When the Lutheran Pastor Becomes a Pinch Hitter

There was a time when Brazeau Presbyterian Church had no pastor. It was during that vacancy that the marriage highlighted in today’s story took place. Since the Presbyterians were without a minister, the Lutheran pastor stepped up to the plate to pinch hit and perform a marriage ceremony. I have told such a story in a previous post, and that tale took place at about the same time as the wedding in this story. What I find somewhat amusing is the fact that one of these two weddings involved a Bull, and the other involved a Byrd. If you want to read that previous post, you can click on this link: A Bull from Brazeau. Today’s post was inspired by me locating the short record from our German Family Tree pictured here.

SUMROW, Robert (Married 10 Mar 1881) [FrohnaMO]: Robert Sumrow married Chloe Byrd on 10 Mar 1881, Presbyterian Church at Brazeau was vacant

SUMROW, Chloe nee Byrd

I am going to begin by looking at the groom in this wedding. Robert McKnight Sumrow was born on May 22, 1854, the son of Benjamin and Margaret (McKnight) Sumrow. That means Robert’s middle name was the maiden name of his mother. Robert was not born in Perry County. He was born in North Carolina. He was actually born in an area of North Carolina from which many of the founders of the Brazeau Presbyterian Church had come about 30 years earlier. When the 1860 census was taken, we find Robert at the age of 6 living in Iredell County, North Carolina. His father was a farmer.

1860 census – Iredell County, NC

The area where Robert Sumrow was born is shown in the map below. I will point out that nearby you can see the city of Hickory. Near that city was another named Conover. Those two cities already were populated by that time by German Lutherans, who even established an early Lutheran seminary in Conover.

Coddle Creek Township, NC map

Robert was a young boy when the Civil War took place, and because he lived in North Carolina, I am sure he saw how that war impacted his neighborhood. Robert was still living in North Carolina when the 1870 census was taken. His family was living in the Coddle Creek Township, which you can see on the above map. That is a township in Iredell County. His mother had died in 1867, so we do not find her in this entry. Robert was working on his father’s farm.

1870 census – Coddle Creek Township, NC

Sometime during the 1870’s, Robert moved to Perry County, Missouri. Perhaps he had family friends or relatives living near Brazeau. When the 1880 census was taken, Robert was a farm laborer in the Otho Price household.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Let me point out here that Otho was the son of Columbus Price, who is included in a list of the original class that attended the Log Cabin College when it opened in 1839. In the early days of this blog, I wrote a story about Columbus Price titled, An Englischer from Brazeau.

Now, we will take a look at the woman who would become Robert’s bride. Her name was Chloe Elizabeth Byrd, who was born on May 27, 1856. Chloe was the daughter of John and Mary Jane (Fenwick) Byrd. We find another connection to the Lutherans in Chloe’s family. Her mother had been married twice before marrying John Byrd. Her first husband, Henry Bimpage, was the man involved in the German Lutherans purchasing land in Perry County in 1839. The Bimpage story can be found in the post, Henry Bimpage – Realtor. Chloe is found in the 1860 census at the age of 4. By that time, her mother had become a widow for the 3rd time. Chloe’s half-brother, Henry Bimpage, Jr., was a 19 year-old farmer in this household.

1860 census – Brazeau Township, MO

In the 1870 census, Chloe was a teenager. This time, her older brother, Leo Byrd, was called the farmer.

1870 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The last census in which we find Chloe as a single woman was the one taken in 1880. Her mother had died the year before this census was taken, so we do not find her here. Her brother, Leo, was the head of the household. Chloe was 23 years old, and she had another brother, Thomas, who was a carpenter.

1880 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Robert Sumrow married Chloe Byrd on March 10, 1881, so today would be this couple’s 142nd wedding anniversary. The church marriage record for this event is found in the books of Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, but that does not necessarily mean that the wedding took place there. That record called this an “Amerikaner” marriage.

Sumrow/Byrd marriage record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

We can also take a look at a civil marriage record for this pair. Rev. Janzow, who was the pastor at Concordia, is listed on this document as the person who performed the wedding.

Sumrow/Byrd marriage record – Perry County, MO

This list of pastors who served at Brazeau Presbyterian Church over the years shows that one pastor served during the year, 1880, but then the next pastor did not start serving this congregation until 1883. That explains the vacancy that existed in 1881.

Brazeau Presbyterian – list of pastors

According to later census entries, this Sumrow couple had 4 children. Since we cannot view the 1890 census, the first one in which we find the Sumrow couple is the one taken in 1900. Also, since they were living in the Salem Township, we have to look at a very difficult-to-read census entry. All 4 of their children, 3 daughters and a son, were included in their household. Robert was a farmer.

1900 census – Salem Township, MO

Next, we find the Sumrow’s in the 1910 census. Two children were still living with their parents.

1910 census – Salem Township, MO

Robert and Chloe’s daughter, Lulu, married Joseph Lybarger in 1910, and a photo was taken on that occasion. I know that Mr. and Mrs. Sumrow, the parents of the bride, are listed as being in this photo, but I cannot say which ones they are for certain.

Lybarger/Sumrow wedding photo

The 1920 census shows the Sumrow’s in their 60’s. Their son, Robert, Jr., and his family were living with them.

1920 census – Salem Township, MO

The last census in which we find Chloe was the one taken in 1930. This couple had an empty nest and were living in the Brazeau Township.

1930 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Chloe Sumrow died in 1931 at the age of 74. We can take a look at her death certificate.

Chloe Sumrow death certificate

Robert is found in the 1940 census living with the Lybarger family. At the age of 85, Robert no longer had an occupation listed.

1940 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Robert Sumrow died in 1944 at the age of 89. His death certificate is pictured here.

Robert Sumrow death certificate

I located an obituary that was published in the Perry County Republican.

Robert Sumrow obituary – PCR

Robert and Chloe Sumrow are buried in the Brazeau Presbyterian Cemetery in Brazeau.

Robert and Chloe Sumrow gravestone – Brazeau Presbyterian, Brazeau, MO

In closing, let me share one more piece of history concerning Chloe’s Byrd family. In a book about Brazeau that we having in our museum’s research library, we find the following information about the Byrd family. It points out that Chloe’s grandfather, Amos Byrd, served in the military during the Revolutionary War.

Byrd family history – Brazeau book

I used a baseball term, pinch hitter, in this blog post. Perhaps that is because, as I am writing this article today, we are now in the midst of spring training, and I have baseball on the brain. I will add that in the course of researching this story, I ran across a newspaper article that stated that the Brazeau baseball team won the Perry County championship in 1934.

3 thoughts on “When the Lutheran Pastor Becomes a Pinch Hitter

  1. This reminds me of the story my father told about one of his uncles who attended the Lutheran Church in Longtown. As he left church he would stop at York Chapel and share the sermon he had just heard . I think he was one of the Cornehlsen brothers, who were half brothers of my Grandma. Date: about 1920s to 1930s.?.


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