The Wehrli Family in Monee

In our last blog post, we mentioned the photo of Waldemar Wehrli that was kindly sent to the Monee Historical Society by Andy Gappa. We will focus on the Wehrli family in Monee in this post.

“Jacob Wehrli was born Feb. 7, 1830, in Switzerland and came to Monee in 1858. On Feb. 10, 1862, he married Cathrina Heisner, born July 20, 1833, in Germany. He was an early blacksmith in the village.

He died Feb. 19, 1901; his wife, Apr. 19, 1914.

Andrew, son of the Jacob Wehrlis, was born July 23, 1864, in Monee. He married Bertha Engelke, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Friedrich Engelke, on Dec. 26, 1892. She came with her parents from Chicago to Monee at an early age and resided in the village until her death Aug. 9, 1946.

Andrew Wehrli followed the trade of his father. In May, 1911, he purchased the John Rampke dwelling and lots on Chestnut street. The blacksmith shop stood south of his home and for years the ring of Wehrli’s anvil was a familiar sound in Monee and was heard many hours each day. No doubt Longfellow pictured a man such as Wehrli standing beside a flaming forge when he wrote his famous poem “The Village Blacksmith.” Wehrli may not have stood “under a spreading chestnut tree,” but his shop was located on Chestnut street and many a young boy stopped on his way past to watch a horse being shod. Wehrli spent his entire lifetime in Monee except for the last year and a half when he resided with a son, Waldemar, in St. Louis, Mo. He died Apr. 5, 1948.

Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wehrli: Allen, Waldemar, Andrew and Erma.”

The above was published in the book “Our Roots are Deep”, written by Muriel Mueller Milne. Ms. Milne published the book in 1974, just in time for Monee’s centennial celebration. Tragically, she died less than a year later but her research left an incredible legacy for those of us interested in the lives of our Monee ancestors.

In that spirit, and given the time and advanced methods of genealogical research today, we can add the following about the Wehrli family.

In addition to Andrew, Jacob and Catharina (Heisner) Wehrli had another son, Karl, who died at 5 months and 23 days on May 20, 1863. Also born to them were 3 daughters; Anna, Wilhelmina and Marie.

Anna was born on April 17, 1866 and died December 8, 1963. In 1890, she married Jacob Bircher and the couple had 2 sons; Louis and Leroy. Louis married Mathilda and the couple had two daughters, Helen and Marjorie.

Wilhelmina was born February 2, 1868 and died October 8, 1915. She married William Rincker who was born in April 1870 and died in 1944, the son of Johann and Helena (Puscheck) Rincker of Crete. The couple had 2 sons; Leroy and Norbert, and a daughter, Ruth, who died at 10 months, 14 days on December 19, 1900. Leroy (1896-1953) attended Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis Missouri and became a pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He served as missionary to Canada in 1919-1920 and to the Isle of Pines, Cuba, Australia and New Zealand in 1920. In 1923 he became a professor at Concordia University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin receiving his doctorate degree in 1952. In 1936 he was named president of the University and served in that capacity until his death. In 1923 he was united in marriage with Edna Huetman. His brother Norbert (1903-1976) married Elsia Beilstein (1906-2006), and they had two children; Ruth and Billy.

Marie was born September 3, 1871 and died January 27, 1953. She was employed as a schoolteacher in Missouri.

As mentioned in Our Roots are Deep, Andrew and Bertha (Engelke) Wehrli’s had four children; Allen, Waldemar, Andrew and Irma.

Allen Wehrli, like his cousin Leroy, became a minister. He was born May 5, 1894 and married Cornelia Hees. The couple had one son, Eugene (1923-2000). He was a Professor at Eden Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri and was the guest speaker at countless churches all over the Midwest. He died in November 1970 in St. Louis, Missouri. His son Eugene also became a minister. Gene was raised on the Eden Seminary campus. He received his A.B. Degree from Oberlin college in 1943 and returned to Eden Seminary to obtain his Bachelor of Divinity in 1948. He was ordained a minister in the United Church of Christ in 1947 and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1951. After serving as a religion instructor at Cedar Crest college and Elmhurst College, he was called to join the Eden Faculty in 1960. He served as academic dean and dean of student affairs before becoming president. He was the author of numerous books and was extremely highly regarding by his colleagues and students. He married Clara Fluke in 1947, and the couple were also the parents of 5 children.

Andrew Wehrli was born July 4, 1895 and died at age 17, on April 4, 1913.

Irma (referred to in Our Roots are Deep as “Erma”) was born Feb. 25, 1897 and died on March 26, 1949.

Waldemar, the subject of the original photo was born June 29, 1902. There just might be something genetic in the Waldemar family line, for as his father and grandfather were both blacksmiths, Waldemar chose a slightly different path, and became superintendent of Hiertz Steel Company in St. Louis. He married the Isabel Hiertz, the daughter of the plant owner, Edmund Hiertz in about 1930. Isabel was born September 22, 1899. The couple had one daughter, Margaret, in 1931. Incredibly, Waldemar lived to see his 101st birthday, before dying on May 5, 2004. Isabel died October 18, 1966.

Their daughter Margaret married Harold Beasley and the couple had 3 daughters Ann, Mary and Kathryn, and one son, John.

We hope you have enjoyed this brief biography of the Monee Wehrli family. We plan on writing more biographies in the future of the families that helped shape Monee.

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