Strieter Autobiography: Winter Trips to Wausau

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

Hardships and Happenings (continued)

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

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

“I have to go,” I say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He doesn’t say a word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The father aimed again and lowered the weapon again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 The inn in Plainfield he has already mentioned twice

16 The correct spelling appears to be Bursack.

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: 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

[Read the next part here.]

Strieter Autobiography: Counseling and Instructing

[Continued from Part 22. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Wisconsin (continued)

One time a woman asked me to stop by her place sometime; she had something to tell me about. I stop by. There she relates this: Over in Germany she had been a rich farmer’s daughter, and her husband had been her father’s servant, and because he was such a good person, she had fallen in love with him and suggested that they get married. But he had said, “Get that idea out of your head. Your father will not agree to it, and if he did agree to it, our wealth would come from you. I have nothing, and it is not good when the wife makes her husband rich. You are a hothead; you’ll fly off the handle at some point and rub it in my face.”

“So I promise him, ‘I will say nothing about it all my life.’

“I approach my mother and she approaches my father. ‘Good,’ said my father, ‘I will give you such and such an amount, then the two of you can move to America.’

“We got married. My father gave me money and we came to America and bought ourselves the land here. Just think, sir, I got annoyed over something recently and say to my husband, ‘You didn’t have anything but your jacket!’

“He doesn’t say a word, but shoots me a look. Oh, that look went right through my heart! If only he weren’t so good! But I have such a good man. He can go anywhere and while this one or that one comes home and has too much, mine never does. And he is so good to me and the children. And now I had promised him I would never rub it in his face, and I did it anyway. So do you think that God can forgive me my sin?”

I say, “First of all, you must apologize to your husband, ma’am, and he must first forgive you.”

She says, “Ah, I have already asked him for forgiveness many times, and he has said to me, ‘Just forget about it; everything is fine!’”

I say, “Good, now ask your dear God for forgiveness too.”

She says, “O how often I have done that!”

I say, “Okay, what more do you want? Now everything is just fine. Your husband has forgiven and God has forgiven, and you don’t need any forgiveness beyond that.”

She says, “Has God really forgiven me too?”

I say, “Why, in the Fifth Petition he says he has.”

Then she was happy. —

One time a man came to me with his wife and told me that his wife was going out of her mind. He had heard that such women should be given a good, sound beating, and should he try it once?

I say, “Of course not. How is that going to help? You must be kind, sir.”

I speak with the woman. She said that one child after another would die on her when it was born, and that was God’s punishment for her sins. I point her to her Savior and recite passages to her. She listens to it, but that’s it. I arrange to meet the man again and again. Finally have no idea what else to say. One day I had her in front of me again and asked her whether she really wanted to be saved.

“Oh yes!” she exclaimed.

I say, “Good, and God wants it too and affirms it with an oath [cf. Hebrews 6:13-20]. Now who’s going to prevent it?”

Suddenly she lifts up her head and looks at me beaming with joy and cries out, “That is true!” From then on she stayed happy.

Yes, when God’s hour has struck, he helps through a simple little word.

One time a man came and told me that his woman was a Jewess. They were not married yet and his girl, 12 years old, was also not baptized yet.

I say, “Come over and bring the woman along.”

He came. I start with Moses and the Prophets and prove to the woman that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah promised by the prophets and ask her what is her position on that. But she gave me no answer. He says, “Come on, talk to the preacher.” She remains stock-still.

I arrange to meet her again. She comes and I take her alone and start again and ask what she thinks, but she remains stock-still. If I talk about something else, she is very talkative. If I start talking about Jesus, her head turns to the ground and not a word. I cannot start anything with the woman.

I tell the man, “So I cannot marry you, sir, for the woman does not believe in Jesus, so I also cannot marry her in the name of Jesus. Go to the justice of the peace. Your child, though, I will instruct and baptize.” The child is sent to me and I instruct and baptize it in the presence of witnesses. The mother, however, did not show her face.19

While I’m on the subject of the Jewess, I will also add this: One woman asked me, “Mr. Preacher, your wife is a Jewess, is she not? She has such large, black eyes and such heavy, black hair.” —

I also had to deal with the musicians. Especially at weddings they knew how to have a good time. If it was going to be a proper one, it lasted three days and three nights. During that time there would be music-playing, dancing, and boozing. The performers were my churchgoers. One of them, a teacher from abroad, knew better than to go to the Lord’s Supper, but always went to church; the others – there were 4 of them usually – also went to the Supper. I speak with the musicians, but accomplish nothing except that they become defiant towards me. I thought, “You must put up with this for the time being.” But it didn’t take long before I just couldn’t give the performers the Supper any more in good conscience, but they still went to church and their wives also went to the Supper. Not just at weddings, but also at get-togethers things often got out of hand. I had to rebuke and to instruct; had much opposition from the flesh and often unpleasant confrontations. Ah, many sighs were sent to heaven, many tears were shed. My short impromptu prayer was always: “Comfort me once again with your help and let your joyful Spirit uphold me!” [Psalm 51:12].20

I did most of my studying when I was riding, driving, or sitting. I had Luther, the Erlangen edition, the German volumes, which I picked up cheaply in Euclid from one of Kühn’s members through Kühn’s negotiation. Luther’s House Postil was my constant companion, as well as another extra volume.21 I read my Luther, and my manner and method of preparing my sermon in my mind, as already noted, now came in very handy. First I would go through my Gospel, then I would run through my Luther, then I would outline, then I would think and organize, then I would preach in front of the group in question in my mind all the way from the first word to the last, and would then step confidently in front of my people. I never preached long.

For confessional services I used the Catechism exclusively, simply covering part for part in order, but I didn’t just preach outright, but asked a lot of questions, doing more catechesis and taking answers so that I would also know whether they understood it. Especially a former teacher [Mr.] F. answered me very often.

I did not labor in vain. Quite often it was expressed: “We never heard such sermons abroad.” Quite a few tears were cried; quite often there was grieving over the fleshly condition.

The people were not to blame, for they must have had miserable preachers – rationalists, hirelings, belly-servers,22 and babblers. You could tell from some of the things that were said. One man, Administrator B., was once asked to tell me that I should preach more humbly. I say, “I am constantly striving to be humble and am not aware of anything particularly arrogant in my sermons.”

He says, “Oh, that’s not what I meant. What I mean is this: Our preachers would often have the whole church in tears when they preached.”

“Ah, so,” I replied, “you mean, sir, that I should preach more emotionally?” Their preachers had had it as their goal to elicit the emotions, so that they would be praised for what a fine sermon they had given.

Especially for funerals they must have had this practice, for one man even gave me two dollars before his mother’s burial. That was unheard of. He said, “Please give a nice address; my mother was a good woman.”

But I read as my text: “Death is the wages of sin” [Romans 6:23], and preached law and gospel.

One man told me, “What my pastor [Seelsorger] in Germany liked best was when he got to sit down with the musicians at weddings and play the Brumm” – the bass viol.

They also could be bribed. I noticed that too. There was a man who came from 12 miles away to bring us two beautiful, nicely dressed ducks, and soon he started in, telling me that he was living in conflict with his neighbor, and I should settle it. But he gave me to understand that I should take his side.

Another man asked if he could ride with me to the next congregation. I invited him up. Soon he pulled a small, folded-up paper parcel from his pocket and handed it to me saying, “Mr. Preacher, I would very much like to give you some pay, sir.”

I say, “You certainly don’t owe me any pay, sir. You’re just a servant on the prairie.”

He says, “Even so, I want to give you this just this once. Please take it; I give it gladly.”

I took it, stick it in my waistcoat pocket and say, “Thank you very much!”

Pretty soon he started in: “Mr. Preacher, you have a girl as your maid, sir, whom I would very much like to have as my wife. You will put in a good word for me, won’t you?”

I say, “Listen here, sir, I did not study for the matchmaking trade, but let me give you a good piece of advice: Ask L.’s parents” – he had none himself – “and if they say Yes, ask L., and if she also says Yes, then come to me and I will marry you.”

He was quiet. In front of my house he got down and went on his way. My L. saw us coming and I hardly get into the house before she asks, “Papa, what did he want from you, sir?”

I say, “He wanted you.”

L. says, “Just what I thought! How often have I already told that guy that I do not want him.”

I say, “Yeah, but he gave me money too,” and pull out my small parcel. It is 5 dollars. I say, “You poor guy, spending so much money for nothing!”

My L. laughs and claps her hands: “If only it were 10!”

Whenever anyone came with a gift, I was suspicious. But soon they learned to think differently.

Endnotes

19 The man in this story was Gottlieb Busse and “his woman” was Charlotte Jacobson. Their 12-year-old daughter was Julie Busse, born on February 15, 1851. (Thus most of the events in this story took place in 1863.) Strieter baptized her on March 27, 1864, in the presence of Julius and Rose Breitenfeld and his wife Elizabeth.

20 One of the evils of Pietism enumerated by Valentin Ernst Loescher (1673-1749) in The Complete Timotheus Verinus (Milwaukee: NPH, 1998) is precisionism in matters of adiaphora, that is, unyielding strictness in matters neither explicitly commanded nor forbidden in Holy Scripture (p. 150-160). Pietists like Joachim Lange (1670-1744), Gottfried Vockerodt (1665-1727), August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), and Paul Anton (1661-1730) taught that producing or attending comedies, joking, and dancing were sinful. Pietists took activities that often lead to sin – e.g. dancing often leads to lust (cf. Matthew 5:28; Romans 13:14), and those who love to joke often end up being obscene or coarse (cf. Ephesians 5:4) – and wrongly labeled them sinful in themselves. The effects of the Pietistic movement can still be felt in the Lutheran Church today, and Strieter was not exempt from them in his day either, even though he certainly knew about Pietism and opposed it in principle. One can appreciate his concern: Lust, drunkenness, and self-abandonment are all sins, and certainly those sins abound in the kind of raucous scenes he is describing. However, while acknowledging that we do not know all the details and therefore must be cautious in judgment, it could be that Strieter went too far in refusing the Lord’s Supper to the musicians.

21 See previous chapter and endnote 12 there.

22 An expression taken from Romans 16:18

[Read the next part here.]

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: Newburgh

[Continued from Part 19. If you have not yet read Part 1, click here.]

Newburgh

The first St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Newburgh, Ohio, with parsonage in the background (today St. John's Lutheran, Garfield Heights)

The first St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Newburgh, Ohio, with parsonage in the background (today St. John Lutheran, Garfield Heights)

In 1854 a small portion of Zion’s Church in Cleveland, Mr. Pastor Schwan’s congregation, branched off and formed an independent congregation in Independence, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, near Newburgh, two miles south, and named it St. John Church.1 Twenty or so families combined to form it. They built a little frame church and a small parsonage behind it. They called me to be their pastor. In October 1854 I moved there with my young wife, Mother-in-law Ernst, and her five younger little daughters.2 On the 18th Sunday after Trinity I was installed by Pastor Schwan, with Pastor Kühn from Euclid and Pastor Steinbach from Liverpool assisting. The church was dedicated at the same time. Pastor Kühn delivered the sermon. Pastor Steinbach presided at the rite of dedication.3 On the 19th Sunday after Trinity I delivered my inaugural sermon.

I preached and taught school during the week to twenty or so children. With the exception of one family and a widow Z. they were all Hanoverians. Father H. H. Böhning was the senior member. When we met to elect our Board of Elders and determine the salary (I was to be paid two hundred dollars per year), Father Böhning said, “I will give this much.” And he went through the ranks this way, and asked at the end if they were happy with that. “Yes,” they said, cheerfully and unanimously. Besides the two hundred dollars they also gave wood for fuel and a lot of other stuff. They took very good care of us. There I had it very nice for a change. The people loved me and bore with my weakness4 very patiently. They also loved my wife very much. The girls M. B. and M. B. gave her a new dress every year. They also liked Mother-in-law Ernst and the girls. The dear people came to church very regularly, and the same was true for Catechism instruction and the men’s attendance at congregational meetings. There was a very brotherly spirit among us.

My church attendees [Kirchkinder] enjoyed listening to God’s Word. It also had its fruit. One time Widow Z. came to me and said that her neighborlady had brought her an entire basketful of goodies, and when she asked why she was doing this, she had answered, “On Sunday the pastor preached about love, and it went to my heart.”

One time H. B.5 spoke his mind to me rather quite freely and definitely said more than he should have. The next day he came: “Mr. Pastor, I am sorry. I have as many regrets about what I said as I have hairs on my head.”

One time I noticed that a certain man had peered into the glass a little too deeply. The next morning there was a knock at the door. I said, “In here [Herein]!” which is what we said back then. In comes my man So-and-so. I say, “Have a seat, sir!” He sits down. I say, “Now, my dear man, what brings you to me this early?”

He says, “Oh, sir, you know that already!” and he started to cry and pleaded with me to forgive him anyway.

One time I stayed overnight at Father Böhning’s. Before going to bed he read from the Bible, prayed, and sang with his family the entire hymn, “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow,”6 and my, how lovely! My Newburgers, as they called us, were good singers overall. We would also sing in four parts. My Ernst Böhning sang a splendid bass, and my Friedrich Tönsing a fine tenor. Mary Böhning and Mary Borges and several others sang the first part and W[ilhel]m and John Böhning sang alto.

Almost every Sunday we were taken along as guests after the service. Often we ended up at Father Böhning’s. The good old mother boiled us pea beans [Vicebauna] with a long sausage in there and meat. Beforehand there would be a milk soup with these tiny little dumplings. My, that was delicious! The Borges family also invited us often and took us along, and many others did too.

I received a call from the vicinity of Baltimore, but the Newburgers would not release me. Another one from the vicinity of Columbus, Ohio, but again I was not released, and yet another from old Frankentrost, but they would not release me then either.

Now my Jüngel7 came to me one day. I say, “What brings you to me so unexpectedly?”

He says, “Tomorrow morning I will tell you.” In the morning he took a letter from Dr. Sihler out of his pocket with an enclosed call and accompanying note from W[ilhel]m Stelter, from Crystal Lake, Marquette County, Wisconsin. In it was stated that over 300 families had been deserted by their preacher and had been left for the fanatics and Albright Brethren there. Help had to be provided immediately. Dr. Sihler had thought of us both.

Jüngel said, “I cannot and I dare not leave. I have recently received a United congregation in Amherst, which I dare not abandon. You must go.”

I presented it to my congregation. Fritz Tönsing was chairman. It was discussed back and forth, all of it in favor of my staying. Finally the chairman says, “I will call the question now, so that we know where we stand. All in favor of letting our pastor move, say Yes!”

Everybody was silent.

“All opposed, No.”

“No,” everybody called out.

Tönsing smiled and said, “I am going to ask again, but a bit differently: All who are convinced in their conscience that we should let our pastor move, say Yes.”

“Yes,” they said, though very meekly. That was in November 1859.

With my neighboring ministers [Amtsnachbarn] I was on good terms. I visited them and they me. Held conferences with each other regularly. In Cleveland was Schwan. He was our senior. In Ohio City, now West Cleveland, my dear Lindemann. Already at the seminary we had gotten along very well.8 In Euclid was Kühn. In Liverpool first Steinbach, then Jüngel. He was also at the seminary with me and we were always close friends.

I know that one time Schwan and Lindemann marched the five miles out to me. I walked to Schwan after school almost every Monday. We also went to take baths together in Lake Erie and often went for walks. After these recreations we would set about on our sermon for the next Sunday. Schwan had the Latin Harmony9 and I had Luther. He would read, then I would read. At this point he would ask, “Strieter, what should we use?” I would then have to start outlining, and he would laugh sometimes, but he also often commended me. One time he said, “Your outline is absolutely excellent. If Walther had it, he would turn it into a sensational sermon, but you, sir, are too stiff.”

I said, “Yeah, how does one go about becoming more smooth?”

He said, “Copy someone else’s sermons, so that you get into a different channel. Take Fresenius.10” I buy myself Fresenius right away11 and start copying, word for word in fact, and I commit it to memory. Sunday I mount the pulpit and repeat everything beautifully up through half of the first part; at this point I lose my line of thought. My Tönsing was sitting close to the front and looking me right in the eye. As I was losing it, he looked down at his feet. I didn’t get back on track; everything got jumbled together. Finally in my anxiety I say, “Amen!” Before everyone left, I signal my Tönsing: “Did you notice something today, sir?”

He says, “Yes sir, I did. You lost your spot.”

I put my Fresenius in the corner though and went back to making my own sermon, after I had made my usual study of Luther, especially his House Postil.12 This was my method: When I was finished with Luther, I started thinking and prepared the whole thing in my mind right up to the Amen, and then I wrote it and delivered it that way.

One time conference was held by me. Jüngel brought his neighboring United minister along. He already had all sorts of United ideas during the conference. Theology was also discussed during dinner. After Lindemann had spoken, the United gentleman said, “That all depends on how you look at it.”

Lindemann lifted his plate into the air: “How you look at it!? This is a plate, no matter how I might look at it.”

The gentleman was silent, but after the meal he took his hat and left.

One time Lindemann and I had to go to Holmes County, Ohio, where I had been together with B[esel], in order to dedicate a church. Engelbert was there now.13 Lindemann preached in the morning and I in the afternoon. Because of the sermon I gave, I continued to get quite a bit of razzing. That’s because I was betrayed.14 I had my dear old Pennslyvania Dutchmen in front of me and was going right along in my sermon and said that on the Last Day our dear Lord would call out, “Jack, John, George, come out!” and just like that they would be standing there with glorified bodies. To my Pennsylvania-Dutchmen it wasn’t funny at all; they all had on completely serious faces. The dear old Arnold had already told me earlier, “I think you are a pretty smart guy [Ich denk, du bist a ziemlich smarter Kerl].”

Endnotes

1 Today this is St. John Lutheran Church of Garfield Heights.

2 Henry F. Rahe, Johannes and Elizabeth’s eventual nephew (a son of Elizabeth’s next oldest sister Martha), in his previously cited “Sketch of the Parents of the Ernst Girls” (rf. endnote 21 here), writes: “When they got to Newburgh, Rev. Strieter could not support the Widow Ernst and her five daughters, and besides the parsonage was too small. Aunt Martha worked out and they farmed out three of the girls to other pastors. Aunt Sophie, Aunt Sarah and my mother, Anna, all of them under eleven years of age were the ones placed in pastors’ families and they had a hard life of it. Aunt Sophie, who resembled her mother in stature, temperament and will power more than any of the other girls, would not put up with this farming out proposition and they had to take her home and keep her there until after her confirmation. She then went to work for Rev. H. C. Schwan. It no doubt was a hard thing for Grandmother Ernst to send her young girls, eight, nine, and ten years old, to other people even if they were ministers. It was her own doing, and Uncle Strieter was to blame for much of it. All relatives, both from the Ernst and Wittig sides, opposed her determination to go with Strieters, and promised her all the help she would need to raise her family. This act estranged her from all her relatives, especially her brother. She never corresponded with any of them or visited them. She was the one who was estranged and not the relatives. In later years and especially in her last illness (Uncle Leutner in whose home she died told me this), conscience pangs bothered her, on account of her conduct toward her relatives, especially her brother and the separation from her husband. I once spoke to Uncle John Strieter about this moving of the family from Vermilion and he admitted that it probably would have kept the family together had they remained in Vermilion and would have been ‘better according to human reason, but what was to be, was to be.’”

3 From the “Church News [Kirchliche Nachricht]” section of the November 21, 1854, issue of Der Lutheraner: “After a number of members of the Cleveland congregation formed their own parish with our consent, St. John’s Congregation in Independence, and issued an orderly call to Mr. Pastor J. Strieter, who had been in Elyria and Vermillion [sic], he was committed by me to his new office, at the behest of the Most Reverend President of the Middle District of our synod, Mr. Dr. and Prof. Sihler, on the 18th Sunday after Trinity, with Mr. Pastors Kühn and Steinbach assisting, and the newly erected church was dedicated at the same time. — Now may our dear fellow believers include also this congregation in their prayers. — H. C. Schwan. Address: Revd. J. Strieter, Newburgh P. O., Cuyahoga Co., O[hio]” (p. 56).

4 Strieter more than once mentions “his weakness,” and he seems to be referring to something in particular. Later in this chapter he specifies this weakness by referring to the delivery of his sermons.

5 This is perhaps the “Father H. H. Böhning” he mentions earlier, but since Johannes always uses his last name elsewhere, it is more likely someone else.

6 The original hymn has nine stanzas.

7 Heinrich Jüngel, originally from Hesse-Darmstadt, was pastor in Valley City, town of Liverpool, Medina County, Ohio.

8 Wilhelm Lindemann, originally from Hanover, had enrolled at Fort Wayne during the 1851-1852 school year.

9 This refers to the Harmonia Quatuor Evangelistarum or Harmony of the Four Evangelists, a harmonizing of and commentary on the four Gospels begun by Martin Chemnitz, continued by Polycarp Leyser, and completed by Johann Gerhard in 1627.

10 Johann Philipp Fresenius (1705-1761) was a pietistic Lutheran pastor at Nieder-Wiesen, Giessen, Darmstadt, and Frankfurt am Main, who remained loyal to the Lutheran Confessions and opposed the Moravians.

11 Since it appears that Schwan and Strieter studied and preached on the Gospels together, the book Strieter bought was probably Heilsame Betrachtungen über die Sonn- und Festtags-Evangelia (Beneficial Reflections on the Sunday and Festival Gospels), first published in 1750. Fresenius also had a book of sermons on Epistle texts published in 1754.

12 There were two editions of Luther’s House Postil (a postil is a book of sermons). The first was published in 1544 by Veit Dietrich, formerly Luther’s personal secretary. The second was published in 1559 by Andreas Poach, a former student of Luther, on the basis of the notebooks of Georg Rörer, a deacon at the Wittenberg parish church and tireless transcriber and copier of Luther’s sermons. (Thus Poach’s edition is sometimes also called Rörer’s edition.) From the next chapter we know that Strieter possessed the German volumes of the first Erlangen edition of Luther’s works (1826-1857). Volumes 1-6 of that edition (1826) contained Luther’s House Postil, interspersing the sermons found in both Dietrich’s and Poach’s original editions.

13 Wilhelm Engelbert, originally from Nassau, had enrolled at Fort Wayne during the 1852-1853 school year and had graduated in 1855.

14 Namely, Pastor Lindemann told the other pastors about Strieter’s sermon when they got back. Pastor Engelbert’s account of this dedication was published in the February 18, 1859, issue of Der Lutheraner (vol. 15, no. 13): “This past 17th Sunday after Trinity [September 26, 1858] was a day of celebration for St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Holmes County, Ohio, for they had the great joy of consecrating their newly erected frame church. In the morning Pastor Lindemann preached on Galatians 2:16 and presented on that basis: What the true adornment of an evangelical Lutheran church is, namely 1. the pure message about justification, and 2. the listeners who make this message their own in true faith. In the afternoon Pastor Strieter preached on Luke 19:1-10 and showed from that text: 1. how Christ has moved into this church, and 2. how we should serve as his hosts” (p. 103).

[Read the next part here.]