The Travels of Adolph and Amanda

A pastor was born on this day in 1889.  It may have taken some time before he discovered that calling, but he had his start in Wittenberg, Missouri.  After his birth on October 8th, he was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  The Trinity books say that he was baptized by Rev. Zschoche, who was the pastor in Frohna, but was probably covering the Altenburg congregation which was between pastors at the time.  By the time Adolph’s confirmation rolled around in 1904, he was a member at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg.  His was one of the first confirmation classes at that church which began in 1903.

Adoph’s father was a blacksmith, but by the time of the 1910 census, his mother was also running a hotel in downtown Wittenberg.  The story of that hotel was told in the post, Birner Hotel – Wittenberg.  Here is an image of that 1910 census.

Adolph Birner 1910 census Wittenberg
1910 census – Wittenberg, MO

Even though Adolph is shown on this census as being 20 years old, he is also shown as having no occupation.  That was not normal for a son of that age in those days.  I am guessing, though, that Adolph may have already been attending the Seminary in preparation for becoming a pastor.  One of the boarders at the hotel at that time was Rufus Schneider, who was the teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran School.  His story was told in the post, Rufus….Herr Schneider.

Adolph would have also called Friedrich Birner his Uncle Fred.  His tragic story was told in the post, Birner’s Remains Return Home.  However, by the time of Friedrich’s death, Adolph was no longer living in Perry County.

It was in 1914 that Adolph got married.  He found his bride in Perry County, but I could not locate their marriage record in any of the Perry County church records.  In fact, I could not find it anywhere else either.  I am going with someone’s information that the wedding took place in 1914.

Adolph’s bride was Amanda Amelia Lueders.  When I first saw that Adolph had married a Lueders, I automatically assumed that it must have been out of the Lueders family that ran a general store in Wittenberg, but it was not.  Amanda was the daughter of Ludwig and Mathilde (Markwart) Lueders.  She was born in 1891 and baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Perryville.  Her father was a watchmaker and owned a jewelry store at one time.  In the 1900 census, that family was living in the Frohna area and Amanda was confirmed at Concordia, Frohna in 1905.

After he became a pastor, Adolph must have taken a call to Mena, Arkansas, because their first child was born there at the beginning of 1916.  Here is a present-day photo of the church in Mena that started in 1900.

Trinity Lutheran Mena AR
Trinity Lutheran – Mena, AR


By the end of 1916, Rev. Birner was the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Shawneetown, Missouri, just over the Apple Creek from Perry County.

Trinity Lutheran Shawneetown
Trinity Lutheran – Shawneetown, MO

It was while Adolph was at this congregation that he filled out his World War I draft registration form in 1917.  Here it is.


Pastor Birner served that church until 1918.  The Birner family then moved to Joachim Township near Herculaneum and Festus.  The 1920 census places them there.

When the couple’s fourth child, Rhoda, was born, that birth took place in Hendricks, Minnesota, which is found near the South Dakota border.  It also appears that this is where Adolph and Amanda spent the rest of their lives.

The Birners had eight children in all.  Adolph died in 1958; Amanda died in 1980.  They are buried in the Memorial Hill Cemetery in Lake Benton, Minnesota.

The original Birner family of Wittenberg produced several Lutheran ministers over the years.  I know that there are still a few Birners standing in Lutheran pulpits on Sunday mornings around the country.

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