The story I tell today fascinates me. Maybe it does because I am making some assumptions in telling the story. In other words, I’m making some of this stuff up based on some basic facts that can found in historical records. It is the story of the replica of the Log Cabin College that can be found on the campus of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. I have arrived at this story by starting with a baby girl being born on this day, November 30, in 1896 in Altenburg. Her name was Clara Grebing.
Clara was the daughter of Jacob and Louise (Andermann) Grebing. She was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Her father was a farmer. Two plots of land that were owned by Jacob Grebing in 1915 can be seen on this map. They were located between the two towns of Altenburg and Frohna.
In the 1920 census, we find Clara working as a maid in St. Louis.
Clara would not get married until 1930 when she was almost 34 years old. She would marry a man by the name of Edward Baese. Let me tell you a little about him. Edward was born on October 30, 1893 in Dodge County, Wisconsin. His parents were Ernest and Emma (Roemer) Baese. His father was a Lutheran pastor there. Rev. Baese was mentioned in a recent post, Roemer Reverend Roommates. Here are photos of Edward Baese’s parents.
It was mentioned in that article that the last congregation that Rev. Baese served was in Campbell Hill, Illinois. Rev. Baese died in 1926, so he was not around to celebrate his son’s wedding in 1930.
Edward filled out a World War I draft registration form. Here is an image of that record.
He was living in Jackson County, Illinois and was a truck gardener. One interesting fact on this form is that it says he had his right eye out. That alone should have kept him from military service.
After his father’s death, the Baese family moved to St. Louis. In the 1930 census, we find Edward living in St. Louis and working as described in this image.
He is said to be a gardener at a “cemenary”. Now we know that this word is misspelled. You might think it is a misspelling of the word cemetery, but that is not the case. It is a misspelling of the word seminary. Later, I will show another document that shows this to indeed be Concordia Seminary. By 1930, Concordia Seminary had moved to its present location in Clayton.
It was that same year, 1930, that Edward traveled to Perry County for his wedding. He would marry Clara at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Here are photos of the bride and groom.
Now here is where the story gets interesting. In the late 1930’s, Concordia Seminary and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod were getting ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the immigration in 1839 as well as the opening of the Log Cabin College in that same year. Concordia Seminary to this day uses the date of the opening of the Log Cabin College on December 9, 1839 as the date of that institution’s founding. For that centennial celebration, one thing that became part of those plans was to build a replica of the Log Cabin College on the Concordia Seminary campus.
For the record, their original plan was to move the original cabin located here in Altenburg up to St. Louis and put it on the Seminary grounds. From what I have been told, the folks here in Perry County not only said no to that plan, they said, “#%$*, no!” So their Plan B was to build a replica. One of the reasons to build this replica was that they were also planning to produce a movie titled, “Called to the Cross”, and would use the replica as a part of the film set.
This was also the time when Edward Baese was a gardener, or landscaper, at the Seminary. As it also turns out, we know that Jacob Grebing provided logs from his farm in Perry County to be used to build this replica. Jacob himself went up to the Seminary to help build the cabin. Here is a photo of Jacob at work there.
I am guessing that Edward Baese had something to do with getting Jacob and his lumber for the work of building the Log Cabin College replica. Maybe it was his idea, or his wife’s idea, to use Perry County logs to construct this building. Or if someone else suggested that idea, perhaps Edward suggested his father-in-law as the source for those logs. I also think it is likely that Edward was out there helping Jacob with those logs.
The story got a little more contentious as the plans were made for this replica. The decision was made to design this building after the drawing below which was included in a book on Missouri Synod history titled, Ebenezer.
There is a major difference between this drawing and the authentic cabin which is still located here in Altenburg and is on display at our museum. The drawing has a window on the front. There was a painting made for the centennial celebration in 1939 by G.H. Hilmer. Here is an image of that painting.
As you can see in this painting of the cabin, there is no window on the front wall. The folks here in Perry County would call the replica at Concordia Seminary a “lousy replica” that has a window where it doesn’t belong. I even heard an Altenburg old-timer that I talked to yesterday call this building “Jake’s Bar and Grill”. A few years back, a couple of our research crew were at Concordia Seminary and had a photo taken in front of the replica.
A photo was also taken of Gerard Fiehler expressing his opinion of the window on the front of this cabin.
Even if this cabin is not very authentic, at least it has authentic Perry County logs that went into its building. And I figure that the Clara Grebing/Edward Baese wedding had something to do with that.
On his draft card for World War II, Edward Baese listed his employer as Concordia Seminary.
Edward died in 1957 of liver cancer. Here is his death certificate.
Clara died one year later in 1958. This is her death certificate. It appears that she had breast cancer.
Both Edward and Clara are buried together in the Our Redeemer Cemetery in Afton. Here is their gravestone.
The inscription on this gravestone says, “One life twill soon be past….What’s done for Christ will last.” Edward’s work at Concordia Seminary was something that I trust he did because he was doing it for Christ.