Who was Ralph Geissert? Help, please!

+1 vote
According to her death certificate from 2000, Rita Geissert Dugan's father was "Ralph Geissert". Although I have found a fair amount about Rita's mother Salome, whose profile I am working on putting together, I am at a loss trying to dig up anything on her father. I haven't even been able to locate them in the 1940 census anywhere, which would at least give me a close approximation as to his date of birth and place of birth.

Any help would be appreciated
WikiTree profile: Ralph Geissert
in Genealogy Help by Ron Johnson G2G6 Mach 3 (34.6k points)

2 Answers

+3 votes

We know that Rita was born in East St. Louis, IL (and apparently grew up there, as she was in the East St. Louis High School Yearbook). Per p. 242 of the 1930 East St. Louis City Directory (link for those with access to ancestry.com), in 1930 Ralph Geissert was an unmarried employee of the Jos E Bennett Stk and Bond Co, residing at 7220 State St. At the same address there was also an Edw H Geissert, musician, with wife Virginia.

by Living Geschwind G2G6 Mach 8 (83.9k points)

The 1930 census (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X3MH-71B) shows that Virginia Geissert (married, age 27, born in Illinois) was living at 7220 State St, East St Louis, with her parents Hugo and Meta Brown, her daughter Jean Geissert, and her aunt Edie Schmidt. No sign of her husband Edward or of Ralph Geissert at this address.

If anybody had a newspapers.com subscription


 in the Newspapers.com Obituary Index, 1800s-current

Name: Ralph
Gender: Male
Father: Geissert

The 1930 census (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X3M4-8KD) also shows that Edward Geisert, married, musician, was rooming on N 8th St in East St Louis in 1930. It showed him as 45 years old and born in Illinois to German parents.

This means he is almost certainly the same Edward Geissert whose burial at age 55 is recorded in the 1941 obituary found by Betty.

And that obituary mentioned a son Ralph in Granite City.

So, Ron, this suggests that the Ralph you have found in Granite City is indeed your Ralph Geissert. The fact that, in 1940, he had a wife Rose and an 8-month old baby Judith suggests that he had already left/abandoned Salome and their 5-year old daughter Rita.

Thanks. I already have that obituary, but am not convinced that the son Ralph mentioned in it is the same as the husband of Salome & father of Rita. TBH, it probably is, but before I add it as a definitive I want more evidence.
I agree that the Ralph Geissert in these documents fits "the profile" of the husband of Salome and father of Rita, and is probably the correct person. I am, however, not convinced enough to actually equate "this Ralph" with "my Ralph". Call me picky, but I don't like adding "relatives" to someone that may not be correct.
I'm not trying to be rude. I'm just curious to know what document would be the one to prove that this is your Ralph?
Thanks for what is actually a good question, Betty; it was not rude at all!. To answer it, I would accept something along the lines of an obituary from one of "these Geisserts" that mention Rita Dugan as a surviving relative of some degree. Or perhaps a will from "this" Ralph or one of his parents that mentions Rita Dugan as an heir, especially if she is referred to as a daughter or some such. Perhaps even a "Personals" column mentioning Rita Dugan visiting or being visited by one of these Geisserts.

My suspicion (and I will admit that at this point it is only a suspicion) is that Rita may have been illegitimate (that is, that Ralph Geissert may have never actually married to Salome), and that as a result any mention of Rita was studiously avoided in later sources from these Geisserts. Note that the only source giving the last name "Geissert" for Salome is Rita's 2000 obituary - which is strange, because at that point Salome should have been referred to either as Salome Bursch (her last married name, which was used in Salome's own obituary) or as Salome Buchunas (her maiden name).

The LDS has filmed (but not indexed) the marriage licenses for St. Clair County, IL (in which East St. Louis is located) through 1941, but these records can only be accessed at a Family History Center or Affiliate Library (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/960691). The St. Clair County Genealogical Society, however, has published an index to these marriage records in their Quarterly, with the indexes for 1931-1934 in their vol. 39, published in 2016, and indexes for 1935-1938 in their vol. 40, published in 2017 (see https://stclair-ilgs.org/quarterly-vols-36-40/). The very comprehensive surname index for the Quarterly, however, does not include a hit for Geissert or Geisert in vols. 39 or 40, indicating that Ralph Geissert did not get married in St. Clair County (where both he and Salome were living) in the early 1930s.

The ultimate proof, of course, would come from Rita's birth certificate - but it appears the St. Clair County Clerk does not issue records for genealogical inquiries.

Lacking that, autosomal DNA is probably the best avenue for establishing any kind of proof here.


Thanks for your post. Some are sensitive to my abrupt questions. I think I have exhausted my trove of data. But I will continue to look for any information I can find.

Get Wayne Morgan on it. He's the best. :)
+2 votes

Found her FindAGrave Memorial:

Find a Grave, database and images: accessed 02 September 2020;, memorial page for Salome K Borsch (1912–2005), {{FindAGrave|76234831}}, citing Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery New, Waterloo, Monroe County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Peggy Ray (contributor 46824048) .
by Pat Credit G2G6 Pilot (147k points)
Thanks. I already had that info for Salome, just had not got around to adding it to her profile. Now, if you can find anything about her first husband Ralph Geissert, that would be a HUGE help!

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