We do not have a baptism record for today’s birthday boy. In fact, we don’t even come close to looking at such a document. That is because he was born in Ranchi, India. The map below shows the location of Ranchi in East India.
The boy born on August 5, 1846 in India was Bernhard Johannes Ansorge. Some documents call him Bernhard, others Johannes, but a lot of them just call him B.J. Ansorge. I will use B.J. for this post. The parents of B.J. were Georg Friedrich Herman and Mathilde Theresa Wilhelmine (Freuhauf) Ansorge. B.J.’s father was in India because he was a missionary. We have a photograph showing B.J.’s parents.
You may recall that much of India was once under the control of the British East India Tea Company. However, from what I have found, most of the missionary work in India in those days was done by German mission societies, many of them Lutheran. I believe that Rev. G.F.H. Ansorge may have originally been part of one of those societies called the Gossner Missionary Society. The Lutheran Cyclopedia has this entry concerning that organization.
Therefore, Lutheran missionary work was already being done in India before the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was formed in America. The photo below shows the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ranchi, India which was built in 1855.
I believer that Rev. Ansorge left this society while B.J. was growing up in India, but it is said that B.J. wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a missionary. However, he had trouble becoming one of the members of the German missionary societies so he eventually returned to Berlin, Germany. B.J. was talked into coming to America in 1870 to become a student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in hopes of becoming a Lutheran pastor.
B.J. was ordained in 1873. A family history says that he was ordained by Rev. Martin Stephan, Jr., the son of the leader of the Gesellschaft. Interestingly, Rev. Stephan was the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Chester, Illinois in 1873. That is just across the Mississippi River from Perry County. After ordination, Rev. Ansorge became the first called pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Paducah, Kentucky. In fact, I believe Rev. Ansorge was the first called LCMS pastor in the state of Kentucky.
Rev. Ansorge traveled back to St. Louis to get married in 1875. He married Concordia Tirmenstein on June 13th at Old Trinity Lutheran Church. Concordia was the daughter of Samuel (Jr.) and Dorothea (Dorries) Tirmentstein. She was born on April 26, 1856 and baptized at Old Trinity. It is likely that B.J. met Concordia while he was a student at the Seminary.
Concordia’s grandparents brought their family to America as part of the Gesellschaft in 1839. There were 8 children who made the voyage with their parents, including Concordia’s father, Samuel, Jr. The Tirmentstein’s only spent a short time in Perry County before moving back to St. Louis. We find a Tirmentstein in the first confirmation class in Perry County which took place at the “camp church” on October 13, 1839. That confirmation was conducted by Rev. C.F.W. Walther. Anna Maria Tirmenstein can be seen as the second-to-last name on this list.
The 1940 census for Perry County shows the Tirmenstein family (although their name is butchered as Doominstine).
After this census, you no longer find the Tirmenstein’s in Perry County. Perhaps they followed Rev. C.F.W. Walther up to St. Louis when he was called to Old Trinity and moved there after the Altenburg Debate.
We have a wedding photo of B.J. and Concordia Ansorge.
The Ansorge family can be found in the 1880 census for Paducah. By then, they had two children.
It would be 20 years before you find the Ansorge’s in another census, and when you do find them in the 1900 census, they were living in St. Louis. If census records were all you had to work with, you might think they just moved from Paducah to St. Louis. However, that is by no means the case.
From 1881-1887, Rev. Ansorge served as pastor of the Lutheran church in El Paso, Illinois. Two more children could claim El Paso as their birthplace. Then from 1887-1892, Rev. Ansorge was pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa. It was while in Fort Dodge that the family photograph shown below was taken.
In 1892, Rev. Ansorge became pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Ocheyedan, Iowa. Ocheyedan is located in the northwestern part of Iowa. During his years in Iowa, he must have been involved in assisting other groups of Lutherans to establish churches because I located several church histories that mentioned his involvement. There is an interesting story told that once when B.J was riding horseback to preach to some Lutherans quite a few miles from him, he was given a bottle of milk from a woman who had just milked her cow. She strapped the bottle to his horse, and by the time he had gotten home, it was churned, and it had become butter.
When he was 50 years old in 1896, Rev. Ansorge resigned from the ministry and he and his family moved to St. Louis. He became a proofreader at Concordia Publishing House for 20 years. We find the Ansorge’s in the 1900 census for St. Louis. Their last of 9 children had been born in St. Louis in 1897.
I am going to skip to the 1920 census, which was the last census in which B.J. and Concordia are found. This census says the 73 year old B.J. was a pastor of a church once again. I have no idea which one.
We have these two photographs of B.J. and Concordia that were taken later in their lives.
B.J. died in 1921 at the age of 74. We have his death certificate.
Concordia died a year later in 1922 at the age of 65. Here is her death certificate.
The death certificates indicate their last address to be 3556 Texas Ave. On this present-day map, you can see how close that address was to both Concordia Publishing House and Holy Cross Lutheran Church. In the early 1900’s, it was also close to Concordia Seminary.
Both B.J. and Concordia are buried together in Our Redeemer Cemetery in Afton, Missouri.
Bernhard Johannes Ansorge experienced life in many different places during his lifetime. Along the way, he picked up Concordia Tirmenstein who joined him in his wild ride. Their descendants include many men who, like their ancestors, were Lutheran church workers. The same can be said of people in the Tirmenstein family. That family is also populated by many descendants who were either church workers or married to them.
I want to also say that there are several descendants in the Tirmenstein family that are wonderful family researchers. Many have been willing to share their stories and photographs on Ancestry.com. This post would not have been as interesting without their contributions. I will close this post by sharing another fascinating story about Rev. Ansorge’s childhood in India. A missionary’s life must have been filled with all kinds of surprises. Enjoy!