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Teacher Wilk Family and the Blackwater School

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:22 pm    Post subject: Teacher Wilk Family and the Blackwater School Reply with quote

Those who are familiar with the history of St. Paulís Lutheran Elementary School in Concordia will recognize the Wilk name, particularly since the new addition to the school was built on the spot where the old Wilk School stood.

Since St. Paulís was outgrowing the capacity of the older Hamm School across from the original church location (i.e. the St. Paulís Cemetery grounds), a school was built in town at Schiller and Ambrose Streets (Main and Fifth) in 1887. It was intended to house the upper elementary school classes and the confirmands.

A good summary of the development of the schools can be found in the 1934 St. Paulís 90th Anniversary Jubilee booklet. In that booklet, it states that ďTeacher W. Wilk of Wisconsin arrived at St. Paulís in July 1887 and took charge of the new school in Concordia.Ē [Note. Most of this history in the St. Paulís sesquicentennial booklet, ďDescending Love Ė Ascending PraiseĒ by Rev. Rodewald, et. al., was excerpted from that earlier booklet.] However, as we will see, there are a few discrepancies in that history when compared with the records. Additional early data about the Wilk family can also be found in a family tree posted by a great-great-granddaughter of Teacher Wilk at Teacher Wilk died in Concordia and his tombstone can be found standing prominently on the western edge of the old section of St. Paulís cemetery.

Beginning back in Wisconsin, one finds that Wilhelm Friedrich Wilk was born on 04 Oct 1841 in Freistadt, WI. His parents, Carl Freidrich Wilk and Johanna Carolina Schenzel had immigrated to Freistadt from Pomerania, Germany in 1839. He trained to be a parochial school teacher at the Lutheran Teachers College in Ft. Wayne, IN (before it moved to Addison, i.e. River Forest, IL). Upon graduation in 1859, he was called to Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan, WI.

On 10 Apr 1865, Wilhelm married Emilie Kohlstock (b. 25 Mar 1845), daughter of George and Charlotte Margartha Kohlstock. The Kohlstock family had immigrated to Sheboygan from Saxe-Gotha, Germany by the mid-1850s. In the 1870 census, William and Emilie are listed with three young children, Alwin (4), Sarah (3), and Anna (6 mos.) living with her parents in Sheboygan. The family continued to grow to the point that they had 10 children by 1879, i.e. Alwin (1865), Sarah (1866), Ida (1868), Anna (1870), Arthur (1871), Clara (1872), Renata (1874), Martha (1875), Martin (1877), and Emil (1879). Emilie died 01 Oct 1879 giving birth to their youngest son Emil.

In the 1880 census, one can find Wilhelm listed as a patient in the Northern Hospital for the Insane, Oshkosh, WI. Was the fact that he suddenly became a widower with at least 7 young children to care for so overwhelming that he suffered a nervous breakdown? [Note. Daughter Ida died by the age of 1 and two other daughters, Clara and Martha, could not be found in later records and may also have died in infancy.] The children lived briefly with other families. For example, Sarah can be found in the 1880 census living in Sheboygan with Christian and Henriette Kehl, listed as their adopted daughter. Anna is also living in Sheboygan, listed as an adopted daughter living with the Joseph Steimle family. Arthur and Emil are living in Mequon, WI, listed as the step-grandsons of August and Caroline Ernst. Renata is living in Sheboygan, listed as the step-daughter of Jacob and Eleonore Jung.

However, on 28 Oct 1882 Wilhelm married Marie Bublitz, daughter of Karl Bublitz and Louis Volz, in Milwaukee, WI. Shortly after he remarried, Wilhelm moved the family to Concordia. Wilhelm and Marieís first child Wilhelm was baptized in St. Paulís Lutheran Church on 8 Jul 1883. So the Wilk family must have moved to Concordia before the 1887 date listed in the St. Paulís booklet. St. Paulís Church records show that Wilhelm and Marie had 5 children after coming to Concordia, i.e. William Friedrich (1883), Karl August (1884), Maria Auguste (1886), Amalia Elizabeth (1888), and Lydia Ottilie (1890). Two of these children, Karl and Lydia died within several weeks after birth. [One child, Heinrich Chris. Wilk, appearing in the 1892 St. Paul's baptismal records has not been traced.]

Based on St. Paulís confirmation and marriage records, it appears that most of the surviving children born in Wisconsin came to Concordia with the exception of the oldest son Alwin. He shows up in the Wisconsin records marrying Pauline Gilgendorf in Milwaukee, WI on 26 Sep 1890. Alwin died in Milwaukee in 1901 at the age of 35.

The next oldest child, Sarah, is listed as a patient in the Missouri State Mental Hospital in Buchanon County (St. Joseph), MO by 1900. She lived there until she died on 21 Dec 1945 and was buried in St. Paulís Cemetery. [Note. The informant on her death certificate was F. W. Niermann, husband of Sarah's sister Anna.]

Two of the sons became Lutheran pastors. Arthur attended St. Paul's College in Concordia, and Concordia College in Fort Wayne, IN. He graduated in 1895 from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO, and was ordained and installed as pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran in Japan, MO. He had later pastorates in Stuttgart, Arkasas, several locations in Illinois, in Nebraska, and finally in Wyoming. [Note. Arthur's one son, Walter W. P. , shows up in the 1914 confirmation records of St. Paul's Church.] Younger half-brother William (Jr) also went through the Lutheran pastoral training program. He served in various pastorates until he died of a heart attack at the lectern of Messiah Lutheran Church in St. Louis on 22 Oct 1939.

Youngest son Emil attended teachers college at Addison, IL and eventually can be found teaching in Racine, WI.

Two of the daughters, Anna and Renata, show up in the St. Paulís records marrying two Niermann brothers, Friedrich W. and Karl, sons of Heinrich Niermann. The Niermann homestead was in the Blackwater bottom in the northeast corner of Grover Township, Johnson County, just south of the county line from Lafayette County. What is interesting about this can be seen from the 1898 plat map of that area (posted below) and gets me to the point of this posting. The Niermann farm was less than a mile from the Blackwater School that St. Paulís built for members in that area. According to church history, this school was built sometime after the Hamm School was built in 1867 but before the Wilk School was built in 1887. It was used up until about 1900. Records do not show who taught at that school. Since Teacher Hamm arrived in Concordia before the town school was built, is it possible that he taught at the Blackwater School and that the Niermanns and Wilks became acquainted in that way?

Friedrich Niermann was a Lutheran parochial school teacher. Friedrich W. and Anna eventually moved to Cape Girardeau, MO where she died 23 May 1935. Friedrich died Aug 1963 in Baltimore, MD. Karl Niermann was one of the three students in the first graduating class at St. Paulís College in Concordia. After graduation from the Seminary, he accepted a call to New Orleans, LA. Renata died in New Orleans sometime before 1910, because Karl can be found in the 1910 census records married to his second wife, Cora. After several additional pastorates, Karl retired in Concordia, MO where he died 26 Nov 1959.

Teacher Wilk was a significant figure in the Concordia area. He was an accomplished musician. He served as the church organist for St. Paulís and formed the Concordia Coronet Band, which was known as the Wilks Band (see photo below) until it eventually became part of the Concordia Municipal Band.

By 1900, most of the Wilk family had moved on to other locations. Teacher Wilk can be found living on Orange St. close to the town school with his wife Marie and their two youngest surviving daughters. Because of failing health, Mr. Wilk resigned from his teaching duties 28 Aug 1904 and was succeeded temporarily by Teacher Joseph Wukasch. According to the St. Paulís history, Miss Meta Hamm (daughter of Teacher Heinrich Hamm) taught the lower grades when they were added to the Wilk School. When Teacher Hamm retired, Meta moved with him to Sweet Springs, MO. in 1900. The history booklets imply that Teacher Wilkís daughter Marie took over those classes at that time. However, Marie was only 14 years old in 1900. (She was confirmed in 1899.) It is possible that Marie did teach classes in Concordia, but probably a few years later.

Teacher Wilk died on 14 Mar 1906. At the time of his death, with most of the family scattered about the U. S., there was little to keep the rest of the family in Concordia. Marie had lost two children in infancy and the remaining two daughters were still unmarried. So wife Marie and daughters Marie and Amalia moved back to Milwaukee, WI. They continued to live there together for a number of years. In the 1930 census, daughter Marie is listed as a parochial school teacher. Mother Marie died in 1957 in Milwaukee at the age of 102 years. Daughters Marie and Amalia never married.

With the Wilk School torn down long ago, the last reminder of Teacher Wilk in Concordia is that solitary tombstone looking down on Stella St. (old Highway 23) from Section 1C3 of St. Paul's Cemetery. (See Wilk tombstone)

1898 plat of the northern portion of Grover Township, Johnson County, MO.
(From the Missouri Digital Heritage map collection.)
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Wilks Band.jpg
Wilks Band in 1906. Note. This picture was taken several months after his death.
(From the "Out of the Past Pictures" series in The Concordian.)
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Wilks Band.jpg

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