Indy Educators

On September 19, 1954, students at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Indianapolis, Indiana lost one of their teachers.  Teacher Arnold Mueller died of a heart attack at the age of 59.  He is notable to us here in Perry County because he was born in Wittenberg on December 21, 1894.

I find quite a few similarities between Arnold Mueller and myself.  We both have connections to Wittenberg, Missouri.  We both married for the first time in our late 30’s, Arnold when he was 38 years old, and I when I was 39 years old.  We both married women who had previously been married.

Arnold Mueller was the son of Joseph and Mathilda (Buenger) Mueller.  They were the subject of the blog post, Yet Another Mueller Question.  Arnold’s brother, Arthur, was a character in the story, An Infamous Day in Wittenberg.  At the age of 25, Arnold was living in Detroit, Michigan, and the census records that he was working as a public school teacher.  In 1923, Arnold was installed as a teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Ten years later, he married Gladys Hemphill.  As far as I know, they had no children.

Now we find another interesting connection to Perry County.  Here is what we find in the 1940 census.

Arnold Mueller 1940 census

Living with the Muellers was C.R. Nennert, who happened to be another teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Indianapolis.  Charles Richard Nennert was born in Jacob, Illinois, right across the Mississippi River from Wittenberg.  In 1899, both his father, and then his mother, died.  That left Charles Richard as an orphan.  The 1900 census shows this fact, with him living in Wittenberg.

Richard Nennert 1900 census

This really amazes me.  Look at who these two orphans were living with……three single men in their early 20’s.  Go figure.

C.R. Nennert was a teacher at St. Paul’s for forty years.  He retired in 1960 and moved to Wittenberg.  In 1967, he died there, but he is buried in Indianapolis.  As far as I can tell, he never married.  Here is a picture of Teacher Nennert in the Log Cabin College in Altenburg.  He is shown with Mary Mueller, now Mary Dillon, who is related to Teacher Arnold Mueller.

Teacher Nennert with Mary Mueller

There are so many amazing connections in this story, including the fact that I did my student teaching at Calvary Lutheran School in Indianapolis in 1971, four years after Teacher Nennert was buried there.  Calvary can call St. Paul’s their mother church.

We also see yet another example of how Wittenberg seemed to be a magnet for orphans.


8 thoughts on “Indy Educators

  1. Charles Richard Nennert was born January 19, 1895 in Nennert Illinois to Charles and Laura Swan Nennert where his father was Postmaster. This was across the Mississippi River from Wittenberg, the home of his grandparents. His father died of pneumonia when he was four years old, so his mother took him and his sisters and all their family possessions on a wagon and ferried across the river to Wittenberg. After a few months she became sick and died. Mr. Nennert stayed with the Otto Palisch family first, then he lived with Robert Nennert an Uncle with four children of his own.

    Finally his baptismal sponsor Mrs. Lueders and her husband August took him in. They sent him to the Lutheran school in Wittenberg where he became life long friends with Arnold Mueller. They both entered Addison’s Normal school at Addison, Il together.

    Next they attended River Forest and Graduated from the teacher’s college in 1915.

    Teacher Nennerts first teaching job was in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, where he stayed until 1920. In 1925 he was called to teach at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Indianapolis, Indiana where he joined his friends Arnold Mueller from Wittenberg, and Theo Wukasch from Frohna, they all taught at St. Paul’s together.

    He was instrumental in organizing the Lutheran Basketball League in 1921 and was at the head of that organization for many years, also at the same time playing on St Paul’s team. He also pioneered in the organization of Lutheran Grade School Basketball serving as a one-man board in directing this League for many years. He also organized and coached St. Paul’s Junior Basketball Team, the Girl’s Basketball team, and the school teams.

    He was director of the Men’s Chorus from 1927 until 1947; he served as principal of St. Paul’s School from 1946-1956. In the City he was Secretary of Indianapolis Teacher’s Conference and entertainment chairman of the City Walther Leagues. In the Indiana District of the Walther League he was Field Secretary for two years; Chairman of the Junior Board for a number of years and member of the District Executive Board. He was Chairman of the Southern Indiana Teachers Conference and Secretary of the Southern Indiana Pastors and Teachers Conference.

    After he retired to Wittenberg, he taught religion as well as the confirmation classes at the Public grade school. He lived in Wittenberg from 1960 to 1967.

    At first he lived alone, then his sister Rose Nennert Friend joined him.

    He gathered the minutes of St. Paul’s Congregation in Wittenberg together and presented them to the Missouri Synod Historical Society in St. Louis, Missouri for micro filming, in which organization he was also an active member. At the time of his death he was working on the history of St. Paul’s Congregation for their 125th Anniversary.

    His obituary published in the Perry County Republican on August 3, 1967 follows: “Mr. Wittenberg To Be Missed.
    At 3:30 Thursday afternoon, July 27, a gentleman by the name of Charles Richard Nennert died in Cape Girardeau hospital and his passing means a tragic loss to the East Perry Community.

    Mr. Nennert, whom we prefer to call “Mr. Wittenberg,” was a scholar in every sense of the word and was a great asset to Perry County.

    Mr. Nennert was orphaned at the age of four and reared by foster parents at Wittenberg. After devoting a lifetime to the profession of teaching, he returned to the scene of his childhood because in his heart he felt that he owed a debt to the people who had been so nice to him.

    He was active in the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society, conducted tours throughout the East Perry Community and did countless other things for the entire area. At the time of his death he was writing a text book on Lutheran history in East Perry which was to be used in the Lutheran schools.

    We had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Nennert and heard him speak on several occasions. His talks always were quite factual, yet contained a certain amount of humor tossed in to avoid giving a “dry history lesson.” There was a certain twinkle in his eye that let everyone know that he thoroughly enjoyed telling them about Perry County and its fine people.

    The void created by his death can never be filled, but people will remember him and his fine work years to come.”

    C.R. Nennert was always considered a member of the Mueller family in Wittenberg. He dedicated his life to teaching and was loved by all who knew him.


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