Tales of Tears Turned to Triumph

The title for today’s post is also the theme for our upcoming Immigration History Conference which will take place this fall in Altenburg.  The dates for the conference are October 25-27, 2018.  Instead of doing my normal sketch of some historical person or place from Perry County, I am going to tease you a little bit about some of the events and activities that will take place during the conference.

First of all, without making any promises, a conference in October always makes it possible to see some pretty magnificent autumn colors.  Trinity Lutheran Church, where most of the conference presentations will be made, has been known to look like this.

Trinity in the fall
Trinity Lutheran Church, Altenburg in the fall

The theme of this year’s conference is an indication that we will not only be discussing different aspects of the German immigration in 1839, but also the fact that the forced movement of Cherokee Indians from their homes was also taking place at the same time, That movement has gone down in history as the Trail of Tears, and that migration crossed the Mississippi not far from here.  Gerard Fiehler and I will be making a presentation about the coincidence that one of the steamboats carrying Lutherans came up the Mississippi River at the same time Cherokee Indians were being ferried across that same river. We will include in that presentation some interesting biographies.  For example, take a look at the photo below.

Eliza Missouri Bushyhead

This woman was born on January 3, 1839 and one of the names she was given was Missouri.  Her story is a fascinating one, as are the stories about several other folks who were involved in the Cherokees crossing the Mississippi at the same time when Lutherans were arriving in America.

A preacher traveling with the Cherokees made this interesting statement in January of 1839.  Our presentation will attempt to answer the question, “Did the Cherokees see the German Lutherans?”

Rev. Buttrick quote steamboat

Another presentation during this conference will be conducted by Dale Kirmse.  He is an expert on an out-migration which took place from Perry County, Missouri to Alva, Oklahoma.  Here is a photo of the old church building located in Alva, and I know there is evidence that some Perry County natives were very much involved in its building in 1899.

OldChurch Zion Lutheran Alva OK
Zion Lutheran Church – Alva, OK

Also, because of a new donation of artifacts from that area, we now have a special exhibit in our museum that highlights that out-migration.  Here is a little taste of some of the items that are in the exhibit.  You’ll have to come here to see the rest.

Quite a few other presentations will be made during the conference, so there will be plenty of learning opportunities for those in attendance.

A bus tour will also be part of the conference program.  We will be using the services of Southwestern Illinois Bus Lines.

Southwestern Illinois Bus Company

The bus tour will travel to a few local sites which we think will interest our conference attendees.  We will visit Trail of Tears State Park which is located in Cape Girardeau County.

A stop will be made at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jackson, Missouri.  While there, we will hear some organ music performed by a descendant of the immigration, Matt Palisch.

Matt Palisch organist

The tour will also make a stop at one of the oldest church buildings in this area.  Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim, Missouri has a church that was built in 1856.  The first pastor at that church was also one of the first graduates of the Log Cabin College, Rev. Franz Julius Biltz.

In addition to organ music, there will be other events which will feature musical groups.

A gathering such as this would not be very Lutheran without having plenty of food and some beer.  This year’s conference will have a new person preparing food for us.  He calls himself The German Cook, and the reviews on his food are excellent.

The German Cook (2)

Our local ladies who have always provided excellent food in past conferences will once again be working hard to prepare some delicacies for this one.  Their “farm table” meal has become a favorite for bus tours that have visited our museum recently.

Farm Table meal

Since the last immigration conference, a new brewery has been established in Altenburg.  The brewmaster at Saxony Hills Brewery, Mike Mills, will be preparing some of his suds for this gathering.

As always, there will be time for our visitors to spend some time in the museum’s top-notch research library.  This library is now also the home of a table which was once used in the library of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

Museum Research Library

This post was done to just give a glimpse of the many exciting happenings that await those who register for our fall conference.  Not all of the events and presentations have been mentioned in this post.  I will take just a quick moment to point out that Dr. Frank Nickell will be the keynote speaker for our closing banquet.  He never disappoints.

Dr. Frank Nickell
Dr. Frank Nickell

There are still openings available.  More information about the conference can be found by clicking on the link below.


Also, if you would like to pay the fee for the conference online, you can click on the link below and use the “Donation” portion of this page.  Put in the designated amount in the “Enter an amount” box.


For those of you that are planning to attend, I know our director, Carla Jordan, will appreciate it if you will finish the registration process very soon, so she can better plan for this event.  I also encourage you to share this post with as many people as you can. We look forward to welcoming many people to Altenburg later this year.

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