I have written a book titled Mama Buenger: Mother of a Synod, which tells the story of Christiane Buenger, a widow who brought eight of her children to America in the 1839 immigration. [Note: Buenger is pronouced Binger] Christiane also happens to be the first owner of the property that I now own here in Altenburg, Missouri. Today, our story will be about one of her grandchildren who happened to be named after her. That child’s birthday also happens to be today, October 19th, although there is reason to debate the date of her birth. More on that later.
Here is a photo that is said to be Mama Buenger, Christiane Friedericke (Reiz) Buenger.
One of Mama Buenger’s children who immigrated in 1839 was Ernst Eduard Buenger. Ernst is listed on the passenger list for the Olbers as being a physician. Here is that list.
In Zion on the Mississippi, he is called a medical student. He was the only medically trained person to be part of the group that inhabited Perry County when the immigrants arrived here. I have been told that a “medical student” from Germany possibly had more qualifications than most medical doctors here in America during those days. In the days when there was so much disease and death taking place among the new settlers, it must have been a huge task for Dr. E.E. Buenger to serve the medical needs of the people.
On November 8, 1842, Ernst married Amalia Weber. Amalia was the brother of Charles Weber, whose story was told in the post, Charles Weber x 2. This couple had a son that was born dead in November of 1843. Then on October 19, 1844, their daughter, Christiane Maria Buenger, was born. The baptism record in the Trinity Lutheran, Altenburg church books says this baby was born at 5:30 a.m. It also says that Christiane was baptized in the home. I like to think that this baby was born and baptized on my property. The pastor who baptized Christiane was Rev. Gotthold Loeber. Christiane had some interesting sponsors: Mrs. Buenger, widow, from St. Louis (This would have been Mama Buenger, and this is evidence that by 1844, she had moved most of her family to St. Louis.), Mrs. Loeber (wife of Rev. Loeber), and Louis Weber (Amalia’s brother). Here is an image of Christiane’s baptism record in the Trinity church books.
The next child born to the Buengers was born in 1846, but his baptism record can be found in the Old Trinity Lutheran Church books in St. Louis. Sometime between 1844 and 1846, Ernst must have moved his family to St. Louis. We find his family in the 1850 census in St. Louis.
Another Buenger boy was baptized at Trinity in Altenburg in 1853, so we find the Buengers back in Perry County. Here is the 1860 census from Altenburg. Christiane is now 16 years old.
Now we must tell the story of Christiane’s future husband, Frederick Stellhorn. Frederick immigrated with his family in 1854 when he was 12 years old. Before that year ended, however, his father died in Ft. Wayne, Indiana of cholera. Frederick was raised by his mother and older brother. In 1855, he entered the Lutheran seminary in Ft. Wayne. In 1857, he transfered to the seminary in St. Louis where he graduated in 1865. After graduation, he became a pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown St. Louis, along with its first pastor, Rev. J.F. Buenger.
This paragraph is part of Frederick’s obituary.
“In the fall of 1855 Frederick entered the Practical Theological Seminary of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, at Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the fall of 1857 he transferred to Concordia College at St. Louis, Missouri. In 1862 he was admitted to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at St. Louis, where he graduated in 1865, and became assistant pastor of the German Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel’s Congregation at St. Louis, under its first pastor, J. F. Buenger. He suffered a sun stroke and was nearly lost, but took several weeks to recover in the country, and returned; at Easter he was still so weak he retired again to the country to recover his strength. In the fall he accepted a call to small congregation in De Kalb County, Indiana.”
I cannot help but wonder if the place referred to as “the country” was Perry County. And if so, would he have possibly gone to stay with Rev. J.F. Buenger’s brother, Dr. E.E. Buenger? And could this possibly be where he fell in love with Dr. Buenger’s daughter, Christiane? Needless to say, Frederick and Christiane were married on January 3, 1866 in Altenburg. Here is their Perry County marriage record (it is very difficult to read).
They had one child while Rev. Stellhorn was still in St. Louis. Then Frederick served congregations in DeKalb County, Illinois and Watertown, Wisconsin before he took a call to be a professor at the Lutheran college in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Here is their family listed in the 1880 census.
It was about this time when a controversy about predestination was brewing in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Rev. Stellhorn was at odds with the official position of the Synod, and he decided to leave. In 1881, he became a professor at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
It was in Columbus, Ohio, that Christiane died. She died three days before her 55th birthday in 1899. We have this photograph of Christiane that was taken not long before she died.
Christiane is buried in the Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio. Here is a picture of her gravestone.
This is where we get some debate about Christiane’s birthday. Her tombstone says she was born on October 20th, not October 19th like it says in the Trinity church records. Who do you trust more? I have seen mistakes made in both church records and on gravestones.
Rev. Frederick Stellhorn received a doctorate and was a very well-renowned theologian. We have a variety of photos that were taken of him as well as a drawing.
Dr. Stellhorn died 20 year after his wife. In the meantime, he had married a second time. His second wife was Louise (Lang) (Darst) Stellhorn. Frederick is buried in the same cemetery as Christiane in Columbus, Ohio. Here is his gravestone.
Here at the museum, we are blessed to have an artifact that comes from the family of Christiane (Buenger) Stellhorn. It is on display here in a special display case.
This dress belonged to Christiane. In fact, it is the same dress that you see Christiane wearing in the photo of her above. I do not know the story of how our museum obtained this dress, but I do know that it is in incredibly good condition. To me, it looks like you could put it on a hanger in a dress store and sell it as if was new. I have a theory to explain this. I think the family knew that Christiane was near death and had this photo taken. I think they bought this dress for the photograph, and then put it in storage after she died. They apparently did an excellent job of preserving it, and now we are blessed to have it to show others.