Yesterday, our museum director, Carla Jordan, authored a post describing our site’s status during this coronavirus pandemic. In that post, she asked me to produce a video of our Memorial Walkway. In my own very unprofessional way, I am now able to share such a virtual video tour of that Walkway.
However, I cannot resist adding a few words before I share that video. One big reason I want to do this is the fact that Gerard Fiehler, out of the blue, showed me two artifacts that he found in our museum’s basement as he has been working to organize what we have down there. These two documents have much to do with the history of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society and the Log Cabin College.
The Perry County Lutheran Historical Society was established in 1910. If they would have written what we now call a mission statement for that group, it would describe their efforts to preserve the building that we now call the Log Cabin College which was falling into disrepair at the time. Not long ago, we had the official “book” out which has been signed by people who have chosen to become members of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society over the years. I took the opportunity to see who were the first signers of that book. I discovered that the first name on the list was Joseph Weinhold, who at that time was operating a flour mill in Wittenberg. I admit that I find it especially interesting when I find out new information about Joseph Weinhold because he is a major character in my book, Wittenberg ’03. I have reason to believe that Joseph Weinhold was the first president of this society, a position that I now hold.
One of the documents that Gerard showed me was what he said was a fund-raising effort on behalf of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society in 1911. It is written in German, so I cannot read it all. Perhaps we will have it translated someday. The document was signed by both Joseph Weinhold and Rev. Heinrich Schmidt, who was the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg at the time. I will display it in two images because that original document was printed front and back. I also find it interesting that this document is dated May 1, 1911, so this was published at about this time during that year.
The document also provides us with a very significant photograph of the Log Cabin College in its deteriorating condition before it was moved to its present location and preserved for future generations.
In 1912, the Log Cabin College was moved to it present location by attaching some boards to it that would increase its stability. Then it was pulled to the park located across the road from Trinity Lutheran Church by two draft horses. The photo below, which also happens to be used on the cover of Mary Dillon’s Altenburg book, illustrates this move. Joseph Weinhold is the person standing at the far left.
Once the cabin was moved, the next project would be to have a roofed pavilion placed over it to protect it from the elements. The other document that Gerard showed me was a post card on which the plan for this pavilion was displayed. Most of this plan became part of the actual construction, but there are differences. I am fascinated by this plan. The drawing is dated 1912.
The pavilion was completed in 1915, so even that protective building is over 100 years old now. Later this week, we are expecting a crew to show up to put a new roof on that pavilion. Here is a more recent photograph of this structure.
Yesterday, Carla described the construction of the Memorial Walkway in 2007. One of my favorite views of this sidewalk occurs when some veterans from Trinity Lutheran Church place American flags along its side on patriotic occasions.
I looked for some free music choices to put on the video I took and chose the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss. I pulled up a map of the Danube River on Wikipedia, and to me it looks somewhat like our Memorial Walkway…plus it originates in Germany. So, I think this makes this music appropriate for the video.
Here is the video I made. I tried to get all the individual inscribed granite markers that can be found on the sidewalk.
One of our favorite things to do is take school groups down this walkway to visit the Log Cabin College. This spring, we have had many school groups cancel their trips to our site. We look forward to seeing groups like this in our future again.
Update: After this post was published, our German friend, Lutz Backmann, sent me his translation of the fund-raising letter of Rev. Schmidt and Joseph Weinhold. Lutz has given me permission to print his translation here, only if I tell you that his German is much better than his English. I happen to think he did a wonderful job. I also find the content and the tone of the letter to be quite interesting. I hope you do also. Thanks, Lutz.
You will be asked to make this circular accessible to your congregation. It’s a plea for money. But right at the beginning, we want to underline that we in doing so don’t intend to do any harm to the synod’s treasury. If anyone, by helping us, would be brought to give less for the work in God’s Kingdom then we don’t want to receive this money. And also, we don’t want to urge anyone or to wheedle people who don’t have any interest in our case. But we believe that in our synod are many who have a lively interest in the case that we want to achieve and who would have money left for it?
As you know, soon after the immigration the first college was erected here in days of great poverty out of love to God and His Church. As is well known it’s a building built from logs, as they were available from the forests (the German term Urwald means a “natural forest”), but wherefore, as Dr. Walther wrote, the builder “could only thank God with tears of joy”. If one stands in front of or in this little log cabin, this birthplace of all our many, great and beautiful educational institutions, and brings to mind that back then in this little cabin only 3 pupils/students were educated, but now in our 14 institutions 1796 students and seminarists are educated by 91 instructors, after already hundreds have completed their studies and work in God’s Kingdom then one only can thank God “with tears of joy” for the blessing that He bestowed us in our country.
Well, this old college still stands, but it’s growing old, it’s already old and if in the next future nothing will be done then a complete decay will happen soon, as the added picture shows partially. Those who examined the building recently think that this summer something has to happen if it should be preserved. With approval of the congregation here in Altenburg, and also requested by many from outside of this congregation, a Vereinigung(Germans love to establish Vereine and Vereingungen)/society/association was founded for the purpose of doing what is necessary to preserve this old college. It’s planned to build a building around the “little log cabin” in order to protect it from wind and weather and then in the cabin to establish a collection of things, mainly from the days immediately after the immigration.
The most pressing things we probably could do without help from outside, but we believe that because of the historic value and also because of the witness to the world
something that is permanent and if possible flame retardant and sizeable should be erected. Such a project would exceed our capacities.
Therefore, our plea. If you or members of your congregation have something to spare, a small or a big gift, send it to: Rev. H. Schmidt, Altenburg, Perry County, Mo, who is appointed as secretary and treasurer, and send it before 1st of July please because something has to be done this summer as said earlier. Furthermore, if you could give us useful advice in respect of our cause please write to our secretary. Such advices will be taken in account appropriately.
In the name and on behalf signed most respectfully,
Jos. G. Weinhold, president
Altenburg 1 May 1911