I had no idea that there was a Lutheran church named St. Sebald. I had also never heard of a place named Strawberry Point, Iowa. Now I do. It even turns out that this Lutheran church has important historical significance. Just like East Perry County is an important place in the early history of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Strawberry Point has a similar place in the early history of the Iowa Synod. A historical marker stands near St. Sebald Lutheran Church that says the following:
“On this site St. Sebald Ev. Lutheran Church was established in 1853. In its original parsonage-church, the Ev. Lutheran Synod of Iowa was founded August 24th, 1854.”
Below is a photo of St. Sebald Lutheran Church as it looks today. That sanctuary was built in 1867, the same year that the current sanctuary of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg was built.
By the way, St. Selbald was named after a famous German missionary. If you would like to read more about the history of this church, you can find it on their website…https://www.stsebaldchurch.com/.
By now, you may be wondering what led me to discover this church and town. My discovery began by noticing that an individual in our German Family Tree was born on this day 150 years ago. Other documents for him are found in the books of local churches around here, but not his baptism record. His baptism record can be found in the books of St. Sebald Lutheran Church in Strawberry Point. You will read his story today.
Emanuel Joseph Lesch was born on August 26, 1872, the son of Frederick Eduard and Louise (Lampeter-sp?) Lesch. Emanuel’s father had been born in Perry County, and his baptism record is in the books of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna. Also, Emanuel’s parents were married at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pocahontas, just one year before Emanuel was born in Iowa. Below is the marriage record for Eduard and Louise Lesch.
In fact, that marriage is the very first marriage listed in the books of St. John’s, Pocahontas, and was performed by their first permanent pastor, Rev. Joseph Westenberger (shown below).
I not exactly sure what precipitated this Lesch couple’s move to Strawberry Point, Iowa, but the baptism record for Emanuel from the books of St. Sebald Lutheran Church is pictured below.
The Lesch’s did not remain in Iowa long. When the 1880 census was taken, we find them back in Perry County, Missouri. Emanuel was still their only son, and Eduard was a farmer.
After this census, the Lesch couple began having children again. Six more children were born. The next 4 were baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg (which was the local Iowa Synod congregation), and the last 2 were baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Jacob, Illinois. Then, when the 1900 census was taken, the Lesch household is once again found in Perry County. Eduard was 27 years old and working on his father’s farm in the Bois Brule Township.
Now, we will turn our attention to the woman who would become Emanuel’s bride. Her name was Martha L. Kurre, who was born on November 22, 1883. She was the daughter of Charles and Emma (Unseld) Kurre. I do not know where she was baptized. I do know that just one month after Martha was born, her father died on Christmas Day, 1883, leaving her mother as a widow. In 1888, Emma married again. Her second husband was Johann Angermann, who apparently also died before the 1900 census was taken. In 1900, Martha is found living in St. Louis with her mother, 2 half-sisters, and a brother.
I found a reference to the marriage of Emanuel Lesch and Martha Kurre in a newspaper article from St. Louis. Since I was not able to read the actual article, I don’t know if the date given as August 8, 1907 was the date of their wedding or the date when the article appeared in the paper. I think it is safe enough to say that they were married in 1907. When this couple had their first child in 1908, that baby was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Point Rest. In fact, our German Family Tree lists 10 children born to Emanuel and Martha, and the first 8 were baptized in Point Rest. Since our Point Rest binder containing their church records lists them alphabetically, we see all the Lesch baptisms on the same page.
When the 1910 census was taken, we find the Lesch’s living in the Bois Brule Township where Emanuel was a farmer. Two children were in their household, along with Pauline Hoehn, who is called an aunt.
Next, we find the Lesch’s in the 1920 census, still living in the same township. This time, 5 children are listed, along with Pauline Hoehn.
I do not know where the Lesch’s 9th child was baptized, but their 10th one was baptized at Immanuel Lutheran Church in New Wells in 1927. By the time the 1930 census was taken, we find the Lesch household living in the Brazeau Township, and Emanuel was still farming.
Emanuel Lesch died in 1931 at the age of 58. His death certificate gives us the only hint I could find why he was baptized in Iowa. His mother’s birthplace is listed as Waterloo, Iowa which is not far from Strawberry City.
Emanuel’s death record can be found in the books of Concordia, Frohna, but he was buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Crosstown, which is where his parents are buried.
Martha Lesch is found living in St. Louis when the 1940 census was taken. Four boys remained in her household. One son was a sander at a planing mill. Another was a gas station attendant, and a third one was called a helper for a huckster. A huckster was a peddlar.
Martha was still alive in 1950, but I was unsuccessful at finding her in a census entry. She died in 1966 at the age of 82. Her death certificate reports that she died at the Perry County Memorial Hospital in Perryville.
Even though she died in Perry County, Martha was buried in the St. Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in St. Louis.
Emanuel Lesch led us on a wild ride to several locations in and around Perry County, Missouri. I think I mentioned 7 different Lutheran congregations within 20 miles of here in the post. However, in my opinion, the most interesting fact about his life was that he was baptized at St. Sebald Lutheran Church in Strawberry Point, Iowa.