Happy Birthday, Mama Buenger

Today, June 10th, is Christiane Friedericke (Reiz) Buenger’s birthday.  I usually refer to her as Mama Buenger, and she is a main character in my book, “Mama Buenger: Mother of a Synod”.  She was born in 1788 so she would have been 228 years old today.  She was married to Jakob Friedrich Buenger in Germany in 1809.  Jakob died in 1836, not long before Christiane joined the Stephanite immigration to America in the fall of 1838.  At that time, Christiane had nine children.

I find it amazing that a widow would make the decision to pack up and move her family halfway around the world to an unknown place.  It is also amazing that she would leave her youngest child, Emma, behind in Germany.  The story is that Emma was a sickly child, so Christiane left her in Germany.  How hard that must have been for both the mother and child!

Christiane’s family then ended up being put on three different ships going to America.  Ernst, Theodore Ernst, Clementine, Herman, and Lydia traveled on the Olbers.  Emilie was on the Copernicus.  Christiane, Johann Friedrich, and Agnes came on the Constitution that landed in New York on February 19, 1839, not in New Orleans like the rest of the family.  Christiane, J.F., and Agnes came to Perry County with the New York Group in the spring of 1839.  The family was finally reunited at the end of May, just a matter of days before Martin Stephan was banished.

Christiane was granted an eleven acre parcel of land, and it is on that land that the Log Cabin College was originally built.  That parcel of land happens to also be the land that I now own.  However, Christiane did not keep her family in East Perry County very long.  In the early 1840’s, she bought a house in St. Louis and moved there.  In the picture below, you can see that house which was located across Lombard Street from the first church building of Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis where Rev. C.F.W. Walther was the pastor.  Rev. Walther was also Mama Buenger’s son-in-law, having married Emilie Buenger.  Rev. Walther lived with his family on the ground floor of this house, and the rest of the Buenger family lived upstairs.


This drawing was apparently made by someone who took an original drawing/painting done by Rev. Friedrich Lochner in 1846 and made this black and white version for the book Ebenezer which was published for the 75th anniversary of the synod.  The original artist, Rev. Lochner, became another son-in-law of Mama Buenger after marrying Lydia Buenger.

Christiane died as a result of the Cholera Epidemic in July of 1849.  It is reported that she was buried in a cemetery near Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis, but that cemetery was later moved and her gravesite is now unknown (at least by me).

Christiane Buenger

The above photo is reportedly that of Christiane.  Because photography was very new in St. Louis in 1849 when she died, I have some reservations about whether this is really her.

If perchance you are interested in stories surrounding Mama Buenger and her family during 1839-1849, my book is an attempt to bring those events to life.  It can be purchased through this website or on Amazon.

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