I am going to write a different kind of post today than I normally do. It comes from a lonely entry we have in our German Family Tree. That entry is one that caused me to think to myself, “There’s a story here, but I don’t know what it is.” In fact, once I’m done with this post, I’ll have to admit that I still don’t know the story. That lonely entry is displayed below. It indicates that there is a death record in the books of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg for an infant by the name of Carl August Hermann Strasen who died on this date in 1852.
We can take a look at the actual death record included in that congregation’s books.
Fortunately, we have a translation for this record (which is also what we find in the GFT entry).
From a family history we find on Ancestry.com, we find that Carl August Hermann Strasen was born on October 23, 1851 in Collinsville, Illinois. That means this child was not even one year old when he died in Altenburg. His father was Rev. Carl Strasen, who was a pastor in Collinsville, Illinois. The question remains, “Why was this young child in Altenburg?”
First of all, I do know that Rev. Strasen has a connection to Perry County. Pastor Strasen had married Rosine Mueller on August 22, 1849 in St. Louis. However, Rosine, being the daughter of Johann Christian and Maria Christiane (Martens) Mueller, was part of the Gesellschaft in 1839, and her parents had settled near Altenburg. In fact, she was the sister of Rev. J.A.F.W. Mueller, the first graduate of the Concordia Seminary in Altenburg. Here is the information we have for Rosine in our German Family Tree. Since her marriage did not take place in a church in Perry County, her marriage to Pastor Strasen is not included.
Before I move on, let me display photos taken later in their lives of Rev. Carl and Rosine Strasen.
I find it interesting that there was another Perry County girl named Rosina Mueller who married another person associated with Concordia Seminary in Altenburg. She married Rev. J.F. Buenger, one of the builders of the Log Cabin College and an active participant in the formation of the synod in 1847.
I thought there might be a possibility that Rev. and Mrs. Strasen travelled to Altenburg in August of 1852 to attend some occasion in Rosine’s family, like a baptism or a marriage. I looked in the church records for such an event but found none.
I did find another interesting death record that is recorded in the Trinity Lutheran books in 1852. It is the death record for another infant by the name of Theodore Guenther. Here is an image of that record.
We can look at the translation for this record to see what it says. I also included the death record translation for Carl Feig that is found in between that of Theodore Guenther and Carl August Strasen.
First of all, the name Guenther got my attention because I know there was a professor at Concordia Seminary at one time by the name of Guenther, and this record says this child that died in Altenburg was from St. Louis. I thought there might have been some sort of meeting of pastors taking place in Altenburg. However, I discovered that Gustav Guenther was married to Caroline Schlimpert who once lived in the Seelitz community. Also Gustav was a cooper, not a pastor. However, it was another case of a child from out of town that died when he was visiting Altenburg.
I also found it interesting that the deaths in 3 consecutive young children that took place in August of 1852 were all said to be the result of “summer complaint”. Nowadays, summer complaint around here is when people say, “It’s too blasted hot outside.” However, back in 1852, it was a medical issue that was also associated with hot weather and especially afflicted young children who could not tolerate the heat.
So, we may see a pattern of children dying during the hot days of late August in 1852, but we still don’t know why Rev. Strasen or his wife were in Altenburg. I still wondered if there was some sort of meeting of pastors taking place at the time, so I pulled out the book, Heart of Missouri, which tells the history of the Western District of the Missouri Synod. I found a few items of interest. First of all, in the early years of the 1850’s there was discussion going on about dividing the synod into districts.
Since Missouri and Illinois might end up in the Western District, perhaps there was some reason for pastors from those two states to meet together. In East Perry County at the time, you would find Rev. Christoph Loeber at Concordia, Frohna and Rev. Georg Schieferdecker at Trinity, Altenburg. I doubt that the millennialism controversy had hit the fan yet. However, maybe there was discussion about the division of districts. Here is another paragraph from that book that mentions another meeting about the division that would take place later in the fall of 1852.
We also find this description of Rev. Strasen and his service at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Collinsville.
The bottom line is that I still don’t know why the Strasen’s were in Altenburg in August of 1852. There’s a story there, but I don’t know it.
I can say that there are some other stories that have similarities to this one. A Lutheran pastor by the name of Theodore Buszin is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery. Theodore died in 1892 while he was attending a Lutheran convention that was being held at Trinity.
Then there is a story that was included in a previous post titled, 3 Infants, 3 Graves, 10 Days. Included in that post was the story of Lambert Bundenthal (although I mistakenly called him Landon in that post), who died when he was in town for his aunt’s wedding. This death took place in 1904 and is one of the events described in my upcoming book, Wittenberg ’04: Coming of a Railroad.
I won’t tell much about the Strasen family history, but I will point out that Rev. Strasen went on to several positions of leadership in other districts of the Missouri Synod throughout his illustrious career.