The first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg was Rev. Gotthold Heinrich Löber. Like so many other German names that included the umlaut, the spelling of this name was changed by removing the umlaut and putting an “e” behind the letter that had the umlaut, thus making this name, Loeber. Most folks who live elsewhere pronounce this name Low-ber, but here in Perry County, we stick closer to the umlaut pronunciation which comes out closer to Lay-ber. So, as I did a year ago on this holiday, I wanted to do a story about the Löber family on Labor Day.
First, I want you to know that our museum, the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum is open today. We only close our doors for a handful of days per year, including snow days, and Labor Day is not a day that we close. If you’re in the area, please stop by. We can show you our Löber display.
At first, I was going to just do a story about some of the artifacts that can be seen in this display at our museum, but when I decided to do a search in our German Family Tree on the Loeber name, I ran across what I consider an interesting story. One of the reasons it is a story that I like is that it contains some mystery. There are certainly unanswered questions that I had as I looked into another family in Perry County that seemed connected to the Loebers, not so much because of genes, but seemingly because of friendship.
I will start by laying out some facts. First of all, here is the baptismal record of Johannes Heinrich Spiegal in the Trinity Lutheran Church books. The baptism took place on July 12, 1844.
Here is the translation into English of this record as we find it in the German Family Tree. This also includes some death information.
Next, we run across a baptism record for another son, Jacob Wilhelm Spiegal, which took place on January 21, 1845.
Here is that translation in the German Family Tree.
We find yet another Spiegal child being baptized in 1846. This one was a girl by the name of Johanne Dorothea Adelheid Martha Spiegal.
And once again, its translation.
As these records indicate, Christian Spiegal and his wife, Sarah (Flatcher) had two children born in Altenburg and three of them baptized at Trinity. The first child was born in 1842, but wasn’t baptized until 1844. This leads me to think that the Spiegels arrived in Altenburg in 1844. The father is described as being a medical doctor. These are the only records we have of this family. They are not to be found in any census records. They are also not a part of the original immigration. This family must have entered the Altenburg community sometime after the 1840 census and left before the 1850 census.
The Loebers come into this picture when we look at the sponsors for these baptisms. Rev. Loeber apparently was not only the pastor who performed this first baptism, but he was also a sponsor. The third baptism lists Martha Loeber, Pastor Loeber’s daughter, as a sponsor. Martha would have been around 16 years of age when this baptism took place.
There are a few other interesting things about these three baptisms and their sponsors. First of all, many of the sponsors for these children were either full-time church workers or related to one. In addition to the Loebers, we see Rev. Keyl from Frohna, Teacher Goenner from the Log Cabin College, and Teacher Winter of Trinity Lutheran Church included as sponsors. I see this as an indication that the family of Dr. Spiegel considered himself a friend of the members of the clergy in this area during his short time here.
A while back, someone told me that a child’s name, especially their middle names, were often also the names of their baptismal sponsors. We can see evidence of this in these three baptisms, especially the third one. Other than her first name of Johanne, that child carried three other names that were the names of her three female sponsors.
The sad part of this story is that within one week in July of 1846, Dr. Spiegal and his wife lost their first two children to the disease, scarlet fever. Dr. Spiegal himself must have not only diagnosed the disease, but also must had done everything he knew to prevent their deaths. His wife, Sarah, meanwhile must have been very pregnant while she watched her two children die. With these deaths occurring in his own family as well as throughout the East Perry County community, it is no wonder that he must have decided to move his family elsewhere. After 1846, I was not able to find any record of this family.
One other note: On the two baptism records above for the first two sons, you can see a cross has been included on the left side of the record. Pastors were known to include this symbol indicating that the person in the record had died.
Let me say something about another Altenburg doctor, Dr. Ernst Eduard Buenger.
Dr. Buenger was one of the original immigrants. After most of his family moved to St. Louis in the early 1840’s, he stayed in Altenburg. In fact, in 1842, he found his bride in here. But as near as I can tell, he must have moved to St. Louis to be near many in his family sometime around 1845. We start seeing his name showing up in the Old Trinity records about that time. This story about another doctor moving into Altenburg in the 1840’s makes me think that his arrival may have influenced Dr. Buenger’s move to St. Louis. Ernst may have felt obligated to stay in Perry County because he was the only one around trained in medicine. However, when Dr. Speigal arrived, he may have felt less tied to this area. Then, after Dr. Spiegal left, and after Ernst’s mother died in St. Louis in 1849, we find him moving back to Altenburg where he spent the rest of his life serving the medical needs of this community.
Anyway, in September of 1846, Sarah Spiegal would have another “labor” day, on which she gave birth to a new baby girl who was going to be blessed with a bunch of special names. Who knows? Maybe that girl made it back to Altenburg at some later date to visit her birthplace.
UPDATE: One of our faithful followers, Cal Eggers, contacted me today, and he managed to find Dr. Spiegal in the 1850 census. The spelling was different (Speigle), but it is definitely the same person. Here is an image.
That got me to looking again, and I found Dr. Spiegal in the 1860 census living in Memphis, Tennessee. By then, he had apparently remarried and had three more children in Tennessee. You can once again see his daughter, Adeline(sp?) who was born in Missouri.