A Census Hall of Fame

Today’s article is the result of starting out looking for information on one story and ending up telling a different story.  It all started with the birthday of Friedrich Ferdinand Grosse on May 27, 1811.  Ferdinand was one of the original immigrants whose family decided to stay in St. Louis and not move to Perry County…..at least not for a while.  There were three Grosse brothers that came to America with their widowed mother.  All three of them were shoemakers.

I found Ferdinand and his family in the 1850 census in St. Louis, and was rather surprised to see the location where he was living.  He was included with quite a few other folks who were very recognizable to me.  Many of them became important figures in the early history of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  That’s why today’s title refers to this as “A Census Hall of Fame”.  In order to be able to see this census record clearly, I have chopped it into three images.  Here is the first one.

Concordia Seminary 1 1850 census St. Louis

Rev. C.F.W. Walther and his family are at the top of the list.  By 1850, he and his wife, Emilie (Buenger) Walther, had four living children.  One son of theirs had died from a fatal fall in their home two years before this census was taken.  One more child would be born to this family later.  One of the twins shown in this census, Ferdinand Walther, would go on to become a Lutheran pastor.  A post was written about these twins titled, Maybe They Should Have Been Named Law and Gospel.

In 1850, Rev. Walther was the pastor at Old Trinity Lutheran Church, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and head professor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.  In fact, in 1850, a new building had been constructed to house Concordia Seminary on S. Jefferson Avenue, and this census lists all who were living there during that year.  This is a drawing of that building.

Concordia Seminary 1850
Concordia Seminary – 1850

The next image show some more residents of this building.

Concordia Seminary 2 1850 census St. Louis

I will attempt to give a brief biography of the people listed here.

  • G. Kelly – I have no idea who this person was.  I will say that the name Kelly is not a German name, which leads me to speculate that perhaps he was an employee, such as a janitor, at the Seminary.  His age of 37 also leads me to conclude that he was not a student.
  • Jacob Goenner – He was a professor at the Log Cabin College in Altenburg and followed the Seminary when it was relocated in St. Louis at the end of 1849.  More info on him can be found in the post, Finally a Paid Professor.
  • Maria Lochner – This list is full of young men.  Maria seems out of place.  However, she also has a story that has previously been written.  It was titled, Mama Lochner, and even though Maria was not “Mama Lochner”, she is a character in that story.  Maria married Christoph Loeber, the brother of the person identified in this census as Gottfried Leber.  Maria married Rev. Christoph Loeber in 1852.
  • Otto Eisfeld –  This is a puzzle.  He is listed as a teacher at the Seminary, but I have never heard of him, nor can I find any other records concerning him.  Maybe Concordia Historical Institute does.
  • M. Guenther – Martin Guenther was a student at both Concordia Seminary in Altenburg and then in St. Louis. He became a pastor and later a professor at the Seminary.  His story is told in the post, December 4th – A Seminary Holiday?
  • Martin Stephan – This is Martin Stephan, Jr., the son of the disgraced leader of the 1838-1839 immigration.  After his father was deposed, he returned to Germany and became an architect.  He would come back to America and became a pastor.  He was actually involved in drawing the plans for this 1850 building that housed Concordia Seminary.
  • George Flach – I could not find much on this young man.  There is a George Flach getting married in St. Louis in 1852, but I do not know if he was the same person.
  • Theodore Gruber – He was the son of Rev. Carl F. Gruber, the first pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Uniontown.  Theodore was the pastor of the Friedenberg church for a while, and ended up in Nebraska.
  • Carl Metz – He became a Lutheran pastor who served in New Orleans, Louisiana and Jacksonville, Illinois.  At least two more generations of Lutheran pastors came out of his family.
  • Charles Grosse –  I could not find much on him either.  Nor could I find a connection to the Ferdinand Grosse that has already been mentioned.
  • Gottfried Leber – This is a misspelling of the name Gotthilf Loeber, who was the son of Rev. Gotthold Loeber, the first pastor of Trinity, Altenburg.  He became a pastor and served most of his career in Wisconsin.   A little was said about him in Another Löber Day.
  • Frederick Anner – This is a misspelling of Friedrich Ahner who became a pastor.  His last congregation was Holy Cross Lutheran in Frankenlust (Saginaw), Michigan.

Now on to the next image of the census.

Concordia Seminary 3 1850 census St. Louis

  • August Schmidt – He became a Lutheran pastor, but he became an opponent of Rev. C.F.W. Walther in a predestination controversy and left the Missouri Synod.
  • Gustav Freund – As near as I can tell, I think he became a saddle and harness maker and is buried in the St. Paul’s Cemetery in Concordia, Missouri.
  • William Weiler – I do not know what became of him.
  • Martin Bartel – This is Martin Barthel who became the first manager of Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis.  Here is a photo of him.  Martin Barthel
  • Stephanus Keil – This is Stephanus Keyl, the son of Rev. E.G.W. Keyl, the first pastor of Concordia, Frohna.  He became a pastor and served most of his career in New York City.  Here is a photo of him.    Stephanus Keyl
  • Martin Tirmenstein – He became a Lutheran pastor and I found evidence of him serving in New York, Minnesota, and Indiana.  Here is a photo attributed to him.  Martin Tirmenstein
  • Herman Wunderlich –  I found a Rev. Herman Wunderlich who was a minister in the Chicago area in the 1860 and 1870 censuses.  He was one of the original immigrants in 1839.
  • Finally, we come to the Ferdinand Grosse family that was living at the Seminary address in 1850.  This is another puzzle.  I cannot figure out why  a shoemaker and his family would be living there.  In the next census and for the rest of his life, Ferdinand and his family were living in Altenburg where he carried on his trade as a shoemaker.  He did have a brother, Ernst Moritz Grosse, who was also a shoemaker, that later became a Lutheran teacher in St. Louis.
  • Caroline Behl – This is another mystery.  Once again, because of her age and the fact that she was a woman in a house full of young men, she may have been hired to perform duties at the Seminary.  Perhaps she was the cook.

I certainly found this census entry entertaining.  It got my research juices flowing.  It turned out to be a little glimpse into the early history of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.


3 thoughts on “A Census Hall of Fame

  1. The first six graduates of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in 1853:
    1. Otto Eissfeldt – Following graduation he founded Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in May, 1853. Died in St. Louis while the Missouri Synod was in convention in 1854.
    2. Karl Theodor Gruber – Immigrated with the group led by his father to Paitzdorf (now Uniontown) in 1839. Pastor at Peace, Frankenberg (later Friedenberg) 1858-1863. Also served as the first Pastor at Salem, Farrar 1859-1863. In 1870 he was called to Seward County, Nebraska. Fourth LCMS Pastor in Nebraska and the first in the southern part. In that area he organized at least six congregations including St. John in Seward, the mother church of Concordia University – Nebraska.
    3. Martin Guenther – Member of the Saxon Immigration. Professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis 1873-1893.
    4. Christian C. Metz – First served as founder of St. Paul’s, St. Joseph MO (1852-1854) then served in New Orleans from 1854 to 1867.
    5. Martin Stephan – Member of the Saxon Immigration. Son of Rev. Martin Stephan. Returned to Germany to study architecture but returned to America in 1847. Designed the first building at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis 1849. Pastor at Chester, IL 1866-1875.
    6. George Volck – First Missouri Synod Pastor in New Orleans. Installed by Dr. Walther on May 22, 1853, but died in September of that year from yellow fever.

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  2. I would think that would be Volck since the other five 1853 graduates, who would have been the upperclassmen are listed together with him.

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