From New York to Perry County to Collinsville

When Holy Cross Lutheran Church began in 1848, there were five families who were involved in its organization.  Two of those five families had connections to Perry County.  Those two were the Fischer and Grass families.  Before I was done rounding up information about those two, I managed to find a few other Perry County people who were involved at a very early time in that congregation.

All of the people I found who ended up in Collinsville were originally part of the New York Group that had immigrated to America prior to 1839 and went on to join the Gesellschaft in Perry County.  This group arrived by way of steamboat a short time before Rev. Martin Stephan was sent into exile across the river into Illinois.  Many of the members of the New York Group did not remain in Perry County for very long.  Quite a few of them went up to St. Louis and became members of Old Trinity Lutheran Church.

One of the founders of Holy Cross, Collinsville was Johann Jacob Fischer.  His wife was Maria Catherine (Furch).  Jacob was a blacksmith.  This couple had several children who were baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Missouri.  The last of these was born in 1847.  It must have been right after the birth of that child that the Fischers moved to Collinsville.  Here is the baptism record of Joseph Conrad Fischer from August of 1839.

Baptism records – Trinity, Altenburg

It is interesting to note that right under the Fischer baptism record is the record for Johann Conrad Kalbfleisch, the son of Conrad Kalbfleisch, who was a sponsor for the Fischer baby.  Conrad was also a member of the New York Group and he ended up being buried in the same cemetery as Jacob Fischer in Collinsville.  Conrad’s wife was also a Furch, which means that quite likely, Conrad and Jacob were married to sisters.

Here is a photo of the Fischer gravestone in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Collinsville.


Here is Conrad Kalbfleisch’s gravestone in the same cemetery.


The other founding father at Holy Cross with connections to Perry County was Christian Grass and his wife Anne. This couple had a child by the name of Christiane who was born in December of 1838, probably in New York, but was not baptized until July of 1839 in Perry County.  Here is her baptism record.

Baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg

Rev. Gotthold Loeber wrote these records, but he may not have conducted the baptism.  This baptism probably took place in the Dresden area in Perry County and may have been conducted by either Rev. C.F.W. Walther or Rev. Ortel, who came with the New York Group.  Rev. Ortel did not remain in Perry County for very long.

The Grass family had arrived in New York in 1836.  I think this may be the record of their arrival on a passenger list for the ship, Henrietta. 


After a short time in Perry County, the Grass family can be found in plenty of records at Old Trinity in St. Louis.  The last of those records is the baptism of one of their children in the early part of 1848.  It was the end of 1848 that Holy Cross had its beginning.

Another name that is included in the New York Group was Mathias Niedenberger.  Although he is not named as a founder of Holy Cross, we do find him buried in their Old Lutheran Cemetery.  Mathias was also a member of Old Trinity before moving to Collinsville.


There is also a J.E. Kluge buried in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Collinsville.  He may or may not be the same person just called Kluge in the New York Group.

All of these names become intertwined when you look at the sponsor lists when their children are baptized.  It seems their friendships and loyalties started back in New York before the traveled to Perry County.  There is also an interesting name listed as a sponsor for one of the children…..Mrs. Friedrich Sproede.  Friedrich Sproede became well-known for his opposition to the leadership of Rev. C.F.W. Walther.  Rev. Walther even lived for a short time under the same roof as Mr. Sproede, who was also part of the New York Group.  The story is told that he kicked C.F.W. out of his house.  After Rev. Walther moved to Old Trinity in St. Louis, Friedrich Sproede followed him there.  It is even recorded that he went there with the express purpose to cause trouble.  After a voters meeting at Old Trinity where Mr. Sproede lost his temper, he is said to have gone home, sat in his chair, and died on the spot.

Holy Cross Lutheran Church was started by Rev. Friedrich Lochner.  He, too, had a Perry County connection.  He had married Lydia Buenger at Old Trinity in 1846.  For a short time the Buenger family had lived in Perry County before moving to St. Louis.  I wonder if Rev. Lochner may have convinced some Old Trinity members to come across the river to help form a new congregation in Collinsville.  It will not be long before Holy Cross will get to celebrate their 175th anniversary.  When they do, they can look back and see some of their ties to good old Perry County……and to New York.


One thought on “From New York to Perry County to Collinsville

  1. I am a descendant of Heinrich Drenkhahn. Most of your information is correct. However many came into the U.S. in 1839 on one of 5 ships thru the port of New Orleans & migrated to Perry Co. MO & later to Collinsville, IL. Heinrich carved the first altar at the original church & it remains in the New Holy Cross Church. In 1849, the Drenkhahn family was wiped out by cholera, except for 2 boys. One was our 4X great granps Gustoff and he was 2 in 1850. 2 families adopted the boys. The Fisher & the Winter families. Here is a ship manifest showing their families voyages from Germany to New Orleans.

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