I am going to ask you to play a game today. I’m going to call it “Where’s Gustav?”, as opposed to “Where’s Waldo?”. I am going to display a photograph that was taken in 1917. It was a photograph taken on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the Reformation. The photograph was taken in front of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.
Reformation Day in 1917 occurred on a Wednesday. I have no way of telling whether the special Reformation worship that initiated the above photograph took place on that Wednesday or not. Perhaps there was a special service on the Sunday prior to Reformation Day. If so, it would have occurred on October 28th. And even then, perhaps it did not occur during a regular Sunday morning worship. Maybe there was a special additional service on Sunday afternoon.
The game is going to begin with a challenge to find Gustav. The Gustav that I would like you to locate in this photograph is Gustav Oehlert. He was the owner and operator of a furniture store in Altenburg. A previous post has been written about him titled, Often in a Coffin. I admit that I have yet to positively identify him in the church photograph, but I thought I’d give you a chance to find him. He would have been about 48 years old in 1917, and by all indications, he should have been in this photo. Here is a photograph of Gustav standing in front of his business. He is wearing a hat. I find it interesting that almost all of the men in the church photo are wearing hats.
I am going to display several enlarged portions of the 1917 photograph to make it easier to see some faces. There is some overlap of the sections. Where’s Gustav?
If you think you have located Gustav, please leave a comment here on the website, or if you are following our Facebook page, you can comment there. Please identify the number of the enlarged portion where you think you found him and do your best to describe which one he is. For example: Picture #3.
There are two people I have positively identified in this photo. It just so happens to be a couple that are main characters in my book, Wittenberg ’03. They are Mary and Joseph Weinhold. In 1913, four years before the church photo was taken, these two celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and had the photo taken which is shown below.
I’ll give you a hint. These two can be found in Picture #1.
I will add at this point that the fact that these Weinhold’s are in this photo is evidence that this was probably a joint worship service for members of both Trinity, Altenburg and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg. That is where Mary and Joseph were members.
Now, I will confess that the real reason for asking you to play “Where’s Gustav?” today is because I want to see if any of our readers can find any of their ancestors in this photograph. We would love to identify as many people as possible in this photo. If you can positively identify someone, please let us know.
I do want to make a few comments about some observations I have made about this photo.
- As said earlier, almost all the men were wearing hats. However, the same could be said about almost all the women, and even the children. The styles of hats also fascinate me.
- Almost all of the people in this photo are wearing a commemorative ribbon that must have been produced and distributed to them on that day. I would love to see one of those ribbons. I wonder if anyone saved one of those ribbons for posterity.
- I find it interesting that many of the children ended up in the front of the picture.
- Is it me, or do others notice that there are not that many husbands and wives standing next to one another. There seems to be sections where you find almost all men, and others that you find almost all women. I am guessing that in 1917, the seating in the sanctuary for the service would have had the men sitting on one side of the church and women sitting on the other.
This year, we celebrate the 503rd anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation. Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg has already had their Reformation celebration during their worship this past Sunday. I’ll leave you with a photo of my bobblehead Martin Luther. Here he stands, with the Word of God firmly held in his hands.