June of 1849 was a tragic month in the life of Jacob Kalbfleisch, who lived in St. Louis and was a member of Rev. C.F.W. Walther’s congregation. This is how this tragedy is described from a family tree on Ancestry.com.
“Tragically, very shortly after their arrival in St. Louis the cholera epidemic swept through St. Louis taking 10% of its inhabitants in a matter of three or four weeks. It snuffed out 4 of Jacob’s family members within 8 days, his 12-year old son Georg first, then one-year old Wilhelm or William, then his wife Ernestine, and finally five-year old Marie. Young Katharina also was suffering horribly from the disease. Medical advice of that time refused water to cholera patients, but thinking that Katharina would soon also join her mother and the three others, Jacob relented and gave her as much water as she wished. The fever broke, she went right to sleep, and she made a miraculous recovery! Jacob was now desperate for a housekeeper for his 2 remaining children, Anna Elizabeth and Katharina, and so he found a widow, Maria Alt Boettcher, a member at Trinity, to help. He later married her. She must have been a remarkable woman, for Katharina always spoke most highly of her.”
The cholera epidemic of 1849 caused the life of so many people in the St. Louis area. Rev. C.F.W. Walther must have had to comfort many mourning families.
After Jacob and Maria were married in 1850, they had a few children of their own. One of those children, Maria Magdalena Kalbfleisch, was born on this day, May 15, in 1853. Having a caring wife to help him with his children as well as a mother for some more children must have been a wonderful answer to Jacob’s prayers after the tragedy of 1849.