The Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum here in Altenburg had some very special visitors today. Norman Loeber, along with his son, Ken, and Ken’s wife, Kathy. They presently live in Edmond, Oklahoma. Norman is the great great grandson of the first pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Rev. Gotthold Heinrich Loeber. He is also the great grandson of one of the five graduates of Concordia Seminary when it was in Altenburg, Christoph Heinrich Loeber. Both Christoph and Gotthold spent most of their careers as Lutheran pastors in the Milwaukee area.
A wonderful story took place in the Loeber family. Gotthold Heinrich Loeber, the first son of Christoph Heinrich Loeber and grandson of the first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, had recently become a widower in 1885 when his first wife, Helene (Koch) Loeber died. Gotthold was a pastor in the Milwaukee area, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps.
Gotthold’s mother, Anna Marie (Lochner) Loeber, had earlier in her life spent some time staying in the same home as the Walthers in St. Louis. While there, she became friends with Marie Barthel. Their friendship lasted a lifetime. Marie would later marry August Gast. The Gast family in St. Louis and the Loeber family in Milwaukee occasionally had opportunities to visit one another. One of the daughters in the Gast family was Bertha.
There is a story that when Rev. C.F.W. Walther died, Gotthold came to his funeral in St. Louis. He may have once again had the occasion to see Bertha. Later, after getting back home in Milwaukee, Gotthold wrote two letters. He sent them with one envelope inside another envelope. The first letter was addressed to Bertha’s parents, asking them for their permission to marry their daughter. If they agreed, they were to give the enclosed envelope to Bertha. That letter was a proposal of marriage to Bertha. Gotthold received a positive response to both of these letters, and Gotthold and Bertha were married on July 28, 1887. The record of their marriage can be found in the church books of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis.
The Loebers visiting today descend from Gotthold’s first wife, Helene. They are very interested, not only the history of their own family, but the history of the early days of the Lutheran church in America. Their ancestors were such important figures in that history.