20 August 2010

Wilhelm Edward Fiegenbaum

1870 — 1955


William Edward Fiegenbaum, the ninth child of Rev. Frederick William and Louisa (Otto) Fiegenbaum, was born at Des Moines, Iowa 5 January 1870. 1   The family moved from Iowa to charges in Missouri and Kansas.  William Edward joined the church at the age of 13 at Wathena, Kansas after taking catechetical instruction from his father.  He graduated from the high school at Lawrence, Kansas in 1890.  After serving an apprenticeship with a Kansas jeweler and optometrist, he finished his education at the Chicago College of Horology.  His father now being stationed at Oregon, Missouri, his mother prevailed on him to remain at home, and he began watch-making and repairing at Oregon, where he remained five years.  It was here he met Miss Maude Mary Montgomery, and after she finished her education, they were married 8 October 1901.  In the meantime Edward visited his brother Louis, a pioneer druggist at Geneva, Nebraska, and was persuaded to move his jewelry store to Geneva, where he operated a jewelry and optical business, at first in his brother's drugstore.  After a short trip, Mr. and Mrs. Fiegenbaum came to Geneva and occupied a cottage on the corner later known as 442 North 11th Street.  In 1912 the cottage was replaced with a commodious home where they continued to live.  Mr. and Mrs. Fiegenbaum celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at their home in Geneva 7 October 1951.  On 6 September 1953 Mrs. Fiegenbaum passed to her eternal home.  After a brief illness Mr. Fiegenbaum joined her in the celestial world 5 January 1955 on his 85th birthday.  Mr. and Mrs. Fiegenbaum were the parents of three children:  Frederick Robert who lived just five months; 2  Frances Montgomery now Mrs. L. F. Klein of Lincoln; and William Edward II of Geneva.  There are five grandchildren:  Mrs. Gretchen Klein Turner of Lincoln, Mrs. Nancy Klein Hopkins of Albuquerque, New Mexico; William Edward Fiegenbaum III, Susan Louise Fiegenbaum and Michael Frederick Fiegenbaum of Geneva.  There is also a great grandchild Karen Turner.  Ed, as he was know to all, was active in civic, lodge and church circles.  He had served as secretary to the Republican County Central Committee, was president of the Geneva Commercial Club years ago at the time it instituted the first united effort for better roads for Fillmore County.  He was for 25 years secretary of the Local Modern Woodmen of America.  He became a Mason at the age of 24 in Oregon, Missouri.  After locating in Geneva, he demitted and joined Geneva Lodge No. 79.  He also received the degrees of the Royal Arch and the Council.  He also belonged to the Knights of Pythias. 3   Mr. and Mrs. Fiegenbaum were life-time members of the Methodist Church.  During their more active years they served their church in many official capacities.  Mr. Fiegenbaum had held the offices of secretary, treasurer, and chairman of the board.  During his chairmanship of the board he instituted the idea of a Memorial Fund which has gathered momentum through the years.  He was regular in his church attendance, a good listener, and greatly enjoyed the organ and choir music.  Mr. Fiegenbaum was always a great supporter of Geneva High School athletics.  He attended all the games and was interested in the welfare of the players.  Like all true fans he hated to see the home boys lose, but gave due credit to their opponents.  The town baseball team always held his interest.  Years ago when the big lodge picnics were held in Geneva, Ed was usually on the arrangements committee.  His hobby was golf, which he had played for years, enjoying the game up to a few days before his death.  Mr. Fiegenbaum's illness was of only a week's duration.  He was at his place of business Wednesday, 29 December, entering a Lincoln hospital the next day.  His condition became rapidly worse.  Services were held at the First Methodist Church Friday afternoon, 7 January, at two o'clock.  Mrs. H. A. Rosenau sang his favorite hymn, "Be Still My Soul," with Miss Gayle Walton at the organ.  The tribute was given by Dr. F. F. Pfoutz, minister.  Masonic services were conducted at the cemetery, with Guy A. Brown giving the oration.  The pallbearers were Joseph Bixby, George Cruse, Robert Bailey, Howard Hamilton, John Edgecombe and Tyler Edgecombe.  Interment was in the Geneva Cemetery.

Source: The Nebraska Signal, of Geneva, Fillmore County, Nebraska; 13 January 1955. This transcription and citation were provided by Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts.


  1. Wilhelm Edward Fiegenbaum was actually the youngest of 10 children born to Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm and Louisa (Otto) Fiegenbaum. The couple's third child, Louis, died at the age of 6 days, on 12 September 1856. He was buried in the cemetery of the Methodist Church at what was then known as Sherrill Mount, Dubuque County, Iowa (section A, row 5, stone 6). The town is now known simply as Sherrill, Iowa.

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  2. There is some confusion about the son's correct name. In his obituary and in the obituaries for both of his parents, all published in Geneva, Nebraska, the given names were reported as Frederick Robert. This is in contrast to a birth announcement published in The Holt County Sentinel, of Oregon, Missouri, and the inscription on his grave marker in the Geneva Cemetery at Geneva, Fillmore County, Nebraska, where the given names were Frederick Wilhelm or Frederic W.

    Rightly or wrongly, I have assumed that the grave marker comes closest to being a primary "document" which is the least removed from his parents' intentions and have chosen to use that form of the name until a more definitive answer can be found.

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  3. Wilhelm Edward Fiegenbaum was quite active in local social organizations and a member of a number of fraternal orders. His funeral was held at the Methodist Church to which he belonged, but services at the cemetery were conducted by the Masonic lodge at Geneva.

    In this, he was like many in his family and of his generation. But the level of his involvement stands in stark contrast to the concluding passage of an autobiographical letter his father wrote to his children.

    And now, may the Lord bless you.  All your training has been mostly in the hands of your mother.  What you are, you thank her for, and God.  I was always busy in the church work and its affairs.  One dying request I have yet.  Keep away from lodges.  It will at last pull down into hell.  Please, my sons, with the home and church is all you need.  Grant me this request before I die.

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Brief Genealogy

Wilhelm Edward Fiegenbaum's family

Maude Mary Montgomery's family

Fiegenbaum - Montgomery family

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