Happy Bicentennial Birthday, Mrs. Grosse

Amalia Maria Augusta Boehme, if still alive, would be celebrating her 200th birthday today. She was born in Dresden, Germany on November 13, 1820. In case you’re interested, it was a Monday in 1820, so she was not born on Friday the 13th. Amalia was the daughter of Carl Gottlieb and Johanna Christina (Pistorius) Boehme. This Boehme family was one of two Boehme families that were part of the Gesellschaft. Amalia’s Boehme family traveled to America aboard the Johann Georg. We can see them on that ship’s passenger list. Amalia was said to be 17 years old, but that doesn’t seem right.

Boehme names – Johann Georg passenger list 1839

Let me just digress a little. The Mary Boehme on the above list would become the 2nd wife of Rev. Friedrich Lochner, who married her after his first wife, Lydia Buenger, died. Rev. Lochner has been discussed on this blog on several occasions.

I cannot find any evidence that this Boehme family came to Perry County in the early years of the immigration. I think they stayed in St. Louis. Let me switch gears to talk about her future husband.

Ferdinand Friedrich Grosse was born on May 27, 1811 in Leisnig, Germany. He was the son of Paul and Christiana (Mezdorf) Grosse. Ferdinand’s father died in 1837, not long before the Gesellschaft left Germany. Christiana brought 3 sons (all shoemakers) with her to America, and they also made the voyage aboard the Johann Georg. We find this group on the passenger list for that ship.

Grosse names – Johann Georg passenger list – 1839

Perhaps Ferdinand noticed Amalia while they were aboard that ship for a few months. I was unable to find a marriage document for this couple, but they probably got married in St. Louis sometime around 1845. The most likely place to look for this marriage record would be the books of Old Trinity Lutheran Church, but such a marriage record is not found there. However, the baptism record for their first child is found in that congregation’s records in 1846.

We find this Grosse family in a rather interesting place in the 1850 census. Let me set the scene. In late 1849, Trinity, Altenburg “gifted” the relatively new Lutheran synod with the institution that had its beginning in Altenburg, Concordia Seminary. A building was constructed and dedicated in 1850 in St. Louis to house the seminary. Here is a drawing of that building.

Concordia Seminary – 1850

The 1850 census includes the Grosse family along with several other students attending that seminary. I see some other familiar names above the Grosse couple in this entry.

1850 census – St. Louis, MO

Was Ferdinand a seminarian? At the age of 39? What we do know is that Ferdinand did not become a pastor. We find Ferdinand Grosse listed as a charter member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg in 1857.

Charter Members – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

We find the Grosse family in the 1860 census for Brazeau Township in Perry County. Ferdinand was a shoemaker, and his mother, Christiana, was living in his household.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Next, we find this family in the 1870 census. Christiana is no longer listed, so it is likely that she died sometime in the 1860’s, but we have no church record for her death.

1870 census – Brazeau Township

The above census would be the last one in which we find Ferdinand. He would almost make it to be included in the 1880 census, but he died in January of that year at the age of 68. Below is the death record for Ferdinand from the Immanuel Lutheran books.

Ferdinand Grosse death record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Ferdinand is buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg. His surname is spelled Grosze on his gravestone.

Ferdinand Grosse gravestone – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Amalia is found in the 1880 census as a widow. Two children remained in her household. She was 59 years old.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

That would be the last census in which we find Amalia. She died on September 1, 1895 at the age of 74. There is a very interesting coincidence concerning the date of Amalia’s death. Below is her death record in two images. Right above Amalia’s record, you will see that of Pastor J.G. Hempeler. These two were buried on the same day. Rev. Hempeler had been the pastor at Immanuel until he retired in 1893. He is the first pastor to be buried in the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Altenburg.

Amalia Grosse death record – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

There is a narrative written sideways on the right which I cannot read. I am guessing that it might say something about these two being buried on the same day and Pastor Hempeler being the first pastor to be buried there.

I found individual photos of the gravestones of Amalia and Rev. Hempeler. However, I just had to find out if these two were buried next to each other, so I took a trip to that cemetery. I happen to be under quarantine for COVID right now (although I am perfectly healthy), but I figured the only people I would endanger are already dead. Below is a photo of these two gravestones next to each other.

Hempeler and Grosse gravestones – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

Here is Amalia’s gravestone shown individually, and it is easier to read.

Amalia Grosse gravestone – Immanuel, Altenburg, MO

I cannot help but imagine two empty graves which had been dug by the gravedigger awaiting two caskets. I wonder if the funerals for these two were held together or separately. There certainly would have been plenty of mourners for these two prominent members of the Altenburg community.


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