Henry Bimpage was quite an important character involved in the settlement of the Gesellschaft in Perry County. However, when you look in our German Family Tree for records for this character, you only find one date. That was his marriage which took place on March 1, 1840, not long after the German Lutherans arrived on the scene in this area. Even that record is not part of any of the Lutheran church records. The only document we can look at for Henry is found in the Perry County civil marriage records. That is because Henry was not a Lutheran. Add to that the fact that Henry died in 1841, and you can see that he wasn’t around very long after the German Lutherans started settling in East Perry County. Yet, he was an important character. Why? It was because he was the real estate agent who assisted the Gesellschaft in purchasing their property in 1839. This post will discuss Henry and his wife, and then I will take a quick look at the life of his only child, a son who was also named Henry Bimpage.
The first evidence I could find of Henry Bimpage is located in the book, Zion on the Mississippi, which gives a very thorough account of the Stephanite immigration that took place in 1838-1839. That book mentions that Henry was called a real estate agent and legal representative for the Saxons on page 378.
By the way, the “land committee of three” mentioned above were named Gube, Schlimpert, and Palisch. All three of these men were farmers and would be knowledgeable about the quality of land for growing crops. As it turned out, the land purchased would not be great farmland, but it would suit Pastor Stephan’s desire to be an isolated colony. Using rounded off numbers, the Lutherans purchased about 4500 acres at the cost of about $9000. I suppose Henry Bimpage received some amount of commission for his involvement in this purchase.
The footnote numbered 116 on page 378 refers to page 74 of the journal of Gotthold Guenther. That page is shown below. The text is in German, but you should be able to find the names Gube, Schlimpert, Palisch, Walther, Marbach, and Bimpage in there.
We also have an English translation of this paragraph.
Here is where things get complicated. A decision was made to have all the land placed in the name of Johann George Gube. I am guessing there were plans to later place different parcels of this land signed over to individuals who were part of the immigration. That did not happen in time. On August 11, 1839, Johann George Gube died. As it turned out, the only way to settle this land problem was to have members of the Gesellschaft sue the estate of Mr. Gube. There were also issues with Gube’s relatives in Germany who might be entitled to this land as a result of his will. It was a real mess. The document below states that 39 immigrants filed a lawsuit against that estate. It is dated November 29, 1839.
On February 3, 1840, Henry Bimpage was officially authorized to become the administrator of the Gube estate.
That leads us up to the time when Henry Bimpage gets married. Let’s take a look at his bride. Mary Jane Fenwick was born on January 23, 1827 somewhere in Maryland. She was the daughter of Leo and Ann Elizabeth (Childs) Fenwick. It is my guess that Mary Jane and her family were members of Brazeau Presbyterian Church in Brazeau, Missouri, and that is likely where this wedding took place, although it would not have been in the present-day sanctuary for that congregation which was built later. The marriage took place on March 1, 1840. An image of their civil marriage record is displayed below. It is quite difficult to read.
We find this couple in the 1840 census for Perry County. That census does not include much information, but it does indicate a few facts about Henry and Mary Jane. Henry was in his 30’s, and Mary Jane was still a teenager when she married.
Please keep in mind that during this time period, there was much distress and controversy among the immigrants. Rev. Stephan had been removed from the colony in May of 1839 in disgrace. There was a feeling of distrust between the immigrants and the clergy. The land issues that transpired during this time did not make things easier. However, I have some evidence that some of the problem was being resolved toward the end of 1840.
I happen to own 11 acres of land that at one time was in dispute. There is a document stating that this 11 acres officially became the property of Christiane Buenger, one of the original immigrants. She happens to also be the main character in my book, Mama Buenger: Mother of a Synod. John George Gube is still mentioned on this document, with Henry Bimpage as his administrator. This form is dated November 18, 1840.
It is a little difficult to keep the events of the next year, 1841, straight. I will do my best. In April of that year, the Altenburg Debate took place. Two of the prime debaters were Rev. C.F.W. Walther and Adolph Marbach. Marbach was another person who was part of that original committee charged with purchasing land in America. That debate at least resulted in resolving some of the hard feelings between the clergy and the lay people.
Later, on forms that are dated July 1, 1841, it states that Johann George Gube was the owner of some parcels of property located in Perry County. I found 24 different forms on Ancestry like the one below. Even though the land was said to belong to him, Gube’s signature is nowhere on this document. And it shouldn’t be. He died in 1839. I don’t know how these documents were handled, so I cannot conclusively state how this situation existed.
Sometime before the end of 1841, Henry Bimpage died. We only have a year for his death, not an exact date. He is supposed to be buried in the Brazeau Presbyterian Cemetery, but Findagrave has no gravestone photo. Henry’s wife bore him a son on October 20, 1841. There is a possibility that this son was born after Henry died. That son was named after his father, Henry Bimpage. We do not have his date of birth in our German Family Tree, but his death certificate and gravestone give the October 20, 1841 birthday. He died in West Plains, Missouri after being a farmer in Perry County most of his life. Below are images of that death certificate and his gravestone.
Henry, Sr.’s wife, Mary Jane would later marry John Byrd and have some children with him. Mary Jane died in 1879 shortly after childbirth and is buried in the Brazeau Presbyterian Cemetery.
Although he was not a Lutheran and he was only involved with the Lutheran immigrants for a few years, Henry Bimpage is an important character in our local history. He even had a part to play in the property that I now own. The legal and real estate aspects of this story were quite complicated, and I am not an expert on those matters. I just hope I have given you enough facts to appreciate some of the early headaches that were experienced by the original German Lutherans in this area.
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