Emil Oskar Gotsch was the fourth of eighteen children fathered by Rev. Dr. Georg Moritz Gotsch. He was born on 25 July 1831, in Waldenburg, Saxony, where his father was a tutor. Called by his middle name, Oskar was only four days old when he was baptized at St. Bartholomaus Lutheran Church. As was the Lutheran tradition for centuries, Oskar was confirmed into the faith at the age of fourteen in Ziegelheim, Saxony, by his father, who was the pastor of that congregation.

Oskar’s education began at home with a tutor, Mr. Nauman. He next entered the University of Leipzig. In 1847, he attended the Koenigliche-Gewerbs-Schule, graduating in 1849. From there Oskar went on to a military academy. He had hopes of becoming a chemist as well as “had the fine skills of making precision instruments.” With his father, step-mother, and his many siblings, he came to America aboard the bark Wieland in June 1852.

Once in America, Oskar Anglicized his name, spelling it with a “c” instead of a “k.” While employed in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a draftsman, he was approached by Dr. C. F. W. Walther, co-founder of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and close family friend, to be a teacher in the Lutheran schools. Oscar took his friend’s advice, without attending the teachers’ seminary.

Oscar married his first wife, Barbara Christine Wiereter, in Cincinnati at Trinity Lutheran Church on 13 July 1856. Barbara was born in Wittenberg, Saxony, on 28 March 1837. Their first child was born there eleven months after their marriage. Oscar accepted a call to Bethlehem Lutheran School in St. Louis to serve as teacher, organist, and choir director, which he did for five years. After moving his family there, five more children were born. He became an American citizen on 4 September 1861.

Barbara died on 6 December 1866, in St. Louis. Oscar married his second wife, Rosette A. Craemer, on 18 April 1869, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, although Oscar was then teaching at Trinity Lutheran School in Soulard. Rose was the daughter of Margaretha Thomas (Craemer) Anders, born in St. Louis on 27 March 1849; but her father’s name is unknown. During Oscar’s marriage to Rose, twelve children were born. While still at Soulard, Oscar signed an Allegiance to America on 10 August 1865.

Oscar’s other calls to teach in the Lutheran schools took him to New Melle, Missouri, and Staunton, Illinois, four schools in all, serving the church for more than forty years. He retired from Zion in Staunton and returned to St. Louis in 1910. It’s interesting to note in Zion’s anniversary book that in 1904, the year Oscar retired from teaching, the pupils served as janitors. The principal of the school, the position he served, was paid $540 a year, lived in a rent-free house, and was furnished with 100 bushels of coal.

Oscar died on 6 September 1914, and was laid to rest at Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in St. Louis. He had been predeceased by twelve of his eighteen children. He was a man of multiple talents in that he could play the organ, sing, possessed artistic skills, and even wrote a hymn. Rose continued to live in St. Louis until her death on 19 March 1947, only days from her ninety-eighth birthday. Both Oscar and Rose have qualified at the Immigrant level in StLGS’s First Families of St. Louis.

Written by Cheryl Gross
May 2018

© 2018 St. Louis Genealogical Society


Oscar Gotsch
Emil Oscar Gotsch
Photo in the collection of Cheryl Gross
Used with permission
Rosette Craemer Gotsch
Rosette Craemer Gotsch
Photo in the collection of Cheryl Gross
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 14-Sep-2023 12:11