Although he has somehow lost all his family’s historical documents, Bobby Kommer of Catawissa still carries the stories of his ancestors in his mind.
Kommer, 76, has studied family documents, abstracts and deeds dating back circa the Civil War since he was 12.
The story of how his family ended up in Catawissa starts somewhere around the founding of the United States, he said.
According to Kommer, his great-great-grandfather, Abraham Musick, fought in the Revolutionary War, as did his brother, David Musick, a captain in the Colonial Army.
“Abraham and his brother fought at King’s Mountain and Cowpens,” he said.
Abraham Musick, who Kommer said had a plantation near Jefferson’s Monticello, took his family from Virginia to North Carolina, where Kommer’s great-grandfather, Uel Musick, was born in 1793.
“He was one of triplets, which was very unusual back then,” Kommer said. “There was Uel, Uri and Ute. Ute didn’t live very long. He was about 21 or so (when he died) and never got married.”
After the war, Kommer said all the soldiers went home and all that were left where his ancestors lived were Cherokee Indians. Fearing for their lives, the settlers decided to move north.
“So they all got together — the whole bunch — and went to Kentucky, and Daniel Boone led them into Missouri,” he said. “They got into Missouri in 1799 and all they had to do was swear they was good Catholics to get free ground.”
Abraham Musick claimed 80 acres of ground at the site of what is now St. Charles Rock Road and Lindbergh Boulevard in Bridgeton, Kommer said.
“Abraham notified his nephew, (Thomas Roy Musick), who was down there preaching in North Carolina,” Kommer said. “He was a Baptist preacher, and he got up here and he started getting people together and the Spanish authorities came and said, ‘Now listen. You can have your neighbors over and have choir practice and Bible readings and you can sing songs, but you can’t put a bell on your building and call it a church because there’s only one church and that’s the Catholic Church.’”
After the Louisiana Purchase, Kommer said Thomas Roy Musick was able to establish the Fee Fee Baptist Church, which was the first Baptist church west of the Mississippi and still exists today.
Kommer’s relatives were later involved with the War of 1812, he said.
David Musick was promoted to colonel and went to Illinois to fight. When David Musick retired from the army, he became a judge in St. Louis County. David Musick, who Kommer said was an officer and a gentleman, was given 360 acres in the Florissant bottom.
“He had a big plantation house there,” Kommer said. “Later, they wanted to put a big truck body plant there so they tore his house down. They took all the (Musicks) that were in the cemetery there, the ones in the Revolutionary War and they took them to Fee Fee Baptist Church and buried them all in one grave. They put a marker with all their names on it.”
So how did Kommer’s family end up in Franklin County?
Kommer said his family came to Catawissa because Uel Musick left Florissant and bought some ground between Catawissa and Robertsville.
In 1878 his Grandpa Kommer immigrated from Denmark.
“There was a guy at the shipyard over there who had bought a bunch of ground from the Moselle Mining Co. and my grandpa bought 160 acres in Calvey Creek bottom.”
Kommer now lives on the Whitworth family farm in Catawissa that belonged to his mother, who died in 1994 at age 96.
The farm, about 100 acres, was established in 1862 and is registered as a Century Farm.
Kommer said there’s not much left of the Catawissa he knew as a child.
“There was a depot, two general stores, a telegraph office, a bank, a stockyard and two taverns,” he said.