The Son of Zacharias

The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Zacharias (King James Version spelling of his name) and his wife, Elizabeth who had a son named John.  We often refer to him as John the Baptist.  In the case of John the Baptist, he was the only son of Zacharias and Elizabeth.  Today, I will tell the story of another son born to a Zacharias.  In today’s post, the father was Teacher Zacharias, the second teacher at Trinity Lutheran School in Altenburg.  The son who is today’s birthday boy was the firstborn child in his family.  He was by no means the only child.  According to a family history on that appears to be quite reliable, this firstborn son would eventually have 12 other siblings.

Before I discuss the birth of that son, I would like to discuss some background information.  When the Gesellschaft arrived in 1839, there was just one teacher in the group.  His name was John F.F. Winter, a man who was never married.  Teacher Winter became the first teacher of Trinity Lutheran School in Altenburg.  Early on, a log cabin school was built on the church’s property.  Gustav Pfau made this drawing of that original school.

Trinity Altenburg School Pfau
First school building – Trinity Lutheran School, Altenburg

For several years, Teacher Winter was the only teacher in this school.  However, as more and more children were being born into this congregation, it became quite difficult for Teacher Winter to have all the students by himself.  Rev. J.P. Beyer was the pastor of this congregation at the time.  They determined to call another teacher to serve their school, and in 1860, Teacher Theodore Zacharias moved to Altenburg to become their second teacher.  Teacher Zacharias had married Albertine Schulz in 1859.  I do not know where the Zacharias couple got married or where they lived prior to 1860.  Since I will be discussing a son who was born on this day in 1860, it is almost certain that when Albertine arrived on the scene, she was already pregnant.  We find this couple in the 1860 census with no children yet.  They were living in the same household as Teacher Winter.

Theodore Zacharias 1860 census Brazeau Township MO
1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

When Teacher Zacharias arrived, a wall was placed in the school building making it into two classrooms.  Another thing that happened in 1860 was the beginning of a fund to construct a new church building because the 1845 church was too small for this growing congregation.  That new church would not be dedicated until 1867.  Part of that plan was to transform the 1845 church into another school building.  The photo below was taken when a later class that was taught by Teacher Asche.  In the background, you can see the log cabin school that was used during those early years.

Teacher Ashe’s class

When the above photo was taken, Teacher Asche only taught the younger grades, so the above photo just shows about half of the students at Trinity.  The old church had become a school building housing the older students, and they were taught by Teacher Beyer, the brother of Rev. Beyer.  Teacher Zacharias had left Altenburg in 1863 and Teacher Beyer had replaced him.

On August 5, 1860, Richard Theodore Zacharias was born, so he would be celebrating his 160th birthday today.  He was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church.  Here is his baptism record.

Richard Zacharias baptism record Trinity Altenburg MO
Richard Zacharias baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

There are indications in the history that has been written about Trinity that the finances of the congregation were struggling during the years of the Civil War.  During 1863, both Teacher Zacharias and Pastor Beyer left the congregation.  I am thinking that Teacher Zacharias’s departure may have been influenced by the congregation’s financial difficulties.  It appears that Teacher Zacharias took a position somewhere in New York.  Teacher G. Beyer arrived later in 1863, so Teacher Winter did not have to do all the teaching for very long.  Also, in 1864, Rev. J.F. Koestering arrived to take over the pastorate.

One child is shown in a census to have been born in New York , two children were recorded as being born in Illinois, and then several later children were born in Michigan.

We find the Zacharias family in the 1870 census in Macomb, Michigan.  Richard was 9 years old, and by this time there were 7 children in the household.  I suspect that Teacher Zacharias was involved in the very early years of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Macomb.

Richard Zacharias 1870 census Mocomb County MI
1870 census – Macomb, MI

We still find the Zacharias family in Macomb when the 1880 census was taken.  Richard was 19 years old.  It says Theodore Zacharias was not only a teacher, but also a bookkeeper, and Richard was a bookbinder.

Richard Zacharias 1880 census Mocomb County MI
1880 census – Macomb, MI

A photo on the website of Immanuel Lutheran, Macomb includes this photo of what that church and school has looked like in recent years.

Immanuel Lutheran Macomb MI
Immanuel Lutheran Church and School – Macomb, MI

Sometime between 1880 and 1900, Theodore Zacharias moved his family to Richmond, Virginia.  Richard was married in Richmond in 1887, so they must have moved to that location by that time.  We find Theodore Zacharias in the 1900 census for Richmond.

Theodore Zacharias 1900 census Richmond VA
1900 census – Richmond, VA

Richard Zacharias married Wilhelmine van Bieren on October 20, 1887.  (Bieren is the German word for beers.)  We find this couple also in the 1900 census for Richmond.  Richard was a paperhanger.

Richard Zacharias 1900 census Richmond VA

Richard Zacharias 1900 census 1 Richmond VA
1900 census – Richmond, VA

Richard’s mother, Albertine Zacharias died in 1901.  Richard would not live long enough to be found in the 1910 census.  He died in 1909.  Wilhelmine can be found as a widow in the 1910 census for Richmond with 6 children.

Wilhelmine Zacharias 1910 census Richmond VA
1910 census – Richmond, VA

Richard’s father was found living in Brooklyn, New York.  He was retired by then at the age of 75.  One of his daughters, Clara Zacharias, was a public school teacher.

Theodore Zacharias 1910 census Brooklyn NY
1910 census – Brooklyn, NY

Theodore Zacharias died in New York in 1912, and his body was brought back to Richmond.  He and his wife are both buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond.

Wilhelmine can be found in the 1930 census living in the household of one of her daughters, Eleanore Nininger, in Roanoke, Virginia.

Wilhelmine Zacharias 1930 census Roanoke VA
1930 census – Roanoke, VA

Eleanore is shown on the above census as being a public school teacher.  She had attended State Teachers College in Farmville, Virginia.  Here is an image of her and a description of her activities at that college in 1926.

Eleanore Zacharias State Teachers College Farmville VA 1926

Wilhelmine can be once again found in the 1940 census for Roanoke.

Wilhelmine Zacharias 1940 census Roanoke VA
1940 census – Roanoke, VA

Wilhelmine Zacharias died in 1959 at the age of 94.  Here is her Virginia death certificate.

Wilhelmine Zacharias Virginia death certificate
Wilhelmine Zacharias Virginia death certificate

Wilhelmine’s body was returned to Richmond where she and Richard are buried in the same cemetery as Richard’s parents, Oakwood Cemetery.

I have not yet mentioned the oldest child of Richard an Wilhelmine Zacharias.  That daughter, born in 1889, was named Elizabeth.  That’s right, Elizabeth Zacharias.  I cannot look at that name without thinking about the story of the birth of John the Baptist.  Perhaps we should call her Elizabeth Zacharias the daughter of Richard the Lutheran.


Just yesterday, I received photographs from two sources.  First, Roy Fassel sent a photo of the Schuppan Store in New Wells.  I have added that photo to the post, Ernst and the Pastor’s Daughter.  Secondly, three photos were shared on our Facebook page of members of the Kaufmann family by Connie Roth Kuchar.  I have added those three images to yesterday’s story, Kaufmann Kinder Casualties.  My thanks go out to these contributors.

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