It was a Tuesday. May 23, 1848 was going to be a special day in Altenburg. Their pastor’s daughter was going to get married. Not only that, she was going to marry another child of a pastor who had become a Lutheran teacher. The groom was Theodore Ernst Buenger. The bride was Martha Loeber.
***If you use what we refer to as Perry County pronunciation, Buenger is pronounced “binger” and Loeber is pronounced “labor”. Both names originally had a vowel with an umlaut and became Americanized by putting an “e” after the vowel and taking away the umlaut.
Theodore Ernst’s father, Jakob Buenger, was a pastor, but he had died about three years before the immigration. Martha’s father, Gotthold Loeber, was the first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. At the time of the wedding, Theodore Ernst was a Lutheran teacher in St. Louis. His first few years in America were spent in Perry County living right next to the Log Cabin College. Martha was a nine year old student in the first class at the Log Cabin College. Theodore Ernst was then eighteen years old. When the couple was married, Theodore Ernst was almost 27 years old, and Martha was four days away from her eighteenth birthday.
Theodore Ernst gained quite a reputation for his musical abilities. His nickname became “Cantor” which indicated his fine singing voice. We also know he is credited with being the first church organist at Immanuel First Lutheran Church in Chicago, where Theodore Ernst was also teacher and principal.
One fascinating artifact that comes out of this wedding is a drawing/painting done by Rev. Friedrich Lochner and was given to this couple as a wedding gift.
The picture shows the Loeber parsonage in Altenburg, where the congregation had conducted their worship services on the upper floor during the first six years in Perry County. A new church was dedicated in 1845 and is almost certainly the location for this wedding. The picture shows the entire Loeber family as they are hosting their guest, Rev. C.F.W. Walther, who is sitting at the table facing the house.
In the margin outside the artwork you will find the names of the members of the two families involved in this marriage, the Loebers and the Buengers. One of the Buengers is noticeably missing. That would be the wife of Rev. Friedrich Lochner, Lydia (Buenger) Lochner. She had died two months earlier after giving birth to a daughter. That daughter was fighting sickness at the time of this event and would die about a month after this wedding. It was a difficult time for this young pastor, but he still managed to create this piece of art which now is the best representation of the Loeber parsonage that we have.
Martha is another example of a resident of Altenburg who left this area as a result of marrying a church worker. She lived in St. Louis, New Orleans, and Chicago. Martha and Theodore Ernst had many children, several which became church workers also.