William George Tegtmeyer was the second child, first male, born to Heinrich Wilhelm Anton Tegtmeyer, 1841–1885, and Bertha Schroeder, 1850–1927. William was born on 15 February 1875 in Geestemunde, Bremerhaven, Germany. The only known siblings were his older sister, Berta Frederika Wilhelmina, born 22 March 1873; his younger brother, George Henry, born 4 December 1877; and his younger sister, Linda.

William’s father died when he was ten years old. Having children ranging from twelve to six years of age, Bertha was forced to re-marry soon afterwards. From what we have learned from family lore, this husband was not kind, thus Bertha had an unhappy marriage. Presumably, she encouraged William, age fourteen, to go to America. It appears that he traveled alone and arrived at the Port of New York on 18 June 1889. Bertha was a stewardess for a shipping line in 1905 and may have been doing this work on the ship that William was on in 1889. William’s brother, George, immigrated to America when he was also fourteen and appeared to travel alone.

The first record of William in St. Louis, Missouri, was when he received his U.S. citizenship on 24 September 1896 at the age of twenty-one. Research reveals no other family members lived in St. Louis. William met Emma Marguerite Lahman in St. Louis and they married on 27 September 1898. There were no children from this marriage; however, Emma had a daughter out of wedlock a year earlier who was under the care of the Marshall family in Chicago, Illinois.

At the age of eighteen in 1915, Emma’s daughter, Faith Hope Marshall, came back to St. Louis to live with her mother and stepfather. On 9 June 1917, Faith had an out of wedlock daughter named Emma. Emma’s birth certificate originally indicated the father was George Miller, a twenty-five-year old carpenter, and Emma’s name was written as Emma Miller Tegtmeyer. This information was crossed out later and the child’s name became Emma Margaret Tegtmeyer. The father’s name remained crossed out without any other addition. There is no note to indicate when these changes were made to the birth certificate.

William and Emma Tegtmeyer
William and Emma Tegtmeyer
Photo in the collection of Karen (Tegtmeyer) Goode
Used with permission

Emma Marguerite (Lahman) Tegtmeyer and William George Tegtmeyer had an amiable divorce on 25 April 1919. Faith Hope married William George on 3 May 1919. The three of them, Emma, Faith and William, lived together. Emma and William never had children, but Faith and William had six more children after young Emma was born:

    • Emma, 9 June 1917–10 October 1983
    • William George “Bud,” 13 February 1920–23 November 1999
    • Cleve Eugene “Gene,” 28 July 1921–19 October 1990
    • Roger James, 17 July 1924–29 September 2012
    • Faith Adelaide “Peaches,” 13 April 1927–19 January 2019
    • Betty Mae, February 1929–24 September 1979
    • Shirley Ann, 1 December 1932–24 August 2005

William George Tegtmeyer suffered from depression and attempted suicide during the years of the Great Depression. He died 11 December 1939 due to hypertensive heart disease while his son, William George Tegtmeyer II, was in the Civilian Conservation Corps earning money to help support the family.

Written by Karen Tegtmeyer Goode
February 2022

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