My career as a Lutheran educator put me in several different locations. I lived in several different cities and towns over the years. I also consider myself to be somewhat of a birdwatcher. I want you to know that of all the places that I have lived or visited for a long enough time to notice, the Altenburg/Frohna area in East Perry County is the location where I have observed the largest population of bluebirds. I know that the bluebird is the state bird of Missouri, but nonetheless, I think the bluebird population around here is much higher than average. Today I will address my theory about why I think this is true.
Disclaimer: This is not my photo, but it is in the public domain.
My theory is tied into the life of Vernon Littge. Let me start at the beginning. Vernon was the youngest child of Henry and Martha (Ahner) Littge. He was born on Veterans’ Day, November 11, 1925 in Altenburg, Missouri. Not long ago, a story was done on this blog about his only sister, Altheda, who also happened to be the oldest child in this family, and who recently died at the age of 107. It was titled, She Survived All Those Brothers. Here is a photo of the Littge siblings.
As is stated in the photo, Vernon is the little guy on the right.
Vernon enlisted in the military toward the end of World War II. Here we see him in his uniform.
In 1950, Vernon married his sweetheart, Caroline Fischer, also of Altenburg. Caroline is the daughter of George and Adele (Vogel) Fischer. Here is their marriage license.
Caroline’s grandfather, Rev. Adolph Vogel, performed this marriage ceremony.
Later in his life, Vernon took upon himself the mission to provide housing for bluebirds in East Perry County. He constructed countless houses for these his feathered friends. He would then take these houses to local residents and offer to place them in appropriate places where bluebirds would likely utilize them. As far as I know, he never asked for any compensation for them. He just felt the need to do this task. We have one of his houses here at our museum that was never placed anywhere to be used.
It is made of several different species of wood and looks as if Vernon used whatever scraps he was able to procure in order to build these houses. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to one of our local lumber mills to ask for donations for this project. Inside this house, I found this caption which has been used when our museum displayed this artifact.
I have a bluebird house on my property that I’ve been told was put there by Vernon many years ago. Despite its age, it continues to be used every year by bluebird pairs to have their nest and raise their young. It is now the time of year when these houses are actively being used. I took these photos not too long ago.
Two years ago, about this time of the year, I spotted this tragedy taking place in the bluebird house. However, I was told that this particular type of reptile keeps away the poisonous snakes like copperheads, so I am actually happy that he’s around.
Vernon Littge died in 2005 at the age of 79. He is buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg. Here is his gravestone.
You should notice that Caroline’s death date is not on this stone. We are happy to report that Caroline is one of our dear docents here at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum. She always wears a smile and is a person we often go to in order to get accurate information about the history of this area. She has what seems to be an infinite amount of stories to tell. Here is fairly recent photo of her, although I’m taking a really big risk posting this picture of her without her permission.
I think the larger than normal bluebird population here can be attributed to the efforts of Vernon Littge. I also am of the opinion that someone new ought to take Vernon’s mission and make it their own. Many of these bluebird houses are going to need to be replaced soon, and there are plenty of new locations around here that could use a good bluebird house.
If you have one of these bluebird houses on your property, we would love to see your photo of it. If so, just place it in a comment here on this blog post or on our Facebook page.