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.]

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Strieter Autobiography: Seminary Life in Fort Wayne

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

Seminary (conclusion)

Ft Wayne Seminary 1860

The campus occupied by the Fort Wayne Seminary from 1849-1861, as depicted in a 50th anniversary publication by Concordia Publishing House in 1896

Upon arriving [in Fort Wayne] I went to find the seminary right away. Steinbach31 later told me that when they saw me approaching with my suitcase, they thought, “What kind of hobo do we have here?”

The gentlemen students directed me over here to Dr. Sihler.32 He was sitting in the kitchen and was right in the middle of fixing a pony for his son Christian; he was tying his colorful, silk handkerchief on one of its legs. I said who I was, where I came from, and why I was there. He asked about Crämer; I had no information to give him. I arrived in Fort Wayne on October 10, 1850, and dear Crämer ended up arriving on the 24th. Dr. Sihler called upstairs, “Rauschert!” Above his small study the Dr. had a room that was also our lecture hall. Two students who boarded with Sihler lived in it, Rauschert and Werfelmann.33 Rauschert came down. Sihler said, “Bring Strieter to Mrs. Bornemann, sir.” She was a widow who foddered me for some time. “Do you have money, sir?” the doctor asked me.

I said, “No.”

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

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

Ottmann34 and I were the best swimmers. One time when the water was very high, Ottmann said to me that we should try to swim across. Off we go. Once we reach the other side, he says he should try to see how close to the dam we can swim past. Off we go, but that took some work. When we came to the middle, the water wanted to take us away. We breasted the water and at the same time worked our way sideways. We finally arrived, but completely exhausted. We looked at each other and said nothing. That night the water conducted a tree trunk with roots and branches, but left it lying on top of the dam. Sommer,35 whom I had already gotten to know in Sebewaing, a very friendly and very active person, tried to replicate our work of art the next day. But when he came to the middle of the current, it dragged him away and left him hanging in the branches of the tree trunk. He sat down on the trunk and began to sing. But we hollered at him, “Okay, just get over here; we all know what it’s like now.”

He worked his way over to us along his tree, and once he was on dry land he started in: “O you dear brothers, do not do that again. That is putting God to the test. If the tree had not been there, the water would have taken me away, and death would have claimed me by now.” He was alluding to the large boulders down below. Later Pastor Kalb, who was supposed to become a professor at the teacher seminary, drowned at that spot; Fleischmann,36 who tried to save him, almost did too.37

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

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

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

Crämer accepted a call to a congregation on the side and made me his vicar; it was called Nothstein.38 A man lived there whose name was Nothstein. Others lived in the surrounding bush country. It was twelve miles away. Every fourteen days I had to go out there. In the morning I headed out on foot, preached and held Catechism instruction with the little children, and headed back here in the afternoon. I was relieved by others twice, otherwise I kept my arrangement. One time the river was very swollen. Behind Rudisill’s was a small bridge over a brook that came from the marsh, but now the river had torn the little bridge away, and the water was flowing in reverse from the river into the marsh, and with considerable momentum. What now? I looked for a staff, found a branch, took it in hand, and started off into the water. In the middle it just about knocked me over, but I got across anyway; the water went up to my waist. I still had two miles to go, but now I ran.

Endnotes

31 Friedrich Steinbach from Saxe-Weimar

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

33 Jakob Rauschert from Franconia and Heinrich Werfelmann from Hanover

34 Friedrich Ottmann from Franconia

35 Wilhelm Sommer from Saxon Lusatia

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

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

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

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Strieter Autobiography: Life in Frankenmuth

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

Seminary (continued)

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

Friedrich August Crämer

Friedrich August Crämer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example of a grain cradle

Example of a grain cradle

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

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

Endnotes

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

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

16 A German primer

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

18 Rf. endnote 31 in Youth.

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

20 Dutch Creek

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

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

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

24 According to “The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary” online, waabishkindibe means he has white hair (ojibwe.lib.umn.edu; accessed 15 September 2015). Heinrich was about 10 years old at this time and was not Crämer’s natural son, but the son of his wife Dorothea, whom Crämer had met on the ship during the voyage to America and had married shortly after landing.

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