February 28th was the birthday of a former pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. His name was Rev. Paul Roesener (although there are different documents that show that he had several different first and middle names), and he was born in Berlin, Germany in 1853.
I am going to start with Pastor Roesener’s obituary which was printed in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1939. It states some facts about his early times in America.
Here is one of the places where his name is confusing. Most of his life, he apparently went by the name of Paul, but his obituary does not include that name. Yet, for a variety of reasons, there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that this is his obituary. As it says, Rev. Roesener arrived in America in 1874. This obituary leaves out many of his accomplishments. I will try to fill in some details that I have found.
In 1878, Paul married Maria Miller in Red Bud, Illinois. Although I cannot find an actual document, there is a family history on Ancestry.com that states that this marriage took place on February 28. 1878. If that is the case, then his anniversary and birthday were on the same day. Maria is said to have been born in Wartburg, Illinois, which is not far from Red Bud.
It would be interesting to know exactly how Paul met Maria. My best guess is that Maria went to St. Louis to work somewhere. While there, being a good Lutheran young lady, she may have had occasions to get together in some sort of social gatherings that included some of the young students at Concordia Seminary. That seems to be a fairly common way for seminarians to find their future wives. Since Wartburg or Red Bud are not that far from St. Louis, it is not that far-fetched to find Maria living in St. Louis. The only factor which is a little amazing is the fact that Maria was just 17 years old when she married Paul.
Paul’s obituary is the only place where Little Rock, Arkansas is mentioned as a place where Rev. Roesener served. I am guessing that was his first call. There is also evidence that he served a congregation in Rose Hill, Texas. When he took the call to Trinity, Altenburg, we know that he came from New Orleans, Louisiana. Here is a city directory listing from that city in 1886.
Right before he moved to Altenburg, Rev. Roesener applied for a passport to travel back to Germany in May of 1889.
This document gives more proof that he came to America in 1874. Here we see the additional fact that he traveled aboard the S.S. Goethe which came from Hamburg, Germany. It also states that he became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1888. I do not know if he actually made the trip back to Germany. We do know that he arrived in Perry County in November of 1889.
While Rev. Roesener was in Missouri, he also became President of the Western District of the LCMS. He was in this position from 1898-1901. He also served on the Missouri Synod Board of Indian Missions. It was during his time in Missouri that missionaries began to be sent to India. A previous blog post was written about some missionaries to India with Perry County connections. It was titled, Reaching India with the Gospel. There are stories floating around that some missionaries were commissioned at Trinity Lutheran Church when district or synodical conventions were held here. I have the sneaking suspicion that some of the missionaries to India may be included in that group.
A history of Trinity, Altenburg mentions two things which took place during his tenure here. First, he was the pastor who first granted permission for a Christmas tree to be placed inside the sanctuary. Secondly, the tin ceiling on the church was installed.
After serving in Altenburg, Rev. Roesener took a position in Bronx, New York. Based on his address in a New York census, I am guessing this is the church that he served. It has the same address as the Roeseners did in 1915 in New York.
The sign in front says it is now the Victory Baptist Church.
During his career, Rev. Roesener also served as Vice President of the Atlantic District, as a member of the Missouri Synod Board of Higher Education, and the Board of Control for Concordia College, Bronxville.
Both Maria and Paul died in Mokena, Illinois. One of their daughters lived in Mokena, so it is likely that after retirement, the Roeseners moved to Mokena to live near family. They are also both buried in the St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Red Bud, Illinois.