He Shines Like a Star

Matthias Wukasch died on March 19th in 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri.  When he was buried in Frohna, they put a portion of Daniel 12:3 on his tombstone.

Mathias Wukasch gravestone
Matthias Wukasch gravestone

Daniel 12:3 reads as follows:

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

Matthias had arrived in Perry County in 1873 as a new and inexperienced teacher to take over teaching responsibilities at Concordia Lutheran School in Frohna.  There is a story that is told about what young Teacher Wukasch said on his way from Wittenberg to Frohna on that day that he arrived and was seeing Perry County for the first time.  He said, “Hier in die wildnis bleib ich nicht.”  Translated, that would be, “Here in this wilderness I will not stay.”  He was, oh, so wrong.  It was not until 1923 that Teacher Wukasch would retire from his position at Concordia, Frohna where he spent half a century “turning many to righteousness” in his classroom.

Frohna school Wukasch Stueve
Teacher Wukasch with his class

First, allow me to give a little background on Matthias.  He was the third of six children born to Matthes and Anna (Mrosack) Wukasch.  He was born in Prussia, and when he was four years old, his family moved to America.  They made the voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Ben Nevis, which arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1854.

Ben Novis Serbin Texas

The Wukasch family was part of an immigration of Wendish Lutherans who settled in Serbin, Texas and established St. Paul Lutheran Church.  Here is a photo of the interior of St. Paul as it looks today.  I think you will see similarities to a few present-day Perry County churches.

St. Paul Serbin TX
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin, TX

Here is a family photo of the Wukasch family from Texas.  Matthias is sitting on the right.

Matthes Wukasch family
Matthes Wukasch family

At the age of 23, Matthias graduated from Lutheran Normal School in Addison, Illinois.  From there, he traveled to Frohna to begin his teaching career.  Four years after his arrival, Matthias married Anna Fischer at Concordia in 1877.  This couple had three children, but only one survived infancy.  According to Anna’s death record in the Concordia church books, Anna died from pneumonia on the same day that their daughter, Johanna, was born and died.  This left Matthias a widower with a two year old son.  It would be six years before Teacher Wukasch would remarry in 1883.  His second wife was Johanna Schieferdecker, the daughter of Rev. Georg Schieferdecker, who had previously been a preacher in Altenburg.

Wukasch Schieferdecker wedding
Wukasch/Schieferdecker wedding

This couple would have seven children, only one of which did not live to adulthood.  Their first children were a set of twin girls, Emma and Clara, born in 1884 on Valentine’s Day.  I am thinking there is another blog post to be written about the Wukasch children.

As I said earlier, Matthias Wukasch died on Thursday, March 19, 1925.  He had retired from teaching in 1923 as a result of poor health.  He was staying with some children in St. Louis at the time of his death.  His death occurred one day after the disastrous Tri-State Tornado,  The Deadliest Tornado.  The family fulfilled his wishes to be buried in the Concordia Cemetery.  His body was transported to Perry County, and on Sunday, March 22, a funeral service was held.  This newspaper article describes this event.

Wukasch obit
Matthias Wukasch obituary

This article states that Rev. O.R. Hueschen conducted the church service.  He was the pastor at Grace Lutheran in Uniontown.  Rev. Hafner, Concordia’s pastor, conducted the graveside service.  I am thinking that Rev. Hueschen did that service because he had been serving this area since 1892 and would have known Teacher Wukasch better than Rev. Hafner, who had come to Concordia after Matthias had retired.

I can only imagine how many members of Concordia, Frohna who were still suffering from the devastating tornado just days before that took place just north of Frohna.  Yet, this beloved teacher drew such a crowd to his funeral that the church could not accommodate them.  Concordia Lutheran Church can look back with thanksgiving at having been blessed with a teacher who faithfully served their congregation for so many years.  The Wukasch family that attended the funeral must have also been very moved by the children singing as part of this service.

Matthias may have first thought that he would not stay in Perry County, but apparently God had other plans.  Now for us so many years later, he shines like a star as part of our history.



3 thoughts on “He Shines Like a Star

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Frona many years ago. I loved seeing the photograph of our great-grandfather, Teacher Matthias Wukasch and our beloved great aunts and uncles, Emma, Clara, Ida, Theo, and Albert Wukasch. I would absolutely LOVE to have a copy of that photo of them (our grandfather,Paul was alive then) standing in front of their house near Die Kleine Schule where our great-grandfather taught for 50 years. How may I obtain a copy?!


  2. Reblogged this on and commented:

    The new Kindergarten teacher at our Lutheran school, United in Christ Lutheran School, is moving into her new home in Frohna today. Her name is Michelle Wolfe. She and her husband need help unloading a truck, so I will be pitching in for a while. So, I need to share an old post again. The school in Frohna has a history of having teachers with surnames that begin with a “W”. Coincidentally, the last two teachers to get calls to UCLS have had names beginning with a “W”: Michelle Wolfe and Dorothy Wienke. Two men who once taught at Concordia, Frohna a long time ago, Teacher Welp and Teacher Wukasch, each taught at that school for 50 years. Teachers Wolfe and Wienke will never accomplish that feat because of their ages, but we are hoping that each of them remain teachers at our school for a long time. I am sharing a post that was written about Teacher Wukasch.


  3. This is a most interesting article on my Great Grandfather,Matthias. My grandfather was Prof P. Wukasch, whom I was not fortunate enough to meet. My mother was Deloris Anne Wukasch. My father was Raeburn Wilbur Rohrbach. My siblings are William Paul Rohrbach, Deanna Rae Rohrbach, and Stephan Randall Rohrbach.

    Growing up, we children had the pleasure of knowing and loving Ida,Emma,Clara, Albert, Theodore, and Prof. P. (Paul) Wukasch. These were great folks with a strong faith.

    Thank you for the article.


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