The person whose story will be told today did not spend much of his life in Perry County. In fact, he did not spend most of his life in Missouri. Heinrich (Henry) Schuessler became a Lutheran pastor and spent almost all his life in the state of Michigan. We tell his story today because he was born on March 8, 1871.
Henry was the son of Gottfried and Maria (Jahn) Schuessler of Frohna. He was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church. Below is his baptism record from that Frohna church.
As an aside, I would like to commend the person who wrote these records in the Concordia church books. I know it was not the pastor at the time, Rev. J.F. Koestering, whose penmanship had much to be desired. The above record is an example of beautiful German handwriting. I would give that person an A+.
The 1880 census shows Henry as a 9 year old student in a rather large family.
In 1885, Henry was confirmed at Concordia. Here is his confirmation record.
Rev. Zschocke chose this passage for Henry’s confirmation verse:
“If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32
This would turn out to be a very significant verse for Henry because he would become a Lutheran pastor and share that Word with his parishioners throughout his career.
Because we do not have an 1890 census, the next census in which we find Henry was the one taken in 1900. However, before we get to that census, there is another record for Henry before 1900. That was his marriage record. It takes two images to show it.
Henry married Anna Dunkel on November 21, 1895 in Port Huron, Michigan. This document states that by this time, Henry was a minister. I do not know if he was serving a Lutheran church in Port Huron or not, but that is certainly a possibility.
By the time of the 1900 census, Henry was the preacher at a Lutheran church in Sandusky, Michigan. By that time, Henry and Anna already had 3 children.
Three more children would be born into this family, the last one being born toward the end of 1909. However, the family was no longer in Sandusky. In 1901, Rev. Schuessler accepted a call to become the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Boston, Michigan, which today would be considered part of metropolitan Detroit. Henry would remain at that church for the rest of his life.
We know that Henry (and possibly the rest of his family) made a trip back to Frohna in June of 1908. In a previous post, titled Winter Homes in Frohna, the marriage license for Henry’s sister, Johanna, was shown.
You can see that Rev. Henry Schuessler performed this wedding ceremony and signed the couple’s marriage license. The railroad started running through Wittenberg in 1904, so it is possible that Rev. Schuessler may have taken the train from Michigan to Perry County.
I do not have a photo of Anna, but I did manage to find one of Henry on the Findagrave.com site.
The images below show some information that comes from a family history binder that we have in our research library. Its author is said to be Wayne Schuessler, who has been a guest blogger on this page. You can see what became of Henry and Anna’s children.
I find it interesting that one of their daughters, Hildegard, married twice, to a Schilling and a Walther, both of which are Perry County names. However, I could not find any evidence that these two husbands had connections to this area.
Rev. Schuessler served St. Paul’s for about 39 years. During his time at that congregation, the Young People’s Society and the Ladies Aid were begun. Then in November of 1940, Henry was killed in a tragic car crash. Below is his Michigan death certificate.
Henry’s wife, Anna, died in 1952. Henry and Anna are both buried in the Michigan Memorial Park in the Detroit area.
The story of Henry Schuessler is yet another story of a Perry County native who went into full-time service to the Lutheran church as a preacher or teacher. It seems like I never seem to run out of stories like this one. Since I, too, became a Lutheran educator, serving Lutheran congregations in several states, stories like this one hold a special place in my heart.