Cousin Bertha, as she was known in our family, was nearly a centenarian when she died in 1959. She was born on 7 April 1860, most likely in St Louis, Missouri, to Richard Kersting, ca 1839–ca 1864, and his wife, Adolphine Billmeyer, 1838–1893. She had sisters Justina, 1862–1945, and Louisa, 1864–1905.

On Valentine’s Day in 1883, Bertha married James S. Overton, who was born in England. It appears that they had three children: Jennie, who died in 1893 of diphtheria; Walter John, who lived to maturity; and Laurence, who died of meningitis in 1888.

Bertha’s husband died two years later in 1890 in San Antonio, Texas, according to the Missouri Birth and Death Records database. However, no record of this death appears in the Texas records. According to the St. Louis records, he had consumption and Bright’s Disease.

Bertha was left to rear Walter John. They lived at 1221 Grattan Street while she was working at the Union Depot News, according to the 1890 city directory.

The 1900 census shows a widow, Bertha, as the head of household, still at 1221 Grattan Street. The census indicates that she was born in April 1840, which is clearly incorrect. In the same household was her single sister, Louisa, who was born in 1864. Her son, Walter J., aged sixteen, was living with her. They had a boarder, Alexander Bultrus, who was German-born.

By 1901, according to the city directory, Bertha lived with her sister Justine Overton at 2118 Waverly Place. Justine married John Overton, who was thought to be a half-brother of James Overton, husband of Bertha.

In 1915, the New Orleans cousins visited one another as a family photo will verify. It is not known if the photo was in Gretna (New Orleans) or in St Louis.

By the time of the 1920 census, Bertha was living in Waverley Place together with her sister Justine and half-brother Joseph H Kersting. Both of the women were widows. Joseph H. said that he was married, but his wife was not in the same household. Bertha was fifty-nine and Justine fifty-seven.

The 1930 census indicates Bertha lived at 5712 Prescott Street, was an unemployed widow, age seventy born in Missouri and her mother was born in Germany. The value of her estate was fifteen dollars.

The 1935 city directory revealed Bertha was now residing at 5035 Alabama. Probably two grandchildren lived with her: James E. Overton, salesman, and Jennie B. Overton, typist at the Missouri Inspection Bureau. At some point, Bertha lived at 4448 Olive Street in St Louis. The family believed she was eighty-four years of age.

Bertha died on 8 March 1959 of heart disease leaving an unproven will. She found her final resting place at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

Written by Beth Davis
February 2020

© 2020 St. Louis Genealogical Society

Return to St. Louis City/County Biographies.

Last Modified: 26-Jun-2020 11:33