George F. and Agnes (Osthoff) Soehngen had just arrived in Denver, Colorado. Married on 24 April 1879 in Hermann, Missouri, the young couple was already expecting their first child. On Wednesday, 11 August 1880, their first and only child, William George, was born. They had journeyed to Denver in hopes of finding a more suitable living environment for George, who had tuberculosis, but their stay in the mountain town was short–lived. By April of 1882, they were back in George’s home town of St. Louis, Missouri, where he died at the age of twenty-three after less than four years of marriage.

It wasn’t until eight years later that Agnes remarried and provided her young son with a new father. On 5 November 1890, Agnes and Henry Doepke were married in St. Louis and William, now ten years old, became a big brother to Henry’s two children—John, age two, and Stella, age one. Their family grew and by the time of the 1900 census, Fredrick, Annie, and Harry had joined the family. Henry owned the family home at 2026 O’Bear Avenue and worked as a “teamster–dry goods.” William, nineteen years old and still living with the family, worked as a delivery driver, possibly for the same company.

In June 1905, William married Emma C. Breher (1881–1967), daughter of Engelbert Breher and Cecelia Altmann, and quickly set about raising a family. Joseph was born in June of 1906, the first of six children. Fifteen months later came Lawrence. A girl, Helen, followed two years later. By 1910, William was working as a teamster and renting a house from John Barneier. For the next few years, another child appeared every two years, like clockwork—William John (born 1912), Lucille (born 1914), and Ralph (born 1916). This growing family required a larger house, and sometime before 1920, William purchased a home at 4236 John Avenue in St. Louis.

At the age of thirty-eight, William registered for the World War I draft, although, according to his death certificate, he never served. His registration noted that he was tall, of medium build, with blue eyes and light grey hair (no surprise with all those kids!). He listed his occupation as a patrolman for the St. Louis Police Department serving in the Fifth District. During his career, he also served in the Sixth District and the North Market District. William died on 15 January 1949 with burial at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.

(Sources include census records, city directories, newspaper articles, cemetery records, and World War I draft registration.)

Written by Jane Soehngen Theissen
April 2019

© 2019, St. Louis Genealogical Society

William Soehngen
William Soehngen, c. 1940s
Photo in the collection of Jane Soehngen Theissen
Used with permission

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Last Modified: 01-Oct-2019 17:17