Buenger Well Brick

I am not going to be writing my typical story today. Instead of discussing people, I’ll be writing about bricks. This tale began with a knock on my front door a few days ago. My neighbor, Greg Jung, who grazes his cows in my pasture regularly, was out making preparations for the cows to return to my field. If you follow this blog, you may know that my field is also the location of a few historical sites. One is the site where the Log Cabin College was built, which is marked by a monument. The other is what is called the Buenger Well, a well that was dug by J.F. Buenger when the Log Cabin College and a few other cabins were being built on this land back in 1839. At a later date, a brick “lining” of the Buenger Well was installed. Greg was in the process of putting a new fence around the well so his cows would not be endangered by it. While doing that, he found a brick that was engraved. He brought it to me because he thought I would be interested in it. I was, and that’s why you’re going to read this post today. Here is the brick he brought to me.

I will eventually get around to discussing that brick, but I’m going to go all the way back to the time when the immigrants first arrived in 1839. One of the original immigrant families was already involved in the brick making business in Germany. Below is an image of the Johann Christian Mueller family listed in Zion on the Mississippi. You can see that Johann Christian, as well as one of his sons, were called tilers. That is another term for a brick and tile maker.

Johann Christian Mueller family – Zion on the Mississippi passenger list

This brick maker from Planena also had a son named August Ferdinand on the above list who became one of the first students and later the first graduate of the Log Cabin College. I have no evidence to support this, but I like to think that Johann Christian, because of his expertise with clay, may have been involved in providing a clay floor for the Log Cabin College because we know it did not have a wood floor until later on.

At a later time, the dentist in Altenburg, Dr. Edward Lottes, drew up some maps based on his memories. One map included the area known as the community of Dresden. My property is included in that map. I have highlighted the locations on this map showing the well and the brick works. You can see they were located very near each other.

Dr. Lottes map of well and brick works

In our museum, we have some fireplace bricks that would likely have been made at the brick yard operated by J.C. Mueller. He and his son, Friedrich Gottlieb Mueller, would be pinned with the nickname, Ziegel Mueller. Ziegel is the German term for “brick”. One of those early bricks we have on display is pictured below.

Fireplace brick

Now, I am going to skip ahead several decades to discuss another brick yard located in Altenburg. It was called the Boehme Brick Yard. There was a carpenter by the name of Charles Boehme who lived in Altenburg, and he may have been involved in the operation of that brick yard. On a map from 1915, there are several parcels of land owned by Charles Boehme. The one I have highlighted is about where the Boehme Brick Yard was located.

Charles Boehme land map 1915

In an old photo of Altenburg taken from the bell tower of Immanuel Lutheran Church, you can see the Boehme Brick Yard on the left.

Altenburg photo from Immanuel bell tower

The clay for the bricks that were produced at that brick yard came from the land between the brick yard and the Altenburg Public school building (It looks like a church) that can be seen in the background. I took 2 photos yesterday. The one on the left is of a house that is now located where the brick yard was found. The one on the right is of a pond located on the land from which the clay was mined.

Below is a photo of some men working at the Boehme Brick Yard.

Boehme Brick Yard

In the 1880 census for the town of Altenburg, I found two young men who were said to be working at the brick yard, so this business must have been operating at that time. Below are two buildings located in Altenburg that I think may have been constructed with bricks from the Boehme Brick Yard. One is the old portion of the Altenburg Public School. Another is the old Altenburg Bank building (now the Old Bank Coffee Shop). Also, although it may not have been made with that company’s bricks, some work was being done on the old Neubeck Store building yesterday. I just found it interesting that I was planning to do a story on bricks, and some brick work was being done right in the middle of town. The thumbnails are clickable.

Another business that produced bricks was highlighted in the post titled, The Kasten Ziegelbrenners. That post told the story of the Kasten Clay Products business. The Kasten’s who established that business is also a family included in our German Family Tree.

Finally, I will discuss the company stamped on the brick given to me a few days ago. The Evens & Howard Company has no ties to this area that I could find. It is a brick company with a long history in St. Louis. It was a company that specialized in making fire bricks, the kind that were made to withstand high temperatures and used to make fireplaces, bake ovens, and blacksmith shop furnaces. I won’t go into great detail here about their history because there is a Wikipedia article you can read for yourself about that history. The link for that article can be clicked below.


That company (under a different name) began operations in St. Louis at about the time of the Stephanite immigration in 1839. It was located in an area now known as Richmond Heights which is just south of Forest Park (and not very far from the present site of Concordia Seminary). The highlighted place on the map below was where that factory was found.

Site of Evens & Howard Fire Brick Company

I will place a gallery of photos that relate to this business below.

I have no idea how an Evens & Howard brick managed to find its way to the well located in my pasture. However, its presence there gives credence to the idea that the brick lining to the well was put there at a time well after J.F. Buenger dug it in 1839.

Yesterday, I took a trip out to the Buenger Well. I had to walk by several of the bovines who were grazing there, and I had to watch my step. The well now has a new fence surrounding it. The brick lining goes all the way down to the water line. My aunt and uncle used this well to get water to their dairy cows by pumping it into an old bath tub. A few of the photos also include the Log Cabin College monument.

I want to thank my neighboring farmer for inspiring this story. I enjoyed looking into the history of brick making in East Perry County and beyond.

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