When I was a boy and my family would travel to Perry County to visit my relatives, we would travel down Highway 61 and pass through the village of Longtown. I remember asking why they called it Longtown because it certainly wasn’t long after entering Longtown that you were then leaving it. It is a very small town. I now know why it was called Longtown.
It is recorded that this town was named after one of its founders, Johann Lang. In German, Lang means “long” and Lang’s Town eventually became known as Longtown. In a book published in 1912 called History of Southeast Missouri, we find this description of Longtown’s beginning.
You will see that Johann’s name here is given as John Long. You will also see one of the main characters of today’s post, Herman Funke. The 1870 census for Perry County shows three founders of Longtown, Johann Lang, Emanuel Urban (not shown in this image), and Herman Funke on the same page.
Let’s take a look at Herman Funke. He was a cooper who was a member of Peace Lutheran Church in Friedenberg. He arrived in America around 1858 and was not here long before he became involved in the Civil War. In August of 1861, he enlisted in Company C of Fremont’s Hessars.
This unit had the following experience:
“SERVICE.–Expedition against Green’s forces September 6-14, 1861. Fremont’s Campaign against Springfield, Mo., September to November. Action at Little Santa Fe November 6. At Rolla, Mo., to December 29. Black Walnut Creek, Sedalia, November 29. Advance to Springfield and the Southwest December 29, 1861, to February 14, 1862. Assigned to 2nd Missouri Cavalry January 9, 1862, and to 4th Missouri Cavalry February 14, 1862.”
The Fremont Hussars then were consolidated with three other units to form the 4th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry. About three weeks later, on March 7-8, they would go into combat at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Northwest Arkansas. However, as this record shows, Herman was “accidentally wounded” while on duty and was mustered out on February 28th. Evidently, he did not have to enter the Battle of Pea Ridge, a battle that resulted in 203 killed, 980 wounded and 201 missing for a total of 1,384 casualties for just the Union side. The Confederates had about 2000 casualties.
Just a personal note: My last teaching position was in Springdale, Arkansas. Elm Springs, where Herman was wounded, is basically a suburb of Springdale nowadays. We visited the site of the Battle of Pea Ridge when we lived there.
After returning to his home, we find Herman still having to register for the Civil War draft that was instituted toward the end of the war. Here is his draft registration record which includes several other young men from Perry County.
Herman’s previous military experience is shown on this form. We also notice that Herman’s trade was now that of a carpenter.
It was not long after the Civil War that Herman married Elizabeth Ochs at the church in Friedenberg on January 28, 1866. Their firstborn son, Michael Gustav Funke, was born on February 1, 1867 and baptized at Friedenberg. Our German Family Tree indicates that Herman and Elizabeth would have eight children.
In 1897, a group of Lutherans from the Friedenberg congregation decided they no longer desired to make the trip from Longtown to Friedenberg to attend worship services. They decided to organize their own congregation in Longtown. This was the beginning of Zion Lutheran Church. Both Herman and Michael were charter members of Zion.
Just one year later, Michael would get married. This is where we get a connection to today’s date, May 22nd. It was on that day in 1898 that Michael would be united in marriage to Barbara Louisa Springer, a member of the Friedenberg congregation. That is where this marriage took place. By then, the church building which is now called Hill of Peace had been built.
Here is the Missouri marriage license for this couple.
The pastor listed on this form is Rev. G.D. Hamm, who was the first pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Longtown. The pastor at Friedenberg at that time was Rev. Guemmer. Yet this form says the marriage took place at the “Friedens Church”. I conclude that Pastor Hamm had traveled to the church in Friedenberg to perform the ceremony. There was no church building in Longtown yet. I also think Pastor Guemmer probably assisted with this ceremony.
German Family Tree lists nine children born to Michael and Louise. Michael would become the postmaster for the village of Longtown. In fact, he was in that position shortly before he was married.
As was mentioned in the article published in 1912, the city of Longtown at that time had three general stores. One of those must have been the one run by Michael Funke. Here we see Michael in the 1920 census showing he was a “Merchant retail” at a “General Store”.
In 1912, Zion Lutheran Church decided to build a new sanctuary. That building is still used to this day in Longtown. Herman and Elizabeth as well as Michael and Louisa were alive to see this new church building completed. Here is a photo of this church.
Both of these Funke couples are buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Longtown. In fact, according to Findagrave.com, there are 27 different graves in that cemetery which contain the surname Funke in some way. That family has had a great impact on the history of Longtown and Zion Lutheran Church.