Strieter Autobiography: Seminary Life in Fort Wayne

[Continued from Part 14. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Translator’s Note

If anyone “in the know” about the content below – whether from Concordia Fort Wayne or the Concordia Historical Institute or anywhere else – has any early pictures of Wilhelm Sihler or the seminary campus or other shareable information that would enhance this post, I would greatly appreciate receiving such. Please contact me using the information on my About page. Thanks.

Seminary (conclusion)

Upon arriving [in Fort Wayne] I went to find the seminary right away. Steinbach later told me that when they saw me approaching with my suitcase, they thought, “What kind of hobo do we have here?”

The gentlemen students directed me to Dr. Sihler over here.31 He was sitting in the kitchen and was right in the middle of fixing a pony for his son Christian; he was tying his colorful, silk handkerchief on one of its legs. I said who I was, where I came from, and why I was there. He asked about Crämer; I had no information to give him. I arrived in Fort Wayne on October 10, 1850, and dear Crämer ended up arriving on the 24th. Dr. Sihler called upstairs, “Rauschert!” Above his small study the Dr. had a room that was also our lecture hall. Two students who boarded with Sihler lived in it, Rauschert and Werfelmann. Rauschert came down. Sihler said, “Bring Strieter to Mrs. Bornemann, sir.” She was a widow who foddered me for some time. “Do you have money, sir?” the doctor asked me.

I said, “No.”

He said, “That’s fine. Payment is due every quarter-year. When it’s due, go to Mr. Griebel and he will give you money.” And that’s how it worked. Every quarter cost three dollars, which I went and got from my patron. The people in the country brought us a whole bunch of stuff – whole or half hogs and a lot of fine sausage. I soon filled out at the seminary.

That was where studying really began though. It was almost enough to drive a man insane! Crämer gave the twenty of us guys a dreadful amount of homework. Many a night I only slept for two hours. We soon contracted a lot of headaches. It started around eight; around ten there was a piece of bread, but dry. At midday we always had beans; around one back at it until four; then down to the river, behind the mill dam for a bath. Occasionally the doctor came and took one with us.

Ottmann and I were the best swimmers. One time when the water was very high, Ottmann said to me that we should try to swim across. Off we go. Once we reach the other side, he says he should try to see how close to the dam we can swim past. Off we go, but that took some work. When we came to the middle, the water wanted to take us away. We breasted the water and at the same time worked our way sideways. We finally arrived, but completely exhausted. We looked at each other and said nothing. That night the water conducted a tree trunk with roots and branches, but left it lying on top of the dam. Sommer, whom I had already gotten to know in Sebewaing, a very friendly and very active person, tried to replicate our work of art the next day. But when he came to the middle of the current, it dragged him away and left him hanging in the branches of the tree trunk. He sat down on the trunk and began to sing. But we hollered at him, “Okay, just get over here; we all know what it’s like now.”

He worked his way over to us along his tree, and once he was on dry land he started in: “O you dear brothers, do not do that again. That is putting God to the test. If the tree had not been there, the water would have taken me away, and I would now be a child of death.” He was alluding to the large boulders down below. Later Pastor Kalb, who was supposed to become a professor at the teacher seminary, drowned at that spot; Fleischmann,32 who tried to save him, almost did too.33

I had been in Fort Wayne for six weeks when I had to teach a Catechism lesson on the Seventh Commandment. We had to go over to Dr. Sihler’s residence several times each week. There the lectures and Catechism lessons were given up in Rauschert’s and Werfelmann’s room. The catechist in question had to go and get six to seven students from Teacher Wolf. They would come up here and sit down on a bench; the seminary students would stand around them against the wall. The doctor would sit on a chair and Mr. Catechist in front of his boys, and now we were ready to go. That gave us some angst. I had already gotten to know the Seventh Commandment pretty well from experience. I explored everyday life with the students and showed how all people are thieves no matter what their station. At the conclusion the doctor would ask everyone for his criticism one by one. He himself went last. To my knowledge no one criticized me, not even Mr. Doctor; instead he praised me highly for being so practical. I was pleased and encouraged by that. Soon I also had to give a lecture on the false teachings about the Lord’s Supper. For that, however, I borrowed from a lecture by Ottmann, which I utilized well. Dr. Sihler praised me again, but he didn’t know that I had plowed with someone else’s heifer, and I said nothing about it either.

One time I had to do a funeral for a child in a house in the bush country. When we were singing, two people behind me were looking over my shoulders and singing along robustly, but in the middle of the verse they sang differently and knocked me off the saddle. I had the music book and was following along too casually. During the next verse it happened to me again, but during the third verse I watched what I was doing and went at it fearsomely, also turned my face towards them a little; now I stayed on track.

I also catechized in the surrounding area. One time I had to mount Sihler’s pulpit to give a funeral sermon. Another time I had to go to Huntington to preach for Pastor Stecher at festival time. For that Dr. Sihler advised me to borrow a horse from a farmer. The man gave me a large, black nag that was still young. I get on, put my umbrella under my arm, and start out. I’m riding on the tow-path for the canal. It starts to rain and I open my umbrella, but now my Black takes off. Fortunately I soon came to a quagmire; my nag got all fours stuck up to his belly. By the time he worked his way out, I had my umbrella closed. The man told me later that he had forgotten to say that I should not open any umbrella, because the horse could not stand that. —

Crämer accepted a call to a congregation on the side and made me his vicar; it was called Nothstein.34 A man lived there whose name was Nothstein. Others lived in the surrounding bush country. It was twelve miles away. Every fourteen days I had to go out there. In the morning I head out on foot, preached and held Catechism instruction with the little children, and headed back here in the afternoon. I was relieved by others twice, otherwise I kept my arrangement. One time the river was very swollen. Behind Rudisill’s was a small bridge over a brook that came from the marsh, but now the river had torn the little bridge away, and the water was flowing in reverse from the river into the marsh, and with considerable momentum. What now? I looked for a staff, found a branch, took it in hand, and started off into the water. In the middle it just about knocked me over, but I got across anyway; the water went up to my waist. I still had two miles to go, but now I ran.


31 Wilhelm Sihler (1801-1885) was won over to confessional Lutheranism from rationalism. After serving as a private tutor for a number of years, he came into contact with Löhe and came to America in 1843. He initially joined the Ohio Synod, but left it in 1845 due to its lax confessionalism and unionistic practices at the time. With the support of Löhe he started a Nothelferseminar in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1846. Nothelferseminar literally means emergency assistant seminary. Its purpose was to train pastors quickly so that they could provide the pastoral care urgently needed by the many immigrants and fledgling congregations. Often Nothelferseminar is more euphemistically translated practical seminary, as opposed to a theological seminary, since the students in Fort Wayne were given instruction in confessional Lutheran doctrine and pastoral practice, especially preaching and teaching, but received no instruction in the Hebrew and Greek of the Scriptures. This seminary was deeded to the newly formed Missouri Synod in 1847. Sihler was president of the seminary from 1846-1861. He was also Vice President of the Missouri Synod and overseer of the synod’s congregations in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan from 1847-1854.

32 Philipp Fleischmann (1815-1878) was a professor and director of the teacher seminary in Fort Wayne from 1857 until his resignation due to eye trouble in 1864.

33 The opening article of the July 27, 1858, issue of Der Lutheraner (vol. 14, no. 25), penned by Dr. Sihler, details the tragic death of Pastor J. Paul Kalb (1828-1858) on June 8. He was bathing in the spot Strieter mentions here, between 4 and 5 p.m., with Professor Fleischmann. Fleishmann, “some distance away from [Kalb], all at once saw him disappearing and hurried over to his rescue, since he is skilled at swimming.” But “after he had already succeeded in expending all his energy in bringing his dear friend close to the shore, by God’s ordaining his arm suddenly became paralyzed on him and he was robbed of his senses in such a way that he could no longer hold on to, no longer see his friend, no longer tear him away from the deep into which he had now sunk, and only with the utmost effort, more dead than alive, did he himself reach the not too distant shore, where he lay powerless for some time and could only still manage one loud, prolonged, agonizing cry from his constricted chest.” Kalb’s body was not found until ten days later, five miles downstream.

34 There is a Notestine Cemetery, established in 1834, at 10521 St Joe Road, just north of the intersection with Notestine Road, about nine miles northeast of Fort Wayne along the St. Joseph River. Without knowing the history or people of the area, it is difficult to determine where exactly Strieter’s preaching station was, since he goes on to say a) that it was twelve miles away (presumably from the seminary), and b) that it was two miles from a brook that flowed from a marsh into the river. The station was perhaps located along what is today Notestine Road near the intersection with Wheelock Road.

Strieter Autobiography: To Fort Wayne

[Continued from Part 13. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Seminary (continued)

Crämer told me he had a call to be a professor in Fort Wayne, and that I should now go home to Freedom, bid my siblings farewell and adieu, and then meet up with him in Detroit for the continued journey to Fort Wayne. My brother-in-law had made me a trunk. I shut my things inside it and we were to make the trip with that and Crämer’s luggage. I took just a few things with me and marched back to Ann Arbor. In the evening I arrived there and rode with a man to my old home. It was late when I arrived at the farmyard. My brother had a large, handsome dog, white with large yellow spots; he had gotten it from a “nigger”25 from the South. Everything was already dark in the house. The dog began to bark. I said, “Penter, come!” He stopped barking and came. I knock.

“Who’s outside?” I heard my brother say.

I said, “Your brother.” He got up out of bed; his wife did too and opened the door. The dog went inside with me, posted himself in front of me, began to sniff me up until he had reached my face. He lets out a loud bark and starts licking me all over; I could not escape.

I visited my siblings in Freedom and Bridgewater. They provided me with a number of other items and I took my leave. My brother brought me to Ann Arbor, and I boarded the railroad car, for the first time in my life. A railroad ran from Detroit to Jacksonburg.26 It was nighttime when I arrived in Detroit, where guys were standing in front of a chain and hollering dreadfully; they wanted people for their hotel. I waited till everyone was gone. Then a man came to me and asked if I wanted to spend the night. I said, “Sure!” He took me along. When I was with my siblings I had also bought myself a suitcase [Büchsenranzen] and I had put all my effects in it. He took my case for me, hung the strap over his shoulder, and off we went. We marched a good stretch, then he turned to the side, opened a door, and there we were.

I heard Irish voices coming from the kitchen. The man asked if I wanted to eat. I said, “Sure!” He went to the kitchen and soon came a piece of beefsteak with potatoes and bread. The steak was tough and bloody, but I was hungry and enjoyed the meal. Pretty soon he asked if I wanted to go to bed. I said, “Sure!” Now he took a tallow candle – that was the only kind we had back then – opened a door, and we went up the stairs. Right in front stood a bed and behind it a few more. By the first bed he said I should undress. I lay my paints on the chair, hang my waistcoat on a nail along with my pocket watch, and climb into bed. He grabbed my pocket book out of my pocket, took my watch, and laid both of them under my pillow for me and left. In the morning I ate again and paid just 25 cents.

I now went to find Pastor Schaller.27 On the slope not too far from there, toward the river, stood a large, simple, old frame house. Here lived Pastor Schmidt’s brother-in-law,28 and upstairs, Pastor Schaller. The latter was just coming down the stairs, and I introduced myself to him. He had a cobbler friend in his congregation, married, but without children. He directed me to him. Eight days I stayed with those folks. They lived quite a ways out, in the upstairs at a Catholic tailor’s house. He was a strict Catholic. One time I’m chopping some kindling for my hostess with a small hatchet. Over yonder across the fence, in the next lot, stood an old, single-story frame house, from which several women would come out. One woman, fairly young, stations herself in front of me, lays her hands on the fence and her chin on top, and stares at me without saying a word. I keep pecking away at it, and the wench won’t leave. I toss my hatchet to the side and run inside to the tailor: “I say, what kind of people are actually over in that place?”

He says, “Those are whores, who want to entice you over there.” And now he also gave me a speech, warning me never to get mixed up with bad women folk.

In my host’s shop I also bought myself a new pair of boots. They were definitely somewhat large, but the cobbler said, “You are still growing. I have made these myself. You are getting a good deal!” And he was right.

After eight days Schaller told me I should head out on my own. I went down to the river and boarded the ship, took deck passage though, since I didn’t have a lot of money. The ship set sail for Toledo, where I wanted to go. Soon I noticed a young fellow who was my size and age, who was dressed like a sailor with a little sailor cap on his head. He immediately made my acquaintance and told me that his home was between Tecumseh and Clinton.29 He said his father was a farmer, but he could not stand it on the farm; he was now a sailor. He was now going home for a visit. When it was midday and the meal was taken below for the sailors, he slipped down into an opening and motioned for me to follow. Below we ate a marvelous meal together, but he told me afterwards that we now had to treat the guys; we did that too. He asked me where I was from and what my name was and where I was headed and what I wanted to be. I told him. Then he cried, “Oh, you fool! Go with me to my parents, and when I go back to the ocean, I will take you along and make a fine sailor out of you. You don’t need to be afraid of me; I’m no bad guy.”

I found the fellow extraordinarily pleasant and I was always happy when I was on a ship. My favorite picture as a child was a ship with three masts in full sail. We arrived in Toledo, grabbed the fellow’s trunk at both ends, and went to the hotel. We ate and slept in the same bed. In the morning he paid the bill. “Now John, what do you say?”

I said, “I’m still going to go to Fort Wayne.”

He said, “Then good bye.”

I got on the canal boat and rode to Fort Wayne.30


25 This was a common way of referring to African-Americans at the time, both by those who wished to refer to them disparagingly and by naïve immigrants who simply heard others using the label and didn’t know any better. The word itself originates from the Latin word niger, meaning black (man). Strieter’s quotation marks indicate his own uncertainty about the appropriateness of the term.

26 Jacksonburg(h), Michigan, was founded in 1830. Its name was changed to Jacksonapolis and then shortened to Jackson in 1838, but apparently it continued to be called Jacksonburg informally.

27 Johann Gottlieb Michael Schaller (1819-1887) came to America in 1848, largely at the encouragement of Löhe. After accepting a call to Philadelphia in 1848 and Baltimore in 1850, he accepted a call to Trinity in Detroit in 1850. He had joined the Missouri Synod in 1849 and was won over to Walther’s position on church and ministry at the synod convention in St. Louis in 1850. He was the father of the eventual Professor John Schaller of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, who authored Biblical Christology.

28 From Pastor Schmid’s letter dated March 19, 1861, we know that Pastor Hattstädt (rf. endnote 3) married a sister of his. But Strieter is likely talking about a different brother-in-law here, since Hattstädt, as Strieter notes earlier, remained in Monroe for the duration of his ministry.

29 More than 50 miles northwest of Toledo in Michigan

30 Via the Maumee River

Strieter Autobiography: Life in Frankenmuth

[Continued from Part 12. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Seminary (continued)

There was a young man my age there [in Frankenmuth], Kundinger, Crämer’s sister’s son, who was supposed to be trained yet and and then become Kühn’s schoolmaster in Frankenhilf. Old man Moll of Frankentrost said, “Help the Franconians [Hilf den Franken] is what we want to call it.”14 Crämer gave the two of us daily instruction in the Augsburg Confession. Teacher Pinkepank lived with his wife, Moll’s daughter, across the street on the north side in a long log house that was half residence and half schoolhouse. After he was done teaching school, he instructed us in reading, writing, singing, etc. We also did some scraping on the violin. Kühn gave me a Book of Concord and a small little book called Luther’s Life [Luthers Leben].15

Friedrich August Crämer

Friedrich August Crämer

Since I was not happy with how I was doing, I was expecting my dismissal from Crämer every day. But look at this! One morning after the class hour he clapped me on the shoulder: “Cheer up, my dear Strieter. You are doing quite well. You, sir, are going to the seminary.” Now I was filled with joy.

Stone marking the location of the original log parsonage in Frankenmuth, next to a more recently built museum

Stone marking the location of the original log parsonage in Frankenmuth, next to a more recently built museum. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

Crämer’s house stood on the south side of the path, north of the Cass River, and was a log house. A kitchen took up the entire width on the west side of the house. The eastern side was divided – a small section toward the road was a combination bedroom and study. I can just see the diligent Crämer sitting there at his small, simple desk in front of the window. The other section was a living room. There the stairs went up. The space beneath the roof was also bisected. In the back room toward the west slept the maid and the children, and we slept in the front room – Kühn, Kundinger, and I. There were bedbugs galore.

Every day there was service in the morning and in the evening. We would sing a hymn, then Crämer would mount the low, small pulpit and preach. Later we took turns singing; the men would sing one line and the women would sing the next. It was incredibly lovely. Every Friday there was private confession and every Sunday there was Lord’s Supper. The log church stood somewhat uphill from the parsonage to the west. Next to the church was a framework in which two bells hung, one larger and one smaller, which the dear Franconians had brought along with them from Germany. Every day the prayer bells were rung. Then everybody would stop what they were doing on the path, in the field, in the house, the men would remove their caps, hands were folded and everybody prayed, “Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,” and so on. It was just too lovely!

But the dear Franconians had their fun too. One time I was sitting by a dear man who was telling me how it was in Germany, how the light afternoon meal [Vesperbrot] had been brought out to the field and there had been beer with it. When he came to the part about the beer, he paused, turned his face upward and called out, “O, a good beer – I could go for one now! [O, a Bierla, wenn i hätt!]”

There were two tall, handsome men there, the Hubinger brothers. The older one ran the farm, the younger one the mill that they had constructed on the Cass River. Everything was built very solidly and laboriously. Because of that the water could do nothing but drive either the saw or the milling gear. A fine, strong dam was there, which had a swing-gate and an exit chute. Off to the east of Frankenmuth lay Tuscola, several miles away. The people there sued the Hubingers because of their dam, for the Tuscolans were floating timber downstream. One day Crämer said to me, “You, sir, are going with the Hubingers to Tuscola today. You will appear with them on their court date and take what is spoken in English and make it German.” The two men and I went up there. We had to wait a long time. Finally we headed out of town to a schoolhouse. Hubingers had arranged for an attorney from Saginaw, who arrived on horseback. His pants were torn up at the bottom. Now the affair was underway. The attorney gave a lengthy speech and read from a book that he had brought along under his arm. The judge reached his decision: “Not guilty!” We went home in cheerful spirits, and the Tuscolans left the Hubingers in peace.

One time Crämer sent me to Frankentrost to fetch Pastor Gräbner. I don’t remember what the deal was. It was Sunday afternoon. I go through the beautiful forest and come to an opening. There a path stretches out and small log houses are standing on both sides. In the middle was a long log house, partitioned: The western half was the pastor’s residence and the eastern was the church and school. I went inside. Pastor Gräbner was actually in the middle of Catechism instruction. I whispered in his ear, but he calmly went on teaching until class was over. Then he went over with me into the little parsonage. It was one room. In the one corner stood an oven, in the other a bed with a curtain around it, and next to it a desk in front of the window. That was the living room, bedroom, and study. Gräbner put on his long boots, slipped into a coat, lit up a German pipe with a porcelain bowl, hung his tobacco pouch on his coat button, took his large walking-stick in hand, and now we headed to Frankenmuth.

The Frankenmuth church bells today. Strieter often rang the large bell on the right.

The Frankenmuth church bells today. Strieter often rang the large bell on the right. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

Also in Frankenmuth both bells were rung every Friday at 3 o’clock, to signal the suffering of Christ. I often rang the large bell, even one time with Crämer. —

It was time to start Frankenhilf. A carpenter was there from Huntington, Indiana, who was, I believe, acquainted with the Franconians. Out there in the virgin forest, seven miles or so northeast of Frankenmuth, tree trunks were felled and rolled on each other in square, about the height of a man, and soon it was time for dedication. Kühn went out there and took me along to sing. They still did not have any Missouri hymnals there. They had brought along a thin little book from Löhe, as big as a Fibel,16 which had beautiful songs in it. I had to sing, “The Lord Hath Helped Me Hitherto.”17 Kühn delivered an address on those words [1 Samuel 7:12] to the carpenter, a handful of young fellows, and Father Ammann, the only head of household with a family. Kühn cried a lot as he gave it and I felt deeply sorry for him. His Frankenhilf must have weighed very heavily on his heart. Now we headed back home through the thick virgin forest on the Indian path. —

It was time for the synod convention, I believe in St. Louis. My sister in Sebewaing had a maid from Frankenmuth, a gem of a child. She had to go home to get married. My brother-in-law mounted one horse, the maid the other, and they rode some forty miles to Frankenmuth through the woods. I was supposed to go down with him to keep my sister company until the pastors came back. We rode off to Frankentrost. On the other side of Frankentrost we met up with an old path and continued on that. We came across a pole bridge that looked suspicious at the end. The wood was rotted, you could see some water there, and it looked very marshy. “We’ll get stuck there,” said my brother-in-law.

I had the young horse. “I’ll get over,” I said. I turned my horse around and got a running start— I was over on the other side. Like a fox my horse easily cleared the spot, which was perhaps three paces wide. My brother-in-law came after me, but his horse didn’t quite jump far enough and his back legs sank all the way down into the muck; but he was out in a jiffy. When we were close to the bay we came to a river, which was deep, not very wide. Fortunately a canoe was available in front of us. We take the saddles off, each of us takes his horse to the side and off we go. The horses pulled that little boat across splendidly. On the other side saddles back on and we continue on our way.

My brother-in-law now traveled to the synod convention. Back then you went up around the lake and then down on the Mississippi; it took a long time.

We had an Indian – he was hard of hearing – who would go up to the prairie very early in the morning and shoot a young buck, and every time his daughter of twelve years would bring us a nice piece, a leg or a loin. We were not able to stow it. I tell my sister, “Just tell the child that she shouldn’t bring us any more.”

“Yeah,” she says, “I don’t dare do that, otherwise the old woman will be insulted.” We ate what we could; the rest we secretly gave to the pigs.

While I was there I had another ride too. I’m taking a young horse out of the stall, on which no one has ever sat, but like a dummy I leave the door open behind me. I swing myself up on it, but just like that it wheels around and goes inside to its stall. I tried to keep myself steady with my heel in the back and with my hand on its neck, but I fell on my back against the threshold and the horse goes right over me. It stepped down at my waist between my legs and scraped me badly, and came down with the other foot at my neck and also took the skin with it there. My back was in considerable pain and the scraped skin stung, but I went and got my horse out again, but closed the door this time, and got on again. But now it went like mad. I let the animal run as long as it pleased; then I rode home slowly, and from then on the horse went fine. —

One evening my sister looks out the window and cries, “Oh boy, here comes the crazy doctor.” An old bachelor lived in Scio, a conceited, learned, and widely traveled man. They said that he had gone out of his mind due to a failed love affair. When he was alone, he would chatter away to himself, otherwise you couldn’t notice anything strange about him when he was with someone. He was already in the area from early on and would trade for rarities from the Indians and send them to Germany. He came and brought a box with all kinds small and sundry items for exchanging. He took off every morning and returned in the evening. One time it was cold and wet, and my doctor comes home and has a wound on his hand; he said he had scraped himself. The hand was swelling up. My sister says, “Mr. Doctor, let me bandage your hand, sir.”

He replies, “Oh no, Mrs. Missionary, it has to heal that way.”

He comes home again; his hand is even more swollen and the wound looks bad. Then he takes a sharp knife, pricks around in the wound over and over. My sister says, “Mr. Doctor, you are really aggravating your hand. Let me tie something on it, sir.”

He replies, “Oh no, Mrs. Missionary, there is already rotten flesh in it, which has to be cut out,” and he keeps working around on his hand with the knife. Then he takes off again and when he comes home he goes upstairs and doesn’t eat any supper. In the morning he doesn’t come down. I go up there and call him, but he doesn’t want to come down. We eat and then my sister goes and gets him down and makes him a bed in an adjacent room, but by now she has to undo his coat and shirt with the knife, because his hand and arm were so swollen and were more black than white. “Mrs. Missionary,” he cried out, “I have the black gangrene. The hand or the whole arm must come off. Please fetch a doctor.”

I mounted the horse, took another one next to me, and went down to Shebeyang to fetch Jacob Graverad. When I arrived, a squaw told me that they were over yonder on the island. I jumped into a canoe and went over. There I found him. He went with me, borrowed Nage Dschickamik’s (the great chief)18 pony and rode to Frankenmuth to fetch Dr. Koch. Scarcely was our Jacob gone when my brother-in-law comes home, sniffs around in the air and asks, “What smells in here so noticeably?”

My sister opens the door to the doctor’s room and says, “See for yourself!” My brother-in-law, the missionary, was an okay doctor. He puts olive oil19 in a receptacle, makes it hot, soaks a rag in it and covers the doctor’s entire arm with it and stays up with him through the night. In the morning the arm is fine again, and nothing bad can be seen on the hand but the wound. Here comes my half-Indian [Jacob Graverad] on horseback, along with the doctor. When he enters, my doctor calls out from his bed, “Mr. Doctor, you come too late. You see, sir, I am an old, widely traveled physician. I have even doctored the wives of the sultan in Turkey, and I am unable to help myself. Mr. Missionary here knows more than I; he has cured my hand for me.” Koch ate, we foddered his horse, the doctor gave him ten dollars, and he rode back home.

My brother-in-law transported me back with the boat. By Lower Saginaw we took a little jaunt out of our way. By an island in the river we turned right and went into a tributary20 to go to Frankenlust. The river was full of tree trunks and one could scarcely get through; there were also a lot of reeds and grass in it. We came to a clearing. In the distance stood a little log church and not far from that a frame house that was still not quite finished, the parsonage. It was the pastor’s property. His wife received a fortune from her father, as she told me, and dear Sievers used it to build himself a house over in the forest and to help many people out of their distress. When we entered the house, a handsome, very friendly, endearing man stood before us, Pastor Sievers. From the side door stepped in a nicely dressed young lady in the prime of her youth, a half-year older than I, and introduced herself to us as Mrs. Pastor Sievers. —

Example of a grain cradle

Example of a grain cradle

From there we headed back to the Saginaw River and up to Upper Saginaw. There my brother-in-law bought me some black cloth for a suit. I marched to Frankenmuth and felt very happy about my fine, handsome cloth. In Frankenuth lived a Bernthal family on the lower street (two streets led to Saginaw, the upper and the lower)21 along the river, where the church was also located. The old father was a wagonmaker and worked diligently in his workshop. He had several sons and a few daughters. The second son, if I’m not mistaken, was a tailor, and he made me my suit, the handsomest one I had in my life, and also the best; I had it for a very long time. I worked off the tailor’s fee with the cradle in the wheatfield.22 Things were definitely still tight for the people. As soon as possible the wheat was threshed. The sound of it would carry up to us in bed very early in the morning: 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.23 It was a splendid thing to hear! Women came from Frankentrost, each one with a small sack of grain on her head, three or four in a row, to go to the mill and then back home. It was so nice in Frankenmuth and our dear God let me experience a tremendous amount of good there. May he reward everyone for everything! —

Crämer never stopped concerning himself with the Indians either. In an old shanty not far from the church lived an aged chief and his old wife, who was pushed to the side though, with a few of her youngest boys and the chief’s young wife and a few of her small children. On Sundays all of them would come to the parsonage after church and Crämer would give them a speech. His son Heinrich had to translate; they called him Wabshkentip, White-Head, because he had very light-colored hair.24 The old chief would justify himself though, wherever he could. After the service they would get a bowl full of corn soup with bacon, which they were mighty glad to eat.


14 In other words, they had named the settlement Frankenhilf – (God the) Helper of the Franconians – but the way things were going, they thought a better name would be Hilf den Franken – (God) Help the Franconians.

15 This was possibly Luthers Leben für christliche Leser insgemein (Luther’s Life for Christian Readers in General) by Moritz Meurer (Dresden: Justus Naumann, 1850). This was an abridgement of Meurer’s more scholarly multi-volume work.

16 A German primer

17 This three-stanza hymn was penned by Ämilie Juliane (1637-1706), Countess of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. It was sung to the tune, “All Glory Be to God on High.” Juliane’s hymn was translated into English by August Crull and is, for example, hymn 71 in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary.

18 Rf. endnote 31 in Youth.

19 German: Baumöl. Carl Strieter renders it “oil of turpentine” here.

20 Dutch Creek

21 The upper street would be Genesee Street, which turns into Junction Road, and the lower street would be Tuscola Street, which turns into Tuscola Road, and eventually joins with Junction Road several miles west of town.

22 The cradle is also called the grain cradle or cradle scythe. It consists of an arrangement of fingers attached to the handle of a scythe, such that the cut grain falls on the fingers and can be cleanly laid down in a swath for collection.

23 Representing either one person threshing in sets of four strokes with a flail, or four people threshing together, each taking a stroke in turn.

24 According to “The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary” online, waabishkindibe means he has white hair (; accessed 15 September 2015).

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Career Decision

[Continued from Part 11. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Seminary (continued)

The idea now occurred to me of becoming a minister [Diener] of the Church myself, even if only as a teacher. I carried the idea around with me and couldn’t get rid of it. I sought refuge in prayer. Over at the edge of the woods stood a white ash, behind which I knelt down and prayed that God would please remove the idea from my heart, because I was unfit. Daily, often several times, I went to find my prayer altar, but the idea only grew more and more intense.

Finally I opened up about it to my brother-in-law Auch. He advised me against it at first, because, in fact, I did not have the gifts necessary for becoming a missionary, and being a missionary’s assistant was too unstable. He furthermore cited the fact that I did not have the educational background for such studies, and that I also did not have the means. In all these points he was absolutely correct. Instead he now made me this proposal: “Stay with us. We have no children. You’ll be like our very own.” He offered me a horse as a gift, a young and beautiful animal, and – get this – he told me he had 700 dollars available, if I’m not mistaken, and that he wanted to lend it to me without interest as long as I wanted. I should use the money to acquire some land. The land on which they were living and the surrounding land was school property and would soon be for sale, 50 cents an acre. In five years there would be a small town here, he said, and I could then resell the acres for 100 dollars apiece. He had purchased 40 acres at the mouth of the river in order to cut off the speculators. The Indians were prophesying an abundant whitefish harvest in the fall. He said I should buy myself a “bag net,” hire a man, buy barrels and salt, stretch the net across the creek in the evening and pull it out full in the morning. Out in the distance, a mile or so away, were two small little islands; a ship could moor along one of them. I could take my fish there with our boat and get three and a half to four dollars a barrel. And actually the promised catch of fish did turn out to be so abundant that a Frenchman and his assistant caught 1200 barrels full off of Fish Point, which is what they called a promontory not too far from the mouth of the river. What he said about the small town also came true.

“Thousands!” I thought. “This way you can become a fairly rich man without a lot of work. Do it!” But I didn’t accept right away.

Auch said, “Think it over!”

I now often ran back to my white ash, but the more I prayed, mostly to be rid of the idea of studying, the more fervent the idea became.

“So,” my brother-in-law asked one day, “what do you want to do?”

I said, “I want to stay true to my idea.”

“Good,” he said. “The next conference is at my place. I will present it to Crämer then.”

Auch traveled to Saginaw with his boat and brought Crämer, Gräbner, Clöter, Sievers, Baierlein, Kühn and a man named Sommer, who was still supposed to be at the seminary, and Mr. Bergrat Koch, Siever’s father-in-law, who had just recently brought his daughter from Germany to be dear Pastor Siever’s wife. The conference was held in the schoolroom. After the conference the gentlemen, especially Crämer, had another serious debate, with Mr. Koch. Mr. Koch thought that the secular arm was needed for the spread of the Church, and we were lacking that here. Crämer and the others didn’t want to have anything to do with a secular arm. Crämer took me aside and said, “You, sir, are going with me to Frankenmuth, and I will see if you’ve got what it takes. If you are fit, then you will go to the seminary in Fort Wayne, and if not, you will go back to Sebewaing.”

I packed my bundle. Meyer’s wife was also there. When it was time to go, they both cried and I did too. Brother-in-law Auch brought the group to Saginaw by boat. Then I headed to Frankenmuth on foot.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: The Franconians

[Continued from Part 10. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]


J. K. W. Löhe

J. K. W. Löhe

In the first half of the [18]40s the men sent by Löhe1 came with their colonies. First came Ernst and Burger.2 Burger soon died, leaving behind a widow and two little boys. The oldest eventually married the daughter of my youngest sister, Margaretha, and currently still resides in Adrian, Michigan. Then came Hattstädt to Monroe, Michigan.3 He and Sievers are, to my knowledge, the only ones in our synod who never left their positions. Crämer and his Franconians came and established a colony on the Cass River, fourteen miles east of Saginaw.4 Gräbner and his Franconians came and “settled” [„settelten“ sich] eight or so miles north of Frankenmuth5 – the name they gave to the place just mentioned – and they named their settlement Frankentrost.6 Sievers and his Franconians came and settled on the western shore of the Saginaw River, opposite Lower Saginaw, and they called their place Frankenlust.7 Clöter was in Upper Saginaw.8 Kühn came with Franconians, but they stayed in Detroit for the most part; only one family and a number of bachelors came along to Frankenmuth. Kühn was to establish the colony of Frankenhilf.9 Friedrich Lochner also came with Sievers.10

Hattstädt, Crämer, and Lochner traveled to Ann Arbor to Pastor Schmidt and held a conference with him. Schmidt made a very Lutheran impression and uncompromisingly professed his loyalty to the symbolical books of the Lutheran Church. They established fellowship, and the mission was to be run jointly, for Crämer was also doing mission work among the Chippewas.11 Missionaries Auch and Meyer now entered into close brotherly fellowship with the Franconian pastors and held conferences with them. But it wasn’t too long before Schmidt separated from the Franconians and went his own way again. Indeed, the Franconians were decried as half-Catholic: They burned candles at the Lord’s Supper; the pastor chanted at the altar; he turned his back to the people; he made the sign of the cross. Especially the sign of the cross was regarded as the living Satan. Missionaries Auch and Meyer, however, remained with the Franconians. In 1847 our synod, the Missouri Synod, was called into being in Chicago, and now the Franconians joined this synod, including Missionaries Auch and Meyer. Thus the mission in Sebewaing and Shebeyang came into our synod.12

The mission house in Shebeyang was built; I helped as much as I could. A long log house made from squared fir trunks, the house was divided in the middle, one half being the missionary’s residence and the other being the church and school. It was dedicated. Baierlein from Bethany preached;13 Jacob Graverad translated. His father, an Englishman, a liquor dealer among the Indians at one time, was Auch’s translator at first. But the Indians who already understood some English told Auch, “Graverad does not say what you say at all. He often says the opposite.” So Auch dismissed the elder and employed the younger. The tall Jacob, however, knew well how to speak good Indian, but was bad at English. He called everything “she”.


1 Johann Konrad Wilhelm Löhe (1808-1872) was a confessional Lutheran pastor in the village of Neuendettelsau in Franconia, Bavaria, Germany, from 1837 until the end of his life. In 1841 Friedrich Conrad Dietrich Wyneken traveled around Germany pleading the cause of the spiritually needy Lutherans in America. From his small village Löhe answered the plea in a big way. (See the following endnotes.) One of his men, Wilhelm Sihler, sent over in 1843, founded what would become Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in September 1846, which was eventually entrusted to the Missouri Synod, in whose founding Löhe played a large role. Löhe separated from the Missouri Synod in 1853 over the doctrine of church and ministry. He helped found the Iowa Synod the following year.

2 Adam Ernst (1815-1895), formerly a journeyman shoemaker, and Johann Georg Burger (1816-1847), one of Ernst’s friends, were two volunteer helpers whom Löhe sent to America in 1842. Ernst eventually became a member of the Ohio Synod, and Burger eventually ministered in Hancock and Van Wert Counties in Ohio.

3 Georg Wilhelm Christoph Hattstädt (1811-1884) was sent to America by Löhe in 1844.

4 Friedrich August Crämer (1812-1891) met Löhe in 1844 and was sent to America in 1845. He was pastor in Frankenmuth until 1850, when he accepted a call to be a professor at the seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. See also next endnote.

5 All the names the Franconians gave their settlements were personalized paraphrases for God. Frankenmuth means the (Source of the) Franconians’ courage. A Historic Site sign outside of St. Lorenz Evangelical Lutheran Church on West Tuscola Street tells the story of Crämer and the city’s founding.

6 Johann Heinrich Philip Gräbner (1819-1898) was sent to America by Löhe in 1847. Frankentrost means the (Source of the) Franconians’  comfort. Today Frankentrost is a small unincorporated community about eight miles east of Saginaw, identified by Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church (LC-MS) on the southwest corner of MI-46 and Mueller Road.

7 Georg Ernst Christian Ferdinand Sievers (1816-1893) was sent to America by Löhe in 1847 and became pastor in Frankenlust, Michigan. Frankenlust means the (Source of the) Franconians’ joy. Today the location of the original colony is marked by St. Paul Lutheran Church on the southwest side of Bay City on the southern corner of Westside Saginaw Road (MI-84) and Ziegler Road.

8 Ernst Ottomar Clöter (1825-1897) was sent to America by Löhe in 1849. He was installed as pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Saginaw by Pastor Sievers (see preceding endnote) on November 30, 1849.

9 Frankenhilf means the Helper of the Franconians. Eventually this colony was founded in 1851. Today it is the village of Richville.

10 Strieter is in error here. Friedrich Johann Carl Lochner (1822-1902) came with Crämer in 1845, not with Sievers in 1847. Lochner was first the pastor of a “United” congregation in Toledo, Ohio, but left when he failed to have it constituted as a Lutheran congregation. He then served Lutheran churches in Madison and Macoupin Counties, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Springfield, Illinois, where he was also an instructor at Concordia Seminary.

11 In a letter dated November 21, 1845 – which Pastor Schmid appears to have written in stages – he wrote: “In a very surprising but very pleasant manner, brotherly participation and help was offered us from Bavaria, without any request on our part or knowledge thereof. The Lord arranged to have real help from the old fatherland in our Indian mission, which in this part of the world has received very little support up to this time. A small colony of believing souls, with their own preacher, arrived here last summer in order to work as a mission colony among the Indians, and to be as a light to them. They occupied a fitting location on the Cass River in Saginaw County, buying a piece of land which I had selected before their arrival. There is also a piece of land for the mission. … Reverend Mr. Löhe, who wrote us concerning the whole matter, expressed his wish and the wishes of many other participating friends, namely to spread the kingdom of Christ also among the poor Indians. In doing this, he asked nothing of us up to this point which would be contrary to our conscience and conviction; pure teaching and adherence to the Lord and the Holy Sacrament, according to the creed of our Evangelical Lutheran Church, is his condition, with which we, who for many [sic] years have founded a Lutheran synod, are in agreement, convinced that up to this point our Evangelical Lutheran Church has remained pure and true in her teaching and the administration of the sacraments, adhering to God’s holy word, and in doing so we here have never been led into controversy with either the Reformed or the Lutherans. As far as forms and customs are concerned, we shall continue to love them and will put incidentals in their relation to the great prime things, and I would never like to render judgment of any sort about our brothers who call themselves Evangelical… If the brothers of Bavaria do not ask anything which is contrary to our conscience, then we can very well carry on our work of the Lord with them… A colony has settled on the Cass River about 25 miles from the above-mentioned [mission] station [in Sebewaing]. Pastor Crämer, who suffers from fever a great deal, hopes in a short time to begin a school for Indian children. At the present time they are very busy erecting a building for a mission house…”

12 In his letter dated January 31, 1848, Pastor Schmid gives no hint of any strife. But his next letter to the Basel Mission Institute, written three years later, on April 29, 1851, he records the breakup from his perspective: “For nearly eighteen years I have served numerous congregations here with the Holy Word and Sacrament, in which there are Lutheran and Reformed from the homeland. Yet I have never had to experience the slightest criticism on the part of the Reformed because of teachings and creed. As far as church practice is concerned, I maintain everything according to our Württemberger church, except that we from early times did not have Communion wafers. If the divine truth is proclaimed in a godly and powerful manner and the pastor lives in the strength of the gospel, then the truth-loving and the truth-seeking people of both confessions can get together through the strength of the Word; and this will also occur without any attempt to force a union. For that reason there are, I think, many in the congregation here whose parents were Reformed, but I am not certain of it. I do not inquire about it, for they are united and happy with and through the proclaimed Word of the cross and the holy sacraments. Firmness in the teachings and in the creed is required here, and if this exists, then the Spirit of the Lord will be with his Word… As far as the rigid Old Lutherans are concerned, with whom I have come into contact without learning to know them, I respect their sound teachings, but these people are mostly lacking in living faith, and for that reason there is so little love and so much harshness toward others. Their rigid ceremony and their strong condemnation of others are terrible things to me. … I could not join this synod [the Missouri Synod], out of conviction. We too had a synod among us here, but it lacked firm foundation and therefore collapsed; some wanted an organization strictly Lutheran, others not so strict, and as a result a lengthy paper was drawn up but when one wanted to follow its path, the wind blew it away. … That we have erected a mission here and that we have already worked a year among the Indians with blessing in this state is already known, and that our missionaries joined the Old Lutherans and that they demanded from us what we couldn’t do, you probably also know. Thus we had no choice but to turn over the mission with its missionaries to the Old Lutherans, and thus our mission endeavor is restricted.” In a letter dated February 9, 1857, Schmid reports that he had joined the Ohio Synod the previous fall, but in a letter dated November 14, 1859, he says that the Ohio Synod did not suit him because of “their stiff and strict forms and ceremonies,” and on March 19, 1861, he reported that he and several brothers had resurrected the Michigan Synod (the so-called Second Michigan Synod) in December 1860. Pinpointing Schmid’s theological position is difficult. He certainly seemed to breathe an evangelical spirit, and it seems that the early Missourians could have learned something from him in this regard. But the Missourians’ charge of doctrinal duplicity against Schmid is also hard to refute. In the final analysis, Schmid made too big a deal out of the Missourians’ ceremonies (something Schmid himself said earlier he did not want to do) and his accusation against these early Missourians for lacking a living faith is unfounded, as evidenced, among other things, by this autobiography.

13 Eduard Raimund Baierlein arrived in Frankenmuth to serve as a missionary to the Ojibwe in 1847. He labored at the Bethany mission station in St. Louis, Michigan, about 34 miles west of Saginaw, from 1847-1853.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Various Boyhood Tales

[Continued from Part 9. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Youth (conclusion)

I would like to relate a few more snippets from my youth.

When I was just a boy, my sister Christiana worked in Manchester for a merchant named Keith. There were two brothers; the oldest was an old bachelor, and the younger one was married but had no children. The younger, a short and very friendly man, brought my sister home in the buggy for a visit and approached my father, asking him to relinquish me to him. He wanted to take me in as his son. He would give me a good training, and if I turned out well, I would go into his business. He had a large general store. He really pressed my father, and toward me he was uncommonly friendly. I took a terrible liking to the idea too, but my father shook his head: “Nothing good will come of it! Deceit sticks between buyer and seller like a nail in the wall. There you will turn into a worldling on me and will too easily get lost eternally on me.” Our dear God would not have it that I become a rich storekeeper.

A diagram of the square mile in Freedom Township in which the Strieters lived and worshipped. Solid lines represent roads, dotted lines represent property division, and small squares represent either a house or a church.

A diagram of the square mile in Freedom Township in which the Strieters lived and worshipped. Solid lines represent roads, dotted lines represent property division, and small squares represent either a house or a church.

Another small occurrence: There were two eighty acre plots next to each other, running south to north lengthwise. The eastern eighty were divided. On the southern forty a Hessian family, the Gosenheimers, lived on the southern end. Mr. Gosenheimer was a master tailor.34 Mrs. Gosenheimer’s sister was there, and they had a boy, somewhat smaller and younger than I. They took us into their home until my father had built his log house. Our house was erected on the northern half of the eighty acres in the east end. On the western eighty a man named Hoberger lived on the west side. Once my father sent me to him on an errand very early in the morning. I headed through the woods. When I was halfway there, a large marsh lay in front of me to the right. Over there, beyond the marsh, was a field. An animal, black, was approaching me across the field. I stopped and asked myself, “What could it be? It’s not a sheep; it’s hanging its head to the ground. It’s also not a pig; it’s much too big. It’s not a dog either.” It came to the fence; then I could tell what it was. It climbed up on the rails and then tumbled down. Ah, it’s a bear! The brute came lumbering right at me. “What should you do? Run away? Then he’ll run after you. Climb up a tree? He can certainly climb too.” I positioned myself behind a tree. I had a dog with me. He soon saw the guy too and started growling softly. I told him to stop. When the bear, a frightfully large guy, was still fifteen rods [82.5 yards] or so in front of me, I thought, “This is it!” I step forward, and Mr. Bear looks up and sees me, hesitates a little while and—then turns aside somewhat to the left and starts running. Now I felt relieved, took care of my errand, returned home, and told my story. Soon after that the poor guy was shot.

The part of Lake Pleasant where Johannes almost drowned. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

The part of Lake Pleasant where Johannes almost drowned. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

Another occurrence: We had a lake to the north, a mile or so away, Lake Pleasant. We, my brother and I, often bathed in it. One time we swam far out and then turned around for shore. We were maybe a few rods [20 yards] or so from shore when I thought, “You can certainly wade now,” and let myself down. But the water went over my head. Now because I was so certain, I started swallowing water right away and immediately I was gone. My brother, five years older and much bigger, noticed it immediately. He grabbed me – he was able to stand – and held me up until I came to my senses.

Another little story: One day we rode the horses to the waterhole, perhaps twenty rods [110 yards] from the stable, but didn’t have any bridles, nothing in our hand but the halter strap. After the waterhole we rode a bit further, a short pleasure ride. We turn, and I put my horse into a gallop, with my brother and his horse following, and we race the horses as fast as they’ll go. On the way it occurs to me: “The stable door is still open. If your horse rushes on in, you are dead.” I get scared, but can’t do anything but jump off, and we’re going much too fast for that. In front of the stable door there was a tall manure pile. Before I came to it, I forcefully shouted, “Ho!” Suddenly my horse stopped and next thing I knew, I was lying on my back on the manure, with my head toward the horse.

One more: It was winter and my mother was visiting my sister Rosine in Scio – Karl Müller’s place – and got sick. She suffered a lot from rheumatism. She was referred to an old English doctor, who was not actually practicing any more and lived on his farm, which was maybe ten miles or so west of us. We received word that we should go to the doctor and get medicine for her. I get on the horse and go. From the doctor though I ride off straight for Müller’s. It was bitterly cold, and evening was setting in. I rode over there on a newly installed road35 that led to the path along which Müllers lived. Suddenly I have to go down a very steep hill. My horse’s hind feet slipped and he sat down and did not get back up until we reached the bottom. Now I was headed to the Müllers. My horse was tired and I was too. I was riding slowly. All at once I became very sleepy. I had heard that you should not fall asleep, otherwise you would freeze to death. I forced my eyes wide open, but I was already pretty much out. It seemed to me like I was seeing a rider on a large, black horse hurrying toward me in a dream. As I was dreaming this, next thing I knew that horse was running right past me. My dream was actually happening. That collision woke me up and now I put my horse in a drive, and pretty soon I was there.


34 My guess is that today’s Schneider Road was named after him. Schneider is German for tailor.

35 Perhaps what is today State Road 52.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Adventures on the Water

[Continued from Part 8. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Translator’s Note

In this section Strieter tells the story of how the lumber for the mission house in Shebeyang (or Shebahyonk) was obtained. See here, here, here, and here. The Historic Site marker at the Indian Mission today simply sums up all the history below with one sentence: “In 1849, Rev. Mr. Auch ferried lumber from Lower Saginaw to Shebahyonk on Wild Fowl Bay, seven miles north of Sebewaing.” But I imagine a capable tour guide could keep an entire audience staring in wonder just at the siding of the Mission for upwards of five minutes, if he or she were able simply to retell the story below.

Youth (continued)

In the spring a mission house was to be built in Shebeyang, for which we needed boards. My brother-in-law [Missionary Auch] and I took our seats in the mission boat, which was 20 feet long with one mast and a sail. We had no wind and had to “pole” the boat, that is, propel it with poles. Toward evening we came to a small little stream, navigated into it, made a tent, brought our blankets and our trunk inside, made ourselves a fire, and cooked tea and eggs. We had bread too. We ate and went to sleep.

During the night the wind came from the other side and drove the water from the little stream out into the bay, and our boat sat there on the sand. We packed everything back in and now worked at getting our boat into the water. We had to go into the water. Boots and stockings came off and now, with our poles stuck in under the boat, we lifted up and pushed them against the side, until the thing was floating. We got in and put our stockings and boots on – people wore boots back then – and off like the wind we went. But the wind was too “close”; we could not reach the lighthouse at the mouth of the Saginaw River.32 We navigate to shore and I say, “I am getting the fever!” That doesn’t help any; I start yawning and getting the chills. We stand there for a while, but night is approaching; we have to get going. We push our boat back until we reach the river. Then Auch took a rope, went up on shore and pulled the thing, and I was supposed to keep it away from shore with a pole. But I wanted to sleep after I got the chills, for it was the dumb ague. Bump, my boat strikes against shore. I wake up and push it back off. The wind is making little ripples, and I think, “That is a turned down bed. You should just go crawl into it.” Bump, my boat strikes against shore again, and I push it off again.

Finally there is a little house on the prairie in the distance. My brother-in-law says, “Those are Frenchmen. Let’s go and find out if they’ll put us up for the night.” We go over; the house is locked. A little ways away is another house; we see light there. Off we go over there. There we find two women, the mother from the first house and her daughter in the second house. Their husbands were out fishing. There were two beautiful children in the cradle, one with the head at one end, the other with the head at the other. One belonged to the mother and the other to the daughter. Auch asked if we could stay overnight. They said sure. Pretty soon the mother takes off with her baby, and the daughter plunders her bed to make one for us on the floor. I slept gloriously. In the morning the woman bakes buckwheat cakes and roasts salt pork and fish. O how great it tasted – better than on the ocean. Auch asks what we owe her, but she doesn’t want anything. I say, “Give her a half-dollar.” He took out his money-bag and gave her a brand new half-dollar. Then she laughed anyhow, and was very pleased as she examined the half-dollar in her hand.

We returned to the boat and were off. We went to the sawmill and my brother-in-law bought wood. But we have to go to Upper Saginaw, because everything else could only be bought there. There I develop my fever again. My brother-in-law brings me to the inn. A fat woman takes me up to a bed. Every moment she comes and wakes me up in English: “You musn’t sleep!” At any rate, we got back up to Lower Saginaw and stayed overnight with a Frenchman. There we had baked potatoes, salt pork, and fish.

We now loaded our boat full of lumber, so that it was only a handlength above the water, and we made our way to the bay. A strong wind was blowing, but since we were near the mouth of the river, the wind was too “close” to us and we had to drop the sail and grab for the poles. We work tremendously hard; the waves are always throwing us back against the right shore. Finally we are around the corner.33 In front of us a sailing ship lay at anchor. It had a large float of boards hanging at the side, which were to be loaded in once the water had quieted. We tied our boat to the float and then had a look at the bay. The water was very turbulent, the waves were running high, and there were whitecaps everywhere. The captain appeared on his ship and shouted to us that we should go back into the river. He said the water was much too high for our boat and he could not hold us; his anchor had enough weight to hold already.

My brother-in-law says, “John, what should we do?”

I say, “Not go back; we don’t want to go through all that work again.”

He says, “If you’re up for it, let’s keep going.” He reefs the sail in until it’s a piece as large as a tablecloth. I untie the rope, and he hoists the sail. Whoosh, we whizzed on past the ship out into the open, stormy bay.

At first I felt strange though. When the boat was at the top of a high wave, I would think, “Now it’s going to rush down into the trough and right down to the ground.” But look, just like that it was back at the top of another wave. My brother-in-law began to sing. Then I relaxed and thought, “If you are singing, there must not be anything to worry about.” But the boat traveled so horribly that it tilted way to the front, as if it were going to stand up on its head, and the water was constantly washing in at the front, so that I had to bail water almost continuously. In two hours we were at the mouth of the Sebewaing River, so we had done about thirty miles in two hours.


32 That is, the wind was blowing from the direction they wanted to go.

33 At the mouth of the Saginaw River, there is a projection of land along the eastern bank.

[Read the next part here.]


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