Some folks might think of December 9th as the day on which Charlie Brown’s Christmas first aired in 1965. I prefer to think that the first airing of Charlie Brown’s Christmas took place on the 126th anniversary of the opening of the Log Cabin College in Altenburg in 1839. That makes today the 178th anniversary of that event.
Opening a school in a log cabin in the month of December is not what you would expect. As I am writing this post this morning, the thermometer I have here at my house reads 25 degrees. Yesterday, it was 15. I have to think that the Log Cabin College must have been a very cold place to attend school on those December days in 1839. The cabin had no fireplace, and it would also be my guess that they did not have a stove to put into the cabin either. I do not know where these people would have gotten such a luxury. During those early days in Perry County, the new immigrants were suffering terribly and were in survival mode. The only reasonable scenario I can imagine is the possibility that a fire may have been built outside the cabin, and they may have taken some coals from that fire inside the cabin in some sort of bucket or pan to provide some warmth for the students and teachers.
I also like to think that there must have been some sort of religious ceremony on that day in 1839 to officially dedicate this new school. I like to imagine that, along with the teachers and students, some other pastors such as Rev. C.F.W. Walther, Rev. Gotthold Loeber, and maybe even Rev. E.G. Keyl were there. Parents of the students may have accompanied their children on their first day of school.
The Log Cabin College had been built in the area that was designated as Dresden. It was an area just east of Altenburg, and the congregation that was intended to be established there was led by Rev. C.F.W. Walther, their pastor. It was built on an eleven acre lot that was owned by Christiane Buenger, who was the mother of one of the cabin’s builders, Johann Friedrich Buenger. Here is an image of a map showing that piece of property. It is labeled as #13.
Here is another map, which was drawn by Dr. Edward Lottes, that shows the original location of the Log Cabin College. This drawing also shows another cabin nearby that is labeled as the residence of Frau von Wurmb.
I am the present owner of this piece of property. It is an honor to live on land that has such special significance in the history of our church. In my pasture, behind my barn, a monument has been placed to commemorate the original location of the Log Cabin College. This plaque can be seen on top of that monument.
If you stand where this monument is situated and look toward where the buildings are located on my property, this is what you would see.
I keep a pathway mowed to the monument just in case someone wants to come by and see it. Since I rent this pasture to a neighbor who has his cows grazing here on occasion, you have to watch where you step when you go out there. Also, occasionally there is a bull in the field. On those occasions, I will not risk going down there.
There were 11 students in the inaugural class of the Log Cabin College. The institution started out as a gymnasium, and, as such, it was a co-ed school for a while. It was not until several years later that this institution transitioned to become a seminary that trained just young men for the ministry. Here is a list of the first students and their ages.
- Herman Buenger age 14
- Franz Julius Biltz age 14
- Johann Andrew Friedrich Wilhelm Mueller age 14
- Lydia “Liddy” Buenger age 12
- Christoph Heinrich Loeber age 11
- Theodor Schubert age 10
- Martha Loeber age 9
- Maria von Wurmb age 9
- Theobald von Wurmb age 7
- Sara von Wurmb age 5
- Columbus Price age 25
Two of these students, Franz Julius Biltz and Theodor Schubert, came to America as orphans. Columbus Price was quite an unusual individual to be included in that class. He was an English-speaking Presbyterian from nearby Brazeau who was married with two young children at home. If you want to know more about his story, you can read the post titled, An Englischer from Brazeau.
The same three young men who built the school also taught there. Those three were Johann Friedrich Buenger, Ottomar Fuerbringer, and Theodore Brohm. Rev. C.F.W. Walther actually did very little teaching at that school. I think he probably gets a little too much credit on the plaque shown above. However, Rev. Walther was indeed a central figure in another event that took place at this school a few years later…..the Altenburg Debate (which I think should be called the Dresden Debate).
December 9, 1839 is used to this day by Concordia Seminary in St. Louis as the day when their institution began. The Log Cabin College, when it later transitioned to train pastors, became known as Concordia Seminary. In fact, there were five graduates of Concordia Seminary, Altenburg, before that institution moved to St. Louis in 1849. Three of those graduates were student in the first class……Franz Julius Biltz, J.A.F.W. Mueller, and Christoph Loeber.
In closing, I will share a few Anniversary Selfies, taken on this rather brisk morning here in East Perry County. One is taken at the location where the Log Cabin College was built. The other two show the Log Cabin College where it stands today.
I think today would be a great day for visitors to stop by to see the Log Cabin College Monument behind my barn. Happy Anniversary, Log Cabin College! Happy Birthday, Concordia Seminary!