Harry Abandoned on the Prairie – Updated

Today, I am going to re-publish an old post and add some new information and some new photographs to it.  Yesterday, our museum had a few visitors who happened to be descendants of the Harry mentioned in the title of this post who way back in 1885 was left in a basket out in the plains of Nebraska for someone else to find.  These visitors provided us with some photos of the people involved that I will share at the end of this re-published blog.  I will also add some new-found information about the Flach family.  First of all, you should read the old blog post to bring you up-to-date on the story.  I even had to re-read it myself because I forgot a lot of things.


Harry Flach WWII registration
Harry Flach’s WWII draft registration 1942

The photo above shows the World War II draft registration for Harry Flach, a clerk for a seed and hardware company in Peoria, Illinois who was born in Minden, Nebraska.  This document does not give any clue to Harry’s connection to the Saxon immigration, but there is one.  Here is how Harry’s story begins (and you can probably see how it attracted our attention for a blog).

“Baby Harry had been abandoned in a basket on the prairie.”

“Baby Harry” was Harry Flach.  He was abandoned in a basket on the Nebraska prairie near the town of Minden.  A young married couple was living in Minden at the time, and it is with this couple that we find a connection to the Lutherans.  Rev. Ernst and Clara (Grosse) Flach adopted this young baby and made it their own in 1885.  He was given the birthday of May 10th.

Next we can connect this couple to the Saxon immigration.  Clara’s father and mother were both members of the 1839 immigration.  Clara’s father was Moritz Ernst Grosse, who came to America aboard the Johann Georg along with his mother and two brothers.  Moritz started out as a shoemaker in St. Louis, but later became a teacher at Immanuel Lutheran Church there.  Moritz had married Christiane Augusta Wilhelmina Hahn at Old Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis in 1840, but she died prior to 1850.  Moritz married again in 1850 to Wilhelmina Schuessler in Frohna, Missouri.  This is really the only connection this story has to Perry County. Wilhelmina was part of the Gruber group that arrived in Perry County at the end of 1839.  Interestingly enough, the Gruber group also came to America aboard the Johann Georg.

Grosse Schuessler marriage
Grosse-Schuessler marriage record – Frohna church books

Just a side note:  In 1850, Rev. Gotthold Loeber, who was covering the Frohna congregation after Rev. Keyl had left, had died recently.  The only other Lutheran pastor in the vicinity at the time was Rev. Carl Gruber in Paitzdorf (now called Uniontown).  You will see his name in the lower right corner of this photo.

Ernst Flach, the son of a cabinet maker in Detroit, MI, probably met his wife, Clara, in St. Louis while Ernst was a student at Concordia Seminary around 1880.  Rev. Flach was apparently involved in several up-and-coming Lutheran churches in that area of Nebraska.  His name appears in records involving a church near Prosser, NE, a church near Juniata, NE, as well as the one in Minden.  Later, Rev. Flach was serving the Lutheran church in Hamel, IL.  Both Rev. Ernst and his wife Clara died and were buried in Peoria, IL.  It could be gathered from this fact that they moved to Peoria later in life to live near their son, Harry.

Ernst Flach tombstone Peoria
Rev. Ernst and Clara Flach’s tombstone – Peoria, IL

Harry’s given name was actually Ernst Theodor Herman Flach.  He and his wife, Caroline, are buried in the same Lutheran Cemetery as his parents in Peoria.

Harry Flach tombstone Peoria
Harry and Caroline Flach’s tombstone – Peoria, IL

Another side note:  When Moritz Grosse was teaching at Immanuel Lutheran Church in St. Louis, his pastor was Rev. J.F. Buenger, who was one of the builders of the Log Cabin College in Perry County.  One of Rev. Buenger’s notable accomplishments was to establish a Lutheran orphan’s home in the St. Louis area.  The Research Crew has noticed that there are numerous stories of Lutherans caring for orphans in the early history of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

“Harry on the Prairie” started out life by needing a set of parents.  His adoption into the Flach (pronounced “flock”) family is a wonderful story of a shepherd of God’s people and his wife accepting a child into their flock.  It was yet another story of Lutherans recognizing the needs of an orphaned child and doing something about it.

We Christians too were once orphans in need of a Heavenly Father.  Through baptism, we have become God’s children.


Now for some new information.  First of all, here is a photo of Rev. Ernst and Clara Flach with their adopted son, Harry.

Flach family with Harry
Rev. Ernst and Clara Flach with Harry

Another fact sneaks into the Flach story from the fact that this photograph was taken at a studio in West Point, Nebraska.  After serving several congregations in a region of western Nebraska around Minden, he took a call to serve a congregation in the area around West Point.  I found one family history on Ancestry.com that stated that the next child born into the family in 1898 was born in Scribner, Nebraska, which is near West Point.  The above photo would support the idea that the Flachs were in the Scribner area prior to the birth of Erwin in 1898 because he is not shown in this picture.  I do know that this 1900 census from Hamel, Illinois indicates that both Harry and Erwin Flach were born in Nebraska.

Harry Flach 1900 census Hamel, IL
1900 census – Hamel, IL

As is indicated in the above census, by 1900, Rev. Flach had moved to Hamel, Illinois.  He was the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  Here is a photograph taken in 1931 which shows this congregation’s old church on the left and their new church on the right.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church Hamel IL 1931
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Hamel, IL

I think the old church looks very much like Trinity Lutheran Church here in Altenburg.  Two daughters were born into the family of Rev. and Clara Flach while they were in Hamel.  The photo below was probably taken in or around Hamel.  It shows all four of the Flach children.  It is another example of a photo taken during the time period when big hair bows for young girls was in style.

Flach family
Rev. Ernst Flach family

It was while Harry was in Hamel, Illinois that he got married.  Although I did not find any documentation, one Ancestry.com family history says that he was married on October 12, 1911.  His bride was Caroline (Lena) Blase.  By the time that Harry filled out his World War I draft registration in 1918, he was living and working in Peoria, Illinois.

Harry Flach – WWI draft registration

The rest of Harry and Caroline’s story is found in the previous post, but I will share a few other photos that go back to Harry’s parents, Ernst and Clara.  First, here are two photographs of Clara Grosse in her younger days.


Also, here is a photograph of a younger Ernst Flach, Harry’s father.

Flach young

Finally, this is the wedding photo of Rev. Ernst and Clara Flach.  They were married in 1882 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Flach wedding

I was asked this morning what I am going to do when I run out of stories to write.  First of all, I don’t think that will happen in the time I have left on this planet.  Secondly, maybe I will do more of what I did today….improve on a previous post when new information is found.



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