Teacher Abraham

There is an old children’s song called, Father Abraham. It’s a song that a Christian teacher might use when teaching young children. It goes like this:

There was once a Father Abraham who lived in Altenburg from 1873-1883. While here, he and his wife had 4 children, all sons, who were baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church. Below are the 4 baptism records for those sons in the order of their births and baptisms.

Johannes Emanuel Abraham baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO
Theodore Paul Martin Abraham baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

During the period after Theodore’s baptism and the next one, the church record book must have gotten full, requiring a new book, so the records look somewhat different as well. Rev. J.F. Koestering recorded all of these baptisms. It’s the same handwriting.

Alfred Samuel David Abraham baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO
Ludwig Bernhardt Wilhelm baptism record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

In a few of the above records, the father is called Lehrer Abraham, which means Teacher Abraham. That’s because from 1873-1883, Albert Herman Julius Abraham was a teacher at Trinity, Altenburg. So this man was not just Father Abraham who had many sons, but he was Teacher Abraham, who had many sons. You will read his story today.

Albert was born on June 4, 1849 in Germany. Thus, Albert would be celebrating his 173rd birthday today. He was the son of Charles and Caroline (Ebert) Abraham. I ran across a photo of Albert’s parents.

Charles and Caroline Abraham

The Abraham family came to America in 1866 aboard the Star of Hope. We can see the Abraham family members on this passenger list for that ship.

Abraham names – Star of Hope passenger list 1866

Albert was the youngest child in this family. They settled in Chicago, Illinois. We find this Abraham household in the 1870 census for that city. This entry describes Albert as a 21 year-old cripple.

1870 census – Chicago, IL

The most likely thing that Albert did was attend the Lutheran Teachers Seminary located in Addison, Illinois. He became a Lutheran teacher in 1873, and his first call was to serve as a teacher at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. In a history of that church, we find this note about Teacher Abraham taking over teaching the younger students after the death of Teacher Winter, who was the first teacher at that school.

Teacher Abraham – Trinity, Altenburg history

A year after his arrival in Altenburg, Albert traveled back to Chicago to get married. He married Louise Mesenbrink (sp?) on August 16, 1874. I could not locate any information about Louise prior to her marriage other than the fact that she was born on May 4, 1850 in Illinois.

Abraham/Mesenbrink – Illinois marriage record

Then, the 4 sons were born in Altenburg. After the second one was born, we find the Abraham’s in the 1880 census for Altenburg, where Albert is called a school teacher.

1880 census – Altenburg, MO

I think it was while he was in Altenburg that Albert had this photo taken which is included in a collage of early teachers at Trinity, Altenburg.

Early teachers at Trinity, Altenburg

Apparently, Teacher Abraham left Trinity in late 1883 because that is when their 4th son was born in October, and the church record is in the Trinity books. Teacher Asche would take his place in 1884. It appears that one more Abraham child may have been born in 1884, a daughter named Louise. If so, then Father Abraham didn’t just have sons, he had a daughter. Albert returned to Chicago after leaving Perry County, where he continued to be a Lutheran teacher throughout the rest of his career. I think the most likely place where he taught was St. John’s Lutheran Church in Forest Park, Illinois. We find the Abraham household in the 1900 census. Right below Albert and Louise, you will see their son, John, and his wife, Emma.

1900 census – Chicago, IL

The 1910 census has the Abraham family living in the Proviso Township in Illinois, which is in the Chicago area. Albert and Louise had a 77 year-old widow who was a roomer.

1910 census – Proviso Township, IL

Next, we find the Abraham’s in the 1920 census. This time, the census record says they were living in Forest Park, Illinois which is located in the Proviso Township. At the age of 70, Albert was still teaching.

1920 census – Forest Park, IL

The last census in which we find Albert and Louise is the one taken in 1930. Albert no longer had an occupation, but we find them listed again right next to John Abraham’s family.

1930 census – Proviso Township, IL

Late in his life, Albert was photographed with another younger unidentified man.

Albert Abraham (on left)

Father Abraham died in 1931 at the age of 82; Mother Abraham died in 1932 at the age of 82. They were buried together in the Concordia Lutheran Cemetery in Forest Park along with a few other members of their family.

Albert and Louise Abraham gravestone – Concordia, Forest Park, IL

I used Google Translate on the phrase engraved on this marker. It says, “Through the blood of Christ, we are united with God.”

According to my reckoning, Albert is another one of those teachers who served a long time in Lutheran schools. I figure he taught at least 47 years. I know that I, as a Lutheran teacher, often called my students “my kids”. If you count his students as his children, we can say that Father (Teacher) Abraham had many sons (and daughters), many sons (and daughters) had Father (Teacher) Abraham.

I am putting a Youtube video here of a version of “Father Abraham”, so you can hear the melody and see some of the motions that can be done with young children.

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