Happy Birthday, Alphabet

October 29 was the birthday of Johann Andreas Friedrich Wilhelm Mueller.  He was born in 1825.  His initials are often used when identifying him, and since he became a pastor, he was called Rev. J.A.F.W. Mueller.  Over the years, his family started referring to him as “Alphabet” Mueller.  We at our museum also use this affectionate term when telling storied about him.

Alphabet came to America in the 1839 immigration aboard the Rebuplik along with his parents and six other siblings.  Here is the passenger list which shows his family.

Republik passenger list

Alphabet is the one listed as Fred. William.  Sadly, Alphabet’s mother died already in 1844, and his father died in 1847.  They both died before Alphabet graduated and became a pastor.

Alphabet was one of the eleven original students at the Log Cabin College when it opened on December 9, 1839.  He also was one of the few students in that class that was not the child of a pastor.  The passenger list shows Johann Christian Mueller’s occupation as tiler.  He was the maker of bricks and roofing tiles.  I like to think that Alphabet’s father would have been helpful in providing his expertise with dirt to assist in the making the dirt floor inside the Log Cabin College and the chinking that had to be done between the logs to keep the wind from blowing through the openings.  One of the participants in the Immigration Conference who is an avid geologist, Dr. Stan Sides, told me that the loess type soil found here is very good for making a good solid dirt floor and the chinking between the logs.

Altenburg area map

On this old map of the Altenburg/Dresden area, you can see that a brickyard is identified.  This is the likely location of where Alphabet’s father had his business. You can see how close it was to where the Log Cabin College was first located.  The College would have been a much closer school for Alphabet to attend than the one which eventually was located in the town of Altenburg.  It makes sense that he would attend the College.

Alphabet has the notoriety of being the first graduate of Concordia Seminary.  He was one of five men who graduated from the seminary before it was moved to St. Louis in 1849.  After graduation, he was ordained and installed to be the pastor of a German congregation that was meeting in the western part of St. Louis that became known as Immanuel Lutheran Church.  That area is now called Olivette.  Rev. Mueller was also involved in the development of two other congregations in that area, St. John’s, Elllisville, and St. Paul’s, Des Peres.

In 1849, Alphabet traveled down to Altenburg to get married.  His bride was Johanne Constantine Hoehne. They were married on May 2, 1849 by Rev. Gotthold Loeber.  Just months after that wedding, Rev. Loeber died.

Mueller Hoehne

From St. Louis, he was called to Immanuel First Lutheran Church in Chicago.  Then during the Civil War, he was called to a Lutheran church in Pittsburgh.  Here is a photo taken of Alphabet when he was the pastor in Pittsburgh.


Rev. Mueller ended his career in ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Chester, Illinois, not far from where he first lived in Perry County, Missouri.  He died and is buried there.


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