Moldenhauer Mausoleum

Dr. Gustav H. Moldenhauer
May 28, 1874 – May 17, 1952

Alma Ganschow Moldenhauer
February 2, 1879 – May 25, 1963

Dr. William J. Moldenhauer
November 7, 1881 – June 30, 1942

Lina Ganschow Moldenhauer
June 8, 1882 – May 16, 1915

William Moldenhauer
May 16, 1915 – September 27, 1915

Sylvia D. Biermann Kummerow
June 26, 1896 – November 21, 1977

George W. Kummerow
February 16, 1885 – April 26, 1963

This has always been my favorite mausoleum in Concordia I think because I just love the location. It’s set under the trees at a scenic intersection toward the back of the north part of the cemetery. It’s always quiet back there and I’ve just developed an affection for it.

The Doctors Moldenhauer were brothers and Chicago-born sons of German immigrant parents. Their father was a blacksmith, but his children pursued loftier professions. His oldest son Henry became a minister, and his younger sons Gustav and William both became physicians.

Gustav married Alma Ganschow (whose family also has a mausoleum in Concordia) in 1901, and by 1910, little bother William is also a physician and has also married a Ganschow sister, Lina (in 1909).

William and Lina, however, have only six years together before Lina tragically dies in childbirth in April 1915. Their infant son passed away only a few short months later. Both are interred in the family mausoleum.

William remained a widower for fifteen years. He remarried in November 1930, a few months after the census lists him as still a widower. His second wife, Olivia Knudtson, is a nurse, and they have almost twelve years together before William passes away at only 52 years old. They have no children of their own and Olivia never remarries.

Gustav and Alma were married for 51 years together but have no children. The only surviving child of the three Ganschow sisters was Sylvia who along with her husband is entombed with her aunts. Her parents are buried nearby.

Sylvia and her husband George also had no children.

This may seem very sad to readers and it may have been very sad for the Moldenhauer and Kummerows, but we don’t know why these three families were childless. I am child-free and quite happy to be so, so I don’t presume anyone even in a historical context where women largely couldn’t make that choice for themselves due to societal and financial limitations that any childless person of the past was sadly so. However, I do wonder if perhaps there was some shared issue amongst the sisters and then inherited by Sylvia that made pregnancy especially difficult or dangerous. Dying in childbirth as Lina did is tragically not rare even today but to have had this happen when one was in the best position in society (well off and married to a doctor) seems to indicate some additional risk factor was involved. I can imagine a multi-generation trauma playing a role as well, the sisters and niece so devastated by the loss of sister/aunt and then cousin/nephew that the running the risk themselves was too much. I think it’s interesting that William did not have any children even with his second wife.

But I speculate – there is no way to know and as these branches of the Moldenhauer/Ganschow families came to an end, only family stories shared amongst cousins that have managed to be passed down to the current even farther removed generation would reveal the truth if such stories ever existed.

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