Prof. Godfather

This record very early in the Trinity, Altenburg church books tells of one of the earliest births and baptisms to take place in Perry County after the original immigrants arrived.  The baby being baptized was Traugott Gotthilf Kaempfe who was born on this day, August 10, in 1840.

Traugott Kaempfe baptism record Trinity Altenburg
Traugott Kaempfe baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

It is the name in the red box that attracted my attention.  His name was Theodor Julius Brohm, who happened to be one of the three men who built the Log Cabin College and taught at that school in its first few years of existence.  Joining him as sponsors were Johann August Stärtzell, a veterinarian, and Christiane Amalia Hoehne.  The parents of Traugott were Samuel and Christiane Kaempfe.  Here is a photo of this couple.

Samuel and Juliane Kaempfe
Samuel and Christiane Kaempfe

Although Rev. Gotthold Loeber recorded this event, I believe the pastor in charge of this baptism is more likely to have been Rev. C.F.W. Walther.  Let me explain why.

Rev. C.F.W. Walther did not leave Perry County until after the Altenburg Debate in April of 1841.  While here, he was the pastor of the two congregations in Dresden and Johannisberg.  Here is a list of the people living in the Dresden community which was located just to the east of Altenburg.

Dresden landowners Perry County map

Here are the plots of land associated with these names.  The numbers on the sections of land correspond with the numbers in the above list.

Dresden landowners plots map Perry County

In this list, you can find Samuel Kaempfe listed several times (#5, #7, #17).  You can also find Stärtzell at #20 and Hoehne at #22 (just off the bottom of the map).  Theodor Brohm was living at the Log Cabin College which was built on the Christiane Buenger property (#13).  It is reported that Rev. C.F.W. Walther was living with the Sproede family for a while (#9).  It only makes sense to me that all these people who were involved in this baptism were living within this Dresden colony, making it likely that Rev. Walther performed the baptism.

Traugott Kaempfe was not the only baby to have Theodore Brohm as a sponsor.  Another baptism took place in early 1841.  That baby was the son of Johann Gottlieb and Johanna Palisch.  Here is a photo of these parents.

J.G. and Johanna Palisch

J.G. Palisch is another name you can see associated with several pieces of property in Dresden (#1, #7, #15, #18, #21, #23).  The baby’s name was Bernhard Gotthilf Leberecht Palisch.  In addition to Theodor Brohm, his other sponsors were Louise Marbach (wife of lawyer Adolph Marbach who was the opponent of C.F.W. Walther in the Altenburg Debate) (#19) and Gottlob Kluegel, son of George Kluegel (#23).  Gottlob came to America as a Candidate just like Theodor Brohm did.  He also became a pastor.  Once again, I would surmise the Rev. Walther performed this baptism.  Here is an image of this baptism record in the Trinity books.

Bernhard Palisch baptismal record Trinity Altenburg
Bernhard Palisch baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

One other interesting factor about these two baptisms is the fact that Johanna Palisch’s maiden name was Kaempfe.  Here is a map of the Dresden area in Germany that shows the areas from where some original immigrants came in 1838.

Dresden Germany 1838 immigrants locations map

One of the yellow arrows points to Lobtau, which is where the Palisch family originated.  The yellow area pointing at Kleinpestitz is where the Kaempfes originated.  I cannot verify that Johanna is related to the other Kaempfes, but it sure seems curious.  These two families also traveled to America on the same ship.

I found the 1840 census that contains both the Kaempfe and the Palisch families, although their names are really butchered by the census taker.

J.G. Palisch 1840 census Perry County

The top red box is the Kaempfe record; the bottom one is Palisch.  Already in 1840, the Palisch family had nine members, and that is before Bernhard’s birth.  Even after that birth, there were several more to come for the Palisches.

I was especially excited when I also found the 1840 census record for Theodor Brohm.  It contains several items on it which confirm several of my ideas about people living on the property that I now own.  Here is that record.  I have started with the heading on a typical 1840 census page so that you can see what each column means.

1840 census heading

Theodore Brohm 1840 census Perry County

I will list the names in the bottom portion starting with Andreas Estel, who is #8 on the above map.  Next is Johanna von Wurmb.  She was living in a cabin which was built near the Log Cabin College with her three children, who were three of the original students in the first class of that school.  Johanna was more or less the school cook for the College.  Under her name is that of Theodore Brohm, who I believe was living in the loft of the Log Cabin College.  Here are two photos of the stairway leading up to the loft and the loft itself as they look today.

Next in the census list is Christiane Buenger (wid).  She is shown as being a widow on the form.  The census also records that there are seven people living there.  I have always assumed that the Buengers built a cabin of their own on Christiane’s property, thus making three different cabins there, the Log Cabin College, the von Wurmb cabin, and the Buenger cabin.  By the time this census was taken, a few of the Buenger children had already left Perry County.  First, Agnes Buenger had married Rev. Otto Herman Walther who was the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis.  Also, Johann Friedrich Buenger had moved to St. Louis to become the teacher at the same Trinity Lutheran Church.  Here is a photo which shows all eight of the Buenger children who came to America in 1839.


J.F. Buenger (top left) and Agnes (top right) were no longer living in Perry County.  The others, along with their mother, made up the seven people shown in the census.  The two blank profiles indicate a child (or possibly several children) who died earlier in Germany, and the youngest daughter who was sickly, and she was left behind in Germany to be raised by other members of the extended family.  You can find all these children’s names in the post, Dual Landings.

The last two entries in the census image are Franz Marbach, the lawyer, and John Richter, who lived at #16 & #17.

In 1843, Theodor Brohm received a call to become a Lutheran pastor in New York City, which he decided to accept.  Before he left, in April of that year, he also decided to marry his neighbor, Johanna von Wurmb, and also become a step-father to three young children who also happened to be three of his former students.

Rev. Theodor Brohm went on to become one of several pastors who were instrumental in the formation of what is now called the Lutheran Church=Missouri Synod.  After serving in New York City for a while, he returned to Missouri to become pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

In 1867, Rev. Theodor Brohm came back to Altenburg to deliver the sermon when Trinity Lutheran dedicated their new church building on Reformation Sunday that year.  If you consider whether he might have had the chance to once again see his godsons, that brings up two different situations.  First, Traugott Kaempfe had moved to Millstadt, Illinois and was living there in 1867.  He would later move his family back to Perry County, but in 1867, he was not here.  Bernhard Palisch was still around, but he was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg, which had broken away from the Trinity congregation.  They still may have had the opportunity to get together.

By now, maybe you can tell that I get excited in the telling of stories of people who once lived on the land that I now own.  I just stand outside my home, looking at the surrounding pastureland and hills, and imagine all these people once walking all around my neighborhood.  I would love to have the chance to go back in history to talk with them all, except I would have to learn some German to make that possible.



6 thoughts on “Prof. Godfather

  1. Do you know who would be any of the current day descendants of the Kaempfe’s mentioned in this post?

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