52 ancestors – Strong Woman


My second great grandmother, Anna Reuter, was an indomitable woman.

Anna was born 2 Dec 1827 in Lorentzweiler, Canton Mersch, Luxembourg. On 10 Jan 1848, in Medernach, Canton Diekirch, 20-year-old Anna married Michel Thinnes, a man twelve years her senior and my second great grandfather. They had seven children, one a stillborn daughter.

Michel died 15 Jul 1861, six months before the birth of the last child, leaving her widowed with five young children and one on the way. Unlike so many women in similar circumstances, Anna did not immediately remarry, choosing to raise the children by herself.

Six years later, she emigrated to the United States with her children, arriving in New York City, 11 Mar 1867, with her brother, Joseph, and sisters, Anne Marie (Reuter) Miller and Marie (Reuter) Jung, their families, and other Medernach residents. All went to the midwest, Anna and children settling in Saint Joseph, Missouri.

Soon after her arrival in St. Joe, Anna married a second time, 4 Jul 1867, Johann “John” Rottmeister, a stone mason. With him, she had at least three more children, only one daughter surviving.

Apparently John suffered from alcoholism and depression. He was a frequent saloon patron and, while drinking, talked about killing himself. After years of such behavior, his threats were ignored by bartenders and patrons alike … until one day, on 4 Dec 1880, he followed through.

The gruesome facts were reported in the St. Joseph Gazette (St. Joseph, MO), Sunday, 5 Dec 1880, p. 4, col. 5:

“A Saturday Suicide.”
“John “Roadmaster” procures a pistol and blows his brains out”
“The Act a Deliberately Planned Suicide — The Circumstances
The residents in the vicinity of Mitchell avenue and the Missouri river were startled at noon yesterday by the sharp report of a pistol, and it was but a short time till they discovered that John Roadmaster had put an end to his life with his own hands. …
A short time before noon, he came up town, and, going to the gun store of Batcheller & Wall, purchased a 32 calibre five-shooting pistol. Then he started toward his home, at the foot of Mitchell avenue. He stopped at Martin Haley’s saloon, on Sixth and Patee streets, and called for a glass of beer. While there, he remarked that he intended to kill himself. Those present in the saloon, however, paid no attention to his talk, thinking it mere idle vaporings.
… Proceeding to the door of his house he entered the front room, in which there was no one at the time. In a few moments Mrs. Roadmaster was startled by the report of a pistol, and running into the room found her husband lying prostrate on the floor, the blood flowing from a great hole in his forehead, and a pistol lying on the floor where it had dropped from his nerveless grasp after it had performed its deadly mission. …
While the inquest was in progress, the body of the unfortunate man lay in the middle of the floor, upon its back, and the face turned up. Covered with blood, and with a ghastly hole in the forehead that one could stick three fingers into, it presented a sickening spectacle. …
He left no explanation of it whatever. He had frequently expressed an intention of committing suicide after he had been drinking to excess, but had never attempted such a thing before.
Mr. Roadmaster was an old citizen of St. Joseph, having lived here for nearly thirty years. He was a stone mason by trade, and was known as a hard working, industrious man, although given to drinking beer.”

Anna buried two more children, sons John Thinnes (d. 15 Jun 1889) and Peter Joseph Thinnes (d. 4 Jun 1910). Despite the loss of two husbands, at least five children, and removal to a new country, Anna carried on, heading her own household and supporting herself, until her eighties. She was a devout and respected member of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and never lost her faith.

She died at the age of 89 years on 7 Jan 1917.

Catholic Tribune (St. Joseph, MO), Sat., 13 Jan 1917, p. 5, col. 1.
“Immaculate Conception
“The funeral of Mrs. Anna Rottmeister, who died last Sunday morning at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Mary Owens, 611 Sycamore street, was held Tuesday morning from this church, Rev. Francis Johannes officiating. Besides the daughter, at whose home she died, four other daughters and one son survive her. Mrs. Rottmeister, who was eighty-nine years of age, was one of the oldest members of this parish. She was a devout Catholic and highly esteemed by all who knew her.”

What spirit she possessed.