The Evangelical Lutheran Salzburgers

By Christian Friedrich David Erdmann

Translator’s Preface

I do not know how any historical development and events such as those described in the article below can create such a sensation in their time, yet fly so low under the popular radar in the present, even within the confines of the Christian church. I pray the triune God that this translation helps to put this significant historical blip back on the screen, and that souls redeemed by Christ’s blood thereby also derive the rich spiritual benefits that familiarity with these events is sure to breed.

I translated David Erdmann’s article below from the Real-Encyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1884), vol. 13, pp. 323-335. The endnotes are mine.

Erdmann did a lot of reading and was clearly passionate about the subject, but his article does have several weaknesses:

  1. As with many scholarly writers of the time, Erdmann, wittingly or not, writes not just to communicate information but also to show off his scholarship and linguistic mastery. Even with my efforts to untangle and simplify his sentences, an extra measure of concentration is likely required in order to read with comprehension.
  2. Here and there Erdmann did not carefully reproduce what he read. Some corrections I have made in the text; others I have relegated to the endnotes. Where I was unsure of Erdmann’s information (as, e.g., with the name of Archbishop Paris Hadrian, which most online sources give as Paris Count von Lodron), I left his material alone without comment.
  3. In the first part of his article he sets off important names with increased spacing (equivalent to italics today, including in this translation). But as the article continues, the practice falls off. I attempted to make the practice more uniform throughout.
  4. He mentions nothing of the few hundred Salzburg emigrants who sailed overseas and founded two different settlements named Ebenezer in Georgia, U.S.A. – the first along Ebenezer Creek in 1734 and the second along the Savannah River in 1736, after the first site failed.
  5. Erdmann has a palpable Protestant bias. True, it is not wrong to write with bias. Contrary to the opinion of many historians, there is such a thing as a correct historical bias, and strenuous attempts to write completely unbiased history will inevitably result in completely uninteresting and unreadable history. However, the bias ceases to be helpful when it affects one’s presentation of the facts and casts doubt on the veracity of the material. Erdmann’s strong bias calls the factuality of several of his anecdotes into question, especially toward the end.

In reading this article, it will help the reader, first of all, to familiarize him- or herself with the geography of the Archbishopric of Salzburg (today western Austria) – which purpose I hope the map inserted below will serve. The Salzach River (somewhat redundant, since Ach comes from the Latin aqua meaning water) with its many mountain tributaries was more or less the backbone of the territory.

Secondly, it will help to orient oneself southward instead of northward when thinking of the territory geographically. Since Salzburg, the capital city of the archbishopric, was in the northern part of the country, with the Salzach flowing down toward the city from the Central Alps in the south and southwest, this is also the way the Salzburg mind and the mind of the German foreigners to the north oriented themselves. “Going up” in the archbishopric generally meant going down on a map, and vice versa. As Mack Walker points out in The Salzburg Transaction, this separation, distance-wise and geographical formation-wise, was certainly one of the chief contributors to the failure in communication, or in helpful communication, between prince-archbishop and subjects. It also doubtless contributed to the surprise and sensation when the subjects were expelled, as hundreds and thousands of people, hitherto both out of sight and out of mind, came pouring down out of the mountains to give the Western world a religious wakeup call.

Soli Deo Trinitati Sanctissimae gloria:

Johann Baptist Homann, The Principality and Archbishopric of Salzburg in the Holy Roman Empire (Nuremberg, 1716). I have superimposed symbols representing places mentioned in this article. Key: PROVINCES (sym. white dotted ovals): Salzburggau (T), then (L to R) Pinzgau, Pongau, Lungau. VALLEYS (sym. green mountain, L to R): Tux(er), Ziller (mentioned in “Sources and Literature” at the end), Krimmler Achen, Defereggen, Fusch, Gastein. DISTRICT SEATS (sym. black courthouse, T to B): Mühldorf, Werfen, St. Johann, Radstadt, Wagrain, Gastein, Windisch-Matrei. OTHER CITIES or market towns (sym. orange city silhouette, L to R): Mittersill, Altötting, Schellenberg, Dürrnberg, Schwarzach, Schladming in Styria. The SALZACH River is represented by the two blue symbols, and the city of SALZBURG with its Fortress Hohensalzburg by the castle. Note that clicking on the image will take you to a higher definition close-up where the symbols are not included.

The Evangelical Salzburgers

Salzburgers, the Evangelical. Fairly early in the beginning of the Reformation period, the bright light of the gospel had already broken into the marvelously beautiful and majestic Alpine region of the Archbishopric of Salzburg with its four chief divisions. From the time of Charlemagne these divisions bore the names Salzburggau, Pinzgau, Pongau, and Lungau.1 The good news that people are saved only by the grace of God in Jesus Christ had especially found a glad reception among the down-to-earth, honest people living in the gorgeous Salzach Valley and the numerous adjoining valleys to the south, particularly the Krimmler Achen,2 Fusch, and Gastein Valleys, from the archiepiscopal seat of Salzburg right up to the vast, rocky wall of the High Tauern Mountains with their snow-capped peaks and far-flung glaciers. This populace was made up of tillers of the soil, shepherds, foundry workers, miners, and merchants. We know that early Hussite teachings had already infiltrated these valleys and were welcomed with full approval by their spiritually active inhabitants, who were dissatisfied with the church’s superficiality. As proof of the wide dissemination of these teachings, Archbishop Eberhard III already felt compelled in 1420 to issue a stern decree in order to suppress the “Hussite heresy” that had infiltrated his archbishopric. Both through the early reformatory writings of Luther and through Saxon miners who had sought and found work in the renowned ore and rock salt mines and in the marble quarries, the first news of the dawning of the new day made its way into these mountain valleys. There the seed of the pure word of God found fertile soil in minds that were open and receptive to the truth.

Albrecht Altdorfer (?), Archbishop Cardinal Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, oil on vellum on mahogany wood, 1529.

The Archbishop of Salzburg, Matthäus Lang, son of a respected citizen of Augsburg, had formerly been elected chancellor by Emperor Maximilian I on account of his diplomatic abilities and the diplomatic services he had rendered to the emperor, and as such had then been elected as provost of the Cathedral of Augsburg under imperial influences, before being promoted to archbishop and cardinal. At first the archbishop did not adopt a hostile attitude against the reformatory movements proceeding from Wittenberg; indeed, he did not have much interest in religion. He was a jovial man of the world, who at times would even condescend to a little dancing and was not exactly particular about the laws of Christian morality. He could certainly also make an appearance as a man-at-arms, as he did in 1523, when he personally came riding into his archiepiscopal seat on horseback, decked out in shining armor and a military tunic with vibrantly accented slits, at the head of several companies of trained soldiers, in order to suppress an uprising among the people that was occasioned by an overly harsh tax burden and was threatening to do him personal harm. But at first he sided with the humanistic party, for whom Luther’s emergence in opposition to indulgences and ecclesiastical abuses was not unwelcome, and who nevertheless were far removed from the deep religious roots from which the inauguration of Luther’s reformation was proceeding. Already in 1513 Lang had taken the side of the humanists over against the Dominicans in Cologne who had launched a crusade of extermination against Johann Reuchlin and Hebrew literature. Paolo Sarpi aptly characterizes Lang’s early religious stance when he says in Book 1 of his Tridentine history that the archbishop considered a reformation of the mass to be fitting, the ecclesiastical laws about fasting to be unnatural, and the liberation of Christians from the yoke of human regulations in general to be right and reasonable, but he simply could not get past the fact that “a miserable monk” was undertaking the reform; that was insufferable to him.3

Frantz Dückher, Saltzburg, copperplate engraving, 1666. The city is viewed from the north with Capuchin Mountain in the foreground on the left, the Salzach River dividing the city, and Fortress Hohensalzburg, the symbol of the archbishop’s power, on the hill in the background overlooking the city. The Benedictine Abbey at St. Peter is represented by the two lower steeples to the immediate right of the taller twin steeples of the Salzburg Cathedral. The tallest single steeple, to the right of the abbey, belongs to the Franciscan Church.

Toward this “miserable monk” the haughty archbishop, who was skilled in all the diplomatic arts of both the political and ecclesiastical spheres, at first did not adopt an unkind attitude. He allowed Luther’s writings access to his territory. Luther himself still had enough of a favorable opinion of him in 1519 that, after his negotiations with Karl von Miltitz, he repeatedly names the Archbishop of Salzburg as one of the bishops to whom he would like to surrender his case for an arbitrational verdict (de Wette, Dr. Martin Luthers Briefe, Sendschreiben und Bedenken, nos. 108, 112, 115).4 That same year Lang called Johann von Staupitz to be his court chaplain, the man who had shone the first gospel ray into Luther’s soul through his spoken consolation and had defended and strengthened Luther in Augsburg in 1518 over against Cardinal Cajetan. Staupitz subsequently resigned his post as vicar general of the Augustinian Order, and a few years later Lang even prompted him to leave this order and join the Benedictine Order and become the abbot of the Benedictine Abbey at St. Peter in Salzburg (1522). Lang took Paul Speratus into his personal service by calling him to be the cathedral preacher at the archiepiscopal cathedral. Speratus had met with hostility as the chapter preacher in Würzburg on account of his undaunted, vigorous proclamation of the evangelical truth, and had been banished from there as a result. And in Salzburg Speratus proclaimed the gospel with the same outspokenness and the same results. Urbanus Rhegius of Langenargen on Lake Constance, who had been given an excellent humanistic education, was banished from Augsburg and preached “the unknown path of true repentance” in Hall and Innsbruck and, as a roving fugitive, carried the torch of the pure gospel through the Etsch and Inn Valleys to the Tux(er) and Defereggen Valleys belonging to the Archbishopric of Salzburg. The superstitious devilry in Altötting, which was promoted with a miracle-working image of Mary for the purpose of profiteering from pilgrimages to that Bavarian town in the Salzburg diocese, compelled Wolfgang Russ, originally from Ulm, to testify to the evangelical truth there. Johann Staupitz was not a man of bold action. He never decisively stepped forward to confess and testify to his deeper life of faith in God’s grace as the only source of salvation, even though Luther had been permitted to draw the comfort of divine grace so deeply and fully from that life of faith when his own life of faith was just beginning, as Luther repeatedly acknowledges in gratitude towards his spiritual father.

The thoroughly worldly minded archbishop soon confronted the testimony of the evangelical truth as an adversary, after Rome directly granted his wishes for the unconditional right of patronage for certain bishoprics annexed to his diocese. He succeeded in loosening the inner bond between Staupitz and Luther, the bond of faith and evangelical disposition that Staupitz knew had earlier connected himself to the reformer. Lang was so successful that Luther repeatedly and bitterly complains about this estrangement by Staupitz from his person and his cause. Staupitz was a peace-loving man, bottling up his evangelical faith, and Lang knew how to bring his activity to a standstill, as far as any observable spreading of the gospel was concerned. At the behest of a higher authority, Lang even asked him, since he had been accused of heresy because of his connections to Luther, for a formal declaration against Luther’s heresy. Staupitz could not and would not provide one directly, but in a sense it was still produced in reality by his submission to the judgment of the archbishop. Luther wrote to him about this in bitter grief: “I fear that you are hovering in the middle between the pope and Christ… [Y]our submission shows me a completely different Staupitz from the proclaimer of grace and the cross I once knew” (de Wette, no. 292).5 In the quiet of the abbey Staupitz most likely continued to share Luther’s writings with his monks. Other than that, he did not come out publicly with reformatory thoughts, words, or deeds in any way, while the archbishop was coming out more and more viciously against the evangelical movings and shakings by persecuting the preachers of the gospel. In reference to this, Luther writes to Staupitz: “It doesn’t pain me and your best friends that you have become a stranger to us, so much as it does that you have become the property of that monster, your cardinal. The world can scarcely endure his tyrannical raging, but now you are forced to endure it in silence. It will be a miracle if you do not run the risk of denying Christ” (September 17, 1523; de Wette, no. 530).6 When Staupitz died (1524), St. Peter’s Abbey recovered no small number of writings by Luther and other reformers. These were collected from his estate and burned in the abbey courtyard.

The archbishop saw the powerful influence that the zealous preachers were exerting on the people and now began launching vehement persecutions against them. Already in 1520 Paul Speratus had to yield to his vicious proceedings, and Speratus found no support in Johann Staupitz. In the dedication of his work On the Noble Vow of Baptism and Others, addressed to the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, Margrave Albrecht of Brandenburg, and dated September 16, 1524, Speratus says the following about the occasion of his departure: “That fierce behemoth and wide-eyed leviathan, who sits there in his nest as if in a paradise, could no longer tolerate or endure me, but tried whatever he knew and could until he finally bit me off of himself. What I mean is that I was crying too loudly in his ears against his unrighteous mammon, which is his only god and helper in need. …” Another undaunted witness to the gospel was born in the archbishop’s immediate environs and became his court chaplain and father confessor in Staupitz’s place, namely Stephan Kastenbauer, or Latinized, Agricola. Having come to the evangelical persuasion through Luther’s writings, he preached against the abuses of the Roman Church. For that he was thrown into the dungeon in Mühldorf on the Inn River. When he remained unwavering in his confession, a devilish plan was hatched. He was supposed to be transferred to a tower filled with gunpowder along the Salzburg city wall and be blown into the air with it once he was inside, since they wanted to give the people the impression that fire had fallen from heaven on the heretic. But the slow match was thrown in prematurely and the explosion went off too soon, while Agricola was still on the way to the tower. The hired murderer was unnerved and confessed the foul plan to the people. After a three-year custody Agricola was released and went to be an evangelical preacher in Augsburg.

Around the same time another preacher of the gospel made his appearance in Salzburg, Matthäus the priest. On account of his Lutheran heresy he was to be led to Mittersill to be thrown in the dungeon for lifetime imprisonment there. While the officers escorting him were carousing in an inn in Schellenberg (today Marktschellenberg), he was set free by two peasant youths. The archbishop had these young men imprisoned in the main stronghold of Fortress Hohensalzburg and then early one morning led down through the vineyard into the meadow of the abbot of St. Peter in the Nonntal, where they were secretly beheaded. When the executioner was hesitating because the condemned prisoners had not been legally convicted, the archbishop’s official said, “Do as I tell you; let the prince and the authorities answer for it” (Zauner, Chronik von Salzburg 4:380-382).7

Frantz Drückher, Radtstatt, copperplate engraving, 1666.

In Radstadt, the chief stronghold of the archbishopric, a former Franciscan monk, Georg Schärer (or Scherer), had proclaimed the gospel since 1525 with the happy approval of the residents and those who poured in from the surrounding neighborhood to listen to him. He was asked to recant. When he remained steadfast, he was beheaded on April 13, 1528. He was the first martyr for the gospel.8 Certainly, for a number of successive years beginning in 1525, some thirty more persons of both sexes were executed by methods of torment that were slow and terrible. But these people were not confessors of Luther’s doctrine, but Anabaptists (s. Veesenmeyer in C. F. Illgen, ed., Zeitschrift für die historische Theologie 2/2:243ff), people who got so lost in fanaticism that they ended up rejecting the basic truths of the gospel. These Anabaptists called themselves Gardening Brothers, because they rejected all traditional worship in temples of stone made by human hands and held their religious assemblies in gardens out in the open. Against better knowledge, the enemies of the gospel put not only these religio-ethical aberrations, as they developed among those poor people whose religious needs had been shamefully neglected on the part of the church, but also the rebellious activities of the Peasants’ Revolt, which extended to Salzburg, on the same plane as the evangelical-reformatory movement, so that they could brand the latter as a revolt against the authorities and a rebellion against the ecclesiastical and civil estates and could persecute it violently. The archbishop himself was threatened by the miners, when they rallied at the churches of Salzburg at the call of the alarm bell to demand relief from their oppressive circumstances. They triumphantly surged up to the archiepiscopal Fortress Hohensalzburg and expertly besieged it, until they were forced to bow to the might of the Swabian League. They did so, yet not without first obtaining very generous terms for the suspension of their siege. Thus the archbishop was filled with ever-increasing hostility and hatred toward the relentlessly advancing reformatory movement. He sought at first to eliminate its heads and leaders who lived in his diocese (Sprengel) using harsh and violent measures. But he also instigated or tolerated persecutions against all those among the common people who adhered to the message of the gospel, received the Sacrament in both kinds, and raised their voices against the ecclesiastical abuses that he himself had once condemned over against Rome. In connection with this ruthlessly hostile attitude of his toward the evangelical movement in the Archbishopric of Salzburg, it is worth mentioning the remark he made in 1530 at the Diet of Augsburg. He said, “Why would you even try to reform us priests? We priests have never been good. In this affair there are only four possibilities: the first, that we follow you Lutherans—that we don’t want to do; the second, that you Lutherans yield to us—that you say you cannot do; the third, that we reconcile the two paths—that is impossible; which leaves then only the fourth, that each party think of how to do away with the other one.” So fight to the death! That was the watchword.

The title page from Paul Speratus’ 1524 German translation of Martin Luther’s 1523 work De instituendis ministris Ecclesiae (left), and the first page of Speratus’ accompanying dedication “to each and every pious Christian in Salzburg and Würzburg” (right).

Speratus, who continued to keep in contact with the evangelicals in Salzburg territory from afar, is no doubt alluding to their dangerous situation in the letter he wrote to accompany Luther’s writing How People Should Choose and Arrange for Ministers of the Church,9 which Speratus translated and dedicated to them. In his letter to them he speaks of the Antichrist’s pester-police and jailers, who were sitting on their necks and by whom no one needed to be disturbed. But it also testifies to the extensive reach that the reformatory movement had already gained among the people when he advises them to procure the necessary edification from God’s word in their spiritual need on their own by combining like-minded families, yes, even to have their children baptized by the head of the household.

In spite of all the oppressions and persecutions that extended to all the evangelicals in the Salzburg valleys under the successors of Matthäus Lang, the evangelical movement continued its advance, to the dismay of those in power in the church. And it did so precisely through adherance to Paul Speratus’ advice, who had encouraged the evangelicals to put the universal priesthood of believers into practice by appealing to the most holy concerns of the salvation of souls and Christian fellowship. In vain were the evangelical preachers banished; in vain were the administrators of the evangelical fellowships that organized according to Speratus’ directive expelled; in vain were visitations orchestrated, e.g. in 1555, in order to track down and punish the heretics. There were cases where clergymen would exchange their celibacy for marriage, but then such a step would be punished by the church authorities as gross immorality, even as blatant concubinage among the clergy continued to be tolerated. The demands of the people for the cup in the Lord’s Supper grew louder and louder, and Archbishop Johann Jacob let himself be coerced into permitting the cup also to the laity. But a short time later, in 1571, he likewise saw himself forced by higher powers to forbid the giving and receiving of the cup again, on pain of banishment and dishonorable burial. For Rome was keeping a sharp eye on this revolution—a term people also liked to use here for the reformatory movement.

Kasper Memberger the Elder, Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (r. 1587-1612), painting, 1589. The archbishop is perhaps best known today for the beautiful mistress he kept, Salome Alt, with whom he fathered 15 children.

It had gained so much ground in Salzburg territory that Archbishop Wolf Dietrich felt compelled by this concern to travel to Rome to obtain instructions there. After returning, he issued a “Reformation Mandate” on September 3, 1588, which commanded all the residents of the city of Salzburg who were “antagonistic to the only saving religion” either to return to the Catholic faith or to leave the country within a month. They were, however, still permitted at this point to sell their real estate and to convert their property into money before their departure. He was able to take the loss of many wealthy people in stride by saying, “Better to have a country pure in faith than one with great treasures.” But when almost all of the wealthy and well-to-do people preferred to emigrate rather than return to the Catholic Church, a second mandate was issued which declared their goods to be confiscated.

The result of this was that not a few of the most well-to-do residents emigrated to Austrian lands and the imperial free cities in Franconia and Swabia, while others held fast to Luther’s doctrine even as they maintained outward membership in the Roman Church, while certainly still others let themselves be alienated from the evangelical faith and did public penance in the Salzburg Cathedral with candle in hand and returned to the Roman Church. Under the succeeding archbishop, Markus Sittich, this so-called Reformation Mandate, which had in part only applied to the city of Salzburg, was expanded from 1613 to 1615 to include all of Salzburg territory, since the number of those confessing the evangelical faith had steadily escalated everywhere. Throughout the Pongau people would leave the Catholic churches standing empty and make the trip over to Schladming in Styria to take part in the Lutheran service there and to receive Word and Sacrament in the Lutheran manner. Luther’s writings and the devotional and instructive writings of other theologians, such as Urbanus Rhegius and Cyriacus Spangenberg, were being devoured by individuals everywhere. They were also eagerly read in the frequent gatherings for edification which the evangelicals joined both in certain chief locations where they were already in the majority and in secret sites on secluded farms or in deep mountain valleys. The more spiritual needs were met in such reading- and prayer-gatherings, the less people were inclined to take part in Catholic services, to receive the Supper in one kind, to have masses read for the dead, and to invoke the saints. Yes, in Radstadt those in the evangelical camp were so convinced of the justice of their new religious conviction that they even tried, by way of the prefect there, to petition the archbishop himself to give them preachers of the pure gospel.

The archbishop did not fail to take increasingly drastic countermeasures to suppress the evangelical movement. He dispatched Capuchin monks to bring the renegades back to the church. In Radstadt two monks took especially great pains to do so. But to no avail. People ridiculed them “as rotten, stale fish.” Neither there, nor in Wagrain, nor in the districts of Werfen, St. Johann, and Gastein did the archiepiscopal emissaries accomplish anything with their incentives and threats. Then more stringent decrees were issued: Those who were evangelically minded had to return to the old faith within four weeks or fourteen days,10 or else be banished from the country and forfeit their goods. At the same time a search for and confiscation of evangelical books was ordered, as well as incarceration for those disseminating them. Finally, soldiers were sent to the places inhabited mostly by evangelicals in order to root out the heresy completely. Through protracted, costly billeting and perpetration of all sorts of atrocities against the evangelicals, not a few of them, being not yet sufficiently anchored in the faith for a public martyrdom, were forced into a visible return to the Roman Church, even as they secretly retained their anti-Roman views. But a considerable number also went into exile and forfeited property and possessions in order not to deny the faith. Approximately 600 evangelically minded people left Radstadt and the surrounding area and went over into Austrian territory and to Moravia, where a milder treatment of evangelicals was observed at that time. Of the approximately 2500 persons in the valleys and mountains of Gastein, there were perhaps only 300 who let themselves be intimidated into declaring that they would live and die on the Roman Catholic faith. The archbishop believed that the heresy had been entirely rooted out, and proclaimed a special festival of thanksgiving and celebration.

But the outward appearance had deceived him. The public gatherings for edification certainly ceased. Spies and policemen made it impossible for the evangelical preachers to go around from valley to valley. But many who outwardly associated with the Catholic Church out of fear and compulsion fed their souls in private and in secrecy between their four walls by reading Holy Scripture and the magnificent devotional writings of the evangelical church, which they had kept hidden and saved from confiscation, together with Bible and hymnal, in the ground, under the floorboards, in cellars, in lofts under hay and straw, or in concealed cabinets. Children were secretly instructed in the faith of their fathers. After those persecutions were over, the evangelical truth once again quietly began to spread out still further within Salzburg territory.

Joannes Jenet, Archbishop Paris von Lodron, copperplate engraving, 1627.

That especially took place under the mild governance of Archbishop Paris Hadrian, during his long and peaceful rule (1619-1653). The horrors of the Thirty Years’ War did not affect Salzburg territory. Behind the protective wall of its mountains, the gospel quietly spread out further, as the population enjoyed a long religious and civic peace and an undisturbed well-being. And the Peace of Westphalia worked to the evangelicals’ advantage: While the territorial prince was granted the authority to expel subjects of a dissenting faith from his province, any atrocity on his part was prevented by the stipulation that those expelled were to be permitted three years’ time to get their affairs in order and sell their real estate (Article V, Sections 34-37).11 At the Diet of Regensburg in 1653, the ambassadors of the Protestant estates established an agency, known as the Corpus Evangelicorum, whose responsibility, among other things, was to uphold the rights guaranteed by the Peace.12

Title page of the 1595 Nuremberg edition of Habermann’s popular prayer booklet

But in spite of all this, these rights were trampled underfoot in Salzburg territory under Archbishop Maximilian Gandolf. In 1683 a congregation of secret Lutherans, consisting of simple miners and farmers, was discovered by Jesuit spies in the Defereggen Valley, located on the southern border of the archbishopric along the border of the Tyrol, encircled and secluded by high mountains. In spite of all the earlier tracking down and persecuting of heretics under Archbishop Markus Sittich, this congregation had preserved and anchored themselves in their evangelical faith through covert gatherings for edification and by secretly reading the Bible, the postils of Luther and Spangenberg, and other devotional writings, especially Urbanus Rhegius’ Spiritual Medicine13 and Johann Arndt’s True Christianity14 and Little Garden of Paradise,15 and by singing and praying from Starck’s and Habermann’s prayerbooks,16 while outwardly following the forms and customs of the Catholic Church. The violent measures taken against them, the fervent attempts at conversion by the Capuchin monks who were incited against them, and the judicial persecutions on the part of the prefect of the district of Windisch-Matrei had the opposite effect of what was intended. Under the guidance of one of their fellow members, Joseph Schaitberger from Dürrnberg by Hallein, a simple miner firmly grounded in the faith and truly enlightened by the Spirit of God, they now resolutely stepped out into the open with their profession of the pure gospel without flinching, and bravely and dauntlessly refused to participate in Catholic services, masses, or pilgrimages. The archbishop cunningly attempted to get them to be considered as a special sect, belonging neither to the Augsburg nor to the Reformed confession, so that the aforementioned stipulations of the Peace of Westphalia would not apply to them. But when their representatives, Joseph Schaitberger among them, were summoned to appear in Hallein and then in Salzburg, they did not let themselves be confused by the tricky questions that were posed to them.17 They openly and freely professed the doctrine of Luther and the Augsburg Confession. They were detained in prison for a long time, at the same time being harassed by the Capuchins with their threats and attempts to convert them. All efforts at persuading them to recant were in vain. Then they were released, but required by the archbishop to deliver him a written presentation of their faith. Joseph Schaitberger prepared this as clearly and thoroughly as it could possibly be; he was well versed in the Bible, deeply grounded in evangelical knowledge, and well-informed by Luther’s writings of the contrast between Roman and Lutheran doctrine. He delivered it to the archbishop with the request that they be left undisturbed in their worship and returned the children of whom they had been robbed. With this presentation the archbishop in his cunning had gotten what he wanted. In the simple, evangelical-biblical confession of the faith of these people, he had the proof of their heresy and their apostacy from the church in his hands in black and white. Now he felt justified in taking the cruelest measures. He deprived them of their mining income, forbade them from selling their family properties, had their Bibles and evangelical books taken away and burned, and tried to frighten them with heavy fines and penal labor. To no avail. The vast majority refused to be rattled in their religious allegiance or flinch in their profession of the Augsburg Confession. Only a small number of the weaker ones let themselves be induced into a sham retreat to the Catholic Church. Then the archbishop issued that cruel edict, driving those who refused to recant out of the country in the middle of the harsh winter of 1685 and forcing them to leave their children and their belongings behind. The poor mothers cried for their children in vain; nearly 600 children in total were held back. Married couples were torn apart; children and infants were taken away from their grieving fathers and mothers to be brought up in the Catholic faith. In troops of 50 to 60 people, the miserable outcasts marched over the snow-covered mountain passes, poverty-stricken, robbed of the most basic necessities, in severely cold weather, in order to find refuge in Ulm, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Frankfurt am Main, and even further into Swabia and Franconia. According to the later testimony of Johann Martin Zandt, an ambassador from Württemberg, not including those who escaped secretly, 429 known persons emigrated with government passes from the Defereggen Valley alone, and there were 311 children and a fortune of 6000 Gulden withheld just from them, while the total number of emigrants amounted to more than 1000. Zandt obtained his information on this execrable treatment by the archbishop from the records of the high court in Salzburg in 1688, when by order of his duke he had to investigate the case of the expellees on location.

Portrait of Joseph Schaitberger, sketched by P. Decker ad vivum and printed by Martin Engelbrecht in 1732

Joseph Schaitberger, the spiritual father and leader of the Salzburg exiles, found asylum in Nuremberg, where, separated from his children, he eked out a living with his wife as a woodworker and wire-drawer. But he recognized and exercised his spiritual calling, to which he had been directed by God, by sending repeated, Spirit-anointed circulars to his fellow believers back in his homeland to strengthen and establish them in their faith and to refresh them in their sufferings with the comfort of the gospel. A page of core and vital church history was written by this simple miner through his spiritual and pastoral works; they cannot be read without deeply moving the heart and eliciting an emotion both poignant and joyful. He is the author of the gripping exile’s hymn, which has also been incorporated into evangelical hymnals. It reflects every aspect of the distress experienced by those witnesses to the faith and their rich, gospel-centered comfort in his simple, touching words. It reads in part: “I am an exile, sadly banned— | This my new designation— | From cherished home and fatherland— | God’s Word the sole causation. • Yet I, Lord Jesus, contemplate | Your like humiliation. | If I now you must emulate, | Fulfill your inclination. • With your will, Lord, I shall agree, | In patience persevering. | I shall subscribe to your decree | Willingly, without fearing. • Time now, in Jesus’ name, to leave; | All has from me been taken. | Yet I know one day I’ll receive | The glorious crown of heaven. • So step I from my house away | New, foreign streets to wander. | But Lord, my children! Forced to stay! | I sigh and sob to ponder. • If in this vale of tears I must | Live in prolonged privation, | In heaven God will give, I trust, | Far better habitation.”

Title page of the enlarged 1710 Schwabach edition of Schaitberger’s Evangelical Circular

He made repeated circular trips through the Salzburg valleys at great risk in order to strengthen in faith and in patience his oppressed fellow believers who had stayed behind. In vain he sought to recover his two daughters. The older one, already married by now, set out for Nuremberg to persuade her father to return to the Roman Church. But the opposite happened. In the process of her endeavor she herself was brought to the evangelical faith by her father, and from then on she stayed with him to help support him. For his fellow believers in the homeland he was and remained the blessed lay preacher and spiritual shepherd through his numerous circular letters, which he addressed to them concerning truths of the faith and questions pertaining to Christian living. They deal with, e.g., the narrow way of the cross on which pious children of God should follow after Christ, the spiritual Christian mirror, and the evangelical art of dying of the children of God. All of these circulars were printed together and comprise in this collection the famous Evangelical Circular (Evangelischer Send-Brief) by J. Schaitberger (1702).18 Next to Luther’s and Spangenberg’s postils and Johann Arndt’s True Christianity, it was the most treasured devotional book of the Salzburgers. The emigrants would later ask for it often as they were passing through Augsburg: “Hobts kain Schaitberger? [You don’t by chance carry a Schaitberger?]” Besides his exile’s hymn, two of his other hymns, “Du Spiegel aller Tugend [O mirror of all virtue]” and “Jesu meine Lieb’ und Leben [Jesus, my love and life],” were especially dear to the Salzburgers. He died in Nuremberg in 1733 at age 76, after the magistrate had removed all cares from his waning years by providing him with a place to live in the hospital of the Carthusian monastery.

Jacques Vaillant, Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg, oil on canvas, c. 1680.

While an outcry of indignation over the cruel treatment of the Salzburg Protestants rang throughout evangelical Germany, Friedrich Wilhelm, “the Great Elector” of Brandenburg, was the first Protestant prince to espouse their cause against the archbishop and to reproach him for his grave injustice (February 12, 1685). But it had just as little effect as the repeated, earnest objections of the evangelical estates in Regensburg. One marvels at how warmly the elector welcomed sectarian and rebellious people in foreign countries.

The rule of that cruel persecutor’s successor, Archbishop Franz Anton, from 1709 to 1727 was a more peaceful period for the evangelical Salzburgers. During this period the evangelical religious life regained strength in the Salzburg valleys, effected by the reading of the best evangelical writings and Schaitberger’s circulars, which made the rounds from congregation to congregation, and in particular by the numerous gatherings for prayer and edification that were now tolerated. But the battle was renewed all the more vehemently and cruelly under the frivolous, avaricious, pleasure-seeking Archbishop Leopold Anton Baron von Firmian beginning in 1727. The old oppressions and persecutions were repeated, which showcase the same sorry spectacle again and again: extortion of ostensible conversions through the cunning and wiles of the Jesuits; seizure and burning of Bibles and devotional writings; utterly false accusations of those who steadfastly confessed the evangelical faith as dangerous rebels and insurgents; lengthy incarceration of unyielding witnesses to the faith in prisons that jeopardized health and life, e.g. at the High Fortress above Salzburg and at the castle in Werfen; imposition of exorbitant, harsh fines; deprivation of work in the mines, workshops, marble quarries, and forests; occupation of evangelicals’ homesteads and houses by executive soldiers; and forced emigration minus belongings and children, who had to be left behind. The evangelicals were treated with particularly fierce hostility for refusing to give the proper response to the greeting prescribed by the pope in 1728. The greeting was, “Blessed be Jesus Christ,” and the response was, “from now into eternity.” They would not make themselves complicit in the sinful misuse of Jesus’ name that they saw in the greeting, since Rome had promised 200 days of indulgence from purgatory for each time it was used.

Copperplate engraving of the Diet of Regensburg held from January 10-20, 1663

But all these sufferings steeled the courage of these poor people. They put up brave resistance to the attempts, made with deep guile and great might, to bring them back to the Roman Church, and they devoutly and firmly stuck together as a single evangelical nation of brothers. The two farmers Hans Lerchner and Veit Bremen, from the districts of Radstadt and Werfen respectively, were the first to bemoan their distress to the evangelical estates in Regensburg in January 1730 and to ask them to intercede with the archbishop so that those banished might be permitted to sell their property and bring their belongings and children along.19 But the Corpus Evangelicorum, an ecclesiastical agency that was already paralyzed by its tedious business routine, was unsuccessful in its negotiations with the archiepiscopal ambassadors and with the archbishop himself. Their objections to his violation of the already mentioned paragraphs of the Peace of Westphalia were in vain. Incited by the Jesuits, the archbishop consistently stuck to the strategy he had once affirmed with an oath after a few glasses of wine, exclaiming that he would have the heretics out of the country and that thorns and thistles would grow in their fields.

In 1731 the evangelicals formed a coalition to dispatch a number of delegates to Regensburg from the districts of Radstadt, Wagrain, Werfen, St. Johann, and Gastein with a new grievance concerning their unjust, cruel treatment and with the petition that either they be granted freedom of conscience and evangelical preachers or that they be permitted to sell their belongings and emigrate with wife and children. But the delegates waited in vain in Regensburg for their grievance and petition to be settled. In the meantime the archbishop knew how to use cunning to bring them unreservedly out into the open with their profession of the pure gospel and their testimony against Rome. That way he could gauge the extent of the movement and the number of heretics, and take his additional measures accordingly. Under the appearance of a favorable disposition, he announced in the districts from which the grievance had proceeded that the case of the complainants would be investigated by a commission. The commissaries sent from Salzburg issued a summons that all who did not wish to belong to the Roman Church should appear before them. Having answered the summons, the evangelicals now declared to them that they would be obedient and subservient to the archbishop as their sovereign in all secular matters, but in regard to their faith they were compelled to beg him to grant them freedom of conscience, since in religious affairs one must obey God more than men. And when they were asked to which of the three publicly recognized confessions they belonged, they testified unanimously that they were evangelical Lutheran Christians. The commissaries now further required them to submit a list of all their names within three days. How astonished they were, then, as was the archbishop, when the number of Protestants recorded in the lists within that three-day deadline came to more than 20,000.

The archbishop now felt that much more compelled to exert all guile and might to root out the heresy. So the evangelicals also now had to band together that much more firmly, in order to defend their faith as one man. Approximately 300 men assembled on August 5, 1731, in the small market town of Schwarzach as representatives of the entire host of witnesses. Around a round table, on which a saltcellar had been placed, sat the elders of the congregations; the rest formed a large circle all around them. One of them now solemnly called for the contracting of a life-and-death covenant of loyalty to the evangelical faith. Then they all, one by one, stepped forward and dipped their oath fingers20 into the salt, touched the salt to their mouths, then swore with right hand raised toward heaven that they would adhere to the evangelical faith even to the point of death. And they did this with reference to the statement in 2 Chronicles 13:5, which says that Jehovah contracted a “covenant of salt” with David and his sons. Afterward the men knelt down to pray and committed the cause of their religious covenant to the Lord.

Archbishop Leopold Anton Baron von Firmian

They resolved to send a delegation to the emperor21 in Vienna. But the 21 delegates were arrested on the way and brought back to Salzburg for lacking passes and for this “act of rebellion” against their sovereign. In Salzburg they received cruel treatment as insurgents and rebels. In vain had the evangelical ambassadors in Regensburg made new remonstrances with the archbishop’s ambassadors against the unjust treatment of the Salzburg Protestants. They could not expect any help from the emperor. Then the evangelical ambassadors turned to their princes with the request for their intervention. Of these, it was the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I who immediately stepped in for the cause of the oppressed with intense religious zeal. In an order dated October 23, 1731, he assigned his ambassador, Baron von Danckelmann,22 in conjunction with the rest of the evangelical ambassadors, the task of threatening the Archbishop of Salzburg, by way of his ambassadors, with countermeasures against the Catholic subjects in evangelical lands. The king also had the baron add the assurance that he was prepared to implement these countermeasures at once, once they had been decided upon by the Corpus Evangelicorum. However, due to the incompetence and impotence of this agency, no decisive steps were taken on behalf of the ever more harshly persecuted Protestants. The cruelties against them were renewed. The evangelical estates now complained to the emperor over the illegal actions of the archbishop. The emperor answered that he had already warned him to observe the imperial laws. Then, in disdain and defiance of everyone, the archbishop issued his infamous Emigration Proclamation (Emigrationspatent)23 dated October 31, 1731, in which all evangelicals were publicly ordered to move out of the country, under the charge of holding public gatherings for edification contrary to the archbishop’s prohibition, and under the false accusation of contracting a seditious covenant for the extermination of the Catholic religion and calumniating this religion along with their sovereign. All non-settled persons, domestic servants, day laborers, mine workers, foundry workers, and lumberjacks over 12 years old were dismissed from their jobs without pay, effective immediately, and had to vacate the country within eight days. The burghers and artisans were deprived of their citizenship and professional licenses, effective immediately, and together with all settled persons had to sell their real estates and houses and then clear out within a period of 1-3 months. The proclamation’s aim was the economic ruin of the propertied people and the forced conversion of those who were dependent and lived from hand to mouth through their work. But with few exceptions they stood their ground. The non-settled were hoping to gain a deferral until spring through the intercession of the evangelical estates, but in vain. They were mercilessly driven out into the winter cold. The settled obtained a deferral until St. George’s Day, April 23, 1732, as the final deadline, but they were so harassed and persecuted by soldiers, district officials, and priests in the meantime that a good portion were already deserting the country in the middle of the winter. The negotiations of the evangelical estates of Germany, which were constantly being conducted with the archbishop and his ambassadors from the Regensburg base, and the intercession with the emperor by the Protestant powers outside of Germany on behalf of the hard-pressed Salzburgers were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, by God’s providence, they did receive comfort and aid in their distress, which by now had intensified in the extreme, through the King of Prussia.

Two 1732 Prussian coins commemorating the Salzburg Emigrants. Rf. endnote 24 for source information. Actual comparative size not reflected.

A Prussian commemorative coin from the year 1732 shows on the front the portrait of Friedrich Wilhelm I. On the back it shows the arrival of the Salzburgers in Prussia with wife and children, opposite them the figure of Prussia in military attire with a shield, and above them the radiant eye of God. The inscription beneath them reads: “GÆD. DER SALZB. EMIGRANTEN. 1732.” (Commemorating the Salzburg Emigrants, 1732), and encircling the scene are the words of Genesis 12:1: “GEHE IN EIN LAND DAS ICH DIR ZEIGEN WILL” (Go into a land that I will show you) (Spies, Münzbelustigungen 1:217-218).24 The poor Salzburgers with no country saw it as God’s guidance and the answer to their prayers when the Prussian king granted them refuge in his country and thereby put an end to every illusion of rescue on the part of the evangelical estates, on which their hopes had hitherto been based.

Already in November 1731 two of their delegates had set out for Berlin in order to invoke the king’s assistance in their great distress, Peter Heldensteiner and Nikolaus Forstreuter. They and their fellow countrymen had been slandered by the Catholics as heterodox sectarians. But an examination of them ordered by the strictly religious king and conducted by his consistorial councilors Johann Gustav Reinbeck and Michael Roloff revealed, to the king’s great satisfaction, their articulateness and firmness in the evangelical faith. They proved themselves to be genuine allies of the Augsburg Confession, all Roman Catholic lies notwithstanding, and the king informed them that even if several thousand were to come into his lands, he would welcome them all; give them house and farm, fields and pastures out of supreme favor, love, and pity; and treat them as his own subjects.

Antoine Pesne, Friedrich Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, oil on canvas, after 1733.

Now in February 1732, as the persecutions in Salzburg were at their worst, the king issued a proclamation in which he declared that he would lend his evangelical brothers and sisters in the faith, who were being so fiercely oppressed and persecuted, a kind and helping hand and welcome them into his lands out of Christian, kingly pity and heartfelt compassion. He had not merely implored the archbishop to grant them free departure and to consider them as his prospective subjects, but he was also imploring all the princes and estates of the empire to let them have free, safe, and undetained passage through their lands and to render them that which a Christian owed his neighbor, so that they could continue their arduous journey. Moreover, he was even going to have his commissaries in Regensburg and Halle count out traveling money for them—5 groschen per man per day; 3 groschen, 9 pfennig per woman or maid per day; and 2 groschen, 5 pfennig for every child per day. If these people who were henceforth his subjects were denied free departure or wronged in their goods and chattels in any way in their forsaken homeland, he would demand an accounting and ensure redress. He threatened to sequester equivalent Catholic property belonging to the monasteries of Magdeburg and Halberstadt for any loss they experienced. Following Prussia’s lead, Denmark, Sweden, and the States-General of Holland threatened similar countermeasures. The king ordered that the emigrants be escorted to their new homeland on the most direct routes. In troops large and small they now marched through German lands, after the king had dispatched a special commissary in the person of his councilor Johann Göbel to receive them and to guide their platoons to Regensburg.

Johann Georg Schreiber, Salzburg Emigrants Departing from Leipzig on September 5, 1732, engraving, 1732. The composer Johann Sebastian Bach was employed as the St. Thomas Cantor in Leipzig at the time and may have witnessed this scene, which took place about 1 km to the southeast of St. Thomas Church.

Everywhere they went, once they had set foot on evangelical soil, they received a joyful welcome and were sent on their way with the most touching tributes and demonstrations of love. Church services were arranged in the marketplaces, in the churches, and on the country roads to accompany their reception. The poor, helpless, and weak were all rendered assistance and relief that one can only dream of. They were seen off on the successive stages of their migration amid festive services, hymn singing, prayers, and blessings. And when, in a short period of time, not just several thousand – 4000 initially – but more and more thousands kept on setting out for Prussia, the king did not grow weary of it. In response to a petition asking that he might also take pity on the additional thousands who did not know where else they could set foot while staying together with their countrymen, he wrote in his own hand: “That’s just fine! God be praised! What grace God is showing to the House of Brandenburg in this! For God is certainly the one behind this.” He commanded the commissary to admit as many as would come, even if it were 10,000. But it did not stop there either. The city of Berlin became the rallying point for those who had come that way on various routes and the place where everyone sought to outdo the tenderhearted brotherly love that had been shown to the migrants thus far. And from April 30, 1732, through April 15, 1733, via that city alone, no less than 14,728 exiles advanced towards Lithuania, their new homeland in far-eastern Prussia. When the first drove of emigrants had arrived in Potsdam in an orderly file on April 29, 1732, singing their hymns, the king, who had himself just arrived, had them ushered into his palace courtyard and had them report on their journey and the commissary’s guidance. When the report given was favorable, he also asked his court preacher to report to him on the condition of their faith and their doctrine. In fact, he himself examined some of them on the truths of the Christian faith and was stunned by their clear answers grounded in Holy Scripture. For instance, the king asked a 14-year-old boy who had left his father and mother for the sake of the evangelical faith how he could justify the action he had taken. The boy answered, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). And when the king went on to ask how he was going to manage without father and mother, the boy immediately answered, “Father and mother forsake me, but the Lord takes me in” (Psalm 27:10). The king was delighted with the impression the pilgrims made on him, and he lavished gifts on them and in particular had a whole bunch of cloth for clothing distributed among them in Berlin. When it was time for them to depart, he called out to them, “It’s going to be alright now, children. It’s going to be alright with us.” On June 25 of the same year he saw another drove of Salzburg emigrants marching along on the road between Potsdam and Berlin; he found himself in that vicinity while out on a hunt. He immediately headed their way and began to converse with them, particularly about the hymn with which they had been keeping step, and he asked them to sing him the tune, “In God, my faithful God, | I trust when dark my road; | Though many woes o’ertake me, | Yet he will not forsake me.” The commissary remarked that they could not take up the songs with their proper melodies, because they were unfamiliar to them. Then, to everyone’s amazement, the king himself started in. Little by little they all joined in and continued past the king singing the song. And the king called out after them, “Go with God!”

Johann Michael Franz and Johann Georg Ebersberger (Homann’s Heirs), Prussian Lithuania, 1735. I have superimposed dots with different-colored centers to identify important cities more easily: Memel (today Klaipėda; aqua), Tilsit (today Sovetsk; brown), Ragnit (Neman; silver), Georgenburg (Jurbarkas; green), Insterburg (Chernyakhovsk; black), and Gumbinnen (Gusev; pumpkin). All of these cities except Georgenburg and Gumbinnen were district seats, and the districts were named after them. The lake in the southeast corner is the Wischtiten or Wystiter See (today Lake Vištytis). The map also includes an inset of the newly laid out Gumbinnen city plan, since a considerable number of Salzburg emigrants settled there. Note that clicking on the image will take you to a separate site where you can zoom in much closer.

One drove followed the next. Even those who were still weak and wavering in the faith left their Salzburg homeland behind to exchange it for Lithuanian territory, strengthened and emboldened by the assistance the Prussian king was giving. The poor exiles received much comfort and strengthening in their faith as they passed through the German lands and cities, but their loyalty to the faith and martyrdom for the gospel also redounded in turn to the shame, revitalization, and strengthening of German Protestantism. The sight of these droves of honest people marching along with their hymns and holding their services on the country roads, trusting in God with simple, childlike faith, was a powerful testimony to the faith for evangelical Germany, and it did not fail to produce a revitalizing and uplifting effect. And how their distress aroused and stirred up everwhere not just such genuine edification but also Christian brotherly love! At the instigation of the King of England,25 a public collection for them was organized in all evangelical countries, which brought in 900,000 gulden. There were competing efforts between southern and northern Germany to welcome and retain them and to prepare a new homeland for them. Many young people quickly formed intimate connections, and many a young female exile found happiness by joining a German household or family. All the essentials of the story of the young couple in Göthe’s lovely epic poem, “Hermann und Dorothea,” actually happened when the exiles passed through the Altmühl Valley in Franconia, except that the poet portrayed the scene against the political background of the French Revolution instead of the original religious background on which it is based.

The emigrants preserved Christian humility and modesty amid the many tributes and accolades that were bestowed upon them everywhere. They stuck to strict discipline among themselves and admonished each other to show Christian dignity, simplicity, and self-abnegation in the face of the demonstrations of love that could at times be a bit obtrusive and extravagant; they wanted to keep any harm from threatening their inner life. It was with this in mind, e.g., that one of their most respectable leaders said, as he was witnessing the tokens of love that were being heaped on them in Berlin, “Stop, you are doing way too much for us! We must thank God and ask him to keep us in the grace in which we stand. I am very concerned that many of us will be spoiled by the kindnesses being showered on us. Everywhere we are praised way too much. We are not confronted enough with our failings and sins. Our young people cannot handle this. May God in his grace please keep us from falling!”

They humbly and politely declined nearly all the invitations they received to settle in the various regions and cities through which they traveled. They wanted to remain together under the scepter of the Prussian king who had been the first to open his country to them and to welcome them as his subjects and children. They wanted to remain as they found themselves reassembled in Berlin, their great rallying point, after the long separation caused by their departure from Salzburg and by their variously routed passage through Germany. From Berlin they proceeded to their new, remote homeland. More than 20,000 Salzburg colonists populated the broad plains of Lithuania, which were empty and desolate as the result of a terrible plague. The sacrifices that the king made for their reception and colonization were more than richly repaid through the blessing bestowed upon that poor land by receiving these diligent, industrious, intelligent, shrewd, firm-in-faith, and truly God-fearing Salzburg emigrants. In 1882 their grateful descendants, as loyal subjects, sent a salute of homage from Lithuania to their beloved Emperor and King Wilhelm, whose ancestor 150 years earlier had been the instrument that God used to fulfill his words, “Go into a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1), and to do so precisely through that numerous host of staunch witnesses to the faith from the Archbishopric of Salzburg.

Johann Georg Schreiber, Salzburg Emigrants Arriving at Königsberg in Prussia, engraving, 1732. Today Königsberg is Kaliningrad, the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia.

Sources and Literature

Accurate Marching Map of the Salzburg Emigrants (Nuremberg: Peter Conrad Monath, 1732)

  • Johann Georg Schelhorn, De Religionis Evangelicae in Provincia Salisburgensi Ortu Progressu et Fatis Commentatio Historico-Ecclesiastica (Leipzig: Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf, 1732); translated into German and supplemented by Friedrich Wilhelm Stübner (ibid.)
  • Johann Jacob Moser, ed., Derer Saltzburgischen Emigrations-Acten (Frankfurt and Leipzig: Johann Paul Rothens, 1732)
  • Gerhard Gottlieb Günther Göcking, Vollkommene Emigrations-Geschichte Von denen Aus dem Ertz-Bißthum Saltzburg vertriebenen Und größtentheils nach Preussen gegangenen Lutheranern, part 1 (Frankfurt and Leipzig: Christian Ulrich Wagner, 1734); part 2 (ibid., 1737)
  • Samuel Urlsperger, Ausführliche Nachrichten Von der Königlich-Groß-Britannischen Colonie Saltzburgischer Emigranten in America, part 1 (Halle: Waysenhaus, 1741); part 2 (ibid., 1746). Note (trans.): These two volumes contain the first through twelfth of the 18 total continuations of Urlsperger’s Nachrichten or reports.
  • Johann Baptist de Caspari, Aktenmäßige Geschichte der berühmten salzburgischen Emigration, trans. Fr. Xav. Huber (Salzburg: Mayersche Buchhandlung, 1790)
  • Karl Panse, Geschichte der Auswanderung der evangelischen Salzburger im Jahre 1732 (Leipzig: Leopold Voß, 1827). Note: includes a list of sources.
  • Georg Veesenmeyer, “Etwas zum Andenken an die Auswanderung der Evangelischen Salzburger im Jahre 1732, und von den Wiedertäufern im Salzburgischen im sechzehnten Jahrhunderte” in Zeitschrift für die historische Theologie, ed. Christian Friedrich Illgen, vol. 2, part 2 (Leipzig: Verlag von Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1832), pp. 243-258
  • Friedrich Stehr, Die Vertreibung und Auswanderung der evangelisch gesinnten Salzburger und ihre Aufnahme in Preußen (Königsberg: Hartung’sche Hofbuchdruckerei, 1831)
  • Christian Ferdinand Schulze, Die Auswanderung der evangelischgesinnten Salzburger, mit Bezug auf die Auswanderung der evangelischgesinnten Zillerthaler (Gotha: Carl Gläser, 1838)
  • Johann Karl Friedrich Obstfelder, Die evangelischen Salzburger, ihre Auswanderung nach Preußen und ihr Durchzug durch Naumburg 1732 (Naumburg: Louis Garcke, 1857)
  • Theodor Krüger, Die Salzburger-Einwanderung in Preußen mit einem Anhange denkwürdiger Aktenstücke und die Geschichte des Salzburger-Hospitals zu Gumbinnen nebst dem Statute desselben (Gumbinnen, 1857)
  • Carl von Kessel, “Die Vertreibung der Protestanten aus Salzburg im Jahre 1732” in Zeitschrift für die historische Theologie, ed. Christian Wilhelm Niedner, vol. 23, no. 2 (Gotha: Friedrich Andreas Perthes, 1859), pp. 235-274
  • Rudolf Baxmann, “Die Vertreibung der Evangelischen aus dem Erzstifte Salzburg” in Protestantische Monatsblätter für innere Zeitgeschichte, ed. Heinrich Gelzer, vol. 16 (Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1860), pp. 194-206
  • Ludwig Clarus, Die Auswanderung der protestantisch gesinnten Salzburger in den Jahren 1731 und 1732 (Innsbruck: Vereins-Buchhandlung & Buchdruckerei, 1864)


1 Erdmann, or perhaps his editor, had Turgau for Lungau, but this is incorrect. In more recent times, the northern Salzburggau has been subdivided into the Flachgau and the Tennengau. Gau means province.

2 Erdmann simply had Achen, which appears to be the older, simpler name of the Krimmler Achen (see e.g. A Handbook for Travellers in Southern Germany, rev. 9th ed. [London: John Murray, 1864], pp. 354-355).

3 Erdmann cited p. 90, but I was unable to identify the edition to which he was referring. The quote is found on p. 60 of the 1621 Frankfurt Latin edition (Historiae Concilii Tridentini Libri Octo); p. 62 of the 1622 “new edition” in Latin; p. 228 of the 1761 German Halle edition (Historie des Tridentinischen Concilii, erster Theil); p. 102 of the 1757 Italian “London” edition (Istoria del Concilio Tridentino, tomo primo; actually printed in Lyon or Geneva); and p. 52 of the 1676 English London edition (The History of the Council of Trent).

4 Erdmann cited the volume, no. 1, and the page numbers: 208, 213, and 216, respectively.

5 I have supplied the citation here (vol. 1, p. 558), since Erdmann omitted to do so. My translation is of Erdmann’s somewhat free German rendition of Luther’s Latin.

6 Erdmann cited the volume and page number: 2, 408. Regarding the translation, rf. endnote 5. Cf. Luthers Works (AE) 49:48-49; no. 135.

7 I have reproduced this account from Zauner in greater detail, since Erdmann, by abridging it, gave the impression to those unfamiliar with the geography of western Austria that the carousing, liberation, and beheading all took place in and around Mittersill.

8 This statement needs to be qualified in order to stand. Schärer does appear to have been the first martyr for the gospel in the Archbishopric of Salzburg. Christ himself identifies Abel and Zechariah as martyrs in the Old Testament (Luke 11:50,51). Many consider Stephen to be the first Christian martyr in the New Testament period (Acts 7:54-60), though an argument could be made on behalf of the holy innocents of Bethlehem for that title (Matthew 2:16-18). In the time of the Reformation, Luther himself considered the Augustinian monks Hendrik Vos and Johannes van den Esschen to be the first martyrs for the sake of the gospel, saying, “I thought I would be the first to be martyred for the sake of this holy gospel, but I am not worthy of it” (rf. Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: Shaping and Defining the Reformation, pp. 102-103). They were burned at the stake in Brussels on July 1, 1523, almost five years before Georg Schärer’s beheading, and Luther penned his first hymn in their memory (cf. LW [AE] 53:211ff).

9 Rf. St. Louis Edition of Luther’s Works, vol. 10, cols. 1548ff. In the American Edition, this work is titled Concerning the Ministry (vol. 40, pp. 3ff).

10 Apparently referring to separate decrees

11 Rf. Peace of Westphalia Texts and Translations (accessed 27 Dec 2017).

12 While the Corpus Evangelicorum was organized as a corporation and agency of the Empire at the 1653 Diet, the diet that convened in Regensburg ten years later (1663) never dissolved, out of fear that the Emperor, who now (as of the Peace of Westphalia) had to abide by all its decisions, would no longer convene a diet, he being the only one who could legally do so. The 1663 Diet thus became a perpetual diet until the Empire fell in 1806. Erdmann’s original sentence, which includes “ever since 1663,” may refer to the perpectual efficacy of this agency beginning in that year.

13 First edition titled Seelenn ärtzney für gesund vnd krancken zu disen gafärlichen zeyten (Augsburg: Alexander Weyssenhorn, 1529).

14 First edition, consisting of the first of the eventual four books, printed in 1605 in Brunswick. All four books printed together in 1610 under the title Vier Bücher Von wahrem Christenthumb (Magdeburg: Joachim Böel).

15 First edition published in Magdeburg in 1612. A 1625 edition bears the title Paradiß-Gärtlein Voller Christlicher Tugenden (Strasbourg: Paulo Ledertz).

16 Erdmann is doubtless referring Johann Friedrich Starck’s immensely popular Tägliches Handbuch, but erroneously so. These Defereggers cannot have been acquainted with that book, since Starck had only been born three years earlier and his famous work was not published until 1727. The other reference is to Johann Habermann’s (or Avenarius’) Christliche Gebett für allerley Noth und Stände der ganzen Christenheit (1st ed.: Wittenberg, 1567). It underwent a second edition that same year and was frequently reprinted thereafter. It was often called simply Habermanns Betbüchlein (Habermann’s prayer booklet), and it is commonly recognized as the highest-selling Lutheran prayer book in history.

17 Throughout Schaitberger, a resident of Dürrnberg, is associated with the evangelical Defereggers, even though they were certainly involved in separate, even if related, incidents. Dürrnberg is separated from the Defereggen Valley by more than 100 miles.

18 Erdmann has 1708, and there was perhaps another printing that year, but the first printing appeared in 1702. The more well-known second edition, the Newly Enlarged Evangelical Circular (Neu-vermehrter Evangelischer Send-Brieff), made its debut in 1710 (see picture of title page above).

19 Erdmann has “so that those banished might be permitted to go and retrieve their wives and children,” which falsely gives the impression that a) Lerchner and Bremen had already been banished, and b) that those banished were also deprived of their wives in some cases.

20 The thumb, index finger, and middle finger of the right hand

21 Charles VI, r. 1711-1740.

22 Carl Ludolph Baron von Danckelmann, privy councilor to the king and only 32 years old at the time

23 This is usually inaccurately translated “Edict of Expulsion” with obvious Protestant bias. It certainly was an edict of expulsion, but that is not how the archbishop wished to present it.

24 Johan Jakob Spies, Die brandenburgischen historischen Münzbelustigungen, part 1 (Ansbach: Hofbuchhandlung, 1768). Erdmann mistakenly gives the date of the inscription as 1737. He also mistakenly cites p. 210. Pages 209-210 do feature another 1732 coin commemorating the Salzburg emigrants, with Friedrich Wilhelm’s portrait on the front and the words of Psalm 37:5 encircled by a garland on the back (see coin pictures above).

25 George II, r. 1727-1760, more properly titled the King of Great Britain


Strieter Autobiography: Civil War Draft

[Continued from Part 31. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here. If you are interested in subscribing for a hard copy of the book, read the next part here.]

Hardships and Happenings (conclusion)

Stephen A. Douglas, by Vannerson, 1859.

Stephen A. Douglas, by Vannerson, 1859.

I voted for the first time in my life for Stephen A. Douglas,68 and was thus registered in the roll of citizens. That resulted in me getting drafted [gedräfted].69 I presented myself in Berlin. The captain told me that I probably wouldn’t come up because a number of men had been drafted and only six70 were needed. I had a high number; they would probably have their number six man before they got to me. But he told me when I should report back.

The time came. Nobody knew how it would turn out. My dear Ferdinand Röske, my teacher, got the horse ready and was going to come along. Now came the terrible moment of parting. My wife fell around my neck and cried, “O Papa! O Papa!” The children grabbed me around the body at my legs and arms and cried, “O Papa! O Papa!”

I had to leave. Having arrived in Berlin, I went to the office. There I was told, “You have to go; almost everyone before you was ineligible.” He would give me two hours to find a substitute. He actually didn’t have any right to do that, but since I was a minister, he would show me the courtesy.

I go out. There stands a man who is waiting for such an opportunity. I take him inside, but the gentleman said, “He is better than you, but he has a bald head and therefore I am not allowed to take him, for I am only allowed to enlist first class men as substitutes.”

Outside I was told, “Down there are half-breed Indians who will go for cheap.”

I said, “I am not taking an Indian. I want the kind of man who knows what he’s doing.”

Then a young, impressive guy comes and offers to go for me, but says right away that he demands 725 dollars. I lead him inside. He is good.

I run to my Fischer, in whose house I held church, and ask if he would act as surety for me at the bank so that I could have 725 greenbacks for 24 hours. “Oh sure!” he says.

We head to the bank. Fischer says, “Give the gentleman 725 greenbacks in my name.” He counts them out for me.

I go over and give the person his greenbacks. He is delighted. “700 dollars I will send to my wife – I have a wife and a child – and 25 I will keep as spending money.”

I send my Ferdinand home to bring the good news and arrange for him to come back in the morning, and with my companion I take the railroad to Milwaukee, go to my friend F. E.71 and share my need with him. He goes with me to Mr. So-and-so, but he won’t help. He goes with me to Pritzlaff, whose name I will gladly share. The gentleman is in his hardware store bright and early and is in the middle of sweeping his office.72 My escort remains standing outside by the door. I go inside and bid good morning and say my situation, that I would very much like 725 greenbacks to be able to pay my banker by tonight, and he would get his money back little by little.

He said he had given Pastor N. Beyer money for a substitute, but he had been released from duty. I could go and get that money for myself.

I say, “Beyer is up on the Wolf River. That is impossible for me, to retrieve that money in time.”

P[ritzlaff] continues sweeping in silence. After a pause I say, “Mr. P[ritzlaff], if you are unable or if you are unwilling to help, please say so.”

He looks up at the ceiling. “Yeah? And what would you do then?”

“Whatever God wills,” I say.

He throws his broom into the corner, goes to his desk and writes, and hands me the slip of paper. I express my thanks and go out to my F. E. and hand him my paper. He says, “Now you’ve got help.” Off he goes with me to the bank and presents his slip, and the gentleman counts up 725 greenbacks, which I tuck away and now board the train for Berlin, give the banker the money and ask how much I owe.

“Nothing,” he says, and full of joy, I go home to my family, who laugh and rejoice with me a thousand times over.

But now we did even more saving – for we had to be frugal enough as it was in those terribly expensive times – so that the debts would be paid. All the money was supposed to be sent to Lochner.73 Everybody helped. Money was coming in from all sides. Pastor Hügli of Detroit, Michigan, sent money to Pastor F[riedrich] Lochner along with a note that, in return, Strieter had to pluck a tuft of hair from his beard and send it to him.

After I moved to Aurora I sent one more payment. Lochner sent a portion of it back to me along with a note that it was all paid up. God has surely given and will give the dear Pritzlaff his reward of grace for what he did [Luke 6:38], so too to the others who helped.


68 In the 1860 election

69 Cf. endnote 73. It appears that Strieter was not drafted until 1864.

70 Both here and in the next line, Strieter originally had “four,” but the correction appears to be his own and not Leutner’s.

71 Strieter originally had “N. N.” – an abbreviation meaning “[Mr.] So-and-so.” Leutner must have known the identity of Strieter’s friend.

72 Pritzlaff’s store was eventually incorporated as the John Pritzlaff Hardware Company, which has gained some fame in Milwaukee’s history. At the time of this story, Pritzlaff was at his original store on the corner of what is today N Old World 3rd Street and W State Street. Eventually he would build a new store at what is today 311 N Plankinton Avenue, where his company would become, as it has been called, “somewhat like the of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” Pritzlaff died on March 18, 1900, a fact of which Strieter appears to have been unaware, judging from what he says at the end of the story.

73 The following “Urgent Request” appeared in the December 15, 1864, issue of Der Lutheraner (p. 62): “Of the five pastors in Wisconsin from our synodical organization who were selected by lot for military service in the most recent draft, one has been declared fit for duty and has thus been forced to buy a replacement at a high price. This is Mr. Pastor J[ohannes] Strieter. Now since Mr. Pastor Schwankovsky has been absolved of military service due to physical inadequacy and therefore no longer requires the payoff amount pledged for him by pastors, teachers, and delegates during the synod convention, the undersigned thought he could safely assume with Mr. Pastor Strieter that the respective underwriters would transfer their contribution to the latter, and so the amount of $740.00 was raised by congregation members here in a short time. In the certain hope that this request is not being made in vain, the undersigned accordingly requests that the pastors, teachers, and delegates in question would send their contribution his way immediately upon receipt of this information. It will also be noted that from the congregation of Mr. Pastor Strieter only limited assistance can be expected, perhaps even none at all. Therefore, should others who have not made any pledge also feel compelled to make a contribution, it will be accepted with that much greater thanks, and any potential surplus will be reserved for assistance of the same nature in the future and conscientiously used at the proper time. Milwaukee, November 20, 1864. F[riedrich] Lochner.”

Note that there is a $15 discrepancy in the amount – owing perhaps to Strieter’s faulty memory or to a gratuity added to the loan amount as a token of gratitude to Mr. Pritzlaff. It also remains unanswered whether the reference to “congregation members here” is an attempt to conceal Mr. Pritzlaff’s identity, or is an indication that Pastor Lochner’s congregation (Trinity, Milwaukee) paid back Mr. Pritzlaff and assumed the debt as a whole.

Strieter Autobiography: Troubles with Water

[Continued from Part 28. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Hardships and Happenings (continued)

And now some more about the hardships.

One time I was driving across a marsh, alongside the road, because it was completely impassable, came to the end where there was standing water, and I note, “There you will get stuck.” There was a pile of fence rails lying there which I went and brought over, then lay one next to the other and build a bridge, pull the horse onto it, keep taking out the ones in back and putting them down in front again, kept on doing that until I reached firm ground. But now I arrived too late. The people were gone.

One time I was driving to Berlin for preaching and I wanted to take a box of books home with me from the depot. The railroad went from Ripon to Berlin. Got up very early, for I was in a hurry to get home, for I was almost always in a hurry. It’s not yet day. The valley below, where the depot was located, was filled with fog, but I saw light through the window in the depot. I was heading for that; I could not see the path. All at once I jerked forward and then just as quickly backward again, so that I thought the evil foe was taking me on. I have to wait once I’m there. The man wasn’t there yet. Day breaks and I think, “You should at least go see what the deal was there.” See, there was a hole dug – someone was presumably looking for sand – 6-8 feet or so long, 3 feet or so wide and just as deep. I had driven over that. I looked at it and wondered just how the horse got across that. It did not see the pit and plunged right in. But my Fanny was nimble.

One time Pastor Brand, a Norwegian, came to me and wanted to get across to his daughter congregation by Puckaway Lake – a farmer had brought him from another daughter congregation – and he asked me for Communion wine and if I could take him there. We were driving there. On the shore of the lake stood a little house. Out came a friendly man and greeted me by name. I asked him if he knew me. He said, “I am in your church as often as you preach at Buchholz’s, sir.” It must have been 6 miles away or so.

I say, “So you can understand me, sir?”

He says, “Not much at first, but soon more, and now, sir, I understand you every word.”

The two of us pastors, the man, his wife, and several little children take our seats in a skiff, for I wanted to hear the sermon, and we go across the lake. In the distance at the bottom of the hill was a house where church was to be held. My dear Brand now had announcement first, then confession, then began to preach. But pretty soon my watch told me, “You have to go,” for I had 17-18 miles or so. I stand up and leave. My dear Brand follows me out and bids me adieu, but sends a young man with me who’s supposed to show me to a rowboat. He showed me to a dinky little rowboat with two oars. I get in and go at it, towards the house in the distance. Pretty soon I note: “This thing is definitely leaking.” There’s the water coming in, and at a pretty good rate too. I started rowing away for all I was worth. The water is rising. I already have to set my feet up against a crossboard, so that I don’t fill my shoes. I can’t bail the water; I don’t know if there’s a container available. Even if there is, I still don’t dare let the oars rest, for the wind was strong and blowing sideways; it would have driven me up to the upper end and the lake was fairly long. So I had to work. My little boat is already over half-full of water. I started getting anxious. I’m sweating; my hands ache. Finally I am on the shore, but completely wiped out with my hands full of calluses. —

During the winter I was driving across that lake one time with Fanny, over the ice. The lake is not deep and is very springy; the Fox River flows through it lengthwise.24 I’m moving right along. I want to get to Fairwater, and it’s much closer going from Buchholz’s than by around Princeton. There, not far from me, the ice bows up and the water spurts into the air. A little farther, the same thing on the other side. It’s getting worse and worse. I have to keep dodging the spurting places left and right. My Fanny also notices the fun and sweeps away across the ice like a fox. I am getting anxious and ask the good Lord to please not let me break through. I make it across. —


24 Puckaway Lake is only 5 feet deep at its deepest point.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Winter Trips to Wausau

[Continued from Part 26. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Hardships and Happenings (continued)

It was winter, I’m riding to Big Bull, it starts to snow and keeps on snowing and snowing. The snow gets deeper and deeper. I can’t ride fast any more, stay overnight halfway to Steven’s Point.9 Gets terribly cold. I’m lying in the bed and freezing, finally get up, go out, open a door and, on a hope and a prayer, call out in English, “Landlord!”

“Huh?” is the answer I get. I ask him to get up. He comes.

“I have to go,” I say.

He accompanies me out to the stable, puts the saddle on. I pay and take off; it was two o’clock. But now how cold it is under the bright sky and in the air! Around 7 I come to my Everay, who tries to take off my shawl, but shawl and beard are one icy clump there. I first have to hold my head by the stove for a while until it thaws. I eat and get back on my pony to go to Big Bull. Again cannot ride hard; the snow is too deep and too loose. Around 8 in the evening I finally arrive in Wausau. I head for the inn and have my little horse brought into the stable. “I will take care of the pony,” says the hostler.

I say, “No, I will take care of the pony,” have him make a straw-bed for him, stick some hay in, give him water – he was not warm – and 4 quarts of oats. That done, we now go into the house. I let them give me something to eat, then go to bed.

Bright and early I get on my horse and head out into the bush and still make it on time for church, according to the arrangements I had made.10

Another time I take the sled.11 The neighborlady [Mrs.] K[ohnke] also sends a sackful of buckwheat groats with me to give her mother, and I had my box with books that I always brought along – hymnals, Bibles, postils, catechisms, prayer books, Bible histories – and a basket with my Communion paraphernalia and a traveling bag with my robe. I preach and hold Lord’s Supper here and there. I have to drive a long stretch through the beautiful virgin forest. There lies a tree stem across the path. 4 feet off the ground it had broken off and is lying on the stump and, on the opposite side, on its branches, 3 feet high or so off the ground. I cannot go around; there is thick underbrush both left and right. I undo my Rocky from the sled and draw him around to the other side and cover him up and now work at getting my sled onto the stem. It was heavy, and I have to exert myself tremendously. Finally I have it on top. But what now? I have no other choice but to let it go. Down it slides, but somewhat crooked. I crawl through underneath and try to lift the shaft up, but oh boy, it must have gotten stuck under something there. I cannot get it up and have to push my sled backwards onto the tree again so that I can get the shaft loose finally. I hitch my pony, but I had shoes on – my feet were wrapped in a wool cloth and I had fur shoes over that. The snow gets into my shoes, melts, and it’s getting cold now, for night was falling.

I hitch my horse and continue on to my destination. I arrive, my horse is taken off my hands and I go inside, sit down in front of the stove and try to take off my shoes and also my stockings, to rub my cold feet and warm them up. But the stockings are frozen tight to the skin, and I first have to stick my feet in the stove to thaw the ice.

Soon I lie down. I was lying for a while when I get a bed partner. He lay for a while, then he called out, “Yes, yes, Father Luther said so.” After a short pause: “Yes, yes, Father Luther said so.” Again after a while: “Yes, yes, Father Luther said so.”

I say, “What exactly did Father Luther say?”

He doesn’t say a word.

When I woke up in the morning, my bed partner was gone. I ask my hostess what sort of man that was. Then she told me that he was a follower of Grabau.12 He had come here with a bundle of money, had bought himself a bunch of land and had used his money to help others get land. He said that we were not the true Lutheran Church; he and his adherents were. Those he had tied to his purse strings stuck with him and he would read to them from Luther and act as their pastor.

We now drove through the bush over to the gardener, which is what he had been in Germany, and held church in his house. After church I say to the people, “Keep an eye on your pigs; there is a bear in the area. Back there in the woods I saw his tracks.”

When I came back,13 they told me that scarcely had I left when one day the sun had shone nice and bright and after that it had frozen again. Then the snow had frozen hard, and way up yonder stood a beech tree that had still had nuts that now fell down. Then they had lured the mother pig over there to glean the beechnuts. Pretty soon the pig had started squealing terribly, and the bear was sitting by it and wolfing down its flesh from its living body. The father had loaded the old shotgun, and since he didn’t have any shot, put stones in. The boy grabbed the axe and the father the gun and they went to meet the bear.

When they got close to him, he growled, and the father had aimed and lowered the gun again. The son yelled, “Father, shoot already!”

But the father said, “Yeah, if I don’t hit him right, then he’ll go off on us.”

The son said, “I’ve got the axe here; I’ll chop him on the head.”

The father aimed again and lowered the weapon again.

Then the boy said, “Father, give me the weapon. I’ll shoot,” and the bear lay down on his side. Shot him in the ear. They brought their pig home on the hand-sled and laid it in front of the stove and tended to it. Its whole side had already been eaten away down to the ribs. But it recovered again. They sold the bear’s hide, oil, and meat and made, if I’m not mistaken, 16 dollars.

When the story came to an end, the father exclaimed, “If only another bear would come!”

I drove home.14 It was cold. Between Steven’s Point and Wautoma I come to a place where I had previously turned left. I can see just fine how high the snow is, but think that the pathway still must be firm, for we would often go on trips 6 feet high above ground. The freshly fallen snow would always get trampled down firm again. But look, my pony sinks so deep into the snow that I can only still see his head and tail. I undo the horse, pull the sled back, and now trample around in the snow so that my horse can get some air, and I bring it out of there and hitch it back up. At this point a man comes who tells me that I had to turn left further down.

I make it through the woods back onto the open prairie. Then I come to two sleds loaded down with sacks. On the front sled were three yoke of oxen, on the back sled two yoke. The back sled driver lets his sled stand, comes to the front sled, and now one man beats on the oxen on this side, the other on the other side, until they have dragged the sled forward several rods or so [about 20-30 yards]. Then they go and get the back sled that far in the same manner. I’m finally able to pass the sleds and I come to my inn15 and think, “You should stay overnight.”

I have my little horse unharnessed and go inside. After a while two Jews come, one younger and one older, with a sled full of pelts which they had obtained from the Indians by trade. When they had warmed up and were about to leave, I ask where they were still planning on getting to tonight. “To Berlin,” was the answer.

To Berlin – that was at least another 30 to 40 miles! “Why,” I thought, “if they can do that, you can still make it home too.” I have my little horse hitched back up and I follow the Jews. The snow was dug out on the right side and so we could sled through along the fence and the snowbank. All at once my Jews disappeared. Then I reach the corner. The snow was dug out across the path to the other side and was so high that I couldn’t see the Jews any more when they turned the bend. Further along it bends back to the right, with the fence on the left and the snowbank on the right.

Then, all at once: Stop! There stood my Jews and I behind them, with a sled loaded with sacks in front of us that wants to come this way. Right away a troop of oxen comes, driven by two men, who also want to go up the way we were going. After briefly consulting, it was decided: “The big ox there in front must create a pathway.” The ox now gets some beatings and he burrows through the snow. When he makes it forward a few feet or so, then he is given a rest again, then they lay into him again, until he is finally around the sled in front of us. The others now had it easier. Once the oxen were gone, the driver in front of us also wants to turn out and go around, for we could not; we had a snowbank 6-8 feet high on the right. But his white horses won’t draw one trace tight. He had to unload all of his sacks and they then drew the empty sled around. Now there is a clear pathway and my Jews now try to get going, but now one of their horses won’t budge. They had a big old yellow horse on the right, and a young little animal on the left, four years old or so, who won’t budge. They now lash at the tired little animal mercilessly. The younger man goes and stands in front and beats him between the ears with the thick end of the whip handle. But the animal takes the beating and doesn’t move a muscle. I ask them to please not beat the animal like that. They should grab the big horse by the bridle and talk to him nicely to get him to draw the sled tight first. They did that and it worked. Away they go now, with me following along.

In Wautoma they turn left to go to Berlin, and I turn right to go to my homestead. I still had 12 miles. For a stretch it was going well, for I had a pathway, but now I had to leave the pathway and turn left. The snow is deep there. My Rocky is almost knee-deep in the snow. It’s not long before I have no idea where I am any more. I’m freezing terribly, throw the reins over my head and wrap myself in the buffalo. It is getting colder and colder. I think, “This night you will freeze to death.” I start praying that my dear God would please take my poor soul to himself if my final hour had arrived. Then the thought of the wife with her 4 little children occurs to me. “No,” I said to my dear God, “you cannot let me freeze to death. Bring me home alive to my family once more.” Sleep wants to overpower me. But I keep moving my arms and legs over and over and keep praying unceasingly to my God to please have mercy on me.

All at once I come upon a track and also see a house on the left. I look at it and recognize it; it’s the Bursak16 schoolhouse. I say, “Gid up, Rocky!” and in fifteen minutes I am in my yard. I go inside. My wife gets out of her warm nest and lies down with the children, and I get in. She throws everything we have on me, also gives me something warm to drink, but I am freezing so badly that my teeth are chattering. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. I had been sitting on the sled and had eaten nothing from 7 o’clock in the morning to 3 o’clock in the morning.

I finally fall asleep and don’t wake up until around 10 and now I want to go and get my mail, which we would get 3 times a week. I had 3 miles to travel and think, “The poor Rocky is so tired; just go on foot.” But that won’t work. The snow is so deep and so loose that I can’t make any headway. Then I think, “Go and get Rocky and put the saddle on and ride slowly.”

I go and get my Rocky and retrieve my mail items, let my little horse in through the small gate and have the wooden nail in my hand that gets pegged in front. My Rocky doesn’t quite go through far enough. I give him just a few taps in the rear and say, “Rocky, a little further.” He whinnies and turns right – two acres were fenced in – down along the fence, then up along it over there, and 3 times or so around the yard going along the fence, so that the snow and the halter strap were flying in the air. Oh, was I glad to see that!


9 I.e., in Plainfield. He appears to have stayed there on Monday night, November 26, 1860.

10 Namely, on Wednesday, November 28. He baptized one baby on Thursday, three on Friday, three on Sunday, and three on Tuesday.

11 He departed on this third and final mission trip to Wausau on Monday, January 14, 1861. He baptized three children that evening in Stevens Point. He stayed overnight in Wausau on Tuesday, and arrived at his destination on Wednesday morning, January 16. He baptized two children that day, two on Thursday, four on Saturday, and one on Tuesday.

12 Johannes Andreas August Grabau (1804-1879) was imprisoned in Erfurt in 1837 for opposing the Prussian Union (union of Lutheran and Reformed Churches in Prussia). With the help of friends he escaped and went to Berlin, where he continued his ministry secretly. He was arrested and imprisoned again in 1838. He was permitted to emigrate in 1839 and did so with about one thousand other Prussians. A small group stayed in Albany, while Grabau and the majority settled in Buffalo, where he served as a pastor for nearly 40 years. In 1845, he helped organize what came to be called the Buffalo Synod, a distant ancestor of today’s ELCA. Grabau butted heads with the Missouri Synod over his extreme views on ordination and the authority of the ministry, among other things.

13 Most likely for J. J. Hoffmann’s installation on Sunday, August 25, 1861.

14 Strieter is resuming his previous story, before the incident with the bear and the pig.

15 The inn in Plainfield he has already mentioned twice

16 The correct spelling appears to be Bursack.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Winter Woes

[Continued from Part 24. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Hardships and Happenings

Now something about hardships and happenings.

Whenever it worked out, I would also take my wife along. Yes, we even did some fishing. We would make 3 seats on the buggy and the wife, the 5 children, the schoolmaster, and L. would climb in and we’d head for the milldam, towards Harrisville. Mostly we’d catch a nice mess of black bass.1 What a thrill that was!

One winter we also had a bad cold spell. It was Christmas and there was supposed to be the Lord’s Supper at Tagatz’s. My administrator [Mr.] B. comes with his face all wrapped up and says, “Are we still going?”

I say, “Yes.”

He says, “There won’t be any church though.”

He and my schoolmaster R[öske] head out. I hitch up, Mama and L. climb in the sled and take my effects in their lap. They sat in the box and I throw the buffalo blanket over them, get in, and away we go. The horse is running at a terrific clip. Before the schoolhouse I have to make a turn and I knock the sled over.2 My wife gets back in the sled, and I get the buffalo over her. L. runs ahead 50 steps or so to the schoolhouse and already has white blotches on both cheeks as big as a dollar. [Mr.] B. tells her that; she gets some snow to draw the frost back out. They had a fire going in the stove and had moved the table over by it. The wife sets my effects on the table; I drive to [Mr.] T. to nail my sled box back down. Even when I get back, my wine in the bottle still looks like chopped ice. We have to return home without having church.

For eight days we led a camp life. In the living room stood a box stove with one hole on top. On the floor above us stood the meat barrel. I go up to the schoolmaster and say, “We have to bring the meat downstairs, otherwise all of it will freeze into one clump, and we won’t have any meat to eat then.” I grab the top of the barrel and he grabs the bottom, but it starts to get too heavy for him. He jumps off to the side and lets the barrel crash. It rolls into the wall so hard that the house shakes. But that was our good fortune, for it had already frozen all the way through, and the collision broke everything up into pieces.

I go out with my face bundled up and fill my arm with wood, then my schoolmaster goes out with his face bundled up and makes another armful, and we stack a pile in the corner.

The well in front of the house, 12 feet deep, was frozen in. We take the pump out and lower a ladder down, chop the ice apart and draw water with a small bowl. The water came out of the sand and was not deep, but the well never gave out. Soon we had another small hole, from which we would remove the ice chunks and draw water with a small little cup.

My stable was a log stable surrounded with straw and thatched with hay. But whenever I came into the stable, my horse, a dark chestnut, and my brown cow were snow-white, and I would wipe the frost off again. My hens also roosted in the corner of that stable. They would not get down, and I had to hold their feed in front of them, their water too. I held water in front of the livestock in the stable, but they didn’t want any. For several days they drank nothing. Then I went down to the Mecan and chopped the ice up. I chopped a hole as deep as the axe-handle was long. Finally the axe broke through and the water shot up as high as our house. My schoolmaster and my boy3 brought the livestock, but they didn’t get them there. The horse yanked himself free from the schoolmaster’s hand and went home, and the cow followed after.

Since the stove had only one hole, L. boiled potatoes on it. We had a hole under the floor where the stove stood where the potatoes were kept. They didn’t get any frost. They were cooked, meat was roasted, then coffee was made. We would eat and L. would start all over again.

At night we brought the beds out and threw them around the stove. There we would lie down for bed, the whole herd of us. Before falling asleep I would give the command: “Whoever wakes up, stick wood in the stove!” When the stove was full of coals, we scooped them into an iron kettle and dumped them outside so that there would be room for more wood.

Several people froze to death. After 8 days I drove to Buchholz’s for church. A man had died, and I was supposed to give a funeral address in the house before church, and since I had to drive 14 miles or so, I headed out early. Several times I had to stop and rub the ice off around my horse’s mouth so that it could breathe. I drove through the woods. When I came into the open, the wind blasted me in the face and I suddenly get a stinging pain in my head, as though someone had stabbed an awl into me. I quickly get my head under the buffalo and start rubbing my forehead. Someone later told me, “One more sting, sir, and death would have claimed you.” For I long time I felt the effects.

One time I was driving over a creek that ran very swiftly and was never frozen over otherwise, but now it was. I go in. Halfway across the ice breaks, and my horse sinks in the water up to its belly. The wheels plant themselves in the ice and the swingletree breaks off. I grab the reins at the very end and let my horse through, call to it, and it stops. I get down – the ice held me – and tie my horse up and cover it up, tie the reins to the shaft, pound the ice down, and try to pull the buggy out after me, but not a chance! I go and get my horse and tie the traces to the reins and let the horse pull the buggy out. I take the halter strap, tie the swingletree on, hitch the horse and off we go! But the horse ran so fast that I had my hands full controlling it.

One time I’m driving home at night and have to cross a marsh. They had cut a path through there in the fall, stuck a ditch on both sides, thrown twigs in, and piled the dirt from the ditches on top. All of it was an icy plane. My horse is trotting along, unfortunately directly above the ditch, so that it was hollow beneath the horse. Suddenly it breaks through and is now situated in a hole just as as large as the length and width of the horse, and its legs sink into the mire so that the ice is exactly level with the horse’s back. I get down and think, “You should go over to that house and get somebody.” It was 40 rods or so [about 220 yards] away. I start walking and make it as far as the fence. “Wait,” I thought, “you’d better not. You can’t just leave the horse by itself.” I go back again, grab my horse under the mouth and say, “Fanny, come.” Then the horse pulls its front leg up, sets its foot on the ice, and just like that it was out of there. —

One time a young man told me he would like to ride with me to the next church. He gets on. When we came to the marsh, two miles wide or so, I asked, “How good does it look? Will it still hold?”

He says, “Oh sure, just fine!”

I say, “It’d still be best for me to drive around.”

He says, “Oh no, yesterday they were still driving hay over it. Just keep going.”

I go in. It works. Every so often the horse puts its foot through, but nothing serious. We come to the far edge. There everything is a pool of water. We go in. Bump, my horse is situated in it so that the water is level with its back. I say, “Now you’re going to have to get down, sir.” I had shoes on. He climbs down into the water. I say, “Undo the horse, sir. Grab it by the head and say, ‘Come!’” He does it. The horse heaves itself up and works itself out. I say, “Tie it up, sir, and come grab the buffalo and cover the horse up.” He does it. I say, “Alright, now pull the buggy onto the land.” He pulls, but it won’t budge. I say, “Go get the reins, sir, and tie them tightly to the buggy and take the reins over your shoulder.” He does it and now starts pulling like an ox. Bump, there he lies prostrate in the water. I didn’t dare laugh, but very secretly thought, “Serves you right. Why did you lure me in here?” He gets up and pulls again and thankfully gets the buggy onto the land. We hitch the horse and off we go, but now it ran. My young man got down by the church. Where he went to, I don’t know.

One time my wife and I were driving home from Berlin and also had to cross a marsh. We come to water; my horse goes in up to its waist. Two young men, one bigger and one smaller, came along with fishing poles and I ask them to help. They did. We unhitched the horse and all three of us pulled Mama across and continued on our way.


1 If the fishing back then was the same as on Harris Pond today, these were largemouth bass.

2 This accident seems to have taken place at what is today the corner of 15th Drive and Eagle Road (today State Road 22 basically runs right through that same intersection), as Strieter was attempting to turn east onto Eagle Road. (See endnote 8 in the previous chapter.) This would also mean that there was once a schoolhouse about 50 steps east of this intersection.

3 Doubtless Friedrich, the oldest

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Strieter Autobiography: Settling in Wisconsin

[Continued from Part 20. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]


In November 1859 I set out for Wisconsin with my wife and three children. We were not able to take Mother Ernst along, because we ourselves still didn’t know where we were going to be staying, and because the cold winter was just around the corner and she had trouble with coughing, especially in the winter.1 She moved to the city of Cleveland with her girls.

Approximate location of the Stone Hill post office. The road pictured is County Road Y.

Approximate location of the Stone Hill post office. The road pictured is County Road Y, heading south from the intersection with County Road E. Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage.

We traveled to Milwaukee. My wife had a girlfriend from school there, K. T., who was married to F. E. They took us in. I now wrote to Wilhelm Stelter. But in his letter to Dr. Sihler the good man had written his township, Crystal Lake, at the top, but nowhere did he provide his P.O., which was called Stone Hill. I addressed Crystal Lake, but get no reply because he didn’t receive my letter. I wrote again – no reply. After eight days I tell my wife, “We’re setting out.”

We rode by the railroad as far as Ripon. There I inquire and learn that we had to go to Princeton. I ordered a wagon; the luggage went up into it. The wife takes her seat next to the driver with the two youngest and I take my seat with my Friedrich in the back on a crate. At first we were going along pretty well. Then came the Injunland paths.

Injunland: They told me that it had belonged to the Indians and had been purchased from them for one cent per acre. A very beautiful area to the eye, hilly, richly furnished with marshes, rivers, and lakes, but meager sand-soil.

When we arrived in Princeton, there were people there who were going to be my members. Immediately the word got out: The preacher is here! They were Poseners, who addressed me as Preacher, and my wife as Mrs. Priestette [Frau Priestergen]. A man came to me, C. T.2 I was supposed to turn in at his place. Another man also took his seat on the wagon and off we go.

Now came the real Injunland paths with their pole bridges across the marshes. “That — wooden country,” the driver cursed in English, as my wife later told me.3 We arrived at C. T.’s place in the evening. Over across the road lived Father T.,4 who came to see us right away. Everything looked and sounded very injunlandish. In the evening we had a meal, also injunlandish. Didn’t quite taste right! At night the dear Mrs. T., a beautiful young woman who still had no children,5 threw some rye straw on the floor which Grandmother T. had brought,6 and we spread our bedding on it. Sleep didn’t want to come either, but my fatigue got the better of me. I soon wake up again, however, and hear my wife sobbing so softly. It was hard on me too. I heard and saw her do this for several days and nights. Then I said, “Lisbeth dear, you must not cry any more. Our dear God has brought us here and he will surely help us.” Now she got a hold of herself.

A house had been built on W[ilhel]m Stelter’s land and two acres fenced in7 for my predecessor D[iehlmann]. The house was built in German fashion – timber framing [Fachwerk] and filled out with clay. It had two rooms and a small bedroom. I bought myself a six-year-old horse, Charley, for 60 dollars, hitched him to a sled and drove to Wautoma and got myself two stoves, bedsteads, etc., and we moved in.

St. John Lutheran Church and Cemetery, Budsin (mailing address Neshkoro). This church represents the congregation closest to the parsonage where Pastor Strieter lived. It is thus considered the mother church of all the other confessional Lutheran churches in the area. The present brick church was built in 1907.

St. John Lutheran Church and Cemetery, Budsin (mailing address Neshkoro). Copyright 2013 Red Brick Parsonage. This church represents the congregation closest to the parsonage where Pastor Strieter lived. It is thus considered the mother church of all the other confessional Lutheran churches in the area. The present brick church was built in 1907.

On the second day of Christmas 1859 I preached for the first time, in the morning in the town schoolhouse and in the afternoon at Welke’s place, nearly 12 miles away or so. After that I also preached at Tagatz’s,8 at Schmidt’s, at Kiesow’s, later Donning’s, at Buchholz’s, at Warnke’s, in Neshkoro at Rörke’s, in the vicinity of Westfield, in Berlin, in Fairwater.9 To Buchholz’s it was 12 miles, to Fairwater 25 miles, to Berlin 25 miles; to the other places it was not especially far. I never preached less than four and never more than nine times a week and almost always traveled about 6000 miles a year with my horse. When I preached at Buchholz’s, I would take off at 7 in the morning, preach, then drive ten miles to Warnke’s.10 In the winter it was closer; I would preach the second time and then drive another nine miles or so home. At first I took along something to eat, but it didn’t work, for in the winter it was frozen and in the summer it was as dry as bark. So I gave it up and ate just like my horse, at 7 in the morning and 7 in the evening.

On January 15, 1860, Pastor P. H. Dicke from Mayville installed me.11 I picked him up from Ripon and also brought him back there. In Ripon he bought me an old buggy for 30 dollars with his own money and lent it to me without interest until I could pay it off.

I held instruction in the summer, and did so at Tagatz’s, at Buchholz’s, at Warnke’s, also in Fairwater at Röske’s. The children from Berlin we took into our home. I confirmed in Fairwater at Röske’s; the others I assembled at Tagatz’s and at Stelter’s and confirmed under the green trees in groups of 50 or so, and held the Lord’s Supper there too. Children came to me from 12 miles away. I also taught some school.


1 In his “Sketch of the Parents of the Ernst Girls” cited earlier, Henry F. Rahe confirms that Mother Ernst “had a bronchial trouble,” which was especially hard on her in winter. She died on March 23, 1875, at the home of Friedrich Leutner, the teacher and organist at Zion in Cleveland who had married her youngest daughter Mary (and thus was Johannes’ and Elizabeth’s brother-in-law) and who was responsible for publishing this autobiography. “The funeral was March 25, 1875. The body was first placed in a vault in Erie St[reet] Cemetery and on April 4, 1875 she was buried in our church cemetery – St. John’s Lutheran, Garfield Heights, Ohio [formerly the St. John’s, Newburgh, which Johannes served as pastor]. Here she rests with three daughters, Sophie, Anna and Sarah, with their husbands, and fifteen grand and great-grand children.”

2 This was most likely Christoph Tagatz.

3 In his original manuscript Strieter included the actual word the driver said – “damn.” It was crossed out and replaced with a dash by the editor. The word cursed (fluchte) was also misprinted as whispered (flüsterte).

4 Martin Tagatz, who was 57 years old at the time. He passed away on January 5, 1867, and was buried on January 7.

5 See endnote 2. Christoph Tagatz’s wife was Louise née Schätzke, and though she had no children at the time, she appears to have been pregnant, as their daughter Emilie Pauline was born on June 9, 1860, and baptized by Strieter on July 1.

6 Though it is possible that “Grandmother T.” refers to Martin Tagatz’s mother (see fn. 4), there is no burial record for such a woman. Strieter is likely referring to Martin’s wife, Anna Justine, née Mesall or Missal, who was 49 at the time. She passed away on September 30, 1874, and was buried on October 2.

7 Today this property has the address W3276 County Road E in the town of Crystal Lake (mailing address Neshkoro). The parsonage Strieter is describing was built around 1856. Strieter later also mentions a log stable that was built on the property. Eventually the property was expanded to four acres, and in 1876 a new parsonage was built. A new barn appears to have been built at some point too, the foundation of which still serves as a flower garden today. The property ceased to be used for the parsonage after 1898.

8 There is a Matz-Tagatz Cemetery on Eagle Road, three and a half miles west of Germania and 3/10-mile east of State Road 22, marking one of the original preaching stations. According to A Historical Stroll Through the Churches of Marquette County (1985), there was a log community center here before 1855, considered to be “the first so-called church” for the congregation that is today known as St. John’s Lutheran, Budsin (mailing address Neshkoro). A Historical Stroll also claims that “in 1855, a wooden frame church was built facing our now Highway 22 on the cemetery grounds west of the present brick church [at the intersection of Highway 22 and County Road E]. This church had a balcony built around it in the inside.” However, it seems strange a) that Strieter does not mention this church (unless perhaps it is synonymous with “Schmidt’s”) and b) that Strieter would have also preached “at Tagatz’s” so closeby. Furthermore, a later incident Strieter records in the next chapter makes it clear that he needed to make at least one turn to get to the preaching station at Tagatz’s, which would not have been the case if Tagatz’s was synonymous with the present church property. (See endnote 7.) Also, this preaching station was a schoolhouse, not a church proper. Finally, A Historical Stroll also records that “the land on which our churches stood and still stand was deeded on the 26th of February, 1866.” This causes me to surmise that the date for the building of this frame church is incorrect, and that it perhaps occurred in 1865 or later, after Strieter left, not 1855.

9 Some of the congregations that still exist today as a result of Strieter’s ministry, in addition to those mentioned in endnote 8 above, 10 below, and 15 and 16 in the next section, are as follows: Trinity Lutheran, Little Mecan (mailing address Montello); Zion Lutheran, Neshkoro; Immanuel Lutheran, Westfield; St. John’s Lutheran, Berlin; St. Paul’s Lutheran, Berlin (an 1899 daughter of St. John’s); and Zion Lutheran, Fairwater.

10 According to A Warnke Genealogy, published by Orlan Warnke in 1989, the Warnke preaching station was on the homestead of Peter Warnke, who lived “about 3 miles to the east of Germania” (p. 10), on the east side of what is today Soda Road, just south of the intersection with Eagle Road (p. 20). (Germania is an unincorporated community at the junction of Eagle Road and County Road N in the town of Shields, Marquette County.) A log church was built on Mr. Warnke’s property and was in use until 1876, when a new church was built in Germania. This congregation became known as St. Peter’s Lutheran. It closed in March 1962. The unused building remains, as does the Germania Lutheran Cemetery on Eagle Road east of Germania.

11 P. Heinrich Dicke had enrolled at Fort Wayne during the 1851-1852 school year and had graduated in 1853, first serving as pastor in Frankentrost, Michigan (rf. “The Franconians” & endnote 6 there). The June 30, 1857, issue of Der Lutheraner reports that he was installed as pastor of “the three Lutheran congregations by Mayville, Dodge County, Wisconsin,” on Ascension Day, May 21, 1857, “on the occasion of the celebration of a church dedication” (p. 183). From the “Church News [Kirchliche Nachrichten]” section of the February 21, 1860, issue of Der Lutheraner: “After the honorable J. Strieter, up till now the pastor in Newburgh, Ohio, was called as pastor in an orderly way by the four evangelical Lutheran congregations in the town of Christal [sic] Lake, Newton, Shields, and Mechan [sic], Marquette County, Wisconsin, and he had accepted the call in agreement with his former congregation, he was installed into his new office by the undersigned on the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany at the behest of the Honorable Mr. President of the Northern District. May the faithful God, who has assigned a large field of labor to this servant of his in that area, now also graciously grant that his activity there would result in the salvation of many souls! Mr. Pastor J. Strieter’s current address is: Stonehill P. O., Marquette Co., Wisc. — P. H. Dicke” (p. 110).

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