1867 – Gustave Sagner

Gustave Theodor Sagner was born on March 1, 1867 in the town of Meseritz located in Provinz Posen (Province of Posen) in Königreich Prueßen (the Kingdom of Prussia) to August Sagner and Ernestine Kurtzhan. Today the town is in the Poznan region of Poland and is called Międzyrzecz.

The birth record lists his namr as Theodore Gustave, but as an adult he reversed the names. Gustave often spelled his name as Gustav.

Gustav’s father, Johann August Sagner, was born on April 29, 1837 in Meseritz. He was called by his middle name, August, throughout his life in order to differentiate himself from his father, Johann Christian Sagner. August Sagner became a master carpenter, cabinetmaker, wagon maker and wheelwright. Gustav followed suit and became a carpenter and contractor.

Gustav’s mother, Auguste Ernestine Kurtzhan, was born on June 27, 1842 in Meseritz. She too went by her middle name: Ernestine or Ernestina. August Sagner married her on January 21, 1864.

Gustav had two sisters: Louise, born two years earlier in October 1865 and Anna Augusta, born a year later in November 1868.


In May 1869, Gustav’s father, August Sagner, sailed from Bremen to New York. He settled in St. Louis, Missouri, without his family.

Fifteen years later, Gustav and Louise Sagner sailed from Bremen to New York on a ship named the Werra, arriving on October 18, 1884. Louise was 19 years old and Gustav was 17. Their mother Ernestine and their sister Anna came a year later.

The Werra was built by John Elder & Company, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1882 for the North German Lloyd line. It carried 1,255 passengers (125 first class, 130 second class, 1,000 third class) and served the Bremerhaven to New York service.

1871 – Eleanora Wilhelmina Girthofer

Eleanora Wilhelmina Girthofer was born on February 12, 1871 in St. Louis to Joseph Girthofer and and Katherina Kleen.

Eleanora’s father, Joseph Girthofer, was born on January 21, 1837 in the town of Straubing, Bavaria. He emigrated to the United States in 1848 or 1849. During the American Civil War, Joseph volunteered for military service on April 22, 1861 and served in the Ohio Infantry from May 8, 1861 to June 7, 1864.

Eleanora’s mother, Katherina Kleen, was born on September 17, 1848 in Langanhausen or Langenhagen, Hannover. She emigrated to the United States in 1865.

Joseph Girthofer married Katherina Kleen on December 5, 1868 in St. Louis, Missouri. Eleanora was the second of five children.

1890 – 1899

The 1890 St. Louis City Directory lists August Sagner, a carpenter, Gustave Sagner, a carpenter, and Louise Sagner, a dressmaker, living at 3120 Brantner Place.

Gustav T. Sagner received his naturalization papers on November 9, 1891 in St. Louis City Circuit Court. Witnesses were J. G. Kessler and Louis Busch.

On February 3, 1893, Gustav Sagner married Eleanora Wilhelmina Girthofer in St. Louis, Missouri.

On March 17, 1893, an article appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch stating that Gustav’s parents Ernestine and August Sagner were granted a divorce. She claimed that August was a heavy drinker and that he abused her verbally and physically. She was awarded a lump sum alimony of $250.


Gustav and Eleanora had four children, all sons:

  • William Gustave, born January 26, 1894 at home at 4564 North Market Street
  • Walter Theodore, born November 27, 1895 at home at 4564 North Market Street
  • Arthur John, born May 24, 1897 at home at 4564 North Market Street
  • Frederick Ernest, born March 25, 1901 at home at 4564 North Market Street (He later reversed his given names to Ernest Frederick.)

Because their first and last children were born at home at the same address, it’s probably safe to assume that all the boys were born at 4564 N. Market Street in St. Louis. The informant on the birth record of William Gustave was C. Girthofer. It is a safe assumption that Eleanora’s mother Catherina Kleen Girthofer, who was a midwife, delivered the child. And perhaps they were all delivered by their grandmother Catherina Girthofer. It’s interesting to note, however, that their other grandmother, Ernestine Sagner, was also a midwife.

Spanish-American War

Gustave Sagner

A note by William Sagner states that his father Gustav volunteered and served in the Spanish-American War in 1898. So far, I have not been able to find any data to support that.

census records

Census records give us a sketchy picture of events from 1900 to 1920. The 1900, 1910 and 1920 census records list the family’s residence at 4564 North Market in North St. Louis.

1900 – 1909

In 1900, Gustav’s mother Ernestine, a widow at age 57, was living with his family along with his sister Anna, age 31. Gustav’s occupation was listed as a “builder – house” in the census.

Anna Augusta Sagner married Gustav Adolph Zimmer on August 13, 1902 in Denver, Colorado.

1910 – 1919

Gustave Sagner

In 1910, Ernestine Sagner (68) was no longer living with Gustave and Eleanor in St. Louis. She had traveled to Nickerson, Kansas to care for her grandchildren after the death of her daughter Louise.

Then, on February 3, 1911, Gustav’s wife Eleanor died at age 39 at the Ellen Osborn Hospital in St. Louis where she had been treated by Dr. Ellen M. Osborn.

Dr. Osborn was a graduate of the Women’s Medical College of St. Louis, the first school west of the Mississippi exclusively for the medical education of women. Unlike many other female physicians, Ellen Osborn not limit her practice to the “women’s specialties” or to female patients. An internist and surgeon, and founder of her own surgical and quarantine hospital, she was assisted by other woman physicians, who like her, found staff privileges difficult to obtain at other hospitals. By 1911, the Ellen Osborn Hospital was one of the network of hospitals affiliated with the Barnes Medical College.

Eleanor Sagner’s death certificate lists the cause of death as “suppurative salpingitis” complicated with “pelvic peritonitis.” Suppurative salpingitis is a bacterial infection of the fallopian tubes which creates a pus discharge. It can be caused by a staph or strep infection, venereal disease (especially), or infections following a pregnancy or abortion. At the time there were no antibiotics to fight this kind of infection.

Eleanor was buried on February 5, 1911 in Zion Cemetery, Section R, Lot 3, at 7401 Saint Charles Rock Road in St. Louis.

Eleanor left behind four young sons. William was 17 years old, Walter 15, Arthur 13, and Ernest 9 when their mother died.

4564 North Market

A 1913 St. Louis City Directory listed Gustave Sagner as a carpenter contractor contractor living at 4564 North Market. Walter (17) was identified as a clerk at the Franklin Bank and Arthur (15) as a clerk at the Jefferson Bank. Both were living with their father.

St. Louis streetcar circa 1915

On June 7, 1913, 16-year-old Arthur Sagner was struck by an automobile as he departed from a Wellston streetcar at Easton Avenue and Wagoner Place. He was knocked to the ground. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that he was struck by an auto driven by August White. Arthur claimed he was not injured, but a police officer who witnessed the accident took both Arthur and White to a police station. Arthur was later taken to the West End Dispensory where it was determined that he had abrasions on his left shoulder and contusions to his back.

Gustave Sagner and sons with their girl friends

The picture above was taken five years later at Chamber’s Pasture on July 14, 1918. From left to right are Walter Sagner (22), Frieda (Kitty) Stubbe (23), Arthur Sagner (21), Anita Stubbe (20), Gustav Sagner (51), William Sagner (24), Alice Schuller (16), and Ernest Sagner (17). Frieda and Anita were sisters. All of the couples (Walter and Kitty, Arthur and Anita, Ernest and Alice) married over the next few years. William never married.

Arthur is in uniform. The three oldest boys (William, Walter, and Arthur) had to register for the draft. William entered the army two days after this picture was taken.

Walter’s draft registration card lists his occupation as a mechanical draftsman at the Moon-Hopkins Billing Machine Company at 2235 O’Fallon. Moon-Hopkins was founded in St. Louis in 1911. They produced a combination typewriter and calculator, unique for its time. In 1920, the Burroughs Adding Machine Company purchased Moon-Hopkins. The machine was redesigned, improved, and sold as the Burroughs Moon-Hopkins.

At the time of his registration, Arthur was working for the Southern Surety Company in Des Moines, Iowa. He returned to St. Louis on June 7, 1918, just a month before the group photo was taken. He was inducted into the Army Air Corps at Scott Field, Illinois on June 19, 1918. The photo above was taken four weeks later. (Arthur’s Army serial number was 963,480) There is no information on his service record about European service or the length of his military service.

On William’s draft registration form, he stated he was a bank clerk at the Central National Bank at Seventh and Olive Streets. He claimed to be exempt from the draft because he had been “rejected from the 5th Regiment.” Still, William entered the army just two days after the group photo was taken.

William Sagner served in World War I from July 16, 1918 to November 17, 1919 as a member of Company L of the 7th Infantry. (Army serial number 3,766,736.) He was inducted into military service in St. Louis. From July 22 to September 17, 1918, he was stationed in Texas. He was then sent to Europe on September 25, 1918 and arrived in France on October 4th. He was sent to Germany on November 16 where he served in the Army of Occupation along the Rhine River until May 7, 1919. On that date, he returned to France where he remained until June 12, 1919. William then shipped out to Hampton, Virginia, arriving there on June 22. On November 17, 1919, he was honorably discharged from the army with a 100% disability.

William Sagner never recovered from his wartime experiences. In World War I they called his condition “shell shock.” In World War II, it was known as “battle fatigue.” Today, we call it “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Later in his life he would have serious mental and nervous problems, finding it difficult to hold down a steady job. He spent some time as an inmate in the Missouri Sanitarium in South St. Louis and at Veterans’ Hospitals in Iowa and Illinois. Family members recalled that he was a changed person after the war and was difficult to be around. Later in life, he settled in Chicago, Illinois.

On September 12, 1927, an article appeared in the St. Louis Star and Times about William Sagner. The article was titled “Legs Betray Man in Woman’s Dress.”

Silk hose is poor camouflage for the legs of a veteran which have been developed by hikes over the roads of France. “Those legs don’t belong to any woman,” said Detective McNiff last night to Detective Sergeant Girard as he pointed out a “woman” at Easton and Hodiamont avenues. “I’m going to talk to that guy.” It developed the “woman” was William Sagner, 33 years old, who said he rooms at 1726 North Euclid avenue. He receives $80 a month from the government as a vocational training student, he told the detectives. “I got this layout to amuse myself at masquerade balls this winter,” Sagner explained. He was arrested, charged with masquerading as a woman. He is in jail. It was his first time out in the outfit, which consisted of a blue silk dress, a pink leghorn hat, tan silk hose and tan slippers.

1920 – 1929

Ernest Frederick Sagner married Alice Elizabeth Schuller on January 3, 1920 in St. Louis. (See Ernest Sagner and Alice Schuller.) Their first daughter Betty Lea Sagner was born on June 22, 1921.

In the 1920 census, Ernestine Sagner, at age 77, was back in Gustav Sagner’s household, most likely helping Gustav out after the death of his wife, Eleanor. Gustav’s occupation was listed as a “carpenter-contractor.” William Sagner was 25 and unemployed, Arthur was 22 and a bank teller, and Ernest was 18 and a clerk in an asbestos company. However, just days before the census was taken, Ernest had gotten married.

Underwood Computing Machine Company

By 1920, Walter Sagner was married to Frieda Elizabeth (Kitty) Stubbe and had moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where Walter worked for the Underwood Computing Machine Company as a designer.

The Underwood Typewriter Company had produced its first typewriter in 1901, considered the first widely successful, modern typewriter. By 1910, they had also produced combination typewriting-adding machines. The computing mechanism was electric. In 1911, an ad stated that “the Underwood Computing Machine meets the long felt want for a machine that will write names and descriptions and list amounts in as many columns as may be required, and automatically add or subtract the amounts in all columns both vertically and cross-wise. The computing mechanism is attached to the figure keys (of the standard typewriter keyboard), which do computing automatically as the keys are struck and the figures are imprinted on the paper.” The prices of the four models of computing mechanisms (not including the price of the necessary typewriter with decimal tabulator) were $200 to $275 in 1911. It was this division of Underwood that Walter Sagner began to work for after World War I.

In 1927, Time magazine reported that, “Directors of the Underwood Typewriter Co. last week asked their stockholders to meet Dec. 15 to approve merger with the Elliott-Fisher Co. (general office equipment) as the Underwood-Elliott-Fisher Co.” By 1929, the city directory in Hartford was listing Walter’s employer as the Underwood Elliott-Fisher Company.

Geer’s Hartford City Directories report Walter’s employment and home addresses every year during this decade from 1921 to 1929. In 1921 Walter and Kitty’s home address was Apartment 2-5 at 255 Sisson Avenue in Hartford. His work address was at 22 Arbor. In 1922, they moved to a home at 1072 Broad Street in West Hartford and in 1924 to a home at 100 Beverly Road in West Hartford where they remained until sometime between 1931 and 1935. In 1924, Walter’s job description was listed as a mechanical engineer.

Back in St. Louis: On April 5, 1920, when he was about 23 years old, Arthur Sagner was the victim of a bold bank robbery at the Easton-Taylor Trust Company at 4474 Easton Avenue just east of Taylor Avenue where he was a bank teller. The next day, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a full page story on the incident in which the robber, Frederick Charles Smith, fled to a nearby vacant movie theater where he was shot by police officers. He later died at the hospital. One police officer was killed and three others were wounded.

Smith entered the bank with a .38 caliber gun in each hand. He yelled for everyone in the bank to put their hands up. When the bank president started to rise out of his chair, Smith fired a shot over his head. “I mean business,” the robber shouted, “get ’em up!” He then fired a second shot in the air and moved toward the first teller’s cage where Arthur was working. Arthur had dropped to the floor during the shooting. The bank’s secretary Louise Schneider, stepped into the cage and pushed all of the cash in the cage—$15,209—through the window toward the robber. Smith placed the cash in a flour sack and then directed everyone to move into the director’s office. He ordered them to remain there for five minutes. Meanwhile a passerby had seen what was happening in the bank and ran to a nearby police station. As the robber was exiting the bank, Smith saw a platoon of police officers rushing toward him. He fired a shot, wounding one officer, and then ran to a movie theater next door where he was soon mortally wounded in a hail of bullets.

Two years later, Arthur John Sagner married Anita Elizabeth Stubbe, Frieda’s sister, on June 10, 1922.

Ernest and Alice Sagner gave birth to their second daughter, Alice Anita, on January 17, 1926.

Arthur and Anita Sagner gave birth to their only child, Carol Anita Sagner, on September 16, 1928.

1930 – 1939

V. A. Hospital, Knoxville, Iowa

In April 1930, the census lists William Sagner (36) as a resident at the Veterans Bureau Hospital 1657 in Knoxville, Iowa. He was housed in a ward of “incompetent patients.” William remained here until at least 1935. In 1940, he was in a VA hospital in Danville, Illinois.

4723 Leduc

In 1930, Ernest Sagner (29), Alice (28) and daughters Betty Lee (8) and Alice Anita (4) were living in a two-family flat at 4723A Leduc Street, rented for $45 a month. He was the manager of a radio shop.

The same year, Walter Sagner (34) and Frieda (Kitty) (34) were living at 100 Beverly Road in West Hartford, Connecticut, where the census reports that he worked for a “computing” company. By 1935, Walter and Kitty had moved to a new home at 185 Clearfield Road in Wethersfield, Connecticut. By 1939, Walter was a development engineer and they had moved to 39 Four Mile Road in West Hartford where they remained until Walter’s death in 1984.

4946 Miami

Also in 1930, Arthur Sagner (32), Anita (32), and their daughter Carol (18 months) were living at 4946 Miami Avenue in St. Louis. Arthur was working as a secretary at a bank.

Easton-Taylor Trust Company

Sometime later in the 1930s, Arthur earned a law degree and was admitted to the Missouri Bar, although he never practiced law. He remained in the banking industry for many years. In an ad for the Easton-Taylor Trust Company in July 1936, Arthur was listed as secretary, treasurer, and a director of the bank.

1940 – 1949

V.A. Hospital, Danville, Illinois

The 1940 census lists William Sagner (46) as a resident at a Veterans Bureau Hospital in Danville, Illinois. But two years later, he was employed in Chicago.

In December 1941, Walter Sagner was required to register for the draft again. At the time, he was living at 59 Four Mile Road in West Hartford, Connecticut and was working for Underwood, Elliott, Fisher, an engineering firm. By 1945, the company name had changed to the Underwood Corporation.

William Sagner registered for the draft in 1942. He was living at 2107 North Clark in Chicago, Illinois, and was working at the restaurant of the Plaza Hotel at 1543 North Clark.

5339 Mardel

Gould’s St. Louis City Directory for 1944 listed Arthur Sagner as a vice-president and secretary for the Easton-Taylor Trust Company. His home address was 5339 Mardel Avenue.

5048-5050 Easten

The same directory listed Ernest Sagner as the owner of the E. F. Sagner Radio and Electric Company at 5048 Easton Avenue. He lived above the store at 5048A Easton. He later named the business “The Radio Hospital.”

Zion Cemetery

Gustav Sagner died at 11:45 PM on December 30, 1946 at Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis. He had been treated for an acute intestinal obstruction, but died of cardiac failure. He was buried on January 2, 1947 in Zion Cemetery, Section R, Lot 3, at 7401 Saint Charles Rock Road in St. Louis.

In May 1946, Carol Anita Sagner was awarded a four-year honors scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis, graduating in 1950. While at the university, she joined the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, with which she remained an active member for 73 years.

1950 – 1959

grave marker for Eleanora, Gustav and William Sagner

William Sagner died on October 23, 1959, most likely in Chicago. In an Easter greeting card sent to his cousin Bertha Zimmer, dated March 31, 1953, William said that he had just moved to 421 Webster Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. So perhaps that was his last place of residence before his death six years later. He was buried on October 26, 1959 in Zion Cemetery at 7401 Saint Charles Rock Road in St. Louis alongside his parents.

1960 – 1969

By 1961, the Hartford city directories were no longer listing an employer for Walter Sagner, suggesting he had retired by that point.

1970 – 1979

Ernest Sagner died on November 1, 1978 at House Springs, Missouri. His wife, Alice, died on March 15, 1980.

1980 – 1989

Arthur Sagner died on January 25, 1982 in St. Louis. His obituary stated that he died of cancer at the Bethesda-Dilworth Memorial Home at 9645 Big Bend Boulevard. He had worked as Vice-President and Director of the Central West End Bank for 20 years and then was Vice-President of Hercules Steel Products in Galion, Ohio. After his retirement in 1961, he returned to St. Louis. He was buried in Zion Cemetery like his parents.

Arthur’s wife Anita died on December 9, 1991.

Walter Sagner died on September 4, 1984 in Hartford, Connecticut. His wife, Kitty, returned to St. Louis where she died ten years later on December 14, 1994.

1990 – 1999

2000 – 2009

2010 – 2019

Carol Anita Sagner died on December 26, 2019.

2020 – 2029