If you follow this blog regularly, you likely know already that the surname, Loeber, is pronounced the same as the word, labor, by people around here. You may also know that I have a tendency to look for a story from the Loeber family when we in America are celebrating Labor Day. And, if you are new to this blog, I should let you know that Rev. Gotthold Loeber was the first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Missouri, and he is a famous character for folks in East Perry County.
I cannot take full credit for finding today’s story. Not long ago, Gerard Fiehler was working in our museum’s basement where so many of our collections of artifacts and documents are stored. He happened to run across a document that will be the centerpiece of today’s tale. When he found this document, he knew that I would want to see it because it has special significance for my family. That document is shown below. There is more writing on the back which will be displayed later.
This document was brought to America by my great grandparents, Georg Joachim and Marie Sybil Charlotte (Saalfeld) Schmidt. They must have gone to a local pastor to have him author a document showing proof that his two children had been born and baptized in Germany. It is like having a copy of the birth and baptism records for these two children, Gottwerth and Eva. After more than 180 years, this document managed to find its way into our museum’s basement.
Along with this document was another one which was an English translation of what this document states. I do not know this for sure, but I strongly suspect that this translation was done by Vernon Meyr, a past president of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society. I can just imagine Vernon sitting at his manual typewriter producing this document.
I am going to look at 5 separate pieces of this document, one at a time. First, here is the first section of the document in German.
Here is the translation of the above section.
Joachim and Marie Schmidt lived in Kahla, Germany prior to coming to America in 1838. I am going to display a present-day map showing the city of Kahla and its surrounding area.
The city of Kahla is mostly known today because of a company located there that makes porcelain. If you would like to learn more about its porcelain industry, you can click on the website below for that company which was established in 1844, not long after the Gesellschaft left Germany in 1838.
I had always known that my great great grandfather, Joachim, was a locksmith. In fact, I think it is likely that he might have fashioned the hardware on the doors of Trinity’s 1845 church building shown in the gallery of photos below.
The above document adds another description to Joachim’s occupation. It says, according to the translation, that he was a castle master. I do not exactly know what the job description for a castle master might have been, but this reference made me look for a castle in or near Kahla. First, let me display an old drawing we have of the town of Kahla. On a hill in the background appears to be a castle.
Upon further research, I found that there is a Leuchtenburg Castle located not far from Kahla near a smaller village named Seitenroda (which can be seen on the map shown before). You can visit that castle nowadays and even be treated to a visit to a museum located indoors. In fact, one of its attractions is that you can obtain some reject porcelain from the local factory, write a wish on a piece of paper to put inside, and then make it crash down the castle. I think my German buddy, Lutz Backmann, should take his family there someday and crash some porcelain in my family’s honor. Here is a photo of the exterior of that castle and one of the inside of their museum.
I also found another old drawing showing this castle.
The baptism document says Gottwerth Schmidt was born on September 7, 1834, so today would have been my great grandfather’s 186th birthday. I guess you could also say that today would have been Frau Schmidt’s first “labor day” because Gottwerth was her first child. The birth took place between 11:00 and 12:00 noon, which should be about the time when I complete this post. The baptism was done in the home and conducted by Herrn Diac. Seidel. I think the abbreviation Diac. represents the word Diaconus, which is defined in the Lutheran Cyclopedia as follows:
Diaconus: (Ger. Diakonus; related to “deacon”). Term used variously in reference to a pastor, 2d pastor, supply pastor, asst. minister, preacher, and deacon. Related Ger. terms: Pfarrverweser; Prediger.
Perhaps the parish located in Kahle was large enough to have more than one pastor. Here is a drawing of the Kahle Kirche (Church).
Next, we look at the second section of our document.
…and its translation.
This section lists the sponsors for Gottwerth Schmidt. Two of the sponsors were Schmidt’s. One was a doctor by the name of Carl Friedrich Christian Schmidt. The other was Johann Bernhard Schmidt, who was a butcher. Bernhard also was part of the Gesellschaft, and this document is the best proof I have yet to find that supports him to be a relative in my Schmidt family. Bernhard died not long after arriving in America. Sponsor #2 in the above list was Wilhelmine Loeber, the wife of Rev. Gotthold Loeber. This document states that Rev. Loeber was the pastor at churches in Eichenberg and Bibra. On the previous map, you can see where those two villages are located near the city of Kahla. Pastor Loeber and all his siblings had been born in Kahla, so it is possible that the Loeber and Schmidt families were already friends in the previous generation before Gottwerth’s.
Now, we will look at part 3 of the German document.
…and its translation.
This part gives the dates of the birth and baptism of the second child in this Schmidt family, Eva Charlotte Magdalene. Our German Family Tree does not give this birth date, so this document’s discovery has added this important tidbit to our Schmidt family history. The same pastor (diaconus) baptized Eva. Eva died in St. Louis in 1839 even before the Schmidt’s made it to Perry County.
The next section gives the names of Eva’s sponsors.
…and the translation.
This is a little puzzling, but it mentions Johanna Christiane Loeber, the sister of Rev. Gotthold Loeber, who was also part of the Gesellschaft. The list also mentions Gottwerth Heinrich Loeber, who was Rev. Gotthold Loeber’s father. He is mentioned as being the pastor and superintendent in Kahla. Pastor Loeber himself is also included here, but I cannot tell if he is a sponsor or just related to a sponsor. Then there is Frau Charlotte Marie Saalfeld, who would have been the grandmother of Eva on the Saalfeld side of her family.
Finally, we will look at the closing words of this document. This part is printed on the back side of the original paper and each side bleeds somewhat onto the other side.
…and its translation.
The document was signed by Ernst Friedrich August Fendelsen, who was the superintendent and head pastor of the church in Kahla. The document was signed on July 13, 1838, four months before the Gessellschaft left Germany.
I was thrilled to see this document. Not only did it add some new facts to the Schmidt family history, but it also gives plenty of proof that the Schmidt’s and the Loeber’s were not only well-acquainted with one another, but also were good friends. These two families undoubtedly carried that friendship here to America. I would love to see some baptism records of the children of Gotthold and Wilhelmine Loeber. Perhaps there are some Schmidt’s to be found there as well.
Update: Our German friend, Lutz Backmann, informs me that the word, schloss, can mean either castle or lock. Therefore, the translation of castle master should more than likely have been translated as lock master or locksmith. My great great grandfather may not have worked at the castle, but I certainly did enjoy finding out about a castle located near my ancestral German home.