I was born August 14, 1841 at five o'clock in the morning in the small town of Auhagen Germany and was baptized on August 22, 1841 in the Lutheren Church at Langkirchen (Bergkirchen), Germany and given the names of Johann, Heinrich, Christoph (it being the custom at the time to use the last given name for general usage). My Father's name was Karl, Heinrich, Philipp Steege who was a very qualified and gifted linen weaver.|
My Mother's maiden name was Katherine, Sophia Schmidt whose home was in Hanover, Germany, but who, on account of the poor financial situation of the family, made her home with her mother's sister, a Mrs. Christoph Gross, in Hanover, who also had a daughter of the same age and name, but who had passed away while a child. My mother was adopted and raised by her Aunt. My Father was born in April 1801 and my Mother in September 1805. My Father was 28 and 1/2 years old and my Mother 24 and 1/2 years old when they were married. My parents were very religious and God fearing people. They attended church regularly and insisted on their children doing the same. Each morning my Mother would read a Bible passage and sing a religious hymn. My parents had a very happy married life. Their marriage was blessed with seven children, three sons and four daughters, whose names were in order as follows: Friedericka, Dorethea, Heinrich, Christoph, August, Sophia, and Maria (the last two being born in America).
In 1846 my parents and four children migrated to America but just prior to our embarkation and after my Father had already purchased the boat passage from Hamburgh, my younger brother August who was four months old passed on to his eternal rest, which of course was a severe shock and heart breaking leave to my parents to bury my brother in Germany and leave for America. This was especially heart breaking trip for my mother to leave her darling baby boy behind.
We drove by wagon to Hamburgh and had to lay over fourteen days before the sailing vessel was ready for the trip. During these fourteen days we had the opportunity to visit various places of interest in Hambourgh which, not too long before, had to a great extent been destroyed by fire, but which had already been rebuilt more beautiful than before. During our stay in Hambourgh my parents and us children visited a Museum of Science and on the second floor I was walking backwards and tumbled down the stairway without any harm being done. The Angel of the Lord surely protected me. Soon the time came to embark and the first stop was England, where we were privileged to ride a train for the first time. The train went through a dark tunnel which consumed one hours time and as we emerged from the tunnel our train passed so close to a Cherry Orchard that we were able to pick Cherries from the railroad car. This was possible because the train consisted of flat cars without a roof. After riding around England, we were again placed on a ship for our voyage to America. We were traveling for four months from the time we left Germany until we settled in Elk Grove, Illinois; 71 days of this was spent on the Atlantic Ocean in a sailing vessel which carried our family of six and four other Germans and over 400 Irish passengers, from the beginning of June until the middle of August. Severe thunderstorms were encountered during our ocean trip. During one of these storms the mainmast on our ship broke in two, which of course caused our trip to be lengthened to such an extent that we had to conserve our food which was rapidly being depleted. Because of this, the dwindling food and water supply was apportioned equally to each of us and towards the end of the journey caused bloody fighting among some of the Irish men. Other incidents such as a baby which was born on ship was given a bath by its mother by putting it in a pail of cold salt water, causing the child to scream. All of these incidents made such an unforgettable impression on my mind that it seems to have happened just yesterday.
AN ANSWER TO PRAYER WHICH HAD A
As mentioned before my Mother had the wondeful habit of reading in the Bible and singing a religious hymn every morning. So also on ship after overcoming the seasickness she would sing and my two sisters would join in as best they could, which pleased the Irish passengers so that they continually insisted on more singing by my sisters, which they gladly did and often singing songs which they had learned in school. One morning after devotion my Mother said - "Do you know what I often pray for" - that when we reach America, God will grant that we meet someone who could tell us how the Roch's are who were our neighbors in Germany and who came to America several years before we did and whose home we had planned to visit on our arrival. We had often received letters from Mr. Roch but for some reason his last letter had a sinister effect on me as he intimated that they "the Roch's family" had left the Lutheran Church.
REMARKABLE EFFECT ON MY LIFE
After much tribulation during our journey on the high seas, especially during the last weeks in which many passengers suffered thirst, hunger, and sickness, we finally landed in New York. We left New York for Buffalo in a canal boat which was drawn by mules . After a journey of 8 days in the canal boat we landed in Buffalo. After our arrival in Buffalo we were placed on a Steam Boat for our destination - Chicago - which we reached through the Great Lakes in another 8 days travel. The voyage through the Great Lakes was truely a beautiful and inspiring sight, as we stopped in Detroit, and several days later in Milwaukee and finally Chicago. My Father who was a cook in the German Army gave assistance to the cook on the Steam Boat, which permitted us to get some extra eatables. On our arrival in Chicago we stayed over night in a Hotel and the next day my Father arranged for someone to drive us and our baggage 20 miles to the North, where our friends the Roch's were living. The next day the wagons were loaded for the last short distance to our final destination - Elk Grove, Illinois. However, before we could start my Mother who always seemed to have something more to do, seemed to be waiting for someone and suddenly a man appeared and greeted us, and my Mother startled, said: Oh! Heinrich Wüstenfeld, God has answered my prayer and do you know how the Roch's are? Yes, answered Mr. Wüstenfeld, they are well, but I dislike very much that they were inveigled to turn Methodist like so many others in the neighborhood. Well, then we won't go there my Mother said; but what are we going to do exclaimed my father, the men are waiting for us to drive North; that does not matter said Mr. Wüstenfeld I live only 24 miles from here West, but the roads West are better. The men would just as soon drive to Elk Grove where I live, said our friend Wüstenfeld, as to drive North and if you want you can stay with us until you have a place of your own - I will ask the men what they have to say to this plan. The men heartily agreed and so we arrived in Elk Grove. Heinrich Wüstenfeld was a distant neighbor in Germany and came to America with the Roch's several years before. This was the remarkable answer to my Mother's prayer and she thanked God repeatedly with tears in her eyes and for which I today still am thankful to God. We were convinced after several visits with the Roch's that they and all the neighbors had turned Methodist and if we had gone there, it may have been possible that we too would have become Methodists and I would not have become a Lutheran pastor. Such and other answers to prayer were experienced often during my life. God's ways are wonderful and beyond comprehension - Yes. God's ways are marvelous - He watches over us day and night in all we do.
OUR FIRST YEAR IN AMERICA AND MY
Our first year in Elk Grove presented trying times. My Father had the total sum of $200.00 left when we arrived in Elk Grove. He purchased 40 acres of prairie land from the Government for $50.00 and single handed built a house 12 x 16 ft. out of thin siding lumnber. he also bought a Cow and Groceries for the Winter, and of course the money had all been spent and had to go in debt for some of it, but my Father paid off the debt by working for it.
WONDERFUL ESCAPE FROM BURNING TO DEATH
The Winter of 1846 to 1847 was a very severe one with cold and snow, the snow reaching the top of the house into which we moved in December. As the thin Pine boards were full of knot holes, the cold and snow penetrated the house so that my Father had to shake the snow off of the bed in the morning and start a fire before we could arise. We had only one German neighbor who lived 3/4 mile distant in whose cellar we stored our Potatoes. Every two or three days we would obtain enough to supply us for the same number of days and in order to keep them from freezing we placed them in bed, but in spite of this they would often freeze. My Father had to walk 3 miles to the nearest forest to obtain the necessary fire-wood and carry it home on his back. This was also the way to the mill where we had to have the Wheat ground for flour. Oftimes during these wanderings through the open prairie where there was no path or sign of any kind to lead the way, darkness would set in or a severe storm would come up and consequently he lost his way and wouldn't return home until very late. This of course caused great anxiety to us. Then my dear Mother would exclaim amid tears "Oh if we only had remained in Germany". However, before long we had Spring again. In March already we had severe thunder-storms. The snow melted very fast so that we had floods, but soon that water receded and one piece of land after another was plowed and seeded with Corn, Potatoes, Wheat, etc. God gave His blessing on this so there was plentiful to harvest.
One morning I begged my Mother to permit me to go to the neighbor who lived 3/4 mile distant and rock their little baby, which I had done many times before. My Mother of course consented. After rocking the little one for an hour or so I asked for permission of the lady to let me go to her husband in the field, which was 1/2 mile distant. She warned me to be careful of snakes. The husband had started the field grass burning. Childlike I also picked a handful of grass and started a fire farther on which elated the man. However, suddenly the coat sleeve on my right arm started burning. I screamed and the man rushed over to extinguish the flame. The flame had caused a bad burn about 2 inches in diameter on my wrist and the man said - run quickly to my wife and she will rub Potatoes and bind it and it will soon be better. I ran as he suggested but in doing so and swinging my arm I fanned the smoldering flame and it started burning harder than before. The man could not see me because of the tall grass. I ran screaming with all my might while the sleeve was burning further and further until it reached my elbows. After finally reaching the house they stuck my arm in a tub of water which was standing nearby and I became unconscious and placed in bed. After several hours I regained consciousness and there sat my Mother at my bedside weeping. This again showed the marvelous ways of God in saving me from a terrible death by fire. I ran at least 1/4 mile while my arm was burning like a torch. My arm was badly burned from wrist to elbow and beyond and had such a thick black crust that the doctor had to peel it off as you would a potato. After three months I had recovered enough so that I could wear some clothing. In memory of this event my right arm has an entirely different appearance from the rest of my body, which will stay with me the rest of my natural life. Consequently the first year in America was no bed of roses for my parents, however, they were not discouraged but worked hard and diligently and always placing their faith and hope in the Lord who always helped them out of their difficulties. These were the words of my Father as my Mother shed bitter tears, and I cried with her. "Don't cry, God still lives and He will help us as He has done before. Couldn't this accident have been much worse? Mother you can read better than I, won't you read that wonderful Psalm which you have often read. That Psalm is very fitting for us right now. As God has been so gracious unto us so will He also in the future help us and for which we will praise Him". My Father was referring to Psalm 103. My Mother dried her tears and read the beautiful Psalm.
MY BOYHOOD DAYS ON THE FARM
As time went on more and more immigrants came into the vicinity which permitted us to establish a Evangelical Lutheran Congregation and a school which was taught by the Pastor and which my sister and my brother Heinrich attended. As it was a considerable distance to school I could not attend until I was 8 years old. However, when my brother would do his lessons at home I would stand alongside of him and this way I learned to read without anyone suspecting it. When I started attending school and brought my Bible with me, the other children would laugh at me, not knowing that I could read, so when it came my turn to read I surprised them so by my fluent reading that they never again laughed at me. The Pastor of course took advantage of this and soon came to my parents and said: "That boy is smart and God willing he should study and become a minister, but my parents just shook their heads and the matter was temporarily forgotten. Soon Pastor F. Sallmann came to Elk Grove and on April 15, 1855 he confirmed me. He also implored my parents to let me study for the ministry, but without success, mainly because the necessary means were never available. However, the desire and wish to become a minister were in my heart and therefore I begged my parents to let me go to the Pastor and entreat him to give me instructions, which they gladly consented to. For two years I studied each evening under the Pastor's guidance often until after midnight. I memorized the Augsburg Confession to the 20th Article and read many other Concordia books which the Pastor had. I studied diligently to master arithmetic, reading, geography and also learned some Latin. When Pastor Bartling came to Elk Grove I was under his instructions until the Spring of 1861 after which I went to Fort Wayne, Ind. As there was considerable work to be done on the farm I could not study during the day, but had to work and consequently I became well versed in all farming activities such as plowing, planting, harrowing, cutting grass with a scythe and at harvest time cutting the wheat with a hand scythe at first and later with a machine. For two years at harvest time my brother, brother-in-law and I went from farm to farm with a threshing machine to harvest their wheat which often amounted to over 1000 bushels in a day.
My dear Mother had past on to her eternal rest in the meantime (1858), but before she died she expressed her wish that I would be able to continue my studies and become a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This wish of my dear Mother gave me a renewed spirit to continue and the encouragement which my elder sister gave me, definitely decided me to become a minister.
IN COLLEGE DURING THE CIVIL WAR
My entrance into the seminary at Fort Wayne, Ind. in April 1861 occurred at the beginning of the war between the North and South. Soon after Abraham Lincoln was elected in November of 1860 the South, who had seceded, fired their first shot. It was hoped in the North that the war would soon be over but this was wishful thinking. At first the voluntary enlistments among young and old men were numerous, so I decided to go to Fort Wayne, however, the voluntary enlistments did not continue so each state was informed by the government how many men were expected to serve either voluntarily or by lottery. In the meantime I had trouble with my grammar in college because our family had spoken nothing but low German at home so I had trouble mastering the high German. So I decided to speak nothing but high German and this applied also to the vacation time at home with my family. I of course told them the reason for doing this, and this decision proved to be of benefit to me. After several months I had mastered the high German to the extent that I soon forgot the low German. To my surprise and regret after 2 years I had trouble in conversing fluently with my family. The teachers at Fort Wayne at that time were Prof. Kraemer, Prof. Fleishmann and Dr. Sihler who as far as I remember taught only catechism. I had to spend several months in preparatory seminary to study languages. I learned to love Prof. Kraemer which is more than I can say of the others; why, I don't know, possibly because Prof. Kraemer understood me better. When we informed of the great danger Prof. Walther was in, in St. Louis, Prof. Kraemer would pray at least for 5 minutes each evening when we had devotion. His prayers were so fervent and powerful, one could not think otherwise that God in his mercy would answer his prayers; and so it was, God did answer his prayers.
Beginning the 1st of July vacation time started, but as I had no money for the trip home I went to the nearest farmer and applied for work, which I immediately received because of my knowledge of farm work, at $2.00 per day, plus room and board. In two weeks I had earned enough to pay for my fare home. As my Father had retired and turned the farm over to my brother, I had an inheritance of $700.00 which my brother was to pay me. My brother did not have the money so he paid me a little at a time. I couldn't depend on financial help from my Father anymore, so I had to be very careful of my expenditures, especially since everything was so high in price because of the war. Prior to vacation time it was rumored that Synod had decided to move part of the activities from Fort Wayne to St. Louis and to move the gymnasium from St. Louis to Fort Wayne. As all college students in St. Louis were exempt from serving in the Army, which was not the case in Fort Wayne. The changeover was made during vacation time. Therefore, we were notified to report to St. Louis in September. Prof. Walther sent me a certificate signifying that I was a student enrolled at Concordia College in St. Louis. This certificate I had to have notarized and carry it with me in order to obtain passage on the railroad, as without a certificate no one could travel.
MY FIRST YEAR IN MINISTRY
After receiving my call to Michigan I wrote the congregations a letter asking them to permit me to remain in St. Louis until Easter, which they willingly consented to. After spending Easter in Elk Grove with my sister (Mrs. F. Ilten) I went to Monroe, Mich. and preached there for Pastor Hattstaedt, following which I went to my church, the Ev. Lutheran Immanuel Congregation in which I assumed my duties on April 19, 1863. I was ordained into the Ministry on the 3rd of May 1863 by Pastor Hattstaedt. The Immanuel Congregation which was closest to town was called the lower and the Bethlehem Congregation which was located several miles southwest was called the upper. The last named congregation had several years prior separated from the Immanuel church and had built their own house of worship. However, another separation had taken place from Bethlehem and organized a congregation several miles farther West but attached themselves to the Iowa Synod. These separations of course caused bitter feelings among the congregations, but after a number of weeks with the help of God I was able to establish a Christian feeling and attitude among the parishioners. I would preach in both congregations each Sunday. One Sunday I would preach in Immanuel in the morning and in Bethlehem in the afternoon, and the following Sunday it would be reversed. By Fall, through the grace of God, reconciliation had been established between the congregations so that it was agreed to have services with Sunday-school one Sunday morning in Immanuel and the next Sunday morning in Bethlehem, and the members became so friendly that members of Immanuel would attend services when being conducted at Bethlehem and the same would take place with members of Bethlehem when services were being conducted at Immanuel, in spite of some members having to travel 5 or 6 miles to church. So it was on New Years day 1864 which was later recognized as the "Cold New Year". On this day many members who attended services had their ears and hands frozen; I too froze all my fingers except the thumbs. The lady with whom I made my home immediately bathed them in snow, until after about 10 hours the blood circulated through them again. Those were painful hours. Where this woman gets the snow, as no snow had fallen yet? Well, she took some white turnips and put them out of doors in the extreme cold and in 5 or 10 minutes they were frozen into ice and then were grated into snow and packed around my hands. I was extremely grateful to this wonderful lady. John Anweiler was the name of the man with whom I made my home. He and his wife made me feel very much at home. My weekly rent was $2.00 including a private room, board, wash and light. They also offered me firewood for the stove so I could heat my room. My salary was meager, no stipulated amount. I received only what individuals wanted to give me. I taught school 4 days a week, 2 in one church and 2 in the other. After school and Saturday mornings I would have confirmation instructions. My first confirmation was conducted on the 4th Sunday after Easter, April 24th, 1864. It was at this time according to the will of God that my dear landlord was stricken with smallpox and died. I had been attending a conference and when I arrived home I was not permitted to enter the house but had to stay with another church member by the name of John Voellmer, who little room as they had 9 children. Soon after the death of John Anweiler I returned to my room as I was afraid I would come down with the smallpox and I didn't want to jeopardize the health of that large family. I was taken ill for several days and placed in bed by the doctor. However, by the grace of God, I recovered and was able to preach again the following Sunday. I soon realized that since the man of the house was no more there, it would not be proper for me to remain there as it may cause talk.
MY MARRIAGE - JOY AND SORROW
"We must through much tribulation enter
into the kingdom of God"
On June 3rd, 1864 I became engaged to Anna Maria Theresa Wagner, daughter of Louis Wagner and his wife Sabina, nee Krause of Adrian, Michigan. Louis Wagner was a tailor by trade. On August 2nd, 1864 we entered into the state of Holy Matrimony and a happy and blessed married life until December 28th, 1916 when my dear wife was called to her eternal home. We were blessed with 11 children (8 boys and 3 girls).Four children preceded my wife in death. It behooves me for the sake of my children to go a little further into detail. As mentioned before, I had noticed that it was time for me to seek a helpmate and so I wrote a letter to my dear Father in Elk Grove asking his permission to become engaged. This permission I received from him in a few days. He of course had no one in mind for me. A number of suggestions were made to me by some congregation members. I could not convince myself, partly because I wanted to wait longer and partly because I didn't think it advisable to marry someone in the congregation. The time had come however for me to decide, because of the emergency caused by the death of my dear friend John Anweiler. I thought of the scripture saying "It is not good for man to be alone". As I knew of no one I wrote to Pastor Trautmann in Adrian asking him if he knew of some Christian girl in his congregation which he would recommend to me. Shortly before I had the opportunity, while attending a conference in Adrian, to observe a number of young ladies in the church choir and in the home where I was lodging. They talked about some of these young ladies and particularly about a certain Maria as being a very nice girl and a good songstess. It made no impression on me at the time, but nevertheless I later noticed a definite attraction. Pastor Trautmann did not let me wait long for an answer to my letter. In the meantime I prayed to God that He would lead me to the proper decision. Pastor Trautmann wrote me that he had given prayerful consideration to the matter and had the names of three young ladies, which he gave me, who would make a good Christian wife. He assured me that if I decided on anyone of the three, I would be well taken care of. He asked me to pray to God for guidance and if I decided on anyone and wanted more information he would obtain it for me. He would contact the parents and possibly obtain their permission for me to call on them. So it happened that my choice immediately fell on Maria and I informed Pastor Trautmann of the fact and on his invitation I went to Adrian on the 3rd of June.
From his room he pointed out to me the home of the Wagners across the street, and he exclaimed, see there, there is Maria in the yard carrying something into the house. I noticed her and my heart leaped for joy, and I thanked God that He had given me the proper choice. After the evening meal about 7 o'clock Pastor Trautmann and I went to the Wagners so I could get acquainted with them. He said to them, I suppose you know why we came over. Yes we know, but we thought that Maria would be with us for a long time. I don't know how my wife will get along without her, exclaimed Mr. Wagner. His wife interposed - if it is Gods will and with his help we will get along. A brother Adam Wagner was also present. The mother called into the kitchen, Maria, Pastor Steege is here and would like to see you. Maria came into the room and graciously and friendly offered me her hand. I said to her, I don't suppose you know who I am, I hope however that we can become better acquainted. She exclaimed, I don't really know you although I have seen you before when you were here attending a conference several weeks ago. It was love at first sight and after an hour or so we became engaged and Pastor Trautmann asked God for His blessing on our engagement. Not everyone is so fortunate as we were, and we were both certain that it was the will of God that we would be together. I stayed at Pastor Trautmann's house over night and next morning I visited my intended bride and later traveled back home. My landlady was highly elated when I informed her of my impending marriage.
I again taught school and gave Mrs. Anweiler considerable assistance at harvest time as she had no one to help her otherwise. In the course of the next 2 months I visited my dear future wife 3 times and again on the 4th of July we met in Monroe. I went to Elk Grove and imparted the good news to my Father and the family. They congratulated me heartily and expressed the wish that I had brought my future wife along so they could meet her. On my way back home I stopped off in Adrian to talk to my future in-laws and set the date for the marriage. It was decided that August 2nd would be the date for the wedding and I immediately ordered my wedding suit from my future father-in-law. He offered me a suit for $50.00 which would have been a lot higher in price if he hadn't been a tailor, as all clothing was high in price.
On August 2nd, 1864 at 4:00 PM we were married by Pastor Trautmann in the church at Adrian, Michigan. The text of his address was based on John 15:12. "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you".
As the Pastoral conference was convened in Adrian at this time, all Pastors present were invited to the reception, and of course all were present. Laden with wedding gifts we left Adrian on August 5th for Ida or Raisinville and went to my lodging place (Mrs. Anweiler) were we received still more wedding gifts for our future home. We had only two rooms but were as happy as a king in his palace. The next week I started teaching school again and after school my dear wife would meet me on my way home. Oh what joy and pleasure hath God given me in my dear wife who never been out of the city and now had to live in the "bush", and she often assured me that she had no home sickness.
It wouldn't be good if God didn't place some adversities on us, and so it happened that a short time after our marriage God did place a cross on my dear wife which was to endure for the remainder of her life. On September 3rd, 1864 just 1 month after our marriage my dear wife became suddenly very ill with abdominal pains and terrible spasms which lasted 8 days. The doctor could do nothing for her; suddenly on the eighth day the pains left her and she resumed her housework and I returned to teach school. This attack was really an ordeal and heart-rending experience and we pleaded with God to relieve her of those terrible pains. "Oh, God my dear heavenly Father I pray Thee do not take my dear wife from so soon, have mercy on her and restore her to good health. We have been so happy together for such a short time, but as Thou wilt oh, Lord".
How happy and thankful we were to God when He did relieve her of those terrible pains, and once again she would meet me with joy on my way home from school, as she had done before. However, after 3 days while several church members were visiting us in the evening and my dear wife was enjoying their company she suddenly fell back in the chair and became rigid and she had her hands clasped so tightly over her mouth and nose that she couldn't breath. After a few minutes her hands fell limp from her face and she would lay exhausted for some time and the attack would be over, and she would be normal again. These attacks occurred almost daily and harder each time, it seemed, and in different ways. Sometimes her head would be turned almost completely around and her hands clasped over her face so tight we couldn't loosen them. These attacks were so severe that her whole body would be rolled up like a ball and her body would jump in the air, or her throat would be clogged up so she couldn't breath for several minutes. Often times after these attacks had subsided she would be unconscious for hours and some times for days and in her subconscious mind would talk about Jesus Christ who would come and take her to heaven and how beautiful it would be there. Then she would sing, one - two - three, yes some times ten hymns without even a mistake. For 45 years my dear wife had to suffer with this affliction. Usually after a child was born she would be free of these attacks for several weeks. Other times only a day or two would intervene and very seldom a week. These attacks usually occurred in the evening and would last maybe an hour or two, sometimes days. Often times when I returned home from school I would find my dear one unconscious on the bed or on the floor. I can't describe the anxiety and lasting effect this cross which God had laid on my dear wife had on me and much more on her. To further aggravate our misfortune several gossipers, not only outside the church but also in the church, started whispering and spreading lies that I had been misled about my dear wife, that she had always had these spells, but I was assured by neighbors who had known her practically all her life and also my dear wife assured me that it was a falsehood and that she had never had those spells before our marriage.
At the end of October 1864 I was supposed to attend Synod at Fort Wayne. I wanted to excuse myself, but my dear one wouldn't hear of it that I stay at home on account of her, and she insisted that I go, as she had always done whenever I had to attend some meetings or conference. She stayed with her parents during the time of Synod.
During the winter of 1864 both congregations decided to build a parsonage halfway between the two churches, and in the Spring my Father came to us in order to keep my wife company while I was teaching school. On May 19, 1865 we moved into our new home, which was constructed of brick, 3 rooms downstairs and 2 rooms upstairs. One of these rooms now served as a schoolroom for the children of both congregations. Two of the members of the lower church insisted that being the older of the churches, they had the right to insist that the children be instructed in their church building and this caused dissention and strife. They said that the affliction which God placed upon us was due us and that they no right to lighten that burden for us by permitting the teaching of school in our home. However, their plan fell on deaf ears as most of the congregation members were very kind to us, and this kindness, and the fact that I was near, indeed helped considerably to make those spells seemingly less severe, as she was always in good spirits in spite of her affliction. On August 2, 1865 after long suffering my dear wife gave birth to her first and healthy daughter. The baby was baptized on the 13th of August and was named Sabina - Maria.
On January 30, 1866 both congregations decided to unite as one and the members of the upper congregation were taken up individually as members of the Immanuel Church and decided that the combined membership would conduct services in the parsonage; and so once again we had one congregation - Immanuel Church - and during my service to them were able to construct a new and very nice brick edifice. On February 11, 1866 we conducted our first service in the parsonage which proved to be very advantageous both to the congregation and also to me, as the 2 hours daily I spent going back and forth could be spent to better advantage elsewhere. This was especially pleasing to my dear wife, that church and school were so near and that people had come to a good understanding. Our joy however was restrained for several reasons. One was that my dear spouse's ailment after a short decline, resumed the old form again. The other reason was that one man from the lower congregation objected so strenuously to the uniting of the churches that he left the church and joined the church in Monroe with two others of our congregation, which he convinced to leave also. Even the pleading of the District President of the Synod had no impression on them. This man stated that because of the changes made I was no longer his Pastor and that my call as Pastor was no more in effect.
While my dear Mama - I called her Mama after she became a mother - after severe attacks would usually talk as I have related many times before. I must enter one more incident which happened on August 30, 1866. In the evening about 9 o'clock, after being at her bedside all day because of a very severe attack, she rested easier and I went to my study to prepare my sermon. After a short time I heard her moaning, a peculiar moan, I ran to her as quick as possible and found her near death. The spasm was so severe that she couldn't breath on account of the pressure on her heart and lungs, and she was groping with her hands as though she were suffocating. This happened twice in succession. After these attacks she would fall exhausted back on the bed and after she quieted down she would with a very weak but firm voice exclaim "I am Jesus little lamb, ever glad at heart I am; for my shepherd gently guides me, knows my need and well provides me etc", the entire song. Then she would become quiet again for a short while and I would recite some comforting verses which she would pray with me. Then she would say to me with a very weak voice - my dear dear "Schatze" do you know what? I am going home now - I don't mean to Adrian, but to my heavenly home. I am going to die and I am very glad and you should be also. I am going to leave this world and all its sufferings and enter the heavenly home which God has promised us. What shall I do here any longer, my life has been full of sickness and pain, and I would love to be with my heavenly Father whom I love even more than you - do you believe that? He will call me to my heavenly home soon now - don't you know the saying - God shall wipe away all tears and there shall be no more death nor pain, nor sorrow. My God is standing before the door and waiting for me. Oh, how happy I am that I shall be with Him in heaven. He has redeemed me from all sin and won salvation for me through His suffering. I am only sorry that I have to leave you and our dear little angel Sabina. Then she fell asleep and slept peacefully for some time.
On October 18th my heart broke as I entered the house and found my dear wife lying outstretched on the floor next to the stove as if she were dead and our darling little daughter sitting along-side of her gently stroking her cheeks and crying bitterly and calling "Oh Mama, dear Mama stand up". Our little daughter was smart and loving and often comforted us in our troubles. When she was 2 years old she could sing a number of hymns without a mistake, such as; "Now the light has gone away; Father listen while I pray" - "Now that the day has reached its close, the sun doth shine no more" - "Oh Lord I sing with lips and heart, Joy of my soul to Thee" - "Let us all with gladsome voice Praise the God of Heaven, Who to bid our hearts rejoice, His own Son hath given" - and others. When I would hold her in my arms at night and show her the stars, she would be full of joy and exclaim - " Where the stars are there the angels are and Jesus; and I would explain to her that Jesus is with us and all believing children right here on earth, and even the angels are with us even though we can't see them. She would say - our dear Jesus I would love to see. When can I see Him? When she would see her mother in pain and agony and crying, she too would cry and at the same time try and comfort us by saying; Mama, Jesus will soon make you well and soon we will see Him and then we won't have to cry anymore, isn't that so? I could relate a number of such incidents that took place, but space will not permit.
The time passed quickly between our pain and comfort and between sorrow and joy. As the saying goes: After the storm comes sunshine and after pain and sorrow Thou bestowest on us joy and comfort.
THE LAST 3 YEARS IN MICHIGAN
"As undeserving as I am, Thou oh Lord hast so often
and wondrously saved us from harm, though there
was but a step between life and death."
In October 1866 I had to attend Synod in Monroe, and my dear wife and my Father traveled to Elk Grove. This was the first visit my dear wife made to see the remainder of my relationship. After our visit my Father decided to stay with my sister (the Iltens) in Elk Grove and so we were alone again.
On January 31, 1867 our second child, a son, was born and we named him Adam, Christian, Theodore. I said to the happy mother God has given us this son and if He can use him we must dedicate him to serve in God's Kingdom. Yes, if it is God's will he will serve Him. We had a young lady out of the church to help us for a short time. My dear Mama usually did all the work herself with little help from me, as I had little time to spare. Soon her old affliction returned in the regular way in spite of all medical care we could give her with no avail. In the Fall we went to Adrian where we had consulted a surgeon who was quite positive that an operation would be beneficial to her, and eliminate her troubles. For 10 weeks she was under this doctors care, during which time the children stayed with her parents. The church in Lake Ridge and the mission in Tecumsee were without a Pastor, so I preached there once each month as long as I was in Michigan. This gave me the opportunity to visit my dear ones in Adrian. After 10 weeks we traveled back home, with no apparent benefit to my dear wife from the operation - another unsuccessful attempt to alleviate her troubles. One of my remarks in my day book in September reads: "Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end."
On March 8, 1868 I experienced a wonderful rescue. I was in the parish at Lake Ridge on March 1st, when we had a snowfall of 4 feet. After a thaw of 3 days and rain, a farmer agreed to drive me from Lake Ridge to Tecumsee where I was to preach in the evening. We left at 3 PM and on the way we met people who informed us that it would be impossible to get through to the town. The bridge by the mill was only partly still there, but the ice which jammed there would probably help us get across. All the other bridges were destroyed. We found conditions as we were told. The bridge had been torn away a considerable distance and this opening was jammed with ice seemingly strong enough to walk on without danger. I stepped down off the wagon and the farmer who drove me here turned around and drove back home, thinking I would be all right. I started across the treacherous ice towards that part of the bridge which was still standing. However, the bridge was not as secure as it had seemed, most of the planks had been torn away so that plank I had just walked on would have to be laid in front of me to proceed. The bridge was swaying like a cradle with rushing and foaming water underneath. I finally had the bridge behind me, but before me lay more trouble, the damn which was broken by the debris from the bridge and rushing waters had to be conquered and so I crawled from boulder to boulder and finally reached shore safely. Hardly had I reached safety when the remainder of the bridge gave way and all the debris and ice went tumbling down the river with great noise, so that nothing remained except the rushing water. On my knees I gave thanks to God and brought to mind Isaiah 43-2 "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." I have to omit a lot of things, otherwise there won't be sufficient space in this book for other happenings which I would like to record.
My Father returned to live with us and stayed until March 1869. On March 15, 1869 our darling daughter Sabina passed away in the home of my in-laws in Adrian, Michigan where my wife, children and Father went to visit, while I had to go to Lake Ridge. We traveled together until we came close to Adrian when I had to leave them. On Sunday afternoon a messenger came by sled from Adrian to Lake Ridge to bring me the message that our dear little daughter was very ill and near death and he had come to take me to Adrian. The snow was so deep that it took us several hours to make the trip of 10 miles. We arrived in Adrian late that night and I found that conditions were as I had been told. My loving daughter Sabina, whom I had left the day before healthy and happy, lay gasping for breath on her bed, and my dear wife laying half conscious across the room on a sofa. As I asked the child - don't you want to stay with us any longer she shook her head in the negative. Where would you like to go my darling Sabina? She answered - to my dear heavenly Father who is calling me. Then she grasped me with both hands around the neck and then quickly let go because it was so hard for her to breathe. She had to endure this for another 24 hours. The doctor had been to see her 7 times during the day, but all efforts to relieve her were in vain. On Monday evening March 15th, God took her into His heavenly home. The little prayer which she so often said "Lieber Heiland mach mich fromm, das ich zu Dir im Himmel komm" we had inscribed on her little tombstone in Adrian where we had laid her to rest.
My Father returned to Elk Grove and we with our one little child to our home. However, our dear Theodore caused us a lot of anxiety. Soon after Sabina's death he was a very sick child. For 9 months he had fever. When he was 1 year old he had begun to walk but even at 22 months he had not progressed any further. From then on he seemed to become better in health and strength and the fever left him. On June 20, 1869 we had to endure more trouble. I was attending a conference in Detroit when suddenly and without warning I had a hemorrhage. We were assembled in church and during the hymn I became suddenly nauseated and I left the church as unobserved as possible and went around the corner of the church and I had a terrible vomiting spell, but it was blood. In my anxiety I ran to the Pastors home and the Pastor's wife gave me something to strengthen me. I remained with the Pastor for several days, and though I had no more attacks, I had to spit blood every day for 4 weeks, and rest for 2 more months. The doctor diagnosed it as the beginning of inflammation of the windpipe, and I should resign from my Pastorate immediately and seek a different climate. Again our heavenly Father heard our supplications and after several months, thanks be to God, I was completely well again, however, I continued taking medication for another whole year. I believe that among all the people that were so kind to me I have to thank my dear Mama for nursing me back to health. Her fervent prayers to God for help far surpassed any prayers I could offer; and God answered her appeal. Oh, how we sang the songs of praise to our heavenly Father with all our heart. "Bless the Lord , o my Soul, and forget not His benefits. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles."
MY CALL TO DUNDEE, ILL.
During my ministerial services in Michigan, I received several calls to other congregations; one to Lyons, Ill. and another to Lake Zurich, Ill., and I was inclined at the time to accept one, however, when I gave it serious consideration and under God's guidance and considering the conditions in Michigan and the blessings which God had extended to my services there, I decided not to leave my little flock so soon, especially at this time as the war was still in progress and it would be very difficult for such a small congregation to get another Pastor and there would be great danger of the people going to some other denomination. The congregation objected strenuously each time I presented a call and they definitely decided not to let me go, and because of the aforementioned reasons I was convinced that I should not accept any of the calls extended to me so far. In November 1869 I received a call from the congregation in Dundee, Ill. The Dundee congregation was probably 7 times larger than the congregation in Michigan, had a large school of over 100 pupils, and one capable teacher. The congregation had sent out five different calls since their Pastor P. Schmidt had left and was in danger of being taken over by the United Lutheran. All of these reasons and the fact that my doctor advised a change in climate and to give up teaching school because of my throat condition. After long and prayerful deliberation I became convinced that it was God's will that I accept the call. Also the District President said he was convinced that I should accept the call. However, my beloved congregation in Michigan wanted to hear nothing of it. What shall we do if you leave us, especially now that the confirmation class had just started and Winter is upon us and we have no hope of getting another Pastor before next Spring. That was the consensus of the whole congregation. Meeting after meeting was held with always the same result, although they realized and admitted that the Dundee call was probably more important. I wrote a letter to the Dundee congregation explaining to them the circumstances prevailing in Michigan and that I would not leave this congregation because of the already mentioned reasons, and which the members emphasized so impressively. I received a lengthy reply from Dundee declaring that if the congregation in Michigan insisted on me staying over the Winter they would be willing to wait until Spring; that they had a very capable teacher who could conduct Bible readings and teach the confirmation class, and with God's help bring them far enough along so I could confirm them when I arrived. I brought this matter before the congregation for consideration and after lengthy deliberation they agreed to reluctantly grant me a peaceful release, provided that I would stay at least until Easter. I conveyed this decision by letter to the Dundee congregation and they agreed to wait until after Easter. So I accepted this call to Dundee with great joy, being convinced that it was the Lord's will and that He would bless my efforts there. On Easter Monday I had my farewell sermon and left there in the evening with my family for Adrian where we stayed for a week. The following Sunday I had my farewell sermon in Lake Ridge, and on Monday we started our journey to Dundee, our household goods having been received there in the meantime. On Sunday, May 1, 1870 I was installed in Dundee congregation by Pastor P. Reichmann. It was a beautiful day and the church was overcrowded.
Before I close this chapter I would like to review a little from my daybook. I spent 7 years in the vineyard of the Lord in Michigan, and God grant that the seed I planted there, very often under great stress and tears, will bear rich fruit as He has promised. Although the congregation was reluctant in letting me go, they after long and prayerful deliberations gave me my peaceful release to Dundee with the wish that God will bless my efforts there.
It was very difficult for me to give my farewell sermon on Easter Monday. Immediately after the service all the ladies of the church bade farewell to my wife and children with tears in their eyes. The men all drove to the Ida, Mich. railroad station in their wagons and there bade us Godspeed. We were put aboard a freight train for Adrian. This train also carried our household goods which we were moving to Dundee. So, farewell and God bless you my dear Christian friends in Ida, Lake Ridge and Tecumsee. If I hadn't been positive that God wanted me to take the call to Dundee I would never have left Michigan. The leave taking in Adrian was very hard as now my dear wife would be deprived of the opportunity to occasionally visit her parents. This was doubly hard because both of us were not too well, especially my dear Mama who still suffered severe attacks and our two children who had the whooping cough. Theodore was the first to have it and then Louise who was born on February 6th, took it after 8 days, while we had hoped she would escape it. So we started our journey to Dundee and all of us being more or less sick, but our faith in the Lord never wavered. On Wednesday the 27th of April we arrived in Elgin. As there was no train to Dundee until 6 o'clock in the evening we went to visit Pastor Reichmann, who kindly drove us to Dundee in the afternoon. The congregation had obtained a house for us, having paid rental for this house all Winter in which Pastor Schmidt had been living in order to be certain we would have a home. The deacons and other men had brought our household goods from the depot and placed them in the house with several plants of Hyacinths in full bloom standing on some of the boxes. We set up our bed first of all and then the wood stove we had brought along and started a small fire to take the chill out of the house and then my dear wife prepared our evening meal. Several of the ladies from church had brought some food and also helped us unpack, and after supper several of the Deacons visited us. So with God's help we were now established in our new home, and with thanks to Him for a safe journey we were able once again to have our daily devotion, to which we were accustomed. God in His ever-loving kindness prevented any severe attacks to my dear wife during the entire trip, for which we were very grateful. I was installed on May 1, 1870 as Pastor of Immanuel Church in Dundee, Illinois.
DUNDEE IMMANUEL CONGREGATION
New surroundings, impressions and future
outlook and remembrances
The greater part of our lives we (my wife and I) spent in Dundee (46-3/4 years). At first things seemed strange, as for 7 years we were living in the "bush" and now we were living in a town consisting of three separate villages, East Dundee, West Dundee and Carpentersville. The scenery in Dundee was not very inviting. The West Side showed a little more get-up and had somewhat taken on the aspects of a town having as its inhabitants mostly Yankees. It had several churches, one with a steeple; one fairly decent street "Main Street"; a number of homes and business houses. The East side which was mainly inhabited by German immigrants was in very poor condition. It had two establishments, a "Brick Yard" on the southern end of town; a grinding mill "Spring Mill" near Van Buren St. Our church was directly North on Main Street, constructed of brick and was approximately 60 x 40 ft. It had no steeple, no decent Pulpit or Altar, both being constructed of boxwood. In spite of this it had served its purpose for 5 or 6 years already amid much good and much strife. Under the church there was a large school room in which over 100 children, ranging from 6 to 15 years, were taught by the good and faithful teacher August Taebel. This schoolroom contained very few facilities for teaching, however, the order and discipline were beyond reproach. During instructions, the class, especially during the religious instructions such quietness prevailed so that you could hear a pin drop. On Main Street besides the church there were but 5 houses, if you could call them that, 2 saloons, 1 home West of the railroad and 1 house between the railroad and church and 1 house just East of the church which I purchased in July and which had been our home during our life in Dundee. There were several attractive houses North, between Main Street and the Northwestern Depot, where River Street and Barrington Avenue intersect. This is where the business houses were located for East Dundee. Sidewalks at this time were few and far between. Van Buren Street, on which now is located the beautiful Immanuel School was nicknamed "Cow Street" at that time, because during the Summer the cows grazed along the street. When we first arrived in Dundee we lived on Barrington Ave. in the home Pastor Schmidt previously occupied. On October 4th, we moved into our own home next to the church on Main Street. It was from here I walked North - South - West to make house calls on all my church members to become better acquainted. During my visits of course I had to listen to a lot of gossip, one complaining about the other and visa versa because of the dissention among the members several of whom made it almost unbearable for the previous Pastor. I then realized what one of my good friends implied on our journey from Chicago to Dundee when he said: "Steege had you known what the conditions were in Dundee you probably would not have accepted the call. The existence of two or three large cliques and the shameful treatment they gave the former Pastor would have decided you against coming here."
I of course admonished all my people, privately and publicly, to lay aside and forget their differences and become reconciled and live peacefully with the help of God. This change from Michigan to Dundee was very trying on my dear wife as she couldn't understand the low German which they spoke and they couldn't understand the high German which my wife spoke. So the first impressions and experiences were very unfavorable.
My dear wife often cried when she remembered the lovely conditions and experiences we had in Michigan and to which we had become accustomed. However, after comforting her and convincing her that things change for the better and reminding her of the hymn we sang before we left Michigan she would say, of course, you are right. "As God leads me so will I go without murmur." Soon after our arrival in Dundee we received letters from Michigan which gave us new hope and courage. We also received letters containing news which made us very sad. A number of our friends, men and women, members of our church in Michigan took sick with Typhoid Fever and died, and soon after, a number took sick with Scarlet Fever and died. This was a great shock to us. Among those who passed away with Typhoid Fever was my successor as Pastor of my former congregation in Lake Ridge. This young man, Pastor Nuttinger, was a son of one of my congregation members and who had taken instructions from me before going to St. Louis. He was engaged to be married to a Christian young lady from Ida, Mich. Several days after our arrival in Dundee my second oldest sister Dorethea Bremmer living in Elk Grove passed away, leaving a family of 6 children, the youngest being 2 years old. My brother came and took me to the funeral. My dear wife couldn't go because of our children being sick. Our dear Heavenly Father never left us without comfort. Yes often without any anticipation we would experience happenings of joy and happiness, and so He made it possible that my two youngest sisters were to be married in our house. The older of the two, Sophia, married our faithful teacher August Taebel on October 11, 1870 and Maria married teacher A. Gruhl, a friend of August Taebel on May 30, 1871.
In May 1871 we were plagued by the 17-year Locusts who did a lot of damage to trees amid terrible noise. In the Fall of this year there was much sickness and many deaths in the congregation. In October the great and terrible Chicago fire took place, destroying almost the entire city. I was very elated and pleased that I found my congregation willing to offer some assistance by taking up a collection which amounted to several hundred dollars. I have almost more work than I am able to take care of. Besides my own congregation I often had to make trips to Belvidere, Crystal Lake, Huntley, McHenry and Richmond to preach, as these places had no minister of their own. On November 30, 1871 the Lord gladdened our hearts with the birth of another son, whom we named August, Christian. However, during the next year sad news and grief entered our home again.
Two of our dear children have preceded us in death. "Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God." The following half-year was very trying and discouraging and heart rending. Not only was there dissention among the congregation members which caused several outbursts, but which, thank God, were amicably settled, but much severe sickness in congregation and also in our home caused such anxiety and many sleepless nights and all this causing my dear wife affliction to become seemingly worse than ever, and heartbreaking to us. During this half year, God in His wisdom saw fit to test our faith still further by requiring the lives of our two youngest children, Louise and August, but God's ways are unsearchable and incomprehensible. The death of the two dear children left us with only one child again, who hadn't gained much strength, our dear Theodore. On October 3, 1872 at 7:15 AM our dear Louise was called to her eternal rest after much suffering since September 26th. She was a bright and lovable child like her sainted sister Sabina was. She had advanced equally as far in understanding. It was very clear that the Holy Ghost through Holy Baptism had entered her heart. During our regular morning devotion and reciting several prayers from the catechism our 5 year old Theodore would pray fervently with us and of course Louise, seeing her brother, would also try under a whisper to pray along, and when we would sing a hymn she would also with her clear little voice join in. During her playtime she would often sing all the songs she so often heard her Mother sing. The day before she died, yesterday morning, when I asked her whether she felt a little better she answered most emphatically "Yes, Papa, but in a little while I will be with my dear Jesus, not yet, but soon". So it was, soon after she passed away, and she is now singing in the choir with the angels in heaven. She was laid to rest on October 5, 1872. Her body rests in the bosom of the earth, but her soul is in the hands of our dear Heavenly Father. Many people attended her funeral and were very kind to us. My dear wife, who during these past few days seemed to bear up wonderfully, collapsed at the cemetery and had to be carried to the carriage and into the house where she lay very sick and in spasm most of the time. During all this our dear little August lay very sick with high fever and seemingly won't last through the night. Oh God, art Thou going to punish us still further? Oh Lord, turn not Thy face from me, but have mercy on my dear wife and alleviate her suffering and I will give Thee a thankoffering, but Thy will be done. God heard my prayers and soon our little August had recovered from his sickness and my dear wife had also been strengthened again.
On December 31, 1872 I closed my yearbook with this remark: Again this year God took unto Himself in Heaven one of our darling children. What will the next year bring? - more joy and happiness than we experienced during 1872, or more sorrow. Come what may, God will give us the strength and courage to carry on - we will not lose faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The year 1873 did bring more joy and sorrow. Heartrending sorrow came to us through the death of our dear little 1-1/2 year old August. A very active and apparently healthy child was called to his eternal rest on March 22, 1873, after several weeks of illness. This sorrowful happening caused my dear wife's illness to flare up more pronounced than ever, at least for a long time. On August 1, 1874 God gladdened our hearts by the birth of another healthy son, whom we named Heinrich, Johann, Louis. Again we had two children with us, while three are in Heaven.
MISCELLANEOUS CHANGES IN
I will give a brief summary of happenings in church and house during the 32 years 1873 to 1905.
CHURCH AND HOUSE 1873 - 1905
During these years a large number of changes have taken place in the congregation and to a great extent for the better. The voting membership increased from 128 in 1870 to 350 in 1905. In 1886 the church had become too small and was replaced with a larger one with 2 bells and organ and cost around $25,000.00. In 1874 considerable strife and anxiety was caused by lodge members but the congregation, to my great pleasure, was steadfast and decided not to permit any lodge member as a member of Immanuel Congregation and from time to time we had difficulty with such members and consequently a number of them had to leave, but the loss of a few was greatly overshadowed by the number of new members. Our parochial school grew beyond all expectations. Already in 1873 our beloved teacher August Taebel (died October 9, 1911 at the age of 76 years) had to have help in teaching school and a second teacher was called. This growth also required a larger school building and a larger 2-story building was erected, but soon this building also became too small. To alleviate the crowded condition the congregation purchased the Methodist church building on Van Buren Street and made 3 classrooms. The number of school children was above 200 and later rose to above 300, which necessitated calling the fourth teacher. Then came the heartrending experience of a split in the congregation, in which a number of members organized the Bethlehem congregation, and erected a lovely church on the West Side of Dundee. This separation necessitated reducing our school to 3 classes again as it was impossible to support four teachers. In relating the above I have, as far as time is concerned, overshot a number of things and therefore must retrace some intervening items regarding church and school. The school attendance at the beginning of the school year was usually poor, because a large number of children lived on the farm and had to help their parents until harvest time. After that, the attendance was regular and in spite of a late start they would manage to make 8th grade after confirmation, and some even in High School. During the course of the years we had a number of vacancies in our teaching staff, sometimes a lapse of 2 or 3 months before we could obtain another teacher and in the meantime I would have to teach school. At one time I had to assume the third class for 8 months, because no teacher would accept a call. As we had nearly 1700 Souls in our congregation it was rather hard for me to give proper attention to everything needful. A number of congregation members complained that I didn't make enough house calls. I called their attention to the fact that besides teaching school I preach every Sunday morning and had Sunday School in the afternoon and during Advent until Easter I would have services two times each Sunday. Had from 20 to 40 funerals during the year. Had to instruct from 30 to 60 children daily from September to Easter each year in preparation for confirmation, and some of these I had to give special instructions. All this besides my troubles at home left me no spare time I assured them, and if they really expected more they would have to provide some help for me because it would be absolutely impossible for me to do more. So towards the end of 1904 the congregation decided to call an assistant Pastor. In March 1876 to recall another incident I was privileged with God's help to establish a mission congregation in Algonquin, 5 miles North; which has from a small beginning grown to a wonderful congregation with Pastor and teachers, church, school and had become a member of Synod.
Now I would like to recall some of the important changes and happenings in my family during the past years.
On August 5, 1875 my Father-in-law, Louis Wagner died in Adrian, Michigan. After the funeral my Mother-in-law and her 14-year-old son William came to live with us. She made her home with us most of the time for over 20 years. During the first years she was able to give some assistance to my dear wife, however, this did not last long, and the last few years she was almost entirely bedridden. When she came to live with us she had $200.00 which we used to build the kitchen on our house. On December 4, 1878 my Father who had been living with my sister Maria Gruhl, died in Niles, Illinois being 78 years old. He was buried there. My two younger sisters died very young. Sophia Taebel was ailing for many years and the last 10 or 12 years was confined to bed most of the time. She died in Dundee on April 5, 1886 (38 years old) and left 2 children. My other sister Maria Gruhl whose husband was teacher in Wyandotte, Michigan died on September 9, 1882 with tuberculosis and left 3 children. That left three of us children remaining. My sister Fredericka Ilten in Cedar Rapids, Iowa who was 9 years older than I and my brother Heinrich who lived in Bloomington, Illinois. My brother died on July 15, 1917 at the age of 79 years and my sister passed away on October 9, 1917 at the age of 85 years, less than three months apart. Her husband, Christ Ilten who survived her was 91 years old on the 2nd of October of the same year. He was still strong and healthy when I visited them in September 1917. Of 7 children I am the only one remaining.
As for my dear wife who for 32 years and until the end carried the burden and suffering which God had placed upon her without a murmur. Her affliction, which exerted itself less vigorously toward the end of the 19th century, would appear when she were ill with some other sickness, over-excitement, or a thunderstorm or anything that would upset the nervous system. She had severe sicknesses on various occasions. She suffered severe backaches resulting from inflammation of the spine. The doctor informed her she would have a weak back the remainder of her life, and so it was. In 1881 she had Typhoid Fever but resumed her housework after 2 weeks, while I had it first it took 2 months for me to recuperate, as a matter of fact our whole family had it and we were in great distress. However, God in His mercy restored us all to good health. The children were ill quite often, several at a time. On one occasion we had Pneumonia, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough at one and the same time. My Mother-in-law was sick for 6 weeks, her son 2 months, 4 of our children 6 days all at the same time. This of course was too much for my dear wife and she too took sick, so I had to manage by myself for a number of days. Such incidents occurred a number of times. In regard to myself, during the entire time in the ministry 1863-1917 I was bedridden but two times; once in Michigan in 1869 which I have mentioned before and once in Dundee in 1881 when I was sick with Typhoid Fever for 3 months. God has truly been gracious unto me. However, I suffered on several occasions with throat trouble. I was unable to talk for quite awhile and so the congregation had to engage an assistant Pastor for several months. The doctors were unable to give me any relief, but my voice came back gradually on its own accord and with the help of God, who has sustained me in all my tribulations. On numerous occasions my voice would be almost entirely gone and within the hour it would again be strong and normal. After some time my voice was as good as before and the congregation members assured me that they could understand me even when sitting in the far corners of the church. As God has presented us with so many children, our home became too small and so we had to enlarge our house in 1881, which cost $1300.00 and before the building was completed I took sick with Typhoid Fever, no doubt acquired by the many house calls I had to make to members who were sick with this disease. This was the time as mentioned before when we were all sick at one time. During these three months the doctor had visited us over 300 times. However he was very considerate and reduced our bill to $300.00. This and the fact that it cost $4000.00 to send our boys through college, caused us to go into debt from which we were never free until I sold our house, after the death of my beloved wife.
The following are the names of the children God presented us with and a short resume of their life.
At this writing the last two, Oscar and Emil, have no children. Of all our children I can truthfully say that they are happily married, thanks to God.
- Sabina, the first born, born in Ida, Michigan on August 2, 1865, died March 15, 1869.
- Theodore, the second child, born in Ida, Michigan, on January 31, 1867, died in April 1931 in New Britain, Conn. Studied for the ministry in Fort Wayne, Indiana and St. Louis, Mo. On graduation from St. Louis he received a call from the congregation in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Six years later he received a call to Lyons, Iowa which he accepted and in 1906 he received a call to New Britain, Conn. where he remained until his death. His first wife Emma nee Bruning died in childbirth in Lyons, on February 27, 1899. They had adopted 2 children, Roy and Alma. The former now being an active member in the Lyons church. Alma caused them much anxiety and married someone against their will. They had two children of their own, Lydia and Hulda who was born two weeks before her mother died, and was buried in Dundee, Ill. In 1900 Theodore married Bertha Brammer in Luzerne, Iowa, a very fine Christian woman and a lovely mother to his children. A number of children were born to them.
- Louise, the third child, born February 6, 1870 in Ida, Mich. Died October 3, 1872 in Dundee, Ill.
- August, the fourth child, born November 30, 1871 in Dundee, Ill. Died March 18, 1873 in Dundee, Ill.
- Louis, the fifth child, born August 1, 1874 in Dundee, Ill. Died March 1939 in Jacksonville, Fla. After graduating as an Apothecary he worked for Mr. Baumann in Dundee and after his marriage to Clara Bruning, a sister of Theodore's first wife, he worked in a drug store in Elgin, Ill. where they also lived and where their two first born children died in infancy. They then moved to Austin, a suburb of Chicago where he owned his own drug store. He later purchased a store in Ravenswood - Chicago - where they also lived with their two children, Milton and Margaret. From Ravenswood they moved to Evanston, Ill. and then to Blue Island, Ill. and back to Evanston. They moved to Jacksonville, Fla. because of ill health, worked there a number of years and died there. His widow is still living in Florida.
- Adolph, the sixth child, born July 29, 1876 in Dundee, Ill. Died March 29, 1943 in Dundee, Ill. After learning the blacksmith trade he worked in Dundee for a number of years at this trade, but had to give it up because of back trouble. He obtained a position in a grocery store in Marengo, Ill. where he later bought the business from Chris Bremmer. They later moved to Dundee where he worked for Haeger Potteries when he suddenly passed away while at work in March 1943. He married Minnie Albrecht and they were blessed with 3 children, Esther, Eleanor and Herbert.
- Otto, the seventh child, born August 29, 1878 in Dundee, Ill. Died September 9, 1897 in Chattanooga, Tenn. and was buried in Dundee, Ill. After graduation from our Lutheran Teachers College in Addison, Ill. he received a call as teacher in the newly organized school in Chattanooga, Tenn. After preliminary mission work for the school prior to its opening in September and after teaching school for only one day, he had an acute attack of appendicitis and died on September 9, 1897. His brother Adolph went to Chattanooga to be with him and was privileged to be with him for several days before he died. His body was returned to Dundee for burial.
- Hermann, the eighth child, born October 1, 1880 in Dundee, Ill. Died March 1931 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He studied for ministry in Milwaukee and St. Louis. After graduation he was sent to do mission work in Denver, Idaho (Probably really is IOWA however English transcription says Idaho). Before departing for his mission field he was married to Ida Bruning, sister to Emma and Clara, who married two of his brothers. After several years in Denver he received a call to the congregation in Sharon, Wisconsin, which he accepted in 1905. One child, Cordelia, was born to them while they were in Denver and three others, Marcus, Gertrude and Harold were born in Sharon, Wisconsin. In 1911 he received a call to Milwaukee, where he served in the Lord's vineyard until his death in March 1931. While he was a student in Milwaukee he had a narrow escape from death by poisoning. Over 80 students who had eaten fish at the college were taken sick and Hermann seemed to be the worst. I went to Milwaukee and stayed with him for several days until the danger had passed.
- Clara, the ninth child, born August 7, 1883 in Dundee, Ill. To our great joy and happiness we now had another daughter. She was a great help to her Mother. Several years after her confirmation she took a position as telephone operator in Dundee, which was located in the drug store of Henry Baumann. On May 10, 1906 she was married to Louis Schwanke who had a position as a prescription clerk in a drug store on Chicago's North Side. In 1911 he purchased a drug store in Maywood, Ill. and lived there for a number of years. Three children were born to them while in Maywood, Louis Jr., Clemens and Donald.
- Oscar, the tenth child, born January 27, 1886 in Dundee, Ill. Died January 24, 1955 in Dundee. After attending and graduating from the Teachers College in Addison, Ill. in 1900 he received a call to the Lutheran Congregation in Portland, Oregon. After a number of years of teaching he resigned from the teaching profession because of heartbreaking incidents caused by the most prominent members of the congregation and even causing the children to be embittered against their teacher. He married Emma Teichler of Dundee. They lived in Portland until 1916 when Emma's mother died and her father was left alone with her grandmother. They came to Dundee and lived with her father and kept house for him and grandmother. Oscar obtained a position with the Illinois Iron & Bolt Co. through John Fierke.
- Emil, the eleventh child, born September 27, 1889 in Dundee, Ill. After attending the Elgin and Metropolitan Business College he accepted a position in Chicago with the Liquid Carbonic Co. and lived with his sister, but after several months was laid off because of a depression in 1907. Through the efforts of his brother-in-law he obtained a position with the Commonwealth Edison Co. On March 15, 1915 he was married to Bertha Schoessel of Columbus, Indiana, and are making their home in Maywood, Ill.
As far as I am concerned, I can say that during all the years of my ministry (1863-1917) outside of the previously mentioned trouble in Michigan in 1869, I was bedridden only once in 1881 with Typhoid Fever which lasted for 3 months and the congregation had to engage another Pastor for that length of time. Several times later the congregation had to engage a Pastor for several months because my voice was gone. However, through the grace of God, I regained my voice each time on its own accord after all medical help had failed.
ELEVEN YEARS WITH PASTOR P. DOEDERLEIN
Towards the end of 1904 the Immanuel Congregation extended a call to Rev. Paul Doederlein in Marengo, Ill. I had often wished that I could have one of my sons to assist me in my work here in Dundee. My son Hermann was on the candidate list when the congregation decided to call an assistant Pastor. I had been asked by several what I thought of the congregation extending a call to my son - my answer was; I had nothing to say. Several remarked it probably would not be so good because he was brought up in Dundee and the people wouldn't have the proper respect for him, and further it probably wouldn't be so good for father and son as Pastors, as their decisions would no doubt coincide and would work against the congregation in general. Consequently my son did not receive enough votes. Had I known what the future would bring, I probably would have expressed my inward desire. On December 12, 1904 Pastor Doederlein delivered his acceptance in person to me and remained over night in our house. I wrote in my daybook; "God be praised, that now I would have help and I should be overjoyed, but I am writing this under a strain - Oh how untrustworthy is a persons heart." On January 22, 1905 Pastor Doederlein was installed in the Dundee congregation by his father. He was called an assistant Pastor and had to teach school temporarily. All monies received for weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. were divided equally between us. I did not consider him as a second Pastor, but rather as my associate, and I told him so. This year was my last one to have the confirmation of the class, and all the gifts I received I kept for myself. In the beginning Pastor Doederlein preached Sunday evenings and I preached in the morning and had the Sunday school in the afternoon. Whenever Holy Communion was celebrated he would preach in the morning and I in the evening. After his first sermon he said to me in the vestry; "Steege I want to be as a son to you". In June 1905 the congregation relieved him of teaching school, and called a regular teacher to take over the new class. At the request of Pastor Doederlein the congregation decided that he should instruct the confirmation class. Only on Friday was I permitted to have a half-hour bible instructions with the class. In July 1906 the congregation raised our salaries to $70.00. One man thought that since I was getting old and all our children were grown up and since I didn't have a horse to maintain, I shouldn't be getting as much salary as Doederlein. However, when it came to a vote I received the increase as well, although several voted against it. Now we would have an opportunity to pay off some of our debts and install a heating system.
Pastor Doederlein was highly thought of and respected in the congregation. Several thought they had to carry him around on their hands. Among those was one of the richest and influential men in the congregation. This man became, one year later, his bitterest enemy. It came to pass that he openly accused Pastor Doederlein of unfaithfulness and deceitfulness, and that he had lost respect for him and couldn't believe him anymore. During this time Pastor Doederlein received a call to Chicago, and as he left it entirely to the congregation whether he should stay or accept that call, the majority voted to have him stay, however, a large number declared that he better accept the call, then we would have peace. From now on matters became worse. The members were split into two parties. The leader of the opposite side was the same man who embraced Pastor Doederlein with open arms and couldn't do enough for him in the beginning. This man and a number of others openly confessed they didn't receive any benefit from the church services as long as Doederlein was there. Although he made good sermons he did not practice what he preached and so they could not have any confidence in him. We had a large number of congregational meetings, attempting to reach a reconciliation, but to no avail. We had the President and Visitor of Synod come and talk to those people in an effort to change their mind, but in vain. This Mr. Fierke and several others left the congregation, but not with a peaceful release. In 1908 it seemed as though there would be peace again, but as usual it was the quiet before the storm. In 1909 it was made known that John Fierke and others were seeking signatures of Immanuel members to organize another congregation in Dundee. I wrote a letter to this man imploring him not to do such a thing and that it would be detrimental to all of us. He answered by saying; "I am doing this under guidance of God and with a clear and conscientious mind and for a peaceful settlement". These conditions and actions hurt me very much, as these people were still my friends and parishioners. On November 7, 1909 and before church services I was handed a list of 59 names with the following notation; "In behalf of organizing a new Ev. Lutheran Congregation to give us a peaceful release". Only 17 of the 59 were not voting members. The release was granted to these members on November 29, 1909, but under the conditions that they declare themselves unacceptable and unjust. However they considered themselves released. In the meantime teacher Wagner had resigned his teaching position with Immanuel and had, at the request of John Fierke and others promised to teach the children of those people who were released from Immanuel and were his former pupils. So the split which I had hoped and prayed would not happen, did happen and another congregation came into being in Dundee, the Ev. Lutheran Bethlehem Congregation.
This secession caused great consternation in Immanuel congregation and meeting after meeting was held in committee, church council and church with and without Synod representation to declare those who left, unworthy to be called Christians, and should be denied the sacraments and membership in Synod and should not be permitted to call a Pastor out of the synodical conference. The synodical representatives were unable to persuade these people to change their mind, but as no wrong had been done they had to permit them to call a Pastor and become members of Synod. Another Synod had already invited them to join them. The fact that Synod accepted Bethlehem into membership angered the members of Immanuel so that they threatened to withdraw from Synod, saying that it was prejudiced and partial to the new congregation and that they were being led around by the nose etc. I often had to leave the meetings as it was too much of a strain on me and I begged the members not to think evil of me and not think I was in accord with the others, as a few members had remarked. I considered the actions of Bethlehem members as unjust but also considered unwise and unjust on the part of Immanuel to deny them the word of God and otherwise damn them into oblivion. Finally, after a long time and at the request of Pastor Doederlein it was decided not to put anything in the way of the Bethlehem members, in spite of the fact that we still considered their actions unjust and their release as not peaceful. Bethlehem congregation erected a very fine church for $35,000.00 on the West Side of Dundee to which John Fierke contributed $10,000.00 with the promise that for every dollar the congregation would raise he would give another dollar. As God had not given them any children He would expect them to sacrifice some of their earthly possessions in this manner. My dear Mama and I suffered and cried a lot during these trying times. During these times it was as though I were between two millstones as I had to reprimand both sides and of course they let me feel it.
On the 10th of May 1910 the congregation celebrated my 40th year as Pastor of Immanuel congregation and presented me with $76.00 while the young peoples society gave me $100.00 and the ladies society $25.00. This was truly a pleasant surprise. During the Winter of the same year the congregation had a surprise party on Pastor Doederlein, celebrating his 5th anniversary in Dundee. I could only exclaim "Lord, I am not worthy of all the good things Thou bestowest on me". Two months later I had another surprise, which a number of members had previously predicted would happen. In the July meeting the congregation decided that Pastor Doederlein should be the first Pastor, which of course reduced me to assistant Pastor. "The father under the son". I refer here to the remark Deoderlein made to me after his first sermon which I have quoted earlier, that he would be as a son to me. In this meeting it was also decided that I should preach only once a month, on Sundays when Holy Communion is celebrated, and in case of emergency. My salary was soon reduced to $40.00 per month and all monies received for other services should go to the one who did the work. I had hardly nothing of this extra work anymore, and in order to pay for the heating plant we had installed, we had to sell our piano and bench and 10 acres of pasture we had.
As I had implored Pastor Doederlein to speak to the voting members assembled to ask them whether they thought they were doing the proper thing to me after serving them faithfully for so many years, and he better consider that some day he would be old and the same thing could happen to him, he answered me "I am sorry that you asked me to say something, but these things are between you and the congregation and I have nothing to say". I felt this reaction from all sides and made me feel as though they were keeping me on out of pity. This was substantiated by remarks made in the open meetings, such as, we are well supplied and taken care of by having one young and efficient Pastor, but Pastor Steege has served us faithfully for so many years, in spite of some harsh reprimands at times, that we can not let him go. I made no further issue of it, but carried it with a heavy heart. Only in my prayers and faith in God did I receive help and comfort. The result of all this trouble was that I contracted a severe stomach ailment, and my dear Mama that her old ailment became more severe and on top of that she contracted Diabetes. In closing this chapter I must refer to an item in my daybook of 1911. "Today at the funeral of Mrs. B whom I visited for such a long time I really felt the action of being let down". My dear Mama said to me "You really let them do with you what they want, they are treating you like an ashenbrodel, but you say nothing, they can do with you whatever they wish. I can't dispose of these actions calmly as it breaks my heart". I said to her; Mama, don't you know whose children we are, we will leave everything in God's hands, He will make all things well.
THE DEATH OF MY BELOVED WIFE
'These are they which came out of great
AND WHAT FOLLOWED THEREAFTER
tribulation, and have washed their robes,
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb"
Revelation 7, 14
As my dear Mama, my loving wife, carried her burdens so patiently these many years, as few people have to, it was extremely hard during the last days, or rather years on earth. Her inner feeling and sharing my extremely hard problems in recent years had a great effect on her and caused her great pains and tribulations. My heartaches were also hers and my joys her joys. It caused her great joy when, (I should have mentioned this in the previous chapter) on May 26, 1913 I was permitted to celebrate my 50th anniversary in the ministry, at which Pastor Engelbrecht Sr. delivered the sermon and by which most of our dear children, except Theodore and Oscar were present and the congregation presented me with $656.00. One year later on August 2, 1914 we were permitted by the grace of God to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. This celebration was originated by our children. We received $65.00 from our children and from a number of congregation members we received $80.00.This money was used to pay off several debts and make some changes in the house, which pleased Mama very much. We had some hardwood floors laid and bought some rugs to cover them, which she had wished for, for some time. She was not permitted to enjoy this for very long. The last 8 to 10 years she suffered with Diabetes. Through the grace of God she was spared the many complications this sickness brings on, as for instance blindness, gangrene and many other effects. However, great pains were encountered along with her long-standing ailment. Her sight was failing rapidly during the last year. So much so, that her eyeglasses were not of much help. She often prayed to God that He would take before she became totally blind. Her prayers were answered. The efforts of the specialist and doctor brought no relief at all. During all this time by the grace of God she was able to do her housework with my meager assistance. Whenever she would be ill in bed for some time several of our dear children would come and help us, our daughter Clara who herself wasn't too strong and had difficulty in getting away, and our dear daughter-in-law Wilhelmina, however she never wanted to accept help. It always made her unhappy at Christmas time that we couldn't give our children the same number of gifts we received from them. Often in early Fall she would start making lambs wool comforters to please one or the other of the children at Christmas. So it was in the Fall of 1916, she made 5 or 6 of these comforters single-handed and she was truly happy and elated when she had finished them. She said to me "These will probably be the last ones I will make - I will not live to see another Christmas and possibly not even this one".
Towards the end of 1915 she became very ill. The pain became so severe that in November she was completely bed ridden. A peculiar pain which started in her left leg, and was so severe that she would cry out loud. From her left leg it went up into her back and her whole body was affected. These pains would be most severe in the evening from 6 to 9 o'clock and would last most of the night. Our dear children in Maywood provided us with a lady, a Mrs. Wolf, who stayed with us until after Christmas. To alleviate the pain the doctor could only give her Opium and later it did not help either. After New Year, thanks be to God, she felt considerably better. The pains came less often and not so severe, so that by March 1916 the pain left entirely. How happy and thankful she was that she could attend services on Palm Sunday and was even able to make a trip to Marengo to witness the confirmation of our granddaughter Esther. It is almost unbelievable that any one person can withstand such terrible pains as my dear Mama had to undergo. Often when her pains were the hardest and the spasms would add to her misery she would sing religious songs or pray the 23rd Psalm.
During the Spring and Summer of 1916 she felt quite normal and did all her work as before. This lasted until December. It seemed to me as though she had returned from the dead and I felt so ashamed of my unworthiness and that I was unable to thank God enough for His blessings. Of course she was never completely without pain and when we would have a severe thunderstorm she would have one of her spells and be extremely nervous and worn out.
On December 8, 1916 she had a recurrence of the spells she had the previous year. Every night around 9 or 10 o'clock the pain would become almost unbearable and by morning they would be gone so she could get up and do some of her work.
On December 24, 1916 she still attended morning worship in the church, it was unusual for her to stay away from services. However this was the last time she attended church. On December 25, 1916 she was able to sit at the table, but eat very little, and after the meal she sat in the living room beside the Christmas tree and sang Christmas songs until after 9 o'clock. This was because our children were here from Marengo. The night of the 25th, she had a very bad night. She was singing continually in her subconsciousness; "Wenn Ich Einmal Soll Scheiden" and other religious songs. On December 26th she became completely bed ridden. On December 27th I had two funerals and so our dear Minnie stayed with her. She told me on my return that Mama had some bad spells and that she was afraid Mama would die before I returned. She had terrible vomiting spells which lasted continuously for 24 hours. On December 28th I was all alone with her, and about 1 o'clock she stood up to go to the bathroom, and I assisted her with my left hand and held a pan with my right hand for her to vomit in. I said to her, Mama it is time for your medicine, but I think you better not take it as it seems to aggravate it whenever you take it, "Oh dear Lord have mercy on us". Then she turned face towards me and said "Papa, now, now I must" those were her last words. Her head fell back and she became rigid. I laid her back on the pillow and said to her "Oh my darling are you going to leave me" Lord Jesus I live in Thee, Lord Jesus I die in Thee, make me Thine forever, Amen. She answered nothing. I ran out of the house and called Pastor Doederlein, who came running over and tried to talk to her, but she gave one last sigh and that was the end. Without a struggle, of which she had a good share beforehand, she gave up the Ghost and was carried by the Angels into Abraham's lap. Jesus the Good Shepherd had called His lamb home. At 1:15 PM on December 28, 1916 my dear loving wife and helpmate left this vale of tears. She reached the age of 70 years 5 months and 28 days. On Monday January 1, 1917 she was laid to rest in the cemetery on the West Side of Dundee in which we had a lot. There is still one grave left on our lot which is for me. Pastor Doederlein had a very comforting sermon. All of our children were present with their families, only Theodore had to come alone from Connecticut. Her brother Adam and John Wagner were also present. The choir and school children sang comforting hymns. Many floral pieces were given by friends and relatives. I could only sigh "Oh if I could only have gone with her". For over 53 years God permitted us to live happily together and now I must live alone. Oh Lord afford me a peaceful and righteous end soon.
After the funeral my dear children had a conference on my future and what I should do. I had decided to continue with my ministry, to stay in the home, prepare my own breakfast and evening meal and have my dinner out, at least until such time that I could sell my home and dispose of the furniture and books. However, my children wouldn't hear of it and said "No, Papa that won't work, today you probably feel willing and strong enough to do what you had in mind. Consider that you are over 75 years old and anything can happen and even if nothing would happen isn't it enough that you worked hard for 54 years. Wouldn't it be a disgrace for your children to leave you here all alone. It is settled without a question. You resign your Pastorate now while you can still do it on your own before you are forced into it by the congregation. My dear daughter Clara was most emphatic that I come and spend my last days with them. After due consideration I agreed that they were right and the following Sunday at a special voters meeting I tendered my resignation to the congregation. After due deliberation the congregation decided in view of the circumstances existing, they are with a heavy heart and with heartfelt thanks for my devoted services granting me a peaceful and honorable dismissal. After my release was granted I asked the congregation to purchase my home, which I offered to them for $3500.00, of which I would, if they saw fit to buy it, give them $250.00. After consideration by the Trustees and on their recommendation they offered to purchase my home. The following Sunday January 14, 1917 I gave my last sermon. On January 10th, I moved to my daughter's home as all furniture had already been sold. I had offered to all the children to take whatever they had use for. The remaining books of which there were several hundred, Pastor Doederlein at my request sent them to Sy. Louis to be distributed among the students. The furniture was practically all sold. The congregation paid me $1500.00 cash and the remaining $1750.00 in notes which were payable in 7 years at 3% interest. I was able to pay all my outstanding debts and still had $1800.00 left. The congregation, without my knowledge, had decided to give me a monthly pension of $20.00. I am now living without any worries, preach occasionally when and where it is required, help my dear daughter as much as I can. She and her husband take care of me and minister unto me like only loving children could help their parents.
My dear Heavenly Father, I am not worthy of all the goodness and mercy Thou has bestowed on me, an unworthy and sinful being. Be gracious unto me and when my last hour has come take me into Thy Heavenly Kingdom where I together with my dear ones can sing the great Hallelujah forever. Help me, Oh Lord and bless all my loved ones and all those who have been so good to me during my lifetime.
In the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior - Amen.
Maywood, Illinois, October 15, 1918