Faithfulness Through Adversity

I must tell a sad, sad story today.  According to family records, today (July 21) is the day that Rosina (Mueller) Buenger died. She died during that horrific month when so many people in St. Louis were dying from the cholera epidemic.

First, let’s go back.  Rosina was one of the original immigrants.  She arrived in the U.S.A. aboard the Copernicus at the age of 15.

Rosina Mueller passenger list
Passenger List – Copernicus

A previous post used this page of the Copernicus passenger list:  A Page Full of Stories

The Gottfried Mueller family lived in the Seelitz area of Perry County for a short while.  In the early 1840’s already, they moved to Frohna.  Rev. Buerger had left Seelitz, and that area was without a pastor.  The Mueller family had a relationship with Rev. Keyl in Frohna, and that may have influenced their decision to move there.

Somehow, Rosina and Rev. J.F. Buenger had become familiar with one another, and on January 9, 1844, they were married.  The wedding took place in St. Louis, where Rev. Buenger was living at that time.  Rev. C.F.W. Walther performed the ceremony.

Buenger Mueller marriage record
Buenger-Mueller Marriage Record

In my book, “Mama Buenger”, I speculated that Rosina and Emilie Buenger may have become friends while traveling together on the Copernicus.  Emilie married Rev. C.F.W. Walther in 1841.  If Rosina and Emilie were friends, sometime along the way, Emilie may have suggested to her brother that Rosina was an available bride.  However, this is just my own way of trying to explain how the story took place.  I have no proof.

Johann Friedrich Buenger
Rev. Johann Friedrich Buenger

Not long after getting married, tragedy struck the Buenger family.  In June of 1847, their only son, Friedrich Lutherus, died from hydrocephalus, having lived less than two years.  In 1846, Rosina had given birth to another son, Christoph, but he lived only three days.

Now we come to the cholera epidemic which took place in St. Louis in 1849.  Here we have some problems with finding documentation.  Previous records can be found in the Old Trinity Lutheran church books, but this Buenger family disappears from those records sometime before 1848.  It is my hunch that when Rev. J.F. Buenger was given his own congregation, Immanuel Lutheran, he started keeping records for that congregation and their church records may contain the information I do not have.  At this time, I do not have access to those records.

It is recorded in family genealogies that there was another son born to the Buengers in 1848.  However, this son died sometime in 1849, probably due to cholera.  We do have a date for Rosina’s death…July 21, 1849.

I must remind you that Christiane Buenger (Mama Buenger) died on July 11, 1849, also of cholera.

So by the end of July in 1849, Rev. Buenger had lost his mother, three sons, and a wife.

However, there is a rest of the story.  Rev. Buenger married again, to Johanna Reissner.  This couple had three children that lived to adulthood.  They also adopted at least one of Johanna’s relatives who had become an orphan.

Perhaps because he saw and experienced so many examples of people who died from diseases, Rev. Buenger would head up the effort to establish a Lutheran Hospital in St. Louis.  His dedication to orphaned children is demonstrated by his own willingness to adopt a child and also his efforts in helping establish a Lutheran Orphanage in Des Peres, Missouri.  Rev. Buenger also headed up an effort to institute the Altenheim, a home for the elderly in St. Louis.

Tragedy did not weaken J.F. Buenger’s faith.  It remained steadfast.  In fact, you can probably conclude that the tragedy in his life spurred him on to do amazing things for his church and his community.  There is a lesson to be learned here.

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