Strieter Autobiography: The Brimstone Boys

[Continued from Part 30. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Translator’s Note

The first time through this section, I would suggest completely ignoring the endnotes as you read. Simply enjoy the good, clean, Lutheran shenanigans.

Hardships and Happenings (continued)

I attended the conventions and conferences. One time I didn’t go to the local conference because I was sick. I also was not at the 1854 convention in St. Louis because I was very poor and had no money for traveling. I also was not at one delegate convention and had my alternate go, because I was deaf and wouldn’t have been able to hear anything anyways. Otherwise, to my knowledge, I was at all the conventions and conferences from 1853 up to my retirement from the ministry. More than once I baptized my newborn baby and then departed, or it was born to me while I was gone. Never did I submit the excuse: “domestic circumstances.”50

Johannes Strieter with full beard, c. 1860s. Photo courtesy of Susan Hawkins.

Johannes Strieter with full beard, c. 1860s. Photo courtesy of Susan Hawkins.

At the beginning of the 60s I came to the convention in St. Louis with a full beard and had to put up with a lot of teasing.51 This is how it happened: I was shaving at a farmer’s place in Big Bull. He didn’t have a mirror; there was only a small triangular piece of a mirror in the house. It had been stuck into a crack in one of the beams in the log house. That was okay, but the razor was like a saw and the heavy, bitter tears ran down my cheeks.

Then I asked myself, “Did our dear God really cause the beard to grow so that we could torture ourselves with it so shamefully?” and I answered, “No.” And from then on I let everything grow as it pleased. To this day I never again had a razor put to my face.

Professor Crämer with full beard (source)

Professor Crämer with full beard (source)

In St. Louis Missionary Clöter took a liking to my beard. Later we had convention in Monroe, Michigan, and Clöter came with the full beard too.52 In the evening there was supposed to be conference, but there wasn’t a lot going on. My Jox right away nominated Strieter to conduct the meeting; I had to take the chair and Clöter was made secretary. Jox wanted to have the two bearded men up in front. Soon many people were following my example with the full beard, even my dear Prof. Crämer.

One time we had convention in Watertown and I drove there with Fanny, 75 miles.53 One time conference was in Lebanon and I also drove the 80 miles there to Babylon.54 One time conference was in Woodland, and I also drove there.55 One time it was in Freistadt, and I also drove there.56 There we camped in the late Fürbringer’s study.57 Beds were positioned on the floor on both sides. Our feet were touching in the middle. Outside58 stood a bed for two. Ruhland lingered downstairs a bit long. Stecher and Steinbach slipped into the bed, to Ruhland’s chagrin. Whether he liked it or not, he would have to join us in the camp. Strasen was lying up by the door and says, “You guys leave the last spot open for Ruhland and when he comes marching through, each of you give him a kick.” He had to get undressed outside.59 Once he’s in by us, Strasen gives him one. He turns around and starts griping. In the meantime he gets one from the other side. Then he sees the game we’re playing and strikes out for his bed, but he gets his kick from both sides all the way down. Having reached the end, he starts in: “You despicable people.” But we are laughing hysterically and he starts laughing too. Oh, Ruhland was just terrific!60

One time conference was in Mayville, where Dicke was.61 I drove there. As I was unhitching, my horse was nibbling around at the dung. Everyone was standing outside when I came. Then the dear Synod President Wyneken exclaimed, “Look! Strieter’s horse is so hungry, it’s feeding on dung, and so shamefully lean. We should take up a collection so that Strieter can buy oats.”

But my Dicke came to my aid: “That horse is not lean. It is thin and empty right now because it has run 40 miles.62 No horse looks round after doing that.”

Friedrich Conrad Dietrich Wyneken in his older years

Friedrich Conrad Dietrich Wyneken

One time conference was at Jox’s place in Kirchhain.63 Dr. Sihler was also there. In the evening someone called in through the window, “Is there still room in the camp?” It was our old, dear President Wyneken.64 The joy was great. During the midday break we went under the green trees and played Plumpsack.65 Link set it up.66 The old gentlemen had to play too. Link especially had it in for Wyneken. He often had to get out of the ring and received some terrific whackings from Link. W[yneken] would laugh his head off and run. Even the old Dr. had to take his turns.

We were very brotherly together and were attentive during the sessions. Back then it never occurred to anyone to read the newspaper during that time or to tell something to the guy next to him. Our headmen were Strasen and Link, and they supplied most of the papers. Wyneken called us the Brimstone Boys [Schwefelbande].67

Endnotes

50 Leutner corrected Strieter’s “häusliche Umstände” to “Familienverhältnisse wegen.”

51 The Missouri Synod Convention was held in St. Louis on October 10ff., 1860.

52 The Northern District Convention took place in Monroe, Michigan, on May 29ff., 1861.

53 The Northern District Convention took place in Watertown on June 18ff, 1862.

54 The Wisconsin Pastoral Conference met in Lebanon from May 5-7, 1863.

55 The Milwaukee Pastoral Conference met in Woodland from April 26-28, 1864.

56 The Wisconsin Pastoral Conference met in Freistadt from September 9-11, 1862.

57 This may have been an honorary name for the study due to Ottomar Fuerbringer’s faithful service in Freistadt from 1851-1858. By the time this conference was held, Friedrich Boeling had been using this study since the beginning of 1861.

58 Leutner’s correction is probably more correct: “In the room next door…”

59 See previous endnote.

60 Something is amiss in this story, since Friedrich Carl Theodor Ruhland (1836-1879), one of the more vociferous opponents of the Wisconsin Synod at this time, had moved from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to Wolcottsville, Niagara County, New York, and had been installed as pastor of St. Michael’s Church there on July 6, 1862, before the conference in Freistadt was held. (It also does not seem likely that the study in Freistadt would have been upstairs.) Since it does not seem likely that Strieter was mistaken about Ruhland, the main character in the story, perhaps he was mistaken about the location. Perhaps this occurred at the conference Ruhland himself hosted from May 11-14, 1860 (which would explain why he was irritated about not getting to sleep in the bigger bed), or at the one in MIlwaukee on May 3-4, 1861. Ruhland eventually became the first president of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Germany, today in fellowship with the Wisconsin Synod.

61 I was unable to locate any announcement for a conference in Mayville during Strieter’s years of service in Wisconsin on the pages of Der Lutheraner. However, it may have been held in early May 1862, since the Wisconsin Pastoral Conference usually met around that time in other years.

62 The distance between Strieter’s homestead and Mayville is more like 70 miles, but Strieter most likely divided the journey between two days.

63 The Wisconsin Pastoral Conference met in Kirchhayn from September 3-5, 1861.

64 51 years old at the time

65 A German version of Duck-duck-goose played with a knotted handkerchief

66 That is, Pastor Georg Link of Immanuel, Lebanon

67 According to the Grimm Brothers’ Deutsches Wörterbuch, Schwefelbande, lit. “sulfur gang,” denotes “a sorry or slipshod gathering, a rabble, especially in more vulgar parlance and used colloquially.” It supposedly originated as a “nickname for Sulphuria, a students’ club in Jena that was notorious for not giving satisfaction,” and the Grimm Brothers also suggest that the label alludes to the devil or hell.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Investigation and Mission Trip

[Continued from Part 29. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Hardships and Happenings (continued)

Copyright 2016 Red Brick Parsonage. This is more or less the site of Strieter's parsonage in Marquette County, located at W3276 County Road E, Neshkoro. Strieter's two-story timber-framed house filled out with clay was built around 1856 on this site. A log stable was built around the same time. Eventually the 2-acre property was expanded to 4 acres, and in 1876 a new parsonage was built. A new barn was built at some point too, the foundation of which is pictured here. The property ceased to be used for the parsonage after 1898.

Strieter’s parsonage property, W3276 County Road E, Neshkoro. Copyright 2016 Red Brick Parsonage. Strieter’s two-story timber-framed house filled out with clay was built around 1856 on this site. A log stable was built around the same time. Eventually the 2-acre property was expanded to 4 acres, and in 1876 a new parsonage was built. A new barn was built at some point too, the foundation of which is pictured here. The property ceased to be used for the parsonage after 1898.

Something about hardships pertaining to Fall Creek. I go up there one time, drive to Montello, 12 miles. (I also had 12 miles to Princeton, and 12 to Wautoma. 400 steps or so off of the Mecan, to the west, was my house.) I take the wife along so that she can take the horse back home. From Montello I take the stagecoach to Parteville,25 from there to Toma on the railroad. Then it was 90 miles or so to Eau Claire on the stagecoach. Before it gets to Eau Claire, I get off and head off to the right on foot to Fall Creek to my people, who with few exceptions had been my church attendees [Kirchkinder] in Injunland.

How happy they were when I stepped into their midst in front of the schoolhouse! Man and woman embraced my neck and kissed me. Oh, with what delight I preached to them!26

On way home, while riding on the stagecoach day and night, the driver, who had apparently fallen asleep, lost his way and drove into the bushes. He halts and shouts that we men should get out and should look for the road because he didn’t know where he was. There were two other men besides me in the box, and several ladies. We get out. The one man looks around and shouts, “Here is the path!” But the coach was situated on a slope. He has to turn around, so we three position ourselves on a ledge, grab on top, and lean backwards to keep the coach balanced so that it doesn’t tip over, and we make it back on the road.

I had written my wife to pick me up in Montello, but she doesn’t get the letter; when I arrive in Montello, there’s not one woman there. What now? I have no other choice but to walk 12 miles. I was not at all accustomed to walking; I was always on the horse or on the buggy. I don’t get very far before my feet are aching and the soles of my feet are burning like the blazes. I sit down, take shoes and stockings off, and try walking barefoot, but that wouldn’t work at all. The sand was so hot, and every little stone was irritating. I put my stockings back on and now walk home in stockings, 10 miles or so.

Another time I was up there we rode to Black River Falls on the stagecoach.27 There we were told that the stage could not go any farther because of the bad roads. The 4 horses were hitched to a lumber wagon, three thin boards laid across the box. On the front board the driver took his seat. On the second board a man and a woman, each with a child in his or her lap; the boy was bigger and the girl was smaller. On the back board I and a short young lady. Others wanted to come too, but we were told, “The horses can’t pull that much.” It was just starting to get dark when we took off.28

We come to a frightful hill. The two of us men have to get down. The horses cannot pull us all. The driver, the two ladies, and the little children stay up. The ground was loose, yellow sand. The horses run in a gallop as best they can, 10 steps or so, catch their breath again, and then another burst like that, until they are on top. We get back on and away we go.

Wasn’t all that long before the little lady next to me gets sleepy, lays her little hands on my knee and her little head on top and drifts off. The people in front of me also fall asleep and were so careless that each one has his or her child’s little head facing out. Then all at once the man’s child hangs his head down over the box. I reach out between the two of them, grab it by its little robe and pull it back in. Then the wife’s baby hangs its head out and I pull it back in. So it went the whole night. Having arrived at a station in the morning, we drink some coffee. Then the wife expressed her thanks that I had “watched [gewatcht]” their children so well. —

I had been commissioned by my President Fürbringer29 to conduct an investigation. There was a preacher there by this point.30 I preached to a schoolhouse full of people, then the investigation got going. A number of complaints were brought forward; unfortunately they turned out to be true. The preacher asked for forgiveness, and since there were no criminal offenses, I asked the congregation to pardon him and retain him. But they didn’t want that; they still thought it would be better if he left, because things were simply ruined by that point. He was relocated out west after that, and became a very good pastor there, even a visitor.31 He has been in heaven for a long time now. —

I received a slip of paper on which a bunch of places were recorded for me that I was supposed to visit and do mission work. A man promised me a riding horse. Bright and early32 one man hitches his horses to his wagon, another brings me a horse, a big gelding, and says, “He has the heaves [die Heafs], but he won’t keel over. Just keep riding him at a good clip, sir.”

I get on my gelding. The other man takes off; I follow after. He puts them into a trot, and I put my gelding into a gallop. But right away I think, “Oh no, oh no, how is this going to turn out?” For he galloped so high and was throwing me into the saddle with full force. The consequences came soon enough. I get colic, and have to call to the man to stop, then take a seat in his wagon and tie the old boy to the back. The pains get worse and worse; the man finally has to drive at a crawl. I tell him to take me to an apothecary. He did so. The gentleman was in the middle of sweeping out. I tell him that I’m sick. He says, “Yeah, I can see that.” He disappears into his hideout and mixes me up something proper, a half glass full of yellow stuff. How it tasted, I don’t remember anymore, but I scarcely had it down before my belly gets red-hot and my pain is gone.

I get on my gelding and head for Chippewa Falls, leave my horse on this side, and I take the ferry across the river. Over there the path goes along between the river and the hill, toward the village. There stands a little house right next to the path, and behind it, at the bottom of the hill, a new brewery with “Gerhard” on it. “He has to be German; you should stop in there.”

The man was a young, friendly man; no beer belly on him. He directed me into the village. There, situated in the valley, stands a saloon in the center. I make my way there, address the bartender in German, and he answers me in German. I say who I am and why I was there. He says that he doesn’t care much for church. There in the distance in that little house by the hill lives a cobbler, he says; I should stop in by him.

I head over. The cobbler is beating his leather. He stutters and says that yeah, a pastor had been there earlier, and the people from the country had come in to hear him preach. The preacher was supposed to eat at his place at noon, and they were going to give him 25 cents each time. They still owed him 50 cents, and he wanted nothing more to do with it.

During the conversation, a door opens up and a woman walks in the door and soon picks up on the discussion. She speaks fine German. “Whoa,” I thought, “this is a sophisticated woman.” She gives me several zingers, but gentle ones, the gist of them being how people were expected to fodder the vagabonding33 preachers for free. I get red, stand up and say, “Listen here, ma’am, I am an honest pastor and no lowlife!” I pat my money-bag and say, “I have money. If you give me a meal, ma’am, I will pay you” [cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12]. She turns friendly and apologizes.

Now they told me that there were not many in the village and there were people scattered in the country, but they could not be called together now on such short notice. I say, “Okay, I will ride up to Yellow River and come back the day after tomorrow. Could the people be called together by then?”

Yeah, he didn’t have any time at all, he said, and besides that, he didn’t know anybody either. I myself could not go and do it, for I was always scheduled in advance from place to place. So I was unable to preach in Chippewa Falls.

I go back to the brewer, stay overnight at his place and ask, “What kind of a cobbler’s wife is that? She did not grow up here.”

“Yeah,” he says, “a military officer brought her along from Germany and jilted her, and in her need she took the cobbler as a husband.”

I cross the river34 and get on my gelding and head up to Yellow River. I arrive at a settlement of Swabians, my own countrymen, turn into a house where two brothers live, who had two sisters as their wives. Each had a baby. They were in the middle of cooking sugar.35 So in the morning the one woman would go into the bush and the other would stay with the children. In the afternoon they would switch. In the evening many people came. In the morning a nice large group assembles in the schoolhouse.36 I announce my hymn and start singing; they sing along, very well, but somewhat slowly. I start to preach. Then a man calls out, “Mr. Parson [Pfarrer], a little louder; there are people here who can’t hear well.” So now I belt it out.

After church I warn the people not to get involved with every single wandering preacher, but to come together on Sunday, sing a hymn, and a man should read a sermon out loud. A preacher would probably be coming to Fall Creek soon and he would serve them too.

They respond, “Yeah, we thought that you were just going to stay with us, sir.”

I say, “Yeah, my dear people, that simply will not work. Just take heart and stick tightly together and hold reading service. The good Lord will not abandon you, and he will give you a preacher.”

They bade me a fond farewell and expressed their many thanks.

I head back to Chippewa Falls and continue on to Menomonie, but have to gallop; the fellow will only walk or gallop. Soon the inside of my legs are in a lot of pain, but what can I do? I have to keep going.

Before Menomonie I arrive at a settlement and turn in at the house of the man to whom I was directed. He asked if I was Pastor Mohldehnke.37

I say, “No, I am Pastor Strieter.” “Great,” I thought, “now you have ended up in Mohldehnke’s ward, the traveling preacher of the Wisconsin Synod.”

In the morning I go to the schoolhouse.38 Was completely full. Before I know what’s happening they start to sing, but I don’t know the words and don’t recognize the melody either. When they stopped, I stood up and asked if this congregation belonged to Pastor Mohldehnke.

“Yes, Pastor Mohldehnke has preached here before.”

I say, “Then I should not be permitted to preach.”

They say, “You are Lutheran too, sir, from what we’ve heard. Go ahead and give us a sermon. You are already here anyway, and we so seldom get an actual sermon.”

“Alright,” I say, “then I will preach, but tell Pastor Mohldehnke when he comes not to look at this as if I were trying to interfere with his ministry [Amt]. I was directed here and did not know that he had already preached here. He should regard it as a guest sermon.” They said they would deliver the message.39

I state my hymn, start singing, then preach. Also warn them to watch out for the fanatics, the Methodists. The wife of the Methodist preacher was even in church, as I was later informed. They took a hat collection and gave it to me.

In general I received money almost everywhere. I have already wondered to myself why our traveling preachers today often have to be supported almost entirely from the fund. I never needed to apply to the fund for assistance. When I went to Big Bull, I would bring home a whole bag full of money. Indeed – 10-cent pieces, 5-cent pieces, such small 3-cent pieces, such big 2-cent pieces, a sixpence, a shilling, rarely 2 shillings. I would empty my bag onto the table for my wife and she would sort it all and put each sort into a little purse and revel in her treasure.

One time I had to ride way out of the way and baptize 3 children for a man. When I was finished, he counted 37 cents into my hand. I say, “That has to be all the money you have, sir!”

“Yes.”

“Okay, then I will give it back to you and add that much more.”

He started to cry: “Aw, it is meant to be a thank offering, that my children are now baptized, and you won’t accept it, sir?”

“Okay, if it is meant to be a thank offering, I will take it.”

One time a woman came. “Mr. Pastor, I am a widow and don’t have any money, but would really like to give you something. Here is a small sack of nuts; please take them along for your children.”

My people in the Injunland gave me two hundred dollars and rye for bread and some for the horse, some wheat too. —

I now hurried from Menomonie to Durand, across the river on the ferry, up the hill, into a saloon. “Are you German, sir?”

“Yes indeed!”

I say who I am and why I was there.

“Yeah,” he says, “there would no doubt be people here, but where can we assemble?”

I say, “There’s room enough right here.”

He says, “You want to preach in the saloon, sir?”

“Certainly!”

“Fine by me.” He goes and gets my horse into the stable and shows me in through the door to his family. I stay overnight.

In the morning a nice large group assembles.40 I announce the stanzas of my hymn and start singing. They sing along. I position myself with my back against the counter, the liquor bottles behind me, and start preaching. Soon the door opens up and a man pokes his head in, but quickly bangs the door shut again. Another man does the same, and another. It’s comical, and I have to control myself so that I don’t lose my focus. After the sermon I baptize two more children.41

From Durand I make my way toward Eau Claire. In the distance by the hill I see an old little house and think, “You should just stop in there once.” The door is open, opposite another door. In the middle of the living room sits the father with his head hung down. I call out, “Good day, father.”

“A German voice!” he says. “Do come in, sir.”

Soon an old little mother comes in through the other door. He told me that they had had 3 children, two sons and a daughter. The one son had drowned while floating logs, the other had been shot and killed in battle – the Civil War [Rebellionskrieg] was going on at the time – and the daughter had recently married and now they were all alone.

I comforted them with their Savior and asked if they had a Bible.

“Yes, other good books too.”

I told them just to keep reading them and to pray persistently and remain firm in faith in their Savior. He would not abandon them.

“Oh, dear Pastor,” he says, “couldn’t you please give us the Holy Supper?”

“Dear father,” I say, “I have absolutely nothing with me. Hold on to the spiritual use of the Supper, sir. Apply to yourself the merit of Jesus, which he has won for you by giving over his body and shedding his blood. Then you will have the blessing of the Supper even without actually taking it.” But I make up my mind: “That is not going to happen to you again.” From then on I always took some wine and wafers along, even when I rode.

I commended the dear folks to our dear God and took my leave.

I rode towards Eau Claire. On the other side of a bridge across a river I was supposed to turn right. Back there were also people to whom I was supposed to preach. I lose the barely visible track, ride up a high hill; the other side slopes down like a roof. Both of my gelding’s hind feet slip out and he sits down on his backside and doesn’t get back up until the bottom. At the bottom I bend a bit left and find the track again. Come into the open, turn in at the first house and tell the woman who I am and why I was there. She leaves me her child and runs to call her husband. He is a friendly man and, as I soon notice, Christian. I stay overnight and preach in the house to a number of listeners.42

I ride back over onto the Eau Claire Road. There I am supposed to go over across the prairie to a house and visit a family where especially the wife is really spunky, but find the house locked. I go back over and continue on the road. I come to a new house where a staghorn is fixed on a post, so it was a tavern. On the porch [Poartch] stands a man. “Are you by chance the Lutheran preacher, sir?”

“Yes!”

“Please come on in.” He took my horse from me and leads me into the saloon. “Do you want something to drink, sir?”

“No, thank you,” I say.

“Then go into this room,” and he opens the door for me.

There sit a number of women and also a man, and against the wall sit 4 nice girls, dressed in white, with a blue43 ribbon around their waists, and one woman has a child in her arm. The little children are seated according to size. I am supposed to baptize the children. I take down their names and give a short address, telling the adults and the little children what baptism is, that they were making a covenant with the triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that they would put on Christ. They should believe that from the heart and hold on to this covenant of grace.44

I now read the rite and ask the biggest one, “Do you desire to be baptized?”

“Yes,” says the child, leans its little head over the water and lets itself be baptized. Same with the second, the third, and the tiny little Trude too, the baby the woman was holding. Oh, it was too beautiful! I got to experience the same thing one time in Berlin.45

After the baptism they give me coffee and cake, then I continue riding to Eau Claire, turn in at my young carpenter’s place, who brings me to a widow.46 I cannot preach there.

Ride back to Fall Creek and turn my gelding back in, get driven back to Eau Claire, take my seat on a small steamer and head down the river to Reed’s Landing.47 Arrive there towards evening, go up the rise. A saloon is there and I go in. “Are you German, sir?”

“Yes indeed.”

“Do you have something to eat?”

He pours me a glass of beer, gives me a piece of sausage and a piece of bread. I take that to a corner, sit down and set it on a barrel and try to consume it. The beer doesn’t taste good; I let it stand. The sausage is dry and doesn’t taste good either. I chew on the bread. Then all at once a bunch of guys come in and take their places at the counter and get some drinks. In the middle stands a short man, a blacksmith, who right away starts mocking and says that the Bible is a book of lies. This is too much for me. I stand up and go up to the person: “Listen here, sir, you say the Bible is a book of lies. Let me ask you: If you were to get completely drunk right now, and you went home and abused your wife and children like a tyrant, would that be right?”

The keeper interjects, “Yeah, that’s what he often does.”

“No,” the man replies.

“Okay,” I say, “the same thing is also found in the Bible, for there it is: ‘You husbands, show common sense as you live with your wives’ [cf. 1 Peter 3:7]. Now how can the same thing that is the truth in your mouth be a lie in the Bible?”

He was quiet, and one-two-three, the room was empty.

In the corner a door is open and a woman stands in the doorway and calls out that supper is ready. The saloonkeeper says, “Mister, are you are a parson?”

“Yes.”

“Please come and eat with us,” he says.

I go in. There a large, roasted fish is sitting on the table; I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. We sit down.

“Mr. Parson,” says the keeper, “please say a prayer.”

I say a prayer and dig in.

He asks, “Do you know Professor Walther, sir?”

“Oh sure,” I say, “quite well.”

He says, “I was in St. Louis at N.’s, the confectioner” – I can’t remember the name, but he was a well-known individual. “Walther often tried to convert me, but he did not succeed.”

“Too bad,” I say. “You should be converted if you want to go to heaven.”

“Mr. Parson, time will tell. A mocker I am not.”

“Couldn’t a person preach here then?” I ask.

“Yeah, look here, sir,” he says. “Earlier a man came and passed himself off as a preacher, held church, told the people that traveling cost money and that they should take a collection for him. They do that. He takes the money and goes to the nearest saloon and wastes it on drink. Several others did the same. A person loses all his desire after that.”

My steamer comes and I get on board for La Crosse. The boat gets under way and I go inside. Soon I go back outside. There stands a large man with a raincoat [Wachsrock] on, at the front and looking out. I go inside and outside more than once, and in the morning the man is still standing in the same spot. He now goes inside and another man takes his place.48 I learn that the night-watchman was the captain. A noble figure, getting old already, with a hooked nose.

The thought now occurs to me: “This man stands in one spot the entire night in order to maneuver his boat safely down the river. What dedication! What, and you’re going to get tired? It’s going to be too much for you? You’re going to get testy – you who work on immortal souls for your Savior?”

I come to La Crosse and take my seat on the [railroad] cars for Parteville. There stands my Fanny in the innkeeper’s stable, whom I have left there for so long this time. I hitch up and take off. Haven’t gone too far when I start to feel ill. I drive under an oak, let my horse munch on a bush, and I lie down on the ground and throw up. But nothing comes out except sour, bitter water, and some blood at the end. I’m so dizzy, the whole world is spinning, and my head aches badly. It’s getting to be evening; I simply have to get going. I crawl to my buggy and claw my way up, hold on tight to the seat on both sides and take off. Have to drive at a walk though; my head won’t take it. Reach home toward morning,49 lie down for a little rest and try to take my clothes off. But my underpants have crusted together with the grime, so that I first have to soak them with a wet, hot cloth. My legs from the top down to the knees are completely sore. That came from getting thrown around in the saddle.

Endnotes

25 Strieter’s spelling of Pardeeville

26 Strieter appears to have departed for his first trip to Fall Creek on or around Monday, November 12, 1860, since he recorded two baptisms he performed in “Eau Clair” on November 14, 1860. According to Declaring God’s Glory: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (August 17, 2014), the commemorative book celebrating the 150th anniversary of St. John Lutheran Church in Fall Creek, “it was Wilhelm Stelter who convinced Strieter to make the trip to the Fall Creek Valley.” This is consistent with Strieter’s records, since Strieter calls him “my Stelter” and “a very dear Christian” in the previous chapter, and since he includes Wilhelm Stelter as a witness to the first of the just-mentioned baptisms, that of Florendine Caroline Stubbe. Declaring God’s Glory also claims that since “there was no local pastor” in 1863, Strieter “was called and twice made the 200-mile trip to conduct church services, baptize children and perform marriages” there. But this is highly unlikely, since a) Strieter’s records do not include any 1863 visits to Fall Creek, and b) Candidate Theodor Gustav Adolph Krumsieg was ordained and installed as as the congregation’s first regular pastor on September 28, 1862, and was installed at his next parish in Fond du Lac County on December 13, 1863. Even allowing for time to move from Eau Claire County to Fond du Lac County and for a delay in making arrangements to have a pastor install him in his new parish, it does not seem likely that Strieter would have had time to arrange and make two 200-mile trips to Fall Creek in the time available between Krumsieg’s departure and the end of the year in 1863. c) Fall Creek must have obtained a pastor not long after Krumsieg’s departure, since Strieter goes on to talk about another trip there in early April 1864 to conduct an investigation into the accusations against their pastor, a trip for which there is evidence in his records. That means that there had to be time for the new pastor to get settled in Fall Creek and for the relationship between him and his new congregation to deteriorate. Finally, d) Declaring God’s Glory speaks of two trips Strieter made, and there is evidence of two trips in his records – one in 1860 and one in 1864, but none in 1863. The only discrepancy between what he shares here and his records is that he goes on to mention how “the sand was so hot” against his bare feet on the final leg of his return trip, so that he finished the trip in stocking feet, which hardly seems possible in a Wisconsin November. Perhaps the conclusion of this trip got jumbled with another one in his memory, or perhaps it was an abnormally warm November day.

27 For this final trip, Strieter records 5 baptisms he performed in Fall Creek on Sunday, April 3, 1864, after baptizing the son of his neighborlady on Tuesday, March 29. Thus he departed on or around Wednesday, March 30.

28 Most likely the evening of Friday, April 1

29 Ottomar Fuerbringer (1810-1892) was president of the Northern District of the Missouri Synod from 1854-1872 and from 1874-1882.

30 The preacher under investigation remains a mystery, though someone with more time and ambition could doubtless discover his identify. Even the 150th anniversary book for St. John, Fall Creek, does not mention any preacher between Theodore Krumsieg and Wilhelm Julius Friedrich. The latter preached his first sermon in Fall Creek later that year on August 7 and was ordained and installed on October 2.

31 A visitor was akin to a circuit pastor today. He was answerable to the district president and responsible for visiting the pastors in his area.

32 On Monday, April 4

33 The printer misread herumlaufenden for Strieter’s herumstreichenden.

34 On Tuesday, April 5

35 That is, boiling maple sap down to syrup

36 On Wednesday, April 6

37 Strieter’s spelling of Moldehnke. See endnote 39 below.

38 On Thursday, April 7

39 Pastor Eduard Moldehnke of the Wisconsin Synod made three well-documented mission trips between 1861 and 1862, but in none of these does he mention stopping or preaching near Menomonie. However, at the 1863 Wisconsin Synod convention, President Johannes Bading reported that “during the course of spring [1863], journeys were also made in Minnesota and four stations were visited. Furthermore 14 new stations were established in western Wisconsin, so that altogether 22 stations in Wisconsin and Minnesota are being served by the traveling preacher.” At that same convention, it was resolved to release Pastor Moldehnke from his position so that he could serve as instructor of the seminary-college to be started in Watertown. Pastor Moldehnke agreed to the new position, provided he be given three more months to wind up his traveling preacher activities, which was granted. After 1863, Moldehnke appears only to have made one more trip in 1866, since it was reported to the synod convention that year that Moldehnke had spent several months in Minnesota as a traveling preacher. So the congregation mentioned by Strieter here most likely did not have to relay Strieter’s message.

40 On Friday, April 8

41 Strieter records baptizing 4 children in Durand on this day – Christian Lorenz Kuhn, August Wilhelm Zeising, Wilhelm Heinrich Wetterroth, and Anna Elisabeth Catenhusen.

42 On Saturday, April 9. Strieter’s two baptisms “by Mondovi” were of Johann Ludwig Heinrich Machmeyer and Heinrich Schreiner.

43 The printer misread buntes for Strieter’s blaues.

44 This is not exactly proper language about baptism. Baptism is a one-sided covenant in which God does all the acting, not a two-sided covenant. In baptism God saves us (Mark 16:16; Titus 3:4-5; 1 Peter 3:20-21), forgives our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), clothes us with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), makes us heirs of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7), and makes a pledge to us that we will have a good conscience before him (1 Peter 3:21). This of course does not benefit us apart from faith in Christ (Mark 16:16), but the responsibility for the loss of faith lies with us, not with God. Strieter does allude to this proper view of baptism when he calls baptism a “covenant of grace,” which it cannot be unless it is one-sided. The language of two-sidedness crept into Lutheranism over time, especially in trying to describe the purpose of the confirmation rite, which is not instituted or commanded in Scripture. One faulty explanation of confirmation is that it is a renewing of our baptismal covenant, which we cannot in fact renew, since we had no part in making the covenant in the first place.

45 Strieter appears to be faltering a bit in his memory here. He did baptize 4 children in the town of Brunswick in Eau Claire County on April 9, but they were not all girls, and the baby’s name was not Trude. He baptized Anna Louise Wüst (b. September 6, 1856), Amalie Caroline Wüst (b. November 13, 1857), and Carl Friedrich W. Wüst (no birthdate given) – all children of Johann and Maria (Damas) Wüst – and also Marva Peisch (b. November 22, 1863), the daughter of Johann and Amalie (Würtenberger) Peisch. The similar experience he had in Berlin actually occurred less than a month later, on May 1, when he baptized 4 daughters of August and Barbara (Ander) Schipinsky – Pauline Wilhelmine (b. December 14, 1852), Emilie Clara (b. May 17, 1854), Louise Wilhelmine (b. October 14, 1855), and Anna Friederike (b. May 29, 1860).

46 The German in Strieter’s manuscript is difficult here. I have followed Leutner’s abridgment. Strieter’s manuscript reads (to the best of my ability, trying to discern what was later crossed out): “…der führt mich zu einer Wittwe [sic], die einzigen [sic] Lutheraner im [in? ein?]”, followed by a large space, followed by a word that starts with an S, but is indiscernible because of the lines stricken through it and the attempted corrections written over the top of it. Whatever the case, Strieter appears to have faltered here to one extent or another, since his records indicate he did baptize 2 children in Eau Claire on Sunday, April 10.

47 Strieter’s spelling of Reads Landing, Minnesota, on the western shore of the Mississippi River where the Chippewa River empties into it

48 This sentence was omitted by the printer.

49 Strieter appears to have concluded his investigation/mission trip on Tuesday, April 12 – nearly two weeks away from home.

[Read the next part here.]

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. —

Endnote

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

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Johann Jacob Hoffmann

[Continued from Part 27. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Hardships and Happenings (continued)

I wrote to Professor Crämer for an assistant. He replied that he was sending me J. J. Hoffmann. He said that he was still young and unsteady [leicht angelegt]; he was not yet able to be independent. He needed to work under me for at least another year yet, and I was supposed to keep a good eye on him.

J. J. Hoffmann

J. J. Hoffmann

Hoffmann came.17 An impressive, youthful person, very gifted. I liked him a lot. But soon I notice that he is a light character. His favorite was idling away the time in the kitchen with the wife and the maid. I had him preach at Tagatz’s and told the congregation that this was my assistant. We would do the work together. He would work especially in Big Bull, but would also preach here, and I would go back up to Big Bull from time to time. Were they quite alright with that? They gave a unanimous “Yes.”

I now bought Fanny, a 5-year-old dark chestnut, a beautiful animal, for 120 dollars, a high price at the time and I had to pay in gold18 coin. But I obtained it on a one-year loan, and with zero interest. I now gave Hoffmann my good Rocky for 80 dollars, the price he cost me,19 also on a loan without interest, and for as long as it took him to get the money. I did that because Fanny was no riding horse, but was a fine runner in the buggy, easily trotting 12 miles an hour.

I now say to Hoffmann that he should go up to Big Bull and should stay 14 days and come back home. He went and came back after 14 days. I had him preach again at Schmidt’s. After the sermon he asked me on the way home how I had liked his sermon. On the previous Friday I had already given him Luther to study. But he soon set the book aside and went to find my wife and conversed with her, and not until Saturday evening did he jot a little bit down. I told him in answer to his question: “For sheer words, I have no idea what you said. Hoffmann, you’re going to turn into a miserable babbler this way. Why don’t you leave your studies of Greek and French” – for he had told me he was pursuing those – “and read Luther, so that you can preach something decent?”

He hung his head.

Corner of what is today Naugart Drive and Berlin Lane, c. 1909. The frame schoolhouse on the right replaced the original log schoolhouse where Hoffmann was called and organized the first Lutheran congregation in the area on March 11, 1861.

Corner of what is today Naugart Drive and Berlin Lane, c. 1909. The frame schoolhouse on the right replaced the original log schoolhouse where Hoffmann was called as pastor and helped organize the first Lutheran congregation in the area, behind Strieter’s back, on March 11, 1861.

He went back to Big Bull, soon comes back, and said that he had had them call him as an independent pastor.20 I ask him how he could dare do that behind my back? Didn’t he know that the congregation belonged to me? I also now told him what Crämer had written me. He apologized to me. I now had to put a good face on the bad affair and install him.21 The man also came to a sad end. My dear old Strassen,22 long time president of the Wisconsin District of the Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, can sing a sad song about Hoffmann. So can the dear Dr. Schwan, president of the synod at large at the time.23

Translator’s Postscript on J. J. Hoffmann

Just what the lyrics for the “sad song about Hoffmann” would say is difficult to surmise, in large part because the Concordia Historical Institute does not have any collection for Carl Strasen, and H. C. Schwan destroyed most of his correspondence before he died. What we know is as follows:

Johann Jacob Hoffmann (usually referred to by his middle name) was born on June 12, 1840, in Kuehndorf, Prussia, to Johann Valentin and Maria Christiane (Hohmann) Hoffmann. He was one of 17 children. He immigrated with his family to the United States around 1845 when he was around five or six years old. They lived for a while in Buffalo, New York, where his father worked as a tailor. Eventually the Hoffmanns moved to Michigan, where Jacob’s father farmed until his death.

Jacob began his studies for the public ministry of the gospel in Buffalo, then continued and finished them at the seminary in Fort Wayne. He was sent to serve as an assistant to Pastor Strieter in Marquette County early in 1861, where he was ordained on February 17. On March 11, the Lutherans in the town of Berlin northwest of Wausau called him to be their pastor and he accepted. As Strieter notes, this was somewhat rash on his part, but Strieter installed him on August 25. From his base in the town of Berlin, he served at least 20 preaching stations, traveling even as far as rural Neillsville, and making a mission trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1864.

Eduard Moldehnke

Eduard Moldehnke

In a December 2, 1861, report to the Johannes Bading, president of the Wisconsin Synod, traveling missionary Eduard Moldehnke wrote of a chance meeting with Hoffmann in Wausau on September 23, during a mission trip to the area. Moldehnke reported:

On September 23, I traveled 35 miles by stagecoach to Wausau, a village surrounded by a ring of black stumps. It has a charming location on the Wisconsin River and is basically the last village in that direction. I arranged to stay at the home of Mr. Paff. In the evening I preached to about 30 people. Earlier I had just so happened to meet a Missouri man, Hoffmann. He would like to live there, but the people are rejecting him. He has a congregation in the bush about 10 miles from Wausau, but he hurries by horse to about 30 stations and fails to accomplish anything substantial by splintering his efforts this way, meager as they already are. He was very rude to me, even though he is only about 21 years old. Naturally I repudiated his attacks, though too mildly, I fear. … With his domineering manner Hoffmann has caused scandal everywhere he’s preached. Even some in his own congregation would gladly be free of him. So he preached in Wausau in a private home and when Mr. Paff asked him how he managed to preach there without permission, he said that he was a preacher and had the right to preach anywhere, and so on.

On January 20, 1862, Jacob was united in marriage with Johanne Rosinalde Erneste von Anschuetz (in records, Jacob referred to her as Rosine or Rosa for short) by Rev. Friedrich Lochner in Milwaukee. Rosine was 18. God blessed their marriage with 11 children:

  1. Ernst August Wilhelm, b. October 7, 1862
  2. Johann Valentine Ernst, b. March 31, 1864
  3. Johann Jacob Ernst, b. December 10, 1865
  4. Ernst Georg Heinrich Martin, b. December 10, 1865
  5. Clara Renata Coeleste, b. January 13, 1868
  6. Theophilus Oscar Ernst, b. July 2, 1869
  7. Adolphe August Ernst, b. August 28, 1871
  8. Otto Wilhelm Ernst, b. January 15, 1874
  9. Eduard Oscar Arthur, b. December 31, 1875
  10. Wilhelm Philipp Ernst, b. August 18, 1878
  11. Harry Hubert, b. November 1, 1882

The first nine Hoffmann children had 6, 6, 8, 6, 8, 5, 7, 5, and 9 sponsors, respectively, including six different pastors and a schoolteacher. Rosa was a capable and intelligent mother, teaching her children in the evenings.

Hoffmann accepted a call to St. John’s in Portage in February 1867. There he took pride not only in preaching but also in teaching, writing in the back of their record book, “My attention was directed at the school above all.” When he began teaching in June of 1867, there were 22 children. By 1868 the congregation had erected a new schoolhouse and there were 75 children. At the dedication of the school in December, Pastor Hoffmann read a document he had composed in which he boasted of his accomplishments. In his concluding remarks he said:

I sincerely and earnestly ask that every father please send his children punctually and consistently each day when school is being held. I beg that every father please buy his children the necessary chalk tablets and books. I furthermore ask that every father please punctually pay the trivial amount for exercise books, ink, and quill pen, which I supply the children myself, just as I do the German books. That way they will come by them fairly and will always be provided with what they need.

One more note in closing: I will do my best to continue to hold school in the future as much as possible. I will also continue to do my best to do it as well as possible. I will do my best to teach every child what is necessary and beneficial at the proper time. But I ask you trust me enough to assume that I must know what is most necessary and what a child needs to learn first. Nevertheless, everyone may make his wishes known to me, and if they are acceptable, I will take them into consideration.

This excerpt is part of a 9-page feature that he wrote about himself in the back of St. John’s record book, after having devoted just over 1 page to all of his five predecessors combined.

St. John’s 150th anniversary booklet says that 1870 was a stormy time in the history of the congregation, supposedly owing to “great opposition to strict biblical practices.” It also reports that Pastor Hoffmann resigned “‘for the sake of peace’ and with broken health” sometime around the middle of July 1872. He appears to have moved to East Tawas, Michigan, near Tawas City. (This may have been where his parents were living.)

Hoffmann then accepted a call to St. Paul’s in Sheboygan Falls and St. John in Plymouth, Wisconsin, at the end of 1872 and was installed in January of 1873. His firstborn son Wilhelm died on June 4, 1873, at 3:30 p.m. from fever and smallpox. He was 10 years old. In recording his son’s death in the records, Hoffmann called him “a gem of a Lutheran and a gem of a Missourian.” It was probably not long before or after this that his second son Ernst, at age 9, fell down the cellar and broke his leg below his hip, which crippled him for life. What effect these tragedies had on Hoffmann’s psyche is not known.

In June of 1878, the 150th anniversary book for St. John, Plymouth, reports that Hoffmann went on a missionary tour through the Lake Superior region for several weeks. “Adverse reports occasion the resignation of Pastor Hoffmann from the Sheboygan Falls-Plymouth parish in November.” In the record book for St. Paul, Sheboygan Falls, Hoffmann made his final entry in the Confirmation section as follows:

On the 23rd of November, 1878 [a Saturday], the following children were confirmed by me in the Lutheran church in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, and admitted to the Holy Supper, by special, fervent request on the part of the children:

  1. Johann Jacob Ernst Hoffmann, born December 10, 1865 [12 years old]
  2. Ernst Georg Heinrich Martin Hoffmann, born December 10, 1865 [12 years old]
  3. Clara Renata Coeleste Hoffmann, born January 13, 1868 [10 years old]

The two twins had already finished confirmation instruction in 1875, and again in 1877, and had thoroughly learned all of Dietrich’s [edition of Luther’s] Catechism at that time. The girl had also taken part in all of the confirmation instruction in 1877 and had learned well the chief questions and all the passages in Dietrich’s Catechism. — All three of them were, as far as knowledge is concerned, some of the best of the confirmands, and just because of their young age had stay back from the Holy Supper, which all three of them have already desired most passionately. Therefore I was no longer able to refuse them given the situation. — God bless them in time and eternity. Amen. J. Jacob Hoffmann, Pastor.

A note was later added in the margin by Hoffmann’s successor:

J. J. Hoffmann was already deposed [from his office as pastor] at the time and consummated the action [of confirmation] without witnesses. J. M. Hieber

The following “Announcement and Warning” appeared in the July 15, 1879, edition of Der Lutheraner:

The Northwestern District of the Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States hereby announces that J. J. Hoffmann, formerly pastor at Sheboygan Falls and Plymouth, Wisconsin, is no longer to be regarded as one of your own. He has been officially dismissed from his position because he has occasioned much scandal and offense by his conduct, in spite of all our admonition.

Representing the above-named synodical district
C. Strasen, President

Later reports from the The Lutheran Witness place him in New Orleans spreading slanders against the Missouri Synod and its leadership and ministering to a French Lutheran mission congregation. In 1882 he accepted a call back to Wisconsin, to serve some of the same members he had previously served. This occasioned a lasting split among the Lutherans in the area and the founding of Grace Lutheran Church in the town of Maine. Hoffmann served in the area until 1885. From 1890-1895 he served in Sheboygan and was unaffiliated with any synod. He appears to have returned to New Orleans in 1895, but he drops off the radar after 1897. By the time eight Lutheran congregations northwest of Wausau celebrated a joint 50th anniversary in 1910, the Wausau Daily Record-Herald reported that Hoffmann was deceased.

All of these pieces are part of the “sad song about Hoffmann” that Strasen and Schwan could sing once upon a time. There does not appear to have been one super-scandal that ruined Hoffmann’s ministry. Rather, his life and ministry seem to have been characterized by a steady buildup of headstrong activity. He thought of himself more highly than he ought to have (cf. Romans 12:3), craving attention, recognition, and praise, and wanting always to do things his own way, without concern for what his brothers in the ministry thought or what his members thought, whom he probably perceived as being ignorant and uninformed by comparison. He also seems to have been lacking in people skills. His knowledge, skill, and energy are undeniable, but so are his arrogance, lovelessness, and folly.

Endnotes

17 From the “Church News [Kirchliche Nachrichten]” section of the March 19, 1861, issue of Der Lutheraner: “Mr. J. Jacob Hoffmann, candidate for the holy preaching ministry [des heil. Predigtamtes], was recently sent to me from Fort Wayne as an assistant and, after receiving a call, he was ordained by me and solemnly bound to all the symbols of our church on Invocavit Sunday, the 17th of M., at the behest of the Mr. President of the Northland District. — J. Strieter. Address: Rev. J. Jacob Hoffmann, Stone Hill, Marquette Co., Wisc.” (p. 23). The “M.” was either a mistake by Strieter or a misprint by the editor of Der Lutheraner. Invocavit Sunday fell on February 17 in 1861, not March 17.

18 “or silver” was crossed out in lead and then in ink.

19 Strieter had traded a 60-dollar horse for Rocky, plus paid another 20 dollars.

20 A document has been preserved, titled “Formation of the Congregation in the Town of Berlin, Marathon County, Wisconsin,” apparently authored by the August Schmidt mentioned later in this footnote. It reads in part: “After the Lutherans in the vicinity of Wausau had asked Mr. Pastor J. Strieter from the towns of Newton, Christal [sic] Lake, and Shields, Marquette County, Wisconsin, to visit them and he had refreshed them with the word of God 3 times, Pastor Hoffmann, formerly a student at the seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and assistant pastor of the aforementioned congregations, came to these people, and after he traveled through the area, a meeting for the purpose of founding a congregation was held on March 11, 1861, the proceedings of which are inserted here:

Proceedings of the congregational meeting for the towns of Berlin and Stettin, Marathon County, Wisconsin, assembled in the district schoolhouse near Mr. Heinrich Beilke on March 11, 1861.

The meeting was opened by Mr. Pastor Hoffmann with prayer. Mr. Friedrich Krentz was elected president, and Mr. August Schmidt was elected secretary. — After Mr. Pastor Hoffmann was given an explanation of his compensation…he was unanimously called by the following persons, who hereby organized themselves as an evangelical Lutheran congregation, to conduct the ministry among them according to the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church…” This is followed by the names of 58 adult males, not including the secretary himself, for a total of 59. The location of the district schoolhouse mentioned here (a log building at the time) is today occupied by an empty, unused brick schoolhouse on the southeast corner of Naugart Drive and Berlin Lane.

21 From the “Church News [Kirchliche Nachrichten]” section of the September 17, 1861, issue of Der Lutheraner: “Today, namely on the 13th Sunday after Trinity [August 25], Mr. Pastor J. Jacob Hoffmann, my former assistant preacher, after first being issued a call, was installed by me into his congregation by Wausau at the behest of the most honorable presidium of the Northern District. May the Lord make him a blessing for many. The address of the dear brother is: Rev. J. JACOB HOFFMANN, Box 38, Wausau, Wisc. — J. Strieter” (p. 23).

22 Strieter’s spelling of Strasen, i.e. Karl Johannes August Strasen (1827-1909), pastor in Watertown, Wisconsin, and president of the Northwestern District from 1875-1880 and of the Wisconsin District from 1880-1885.

23 Namely, at the time Hoffmann was ejected from the synod in 1879. H. C. Schwan was president of the Missouri Synod from 1878-1899.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: In Search of a Horse

[Continued from Part 25. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Hardships and Happenings (continued)

I would also like to say something about my horse:

As soon as I arrived in Injunland, I bought my Charley from a Catholic for 60 dollars. Since I had no money though, dear [Mr.] Bucholz put up security until I could pay. The brute was very nasty though. The moment he was hitched up he would want to take off, and Mama and the maid would have to hold him, one on each side, until I was in the buggy. As soon as they let go, away he went! If I restrained him, then he would immediately rear up. If I let him run, then he would run for all he was worth for two miles or so. He also proved his nastiness by darting to the side at every stone or stump, and right after that he would take off blindly – it could be in any direction – and would do so as quick as lighting.

He soon had to pay for his nastiness, or rather I did, for he got the heaves on me and began to limp with his front leg. Now he behaved; I could let him stand wherever I wanted without tying him up. But a lame horse would not suit me.

I drove to Big Bull. There I turned in at an innkeeper’s place,4 later too. The gentleman was uncommonly friendly towards me, never would take any pay from me, and I always had to eat with him at the family table. I drove to Wausau and from there out into the bush. I stopped at the first farmer’s place and held church.5 That night it rained heavily, and now my buggy was finished. The man took it apart, loaded it onto his wagon, drove it back to Wausau, put it back together, and I left.

When I come back to my innkeeper in Steven’s Point, whose name was Everay,6 I complain to him about my trouble with my lame horse. He says, “I think I can help you,” and leads me into his stable and shows me a black mare, supposedly 8 years old, strongly built. He says, “Let’s try harnessing her to your buggy.” We get on and drive around in the city. “She supposedly balks,” he says. But the animal travels as nicely as can be. “Alright,” says my innkeeper, “continue on your way now. If she goes, then you’re taken care of; if she doesn’t, then bring her back and I’ll make everything right.”

I take off. My horse travels fine. Midday arrives. I drive over to the shade of a nearby leafy tree and give my Kate oats in the pail that I had with me. In a few minutes she has the half pailful gone. I put the bridle on and take my seat, but my horse won’t take one step. I get down and grab it at the head and pull it along after me. Not far ahead of me lies a village, I believe it was called Plainfield. I think, “You should leave the buggy there, ride back and get your lame Charley back.”

I arrive at the lodging yard, take the harness off, put the buffalo on the horse’s back and start to ride back. “Wait,” I thought, “this simply won’t work. You made arrangements with M. T. to bring you to Ripon tonight. You’re going to the synod convention in St. Louis.”7 I turn around, put the harness back on, hitch up, and start pulling my Kate along after me again. I come to a small grove, take my seat in the buggy again, hang my head, and consider the miserable predicament I’m in. Kate hangs her head too and goes to sleep. I quietly grab my whip, lash her a good one under the belly and yell, “Gid up!” She lurches forward, runs like mad, and I head home on the run.

My [Mr.] T. is already there. I tell my wife about my trade and tell her that she should now drive with the horse every day; perhaps we’d get it in shape. I eat, take my traveling bag, and take off for Ripon, 30 miles. There I get on the [train] cars for St. Louis. My wife writes, “I drive every day. Your horse travels fine.” I come home. Then she tells me, “M. T. came and wanted to go somewhere with Kate. I let him have her, then she balked. He goes and stands in front of her and tries to hit her. Then she goes off on him, tears his coat up and tries to attack him with her front feet so that he has to crawl underneath a bush8 for protection, and now she won’t go for me any more either.”

I hitch her back up, but nope, she won’t budge. I put the saddle on and ride to Steven’s Point. There I hear that Everay is outside of town on his farm. I go and find him and tell him what the deal is. He shows me a pony, white, somewhat yellowish, with black mane and black tail, a fat fellow. Rocky is his name. He says, “He goes, and is a fine riding horse. Give me 20 dollars for him.” He writes a bill with a pencil; I sign and get up on Rocky and take off.

Oh, how fine he gallops, how thrilled I am, how I thank God for my little horse! Now I was taken care of; now I can drive and ride, and my wife and children are delighted with the handsome, nice Rocky. I now do a lot of riding and read my Luther on my Rocky. When he gallops, it’s like I’m sitting in a rocking chair.

Endnotes

4 Strieter left on Monday, October 1, 1860, stayed in Stevens Point that night, and stayed in Wausau the night of October 2. See next endnote.

5 Strieter held church for the first time in the Wausau area on Wednesday, October 3. He also baptized eight children that day. The farmer appears to have been Carl Kufahl, who lived on the northeast corner of what is today the intersection of County Road A and N 72nd Avenue. (Today this site is the parking lot for Schmidt’s Ballroom Bar and Grill.) He later donated some of his property for the site of Immanuel Lutheran Church. The front page of the August 15, 1910, edition of the Wausau Daily Record-Herald records some of the reminiscences Strieter shared six years after penning this autobiography, when he returned to the Wausau area for a 50th anniversary celebration shared by eight Lutheran congregations: “I took my horse and buggy and drove to ‘Big Bull’ but before I reached this hamlet, my buggy was all in pieces. The road was full of holes and my horse became lame. With the help of some of the earlier pioneers whom I met enroute and who had heavier teams and wagons, I safely reached ‘Big Bull.’ But here [in Wausau] there was no one. It was impossible for me to preach the gospel at a place where scarcely anybody lived. I remember a man who had a store near the river, I believe his name was Kickbusch, where I stayed over night. The next morning I went to the town of Berlin, where a large number of people gathered in various homes and listened to my preaching.” There was doubtless some error in transmission from German to English, and Strieter may have grown fuzzier in some of the details, but this does appear to supplement what he shares in his autobiography here. His buggy probably was starting to fall apart already before he headed out “into the bush,” and he did almost certainly stay with a man named Kickbusch on October 2 – August Kickbusch, to be exact, who had arrived from Milwaukee earlier in 1860 and had opened a store in a little shanty on Clarke’s Island (Marchetti, op. cit. [endnote 16 here], p. 127). Clarke’s Island today is primarily occupied by Big Bull Falls Park beneath the Stewart Avenue Bridge.

6 In his manuscript, Strieter spells it Evreÿ here, then Evrÿ and Evry later. The editor corrected it to Everey here and Everay later. The printer consistently printed Everay.

7 The 1860 synod convention in St. Louis was held from Wednesday, October 10, to Saturday, October 20.

8 The book mistakenly printed Tisch (table) for Busch.

[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.

Endnotes

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: Ministry Expansion

[Continued from Part 23. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Wisconsin (conclusion)

I was not able to spend a lot of time teaching school, for I was in the saddle, on the buggy, or in the sled pretty much day and night, but I adapted my instruction to cover school subjects as much as possible. I obtained a young teacher from Fort Wayne, Lossner. When he went to C., Dress came. I fixed one up myself, my dear F[erdinand] R[öske],23 whom I instructed and confirmed privately with his older brother. He lived with me at home. —

St. Paul Lutheran, Naugart, with Pomeranian Settlement Historical Marker in foreground. Copyright 2012 Red Brick Parsonage. The brick schoolhouse in the background is no longer in use, but marks the location of an original log schoolhouse where Pastor Strieter preached and where the first Lutheran congregation was officially formed in 1861. The white house in the background once served as the Naugart post office from 1886-1940.

St. Paul Lutheran, Naugart, 14 miles northwest of Wausau, with Pomeranian Settlement Historical Marker in foreground. Copyright 2012 Red Brick Parsonage. The brick schoolhouse in the background is no longer in use, but marks the location of an original log schoolhouse where Pastor Strieter preached and where the first Lutheran congregation in the area was officially formed in 1861. The white house in the background served as the Naugart Post Office from 1886-1940.

One day my neighborlady [Mrs.] K[ohnke] came to me with an old woman. It was her mother from Big Bull. Way up behind Wausau flows the Wisconsin River. Above Wausau it has a falls, which the log drivers called Bull; near Wausau yet another falls, which they called Big Bull; further down yet another, which they called Grandfather Bull. So the location of Wausau acquired the name Big Bull. No one called it anything else. When I wrote, I addresssed Big Bull and it got there fine.24 The old mother told me that up there behind the village, in the woods, 10 to 20 miles in circumference, there were many people living, Pomeranians, who had no pastor. The Pomeranians say Pastor. Three years ago already their pastor had left them and had gone to run a sawmill, so I should come up to them too. I promise her I will and now go to Big Bull too.25

Every time I made the trip there in two days, and in two back again, 120 miles to the first preaching station. I made it to Steven’s Point the first day. The second, all the way there. If I couldn’t reach Wausau, then I headed to the first preaching station bright and early in the morning. Preached at many stations in schoolhouses and residences, usually 9 times during the week, distributed the Supper and baptized. Preached also in Steven’s Point.26

One time I received a very nice letter in which I was asked if I would also preach to them sometime. I said I would and set a time. On the appointed day a person comes on foot and gives the impression that he is the writer of the letter – a man, single, in his thirties or so. He absolutely refused to eat with us. I hitch up and bid him have a seat, but he does not want to. He goes along in front of me for 15 miles or so. How often I stopped and urged him to have a seat, but no sir.

We were heading towards Portage. Finally we go past a lake on an elevation. Down there in the valley stands the schoolhouse. His older brother, a widower, approaches me and calls out, “Welcome, sir, you who are blessed by the Lord” [cf. Genesis 24:31]. I get down and go into the house. The runner makes a good meal, and now we head into a neighboring house for church. After church I ask if I should come back, but the runner says he that he will write again. They must not have been pleased with me.

On the way home my escort has to check on his fires on his land that had to be cleared. In the meantime the older brother opens up a large trunk and shows me his brother’s books, pamphlets, and periodicals – Latin, Greek, etc., periodicals from Germany by Rudelbach,27 etc. – and tells me that his brother is very learned and that he learns everything on his own. But he forbade me from saying anything to his brother. About himself he said that he had to marry again, but an inner voice was telling him it had to be a young woman. They joined the Iowans,28 as I learned later. —

Many of my Injunlanders moved to Fall Creek, in the vicinity of Eau Claire. They wrote to me to come to them too. Went there often.29 Had to go 25-30 miles or so to Parteville30, then on the railroad to Toma31, then another 90 miles by stagecoach.

Endnotes

23 The printed book has H. R., and Strieter’s original manuscript appears to read H. K., but a comparison of Strieter’s description here to the records he kept and to what he says in the next chapter reveal that the young man in question is Wilhelm Ferdinand Röske, born on May 7, 1844, and confirmed with his older brother Carl Friedrich Jr. (b. May 27, 1841) on October 31, 1863. Their parents, Carl Friedrich Sr. and Louise (Goethe) Röske, were from the town of Harris in Marquette County.

24 Strieter has these waterfalls backwards, though he has Wausau correct. According to Louis Marchetti in his History of Marathon County Wisconsin and Representative Citizens (Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., 1913), quoting a July 1906 speech given by the Hon. John C. Clarke, who had come to Wausau in 1845: “The name of ‘Bull Falls’ which is attached to nearly all the rapids in the Wisconsin river, of which there are many, was given by the voyageurs of the American Fur Company, who in going north from Indian station, known as Dubay, heard a terrible roaring sound, which upon investigation proved to come from the falls at Mosinee, and they named them ‘Toro’ [Taureau, ‘Bull’]; moving north they found a larger rapids, and to them they gave the name of ‘Gros Toro’ [Gros Taureau, ‘Big Bull’]. Still further along they encountered the great falls, and these they named ‘Grand Pere Toro’ [Grand-père Taureau, ‘Grandfather Bull’]. From these names all the other falls have received the names they are known by” (p. 65). Today the location of Bull Falls is identified by the Mosinee Dam, of Big Bull Falls by the Wausau Dam south of Stewart Avenue, and of Grandfather Bull Falls by the Grandfather Dam about 14 miles north of Merrill along Hwy 107. As it relates to Wausau, this history is reflected today in businesses like Bull Falls Brewery and Big Bull Falls Landscaping and in the annual Big Bull Falls Blues Fest.

25 A careful examination of Strieter’s records and the records of his eventual assistant, J. J. Hoffmann, reveal Strieter’s neighborlady to be Johanne Henriette Kuhnke or Kohnke (née Krenz), and her mother to be Dorothea Sophie Anklam (née Lau; 1811-1890). Dorothea had been previously married to Johann Daniel Krenz, who had died around the early 1840s in Germany. She was 48 at the time she visited Strieter, and the Lutheran congregations northwest of Wausau are indebted to her for their existence. Her husband August Anklam and her son Friedrich Krenz ended up being founding members of the first Lutheran congregation northwest of Wausau, founded on March 11, 1861, and Friedrich was also elected the first president and provided the land for the first parsonage. Dorothea is buried in Big Hill Cemetery on County Road A next to Friedrich.

26 Some of the churches that still exist today as a result of Strieter’s ministry in rural Wausau and Stevens Point include: St. Paul Lutheran, Naugart (mailing address Athens; see picture above); Grace Lutheran, town of Maine (mailing address Wausau; branch-off congregation from Immanuel mentioned below); Trinity Lutheran, town of Berlin (mailing address Merrill); Faith Lutheran, town of Maine (mailing address Merrill; the result of a combination of St. John’s Lutheran, town of Scott, and Zion Lutheran, town of Maine, the cemeteries of which still remain); St. John’s Lutheran, town of Hamburg (mailing address Merrill); St. Peter Lutheran, Little Chicago (mailing address Marathon); and St. Paul Lutheran, Stevens Point. There used to be an Immanuel Lutheran, town of Maine, in the unincorporated community of Taegesville; it was relocated south to the town of Stettin in 1923 and now no longer exists. There also used to be a Dreieinigkeit (Trinity) Lutheran, town of Berlin, about two miles east of Little Chicago, whose cemetery, now called Friedenshain, remains. A red granite monument across from St. Paul, Naugart, just over one mile south of County Road F on Berlin Lane, commemorates the Pomeranian immigrants who settled the area.

27 Andreas Gottlob Rudelbach (1792-1862) was a Dano-German theologian who edited, among other things, the Zeitschrift für die gesammte lutherische Theologie und Kirche (Periodical for the Lutheran Church and Its Theology at Large) (1839ff.).

28 That is, the Iowa Synod, which had been founded in 1854. In 1930 it merged with the Ohio Synod and the Buffalo Synod to form what is now called the “Old” American Lutheran Church. In 1960 another merger produced the “New” American Lutheran Church, which in 1988 merged with two other church bodies to become the present-day Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

29 Today this is St. John Lutheran on County Road JJ south of Fall Creek.

30 Strieter’s spelling of Pardeeville

31 Strieter’s spelling of Tomah

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Strieter Autobiography: Announcing for Communion

[Continued from Part 21. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Wisconsin (continued)

The people had the custom of not standing around in front of the schoolhouse or residence, but of going inside and singing until I arrived. They had Bollhagen’s hymnal,12 which in the main part had our hymns more or less unaltered. It had several appendices that contained rationalistic hymns. One man told me, “Our preacher in Germany always had us sing from the second appendix.” That’s where the worst hymns were.13 I looked up all the hymns that were in our St. Louis hymnal14 and wrote the page number in Bollhagen’s hymnal on the side. I purchased hymnals from Barthel and sold them, and thus I brought our hymnal into use among the people. At first I would say, “In my hymnal, no. —, in Bollhagen’s, page —.”

The people sang well and knew all the melodies. It never happened to me once that we were unable to sing a hymn. Almost everywhere I had some men who would act as the precentor. I would begin, and some good singer would take it up. Then I would save my voice as much as possible.

One time I noticed over at Buchholz’s that every last person was standing in front of the church. (There they soon built a log church thatched with straw,15 and soon another one just like it at Donning’s.16) When I got there, someone said, “Father died the day before yesterday. Please give a funeral sermon before you go into the church.” I announce the hymn, “Who Knows When Death May Overtake Me,” and while they are singing, I think of a text for myself and what I am going to say.

Now with the Lord’s Supper I had some anxiety. My Stelter – he was an administrator [Vorsteher] and a very dear Christian – said, “When we were abroad, people announced for the Supper with the schoolteacher or with the custodian. No one went to the preacher.”

I think to myself, “Where do you even start?” I give a speech and show what the Lutheran custom is, namely to announce for the Supper beforehand with the pastor, and I show how necessary this is for me and them.

But the reply was, “We’re not used to that,” meaning that it wasn’t necessary either.

A former schoolmaster from Germany wanted to know where it stood in the Bible that you had to announce for the Supper. I had already cited the passages, “We are stewards” [cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1], and, “Do not throw your pearls to the sows” [Matthew 7:6], and now I also pointed to the passage, “Confess your sins to each other” [James 5:16]; they confessed their sins to John.17 He was quiet. But they still could not and would not see the necessity of the practice.18

I say, “But what then if it is absolutely necessary for me to say something to someone for the sake of my conscience?”

They reply, “Then just say it.”

I say, “In front of everyone?”

They say, “But of course!”

I say, “Fine, that’s what I’ll do.”

I allow every single person to give me his or her name, and I always write it down. When I held Lord’s Supper at Buchholz’s for the first time, I had 75 male and 75 female names in my book. After that I posed the following questions: Do you believe from the heart in Jesus Christ as your Savior? Do you believe that in the Lord’s Supper the true body and blood of Christ is eaten and drunk under bread and wine? Are you reconciled, and do you wish to partake of the Holy Supper as repentant sinners? These questions were answered Yes in chorus.

But it didn’t take long before it happened as I thought it would. One time I’m going home from Princeton and see how someone is unhitching his oxen from the cart and letting them drink and hitching them back up again, and he’s so drunk that he can hardly get it done. On Sunday there’s Lord’s Supper at W[arnke]’s. My man is sitting way in the back, but gives his name too.

I say, “But my dear man, I have something to say to you, sir. I saw you there completely drunk, did I not?”

He says, “Yeah.”

I say, “Does this happen with you at other times, sir?”

He says, “Yeah.”

I say, “You, sir, are a drunkard then. A drunkard cannot inherit the kingdom of God; God’s word condemns him [cf. 1 Corinthians 6:10]. He can only take the Holy Supper to his detriment.”

He says yeah, he was sorry and would amend his ways.

I say, “You, sir, must repent, sincerely, acknowledge your sin and hasten in faith with your sins to your Savior. Repentant, as a Christian, you must go to the Lord’s Supper.”

He says, “Yes, I will do that.”

I say, “I will give you the Lord’s Supper then, but I will be watching you to see whether you are serious about improving.”

Later, on the way home, a man is standing at the bottom of the little hill where I have to turn and he says, “Mr. Preacher, one moment!” I halt. He says, “I also want to go to the Supper. Will you take me, sir?”

I say, “You know my questions, sir. What is your position on them?”

He says, “I am not reconciled. My brother-in-law N. and I are mortal enemies and I would sooner go to hell than forgive him.”

“My dear man,” I say, “how then are you going to go to the Supper? Doesn’t the Lord say that if you do not forgive people their failings, then your heavenly Father will not forgive you yours either [cf. Matthew 6:15]?”

He says, “I know well that according to the teaching of Jesus I cannot go to the Supper.”

The Lord’s Supper is at B[uchholz]’s. After the names are recorded, a father stands up and says this: “Mr. Preacher, So-and-so and Such-and-such, my daughter and my son-in-law, have also announced, and they are at enmity with us.”

I ask the accused; they admit it. I say, “Then reconcile with each other immediately! All four of you step into the aisle and extend your hands in reconciliation.” They do so.

A mother stands up: “Mr. Preacher, So-and-so, my son, has also announced, and he’s a drinker. Please admonish him.”

I admonish him.

The Lord’s Supper is at T[agatz]’s. There I learn that [Mr.] H. doesn’t believe in any devil. He announces.

“Mr. H., is it true what I hear about you, sir, that you deny the existence of the devil?”

He says, “How can I believe that there is a devil, when no one has ever seen him?”

I say, “Sure someone has seen him – there in the wilderness [rf. Matthew 4:1-11]. Haven’t you heard about that yet, sir?”

He says, “Oh sure, but I can’t believe it.”

I say, “Then you do not believe God’s word, sir. Then you also cannot believe the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, so you cannot go to the Supper.”

In the course of time one administrator after another comes to me. They say, “Mr. Preacher, the people don’t like having you tell them their shame right to their face in front of everyone.”

I say, “That’s exactly what I suspected!”

I now present again how necessary it is to announce. This time they want to do it. I now say that I will set a day on which they should announce; for those far away I will hold it so that they can announce by my buggy before church. And that’s how it went. That’s how I got private confession and announcing for the Lord’s Supper going.

One time I’m going to B[uchholz’s] for announcement in the church. On the way someone calls to me, “Mr. Preacher, we would also like to go to the Supper. Will you write us down here?”

“Gladly.”

He says, “But the question is whether I am allowed to go?”

I say, “Why wouldn’t you be?”

He says, “Yeah, I am in conflict with my neighbor [Mr.] P, who let his cattle in my pasture. I told him about it, but to no avail. Then I sued him and he was judged guilty. But in front of the court he came up to me and socked me one in the face and went to the judge and laid 5 dollars down. I go to him later and confront him with his wrong, but he says, ‘I have paid for that.’”

I say, “If you have offered him reconciliation and he didn’t want it, then you, sir, can go to the Supper, but he cannot.”

I reach my destination. Sure enough! My [Mr.] P. comes and announces. I confront him with what [Mr.] M. said. He admits it, but also refers to his 5 dollars. I say, “Listen here, sir, you know better than that. You know that you cannot make up for your sins with 5 dollars. You must ask [Mr.] M. to forgive you.”

“I will not do that.”

I say, “Then you cannot go to the Supper either.”

He makes a sour face and leaves.

After the service the administrators are occupied with something else, and I come out of the sacristy with my basket. (I always had to bring everything with me.) My [Mr.] P is also still there and starts in: “Listen, you administrators, I have something to tell you. I am in conflict with [Mr.] M. To him he gives the Supper, but not to me.”

I now lay the matter before them. My administrators said, “The preacher did exactly right.”

Later a woman came and said, “Mr. P. has threatened that he’s going to give you a sound thrashing, sir. I would definitely watch out; he is a wild man.”

I say, “Did he say that to you, ma’am?”

She says, “Yes.”

I say, “Good, give him my regards and tell him that here under the hay is a small little gun, loaded and ready. If he should attack me in the woods like a murderous robber, I will shoot him stone dead.”

But he did not come.

Endnotes

12 Laurentius David Bollhagen (1683-1738) first issued his Heilige Lippen- und Herzensopfer einer gläubigen Seele oder Vollständiges Gesangbuch (Holy Offerings from the Lips and Heart of a Believing Soul or Complete Hymnal) in 1724 for use in public worship in Pomerania. It was reprinted several times after his death. In 19th century editions the first word was changed from Heilige to Heiliges (A Holy Offering…).

13 The second appendix contained such hymns as “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers” (Christian Worship 7), “The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us” (CW 10), “Come, Oh, Come, Life-Giving Spirit” (CW 181), “Alleluia! Let Praises Ring” (CW 241), and “Renew Me, O Eternal Light” (CW 471). Strieter, however, probably did not especially care for the strong representation in that section of Pietistic hymns and hymnwriters. And I am sure that hymn #1203, for example, made him positively shudder. Attributed to a certain J. P. v. Schult, it opens thus:

Jesus, come with your Father,
Come to me – I love you!
Come, O faithful Counselor of my soul,
Holy Spirit, take possession of me!
Let me, O triune Being,
Be selected as your dwelling.

This could perhaps be understood correctly in light of John 14:23, but by a) switching the perspective from Jesus’ third person to the first person of the singer, b) including the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus does not include in John 14, c) intensifying the language, and d) providing no theological context, it ends up conveying a message and giving an impression diametrically opposed to the truth Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:16.

14 The Kirchen-Gesangbuch für Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinden ungeänderter Augsburgischer Confession, first published in 1847, also colloquially known as “Walther’s hymnal.” Today it is also available in English.

15 Today this is Emmanuel Lutheran, Big Mecan (mailing address Montello), located at the corner of Evergreen Lane and Town Hall Road, just south of State Road 23. The church Strieter describes here was built in 1863 at what is today the east end of Emmanuel Lutheran Cemetery.

16 Today this is St. Paul’s Lutheran, town of Newton (mailing address Westfield), located at the corner of 10th Road and 11th Road.

17 Either Strieter was mistakenly thinking, either at the time or when recalling the incident later, that the passage was found in one of John’s epistles, instead of in James, or he was combining James 5:16 with 1 John 1:9 in his mind.

18 The practice of announcing with the pastor before partaking of the Lord’s Supper can trace its ancestry back to private confession, which in turn dates all the way back to around 250 AD in the Eastern Church. The Eastern Church historians Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen both relate that the office of penitentiary, a minister appointed for hearing private confessions, also thereby helped people to prepare to receive the Lord’s Supper (Socrates, Bk. 5, Ch. 19; Sozomen, Bk. 7, Ch. 16). The Bible nowhere explicitly necessitates private confession or announcing, but it does command us to examine ourselves before receiving the Supper and warns us of the consequences of treating the Supper lightly (1 Corinthians 11:27-32). Strieter was also correct to cite 1 Corinthians 4:1 and Matthew 7:6, which emphasize the pastor’s role in relation to the Lord’s Supper, namely to be a faithful administrator of it and not to knowlingly or willingly distribute it to those who are continuing in some sin. Many Lutheran churches in America today no longer practice announcing, probably due to the difficulty of putting it into practice in our fast-paced, busy society and in larger churches. However, there is usually still some form of registration required so that the pastor is able a) to take note of those planning to partake of the Supper and to speak to them beforehand or afterward if needed, and b) to keep track of whether or not any of his congregation’s members are failing to make use of the Supper.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Settling in Wisconsin

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

Wisconsin

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.

Endnotes

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).

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Marriage

[Continued from Part 17. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Into the Ministry (continued)

I went to live with [Mr.] T[heisen] in the small town and was treated like a lord there. In front was a large room, my table, my bed, and there I taught school to six children or so. One Sunday I would preach in Elyria and those from the South Ridge, two miles away, would come over here; the next Sunday church was there and those in Elyria went over there. After the sermon I would also give Catechism instruction.

I lived for my quarter-year at [Mr.] T[heisen’s] place in town. One time I was not feeling well. My host said he had a small, white powder that I should take. I take the powder and feel completely miserable. I need to go through the garden to the throne15, but get such pains there that I can’t even move. My hostess comes and calls, “Mr. Pastor, you’ve been in there so long. Why don’t you get dressed and we’ll get you out of there.” I pulled myself together and the mother and the girl bring me into the house and lay me on my bed.

No sooner do I lie down than I get the cramp in both calves, which pulls my flesh together in a clump. I yelled, and they rubbed. I yelled, “Get me a pail full of cold water!” The girl gets water, and I put both feet into the cold water and the cramp goes away. But I thought, “You are never taking that powder again.”

Later I lived at [Mr.] S.’s house over in the woods. They had a frame house. In the front they had a small, low addition, where they lived. Then the actual house. That had a large room and a bedroom. It had a fireplace, but no stove. The inside of the house was not “plastered [geplästert].” It was winter. When I would put wood on, she would come and douse it with water on me and say the chimney was starting to burn. My dear neighbor-lady, F., brought a bed. Not far from there was an old log schoolhouse in which I taught school. When I arrived in the morning, I first had to shovel out the snow. There was a stove there, but bad wood. They would bring the logs that had already sat in the water for ten years and saw them into blocks. I would split them and make a fire. But it did not want to burn. My little children came; I sat them around the stove and I stood behind them. The whole winter I never got one foot warm and I contracted a terrible head cold, which I didn’t get rid of until I was in Wisconsin. In the evening a number of folks would come and I taught them hymns for an hour [hielt Singstunde].

Mrs. S. was one short, angry little woman. She had two boys. The smaller one was terribly dumb and couldn’t grasp anything at all. The whole winter we taught the three letters a, b, c. She would help: “Jonnie, what’s this? Say a. What’s this? Say b. Now, what’s this?” – pointing back to a. He doesn’t know. “You Satan, won’t you just say it?” and she lays into him. The boy starts crying. Then she says, “No, no, my Jonnie, I will not hit you any more.” The boy rubs his eyes. “Jonnie, what’s this?” She tells him. “What’s this?” She tells him. Back to the first letter. He doesn’t know what it is. She lays into him again: “You Satan, won’t you just say it?” The boy starts crying loudly.

I go in there: “Ah, just leave the child in peace!” That’s how it went every day.

One time the husband was by the fire in the field and didn’t come right away. When she called him for dinner, she tried to smash his brains with the fire poker. He just barely got out of the way so that he avoided her blow.

A family came from Germany. The wife became frightfully homesick and lost her mind. I visited her regularly. With God’s help I get her straightened out again. I went to live with [Mr.] F. I stayed there longer than usual. There I had it nice!

I had a listener who always went to sleep on me during the service. As soon as the sermon started, his head would start to hang. He came to announce for the Lord’s Supper. I said, “But my dear man, you are always sleeping during the sermon.” He replied that he could not help it. I said, “Let me give you a good piece of advice, sir. Come to church with the thought, ‘Today I am going to hear for once what the pastor knows.’ Then, when you are there, pray really earnestly that our dear God would please drive the sleep away. And if it comes anyway, then bite yourself on the tongue, and make it a good one.” And sure enough, from then on my dear man was a very attentive listener. Later everything closed down there for a while.16 Jüngel was now Steinbach’s successor in Liverpool. He told me, “[Mr.] H. came to me and asked me to begin there again, because people had moved into the area. He wanted to have me picked up with the buggy and brought back home and he would give me five dollars every time.”

I said, “Wow, that is a lot! Why is he willing to do all that?”

“Yeah, he said, ‘Pastor Strieter sowed seed in my heart, and now it’s growing.’”

I also began preaching in Vermillion.17 Several families lived there. I also used to preach on the South Ridge. When I did, I ate at [Mr.] H.’s at midday and marched eighteen miles to Vermillion, preached in the evening and taught hymns for an hour, and on Monday and Tuesday I taught school to eight little children or so. Tuesday after school I walked my eighteen miles back down and taught school the rest of the week back on the South Ridge. My miller [Mr.] T[heisen]18 had no more work in Elyria and had to go looking for work. He moved with his family to Liverpool.

In the spring of 1853 I was ordained by Schwan. He preached on the Good Shepherd. It fit well, and I earnestly made up my mind to become a good undershepherd. Steinbach assisted.19

I now went to live with [Mr.] S. on the rotation. At his house, next to the main room, was a small room that was to be mine. I made a proper table and bought myself a water pitcher and a glass. The room smelled terribly bad; it had been the cat’s den for years. When I went to bed, I felt things crawling over my entire body. I got up. Everything was covered in red.20 I got dressed, then sat down at my table, and laid my head on the table. That’s how I carried on.

One day the wife said, “Don’t you go to bed, sir?”

I said, “There are bedbugs.” She and her daughter go at it and start washing, but it didn’t help a thing; I had to stay at the table. The family simply did not live well. I could not eat their bread. It was three fingers high and so hard that you could have used it as a projectile and smashed in a person’s brains. Each morning he ran into the small town to fetch some meat, but every time he brought the udder, which he got for free or for a few cents. That went into the water and was brought to the table together with the gravy when it was just tolerably well boiled. Luckily they always brought boiled potatoes [Pellkartoffeln] to the table. So I could at least peel off the skin and eat my potatoes with salt, and I also would drink some water. The potatoes and the water did not fill me up, however, and it started to take a terrible toll on me. When I went to my schoolhouse on the South Ridge, I would have to stop and rest several times. How often I stood behind my table and thought, “It’s time for you to go and tell your people, ‘I can’t go on like this any more,’” but I never actually did so; I just kept on toughing it out.

One time my dear Ph[ilipp] T[heiss] loaded me on his buggy and drove me to Steinbach. Along the way he started in, “Sir, I would like to have a word with you on a matter of special importance.”

I said, “Okay, what is it?”

He said, “You must marry, so that you can get away from the S. family; you are in death’s clutches there.”

I said, “What are you saying! Sixty dollars a year – and that’s not coming in – and moving around every quarter year?”

He said, “You are always preaching to us about trusting in God; you should also take your own preaching to heart and have trust in God. God is clearly showing you that you need to marry, otherwise you may as well resign. And now let me also tell you whom you’re going to marry; take Lisbeth.” In Vermillion lived a widow, Anna Kunigunda Ernst, with six little daughters.21 The oldest, Lisbeth, she had sent to the parochial school by Steinbach and to be confirmed by him, since there was nothing happening in Vermillion. After confirmation the mother sent her daughter to Elyria, so that she would have church and Catechism instruction, and she made her home away from home at T[heiss’s].

Before this I got a letter from my brother, who wrote that [Mr.] L. had told him that he should write to me and ask me whether I wanted his daughter M. for my wife. One tramp after another was coming inquiring after her, but he had promised my father that I should have his M. I wrote that I could not think about marriage at this time; if God wanted to have it, he would surely work it out. In the meantime M. should not be bound to me. After a year my brother wrote to me that M. had married and had died while giving birth to her first child. I would have had a rich wife, but I would not have kept her; thus God cares for us without us even knowing it. —

We came to Steinbach. When he looked at me, he clapped his hands together: “Man, what do you look like? Whose house are you at?”

I said, “At S.’s.”

He said, “That’s enough of that; you are in death’s clutches there. You need to marry, so that you can get away from there.”

I said, “Marry with sixty dollars a year? How am I supposed to provide for a wife like that?”

He said, “Our dear God, who has provided for you to the present, will then provide for you both.” He continued, “You’re taking Lisbeth.” I would have been happy to take her, but she was too young for me.

We rode home, but from Elyria we went straight to Vermillion in order to hold service there in the evening. [Mr.] T[heiss’s] brother, H. T[heiss], was in the forest cutting wood for ship-building. When he came home: “Are you still at S.’s, sir? One only need look at you to see it. In that sh—house22 death has you in its clutches! Get yourself away from there.”

I said, “Whereto?”

He said, “Marry someone. Take Lisbeth!” She was right above us.

I said, “And where do I go with her?”

He said, “To Mother Ernst. She has a house in Vermillion; you’ll be well taken care of there.”

I said, “There are three of all good things; this is from God!”23

Mother Ernst and her little daughters came to church. I preached and taught hymns for an hour. Afterward Lisbeth went into the adjoining room to practice the melodion. I now say to Mother Ernst, in the presence of H. T[heiss] and Ph[ilipp] T[heiss], what was said to me three times in succession. She says, “If you would like my Lisbeth, sir, I give her to you with a happy heart!” We call Lisbeth out of the room and the betrothal took place.

"I found [this wedding picture] in an anniversary program from St. John Lutheran Church in Elyria, Johannes' first call." - Winfried "Joe" Strieter (13 April 2015), a great-great-grandson of Johannes Strieter

“I found [this wedding picture] in an anniversary program from St. John Lutheran Church in Elyria, Johannes’ first call.” – Winfried “Joe” Strieter, a great-great-grandson of Johannes Strieter, in an email dated 13 April 2015

After a quarter-year I rode with my Lisbeth to Elyria via railroad. There I borrowed a horse from the livery stable and we drove to Steinbach. He married us. On the way home I wanted to hurry up and I cracked one on the horse with the whip. It lashes out in back and its leg goes over the shaft. I have to unharness in order to get my horse free. After a while I lash again and my horse also lashes again and, sure enough, over the shaft yet again. I note that the beast knows his stuff, and I now must drive step for step.

I forgot to mention something, that the judge in Elyria wouldn’t give me a marriage license. He asked whether the girl was eighteen. I said, “No!”

He said, “Since you are honest enough to tell me that, I must also be honest with you and tell you that I can only give you a license with the consent of her parents.” So I had to get her mother, who then told the gentleman that I should have her daughter. My wife, Lisbeth, was born in Brownhelm, not far from Vermillion, on August 24, 1838, and we were married on January 17, 1854. There was certainly no eighteen years between those two dates.24

Endnotes

15 German: Pabst. Pabst or Papst is the word for pope. In many Protestant regions zum Papst gehen (“go to the pope”) was slang for using the lavatory or, in this case, the outhouse, alluding to the papal throne.

16 Strieter here is telling a story that happened much later to illustrate how this conversation, and the sermons now attended to as a result of the conversation, bore fruit for this sleeping man, whom he identifies a couple sentences later as a Mr. H.

17 Strieter’s spelling of Vermilion, Ohio

18 The print edition mistakenly reads F. for T.

19 From the “Church News [Kirchliche Nachrichten]” section of the June 7, 1853, issue of Der Lutheraner: “Most Reverend Mr. President! Herewith I am supplying the report I owe you, that Mr. J. Strieter, formerly a pupil at the Fort Wayne seminary, after he had received an orderly call from the German evangelical Lutheran congregation in and around Elyria, Loraine County, Ohio, was, at the behest of the Vice President, ordained by me and at the same time solemnly bound to all the confessional writings of our church on April 6 in the presence of his congeregation and with Mr. Pastor Steinbach assisting. Our brother’s field of labor is small by outward appearances; may the Lord be pleased to compensate for that by making it that much more fruitful through his blessing! — H. C. Schwan. Cleveland, May 6, 1853” (p. 142).

20 Bedbugs

21 I am indebted to Susan Hawkins, a great-great-granddaughter of Johannes Strieter, for sharing with me a document titled, “Sketch of the Parents of the Ernst Girls (Elizabeth, Martha, Sopie, Anna, Sarah, Mary)” by Henry F. Rahe, son of Anna Ernst and Henry H. Rahe. He relates the following concerning Anna Kunigunda (or Kunigunde) Ernst: “Anna Kunigunde Wittich was born March 16, 1811 in Kreis Rothenburg, Bebra Hessen Germany. Her parents were well-to-do and she received a good education for those times. She had a command of a fine High German and later in America acquired a good English. She was a very fine seamstress and a past master in fine knitting and crocheting. … She had the misfortune to lose her mother by death. Her father married again and [Anna] did not get along very well with her stepmother. Some of her cousins…and some friends decided to come to the United States. She thought it would be fine to accompany them here and if she would not like America, she could return to Germany. They left Germany in March 1836. … From New York they went up the Hudson to Albany, thence by Erie Canal to Buffalo, and by lake boat to Cleveland. Just how [Anna] got to Vermillion I do not know. My supposition is that some of her countrymen were interested in boat building and she accompanied them to the busy little boat building center of Vermillion. One of the men, Philip Minch, became a big lake boat builder and vessel owner. … At Vermillion, Ohio is where the married life of happiness and trouble for Casper Ernst and Kunigunde Wittich commenced, was lived and ended. They were married in 1837 by a Justice of the Peace. … As stated before, [Anna] Ernst would or could not put up with the weakness of her husband and divorced him in 1848 or 1849.” Earlier in the sketch Mr. Rahe had written: “Grandfather [Casper] Ernst was a six foot tall, broad shouldered, good-looking man. He had black hair and was dark-skinned. He was easy going and good-natured but his weakness was drink. Knowing Grandmother [Anna] Ernst as I did, although I was rather young to form an opinion, the trouble was that Grandmother would not stand for his weakness… Grandfather Ernst bought about an acre of land in the center of Vermillion and built a fair-sized frame house on it. This property and some money he gave to his wife at the time of the divorce. … Grandfather Ernst died in 1850 at the early age of forty-two, of typhoid fever… He was buried in a Vermillion cemetery along Lake Erie. The cemetery has since been washed into the lake.”

22 German: S—haus. Carl rendered the word pigsty, but he was being polite; pigsty is Schweinestall or Schweinekoben.

23 Strieter is referring to the fact that he was told to marry Elizabeth Ernst three times that day, by three different men.

24 The math puts her at 15 years old at the time of her marriage to Johannes, who was 24.

[Read the next part here.]