On July 16, 1852, Sophie Henriette Wilhelmine (Zahn) Loeber died in St. Louis, Missouri. I have discovered that there are several similarities between this Mama Loeber and the Mama Buenger who is the main character in my book.
Wilhelmine was the wife of Rev. Gotthold Loeber, who was the first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. This couple came to America with three children, Christoph Heinrich, Martha, and Gotthilf. Rev. Loeber died in Altenburg in 1849. At this time, Christoph Heinrich was finishing up his studies at Concordia Seminary, Altenburg. Martha had recently married Theodore Ernst Buenger and was living in St. Louis. (see A Loeber-Buenger Wedding) The youngest, Gotthilf, was 14 years old and attending some of the preparatory classes at the Log Cabin College as he sought to become a pastor. And while all this was happening in 1849, Concordia Seminary was in the process of being relocated in St. Louis.
Christoph Heinrich Loeber was called to be the pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna in 1850. Christoph would marry Anna Marie Lochner on April 25, 1852 (three months before his mother’s death) in St. Louis, with his former teacher at the Log Cabin College, Rev. J.F. Buenger performing the ceremony. Anna Marie’s brother, Friedrich, had married Lydia Buenger in 1847, illustrating the deep connections there were between the Loeber and Buenger families.
Wilhelmine must have moved to St. Louis not long after her husband’s death. Her son, Gotthilf, would be attending school in St. Louis to continue preparing for the ministry. Her daughter lived in that city also. She would leave her son, Christoph, who remained as pastor in Perry County.
Wilhelmine died of cholera on Friday, July 16, 1852 at the home of her daughter, Martha (Loeber) Buenger. We do have an 1850 census which shows that Martha and her husband, Theodore Ernst, were living in the same house as Rev. J.F. Buenger, but there is no indication of Wilhelmine Loeber living there.
Note of interest: The Henrietta Wunderlich listed as living with the Buengers arrived in the immigration at the age of 3, and her home town was Eichenberg, the same town Gotthold Loeber had been pastor before the immigration.
1850 was also an interesting year in LCMS history. The first building for Concordia Seminary in St. Louis was dedicated in that year. When it opened, Rev. C.F.W. Walther moved his family into that building. A school was started near that building that year also. This would later become Holy Cross Lutheran School, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church would be officially begun in 1858.
When Wilhelmina died, Rev. C.F.W. Walther preached the funeral sermon. That sermon was printed in Der Lutheraner in 1889. I wish I could read it.
Christiane Buenger and Wilhelmine Loeber present us with several similarities. Both were married to Lutheran pastors. Both died of cholera. Both are recorded as being buried in a cemetery near Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis. Both had children and sons-in-law who were actively involved in the formation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
The similarity I find most fascinating is that both of these women are pretty much nonexistent in church records or civil records concerning their deaths. Almost all of the documentation for their deaths comes from family histories which have been passed on through the years. We have some of these family histories here at our museum. This points out how important it is for families to record their histories. Future generations may want to know.