Tag Archives: isabelle coulter gegenbauer

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition

This is the fifth post in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit:
Adopting Graves: Second Visit with Clara and Johnnie
Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)
Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family
Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family

 

On a Saturday in the middle of August, I decided to begin a new autumn tradition of adopting graves. I chose the graves of two souls, each in a different cemetery. At this point I feel strangely close to Johnnie Michel and Clara I. Gegenbauer. From that day on, I visited these graves every two weeks up to October 30th. I need to go back at least one more time to pick up the pumpkins and things, that way if I decide to visit in the distant future, there won’t be a pumpkin patch to walk through. For more on the inspiration and how I chose these two graves, visit my very first post in this series.

 

Johnnie Michel, son of Henry and Matilda Michel, July 5, 1879 – January 21, 1884

 Johnnie, who died at four and half years old (reason unknown), lived with his family on the upper floor of a general store on Main Street in Wentzville, Missouri. His father was a prominent Wentzville citizen and built and owned the general store. His mother raised the family (Johnnie had an older and a younger sister), and presumably helped tend to several of the clerks and extended family members that lived with them above the store.

Below are some of the shots from different visits to Johnnie’s grave (I tried to bring different flowers/gifts each time.)

 

Since posting my genealogy for Johnnie’s family, I discovered that the family’s general store was located where the “Wentzville Millwork” building is in the picture below. I’m not sure how old the remaining buildings to the left are, but I wanted to make sure and include them in the picture to help your imagination. The structure that housed the general store was demolished in the 1970s. To my knowledge there are no existing photos of the general store, which was operated by the family until at least 1910.  The second picture below is a view of the surrounding downtown area across the street from that lot.

 

 

Clara I. Gegenbauer, March 29, 1884 – March 17, 1889

As you may have noticed, Clara died just short of her fifth birthday as well. She was the fourth out of eight children by parents Eugene Gegenbauer (1847 – 1916) and Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer (1853 – 1930). Like Johnnie, there is no record of how or why Clara died at such a young age. Her father Eugene (whose parents immigrated from Germany) and mother Isabelle (whose parents immigrated from Ireland) were married in 1876. After immigrating, Clara’s paternal grandfather was a physician and teacher in the Ballwin, Missouri area. He died in 1880.

Out of the family’s eight children, Eugene and Isabelle had 7 grandchildren, including my new friend Gayla’s father. Clara’s last remaining sibling, Jane Sophia “Jennie” Gegenbauer, was Gayla’s grandmother. She died in 1976.

For more on Clara, or for photos of her parents and the family’s farmhouse, click HERE

 

On my second visit with Johnny and Clara, I was not prepared for the feelings I would have when seeing the blunt symbolism of the dead flowers in the exact same arrangement that I had placed them in only two weeks earlier. Though this is a completely normal thing to see in a cemetery, it was a beautiful and sad at the same time.

  

 

  

 

 

Other favorite photos from my visits to see Johnny and Clara 

Clara’s grave can be seen on the left (with the bright flowers) near the top of the hill. The graves surrounding her are her parents and siblings.

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Once again, Clara’s grave can be seen off in the distance at the top of the hill. 

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As I mentioned before, I have to make at least one more visit to pick up pumpkins, but I highly doubt that it will be my last. I’ve become so familiar with the path to find them, and I’m sure I’ll never forget. I’m already excited to start the journey over next year with two “new” graves.

 

 


Adopting Graves: Second visit with Clara and Johnnie…

This is the fourth post in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit:
Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)
Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family
Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family

Clara's grave from today's visit.

Clara’s grave from today’s visit.

 

Johnny's grave from today's visit. (The grave of his grandparents in the background.)

Johnny’s grave from today’s visit. (The grave of his grandparents in the background.)

 

Today was my second visit to the gravesites of Clara and Johnnie. Except for the fact that it was like eleventy-hundred degrees today, I was very excited about each of these visits. I know so much more about these souls and their families now, and that made this trip a little more meaningful. After another stop for flowers (different colors this time), I made my way toward Gumbo Cemetery for Clara. In both cemeteries, the remains of my flowers from the last visit were present… aged and frozen in time. I secretly hoped they’d still be there, mainly for the selfish opportunity to snap photos of them. For both Johnnie and Clara, I talked aloud of how I knew they probably weren’t present with me, eternally hanging out next to their head stone, but I wanted to make sure they knew I had been thinking of them and learning about their families over the last few weeks. I even read my previous blog posts and mentioned the fact that many others were learning about their families as well. I sat in silence for a while (a little longer for Clara since I was winded from climbing the hill) and forced myself to be okay with my legs being itchy from the grass.

 

The resting place of Eugene, Clara's father.

The resting place of Eugene, Clara’s father.

 

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara's father.

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara’s father.

 

The resting place of Isabelle, Clara's mother.

The resting place of Isabelle, Clara’s mother.

 

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara's mother.

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara’s mother.

 

On my way out of Linn Cemetery after visiting Johnnie, I took a few photos of the entrance to the older section. I found an older marker for this section with the date of 1867, although I’ve seen some head stones there with a burial date of 1865.

 

Near the entrance to the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

Near the entrance to the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

 

Near the entrance of the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

Near the entrance of the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

 

I suppose I’ll plan the next visit for two weekends from now. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to wear a hoodie. That might be a stretch.

Till next time… 

 


Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family…

This is the third post in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013) and Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family

Clara's headstone from my first visit.

Clara’s headstone from my first visit.

Beginning genealogy research through Ancestry.com can be incredibly addictive and time consuming. This new hobby has given me my first opportunity to try it. I’ve filled up nearly ten pages on a legal pad with notes on both Johnnie and Clara, the two souls and graves that I’ve adopted this season. Of course, this is more info than anyone would ever need to know. But even though these families were strangers to me before now, it has been great fun… fun of the nerdly variety. In researching information on Clara, I have had the good fortune of getting in contact with a nice woman named Gayla Liles. Gayla is a great niece of Clara and has supplied me with the information and photos shared in this post. Since Gayla lives in New Mexico and no other family members live near, I have been able to share photos of the unseen Gegenbauer family plot and headstones with her. It feels good… and it makes it seem like there’s a real purpose to this new tradition, rather than just being a strange nerd who blogs about these things. It has been an honor to talk to Gayla and I thank her very much for the hard work and information researched and gathered.

 

Clara I. Gegenbauer, March 29, 1884 – March 17, 1889

Clara was the fourth out of eight children by parents Eugene Gegenbauer (1847 – 1916) and Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer (1853 – 1930). Like Johnnie (see last post), there is no record of how or why Clara died at such a young age. Her father Eugene (whose parents immigrated from Germany) and mother Isabelle (whose parents immigrated from Ireland) were married in 1876. After immigrating, Clara’s paternal grandfather was a physician and teacher in the Ballwin, Missouri area. He died in 1880.

 

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara's father.

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara’s father.

 

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara's mother.

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara’s mother.

 

An older Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer. I love this photo. You can just see wisdom in her eyes.

An older Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer. I love this photo. You can just see wisdom in her eyes.

 

Isabelle and children. I'm not sure if Clara is a part of this photo or what year it is. According to my research and this photo, they lived on a farm.

Isabelle and children. I’m not sure if Clara is a part of this photo or what year it was taken. According to my research and this photo, they lived on a farm in the Meramec/St. Louis area. I just love the house!

 

Out of the family’s eight children, Eugene and Isabelle had 7 grandchildren, including my new friend Gayla’s father. Clara’s last remaining sibling, Jane Sophia “Jennie” Gegenbauer, was Gayla’s grandmother. She died in 1976.

 

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This Labor Day weekend marks two weeks since I adopted Johnnie and Clara’s graves. I hope to make a return visit to both. It will certainly be more meaningful now that I know more about these two families.

 

 

 


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