or Prussia was retained with minor changes. Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas were the major church ‘holidays’. Christmas activities might last two or three days among German congregations. A Christmas tree with lighted candles was a German tradition (many a fire started this way and wet rags were kept handy to snuff it out). There weren’t many ornaments then, but often sticks of candy or fruit were hung on the tree for the children, and later strings of popcorn were added.

Most German children went to parochial school, where they learned to read German. The Germans remained largely segregated from the “English.” They clung to their own customs and language and found American idioms particularly difficult. The second generation usually spoke German to their parents and a kind of pidgin English among themselves, even if they went to school. That was frequently the practice even among third generations, as my father experienced. Whether parochial or public schools were attended, there were no “grades” – a single room and single teacher were the norm. A student advanced upon mastering a particular reader level and graduated when finished with the 8th grade reader. Anyone lucky enough to complete the first year of high school was qualified for a teaching license even at the turn of the century. There were no hospitals. Even after medical science advanced enough to recognize a simple affliction like appendicitis, the patient would have to travel to St Louis for surgery, if time and finances permitted. Folk medicine was universally practiced. There was no mail delivery prior to the 20th Century.

The 1870 Census shows Charles and Margarette still living in Osage County. The four older children, Charles, Anna, Julia, and Bertha (aged 13, 12, 10, & 8) attended school, but Ernst was only 4. Chances are the Gruner children attended a “German” school at Feuersville (“College Hill”) or nearby. About 1870-71, Charles and Margarette acquired the family farm in Gasconade County along the Bourbeuse River near Bem, MO. The site he selected this time has a long sloping prairie for good grazing leading to a broad alluvial valley with rich soils for commercial crops. I can’t determine the final price, but land values had generally risen from the 1850’s. The records that I have are quite convoluted, but it seems likely that Charles acquired a portion of the land by paying off taxes and other debts owed by Gottfried Enke (a former employee of William Dallmeyer of Cooper Hill and a private in Company F of William Q. Dallmeyer’s Home Guard Battalion).

An important area leader, Lt. Col. William Q. Dallmeyer (b. 1830), was a successful merchant and the commander of the Infantry Battalion in which Charles served from September 1861-Feb 1862. Dallmeyer previously served as 1LT of Captain Cooper’s Co. B, Osage County Home Guards (June-Sept 1861). William Q. Dallmeyer was born in Dissen, Hanover, and he had eight siblings, some of whom emigrated to the U.S. William Q. Dallmeyer married Louise Lange of Gasconade County, Missouri, and the Lange family still owns lands near the first Gruner farmstead in Jefferson Township, Gasconade County. William Lange was a clerk for Ferdinand P. Dallmeyer, Lt. Col. Dallmeyer’s brother/relative. Ferdinand P. Dallmeyer (b. 1839) is buried in St John’s Cemetery at Woolam. William Q. and Ferdinand were partners in Dallmeyer and Company at Cooper Hill. Another brother (relative?) named William G. Dallmeyer, operated the store at Cooper Hill; he was killed during the Civil War, perhaps by bushwhackers, but his wife continued to operate the store until she remarried in 1873. William G. Dallmeyer was a Lieutenant in Lt. Col William Q. Dallmeyer’s Home Guard Battalion. William G. Dallmeyer’s wife, Louisa, came from the tiny province of Lippe Detmold, between Hanover and Westphalia, but all the Dallmeyers were born in Hanover. Ferdinand P. Dallmeyer was a successful trader; he listed himself as ‘retired merchant’ in the Census of 1870 and indicated a sizeable amount of personal property. His wife was ‘Wilhelmina’, and he served as SGT with the Dallmeyer Home Guards that were reorganized to become the 3rd USRC and subsequently the 4th MO VOL Infantry, then later as Lieutenant with the 12th MO Infantry. There were also Gerhard Dallmeyer of Company G, 12th MO Inf, Hermann Dallmeyer who served as SGT with the 1st MO Lt Arty, and Frederick Dallmeyer who was 2LT with Company C of the 12th Mo Vol Infantry Regt. The Dallmeyers were committed to the Union cause, their military ranks indicate the status they held in the community, and William Q. Dallmeyer would rise in politics to become Missouri Treasurer in Radical Republican Governor Fletcher’s administration. Charles Gruner had more than a casual relationship with this family.

“William Q. Dallmeyer (Republican), the tenth state treasurer, was born on October 23, 1829 in Hanover, Germany. He came to America in 1845 and lived, first in New York City, then New Orleans, and then in St. Louis, where he was engaged in the dry goods business. In 1856 he moved to Gasconade County where he established a general store, farmed, and became justice of the peace and postmaster. During the Civil War he served in the Home Guard and then Dallmeyer’s Battalion, where he served as Lieutenant Colonel. In 1864 he was elected a member of the legislature, serving through the extra session, and in 1866 was chosen for a second term. He was elected state treasurer in 1868 at a salary of $3,000 and moved to Jefferson City, where he made his home. The legislature allowed him contingent expenses of $800 annually. In 1874 he became cashier of the First National Bank in Jefferson City, serving until 1882. He later became cashier and president of the Exchange Bank. For 18 years he was a member of the Jefferson City School Board. He was married to Sophia Lang(e) and had 5 children. He died on March 15, 1908.” (www.treasurer.mo.gov) If the story about Charles clerking in a store in St Louis is true, perhaps that is where his association with the Dallmeyers began. The association may even have begun in New Orleans. Perhaps that is how Charles built his nest egg.

Note: “Sophia Lang” above refers to Louise ‘Sophia’ Lange.

The Cole County Historical Society posted the following biography of William Q. Dallmeyer. "Col. William Quintillen Dallmeyer was born in Dissen, Kingdom of Hanover, Germany, on October 23, 1829. He immigrated to America in 1845, settling first in New York. There he was employed in the dry goods business until 1849 when he left for New Orleans, where he engaged in the commission business until 1854. From New Orleans he moved to St. Louis where he worked in the dry goods store of Mr. Polkoskey until 1856 when he moved to Gasconade Co. establishing a general store on the old state road near Second Creek and then establishing a store on Third Creek, Cooper Hill. He also served as Justice of the Peace and Postmaster.

"During the Civil War he served in Captain Cooper's Company of Home Guards and later served in what was known as Dallmeyer's Battalion, of which he was Lt. Colonel. In 1864 he was elected member of the Legislature, serving in1865 and in an extra session in 1866. He was re-elected in the fall of 1866 and served a second term. In 1868 he was elected Treasurer of the State of Missouri of which he served until 1870. In 1868 he moved to Jefferson City where he lived for the remainder of his life.

"In 1871 he helped organize a national bank in the city and continued as cashier until August 1882, when he took a position as cashier at the Exchange Bank of which he became president. He was married on April 15, 1875 to Louise Sophia Lange of which 6 children were born, five of whom lived to adulthood: Ferdinand, Pauline, W. Augustus, H. Rudolph, and Viola." (www.colecohistsoc.org/bios.html)


FEUERSVILLE

Records passed down in the family indicate Charles was an ‘officer’ in an Osage County Church, since he apparently held its money and records. A receipt dated 10 May 1868 reads as follows: “Received of Charles Gruner the sum of one hundred fourty (sic) one dollars and 66/100 and one book and all the papers what (sic) belong to the Church house.” Signed / “Christoph Röhl.” It would appear that Charles was the Treasurer of a local congregation (probably the subsequent Lutheran Church at Feuersville) and that certainly implies that he had the trust of his neighbors. It may indicate that his religious views were more orthodox than his other actions indicate, or perhaps the impulse toward orthodoxy came from Margarette, his wife. The actual date of construction for that church is not available, but it’s likely that it operated from someone’s barn or cabin for a period before a log church was built in the late 1850’s and a frame structure followed around 1870. The final frame Church was affiliated with the Missouri Lutheran Synod.


From about 1867, I believe Charles Gruner and Christoph Roehl (Röhl) – his neighbor to the east - were organizing the Lutheran Church at Feuersville. Feuersville would be just over a mile north from the east end of Charles’ Property. A Lutheran Church was built there, along with a parsonage (pfarrhaus), and a school. Only the abandoned school and cemetery remain today. Christoph and Sophia Roehl and other German neighbors of the Gruner’s are buried there, including Heinrich Feuer (22 Mar 1838 -20 Oct 1902), namesake of the site.

Visiting the Cemetery in June of 2009, I found the gravestones of Christoph Roehl (Röhl) (17 Aug 1830 – 31 Dec1890) and his wife, Sophia nee Meske (3 Sep 1837- 22 Mar 1890). The Roehl’s were the neighbors to the east of Charles and Margarethe Gruner. Christoph Röhl’s wife Sophia was the daughter of his next-door neighbors, John and Mary Meske. It appears that they all came from Prussia together about 1855. Gustavus may have been ‘Christoph’ Roehl’s’ legal name, since that is what appears in the Census. Christoph/Gustav listed his real property value at $300 and his personal property at $200. That probably included a gold ring with an R engraved on it, now in the possession of Faye Scott. Henry Roehl, son of Gustav (Christoph) Roehl (Röhl) married Anna Kraenow (28 July 1881) and both are interred in Feuersville. Anna was his second bride; Fredericke Frederich was his first exactly a year earlier. She likely died in childbirth. Christoph and Sophia’s other son, John C. Röhl, married Mathalde Daums 16 Dec 1883. She was probably the daughter of Wilhelm Daums/Dahms (4 Sep 1826 – 26 April 1908), also buried at Feuersville. Interred there are others who served with Co H 34th EMM during Price’s invasion in the Civil War: Frederick Ahlmeyer, Helmuth Gens, Friedrich Dauel. Frederic Lange (from Lippe-Detmold) was in Dallmeyer’s Battalion. Friederic Gens was from Mecklinburg, but his son, Helmuth, was born in Prussia and his daughter, Anna, was born in Hanover, indicative of movement patterns preceding immigration. Gustav Schneiderwin, interred in Fuersville, bought a portion of Charles’ Osage County Farm, and the headstone of “Henry Fischer” is similar to the Heinrich Fischer, mason, who arrived with Charles on the Uhland, destination Missouri, but may not be the same person. John and Mary Meske’s son, John, enlisted in Captain J. B. Cooper’s Company C, Gasconade County Home Guard on 18 June 1861. He was “accidentally shot in the left arm while on duty” and mustered out 4 Sep 1861. He was pensioned for the wound at $18 monthly in September 1882 .

Henry Ahrens (1849-1928) is buried at Feuersville, a descendent of Gruner neighbors Joseph and Gertrude Ahrens or Bernard and Anna Maria Ahrens. Another close neighbor of the Gruners, Peter Krüger, is buried at Feuersville. Peter Krüger was a tailor born in Prussia. He emigrated with his wife (Mary nee Müller) and sons, August and Charles, around 1843. Both Charles and August Krüger were members of Company H, 34th EMM. A daughter, Sophia was born in Hanover enroute. Sophia married into the Dauel family. The Feuers were Swiss, arriving in the US between 1845 and1848, based on the birthplaces of their sons. They settled first in PA, then TN, before coming to MO. Feuersville Lutheran is undoubtedly the church referred to in the receipt above, and Charles was instrumental in its formation.

The church was closed in 1955 and not longer stands. I found it referred to as the “Feuersville Mission” in a correspondence from about 1910, which appears to make it an outpost of the Lutheran Church at Freedom, across the Gasconade. Upon closing, it was combined with two other congregations and resited as Mount Calvary Lutheran at Belle, MO. The earliest records of the church appear to be lost. I talked with Faye Scott, a descendant of the Charles Krüger family, on 15 July 2009. Ms Scott remembers hearing from her mother (who lived to 105) that the first church at Feuersville was torn down in 1864 in order to replace it with a larger one; she does not know when the first structure was put up. In the early days, she remembered her mother saying, the pastor was present for services only once a month. She remembered hearing that the Roehls started from Prussia, came to Hanover, and that Christoph Röhl had been a music teacher in Germany. She has a gold ring she believes was once Röhl‘s. When the Krüger family emigrated, one of the three ships carrying their group was lost at sea, and her grandmother died aboard ship enroute. Ms Scott doesn’t know the date or the ship names. Unfortunately, many of her family records were lost during a robbery of the bank’s vault. It’s likely that the Krügers had some roots in Saxony because Ms Scott and others still pronounce the name in the uniquely Saxon dialect. The “ü” is pronounced as a short “i” in English (like bid or sin).

Christoph Röhl (Roehl, pronounced “Rail”) bought 40 acres of public land in section 23 of twp 41 R7W on 2 May 1859, indicating that he lived within a mile east of Charles’ farm in Jefferson Twp of Osage County. Christoph “Roehl” was also enlisted in Company H of the 34th EMM in 1864 on the same day as Charles (April 22, 1864) and attained the rank of Corporal; however, Christoph Röhl isn’t shown on the 1860 Census (or subsequent ones either). Instead, the Jefferson Township Census of 1860 indicates a “Gustavus Roehl,” married to Sophia (both from Prussia). ‘Gustav’ could easily be misunderstood for Christoph if the census taker wasn’t careful (and we know he misspelled Gruner as “Grunner” and apparently the Jett family as “Gitt”), or, like ‘Charles,’ “Christoph” could be a preferred name of many. Christoph/Gustavus and Sophia had two sons: John (b. 1858) and Henry (b. 1860). Sophia shows up again in the 1900 Census as a widow. The Roehl family descendants (including both ‘Gustavs’ and ‘Christophers’) continued to populate Jefferson township of Osage County near Feuersville, southeast of Range 7 in Range 8. The Feuersville Post Office wasn’t established until 1879 and was discontinued in 1916. Chester Roehl, great grandson of Christoph, told me at least two of Christoph’s descendants were Lutheran Pastors and a third was a long-tenured teacher in a Lutheran school.

Later, Charles donated the bricks used in the chimney of St Johannes German Evangelical at Bem. I infer that those bricks were prepared and baked on the farm, just like the ones used to build the farmhouse over a decade later. But, that brings up the question of how Charles knew about brickmaking. It’s quite a complicated process. First, just any old clay won’t work. A knowledge of basic materials is required. Molds must be made, wet clay pressed under tons of pressure, and then heat is applied at 16-1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Henry Fischer, a fellow passenger on the Uhland, was a mason, or Charles may have learned building trades in Germany.

Although a German Evangelical congregation had existed there from about 1850, St John’s German Evangelical Church at Bem was officially organized in 1869. The first trustees were Fredrick Drush and Gottfried Enke, with 16 other members. They bought 80 acres and erected a log church. Subsequently, Charles made a deal with Pastor Kruse; Charles would supply bricks for the church chimney in exchange for two cemetery plots. In the picture of the frame church erected in 1887, replacing the original log cabin, the chimney is clearly visible. A log school was also erected, and German was taught there. The church had services in German separate from English until about 1930. Charles and Margarette are buried in the German Evangelical Cemetery near Bem in the fourth row about 20 yards NE from Pastor Michael Kruse and his wife, Mathilde. The Evangelical movement among frontier settlers was very strong in the 19th century. Foremost among those denominations serving the frontier were the Congregationalists, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and the German Evangelical Church. Extremely strong anti-slavery positions were taken by many of the (Northern) Methodist Episcopal Evangelicals and individual German Evangelical churches/sectional bodies established their own positions. Among the German Protestant immigrants of Gasconade County, the German Evangelical Church was well represented.

Charles has an interesting association with Pastor Kruse and other ‘radical’ preachers of the German Evangelical Church. These pastors obeyed the dictates of conscience regardless of Missouri laws. Pastor Kruse was born 24 Feb 1816 at Hemmrigstedt, Holstein, and came to America in 1848. After arriving first in St Louis, he went on to Iowa in search of employment. There, his pastor wrote a recommendation for him to study for the ministry. After completing studies at the Marthasville Seminary in MO, Pastor Kruse was consecrated in June of 1854, and began his ministry as an assistant to Pastor Josef Rieger in Holstein. Josef Rieger was a confirmed abolitionist. Shortly thereafter, Kruse went to his first congregation at St Paul’s in Nashville, IL, but returned to MO in the 1860’s. In1855, Kruse married Mathilda, the daughter of Rev. George W. Wall of St Louis, an abolitionist who may be associated with the Underground Railroad in Missouri and Illinois.

Perhaps Kruse met Wall through his association with Rieger. Wall and Rieger were lifelong friends who graduated from the Basel Mission House together and served first as missionaries in Africa. Shortly after coming to America, Rieger became the secretary of the Illinois Anti-Slavery Society and roomed in Alton with its founder, Elijah Lovejoy, who was attacked and murdered by a mob of slaveholding sympathizers. Alton became a center for Underground Railroad activity as the anti-slavery movement grew. Rieger saved Lovejoy’s wife by transporting her to St John’s German Evangelical Church in St Charles. Lovejoy’s brother, Owen Lovejoy, became a leading anti-slavery advocate and Underground Railroad organizer from his Congregational Pastorate in Princeton, IL, until he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1854 and later Representative to the US Congress 1857-64. Owen Lovejoy was a friend and political ally of Abraham Lincoln. Joseph Rieger founded several German Evangelical Churches in Western Illinois and Eastern Missouri, but at the start of the Civil War, Rieger was Pastor of a German Evangelical Church in Jefferson City, MO. Rieger was so hated by the slaveowners in Warren County that they threatened to burn the Marthasville Seminary, according to an 1863 report of the Marthasville Seminary. Rieger conducted marriages and funerals for Negro slaves in Missouri when such weddings were unlawful and the funerals discouraged, and he became one of the first trustees of Lincoln Institute (University) when it was chartered in 1865. Pastor George Wall conducted a marriage between a white man and a mulatto woman in St Louis, not realizing it was unlawful -- something that wouldn’t be legal in Missouri until 1967.

Note: The death rate among Evangelical missionaries in Africa was so high among Mission House graduates (half died on station) that the young missionaries packed their clothes, books, and other belongings for shipment in a coffin.

The Census of 1860 shows the Kruse family living in Washington County, Ill – only about 20 miles from Friedrich Hecker’s settlement at Belleville, another abolitionist center with several Underground Railroad “stations.” In the 1870 Census, the Kruse family resided in Lyon, Franklin County, MO, about 12 trail miles from Reverend Haas’ Ebenezer Stone Church. At that time, Kruse was Pastor of the St Pauls German Evangelical Church in Casco, MO, about 3-4 miles south of Lyon. Prior to the Civil War, St Paul’s at Casco forbade members to own slaves. Rev. Brueseke gave me a copy of the obituary (May 1901) of Pastor Michael Kruse from Der Friedensbote. It was difficult for me to translate it fully (because of the archaic usage and ‘Gothic’ printing font on a faded copy), but I understood the general contents and it was clear that Kruse was well respected in the Deutsche Evangeliche Kirchenverein des Westens.

Rev. Richard S. Brueseke, a descendent of a German-Missouri pastoral family, writes that the German Evangelical Synod of North America (established 1840 by George Wall, Joseph Rieger, Herman Garlichs, Phillip Heyer, and others) “was perhaps 90% Lutheran and 10% Reformed – in its background and composition. The strong Lutheran element was, however, of a liberal and co-operative spirit. If it can be said that the Missouri Synod Lutherans represented the most conservative elements in German Lutheranism, then clearly, the Evangelical Synod represented a rather progressive type of Lutheranism.” Most of these earliest settlers to East-central Missouri were Westphalians and Hanoverians. They came to America to escape poverty, and they were a hard-working, devout people. Most were Pietists, not Rationalists like many who followed in the 1850’s. They took their religion seriously. Still, these Pietists were neither Fundamentalists (Biblical Literalists) nor Charismatics. Encouragement of education, tolerance of diversity, and emphasis on social concerns characterized the churches. They were unalterably opposed to slavery. (Brueseke, Richard S. “Our Evangelical Heritage.” Ebenezer Stone Church, 20 Jan 1999)

“Pietists” was originally a pejorative term employed by the Lutheran establishment to describe the followers of Phillip Jacob Spener. Spener attempted to address the malaise in spirituality that followed the Thirty Years War by establishing Bible study and prayer groups among the layity. Spener’s followers ultimately recognized the Bible (the word of God) as the supreme authority in matters spiritual, and this was seen as a threat by traditional clergy.

During and after the Enlightenment, the Pietists came into conflict with “Rationalists” who depended on reason rather than revelation to discern truth. Rationalists saw God as a remote force that may have been responsible for creation and the establishment of cosmic rules. In 1835, David Friedrich Strauss published a historical Life of Jesus, which rejected supernatural miracles and Immaculate Conception. Still later, thinkers like Herder brought the argument almost full circle by declaring that truth was not a product of reason but of the whole creative power of the individual expressed in myth, religion, poetry, and art rather than reflection. The struggles between Pietists and Rationalists for control of congregations and classrooms were often vitriolic both in Germany and America. The establishment of the German Evangelical Synod of North America (Kirchenverein) brought attacks against all its founders. The Rationalist German language newspapers poured out venomous prose describing the issue as a fundamental contest between individual freedom of conscience and clerical tyranny. In Holy Ghost German Protestant Church of St Louis, the Pietist teacher (Karl Meier) of six years tenure was fired in 1842 when the rationalists took over the governance of the congregation.


Pastor August Rauschenbusch (whose ministry and opinions must have touched Charles) was a university-trained German Evangelical Pastor who sold Bibles and preached from New York to St Louis. He converted to a German Baptist Church in 1850, being baptized in the Missouri River, but he remained close friends with German Evangelical Pastors Rieger at Holstein and Koewing in Mount Sterling. He came to Mt Sterling to discuss his decision of becoming a Baptist with Koewing and wrote Rieger a letter about it. After each of his travels, he would come to his friend Koewing at Mt Sterling to rest and recuperate. While there, he would write religious tracts and help Koewing by gardening and preaching at the churches/communities on Koewing’s circuit (which included regular stops in southeast Osage County). In 1855, along with some immigrants he brought from Germany, he established the Pin Oak Creek Baptist Church at Mt Sterling. Pastor Rauschenbusch was outraged by chattel slavery he found in Missouri. He became an outspoken abolitionist, believing that the impending civil war would be a divine judgment on the United States, a form of moral cleansing. Rauschenbusch was so strictly opposed to slavery that when he was baptized, it was on the Illinois side of the River. He and his membership at Pin Oak Creek Baptist decided that when they could afford to build a church the following would be inserted in its deed: “No slave holder can ever be a member or communicant of this church.” (Evans, Christopher H. The Kingdom is Always But Coming, 2004)

Pastor Koewing retired from the Mt Sterling pulpit before the Civil War and moved to Lyon in northwestern Franklin County, only about ten miles from Pastor Haas’ church. I found his descendents buried in the Zion Gemeinde Deutsche Bisch. Methodist Cemetery a few miles south of Lyon, probably a grandson having served as Pastor there. Although Koewing had been an early member of the Deutsche Evangelische Kirchenverein, perhaps Rev. Koewing also searched for a more authentic religious experience, like his friend Rauschenbusch. Certainly, the Northern Methodist Church was strongly abolitionist, and many congregations supported the underground railroad.

The Methodist Church at Koenig was organized in 1857 as a log cabin. Henry Koenig settled there and had a store with a man named Miller; a village grew up near the store with a grist mill and a sawmill built after the Civil War. Koenig had a black settlement of about 35 transients who hauled freight in the summer, and returned to Springfield in the winter. The Negroes helped organize the Koenig Methodist Church and joined with the whites in worship there, a quite unusual practice for the time. (Osage County Memory Book, Jeff-City Printing, 1976 ) This ‘Henry’ must be the “Captain H. Koenig” who was Commander of Company H, 34th EMM and signed Charles Gruner’s “Mustering Out” document. In 1860, Henry Koenig also opened a store in what would become the town of Bland, MO, about 10 miles ESE of the first Koenig store. Koenig’s store in Bland was burned by Shelby’s cavalry in 1864. In the 1870 final schism of the Methodist Church in Missouri, Koenig DBM (Deutsche Bisch. Methodist) alone of Osage County’s Methodist Churches, voted to remain with the North.

The St John’s German Evangelical Church at Woolam was established in a log cabin, 1858. Early church records were lost when the church burned. It likely received support from Pastor Christian Ludwig Haas at Ebenezer ‘Stone’ Church in Western Franklin County NW of Gerald (which also began as a log cabin in 1854). Pastor Haas was outspokenly opposed to a nearby slave breeding farm and went so far as to have a slaveholder expelled from the congregation. About 1863, a band of Bushwhackers raided his cabin expecting to lynch him, but he escaped into the woods. The Bushwhackers stole everything of value, including his winter underwear. Writing about 1900, Pastor Hass described how the bushwhackers confronted his wife: “Where is the preacher, was their first inquiry. When they got the answer, ‘he is not here,’ several of them began to curse and with threats demanded money --- while others quietly asked for something to eat…. I had collected funds at Port Hudson for building a church, and they expected to find cash with me. Traitors were plentiful at that time, and besides they knew my stand on the Union. When ‘mother’ declared that she had no money, they threatened to set the bed on fire…. In her fright, Heinricke hurried upstairs to look for some money. They followed her, ransacked the desk, took the watch and stamps and any money they could find…. They shattered the trunks, breaking jars and glasses.” After the rebels left, Pastor Haas and his wife sought refuge at the Knehans’ farm, where the women sat up all night and the men slept in a pile of hay. (transcribed from Chapter 5 of the Haas manuscript by Rev. Richard S. Brueseke) In 1864, when Price’s Confederate forces swept through Franklin County, two members of the Ebenezer Stone Church congregation were maliciously shot by raiders.

When he first came to Osage County, it is unclear which of these churches Charles attended, although it could have been at Wollam, since Ferdinand Dallmeyer is buried there and it was German Evangelical. It appears that St Paul’s German Evangelical Church was operating in the Cooper Hill area as early as 1857, so it is an equally strong possibility. Henry Lange, another veteran of Company H, 34th EMM, and his wife Theodora are buried at St Paul’s Cemetery.

In 1853, the Deutsche Evangeliche Kirchenverein refused to debate the issue of slavery when it was brought up at a meeting “because its practice is so infrequent among Germans here.” Although a special committee was set up to determine preliminaries for such a discussion, the slavery question was unresolved, and the Kirchenverein “declined to take official action on the subject.” Individual pastors and congregations, however, were not so reluctant. Perhaps … “their sympathies led them to support the abolitionist movement to the extent of cooperating with the underground railroad … .” This was the case with Josef Rieger, “whose relations with slaves at Holstein brought down the wrath of slaveholders upon him … .” Notwithstanding, the German Evangelical churches were not Pacifists; they were staunchly pro Union. Rieger said that several of the Marthasville Seminary students served one to three years in the army and most were enrolled for militia duty. (Schneider, Carl. German Church on the American Frontier. 353-357) Schneider offers a footnote quoting from W. H. Siebert’s 1899 book (Underground Railroad, Slavery to Freedom, p 92) concerning testimony of Lyman Goodman, an Underground Railroad “operator,” who testified that “in cases of emergency, the Germans were next best to the Quakers for protection.”

Though facing extreme hostility, abolitionists were working in Missouri before the Civil War. In fact, St. Louis had a significant history of abolitionist activity which has been largely forgotten or ignored. People like Rev. Elijah Lovejoy, a pastor whose church was a stop on the Underground Railroad, are an integral part of Missouri history, and some of the German Evangelical Pastors were also part of the movement. From Pennsylvania to Missouri, there is growing evidence that many German Evangelical Churches and cemeteries were used as both guideposts and way stations of the Underground Railroad. Only in recent years has St Louis, at least, begun to explore and revive that history with efforts to preserve the Underground Railroad sites (most in the southwest, German district) that were the conduit to freedom through Illinois. Germans were very active in the abolitionist movement of the time. Because of the nature of the Underground Railroad — a network of loosely connected, secret safe-houses and abolitionist supporters who illegally guided slaves to free states or Canada — it is difficult to find evidence directly identifying Underground Railroad stops, particularly since the conservative backlash after the Civil War made it dangerous to admit to such activity even after slavery was ended. Before the Civil War, the fine for harboring a fugitive slave was $1,000, but during and after the war such an admission would probably have brought a violent and possibly terminal response.


I have Charles’ silver pocket watch, wallet, razors, and some of his papers and documents, passed down from my Dad. I visited the Osage County farm in both 2008 and 2009, but I found no souvenirs of the family’s habitation. Visiting the Gasconade County farm again in Oct. 2008, I picked up a brick made on the farm, my second ‘lucky’ mule shoe, and a few rocks as souvenirs. Unfortunately, the old house has been left to nature. Some of the bricks and windows have fallen, the porch is rotten and sagging, and the structure will be a ruin in another couple of decades.

It’s likely that Charles was an abolitionist based on his military service and his associations, but if he were also involved in any way with the Underground Railroad, that could provide an explanation for why his service and past were ciphers to his descendants. In the toxic atmosphere of post bellum Missouri, such an admission could have been tantamount to a death warrant. Another strong possibility is that Charles’ association with a radical militia element could have invited retribution in the social and political backlash of the 1870’s. If that militia had committed questionable acts against suspected secessionists, Charles would have had good reason for ‘lying low.’ By the 1880’s, when his pension applications were made, emotions had cooled somewhat. I have also speculated that Charles and Margarette may have lost one or more infants as a result of the Civil War. The first four offspring appear at regular intervals between 1856 and 1860, but then there is a six year gap before the fifth and final child in 1866. Aged 35 in 1860, Charles and Margarette were certainly not beyond normal childbearing years. Strangely, Charles’ grandchildren had no idea that he was a Union soldier. He is not listed in the 1890 Census of Osage or Gasconade County Union Veterans, although his service with the 3rd MO Infantry was clearly qualified and even some other Home Guards were listed. His experiences may have embittered him, since there’s no record of membership in the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Veterans Organization) either. Membership in the GAR was normally a matter of great pride to most Union veterans, particularly abolitionists and radical Republicans, although less so to the foreign-born German Americans. For that matter, Adam Enderlein did not join the GAR either, although to do so might have enhanced his butcher shop’s marketing.

The entire veterans’ and widows’ pension mess became a huge political problem by the turn of the century. Rules changed and exceptions to rules were created. The US Record and Pension Office finally issued a report in 1902 intended to resolve this, but it is a masterpiece of bureaucratic obfuscation. At the same time it recognizes the service of Col Matthews’ Gasconade Home Guard Battalion, it disallows Dallmeyer’s Battalion. They are, of course, one and the same. I wonder if Charles ever collected a penny of the veterans’ pension.

Charles had an ongoing association with Gasconade County; he enlisted with regiments from that county rather than Osage County where he was living. The Gasconade River cut Jefferson Township off from the rest of Osage County and facilitated associations with Gasconade County. His farm was only two and a quarter miles from the Gasconade County line. Living down in the southeast corner of Osage County, he may have felt that the county leaders focused too much on the Missouri and Osage Rivers and Jefferson City. On the other hand, perhaps he was uncomfortable in Osage County, where so many of the German settlers in the north-central and west part of the county were Catholics. German Protestants probably didn’t mix too well with German Catholics. In Brush Creek Township of Gasconade County, he would be surrounded by Prussians, Westphalians, Hessians, Hanoverians, Pomeranians, and Bohemians of the German Evangelical Church. Politically, Gasconade County (and German St Louis) provided strong support for Lincoln, Radical Republicans, and the Drake Constitution of 1865. Consequently it may have made for a better fit than the more conservative Osage County.

The Jefferson Township farmstead (249.6 acres) in Osage County (acquired 19 Oct 1857 from sale of public lands) remained in the family’s possession until at least 1894, according to tax receipts in my possession. On 14 July 1858, Charles and Margarethe signed a deed to “sell” 249.6 acres to Adam Henckel for $1,000. Is this really a loan? On 13 May 1859, J. A. Henckel and Henry Hart (trustee for Margarethe) sign an “indenture” between Adam and Catherine Henckel to Henry Hart, a conveyance of the property to Margarethe, wife of Charles, and her posterity in perpetuity, while Catherine gives up her dower in the property. If the first action was a loan, is it now paid? Where is Charles during this action? Included in the papers I received from Dad is a sale of a small acreage along the creek from James H. T. Phillips to William A. Jett on 28 Feb. 1864. This probably gets added to the original farmstead somehow. Another perhaps related document shows that Charles Gieck received $45 from Charles Gruner in favor of J. F. Haight. An undated sketch in my possession shows two portions of the land sold to different buyers (Hassler and Schneiderwin), with a small part, about 2/7 of the total, still remaining to be sold. The handwriting appears to belong to Charles.

I have bills/receipts for building materials from Dallmeyer & Co and Leach, Baker, and Co., both of Cooper Hill, for building materials Charles got in 1866 and 1867. Receipt of payment is signed by Tim Leach. (Timothy Leach married William G. Dallmeyer’s widow in 1873, and the store was sold.) Apparently, Charles was either building or repairing at that time. It may have been the beginning of the structure still standing (but abandoned) at the east end of the Gruner farm near Feuersville in Osage County.

When I explored the farmstead in Jefferson township just west of Charles’ farm, I found a large barn similar in shape and construction to the hay barn at the Bem farmstead, perhaps 4-500 yards west of the Gruner farm. There was a dilapidated, two-story, rectangular frame house erected over a stone foundation, with mud/rock interior insulation, similar to the main structure of the farmhouse at the east end of the Osage farm, as well as the basic layout of the Bem farmhouse built in 1885. Both of these were in the valley about 100 yards from Mistaken creek. There was no way I could determine their exact age, but they were likely built or at least begun by neighbors of Charles, and since building was often a communal activity then, perhaps Charles worked on them. The construction techniques were the same as those I observed on structures of a similar age in Thuringia during my trip there in 2010.

I have a few items showing Charles’ day-to-day activities. There is a receipt from “Mount Sinai” for $22.07 for ‘medicine’ (?) from a Doctor A. Smith, dated 8 October 1869. “Dr. A Smith” may have been a dentist or the doctor who served as Surgeon with Gen. Curtis’ Division, 1861-64. Dated 29 July 1871, there is a bill for $13.37 from Dallmeyer & Co, apparently generated on the death of Ferdinand, requesting prompt payment to the administrator, William Q. Dallmeyer. At the bottom is a notation signed by William Lange that payment of $13.37 was received 30 Dec. 1871. Finally, there is a bill of sale, dated 21 July 1869, for the mule ‘Whiskey,’ wherein Charles witnessed the sale for $50 from John H. Rushing to Charles Valuting (Valentine?). Since Charles had the recorded bill of sale in his possession, I believe it indicates that he probably later acquired the mule.

The 1870 Census shows Charles and Margarette still living in Osage County. The four older children, Charles, Anna, Julia, and Bertha (aged 13, 12, 10, & 8) attended school, but Ernst was only 4. Chances are the Gruner children attended a “German” school at Feuersville (“College Hill”) or nearby. About 1870-71, Charles and Margarette acquired the family farm in Gasconade County along the Bourbeuse River near Bem, MO. The site he selected this time has a long sloping prairie for good grazing leading to a broad alluvial valley with rich soils for commercial crops. I can’t determine the final price, but land values had generally risen from the 1850’s. The records that I have are quite convoluted, but it seems likely that Charles acquired a portion of the land by paying off taxes and other debts owed by Gottfried Enke (a former employee of William Dallmeyer of Cooper Hill and a private in Company F of William Q. Dallmeyer’s Home Guard Battalion).

The first transaction in the partial collection of documents Dad left me that concern the parts of what would be the Gruner farmstead near Bem was the sale of 40 acres in Section 35 of Range 5 of Twp 41 (Brush Creek Township) by Mason and Margaret Woods to Landing D. Wyatt on 12 April 1853. On 1 September 1856, Benjamin Shoemaker bought 80 acres of Section 35 from the U.S. Land Office at public auction, and again, on 10 May 1857 Benjamin Shoemaker purchased another 240 acres. In February, 1864, the Sheriff seized 400 acres from Landing D. Wyatt as a consequence of a suit for debt of $117.31 plus $13.05 in damages in favor of Edward Luster (founder of Owensville and the defeated secessionist candidate for the state constitutional convention in 1861). In March, 1864, the Sheriff held a public auction, and the 400 acre parcel was purchased by Edward Luster for $330. Somehow this parcel came back into the possession of the widow Wyatt because D. W. Cantrell bought the 400 acres from Clarinda Wyatt on 19 December 1864 for $350. Cantrell, in turn, sold this acreage to Gottfried Enke on 22 Jan 1866 for $1,500, appearing to reap a substantial profit. In 1867 and 1868, Gottfried Enke dutifully paid his taxes on 400 acres to the Gasconade County Collector, but on 27 September 1869, Enke paid the taxes due on only 234 acres. On 15 December 1870, Charles Gruner paid the taxes for 234 acres of Enke’s property located in Sections 35 and 36 of Range 5 Twp 41 to the Gasconade County Collector, and on 16 December 1870, Charles paid $20 taxes on 240 acres assessed to Gottfried Enke. On 28 January 1871, Charles Gruner paid a judgment of $214.35 obtained by Henry Wolf on 28 October 1870 against Hermann Enke, Gottfried Enke, and Andrew Ringeisen. Next, a receipt dated 18 April 1872 reads “Received of Charles Gruner payment in full. Signed: Gottfried Enke Attest: P. W. Burchard.” Clearly, there are pieces missing (Deeds perhaps passed to the new owner when sold in the 1930’s?), but I presume that Charles acquired the land by helping Gottfried Enke out of financial trouble.

At first, Charles and family lived in a large, two-story log cabin, which was still in use for storage in 2010. The Gruners added a stock shelter on one side and a tool shed on the other in subsequent years. In 1885, Charles & Margarette built a large rectangular, two-story farmhouse with bricks that were made from clay on the farm, burned and dried just east of the house. These ‘soft’ bricks are now showing the effects of the elements, but they lasted well for over a century.

Charles was an enterprising man. During 1871, there were a series of transactions that increased his holdings. In February, he mortgaged 35 acres along the Bourbeuse to John Hosfeld, Sr., for $300 which he used to buy a piece of land in Section 32. In May of 1871, Charles Gruner, Peter Burchard, and Adam Hosfeld signed notes to use school lands in Twp 43, R4; Twp 44, R6; and Twp. 45, R5. The cost was $672.31, and Charles mortgaged 35 acres for that amount at 8% interest to Gasconade County. On 21 April of 1879, Charles received a receipt from Gasconade County showing the mortgage paid in full and indicating that he had dutifully paid the interest payments. It appears that the property was unencumbered after that. It seems that Charles was a good manager to accomplish this when the Panic of 1873 dried up the money supply and depressed prices even worse than in 1837.

Note: Adam Hosfeld served as Charles’ comrade in both Company D, Dahlmeyer’s Battalion, Gasconade County Home Guards and Company H, 34th EMM (The name is spelled “Hossfeldt” in Company H records.) He was promoted to Corporal 28 Oct 1864. Perhaps unrelated, there was an Anna Hosfeld (age 28) traveling with a child, Mariane (4), on the Uhland when Charles made the crossing to New Orleans.

There is a family legend that Charles sent for Anne Margarethe Enderlein after he got settled in America. In 1855, when they married, Margarethe would have been age 30 – a spinster in comparison with her contemporaries. If we suppose that Charles and Margarethe had an agreement at the age of 21, when many Germans married, then that agreement would have come in 1846, a year of economic crisis, followed in 1847 by crop failures and more economic problems. In 1848, the Revolution racked Saxony, the Thüringen States, and Hesse, but less so in Hanover. The Enderleins owned property in Süss and their extended family included teachers, mayors, and others of local respect, indicating they were either at the top of the peasantry or the bottom of the burgers. No records of Charles Gruner’s economic status in Germany have been found. Perhaps, he had to “prove” himself before being acceptable to the Enderleins, or he may have had to complete an apprenticeship before he could marry. Perhaps he set off “to find his fortune” in other parts of Germany and ultimately America, or Charles may have had to flee from home in 1850 if he were involved in revolutionary activities. It took up to five years, 1855, for him to get settled in America. His 1855 naturalization paper says he has been in the U.S. for at least five years (since 1850), and presumably, he had to prove that to qualify for citizenship. The intervening events above could easily explain why the marriage of Charles and Margarette came so late in life. Eventually, it unfolded that the Enderlein family apparently crossed over in three increments, although the reasons behind this are not understood.

Nell Gore stated in an email (21 May 2009) that she remembered family members talking about Margarette coming to America with a brother or to meet a brother. Her recollection was that Margarette was ‘accompanied’ during her crossing. In fact, it appears that she emigrated with her brother Heinrich Adam and likely went on to relatives in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. In a 2010 conversation, Nell recalled that Juanita Gruner told her that Sophia (Ruwwe) Gruner said that J. F. Carl (Charles) Gruner had asked Adam to cross with Margarethe. Adam was 16 when he crossed the Atlantic with Margarethe and considered a man in many ways. He would have been a protector for his single sister aboard the crowded ship.

Charles Gruner was born in Mellingen (Saxe-Weimar), which is about 60 miles due East of Süss, where Margarethe was born. In between, about 30 miles West of Mellingen and 30 miles East of Süss, lay Ingersleben, where Charles’ mother (Barbara Heyer Gruner) was born. Charles was only a good walk from Weimar, an important cultural center – home to Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Wieman, etc., while the larger industrial cities of Leipzig and Dresden were close. Leipzig lay about 35 miles NE, and Dresden was about 60 miles East. Charles lived where Bohemians (Czech), Silesians (Poles), Saxons and Hessians mixed with Thuringians. Margarethe’s village was more insulated, but the mining industry and Hessian military deployments regularly exposed it to the larger world as well. These cultural influences perhaps contributed to a willingness to try something new and the flexibility to adapt.

On 30 Sep 1851, the Charlotte Reed arrived in New York from Bremen with Anna Enderlein (age 25) and Adam Enderlein (age 15) aboard. This is almost certainly Great Grandmother Anna Margarethe Enderlein and her brother Heinrich Adam. Her age is correct and Adam’s is within a year. The mate who prepared the Passenger list had atrocious handwriting, and he appears to have written in “Tuss” or possibly “Luss” as the place of origin (the transcriber thought it was “Lues”). This mate was obviously careless in preparing the list, and he may have ‘heard’ a T or L in place of an S when the passengers told him their hometown orally. Thus, the incremental crossing of the Enderlein family implies there was a plan, probably dependent on assistance of relatives already in the US. First, the eldest daughter with the elder son travel and establish themselves. Next, the middle daughter crosses with her godparent’s relatives. Finally, Great-Great Grandmother closes out her affairs in Süss and, with the help of the second-oldest daughter, brings the family together again in America. Certainly, the family reassembled in St Louis, with the possible exception of Anna Martha (the elder), of whom there is no further trace. She may have married in the East or fallen victim to disease. It is probable that Margarethe completed the trip to St Louis by train or coach, perhaps after she sojourned in Hazelton, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore or with other relatives for a while. There were several former Süss residents (Heidenreichs, Bahrts, Ullrichs, Knies, Krausses, Lindemanns, etc.) in Hazleton, PA, a coal mining town in Luzerne County. Baltimore had Ullrichs. New York had several Heidenreichs. An Anna Enderlein (age about 60) was listed as resident of Philadelphia in the 1910 Census, but any relation is unknown, and she seems too young to be the missing Anna Martha. Adam Enderlein may have remained in the East for a longer time than Margarethe, however, since we know nothing more about him until his Civil War Service with the Vermont Volunteers and his subsequent marriage in Doniphan, KS.

Charles Gruner’s handwriting is that of a well-educated man with an excellent command of English. We know nothing of his educational achievements; he may have had only the village schooling. Even so, the size, decoration, and appointments of the church in Mellingen (built 1620-1640; repaired and finished 1669) imply a degree of prosperity in the village. Probably, the old Pfarrhaus also served as the school. Charles apparently possessed skills that permitted him to prosper in America. There isn’t any evidence that he ever even remotely fit the downtrodden, ignorant, miserly or licentious stereotypical “German” that was the butt of so many jokes and put-downs. He was unusually patriotic, answering Lincoln’s call for troops in spring 1861 and Governor Gamble’s request in the fall. Yet, many Germans were strong supporters of democracy and equality as a reaction to Prussia and her autocratic allies. (Many German monarchs crushed representative governments, ignored the territorial sovereignty of neighbors, and exalted autocracy and aristocracy in reaction to the Napoleonic period’s reforms.) As a group, Germans contributed to the Union cause out of proportion to their segment of the population.

There are many indications that Charles and Margarette had significant resources as they began their lives together in America. For example, their land transactions indicate both solid credit and savings, and it appears that Margarette’s mother and most of her siblings removed themselves from Germany as a group. Both Charles and Margarette “Americanized” the spelling and pronunciation of their names from ‘Carl’ and ‘Margarethe,’ probably to fit in more easily in their community. Charles was certainly no “hayseed.” The pictures that survive show “conservative” and apparently prosperous, contemporary, American, middle-class dress. Neither side of my family appears to have fit the “red-neck’ or hillbilly stereotype, and they seem to have bought into the Calvinist ethic regardless of their other affiliations.

Charles grew up in an area where he was forced to live with both change and socio-economic progress. Charles grew up about forty miles southwest of the University of Halle, the center of German religious Pietism. There was much the German Pietists held in common with the Calvinists, e. g., individual responsibility for Christian living. The Pastor of the Mellingen church was quite proud that Melancthon had been there. (Melancthon was second only to Luther in the Reformation, but his efforts to unify all Christians probably contributed even more to the long-term success of the Reformation.) On the other hand, Charles’ village was even closer to the University of Jena, a center of liberal thinking. A trunk line railroad was completed from Halle to Weimar in 1846, connecting Weimar to the main East German rail line and such points as Leipzig, Dresden, Zwickau, Berlin and Hanover. Even more important, however, would be the effects of Weimar’s enlightened royal family, the German intelligentsia attracted to the Capital, and the advanced levels of economic activity that lay within sight and less than an hour’s walk from Mellingen. While it’s claimed that the German culture was centered in the burgher class and transmitted to the aristocracy through contact at the universities, many of the ideas of their social ‘betters’ also seeped into the masses. It appears that Charles’ relatives were artisans of various types, which would have brought them directly into contact with burghers and probably aristocrats. Everywhere he looked, he could not have failed to see that opportunity was waiting for those who would seize the initiative and seek it out. This alone may explain his journey to America.

Whether Charles was definitively allied with the Pietists or Rationalists is not entirely clear. Charles and Margarette were married in a “rationalist” church, but that may have been a function of location as easily as belief. His affiliation with the nascent church in Feuersville informs us only that he considered religion of some importance, while his association with the German Evangelical Church in Bem was mostly dictated by geography. As a pioneer and Christian, there was little alternative to exposure to the traveling evangelistic pastors. On balance, I speculate that Charles was not tied to any particular religious dogma or practice, and that, inherently, inclines him toward the rationalist camp. However, it appears that his ancestors in Germany were orthodox Lutherans.

His activities relative to the Civil War underscore the importance of conscience as a guiding principle, but that could be as easily explained by philosophy as religion. There is great contrast between Charles’ successive enlistments and the efforts of some Germans to avoid military service. Nell Gore recalls hearing discussion of how the Ruwwe family disguised the ages of their sons (Francis and C. Henry) on exit documents to get away from Prussia, making them seem too young for military service. Later, the boys drank quantities of vinegar in order to lower their blood pressure and make them appear weak and too sickly for service whenever Civil War recruiters came around St Louis. This dominant role of conscience in his later life makes me think that Charles might have been involved in Revolutionary activities in 1848 as well.

Since Charles was clearly literate and since his first farming venture seems somewhat ill-conceived, I infer that he must have read one or more of the many, often unrealistic travel books that boosted immigration from Germany during this period. Secular reading increased throughout the classes during the 18th century. At the end of the Thirty Years War, about half of all books published in Germany were written in Latin. A hundred years later, that fell to a fourth. By 1759, only a fifth were in Latin, with an eighth in 1781, a tenth in 1787, and one twentieth in 1799. More books on wider subjects were being published. By 1800, Leipzig kept eighteen presses turning, each employing 70-80 people, and the city had over 50 bookstores. In addition, there were many magazines and journals that popularized scholarship or merely entertained. (Holborn, A History of Modern Germany. 308-310) As Charles and Margarette became adults, knowledge of the outside world and the inner man was no longer the sole province of the learned few.

Carl Bernard, the second son of Grand Duke Carl August, visited the US in 1825-26. He wrote a two volume record of his observations, which Goethe (who never visited the US) depended upon for his observations about North America. Goethe did host many American visitors and read the books they recommended, so that he became something of an expert on American life. Goethe “considered North America to be the future of mankind” after being disillusioned by the failings of Europe. In the US, he believed a free bourgeois society could develop. The US was used symbolically in his writing. In Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795), the US is where the heroes accomplish part of their social and political vision. Lothario fights in the American Revolution and then abolishes feudalism on his German estates when he returns. Goethe saw the US as a model for social reform; it was better than the destructive French Revolution. Religious toleration and improving the welfare of society are recurring themes in Goethe’s writing. Goethe supported emigration as an option to escape revolution and social upheaval. Goethe integrated aspects of Owen’s New Harmony and Rapp’s Economy into his own ideal, utopian society. Religious tolerance, fairness in justice, comprehensive education, and a ban on taverns all derive from Carl Bernard’s travel accounts, but Goethe didn’t accept the communist ideas of Owen and Rapp about common property and participatory administration. Goethe was also opposed to industrialization, as immigrants fled mechanization. Goethe thought the US could succeed because it was a society without hindering historical baggage and social burdens. (Adam, Thomas, ed. Germany and the Americas, Culture, Politics, and History. Santa Barbara, ABC CLIO, 2005, 453-454) Living close to Weimar, some of this had to have trickled down to Charles Gruner.

Charles had the good fortune to be born in perhaps the most progressive state in Germany. The influence of the Grand Dukes’ court was decidedly liberal. The University at Jena was among the most liberal in Europe, and the influence of liberals like Schiller had a significant impact on Thüringen culture. Grand Duke Carl August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, like other enlightened despots, was greatly concerned with education. After 1815, German state governments assumed the direction of all educational activities, where this had previously been entirely in the hands of the churches. Unfortunately, teachers were often just artisans or disabled soldiers and not well prepared. By the early 1800’s, it became accepted that every child should receive a general education in Volksschule that covered reading, writing, arithmetic, choral music, physical education, and religion, although it took time for this to become established in rural districts. The schools movement apparently took hold in Mellingen quickly. It’s also likely that Charles grew up with some measure of democratic and egalitarian ideals, just as it’s possible he participated in the Realschulen movement in some way. Realschule emphasized practical knowledge, as opposed to Latin, Greek, and philosophy. The people of Mellingen remember the “Gruners” as blacksmiths, although this may refer to some other branch of the family. Two of Charles three brothers are shown in records as being members of the artisan class (shoemaker and bricklayer), and Charles demonstrated a variety of skills associated with the construction trades. His great grandfather and great uncles were linenweavers and held church offices.

Mellingen would have presented that loose mix of repression and freedoms that could have inspired one to improve his lot in life. For instance, hunting and fishing would have been punishable by fines because the fish and the forest fauna belonged to the aristocrats. The palace at Belvedere with its gardens and art was no more than 3 miles away and within sight of the village. Other centers of opulence like the Duke’s main castle at Weimar and the Opera house were just over four miles away. Charles could not have been unaware of the inequities of his society. Yet, there was considerable freedom. Serfdom had ceased and universal manhood suffrage was established in a Constitution. There was no standing army which conscripted young men like in Hessen and Prussia. Weimar was a crossroads and gathering place for European Genius and German culture, as well as a marketplace for various commodities and skills. It was a magnet – the center of life in that region during the period 1775-1850. Charles could no more have ignored its call than a moth could avoid flame. It would have served as a constant reminder that a better life was possible.

Moreover, it had to be apparent that Weimar’s Zenith had already passed. After the death of Grand Duke Carl August (1828), Weimar may have continued to foster art and culture (Liszt, Berlioz, etc), but the rights of man were no longer a key concern for the Duchy. Duke Carl Friedrich fell increasingly under the sway of Prussia (his daughter was unhappily married to the first German Emperor, Wilhelm), and Duke Carl Alexander spent a fortune to please his wife, granddaughter of the Czar. Codification of the Penal Code in 1838 made punishable acts against not only the letter of the law, but its spirit. Not only did the code apply to Weimarers for acts within the confines of the Duchy, but it also covered acts committed away from the state. Trial by jury was not adopted by the Duchy. In the 1820’s and 30’s, harsh restrictions were placed on Catholics and Jews. While enlightened townspeople of the middle class adopted increasingly liberal ideas, the rural villagers and their Pastors were extremely insular and conservative. The failure of Grand Duke Carl Friedrich to respond decisively during the Revolution of 1848 led first to disturbances and then a loss of Ducal power to a popular ministry that enacted reforms, but these were quickly reversed as the crisis passed and the Duchy turned Reactionary. The Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Dukes lavished luxuries on themselves, as they distanced themselves from their people. Autocracy was gaining vogue, and the aristocrats consumed conspicuously. Tax reform in Saxe-Weimar (the graduated income tax) didn’t occur until 1883, after Saxony and Hesse.

William Makepeace Thackery, visiting Weimar in 1832, commented on the absurd, stilted court manners, the student dueling at Jena University, as well as the relaxed morality. Marian Evans (pseudonym was George Eliot) was there in 1854, loved the Ilm Park, but saw that Goethe and Schiller were already just tourist attractions.

Note: Weimar’s contributions to and glorification of German culture caused it to be chosen for the initial meeting site of the short-lived German Republic after WWI, but Weimar also became the birthplace of the Hitler Youth movement, as it was earlier the adopted home of Friedrich Nietzsche. WWII’s Buchenwald Concentration Camp was just minutes north of Weimar. Some 56,000 of the 250,000 incarcerated there died from hunger, disease, and torture, although it was not an “extermination” camp per se. In 1990, a mass grave was discovered nearby that revealed the Soviets had also executed about 7,000 former Nazis and anticommunists during their occupation after WWII.

  

It is possible that Charles was involved in some way with the Revolutionary struggle of 1848. It must have been difficult to see the family forced from the minor security of linen weaving to other means of surviving. Friedrich Engels (The Housing Crisis, 1872) indicated that the domestic industry workers were so burdened by taxes and feudal exactions that they could not rise above the very low level of the rest of the peasantry. “Nevertheless, the rural industrial worker (had) enjoyed a certain sense of security.” The introduction of machinery changed that; prices dropped with economies of scale and income for linen weavers fell too. If the domestic industrial worker looked for work elsewhere, he had to give up his little house, garden, or field, whether owned or rented, and these were the source of his security. The more prices dropped, the more he was squeezed to maintain his way of life. If he did find other work, only Ireland paid its workers less. Wages from 1830-1860 hovered around 7,30 Marks a week (about $2US), and women got half that. The work-day was reduced to 12 hours only in the late 1860’s. Whatever his personal circumstances, Charles could not have been blind to these conditions.

The first Gruners in America seemed to segregate themselves into German-dominated communities, most choosing spouses of similar background. Furthermore, the Gruners were not a tightly-knit family. There is no indication of any contact between Charles (Sr.) and his younger brothers in Germany. Charles (Jr.), the elder son, went off to Texas to raise his family rather than inheriting the family farm. If Charles assisted him in the move, there is no record. Even the second generation of Americans lost touch with each other. They didn’t correspond or even know when a sibling had passed away. None of my father’s (third) generation knew that their grandfather was a Union soldier. Dad thought he might have been a county judge/supervisor in Osage County (rather than a JP). The doctor filling out Henry E. Gruner’s death certificate indicated Elmer Gruner didn’t know his grandmother’s maiden name. Something seems out of kilter, not quite right. Perhaps the toil of frontier life, the stress of Civil War, or unrealized ideals affected the family life of Charles and Margarette Gruner. For all that they accomplished, something seems to be missing. Some ‘secret’ still remains hidden. While I have no personal knowledge of any such faults on their part, I infer from a number of comments made by relatives and others of my parent’s generation that there was a kind of vindictiveness, selfishness, negativity, or ‘coldness’ about some members of the second and third Gruner generations, and I infer that some may have abused alcohol. It’s likely these characteristics have roots in the family’s past. My sister and I both have heard that Grandfather Henry “Ernest” Gruner had some unattractive qualities. Many have remarked that my father was “different” from the others, for which I am very grateful. It seemed to me that Dad and Aunt Minnie were the ones who held the others together somewhat.

Charles probably had contacts among the Germans already in Missouri when he arrived. St Mark’s German Evangelical Church in St Louis recorded the marriage of Maria Gruner (age 23) and Carl Dreiling (age 28) both from Blankenbach, Hessen, on 14 Oct 1849. Blankenbach lies about two miles north of Süss. There are other “coincidences” of familiar names between the old and new countries. Perhaps Marie was unrelated, but if she were, this might also help explain how Charles came to know Margarette in the first place.

Charles and Margarette Gruner, like Peter and Helena Jost (my maternal Great Grandparents), probably didn’t think that they did anything heroic or particularly out of the ordinary. No one expected life to be easy. They did what they had to do, as well as they could. I suppose that’s what many of us would say about our lives as well, and maybe that’s as good as it gets. Furthermore, few among the descendants of mid 19th century Germans know much about their family’s origin or circumstances in Europe. It seems that it is largely the immigrant middle classes or aristocrats who had any memories of Europe they considered worth preserving. Many ordinary German immigrants fled to avoid conscription, an oppressive socio-economic system, and/or the devastation of war and revolution. Some falsified their names to protect family left behind or just to avoid arrest. Such immigrants seldom looked backward. America was a better deal for them, and they committed to it entirely. Charles likely fits this class of Germans somehow. He took American citizenship as soon as he was eligible (5 years minimum), indicating that he had “burned his bridges” and never looked back.

The descendants of Charles and Margarette scattered, and contact between them was limited. All Charles and Margarette’s children married and produced families. Their first child, Charles F. W. Gruner (1856-1929), lived near Oak Hill in Crawford County for some period, but according to Nell Gore, he had purchased a farm in Argo as a young man and built a small cabin there. Argo is at the eastern edge of Crawford County about midway between Oak Hill and Bourbon, MO. I didn’t find him in the 1880 or 1890 Census, but he married Malinda Strain in Gasconade County in 1884, and she died soon after. In 1887, he married Emma Sophia Ruwwe. Gasconade County is listed as the birthplace of four children between 1889 and 1898. The 1900 Census has him living in Oak Hill. Nell Gore remembers hearing that he traveled to Texas by train with a developer and some other German families shortly after the turn of the century. He found that some of the land had already been plowed and liked the area. Moreover, most of the good land in Missouri was long settled. He moved his family near Amarillo in 1906, their belongings sitting in a rail car while their home was completed, and established a large farm there. His first marriage to Malinda Ann Strain (a granddaughter of Barney Strain and Rachel Souders Strain) in June 1884 was brief; she died in about a year of “apoplexy.” His second marriage to Emma Sophia Ruwwe in 1887 produced nine children. *Francis (Frank) Charles: b. 5 Nov 1889; married Mary Burns Feb 1919; d. 13 Nov 1963. No children. *Bertha Pauline: b. 8 Nov 1891; married Joseph Ray Gowdy 1 May 1915; died 25 Nov 1963. She was survived by a daughter, Anna Belle (Gowdy) Shaw of Arcata, CA, and a son, J. Ray, of Rialto, CA. *Mary Louise (Lula) : b. 16 Sept. 1893; married William Robert Brown Feb 1915 and lived in Youngtown, AZ. *Hulda Henrietta: b. 12 Dec 1895; married Joe A. Wooldridge 14 June 1914 and lived in Las Cruces, NM. *Anna Grace: b. 26 Feb 1898; married William Paul Matthews 15 March 1919 and lived in Grand Junction, CO. Anna Grace Matthews was the Mother of Nell (Matthews) Gore and Grandmother of Jeanette Pitcher. *August: b. c. 1900; died in infancy *Emma Edith: b. c. 1902; died in infancy *Mabel Ruth: b. 13 Oct 1904; married Franklin Jefferson McMahan 21 Oct 1928and lived in Amarillo, TX. *James Forest: b. 2 Dec 1907; married Juanita Irene Parker 17 Aug 1941 and lived in Canyon, TX.

Dad, Mother, Gayle and I visited the youngest child, Forrest, and his wife, Juanita, in 1951. I remember little about that except the trees with the long, bean-like pods that grew around their house. I believe they talked about the old times, and I should have been listening.

Nell Gore tells a story that her Grandmother, Anna Grace Gruner, was born a sickly child in 1898. Her Nails had not formed and she had no eyebrows; perhaps she was premature. J. F. Charles was no longer working in the fields at that time, but he sat in his rocker on the front porch of the farmhouse. Anna Grace’s parents (Charles F. W. and Sophia Ruwwe Gruner) worked in the fields with Henry Ernst and Effie Gruner, my grandparents. J. F. Charles told Sophia, “why don’t you leave that baby with me?” Charles took over the care of the infant. He fed her bread crumbs, crackers, and let her chew on bacon rind, and soon she grew stronger.

Nell Gore also tells that Anna Grace could remember her grandmother, Margarethe, but she didn’t like her. It’s likely that the old grandmother may have been somewhat cranky with the little girl. I also recall hearing from my Dad or Aunt Minnie that the old lady had a sharp tongue

Note: Mabel Gruner (b. 13 Oct 1904, daughter of Charles F. W. Gruner) wrote an interesting history of the Gruners in Texas, filled with insights about growing up and farming on the Texas plains. Charles Gruner came to Amarillo, Texas, in 1906 on an “emigrant train” with his teenage son, Frank, but Sophia and the girls rode the passenger train. Charles brought along a pair of mules, two horses, a cow, a buggy, a wagon, a plow, and some tools. Later, he bought a riding horse. Charles and Frank went to work building a house and barn. Their nearest neighbor was about a mile away, and they had to haul in all their water from a neighbor about a mile away. Over time, they added more land and developed a large, successful farm. Farming in the Texas Panhandle was different from Missouri; more land and a windmill were essential. They moved about five miles to the northeast where more land and a four room house was available, but they continued to farm the previous acreage as well. A school district was formed, and Charles served as a trustee for several years. The teachers boarded at the Gruner house.

Mabel tells of walking to school the long way to avoid the mud of the fields after rain, difficulties in getting mail, an abundance of tramps following the rails and sleeping in their barn, cattle herds, covered wagons going to New Mexico, and monthly church services when a minister would come out from Amarillo. She describes how Santa’s costume spooked the horses at the school Christmas celebration, as well as the box suppers and ice cream socials. They got their first car, an Overland sedan, about the beginning of WWI. School closed during the Flu epidemic in 1918, but the snow was so bad that year it probably would have been closed anyway. Cars couldn’t operate on the unpaved roads in heavy snow, and even when the horses were hitched to a sled, a trip to town and back exhausted them. Mabel described farming and kitchen techniques of the time at some length, including the hard labor demanded, but she concluded that the Texas Panhandle was a great place to live.

Anna Martha Gruner, oldest daughter of Charles and Margarette, married Jacob Esters and moved to a farm in southeast Kansas; they had a son, William G Esters. After the death of her husband in 1941, Anna Martha lived with her son and his wife (Marcella) at Marshalltown, Iowa, until her death in 1951. William wrote a letter to Henry Ernst Gruner advising him of his mother’s death, not realizing that Henry Ernst and Effie Gruner were deceased. The letter reached Aunt Minnie Gruner Fell, and a visit was arranged between William and the Gruners in MO. Later, Minnie and Mose Fell visited William and Marcella in Iowa. William G. Esters died in 1955, and Marcella went on to teach at Northern Iowa University. One wonders if Martha may have met Esters through her Enderlein relatives in Kansas.

In the letter above, dated 4 Jan 1951, William Esters indicated that his mother died 19 Dec 1950 at the age of 93 from stomach flu. Her health had been good; she enjoyed reading books and magazines, and she made up her bed every morning except her last two days of illness. “She always remembered Missouri as the garden spot of the world,” and she often spoke of her family there.

Anna Julia Gruner (the middle daughter and there is more about her below in the “Ruwwes” p. 176) married Edmund Ruwwe, lived in Gasconade County, and had seven children. Notes from Dad & Aunt Minnie identify their children: *Earnest H. Ruwwe: b. 11 Oct 1882; died 7 Mar 1889 at age six. *William E. Ruwwe: b. 22 Sept 1884; married Anna Ray and died 27 July 1942. He was survived by two sons and a daughter: Forest of Mineral wells, TX; Vernon of Bayfield, CO; and Mrs. Norman Clifford of Rockford, CO. *August C.: b. 17 Dec 1886; married Josephine Kleager 6 June 1917; died 10 Aug 1967. He was survived by two daughters and a son: Mrs. Beatrix (Ruwwe) Schweer of Gerald, Mo; Mrs. Wilma (Ruwwe) Law of Bellville, IL, and Herbert Ruwwe of Sullivan, MO. *Amelia: b. Mar 1889; married Jacob L. Bullington 14 Feb 1907 and lived in Grand Junction, CO. Dad and Mother took us to visit them about 1951, but I recall nothing of value. *Frank B.: b. 3 Nov 1891; never married; died about 1958. *Emma : b. Jan 1894; married Leonard Lambert 14 Feb 1912 and lived in Palmyra, IL. *Lena: b. Aug 1896; married George Kleager and lived near Cuba, MO. Martha Bertha Gruner (25 Dec 1860 – 10 Jan 1914) was the youngest daughter of Charles and Margarette. She is shown as Bertha Gruner in the Census of 1880 at least once. The Census showed her (age 20) working as a maid at the St Louis home of E.S. Wellman, a Bavarian in the wholesale liquor business. The household consisted of Wellman, his wife, and a brother. Another entry in the same Census indicated “Bertha Gruner,” aged 19, working as a maid in the St Louis home of Augustus Wayl, a broker, ? (banking? illegible). This household consisted of Wayl, his wife, and daughters aged 17 and 21. I think it’s unlikely that there were two Bertha Gruners of almost the same age; she was probably double-counted based on third party interviews. There were, however, at least two other ‘Gruner’ families in St Louis (Karl: 1828-1895 and Phillip: 1832-1898), but there is no record of a Bertha in their families though.

At any rate, Martha Bertha Gruner married August John Helzer; he was born at Elm, Kassel-Hesse, 1Aug 1852, and emigrated to the U.S. about 1871, living first in Cleveland, OH. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at Hermann, MO, where he had been working as a teamster. Maybe he met Bertha while working in Gasconade County; however, a 1927 letter from Lizzie (Kuchs) Helzer (Bertha’s sister-in-law and sister of Emma Enderlein, i.e., Mrs. Adam Enderlein), left in the effects of Juanita Gruner (wife of Forrest Gruner, Amarillo, TX), maintains that they met while Bertha was visiting her relatives in Seneca, KA, during the summer of 1886. Lizzie Helzer was the wife of John Helzer, a wheelwright at Fort Niobrara. Apparently, “Mother” Helzer had just come over from Germany, and her son John had met her in New York and brought her to Kansas. According to this letter, dated 4 June 1927, August John Helzer (sometimes called “Justus”) met Bertha when visiting his mother at his brother John’s home in Seneca. Bertha Gruner’s presence in Kansas indicates that contact among Enderlein relatives was maintained initially. Justus wanted to marry immediately, but Bertha returned to MO to see her parents until October. The roads were very bad in NE and SD and Justus could get little time off, so they met in Seneca Kansas and were married at John and Lizzie’s house. The Helzer family Bible indicates they married in “Seneca, Kansas, 28 October 1886 in presence of Coff (sp?) Herold and Emma Enderline.” August John Helzer’s initial enlistment was dated 3 June 1876 during the Indian Wars, about three weeks before the Custer disaster at Little Big Horn. He was honorably discharged as Sergeant on 2 June 1881 at Fort Bridger, WY, and given an appointment as Chief of Police and Transportation Master at the Rosebud Agency, S.D, where four of their children were born. The Helzers finally settled in Valentine, NE, around 1898, where they had a fifth child, and were eventually buried there. Their son, John, and daughter, Katheryn, are buried with them.

In the fall of 1876 the Bureau of Indian Affairs sent commissioners to the Sioux in western Nebraska to ratify a treaty that was signed by Chief Red Cloud of the Oglalas and Chief Spotted Tail of the Brule Sioux. The Indians promised to occupy land reserved for them in South Dakota. Each Indian was given a small sum of money, beef and other supplies every month and heads of families were given free title to one hundred sixty acres of land. The Brules were located on what was called the Rosebud reservation. Homesteaders and the railroad soon came to central Nebraska. Unfortunately, the Indians failed to stick to the treaty, and they often left the reservation to rob and kill the white settlers. US troops were sent to quell the disturbances. In 1879, General Crook (Commander, Department of the Platte) was directed to establish a new fort. He established a fort on the Niobrara River, south of the Rosebud Agency, and in 1880 three companies of the 5th Cavalry were stationed there.

The most famous Chief of the Brule Sioux, Spotted Tail, was murdered by Crow Dog on the Rosebud Reservation in August, 1881. Spotted Tail, a cousin of Crazy Horse, had convinced Crazy Horse to surrender to the Army at Fort Laramie, where Crazy Horse was subsequently murdered. Many Sioux were angry. Some thought Spotted Tail had betrayed Crazy Horse, and some swore revenge against Spotted Tail. Crow Dog, one of the latter, was tried and sentenced to death, but the sentence was never executed due to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in ex parte Crow Dog, 1883, which held that the U.S. had no jurisdiction over crimes committed by Indians on Indian lands. August John Helzer would have been deeply involved in all these activities.

Martha Bertha and ‘Justus’ had two sons and three daughters. Aunt Minnie’s and Dad’s notes indicate that Charles Helzer, the younger son, died in the Veteran’s Hospital in Atlanta, GA, about 1941and was buried in Orlando, FL. His wife, Gertrude, died in Feb 1970 and is buried beside him. They were survived by two daughters: Mrs. P.L. Abbey of Scotia, NY, and Mrs. J. D. Rogers of Columbus Ohio. A daughter, Bertha (Helzer) Bates, resided in a nursing home in Rockville, MD, for a time after the death of her husband, but she had a home in Sun City, FL. Another daughter, Mabel (Helzer) Cornell of Ord, NE, sold her home and gave away her furniture and other items to grandchildren and great-grandchildren when she moved to Sun City, FL, c. 1969-70 to take care of sister Bertha, but I have no records of the names of Mabel’s offspring. The other daughter, Katheryn Helzer, never married, but she lived with sister Mabel in Ord, NE, until her death 25 Oct 1969. Charles William Helzer registered for the WWI draft in Cherry County, NE, and John H. Helzer registered for the WWI draft in Rosebud, SD. I have been unable to verify service, but since Charles died in a Veterans’ Hospital, I assume he saw service somewhere. The Valentine (Cherry County) Nebraska Democrat of 3 June 1909 reported in the “Talk of the Town” section: “Charles Helzer has resigned his position with Davenport and Co. and accepted one with the Valentine Lumber Co. He has always been a good steady boy and will succeed in his new work as he has in his old.” Bertha and Justus Helzer’s first-born son was John H. Helzer, born 9 July 1889 in Rosebud, SD. According to a Valentine, NE, newspaper article of 12 June 1980, his family moved to Valentine in 1898 from Rosebud, SD, where his father had been a policeman and his mother kept a boarding house. John graduated from Valentine High School in 1907. He was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, the Coyote. He married Bessie Gaskill 4 June 1913, and they went into a small mercantile business at Parmalee, SD and later at Billings, Montana. Bessie (Gaskill) Helzer had an interest in genealogy and passed on some of the information above to her descendents. Bessie is acknowledged as a source by the author of an Early History of Cherry County. John Helzer died in Billings about March, 1962. He was survived by a son, J.J. (Jim?) Helzer of Chadron, NE.

According to the Valentine, NE, Democrat, of 8 Aug 1901, in the “Additional Local” section: “John Helzer, who has been wheelwright at this Post for several years and an early pioneer in this county, resigned his position and last Friday morning departed with his wife (Lizzie) for Nehama County, Kansas, where he has relatives and friends.” Seneca, Kansas, (County seat of Nemaha County) was the home of Adam Enderlein and his wife Emma (Emma was the sister of Lizzie (Kuchs) Helzer). This could be another indicator that the Enderlein-Gruner children maintained some contact with their grandmother, Susanne (Bahrt) Enderlein, and their Kansas aunts/uncles. The “John Helzer” above is the brother of August John Helzer, and the “Post” referred to above is Fort Niobrara. (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn95069780/1901-0808/ed-1/seq-4/;words=Helzer+agency+John+Rosebud+August)

 

(Jeanette Pitcher found a newspaper article indicating that Charles F.W. Gruner also visited the Enderleins at Seneca, KA.)


Notes: Employment for U.S. females outside the home in the 19th century was almost nonexistent. In the larger cities, however, German girls could earn up to $18 a month including board for domestic service – three times what they could make at home. Generally, this was considered honorable work; yet, some women were ‘taken advantage of.’ A distant cousin, whose grandmother married into the Souders-Jost side of the family, told me that, before marrying, her grandmother had borne a child out of wedlock from a situation involving domestic service. “According to Luther Standing Bear in his memoir, My People the Sioux, Spotted Tail was killed by Crow Dog after taking the wife of a crippled man. Spotted Tail had gone to the Carlisle Indian school and removed his three children and granddaughter despite Captain Pratt's objection. Spotted Tail had been given gifts from the Carlisle school and considered his ability to receive gifts from the government and take back his children as a sign of his power. He exploited this and sold land not belonging to him. This angered many of the Sioux chiefs … . Spotted Tail's continual flaunting of his believed power was brought to a head when he stole the wife of a crippled man. When told by a council of chiefs to give the man his wife back, Spotted Tail refused, saying he would do as he pleased and the US Government was behind him. At this point several men decided that Spotted Tail should be killed, but before they could act, Spotted Tail was ambushed and assassinated by Crow Dog in 1881.” (I made some minor grammatical corrections to this text) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotted_Tail) The Church of Latter Days Saints’ “Ancestral Files,” submitted by individuals and unverified, indicates August John Helzer was born about 1856 in Jefferson Township, Osage County, MO. I believe this is erroneous data. http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/AF/individual_record.asp?recid=8451004&lds=0&region=-1&regionfriendly=&frompage=99 I recently learned that Martha Bertha Gruner, the youngest of the three sisters, was sometimes called “Babe” by family members.

Henry Ernst Gruner (1866-1939), the youngest child of Charles and Margarette, married Effie Belle Hartman in 1888 and became my grandparent. It isn’t clear where he lived when first married, but according to Aunt Minnie (Gruner) Fell, he returned to the family farm in Bem, MO, about 1890-1891 to help his parents run the place. After, his father’s death, he bought out the other heirs. There he raised cattle, hogs, and commercial crops, until it was sold during the depression about 1930. Debt mounted during the agricultural depression of the 1920’s and 30’s, and it was apparent that the family was watching pennies. Sometimes the bank records of Henry’s account show overdrawals for less than a dollar, and his accounts notebook indicates sums receivable for as small as a quarter. During his last years, Henry worked as the custodian of the Presbyterian Church of Owensville. Henry Ernst (‘Earnest,’ his preferred name) and Effie Gruner had nine children that survived infancy, and both are buried in the cemetery at Owensville, MO. Their surviving children, in order, were: Edna Vernon(16 July 1889-12 Oct 1982), Minnie Walton(11 Aug 1890-28 March 1976), Elmer Ernst(29 Sep 1892-23 April 1973), William Henry (23 May 1894-2 Jan 1976), Amy Opal (3 Dec 1896-24 May 1974), Letha Gertrude(18 July 1898-8 Nov 1978), George Frederick (18 Mar 1900-31 July 1992), Courtnae Laura (4 Nov 1906-c. 1995), and Mayme Belle {or Beatrice?} (3 Dec 1911-16 July 1974). James Earl Gruner, son of Henry E. and Effie B. Gruner died in childhood (October 1905) and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Curiously, Henry E. Gruner did not follow the German custom of naming his children after his ancestors, except for my dad, George Frederick Gruner, who received his great grandfather’s name. Perhaps naming this child was done to gratify Charles Gruner who died less than a month after George’s birth. When Henry Ernst Gruner died, he had a $1000 dollar life insurance policy with the Modern Woodmen of America Society, and each child received a check for $111.11. The Woodman Society was in charge of the graveside ceremony. There is more about Henry in the section on my mother and father (p.197). Effie Hartman Gruner was remembered as a gentle, sweet person, who worked hard and never complained. She was an active member of the Presbyterian Church in Owensville and a long-term member of the Royal Neighbor Association.

Note: Ernest Muscat told descendants that he worked as a farm laborer on “Henry E. Gruner’s Brush Creek Township Farm in Gasconade County in 1879.” Of course, he meant Charles Gruner, since Henry E. was only 13 in 1879. However, the story makes sense because this would be about the time Charles Jr. was attempting to farm around Argo, and Henry was still too young to do all that would be needed.

Aunt Celia (Bullington) Gruner’s family story is interesting too. “Celie” was the wife of Henry Ernst Gruner’s oldest son, Elmer. According to family stories and some written sources, the original Bullington was among the first English colonists to settle in Virginia; he lived to be 100. Women were scarce and he purchased a wife for the price of her passage to America. His Grandson, Samuel Bullington of South Carolina, had one son, Absolom, in 1814. Absolom, in turn, married Oney Tinsley in 1839, moved to Independence County, Arkansas, and fathered ten children. Absolom served as a Sergeant in the 4th Arkansas Cavalry during the Civil War, he was Justice of the Peace for several years, and he served as Postmaster at Walnut Grove. James (b. 1840) and John (b. 1842) Bullington, his sons, enlisted in Co. A First Arkansas Volunteer Infantry in June 1862. They served for eight months and were discharged at St Louis, made their way to Rolla, decided it was unsafe for Unionists to travel through the country, and went to work for Henry Souders on his farm. In 1868, James married Rachel Souders, and John married Sara Souders (the girls were sisters of Great-Uncle Henry and Great-grandfather Jacob Souders). Jacob’s younger brother, Isaac Newton Souders, carried on a correspondence with James and John’s sister, Nancy, in Arkansas (the Bullington brothers could not read or write), which ended with ‘Newt’ riding south to fetch Nancy to Missouri as his bride. Newt Souders grew to be a huge man, around 350 pounds. In 1913, he went from his farm to Oak Hill to visit friends, and he had a sudden heart attack while talking to the cashier at the bank. He fell from his chair in a faint. Friends carried him outside under a shade tree, but he never revived. He died two hours later, aged 60.

John Bullington’s son, James (1872-1945), married Lizzie Brandenberger and they had one child, Celia, who married my Uncle Elmer Gruner (1891-1973), Dad’s oldest brother. ‘Celie’ and Elmer’s only child died in infancy (21 Oct 1917)and lies buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery. After the farm was sold, Elmer worked at the hardware store in Owensville until he retired. Late in his life, Uncle Elmer was so upset about a neighbor picking fruit from his tree that he took up an axe to chop it down and suffered a debilitating stroke in the process, which probably led to his death some years later. Celie lived on as a widow for three plus decades, finally passing away at age 97. Aunt Celie was a paragon of generosity; don’t even imagine you could enter her home without eating. She always poor-mouthed what she served, and our part in the script was to reassure her it was delicious. Over the years, Aunt Celie maintained the peculiar southern usage and twang that she must have gotten from her Grandfather; “we’uns, you’uns, and us’uns” were sprinkled liberally throughout her conversations. I took Dad to visit Celie in the hospital in the summer of 1990 or ‘91. Celie was 96 and tired of the struggle and the pain; she said she only wanted to die. The big, old house was too much for her, and she couldn’t afford a live-in caretaker. On the other hand, she couldn’t afford to go into an assisted living facility even if she wanted to. Medicare didn’t cover it. She would have to depend on friends or relatives who had problems of their own. In a few months, however, her wish was granted, and she was laid to rest.


Minnie Walton Gruner is shown in the Census of 1910 living at home, but the Census of 1920 shows her living in St Louis. Aunt Minnie Walton Gruner’s first marriage was to Henry “Evert” Wycoff (that’s the spelling on his death certificate). The date of that marriage has not been determined, but it probably happened about 1920-25. Henry lived from 9 Dec 1887 to 5 March 1928, and he was a merchant in Cuba, MO. His parents were J. Wycoff and Mary C. Morrison. The cause of Henry Wycoff’s death was tuberculosis at age 40, and he is buried in the Kinder Cemetery at Cuba, MO. His headstone is a double, with “Minnie W.” and her birth date also inscribed on it, but she actually is buried next to her second husband, ‘Mose,’ in Rolla.

Henry Wycoff’s ancestors were zealous supporters of Union during the Civil War, and great sacrifices were made. James Wycoff enlisted in CPT Ing's Company L, 3rd Cavalry MO Volunteers at Rolla 15 Aug 1861. CPT Ing was a Methodist Episcopal Minister at Cuba, MO, whose congregation carried pistols to church to protect him from Bushwhackers during the early part of 1861. If Ing couldn’t preach, he said he would fight, so he enlisted a company and went off to war against the Rebels. James Wycoff was mustered in at Benton Barracks (North St Louis, along Natural Bridge Road) 20 Oct 1861. He was transferred to G Company of the 9th MO Cav and then to B Company 10th Cav MO Vols on 10 Oct 1962. Another James Wycoff enlisted in Co H 63rd EMM at Rolla on 10 Aug 1862 for a day, but volunteered for B Company of the 10th Cav MO Vols on the next day. He was mustered in 15 Aug 1862 at Rolla, but he died on 2 or 3 Jan 1863 at St Louis. Jordan Wycoff enlisted in Company B of the 10th Cav at Rolla on 1 Aug 1861 and was mustered the same day. He died 2 March 1862 at St Louis. William Wycoff enlisted in Co I 63rd EMM in Steelville on 9 Sep 1862 and served until discharged at Cuba in Aug-Sep 1863. Samuel Wycoff enlisted in C 10th Cavalry MO Vols on 15 July 1861 at Rolla, but his service record is incomplete. Martin Wycoff enlisted in C Company 10th Cavalry MO Vols 1 Sep 1861 at Rolla and mustered the next day. Records show he deserted. Another possible family member, George W. Wycoff, enlisted in Company C of the 8th Infantry MO Vols on 13 June 1861 at St Louis and was mustered in the same day. He was discharged 31 Oct 1861 at Paducah, KY, from the wounds he received at Wenzville, MO on 18 July 1861.

Minnie (Gruner) Wycoff was a widow when she married Ambrose Fell (1885-1959), a career Marine Noncommissioned Officer who did sea duty aboard the USS Prairie and served during 1909-10 in Panama and Nicaragua. I believe Mose also had some China service with the Marines. I have not located a marriage certificate for Mose and Minnie Fell, but they are listed together in the Census of 1930 at St Louis, MO. During the latter part of his Marine career, Mose was a recruiter, and after retiring from the Corps, he worked for the Missouri State Penitentiary as the Superintendant of the Bureau of Criminal Identification. Prior to that, he may have worked with the WPA or CCC briefly in the Phelps-Crawford County area, according to Sonie Singer. During his final years of retirement, Mose worked for the City of Rolla maintaining Buehler Park.

When I was twenty, Aunt Minnie gave me $1,000 to help me get through college. I was to pay her the interest she would have earned at the bank when I got on my feet. While she forgave that requirement as I continued to struggle financially, I regret that she passed away before I was able to repay her. Aunt Minnie enjoyed quilting, was one of the first members of AARP and active in Eastern Star. Aunt Minnie tried to put together a record of the Gruner family, sometimes working with Nell Gore or others from the Texas and Kansas branches of the Gruner family. She also traveled to meet as many of the descendants of Carl and Margarethe as she could. After Mose died, she often served as the family “nurse” whenever someone was ill enough to require constant attention. As an older grandchild, she actually knew and had some memories of Charles and Margarette. It is unfortunate that she didn’t record more of them. I have about ten pages of handwritten notes that she made and gave to my Dad prior to her death, some of which appear to have been copied from Juanita Gruner and Bessie Helzer. Aunt Minnie was able to complete only one generation back and one forward. Even she, second oldest of Charles and Margarethe’s grandchildren, who lived with and knew them both while growing up, knew almost nothing about them and their lives. Since she actively sought information about her grandparents from any available family source, it seems safe to say that none of the other grandchildren knew much about them either.

Edna Gruner Souders’ (Dad’s oldest sister in Dexter, MO, 1889-1982), son Dean was drowned in a flashflood in Korea soon after he arrived there during that war. Edna and her husband, Henry, farmed in southwest Missouri. Their other children are Floyd, Harold, Maurice, Betty, William, Dorothy and Shirley. Dad’s brother, William (Bill) Gruner (1894-1976), had what was sometimes described as a “wild streak”. One night Bill and his buddies stayed out late (probably drinking) and turned over someone’s outhouse as a prank. When Bill’s father, Henry Gruner, learned of this, he was furious and hit Bill. Bill was rebellious enough to return the blow and knock Henry down. Thereafter, Bill left home and never returned. Later, he settled in Alton, IL, with his wife Hazel and her younger sister, Francis. Bill worked at a factory. Because of the distance between us, we didn’t see Uncle Bill often, but I do remember that he always reached in his wallet and gave me some money when he visited. Dad’s sister, Amy Gruner (1896-1974), married Adolph Miller, and they lived on a farm only a couple miles west of the old Gruner Farmstead. Amy and Adolph had an adopted son, Glen. Glen’s daughter was killed in an auto accident at age 18. At some time in his adult life, Glen became an adherent to one of the lesser-known Protestant Churches, and he may have become a preacher. I remember Aunt Amy fondly as a kindly, no-nonsense homemaker. Dad’s sister, Leatha (Gruner) Pope (1898-1978) moved to the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband, Hubert, had a farm about halfway between Tacoma and Puyallup, Washington. They had one son, Richard. I only saw her twice.

The Gruners association with the Ruwwe family is indicative of the complexity of relationships within a small community. Caspar Henry (Heinrich) Ruwwe (b. 1828-d.1892) was my Uncle Adolph Miller’s maternal grandfather (Adolph married Amy Gruner, Dad’s sister). Ruwwe immigrated from Osterweg, Westphalia, Prussia, in 1847 with his parents Friedrich Wilhelm and Anna Ruwwe and two siblings, Francis H. and Henriette. They settled originally in eastern Franklin County near Oakfield. C. Henry Ruwwe moved to Gasconade County in 1860 with his second wife Henriette (Kissing) and two children, Frank and Bertha, from his first marriage. Henriette was the sister of C. Henry’s first wife, Caroline, who died in 1858, and C. Henry returned to Germany in 1859 to marry and bring Henriette to MO. C. Henry Ruwwe’s daughter, Bertha Ruwwe, married Louis Miller, lived on a farm near Bem, MO, and had three sons: William, Adolph (who married my Aunt Amy Gruner), and Andy. C. Henry and Henriette Ruwwe had a son, Edmund, in 1860, who married Anna Julia Gruner (Dad’s aunt, daughter of Charles & Margarette Gruner). Edmund and Julia lived on the farm immediately northeast of the Ruwwe parents on Logan Branch of Brush Creek Twp. in Gasconade County. C. Henry Ruwwe did not have military service during the Civil War, but he had some close encounters with it. He had to conceal his horses in the woods to avoid confiscation by soldiers in the area, and he was interrogated by soldiers on one occasion when he was traveling to the mill at Champion City. Caspar Henry Ruwwe’s brother, Francis H. (Franz Heinrich) Ruwwe, of St Louis County, married Sophia Schwartze in 1855, and their fourth child, Emma Sophia Ruwwe married Charles F. W. Gruner (son of Charles and Margarette Gruner). Edmund and Julia (Gruner) Ruwwe were buried in the Warren cemetery near Tea, MO. Francis H. Ruwwe (Caspar Henry Ruwwe’s brother) was known as “Judge Ruwwe” in Franklin County. Since his occupation shown on the U. S. Census was ‘farmer,’ I suppose he was a county ‘judge’ (supervisor). There was also a school named after him in Ellisville, MO.

Note: Francis H. Ruwwe and Sophia Schwartz were married in 1855 in St Louis by Reverend Picker, formerly pastor of the Holy Ghost Evangelical Church where Charles and Margarette Gruner were married that same year by Rev. Hugo Krebs. Picker had split from Holy Ghost Evangelical because of differences with the Rationalist Governing Board, taking some of the poorest members with him to found a new church. The fact that Charles and Margarette were married by Krebs, instead of Picker, may indicate something about their personal beliefs and socio-economic status.

My dad’s younger sisters (Courtnea (b. 1906) & Mayme Gruner (b. 1911) both married men who served in the US Army during WWII. Courtnea had a daughter from her second marriage, Sondra Dallas (married Rich Singer and had two daughters, Cathy and Shari), but Mayme was childless. Harold Dallas was a long-term employee of the St Louis Globe Democrat. Courtnea’s third husband, Clyde James {Jim} Thomas served as an infantryman in both the Aleutian and European theatres. Mayme’s second husband, Eddie Knehans, trained first in horse artillery at Fort Ord and later Scottsdale, AZ, then converted to a medic with the 9th Armor Division. Both men participated in the Battle of the Bulge, as the allied forces closed in on Germany. Aunts Coutnea and Mayme were residents of metropolitan St. Louis. Courtnea (who preferred to be called ‘Mary’) had some background in nursing, while Jim worked at a major Department store. Together, they owned and successfully ran a couple of residential care facilities in the western St Louis metropolitan area. They were both good story-tellers, and Gayle and I got lots of laughs when we were with them. After retiring, they lived in St James briefly, but they missed the city and soon returned to the St Louis area. Jim was a member of the Shriners and the American Legion. Coutnea suffered a stroke about 1990, which made it difficult for her to communicate.

Courtnea Gruner’s third husband (Clyde James [Jim] Thomas, 1913-2008?) joined the Army in spring, 1941. Jim did his initial training at Camp Robinson, near Little Rock, Ark. He was subsequently transferred to California for movement to the Philippines, but when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he was rerouted to Tacoma, Washington, where he performed guard duty at McChord Airfield for about six months. In June, 1942, Japanese troops attacked Attu and Kiska Islands in the Aleutian chain, and Jim’s unit was reassigned to the Aleutians. I don’t know if Jim played any role during the retaking of those islands by the 7th Division and the 4th Infantry Regiment. I believe he was part of the follow-on occupation force of the 11th Army Air Force. He stayed in the Aleutians on guard duty for two years until June, 1942. He experienced the extreme cold there, and once his patrol got caught in a blizzard and had to lash themselves together with rifle slings and crawl back to the base nearly five miles. The wind and snow were so intense, it was impossible to see beyond a few feet. Luckily, they struck the line of telephone poles, or they might have been lost in the storm. I believe this was in the Okmuk Crater area because Jim remembers that there was an eruption a few “months” after he left in June 1944. (Mt Cleveland erupted in June 1944, and one soldier was believed killed in a mud flow.)

Jim Thomas was sent to Hattiesburg, Mississippi in June 1944, where he was assigned to the newly organized 106th Infantry Division. He trained at Fort Polk, LA. Jim remembered the tarantulas as being “big as dinner plates,” and he says that one soldier died there during a rest halt after being bitten by a coral snake. Soon the Division was shipped to Scotland and traveled by rail to the Cotswolds in England. He served as a temporary MP for a couple of months before they shipped over to France at Le Havre. They marched through the town at night in silence and spent a couple of weeks in the hedge rows before being trucked to the front.

Jim was captured (16 Dec. 1944) when the 106th Division was attacked and surrounded during the Battle of the Bulge. The 106th was a newly organized Division that had been sent directly to the front shortly after arrival in Europe, only 15 days on the continent when they received the full force of the German Counterattack. They had no armor support, little ammunition, and limited supplies. They relieved the 2nd Infantry Division on 6 Dec. 1944 in a supposedly quiet sector, but then received the full force of two attacking Panzer Armies ten days later. Two regiments were encircled and compelled to surrender. In two days of fighting, the 106th had 641 GIs killed, 1200 wounded, and over 7,000 captured. Perhaps the most famous member of the 106th Division was Kurt Vonnegut, who used his POW experiences as the basis for his novel Slaughterhouse Five.

Jim had some harrowing experiences, including about five months as a PW in the vicinity of Dresden, Germany. When first captured, he was soon herded into cattle cars packed so tightly that men did their bodily functions in their helmets and then passed them to the outside of the car to be dumped. The men took turns lying down to get some rest. They were kept in the cars for long periods, sometimes over a day at a time. They were low priority cargo as they moved to the East, so they were shunted to a siding every time a train needed to get by carrying supplies to the front. On one occasion, the train was attacked by allied aircraft. The PWs broke out and began to run. Jim Thomas and a friend came upon a skip loader. The friend climbed into the steel bucket for protection, but Jim crawled underneath. A bomb exploded directly in the bucket and obliterated his friend.

At the PW camp, they were fed very little, mostly a few scraps of potato or other vegetable in greasy water once daily. Jim fell from about 175 lbs to less than 90 lbs. He said he only got one bath during the five months of captivity. The POW’s even slept with their shoes on to prevent theft. He received only one Red Cross Package in five months, and that had to be shared among five men. For days the PWs plotted in vain to catch a dog that hung about the camp. Jim always believed it would have made a great stew. Jim was at the Prison Camp for five months, during which he was required to clean up the streets of Dresden, a block a day – stacking bodies to one side, everything but the streetcars to the middle. He particularly remembered the huge allied air raid of 17 February 1945 which lasted for 17 hours. He was with a group of about a hundred POW’s who hid in the basement of a slaughterhouse which received 3 hits during the raid. During his stay at the Prison Camp, he recalled three incidents where local Germans treated him kindly, offering tobacco, food, spoons to eat with and encouragement. He made at least one abortive attempt to escape, but ran right into a German unit, and he told about several attempts to steal food that mostly came to naught.

As the allied lines grew closer, the camp guards were ordered to pull back to avoid capture by the Russians. Since they had no petrol, the PWs were hitched to farm wagons and ordered to pull the loads like draft animals. The wagons carried the Germans’ wives and children as well as supplies. You can imagine the “gentle” persuasion if a guard felt that insufficient effort was being put forth. As the camp began to move, some of the guards deserted, the column strung out in length, and the remaining guards could not keep tight control of the PWs. Jim Thomas and four buddies saw their opportunity when an allied plane strafed the column. When everyone fled from the road to the woods, they kept going and escaped. They stole enough to survive, repaired an abandoned car and drove into Prague, Czechoslovakia. They rode the rails out of Prague and joined up with some British POW’s at a workshop that had been abandoned by their Guards. Four days later an American convoy rolled through, picking up all allied POW’s. This was about three weeks after their escape. They were taken first to Pilsen, then eventually removed to France and shipped home. There were no bunks available on the ship, and the former POW’s had to sleep on the decks during the crossing.

When Jim got to the US, he collected a partial back-pay and rode to St Louis in boxcars that had been fitted with bunks for returning soldiers. After a seventy day leave, he reported back to Hot Springs, Ark. where he declined the opportunity to reenlist. After four years seven months and twenty-six days, Jim’s war was finally over. Jim had recurring nightmares about his wartime experiences that continued until his death c. 2008.

George Fredrick Gruner & Elsie Rachel Souders Gruner

 3-18-1900 to 7-1-1992           &                 11-22-1903/4 to 1-16-1989

George F. Gruner was born at the family farm near Bem, MO, son of Henry “Earnest” Gruner and Effie Belle Hartman Gruner (married 1888). Great-Grandfather Charles (Carl) Gruner died April 14, 1900, less than a month later, and the family farm came under the control of Henry Ernst Gruner, who bought out the other heirs. George had two older brothers, four older sisters, and two younger sisters. There was also another brother (James Earl) who died shortly after birth (1904-1905). The siblings, in order from the eldest, are: Edna Gruner Souders, Minnie Gruner Fell, Elmer Gruner, William Gruner, Amy Gruner Miller, Letha Gruner Pope, {George F. Gruner}, Courtnae Gruner Thomas, and Mayme Gruner Knehans

George grew up learning about farm work until age 9 when he attended the school about 2.5 miles west of the farm (adjacent to the cemetery where his grandparents are interred). At school, he found English immersion (at home German was still often used) and completed the 8th grade curriculum in four years, graduating at age13. He did not, however, go on to high school. The high school was in Owensville, about ten miles north of the farm and beyond reasonable daily commuting distance. In fact, when it rained, Dry Fork Creek was sometimes impassable, and there were times in the winter that the snow drifted high enough to make the road impassable as well. Consequently, he would have had to pay room and board in Owensville in order to attend school. It’s likely that his father would have considered such expense unwarranted, particularly since his labor was needed on the farm. Perhaps his quick learning earned him a reputation that accounts for him subsequently being elected to the school board at age 21, its youngest member.

George enjoyed farming, worked diligently, and his easy-going personality probably enabled easy access to his elders, allowing him to soak up the learned experience of his seniors quickly. Still, with the depression in agricultural prices that followed World War I, even George couldn’t make ends meet for his father and brother Elmer. As prices for farm commodities fell, it was more and more difficult to service the debt that Henry Ernst acquired when times were good. Henry aggravated the situation by risky investments in southwestern oil wells that produced only dust. Unfortunately, he was a man who was easy prey for a traveling wildcat stock salesman who came armed with a jug of whiskey. Moreover, he liked to look prosperous, buying one of the first Ford automobiles in the area. Yet, he also had a penurious side. In his account book he entered all the payments due him and when they were paid. There are several entries as small as 25 cents. Ten years prior to Henry’s death in 1939, Elmer took over the farm, but he had to sell it to pay off debt. Unfortunately, real estate values had plummeted, but Elmer was able to buy a house in Owensville and went to work at the hardware store. My mother felt that Henry Ernst Gruner did not adequately appreciate the efforts my father made on his behalf.

Note: I have several of Henry Ernst Gruner’s cancelled checks and some receipts and miscellaneous documents, a chair which he made for his wife, as well as old eyeglasses that appear to be the ones Grandmother Effie Belle Gruner wore. Henry Ernst Gruner was a firm believer in the future of the automobile. There were proxy certificates from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, indicating he was an investor. I’ve also found letters from the C. J. Webster Oil & Gas Co. that appear to be a scam. One dated 31 March 1931 appears to be a second effort to again fleece unwary investors. A couple weeks later some blank stock certificate purchase agreements arrived, apparently trying to shake down Henry Ernst for another $820. These are followed by two more letters in rapid succession, attempting to get more cash. In 1918, the C.J. Webster Oil & Gas Company was the defendant in a suit brought by the Bank of Commerce of Sulpher, OK, to the OK Supreme Court, alleging Webster failed to pay a note he guaranteed. I also discovered a C. J. Webster Oil & Gas Company as a plaintiff in a 1920’s lawsuit in OK (but whether that is the same company is unknown), and currently, someone is trying to sell a 100 share C. J. Webster Stock Certificate on E-bay.

At Hermann, MO, on Feb. 23, 1923, George F. Gruner of Bem married Elsie Rachel Souders of Oak Hill, MO. Elsie was born 11-22-1903, although there is some disagreement about the year (the official records burned). However, her mother remembered carrying Elsie in her arms as an infant at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis. Elsie was the daughter of John and Lena (Jost) Souders. John was a prosperous merchant before the depression, but he overextended in the real estate sector, and when land values plummeted, he too was overcome by debt. Elsie had a half-sister, three sisters, and two brothers, The siblings, in order, are: Iva, Jesse, Pearl,{Elsie}, Jewel, Ruby, and Clarence.

Elsie may have completed the one-teacher “job” high school curriculum, but she never pursued education beyond that. The two-year “job” high school was taught on the upper floor of the bank building, across the street from the Souders’ home, but J. I. Brewer, a usually accurate source, indicates the “job” high school didn’t start in Oak Hill until 1925 – a time when mother was living on the Gruner farm with her husband’s family in Bem. At any rate, Dad maintained that mother did go to “high school;” perhaps it was in Cuba. All the Souders children had “chores” to get the essential family tasks completed. The boys and Pearl helped at the store, Elsie took care of the housework, Jewel and Ruby herded the goats that their father used to keep down weeds and brush (he was the first in that area to use goats for that purpose), milked the cows, worked in the garden, and mowed the yard. Elsie recalled being afraid of the stallions her dad kept. They were high-strung to begin with, and if they detected a mare in heat, they became very aggressive, rearing up and hammering the stable stalls with their hoofs. On Sundays, the young people from nearby farms would come by horseback and gather at the Souders’ house. They always played baseball on Sundays, weather permitting. I imagine one of those young baseball players was George Gruner and that he showed an increasing interest in Elsie. Church box suppers and Halloween were big social events for the kids of Oak Hill Village. They also enjoyed ‘house dances.’ These were held in homes which had a large living room. Fiddles usually provided the tunes. Jacob Souders likely would have frowned on such activity, and I believe I remember hearing that John had some reservations too. Lena Souders could play the piano and organ, but I don’t recall that she played anything but hymns or maybe patriotic and old folk melodies. I remember that she liked Stephen Foster melodies though. Elsie learned to play the piano by ear as well. John Souders kept his farm on the Bourbeuse until 1928. That probably provided another opportunity for interaction between George and Elsie, since Oak Hill is only about 3.5 miles distant from the Gruner farm by way of the Bourbeuse crossing, and there may have been times Elsie was at the Bourbeuse property.

Elsie cut her foot deeply on a broken fruit jar while playing in the church yard. It didn’t heal correctly and continued to trouble her for the rest of her life. As a teenager, she had a wisdom tooth extracted without anesthesia. The process took hours, and the pain was intense. Folk medicine was still often practiced, since it was usually about as good as the ‘professionals.’ Mother and her sisters would send Gayle and me into shrieks of laughter describing the asfidity bags kids wore at school. These were bags tied around the neck, containing asafedita root and camphor. They smelled so bad that no one would get close enough to transfer germs. Another home remedy was coal oil (kerosene) on a rag against the chest for colds.


George and Elsie married Feb. 23, 1923, and they lived on the Gruner Farm at Bem with George’s parents. During the years George & Elsie lived on the Gruner farm, Elsie took on the kitchen and household tasks as the Gruner sisters married or left for St Louis and the older generation slowed down. When the farm sold, George & Elsie tried their luck in St Louis also. Elsie found work at a factory, perhaps through the good offices of her sister Pearl (who eventually rose to the executive suite of International Shoe Company). George worked a variety of jobs -- whatever was available, sometimes making as little as fifty cents a day.

Eventually, things began to improve in response to federal pump priming, and George and Elsie moved to Phelps County. But first, he worked at a fish hatchery at Westover (near Steelville) for a manager named Charles White and then started a milk delivery route, which finally led to his employment at Maramec Springs Farm. In later years, as we would drive down MO Hwy 8, Dad would talk about where he made deliveries and how the road challenged him in bad weather. Mrs. Lucy James, the owner of Maramec Springs Farm and heiress to part of the Dun & Bradstreet fortune, noticed George’s work ethic and intelligence. She named him manager of the farm. When George first began work at the farm’s dairy, he and Elsie lived in the huge old farmhouse with all the other hands, and Elsie had to cook for everyone to earn her keep. Elsie was not particularly strong, and these difficult years seemed to take a toll on her as time passed. Upon his selection as manager, however, George and Elsie moved to a small house just above the springs. This was the Jolley Cabin, started in 1858, the home of the first Maramec storekeeper. They lived there for the birth of both their children: Gayle Marquetta on July 2, 1935, and George Richard on April 6, 1940. Although times had been very hard on George and Elsie during the early 1930’s, somehow he scraped together enough money (a dollar a day) to pay the monthly bills for one of Elsie’s sisters recovering from tuberculosis at a sanitarium in Crawford County. Somewhere during this time, George fell victim to scarlet fever; afterward that was the reason given for losing his hair early. As late as the 1990’s, I met men in St James who spoke fondly of George for giving them work and support during the time he was managing Maramec Farm. Although his friends from these early years addressed him as “George,” they referred to him as “Mr. Gruner” when talking to me.

Note: Phoebe Elizabeth Apperson (3 Dec 1842-18 Apr 1919) was a great, great aunt of my sons, Mark and Steve, on their mother’s side. Phoebe Apperson was born in Anaconda, Missouri (E of Sullivan), and was hired to teach at the Maramec Iron Works in 1858. Her classroom was in the upper floor of the boarding house (where Dad and Mother lived when they first came to Maramec Spring), and she served also as governess and tutor for the William James children. In 1860, she met George Hearst (22 years her senior, who was visiting his sick mother at the Hearst family farm near her parents’ farm), and they were married at Steelville in 1862. George Hearst had been born on a farm east of Sullivan in 1820. After the death of his father, he began a successful career in lead and copper mining. His first successful California gold mine in Grass Valley was named the “Merrimack Hill” after Missouri’s Merrimac River, while the second was named “Potisi.” At the time of the marriage, Hearst was already quite rich and a Union supporter. Union officers convinced the newlyweds they were in danger from Bushwhackers, so they hid out for a while at Maramec Spring before going on to California, where William Randolph Hearst, their only son was born in 1863 at San Francisco. (Note the varied spellings of ‘Maramec,’ which is how the James’ spelled it.)

One of George Gruner’s friends in St James was Sherman Bishop, owner of clothing stores in St James and Rolla. Both Sherm and George were great raconteurs, and it was fascinating to hear them talk about “the old days.” Sherm told about the time in 1927 that he traveled by car with the family to Los Angeles. Of course, there weren’t completed roads or service stations, and they had to fix their own breakdowns and camp out by the trail. George loved to tell how Uncle Bill Collier stood up to the robbers of the Burchard store in Bem back in the 1880’s. It happened before he was born, but it sounded as if it were yesterday. He would imitate the funny way Mr. (Herman) Piotter phrased thoughts in his halting English. He told about haying, picking corn, and combining wheat. He talked about the history of Maramec Springs and the Iron Works, the bad roads before the automobile, and delivering milk to the CCC camps.

Mrs. James died about the time Richard was born, and George and Elsie faced new challenges. There was litigation by the heirs concerning the terms of the will, and ultimately, livestock were sold and cropping suspended. Mr. Dun offered George a job in New York managing a family farm. George and Elsie placed the children with Grandmother Souders and drove to New York to investigate the job offer. George bought a new, black 1941 Oldsmobile that he always kept buffed to brilliance for the trip. George and Elsie even managed a side trip into New York City, but he didn’t take the job. It was too far away from family and friends. Instead he managed a farm around Steelville, MO, referred to as the “Martin Place.”

About this time, Elsie stopped driving the car; she said it made her too “nervous.” I recall dimly an occasion when Mother, Gayle, and I had some car trouble on a country road, and we had to seek help from strangers. I remember sleeping in a big overstuffed armchair that night as we waited for Dad to come get us. Gayle recalls a story Mother told about seeing a man abusing a woman in a field as Mother and Dad drove along a country road. Gayle remembers none of the details, but the upshot of it was that Dad stopped the car, got out and interceded. Apparently the man ran away, and Mother was convinced that Dad had stopped a rape from taking place. That Dad had courage is beyond dispute. When the big bulls would break down the fences between them and start bellowing, pawing, or butting heads, Dad would pick up an axe handle or pitchfork and calmly walk out between 5500-6,000 lbs. of brawling mayhem and use whatever force was required to separate them and get them back into each’s own pen. All the men on the dairy watched in awe.

In January, 1944, George was hired by the Missouri Department of Corrections to manage the dairy at Algoa Farms east of Jefferson City. Algoa was a reformatory for youthful offenders. The family lived on the reformatory grounds in a small house near the milking barn. The livestock, barns, and fields were serviced by convict labor during the day, but the inmates were locked up at night in a dormitory about a mile from the family home. My sister, Gayle, told me that our little Boston Bull Terrier was found drowned in the pond with a wire around its neck. I do remember Gayle and me putting the little dog in our red wagon and pulling it up to the bluff overlooking the Missouri River where we buried him.


In 1947, the MO Department of Corrections made George the manager of the larger Church Farm Dairy, seven miles west of Jefferson City on Old Booneville Road. In consultation with Missouri University’s Agriculture Department, George built Church Farm Dairy into a state-of-the-art model dairying operation. He supervised the construction of a new milking barn, cheese-making vat, refrigeration locker, bull barns, hay barns, and loafing sheds. Using scientific breeding and artificial insemination techniques, in less than a decade, he built the herd of registered Holsteins to over 150 high-producing milkers. Under George’s direction, Church Farm Dairy gained a statewide, regional, and national reputation for excellence. The dairy set on 900 acres of plateau pasture overlooking the Missouri River at points. The dairy had a silo for storing silage, a mill to grind corn for cattle feed, a blacksmith shop, and equipment storage sheds. The prison also had an adjacent 1400 acre farm in the Missouri bottoms that produced not only vegetables and fruit for consumption in the prisons’ mess halls, but also corn and other crops suitable to feed the cattle. Maintained by convict labor, the fences and buildings were whitewashed annually, presenting an unusually pleasant view to passers-by. The dairy supplied all local state facilities with dairy products, and George was proud that the dairy was the only state activity which turned a profit. Of course, he had the cost figures to back up this claim. The family had a larger house to live in at Church Farm. Like at Algoa, convicts surrounded the family during the day, but the inmates were locked up in a dormitory during the evening. George stayed with the Department of Corrections twenty-six years before retiring, but he never carried a gun or weapon of any sort. Almost universally, the hundreds of inmates he supervised respected his leadership and managerial skills. They respectfully addressed him as “Mr. Gruner,” and many assumed a kind of protective posture over the family and the dairy. On several occasions, former inmates would write George or even come by the farm to check in and report on how they were getting along on the “outside.”

George was a fastidious man. Relatives and friends would joke that he would stop to wipe bird droppings from his car. Perhaps, his car was always washed and shiny, and that 1941 Oldsmobile looked showroom sharp when he traded it in1953 for a 1951 Buick. His lawn, garden, and home were always perfectly maintained. He had good mechanical aptitude and did most of his work himself until the last few years when he no longer had the strength. George always wore a matched set of khaki work clothes, and they were clean and pressed when he started his day. He liked to dress up for church or social activities in a suit and tie though. He was a tireless worker and always set the example. He loved to talk, had an excellent memory, and was self-schooled far beyond his meager elementary education. Whenever possible, George’s special activity was attending the Dairyman’s Association meeting and auction in Madison, WI.

Upon retiring in 1970, George and Elsie bought a small house in Saint James, a place where they had the most pleasant memories. They lived at 325 Opal Street until they died, Elsie in 1989 and George in 1992. They are buried together at Ozark Memorial Cemetery on Highway 63 south in Rolla, MO close to Minnie and Ambrose Fell. George enjoyed traveling, and they made three trips to the west coast to visit Richard in Washington and California and others to visit Gayle in Kansas and Texas.

George was a well-known, respected, and admired citizen of St James. Many remembered him for kindnesses during the years he was manager of Maramec Springs Farm, and others were attracted by his courtesy and gentleness. George loved to converse; he was a great story teller with an infallible memory for details. He furthered a solid reputation for integrity by resigning his post as a deacon of a church that took too narrow a position on abortion, in spite of the fact that he was a staunch conservative on most issues. Even so, he was tolerant of other’s views, and he was as clear of racial prejudice as anyone of his generation and locale could have been.

During their last decade together, Elsie’s health declined, and George may have exhausted some of his strength by the careful and loving care he provided her. Elsie exhibited increasing signs of dementia/Alzheimers during her last decade. George had hip joints replaced twice, suffered from low blood pressure, had to have a pacemaker installed, and he found it increasingly hard to keep the lawn and home in the condition he wanted. Elsie suffered a debilitating stroke that left her in a coma about the last four months prior to her death. Every day, George faithfully came to the nursing home to sit by her side and talk to her in hope of recovery. She preceded him in death by three years, and although he attempted some travel after her passing, he was no longer strong enough to enjoy it. Finally, he felt that he needed assistance with his daily activities, and he moved into an assisted living residence in Rolla. He died the next morning of massive stroke, 92 and 1/3 years of age. Fortunately, Gayle was with him then.

George loved baseball and seldom missed a Cardinal game on radio or, later, television. He was a talented infielder himself before he hurt his knee and probably played some pick-up games in St Louis with men whose names are recognized nationally. He enjoyed radio baseball announcers Harry Cary and Dizzy Dean immensely; it just wasn’t the same when Joe Garagiola or Jack Buck called the game. He particularly appreciated nature: landscape, animals, birds and flowers. He served the First Christian Church as deacon and elder for many years in both Jefferson City and St James.

Dad’ maternal Grandfather, David Hartman, was born in Tennessee on 16 September 1845. His father was Jacob Hartman, born about 1817 in Sullivan County, Tennessee, and his mother was Elizabeth Archer, born in Campbell County, TN, 20 May 1821. Jacob and Elizabeth married 3 Sep. 1839, and by 1850’s US Census, the Hartmans were living in East Chickamauga, Walker County, GA. About 1860, Jacob Hartman had moved to Brush Creek Twp, Gasconade County, MO, and they resettled in Oak Hill, MO, by 1870. Elizabeth died in 1857 after delivering eleven children, and Jacob Hartman married Matilda Susan Galway on 7 Feb. 1859 in Crawford County, the service conducted by Rev. John T. Davis. Matilda Galway Hartman was born in Bowlingreen, KY, in Feb. 1816. Jacob Hartman’s second wife (Matilda) had been married to Noah Barnes, Sr. (19 Feb 1819 – 10 Dec. 1856). Matilda and Noah had nine children, and the fifth child was Mary E Barnes (b. 21 Dec. 1846 in Sullivan County, TN; d. 24 Feb. 1872 in Crawford Co., MO). Mary was thirteen and David was fourteen when her mother married Jacob Hartman. Mary E. Barnes (my Great Grandmother) became the wife of David Hartman, her step brother. David and Mary Hartman’s marriage was conducted 1 Sep. 1867 by Henry Souders (Jacob Souders’ brother), a Justice of the Peace for Crawford County. David and Mary Hartman’s oldest child (Effie Belle) is my Dad’s mother. It is possible that Mary is buried at the Barnes family cemetery which lies along Oak Hill Road north of Cuba.

Notes: Chickamauga’s area was once part of the Cherokee nation, but the city was not incorporated until 1891. Situated about ten miles below the Georgia-Tennessee state line and Chattanooga, TN, Chickamauga is at the base of Lookout Mountain in GA. Five hundred Cherokee warriors from this area fought alongside General Andrew Jackson's soldiers at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (March 27, 1814) against the Red Stick Creeks in Alabama. In 1820 the Cherokee built the first courthouse in Walker County, but they were forced to leave the area in 1838 as part of Jackson’s Trail of Tears Indian removal plan. During the Civil War, the Battle of Chickamauga, fought 18-20 September 1863, involved more than 128,000 Confederate and Union soldiers. With 34,000 total casualties, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War; it was also the Union Army of the West’s worst defeat. Union losses were 16,170 (1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, and 4,757 captured or missing), and Confederate losses were 18,454 (2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded, and 1,468 captured or missing). These were the highest losses of any battle in the Western Theater during the war and, after Gettysburg, the second highest of the war overall. Crawford County, MO Archives-Military Records indicate land grants in Crawford County for soldiers of the War of 1812: “John Barnes, Scott County Tennessee Militia, granted to Noah Barnes.”

Dad’s mother’s family had Union Civil War credentials also. Effie Belle Gruner’s father, David Hartman (b. 16 Sep 1845 in TN; died 25 Mar 1927 in MO), was a Corporal in Company D, 63rd Enrolled Missouri Militia. He enlisted Sept. 10, 1864 at Cuba with Captain Charles P. Gould, D Company Commander. David was a week shy of 19. He was ordered to active service the same day as his enlistment to repel Price’s invasion and relieved from duty Dec. 2, 1864. Grandmother Gruner possibly had a relative (Henry Barnes) who also served with the 63rd EMM at Rolla in 1862. The 63rd EMM was used to guard the railroad and bridges between Rolla and Franklin, but it was pulled in to defend Rolla when General McNeil made his march to block Price’s Rebel invasion at Jefferson City (4 October 1864.)


Note: There was a Sergeant William “ A. F.” Hartman who served in Captain Idel’s Company D of the Pacific Battalion Home Guards with John “Charles” Gruner, but likely this wasn’t David’s older brother, “William H.” I’ve found 12 “William H. Hartman” Civil War records (2 CSA; 10 Union: a CSA 1st MO Cav plus 4 other “Williams” in Missouri Union and Tennessee CSA units; the other “William H.” entries are from other states, e.g., Illinois, Iowa, Michigan). There was also a Charles Hartman in Co. D Pacific Battalion Home Guards, but he does not appear to be related either.

General McNeal, not wanting to leave Rolla undefended, called in the EMM on 29 September 1864. When General Ewing arrived at Leasburg on his withdrawal from Pilot Knob, with Shelby’s cavalry nipping at his heels, he had expected to be reinforced by the 63rd EMM, and was something more than disappointed not to find them there. Ewing was attacked by Shelby’s cavalry on the evening of 29 September, but fought them off. During the night he desperately prepared the position for the assault he expected to come on Friday, 30 Sep. Luckily, the supply train for Rolla pulled in that night from the East with some measure of relief. On Friday morning, he boarded his men on the train, expecting to go to St Louis; however they could see flames in the direction of Harrison’s Station to the East. It was clear that Shelby’s men had cut them off. During the day, the rebels continued harassing fire and probed Ewing’s position. That night, General Ewing sent four messengers to Rolla appealing for help; only one of whom made it through. On Saturday, 1 October, the rebel forces increased their fires and appeared to be massing for an attack, but broke off about 2:00 PM, and shortly thereafter, Lt. Colonel Beveridge with 500 men of the 17th Illinois Cavalry arrived to their rescue. (Both BG McNeil and BG Sanborn claim credit for this rescue.) When General McNeil called in the 63rd, he reported that one detachment of twenty (unidentified) had left their post and probably deserted.

While Cpl. David Hartman was at Rolla (records aren’t clear whether this was 60 or 90 days), he must have had contact with Captain William Monks, Commander of Company K, 16th Cavalry MSM (and a former officer in Company H 63rd EMM), a notorious scout and Union guerilla. “Hell Roaring Walker” was a sergeant in Monk’s Company K. Walker was a convicted horse thief, prison escapee, and accused murderer, and he was called “the most cold-blooded murderer in Southwest Missouri during the war” by the Rolla Weekly Herald, of 26 Oct 1871. Likely Corporal Hartman would also have seen LTC Joseph A. Eppstein (5th Cavalry MSM) of Boonville, an effective officer and seasoned guerrilla fighter against the bushwhacking element of Phelps, Dent, Texas, and Pulaski Counties. Monks claimed that Co. K killed fifty Bushwhackers and irregulars during 1864, but Eppstein did that well on a single patrol, and he led many successful patrols. Corporal Hartman may have seen some action against the Confederates in Dent County, where some of Price’s guerillas fled after Westport. The 63rd EMM was kept on active duty until Dec. 20, 1864. Not only did the Pacific Railroad and its western outpost in Rolla need to be protected, but nearly a thousand supply trains pulled by mules or oxen also made the trek between St Louis and Rolla during the war. Young Corporal David Hartman must have demonstrated some unusual qualities to be advanced in the ranks so quickly over his older, more seasoned peers.

The Hartmans have a long lineage in the United States, although the first to arrive isn’t clear. Hartmann (the original spelling) means “brave” or “strong” man. The family may have begun with Johann Henrich (Heinrich) Hartman, born in Prussia in 1700. After immigrating to the US about 1751, he died in Pennsylvania about 1770. Perhaps an even stronger possibility is Hendrick Hartman who arrived in Philadelphia in 1727. Furthermore, there is also a Johann Hendrick Hartman, who came as a family member in 1749 with his father, Paulus and his mother, Barbara, but it’s unlikely he would have had a son Henry born in 1728, since the only other persons listed in this family are the sisters: Philippina Elizabetha and Marie Barbara.

Whichever of these is the original Hartman, his son was Henry Hartman, 1728-1814, and he moved on to Virginia, where his son, John Hartman, was born in Hardy, VA, in 1750. John had a son, Jacob Hartman, born 1773 in Botetourt County, VA, and this Jacob is the grandfather of our David (my great grandfather). John Hartman died in 1810 in Greene County, TN. Consequently, it is quite possible that he knew the Souders family, since they were there also at that time. Jacob Hartman (1773-1834) married Margaret Beard, daughter of Martin and Druscilla Beard, on 12 Nov 1793 in Fincastle, Botetourt County, in southeastern Virginia, so the Hartmans would have had much in common with the Souders. It appears that Martin Beard’s (Bahrt’s) ancestors were formerly miners, which raises some interestin g possibilities as it might relate to our Hessian antecedents of Bahrts and Enderleins.


Jacob and Margaret (Beard) Hartman had eight children: Henry-1794, Thomas-1795, William-1797 (first three born in VA), Martin-1803 in Hamilton Co., TN, and Jesse-1809, Drusylia-1814, Jacob-1817 were born in Sullivan Co, TN. This last Jacob (1817-1899) is the father of David Hartman. He moved on to Georgia and then Missouri, where he died in Oak Hill, Feb. 6, 1899. Jacob Hartman (born TN, 1817) married Elizabeth Archer of Campbell County, TN, which is located at the northeastern border and was formerly simultaneously claimed by both states, and her grandfather Ali (pronounced “Ollie”) Smith could inspire a book by himself.

Note: Sullivan County is in East Tennessee, with Kingsport as county seat. John Hartman was probably there when Greene, Sullivan, and Washington Counties attempted to form the abortive state of Franklin. Hamilton County, TN, is on the south-central border with Georgia, and its principal city is Chattanooga. If Jacob Hartman (1817-1899) ever lived in East Tennessee as an adult, the birth locations of his children indicate it must have been for a brief period.

Elizabeth (Archer) Hartman was the daughter of William and Nancy Archer of Campbell County, TN. William Archer was born 4 Jan 1799 in Washington, VA and died 10 Aug 1881 in Itawamba, MS. He was a blacksmith all his life, in addition to farming. There were four other Archer men in the Campbell County neighborhood, but it doesn’t appear that he was related to any of them. His parents are unknown. William married Nancy Smith (born 8 Nov 1799 in Russell, VA - died 10 Aug 1881 in Prentiss, MS) on 17 June 1819 in Campbell County, TN. The marriage produced twelve children, and Elizabeth was the second born. Some of the Archer-Smith family believe Elizabeth (Archer) Hartman died shortly after her marriage to Jacob Hartman. I don’t accept this as consistent with what is said in Missouri and recorded in US Census of 1850. This Census shows an “Elizabeth” as Jacob Hartman’s wife in Walker County, GA; the age could be correct, depending on the month in which it was taken. In 1850, they had seven children, and four more were born in Missouri. It’s likely that as the Hartmans moved to Georgia and the Archers moved to Mississippi, they simply lost contact. They don’t appear in the Census of 1860, because that is about the time they are moving to Gasconade County, Missouri.

Note: The other Archer families of Campbell County are interesting, even if unrelated. Most lived in or around “Hoot Owl Hollow,” which runs across the Tn-KY state line. John Arher , Jr., son of John Archer and grandson of Robert Archer, was born in TN in 1774 and died across the state line in KY in 1807. John Jr. was married three times, loved gambling on horse races, and was often berated by his brethren in the Baptist Church, who threatened to “bequiet” him. Filled with contrition, John, Jr., would beg their forgiveness, but soon relapse into his ‘sinful’ behavior. His brother, James Littlepaige Aquila Archer (1809-1862), lived nearby. Although James Archer owned five slaves, he was an ardent Unionist. He provided a muster camp for Union forces on his property, and when he died, he was buried at the site of the Army’s Pine Knot Camp. The highest point on Pine Mountain, above Hoot Owl Hollow, is still known as “Archers.”

Nancy Smith (my third Great Grandmother) was the daughter of Ali/Eli Smith and Jane Denny. Ali Smith was born 1761 in VA, son of Ericus (b. 1734) and Bridget (Anderson) Smith. Ali Smith died in Tennessee on 19 April 1836. During his life he was a scout, Indian fighter, and helped build the Cumberland Road. He was a Militia Captain, constable of the county court, a surveyer of roads, a respected community leader, and he was deeply involved in the economic development of the frontier. Ali Smith married Jane Denny on 8 Apr 1873 in Washington, VA. They parented ten children. Jane Denny was born in 1765 and died some time after 4 March 1852 (the last official record of her existence), although some of her relatives claim she lived to be either 103 or 106. I have found no record of her ancestors; however, her sister-in-law, Rachel Smith, was married to another Revolutionary War veteran, Joseph Hatfield. As widows, both women unsuccessfully petioned the United States for the pensions promised the veterans, but Washington’s action was interminably slow and Jane died without seeing any compensation.


The following lines are excerpted from Jane's application for the pension. “He served as a private and Indian spy on the western frontier, first entered service in VA Militia in 1778 o r 1779, served under Col. Campbell, Capts. Scott, Thompson . Served 5-6 yrs. Called to Battle of King's Mtn but sent out to frontier fort instead.” " According to Dr. George Ridenour, a historian, “Ely Smith was a very enterprising businessman, who built a toll road through the mountains, raised horses and drove them to Kentucky, and also raced them in Campbell County on Saturday afternoons. Ely built the first race track in Campbell County and was remembered as an excellent rider. VIRGINIA SOLDIER OF 1776, VOL. 3, p. 1272, entitled , "The Militiamen Employed as Guards, Drivers, and laborers in Building the Road over Cumberland Mountain to Kentucky during the War." lists Ely Smith with this group. The famous Cumberland Pass followed the Warrior's Path of the Indians, and it was marked and cleared by Daniel Boone after prolonged negotiation. In 1781, the path was broadened for wagon travel, thus making it the major highway west. The road builders still had to be protected from the Indians. Aly and Jane were Methodists, although they were married in a Baptist Church, perhaps for convenience. http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=makidee&id=I22136

A family story is told that David Hartman ‘took up with a young housekeeper’ when he was older. Supposedly, the grown children and family were so upset with him that he was not buried beside his first wife in the family cemetery (Barnes or Hartman?), but his grave was over at the side of the cemetery in Owensville. Actually, it’s now the middle of the cemetery as it has expanded, and still only two rows and about 60 feet from Henry and Effie Gruner and Elmer and Celie Gruner. I haven’t located the Mary Barnes Hartman or Malissa Hicks Hartman graves yet.

The historical record doesn’t support a negative view of David Hartman (and Dad didn’t give the story much credence either). In 1867, David married his step sister, Mary E. Barnes, who died in 1872. They had four children: Effie Belle (18 June 1868-1937, my Dad's mother), George (1870?-1960), Courtnea (died young) and Mary Valentine. After three years as a widower, on 5 Aug 1875, David married Malissa Hicks, who was probably like a “second mother” to the children. She died about 1881 with no children, but David’s three would have been 13 and younger when she expired. David's third wife (16 years later) was Laura Ann Slinkman (b. 9 Feb1867; died 3 Jul 1930 in Washington, Franklin Co., MO). Her parents were Frederick W. Slinkman (b.16 June 1833 in Prussia) and Nancy Lincoln (b.29 Nov 1838 in Indiana). The Slinkmans lived in Canaan Township (SW of Bem) in 1870 with five children: Paradine, Mary, Polly, James, and Laura Ann. By the Missouri Census of 1876, however, Nancy Lincoln Slinkman and Paradine, Mary, and Laura Ann were living in Jefferson Twp, Osage County with William F. Slinkman (b. Prussia 1836). This is probably the William Slinkman who served as Sergeant with Company H, Dallmeyer’s Battalion and later the 2LT who surrendered at the Osage River in 1864 with Company D, 34th EMM. Likely, he was Frederick Slinkman’s brother.

NOTE: In a letter dated 23 Jan 1978 to Jim and Courtnea Thomas, Dad indicated that George Hartman married Fanny Gursage and had seven children: Oscar, Earl, Lloyd, Russel, Chester, Ruth, and Alyeen. Mary Valentine Hartman (apparently known as Aunt Liny) married Alonzo Sullins and moved to Wenatchee, WN, where they are buried. They had five children: Opal, Courtnea, Bernice, Elwood, and Harper.

When Laura married David Hartman September 17 1899, she was a widow; this was her second marriage. She had wed James Cornelius Triplett initially, and they had two children: Lavonne and Austin Benjamin Triplett. The birth date of Lavonne has not been determined, but Austin was born in 1888, so he would undoubtedly still have been living with his mother. Laura and David also had one child, Edgar L. Hartman; a second child, Paul, died as an infant. Why some of David’s descendants allegedly turned on him is now unclear, but jealousy could have been a factor. David probably wasn't a "dirty old man" after all. There's no indication of impropriety. Laura was hardly a teenaged siren, although at age 32, she was 22 years his junior. I suppose she is the "wicked housekeeper" we great grandchildren heard about, but when you lay out the timeline, it seems pretty normal that a vigorous man in his mid-fifties would want a companion. This third marriage was his longest, lasting 28 years until death. David was blind in his last years, and Laura took care of him. David and Laura may be buried together in Owensville Cemetery, but Laura’s side of the marble marker is unfinished. The dates of her death have not been chiseled from the blocked portion intended for that purpose, and she may be interred elsewhere, which could be the basis for the rumors about family ill-will.

Note: Dad indicated that Edgar Hartman married and had two sons, one of whom was a Baptist minister in Jefferson City.

In mid-life, David Hartman served as treasurer for the Oak Hill Union Church. He submitted a report dated September 1888 for the previous year showing expenditures of $60.92, $42 of which went for “pastorial services, $12 for Missions, and $1 for wine.” On October 4, 1901 David attended a meeting of the Crawford County Old Settlers Association that was reported in Cuba’s The Telephone, “David Hartman has been a resident of Crawford county almost half a century, and is 56 years old.” Possibly his wife’s former “in-law” was also present. “B. F. Triplett, is 87 years old, has lived in Missouri 70 years and in Crawford county 11. He is a native of Kentucky.”