Montgomery County Historical Society Montgomery County Historical Society
Dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the rich local history of the Montgomery County, Missouri area.


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January 9, 2022 By: Web Master
Peters-Holschlag-Brinker-Engelbrecht Fam
If these are your families, or if you just enjoy an informative article about the Germans in southern Montgomery article, follow these links to articles previously published in the Missouri State Genealogical Association JournalsDidam Coat of Arms, original home of Peters family
We are grateful to the author, Norman R. Peters, for sharing his family history and his skill of turning research into a great story. Follow the links to learn how an expert followed the clues to bring his ancestors to life.  Mr. Peters also donated a copy of Rhineland area obituaries which were compiled by Floyd Van Booven (beginning 1925).  Thank you for sharing!

December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
German Hometowns of Early Settlers
A researcher attempts to map all the Germans in Loutre Township in 1850 back to their hometown in Germany.  Please contact the webmaster if you have additional information. Click here for a list of names, ships and hometowns of the early immigrants.  Click here for an 1835 map illustrating the locations of some of the towns mentioned.  Another old map and yet another old map.
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
Keeken, Kleve, Ascension Catholic Church
Click here for details about the Catholic Church in Keeken, Kleve.  Many of the Loutre Germans came from the town of Keeken.
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
St. Louis County Library LDS films
A list of German LDS microfilms available on extended loan as of FamilySearch's discontinuation of circulation services in September 2017.
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
Enoch Holtwick & Gerhard Lensing
Click here to be redirected to the section that includes biographies of important Montgomery County residents.
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
Heying and Related Family Histories
Researchers of the Lower-Loutre German families will be forever grateful to Connie Fabula for her contributions.  She began researching the Heying family (seven siblings who emigrated in 1845-46) and her curiosity led to books on related families.  In the 1980's and '90's, Connie was corresponding by USPS and reading microfilm which is presented serially - without indexes, search features and transcriptions!  Her research is meticulous and her documentation is appreciated.  Click here for scans of her books.  Thank you, Connie!
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
St.Joseph Cem Ground Penetrate Radar
A previous article History of Hunt-St. Joseph Cemetery discussed “folklore” regarding unmarked graves which has been confirmed by three sources. Click here for full article with illustrations.
  • The existence of unmarked graves is supported by the memories of Jerome Van Booven and his son Gary Van Booven whose father/grandfather August (1902-1979) dug many graves here.  August shared stories from his father Ludwig (1873-1961) about an unfinished log church’s foundation and mass grave of cholera victims.
  • The oral tradition is further supported by a plat map that Gary copied in the 1960’s at the request of the cemetery committee. He transcribed the map from a very old (but undated) parchment copy onto drafting mylar.  
  • A Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) scan of the area shows the perimeters of the church and grave. GPR, the affordable version (not the TV version), is not an exact science that prints a distinct picture. It indicated soil disturbance or simply “something different” below the surface.
There is additional “folklore” regarding the burial of victims of a steamboat wreck. The Van Booven plat map does not show such, but the GPR identified another area of disturbed ground. Please contribute any facts that could help substantiate a steamboat wreck / burial. Of course, this area could also be unmarked individual graves of others who passed away prior to the existence of St. Martin’s Cemetery. Can anyone contribute helpful information? 
MCHS is most appreciate to the Van Boovens for sharing their knowledge and documentation.  Thank you, Jerome and Gary!
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
Hunt - St.Joseph Cemetery History
The cemetery on the hill behind St. Joseph's Catholic Church (renamed Church of the Risen Savior in 1979) in Rhineland, Montgomery, Missouri, (Twn46N, R5W, Sec 30, NE 1/4 of SW 1/4) has historically been referred to as Hunt-St. Joseph. As of July 2020, Find-A-Grave (FAG) shows 496 burials in "Saint Josephs Cemetery." The long-standing story is that the cemetery was begun with a donation of land to bury relatives who succumbed to the cholera epidemic (1849-1850). Yet, the earliest tombstone is for a death in 1865.  Neither does the cholera story make sense in relation to the cemetery’s namesake, Larkin William Hunt, a barber who lived from 1864-1941. There are no burials of persons named “Hunt.”
  - explains the original 1849 two acre donation by German immigrants,
  - reviews various records (land and other) to support the conclusion,
  - links to supporting references and
  - lists names of immigrants possibly buried in unmarked grave(s).
The blue circle on the image at left indicates the area of the older, mostly non-Catholic graves. The pink rectangle marks the likely location of the original church and a mass grave for cholera victims buried prior to 1850.
As always, we welcome additional information on this topic as well as your contribution of an article regarding the County's history.
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
Letters Home to Germany from Mont. 1840s
MCHS volunteers discovered a treasure trove of letters written from Montgomery County to relatives in Germany, 1844-1847. The entire story is told in the book Lives and Letters of an Immigrant Family: The van Dreveldts' Experiences along the Missouri, 1844-1866, by Kenneth Kronenberg and C. Hans von Gimborn. The authors (in 1996) shared translations of the letters relevant to Montgomery County. 
In January of 1844, Gerhard Lensing (1809-1879) wrote to his “old university friend” Theodor van Dreveldt (1811-1880) describing life in Montgomery County. Included are suggestions about what to bring if emigrating as well as a budget. Theodor traveled to what is now Rhineland (via New Orleans) and sent letters home about the land, crops, mosquitoes, drought, cornbread, illness, and many other details of life in 1845. Descriptions of a trip to St. Louis, Illinois, Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls, helps us visualize the Midwest in the 1840's. His enthusiasm about Montgomery County waned due to poor crops, malaria, miserable weather, etc. His family failed to send his inheritance money and by 1847 he was in low spirits, contemplating a move to Wisconsin. Theodor concluded his American adventure and returned to Emmerich, Kleve, in 1849, building a house in the American tradition. marrying and fathering 11 children.
In the conclusion, the author reminds of immigrants’ contributions to our heritage:
What is too often neglected in history … is the terrible price exacted upon people who wrenched themselves away from their families and familiar surroundings in order to remake themselves in a new land …Their best efforts were as often as not crowned by hardship, loneliness, and failure. Many died trying. That struggle – and failure – is a crucial component of the American experience.
December 29, 2021 By: Web Master
Why did the 1840 Germans choose Loutre?
Obit of Gerhard Lensing found in  Hermann Volksblatt
Those familiar with the southern part of the County know that it is home to many persons with German ancestry. Indeed, most of the permanent settlers in Loutre Township were from the same area in northwest Germany, near the Dutch border. Why did they choose Montgomery County?  Could it have been our delightful weather?

Research suggests that the first German settler was Gerhard Lensing and he helped coordinate the arrival of others in the mid and late 1840’s. A political dissident in what became Germany, he emigrated illegally to the United States (first to Hermann). He settled on Loutre Island and “never felt such pride in myself as now that I am a free farmer on my own land.” He married Christina Jahns in 1839 and they had at least 11 children over 28 years, nine of whom lived to adulthood. His younger brother established a similar dynasty in Austin, Texas.

Gerhard actively invested in property, was postmaster, raised stud horses, became a naturalized citizen, survived a bushwhacker raid on his home, served with the Union Army, and was a successful farmer. Click on his name above for the complete biography.