If you asked either Rev. C.F.W. Walther or his wife, Emilie (Buenger) Walther, what was their anniversary date, how would they answer?
There is a reason why I ask this question. If you look at the records of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, you will find the following record:
This record is probably written by Rev. Keyl, who was the pastor in Frohna in 1841 when this wedding took place. Pastor Keyl’s wife was Rev. Walther’s sister, Amalia Ernestine, so when he performed the ceremony for C.F.W., he was conducting the service for his brother-in-law. The wedding took place somewhere in Perry County. This record is difficult for a person like me to read because it is written in German, but I am reassured that the writing at the very end of this document indicates that the wedding took place on September 20th. According to Rev. Walther’s wedding proposal which was written to Emilie in letter form, C.F.W.’s original plan was to get married in Frohna.
There is a problem with this. The record of this marriage is also included in the church books of Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis. We have access to a translation of Old Trinity’s records here at our museum. Those records indicate that this wedding took place on September 21st in 1841. Those records also say the wedding took place “in the church in Altenburg in Perry County.” Just where that “church” was is up for debate. There was no permanent church built in Altenburg in 1841. Worship services for Trinity were held upstairs in Pastor Loeber’s parsonage in Altenburg. The first permanent church building for Trinity, Altenburg was not completed until 1845. There was also no church building yet in Frohna. There was a building of sorts in the Dresden area that was used for church services, but it was not a permanent church structure. There was also the possibility that the Log Cabin College may have been the location for this wedding. C.F.W. Walther’s brother, Otto Herman, was married in the Log Cabin College in 1839. However the church records at Old Trinity specifically mention the “Luther College” as the location for Otto Herman’s wedding. Why would it not be called that for C.F.W.’s wedding?
If you check what day of the week September 21st fell on, you would find that it was a Tuesday. That would put the 20th on a Monday. If Rev. Walther preached on Sunday, the 19th in St. Louis (and we do not know whether he did or not), he would have had trouble getting to Altenburg by the 20th. Tuesday, the 21st would make more sense.
So the records for this wedding are different in the Concordia, Frohna and Old Trinity, St. Louis records. One says the marriage took place on the 20th, and one says the 21st. The Trinity, Altenburg records do not contain this marriage. Which one is correct? My conclusion on this matter is that the St. Louis record is correct. I base that decision on one fact. The writer of the St. Louis records was likely C.F.W. Walther himself. I am counting on the fact that Rev. Walther knew the correct date of his own wedding. His brother-in-law is more likely to get it wrong. You might also figure that Emilie would have also made sure that her husband got it recorded correctly.
The date recognized by our friends at Concordia Historical Institute as the date of the Walther/Buenger wedding is September 21, 1841. I rest my case.