Farmer and Clergyman’s Wife

Today’s story begins with a photograph.

Anna Hafner gravestone Concordia Frohna
Anna Hafner gravestone – Concordia Cemetery, Frohna

As you can see, Anna B. Hafner was born on October 27, 1893, so this makes her today’s birthday girl.  But who is this Anna Hafner?  You have a big clue on her gravestone.  It refers to her as “wife of Rev. Gustav W.”  She indeed was the spouse of Rev. Gustav Hafner, who was the pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri, from 1924-1957.  I will tell you a little about Anna before I move on to her husband.

Anna was born as Anna B. Marxen on October 27, 1893 in Piper, Kansas.  Piper is located near Kansas City.  She was the daughter of a farmer.  Her parents were Asmus and Anna Louise (Ebert) Marxen.  I will just mention at this point that Anna had a sister, Wilhelmina (who was called Minnie), who will show up in this story later.

Now we’ll look at the story of Rev. Hafner’s beginning.  Gustav Hafner was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on June 18, 1888.  He was the son of John and Dorothea (Juergens) Hafner.  John was a schoolteacher.  In an 1895 census from Herkimer, Kansas, we find that John Hafner was a teacher there, and Gustav was 6 years old.

Gustav Hafner 1895 census Herkimer KS
1895 Kansas census – Herkimer, KS

I found this photo which was taken inside a Lutheran school in Herkimer sometime between 1900 and 1910.


I doubt that Gustav is in the photo.  I think if he was, his father would have been the teacher.  Sometime along the way, the Hafners were in Chalco, Nebraska near Omaha and this photo was taken.  Gustav is on the far right in the front row.

Hafner family
John Hafner family

The 1900 census shows the Hafner family living in Bremer County, Iowa which is located near Waverly.  Then in the 1920 census, Gustav had been ordained as a Lutheran pastor and was located in Leavenworth County, Kansas.  It is probably while he was here that Gustav married Anna.  What I find particularly interesting is the fact that this census shows the following in the columns which indicate facts about the person’s occupation.  This is what it says for Gustav.

Hafner farm and church

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Lutheran minister described as both a farmer and a clergyman.

1924 is the year that Rev. Hafner moved to Perry County and became the pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church.  The Hafners had five children.  Only the last two were born in Frohna.

Another interesting thing happened in Perry County concerning Anna’s family.  Anna’s sister, Minnie (who was mentioned earlier), married a pastor also.  His name was Rev. William Dommer.  In 1935, Pastor Dommer took a call to become the minister at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Missouri.  I have to think that the Hafners in Frohna may have had some influence in getting Rev. Dommer that call to Farrar.

Pastor Hafner is pictured in this photograph which shows the officers and teachers of Concordia Lutheran Church in 1939.  I have been told that Rev. Hafner may have been one of the last pastors around here who would have conducted regular German services at his church.

Concordia Frohna officers Hafner

Rev. Hafner’s last year to serve Concordia was 1957.  Rev. Emil Bickel was called to replace him.  We have this photo of these two pastors.

Hafner and Bickel

One other photo we have shows Pastor Hafner in his robe standing in front of the altar at Concordia.

Rev. Gustav Hafner

Gustav died in 1968; Anna died in 1982.  They are both buried in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Frohna.  That is where you would find Anna’s gravestone shown above.

We started with Anna B. Hafner, and we will end with her.  I managed to find a photo of her.  It happens to be a photo which has been shown in a previous blog about the East Perry Community Fair.  Anna is standing on the right in this picture in front of some prize-winning apples.




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