Grace, Uniontown Turns a 180

Today is not just Groundhog Day.  Today is not just Super Bowl Sunday.  You can also point out that today’s date when written as 02/02/2020 is a palindrome…it can be read the same backwards and forwards.  However, today also happens to be the 180th anniversary of the establishment of the Lutheran church in Paitzdorf, Missouri.  These days, Paitzdorf is called Uniontown, and the Lutheran Church in that town is called Grace Lutheran Church.  It’s first service was conducted on February 2, 1840.

Many of the original members of Grace Lutheran Church arrived in America as part of what we call the Gruber Group.  Under the leadership of Rev. Theodore Carl Friedrich Gruber, around 140 passengers made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Johann Georg.  That ship arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 27, 1839.  After a trip up the Mississippi River on a steamboat, these immigrants landed in Perry County, Missouri on December 12th of that year.  That was three days after the Log Cabin College commenced operations on December 9th.

Johann Georg – by Rev. G.H. Hilmer

There is evidence that some arrangements were made before their arrival by some of the members of the Gruber Group to purchase some property in the area that is now called Uniontown.  That is where many of them settled, and that is where Rev. Gruber established a new congregation.  A new church record book was begun.  The cover of their record book has the original name of their congregation which is shown below.

Cover Page Paitzdorf records

In English, it says it is the Old Lutheran Church of Paitzdorf in Perry County, Missouri.  It was named Paitzdorf because that was the name of the parish and town where Rev. Gruber was the pastor in Germany.  The time for the establishment of that congregation is also shown.  February 2nd was on a Sunday back in 1840 just as it is today.  On that Sunday, in addition to conducting a divine service, Rev. Gruber conducted two official acts which are the first such acts in this congregation.

One of those official acts was a baptism.  An image of that record is shown below.

Amalie Weise baptism record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

The story of that baptism and what became of that child who was baptized was told in the post titled, Perplexing Paitzdorf Record.  I found that story to be quite interesting because it led to the city of Ironton, Missouri and some quite prominent members of that community.

The second official act that took place on February 2nd was the marriage of Johann Gottfried Hemmann and Maria Rosina Hofmann.  His first wife had died not long before they left Germany.  Maria Rosina was over 20 years younger than he was, and those two would go on to have 12 more children.  Below is the marriage record in the Paitzdorf church books.

Grace Uniontown records first marriage
Hemmann/Hofmann marriage record – Grace, Uniontown, MO

Rev. Gruber served this congregation until his death in 1858.  We have the photos shown below of Rev. Gruber and his wife, Pauline.


Grace Lutheran Church has been served by many fine pastors over the years.  Their present pastor, Rev. Paul Winningham, has been there for a long time, providing his leadership for not only Grace Lutheran, but also for Zion Lutheran Church in Longtown.

One unusual characteristic of Grace Lutheran Church is the fact that they have three different cemeteries.  They have one called the upper cemetery, another called the middle cemetery, and the last one is the cemetery located right behind the present church.

In some sporting activities like snowboarding or figure skating, they talk about doing a “180”.  When you do a 180, you end up looking behind you.  When Grace Lutheran Church does their 180 today, they can see a rich and storied past.  They have served the Uniontown community faithfully for a lot of years, and have done it well.  It is a good thing to take time to do a 180.  My buddy, Gerard Fiehler often says, “If ya’ don’t know where you’ve been, ya’ don’t know where you’re going.”  So my advice for Grace, Uniontown is to do your 180 today.  Enjoy and learn from your past.  Then do another 180 and move forward into the future.

I just hope you don’t do your 180 and see your shadow.



3 thoughts on “Grace, Uniontown Turns a 180

  1. My ancestors emigrated in the first ‘Saxon’ immigration to Missouri under Pastor Stephan (later Walther) in 1838-39. Family name was Kluegel. They did not establish a Paitzdorf but came from there. I put Saxon in quotation marks because Paitzdorf was geographically in Thuringia but politically under the Duke of Saxony at that time. The twin of Paitzdorf in Germany was rather traumatized by the exit of a large number of its citizens; at least the German language short history ‘700 years Paitzdorf’ says so. My grandmother’s ( Kluegel family) birth name was Gruene. A brother established himself in TX where there is a town of that name. On my grandfather’s side (Hesse and Bavaria) were a number of Lutheran Pastors including one who founded St. Paul church in Cullman which I suspect was first Lutheran church in Alabama. My grandfather was instrumental in promoting missions to Negroes in the southern states.

    Humbled and proud to be associated in some way with such folks,

    Rick Dunn


  2. Thank you for this blog. Only through my research did I find Michael Hopfer was my 3rd great grandfather and a founder of Paitzdorf and the church and traveled over with the Gruber Group.


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