1893 Catherine Widmann dies in Sweet Springs, MO


Catherine Fetzer Widmann lived in Waterloo, Iowa, but was visiting her daughter Pauline Widmann Gihring, the wife of the assistant pastor in Sweet Springs, Missouri. Ironically, a member of this congregation was George Dankenbring who would become her granddaughter Alma Widmann's husband in 1905! Katie had gone to Sweet Springs as Pauline was expecting a child. Katie took ill unexpectedly, and died quickly.

page from the Immanuel Lutheran church in Sweet Springs, MO book; Katie's entry is the last on the page
The last entry belongs to Katherina Widmann -- she died on February 9, 1893, and her burial service was on February 11, 1893. She died of what appears to be pneumonia -- lungenentzundung. She is the widow of Konrad Widmann, born in ??? Wurtemberg on 31 January 1824. The next column mentions something about her son-in-law Gihring. Pastor Demetrio performed the service, noteworthy since Imanuel Gihring had performed all the other services on this page, with the exception of that of his toddler son Martin Gihring (3/7/1891-4/15/1892).

When I visited Sweet Springs in 2001, I examined not only the church record book, where I obtained this copy (from the original book!!) but also examined the cemetery books. There was no record of a burial of either Martin Gihring or Katherina Widmann. The fact that Katherina was buried just two days after her death, and there is no mention of Waterloo on the record would seem to indicate that she was buried in Sweet Springs. Supporting this hypothesis is the fact that there is no record in the Waterloo church book or Waterloo cemetery of any death or burial. Additionally, the lack of burial record for child Martin would indicate that maybe the burial records for the minister were kept separate somehow, or they were not kept if the burial was not paid for and there was no tombstone, which perhaps there was not for the pastor. We asked if there was a special part of the cemetery set aside for the pastor's family, but no one seemed certain of the practices in the late 1800s.

In contrast, on the 1919 Wisconsin death certificate for Maria Dankenbring, it states that she will be buried in Sweet Springs, MO and there is an entry for her death in the Immanuel Lutheran Church record books in Sweet Springs. However, the practices in Iowa could have been different 26 years earlier in 1893, so this is not definitive, only suggestive that Katie was buried in Missouri and not Iowa. Additionally, Maria was buried four days after her death, not two -- it would appear that the two extra days were required to transport her body from Wisconsin to Missouri. Again, this supports the idea that with Katie's two-day burial, she was buried in Missouri where she died and not in Waterloo, Iowa.

In summary, it is the best guess that Katie not only died in Sweet Springs, MO but also was buried there.