Autobiography of Peter Heinrich Dicke
1822 – 1911 


Translated from a typescript copy of the original by his granddaughter, Eleanor Katherine Daib (1960)

Retyped by Paul Wollangk, Archivist at St. James Lutheran Church, Shawano WI (2003)

             I was born April 3, 1822 at Rothenhagen, in the parish (original: Kirchspiel) Werther, Westphalia, Germany.  At my baptism I received the names Peter Heinrich.  My parents were Johann Heinrich Dicke and Margaretha Dicke, nee Blothenburg.  Although my parents and their children did not suffer want, yet they had to be industrious and thrifty to make ends meet.  Therefore I soon had various tasks and work assigned to me as a boy.  When I reached the proper age, I was sent to the school of the locality.  Rationalism was very prevalent in Westphalia at this time.  The teacher in the school was a person of low moral standard who, in addition, neglected his duties in the most flagrant manner.  So it was not surprising that I had learned hardly anything by my tenth birthday.  The pastor who confirmed me was a true rationalist.  At my confirmation I had very little real knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  My parents, especially my mother, must have had already at this time some knowledge of God and of His Son.  She often used to admonish me, sometimes with tears.  At about this time a conversation of my parents with a neighbor made a deep impression upon me, one which I never forgot in my whole life.  The neighbor said: “A person must do good works and lead a virtuous life, then he will certainly be saved.”  My mother contradicted him emphatically, whereupon the neighbor replied: “Our pastor teaches that, and he must know; he’s a well educated man.”  My mother answered: “I still do not believe it, because our Savior says: ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one come to the Father but by me.’”
          I myself was an unrestrained and high-spirited youth at this time.  Just then a wholesome change in church and school occurred in many localities of my homeland, for at various places witnesses of the truth appeared.  The foremost and most effective was Pastor Volkening of Joellenbeck near Bielefold.  I have traveled about quite a bit in my lifetime, but have never found that one man could arouse so many varied classes of people spiritually and in such wide circles as Pastor Volkening did.  The “Awakening” was not confined to Westphalia only, but reached into the Kingdom of Hanover and into several small principalities as Lipe*Detmold.  My parents lived about 12-15 miles west of Joellenbeck.  Although my mother was in poor health, they attended the preaching services of Pastor Volkening as often as it was possible.  A cousin, Wilhelm Holtmann, my mother’s sister’s son, urged me often to attend church with him.  The first time I went to church there was, as always an overcrowded church.  In the pews people sat close together, all aisles were filled; not even standing room left.  As it was summer time people stood all around the church and heard the sermon.  In the crowd that day I stood under the pulpit and could rest my back against it.  The only thing I saw of Pastor Volkening during the whole service were his finger tips.  It was the 2nd Sunday after Trinity and Pastor Volkening preached on the Gospel for that day, Luke 14, 16-24.  It was through God’s grace that I was quickened by that sermon.  On our homeward journey my parents and friends walked on ahead, and I alone, deep in thought, somewhat behind them.  One recurring thought was uppermost in my mind and heart: “You must change your way of life, or you’ll be lost forever.”  I was a few months past 17 years at the time.
          From that time on I chose the companionship of Christian friends.  Sunday forenoons we usually attended services of some truly Christian pastor in the neighborhood.  In the afternoon we attended prayer meetings, conducted by many of our neighbors, which my parents attended also.  Since my father was able to read well and had a very good voice he was often asked to read the sermons and lead in prayer, which was done kneeling.  The sermons of L. Hofacker and K. Rieger were read in these meeting.  The young people in this group agreed to memorize one Chief Part of Luther’s Small Catechism, 7 Bible passages, and 1 or 2 hymns during the week and recite them on the following Sunday.  These people with whom I now associated, even though they were inclined to Pietism, were sincere Christians who loved the Word of God and our Savior.  I was living at home with my parents at the time.
          When I had reached my 20th year an event occurred which changed the course of my life completely.  A Christian farmer in the neighborhood asked my cousin and me to come to see him, he wished to talk to us.  This man was well acquainted with Pastor Theodore Fliedner of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine.  Pastor Fliedner had written to him about enlisting several young men.  He wanted him to send two young men to him.  Since my cousin could not go, I decided to go to Kaiserswerth alone.
          At the Deacon’s Institute at Kaiserswerth a number of young men were employed in the care of the sick, working in the garden and on the farm.  In the summer medicinal plants and herbs were gathered throughout that whole region.  On assignment of Pastor Fliedner I also had to take smaller or larger trips, so that I got up the Rhine as far as Coblenz and down as far as Duisburg, Crefeld, etc.  Pastor Fliedner would jokingly remark: “You are becoming a well-traveled man.”  Since on these trips I had to deal with all kinds of people, of high and low estate, I learned somewhat how to converse with people.
          In the fall of 1843 I became homesick, longed to be with my family friends, and home.  I therefore resigned my position in Kaiserswerth and went home to my parents.  After I had been at home for a little over a year, a young man from the Institute, who was travelling in the interest of the Institute, came into our region.  He looked me up, to encourage me to return to the Institute which I agreed to do.  Pastor Fliedner received a letter from this young man and soon I received word to come as soon as possible, which I did.  My stay in Kaiserswerth was not very long.  As soon as I had learned all that was necessary in nursing and as surgical assistant, I was sent to Dresden in the summer of 1845 to the newly established Diaconess Hospital and remained there 4 ½ years.  The first patient I cared for was a student from the Lutheran Mission House; his name was Bernreuter.  For the first days he lay unconscious with typhoid fever.  Later in life we both became brother pastors in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in America.
          During the first years at Dresden I did not have it easy. For months on end I had no night of uninterrupted sleep, being constantly disturbed.  Later on when I had an assistant I had the night shift every other night for long periods.  These nights were spent in reading and proved a good preparation for my study of theology.
          The Board of Control of the Institute asked me to be a collector for the Institute in Dresden and at times also in Leipzig and as such I came into contact with many people of various stations in life.  Since the so-called “Leipzig Mission House” was for most of the years of my stay in Dresden still located in Dresden I also became acquainted with all of the students of the Mission House and many of them became my friends.  These contacts by God’s grace assisted me to a deeper knowledge of Lutheran doctrine, especially in the distinctive doctrines of the various denominations.
          During all this time I kept up a close attachment with my home and kept myself informed by subscribing to the “Westphalisches Monatsblatt” (The Westphalian Monthly).  The letters of a Pastor Rauschenbusch of America appeared in this paper, describing the religious and church conditions there, which I read with great interest.  Several times he reported on the “Old Lutherans” as he called the Missouri Synod.  In a later issue I read an appeal from our Synod which told of the great need of the Lutheran Church in America.  This plea for preachers of the Gospel was similar to that which is reported in Acts 16: 9 where we read of a man from Macedonia who appeared to Paul and said: “Come over and help us.”  Faithful Christian candidates for the ministry were urged to enter the ministry in the service of the Lutheran Church in America and Christian young men were encouraged to prepare themselves for the ministry and service of the Lutheran Church in America.  I read this article during one of my night shifts.  The thought came to me that probably I could serve God and my Savior better there than in my work at Dresden.  My first hope was that it might be possible for me with God’s help to become an assistant to a pastor in a school.
          At first I took no steps in this matter; when the thought continued to reoccur, I decided to speak to Dean Leuschner about it and ask him for advice.  When I had presented my ideas, he inquired thoroughly about many things.  Finally he said:  “Write a short autobiographical sketch and then write a sermon on the words: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness etc. When you have completed this, bring it to me and then we’ll see what can be done about it.”  On my way out he followed me to the steps and said: “Mr. Dicke, just so you won’t do everything wrong, use this as your sermon theme: ‘Seeking the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness: 1.  Why we must seek the Kingdom of God, 2.  How this is done.  3.  What are the results and fruits of the search’ (I don’t recall the 3rd point precisely, but I think this was it).” When I had brought both of the requested manuscripts, he read them and said: “You seem to have a gift for story-telling” and of my lecture he said: “You are not exactly poor in ideas.”  He told me to make a clean copy of my lecture, memorize it, and then come and deliver it in his study.  This was done a short time later.  He had his doubts if my voice would be strong enough to be heard in a church auditorium.  He then suggested a day for me to come.  “We will go the Friedrichstaedter Church where you can deliver the sermon from the pulpit.”  I preached there and Dean Leuschner walked about in the church with my manuscript in his hand, listening at various points, even under the tower.  Then we went to the vestry and I had to pray “from the heart.”  He set two further conditions: I was asked to have my sermon and autobiographical sketch reviewed by a truly Christian candidate; I was to have a thorough chest and throat examination by a capable physician.  When this had been done, he sent the reports with a personal letter to Inspector Bauer in Nurnberg, who replied quite soon that my application to enter the Mission House there had been accepted and that I was to come at one.
          This could not be done so quickly, since I was bound to the Diaconess Hospital by a contract for 3 more months and also because my services were still needed.  Inspector Bauer had also suggested that I have private tutoring while I was still in Dresden.  The Hospital Board of Control approved and Dr. Zehme, the assistant court-preacher, was willing to instruct me while I was still in Dresden.  Before I left the hospital I received much kindness and love.  The Lutheran Mission Society (Lutherischer Missionsverein) which had as its purpose the support of young men who volunteered for service in the Lutheran Church in America, offered to support me while I was a student at the Mission House.  One of the board members at the time was the book publisher, Justus Naumann, the grandfather of my present pastor, the Rev. William Naumann.  The Ladies Aid of the Mission Society also assisted me generously.
          Early in March, 1850, I traveled to Nurnberg via Leipzig.  The teachers and students gave me a friendly reception.  Now the work of serious and intensive study began and I found it hard and unaccustomed work.  So I often had periods of doubt and my spirits sank deeper and deeper, because I thought the preparation for the ministry was a hopeless goal for me to attain.  I had already written to the Deaconess Institution in Dresden and asked if I could be employed there again.  I soon received the reply that I should just come back; they would be happy to have me in their employ.
          One of my instructors, Candidate and College Instructor M. Gursching, noticed how depressed I was and invited me to take a walk with him.  He soon pried out of me what was wrong.  He was able to solve all my problems and refute my objections, and to speak comforting and encouraging words, so that I could with God's help continue my studies with confidence.  I stayed in Nurnberg for one and a half years.  The instructors were very capable men and excellent in all subjects.  That was particularly true of two of them, namely Inspector Bauer and the above mentioned College Instructor, M. Gursching.  Inspector Bauer exerted much effort, time, and energy in the instruction in homiletics.  In addition, I often had to work out essays on theological subjects.  Both activities were of importance and immense value to me in later life.
          In 1851 war threatened to break out between Prussia on the one side and Austria, Bavaria, etc. on the other side.  This made it probable that I would be called up to serve as a soldier.  The Mission Society in Dresden whose protégé I was, preferred to have me continue my studies in Fort Wayne rather than at Nurnberg.  This accounted for my rather sudden departure from Nurnberg.
          I first returned to Dresden, visited friends there, but did not stay long.  From there I went to Leipzig, where I consulted the Director of the Mission House and arranged with him that my friend, Missionary Miessler and I would be permitted to travel to America together.  From Leipzig I traveled on to my home where I enjoyed the visit with my family and friends for a short time before hurrying on to England.  On the way I stopped off in Kaiserswerth where I was hospitably received by Pastor Fliedner.  I then continued my journey to London via Amsterdam.  I had been sent to London to negotiate in behalf of the Society for Inner Mission in Bavaria (Loehe and others) with a Lutheran Pastor in London (Dr. Scholl) with regard to the sending of missionaries for the City Mission in London.  While in London I also visited my brother, who had the same position in the German Hospital there as I had formerly held in Dresden.  Also he had been sent there from Kaiserswerth.  Among those who proposed a Lutheran City Mission in London were two parties, one wanting to draw its missionaries from Nurnberg, the other preferring men from the “Rauhe Haus” in Hamburg.  The latter had gained the upper hand and so I could no longer accomplish my mission.  At the time of my stay in London the first World’s Fair was held in the so-called “Crystal Palace”, which quite naturally I visited. After my two-week’s stay in London was over, I left for Havre de Gras in France.
[1]  Here I was to meet Missionary Miessler and Student Th. Gotsch, who later became a pastor.
          Our ship sailed on 18 September.  During the voyage we were in great danger twice.  Finally we arrived in New York on 23 October 1851.  We received a friendly reception and were lodged with the innkeeper, Mr. F. Fliedner, the brother of Pastor Th. Fliedner.  While in New York we attended services at pastor Brohm’s church.  Here we heard our first sermon in America, and it was also one of the best I have ever heard in my life.  After the service we called on Pastor Brohm and were invited to have Sunday dinner with the family.
          From New York we stayed together as far as Dunkirk, N.Y. (on Lake Erie, south of Buffalo, terminus of the Erie Canal).  Missionary Miessler and I traveled on to Detroit where we went to see Pastor Schaller.  We were given a warm welcome.  I had been expected, since I carried letters and other articles from the father-in-law of Pastor Schaller, Mr. Volk, owner of a vinegar distillery in Nurnberg.  A brother-in-law of Pastor Schaller, Student G. Volk, was staying with them at the time, because Prof. Walther was on a trip to Germany.  This student Volk was a talented young man who later on became pastor in New Orleans and died there of yellow fever.  Student Volk and I travelled to Ft. Wayne together, arriving there on 5 November.  Among the student-body present I found a number of old acquaintances.
          In Fort Wayne I immediately got busy at my studies.  During the first months Prof. Craemer was the only instructor, since Dr. Siehler was in St. Louis.  In the mornings nothing but theological subjects were taught, while in the afternoon secular subjects such as German and English language study, world history, etc. were taken up.  At the beginning of March 1852 Dr. Siehler returned from St. Louis and from then on participated actively in the instruction.
          While I was in Ft. Wayne I also became acquainted with my dear wife and made up my mind, if it be God’s will, that I would some day marry her.  But I told no one of this decision at the time.  Unfortunately I could stay in Ft. Wayne only a year.  When classes began again in the fall after vacation, I had to take the examination alone, in order to hurry to Frankenlust, Michigan as soon as possible, where I had been called as assistant to Pastor Ferdinand Sievers.  A cholera epidemic had broken out in the congregation there and Pastor Sievers himself was lying seriously ill.
          I arrived in Frankenlust on 16 October 1852.  I had to preach right away, since the next day was Sunday.  During the first service I was called from the church to the bedside of a cholera victim whom died soon after.  Fortunately the cholera epidemic had reached its end.  Pastor Sievers gradually recovered, but it took some time until he had recovered sufficiently to carry out his pastoral duties fully.  I had to budget my time carefully since I had to teach school 5 days a week and during the illness of Pastor Sievers also had to perform all official acts except communion.  Afterwards I had very little to do with the exercise of pastoral care.  However, Pastor Sievers always took me along when he made sick calls, which pleased me very much, since he was an extraordinarily faithful shepherd.  I was his assistant for a year and learned to cherish him as a true Christian who was a model for me in every respect.  A bond of true friendship soon united us which lasted from then till the end of his life.  To my best recollection no unfriendly word ever passed between us.
          In Frankenlust later on I usually only had to lead in the singing in the morning service on Sundays.  But I did have to preach in the second congregation on Sunday afternoons.  In the spring of 1853 I was called as pastor of this congregation at Amelith, but I still remained assistant at Frankenlust and lived there also.  At the beginning of the summer of 1853 Pastor Sievers and family moved to the mission station “Bethany” (the mission to the Indians) and stayed there all summer.  During this time I had to serve, both congregations and also teach school in both places.
          While I was at Frankenlust I became engaged to Anna Katrin Betzler, my dear wife.   In June 1853 I attended the synodical meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, and joined the Missouri Synod as a member.  In the late summer I became ill with a fever.  Fortunately Pastor Sievers soon returned, because the illness was quite serious.  I did recover enough so that I could travel to Fort Wayne to get married on 9 October 1853.  Even before I had left Frankenlust for my wedding I received a call from St. Lorenz congregation in Frankentrost, Saginaw County, Michigan.  I would have declined the call immediately, had I followed my natural inclinations, but my teachers in Fort Wayne convinced me that I had to accept the call as being in accordance to God’s will.  So when my dear wife and I came back to Michigan, instead of setting up housekeeping in the parsonage which my congregation in Amelith had built for us, we had to move to Frankentrost.  I would have preferred to stay with the congregation in Amelith, but God’s will decreed otherwise.           In Frankentrost I soon became ill again with the fever, this time critically ill.  The fever was persistent.  My Physician had a good reputation in the whole region for handling this illness, but in my case he fought in vain for a long time.  At times the fever would let up, but as soon as I preached again, the fever returned.  The doctor had expressed the opinion to several people that my illness had turned into tuberculosis and that it was unlikely that I would recover.  He therefore finally forbade my preaching entirely.  I did not preach from Ascension to the 27th Sunday after Trinity.  Finally, however, the fever let up.
          The Lutheran congregation at Frankenhilf, 16 miles from Frankentrost, had extended a call to me as soon as I had come to Frankentrost.  As soon as I had recovered, I had plenty to do in both congregations.  I had to teach school in both congregations and also conduct services during the week.  In general, I got along quite well in both congregations.  The forests in Saginaw County at that time were still mostly “primeval” and the clearing of land for agriculture had just begun.  The woods were made up of very large trees, for the most part; the region was flat woodland and the roads were at times a mass of very deep ruts.  I had some interesting experiences during my pastorate in these Saginaw County congregations, but to tell them here would take up too much space.  Sincere friendship and harmony existed between us brethren, the Pastors Roebelen, Cloeter, and Sievers.
          In the fall of 1856 I received a call from three congregations in Dodge County, Wisconsin, which I presented to my congregations.  They unanimously voted that I should decline the call.  At the end of January or beginning of February 1857 the call was extended to me a second time.  This time it was so well documented and so urgently stated that I immediately felt in conscience, bound to accept the call.  The great majority in my congregations said: “Pastor, if we would have to answer to our conscience, we must say, you must accept the call.  A small minority said that although they could not see my point of view, but if I felt bound in conscience, they would not protest and I should go in God’s names.  A hurried move was called for, since a wolf in sheep’s clothing had broken into the congregations in Wisconsin.  When we left our home, almost the entire congregation accompanied us to the edge of the village with tears.  However, the parting had to come.
          Our journey took us first to Frankenmuth, where we stopped to see Pastor Roebelen.  Our farewell was for the rest of this life.  They left for Germany soon after and did not return to America again.  The snow had melted and a hard frost had made everything solid.  The miles to Detroit with the stage was a very uncomfortable ride.  In Detroit we stopped off at Pastor Herman Fick who made us most welcome.  From Detroit our journey took us to Milwaukee where we arrived at the end of February and were received hospitably by the sainted Pastor Fleischmann and brought by him to a family in his congregation with whom we stayed over Sunday.  On Monday my dear wife with the children and my brother Herman went ahead to Town Theresa, Dodge County.  I had to stay on account of our boxes of household goods and could follow them on the following day.  Thus my dear wife and the children arrived in my new congregations in Wisconsin on 1 March, while I came on the 2 March 1857.  Since it was the Lenten season, I had to start preaching on the following days.  A number of members of the congregation expressed the wish that I might be installed by President Fuerbringer.  Since he could not come immediately, I was not installed into office in my congregations near Mayville until the Feast of the Ascension.
           The vacancy in the three congregations had been a long one.  I had lots of work to do, since there were over 200 families in the three congregations and soon another, a fourth congregation, was added to the parish.  While it is true that I had three teachers in these congregations, yet at the time the teachers who had received good training, were sound in doctrine, and also led a God-pleasing life were rare indeed.  Most of them were people who had sought out the positions for themselves.  Much dissatisfaction and unpleasant experiences occurred on their account, until it finally became possible to get teachers who were true to their calling, capable of teaching, and pious in their manner of life.
          In the winter of 1857 to 1858 I received two letters from people living in Fond du Lac County who asked me to come to visit them.  They were Lutheran, they said, and wanted to remain Lutherans.  Methodist preachers came around, but they didn’t want to have anything to do with these.  They had heard that I was a Lutheran pastor and closest to them.  Would I not please concern myself about them?
          In the week of the 2nd Sunday after Easter I borrowed a horse and saddle and started on the 36-mile trip to them.  Since the spring break-up was in progress, the roads were in miserable condition.  Since I didn’t know the way and was misled by wrong directions given to me, I traveled on a roundabout route, in fact I had to turn back on myself.  After I had passed through Fond du Lac it began to rain quite hard.  My horse was tired out and at the end of his strength, and so I had to get down and lead it behind me.  I too was almost ready to give up. I wrapped myself in my overcoat and kept going, even though I could hardly stay on my feet.  It was quite dark when I finally reached the home of the people I had come to see.  When I entered the room I almost fainted and was hardly able to utter a word.  Since I had announced my coming by letter, quite a number of people gathered there the next day and I preached to them on the Gospel of the Good Shepherd.  God gave me the grace so that I could portray for them Christ the Good Shepherd and describe His love.  Somewhat later a Lutheran congregation was organized among them.  These people lived about 11 miles due east of Fond du Lac.  Most of them hailed from the German province of Hesse-Darmstadt.
          After I left this group I looked up some people who lived 6 miles south, in Town Forest and Osceola.  These folks came from various parts of Germany, but most of them from north Germany.  By God’s grace I was also able to organize a Lutheran congregation there.  Both of the above-mentioned congregations now belong to the Wisconsin Synod.  Somewhat later I was able to organize another Lutheran congregation in Fond du Lac County.  A young man from my congregation moved to Town Auburn in Fond du Lac County.  He asked me to come and give him and his wife communion and hold preaching services from time to time, which I promised to do.  When I went to the home of these people to keep my promise, more and more people showed up.  After 4 or 5 years the number had grown to about 25 families.  Some of these people always showed a grateful appreciation for my services.
           In the upper Immanuel Congregation near Mayville a serious controversy arose while I was still there.  In that congregation there were a number of people who would not submit themselves at all to the authority of God’s Word.  They began gradually to undermine Christian discipline, so that it became necessary to oppose them earnestly.  As soon as that happened the battle was joined, which ended with the separation of 14 families from the congregation.  The gracious God was with me, so that in the subsequent investigations by the Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Synod my actions were upheld.  I must, however confess before God that in this controversy I was at times too hotheaded and impetuous.
          In the winter from 1862 to 1863 I received a call from 2 Lutheran congregations in Shawano County, namely St. Martini Congregation of Town Belle Plaine and Bethlehem Congregation of Town Pella.  They were still quite young congregations in newly opened territory.  The congregation in Belle Plaine had been organized by the sainted Pastor Ruhland of Oshkosh, while the congregation in Pella had been founded by the sainted pastor J. N. Beyer (of Caledonia).  At the time both congregations were being served by Pastor Beyer, who had to travel 42 miles to Belle Plaine and 10 miles more to Pella.  At many places the roads were at times totally impassable.  Pastor Beyer managed to visit these congregations every eight weeks.  Under the circumstances Pastor Beyer was anxious to pass the responsibility to another truly Lutheran pastor, while the congregations earnestly wished to be served more often by a pastor of our Synod.  Most of the members of these congregations had moved there from my congregations in Mayville and had often expressed the wish to Pastor Beyer, if only they could again have Pastor Dicke as their pastor.  I had done nothing to promote this call, even though I was personally interested and inclined to serve in this kind of mission-field, since that had been the purpose of my coming to America, if possible, to serve my God and Savior in this way.  I enjoyed good health and had a strong constitution, and I was not afraid of bad roads and the like.  I was also ready to endure poverty and privation for my dear Savior’s sake.  In these matters my dear wife thought as I did.
          In short, after I had considered everything carefully, I accepted the call in God’s name.  After I had confirmed the children in Mayville at Pentecost and had paid a visit to my relatives in Minnesota, my family and I started on our way.  As far as New London we divided our family; my oldest son, Henry and I drove in the buggy, while my wife and other children went by train and steamer.
[2]  From New London we traveled together with Pastor Beyer in our buggies to Belle Plaine, where we arrived on 23 June 1863.  On the following Sunday I was installed by Pastor Beyer in both congregations (26 June 1863).  In Belle Plaine the service was held in a public schoolhouse.  In Pella in the house of a farmer, August Pankow.  Since our house in Belle Plaine was not finished when we got there, we had to live together with a farmer in a small blockhouse for the first four months.  Soon after my arrival in Belle Plaine I went to Shawano and Hartland.[3]  In Hartland there were four families who came to the services, and in Shawano about the same number.  Besides that I also served the congregation in New London together with Pastor Beyer for a year and a half in 1863 and 1864.[4]
          The winter from 1863 to 1864 was very severe.  The snowfall was so deep that the congregation members in Hartland were completely isolated.  For several months I could not get to them at all.
          When we moved into the new parsonage (a low log-house) in the fall of 1863, it wasn’t nearly ready and it remained that way for two and a half years.  The ongoing Civil War was undoubtedly the cause for this delay.  My small study was fairly well finished.  The living room and a small adjoining bedroom had floors of rough and not completely seasoned boards laid on the ground.  These later shrunk so much that the legs of the chairs would catch in the cracks.  The floor of the kitchen was bare earth as God had created it.  The cellar was a small hole dug into the ground and covered with boards.  On this cover stood a short ladder, which served both as cellar steps and steps to the attic.  The children had to sleep up in the attic, not only our own, but also the children who stayed with us during confirmation instruction.  There were no provisions made for the safety of the children.  The roof gable boards had shrunk so much that in a number of places one could pass the hand in and out through the gable.  Often times the snow lay thick on their bed-covers in the morning, and yet they stayed hale and hearty.  After two and a half years the house was improved somewhat.
          Not only was the housing situation poor, but the same was true with regard to provision for our living.  In the call I had been promised a salary of $150 in cash and various provisions in kind.  The salary and other provisions was supposed to have been pledged by individual members.  But instead of $150 the pledge list showed only $90, and of this, already at Pastor Beyer’s time, $12 was lost when three member left, so that the list actually showed only $78.  The promised provisions were insufficient to start with, and even these were not all delivered.  We received very little meat and when the elders admonished some members and reminded them of their promise, they said: “We have none ourselves and so we can’t give the pastor any.”  A similar situation obtained with regard to the feed for the horse and cow.  The feed that was brought did not cover their needs by a long ways, so that I paid out over $200 for feed in the first two and a half years.
          In addition everything was very expensive during the war.  Plain blue denim for trousers was 70 to 72 cents a yard, calico 40 to 42 cents.  The worst inflationary prices had to be paid for provisions and feed.  Wheat was $2.50 a bushel, flour $12.00 a barrel, and other prices were correspondingly high.  Oats, corn, and potatoes were usually over a dollar a bushel.  Marsh hay of very poor quality was priced at $22 a ton.  Dressed hogs were 15 to 16 cents a pound and more.  Money was barely worth 50 cents to the dollar, naturally also that which the pastor received as salary.  The war brought extremely hard times for everyone.  In Belle Plaine every able-bodied man who was young and physically fit enough was without exception in the army.  Wood for fuel was dragged through the deep snow from the woods by myself and my oldest son, at that time a lad of 9 years.  I also was in danger of being drafted by lot to serve in the army.  But even though my name was among those to be chosen by lot for the draft on two occasions, God prevented my being drafted.
          My wife had earned $260 teaching district school.  Members of the congregation had raised a large crop of rutabagas (yellow turnips) on half shares on our land.  We received 1,200 bushels as our share, which I took to Shawano myself after school and sold them.  We ate dry bread and saved wherever we could, and yet we were deeply in debt.
          In the fall of 1865 I received a call from two congregations from the vicinity of Indianapolis, Indiana.  The promised support looked very good.  At first I thought I would return the call without further ado.  When I began to think about my situation, and especially about my debts, I realized that matters could not continue in this way.  I communicated with Pastor Beyer and asked him to come and counsel with me.  He came to see me soon and urged me not to accept the call.  We called a congregation meeting in Belle Plaine and explained what was at stake.  A new pledge list for my support was prepared and the members showed a real willingness to bring sacrifices in accordance with their circumstances.  They begged me earnestly not to leave them, otherwise they would be entirely without a church ministry.  Also in Pella the members displayed a real spirit of sacrifice for my support.  Yet, even though I would have to take on many additional burdens and hardships and my financial support would be less than it would have been in Indianapolis, I felt in conscience bound to remain with my congregations.
          In the spring of 1864 I began to preach also in Town Bear Creek and served this congregation for nine and a half years.  In Town Larrabee (both towns are in Waupaca County) I organized two congregations of which I could transfer one to Pastor Lauritzen’s parish.  When the war had finally ended in 1865, immigration into our region became quite lively, whereas it had almost stopped completely during the war.  A few families had even moved out.  My mission field became larger from year to year until I was finally serving 14-16 preaching places.  In Belle Plaine I taught school, and in addition had to conduct confirmation classes in 4 different places, preach at various places, besides all the other additional work such a sick calls, funeral services, weddings, etc.  The work had finally gotten too much for me, so that I began to suffer from severe insomnia.  I lived in fear that I would as a result have to resign my ministerial office.  End of October 1872 Candidate Henry Stute came to my assistance and took charge of the congregation in Town Hartland.
          In 1873 I came to the conclusion that my mission field ought to be divided, partly because several congregations made sufficient material progress, so that they could with a little effort and good will maintain their own pastors; partly also because I could no longer supervise the whole parish in such a way that no detriment would result.  This was particularly true of the youth work.  I therefore strongly urged the congregations in Belle Plaine, Pella, and Town Grant, as well as in other places which were to be attached to the above congregations as branch congregations, that they should call their own pastors.  At first no one wanted to discuss the matter seriously.  Their answer to my urgings was “We have a pastor.”  But I did not permit them to refuse me.  Instead I spoke to their consciences and declared that I could no longer accept the responsibility of having their children grow up as they were.  Neither could they accept the responsibility, for their children needed much more instruction in the Word of God than I could give them.  Most of the members realized the truth of my argument and so my plan was adopted.  As a result three calls for candidates were sent to St. Louis.  It was my intention to give up all congregations and mission stations west of Shawano.  These congregations were the oldest, and consequently also richer in material goods.  They were therefore also the first who could afford to provide for their own preachers.
          In the winter of 1874 I received a call from St. Paul’s congregation in Town Washington, who wanted to have me as their own pastor.  After considering all things carefully, I accepted the call in God’s name.  It was an important mission field to which I was transferred by my acceptance of this call.  Outside of my own congregation in Town Washington, there were also three brand new and promising places, which I had to take over, namely a preaching place on White Clay Lake, north-east of me; also preaching places in Town Gillet and Town Howe, both in Oconto County.  I was firmly convinced that I had to take over these places myself, if they were not to be lost for our church.  There was no other pastor in the neighborhood who could take care of these people; in addition, no means were available to pay another pastor, since at that time there were no mission subsidies; with a few possible exceptions all the settlers in this whole region were brand new beginners.  Since the congregation in Town Washington could not build a parsonage for me, I had a small log-house built on land that I owned there.
          The congregation in Belle Plaine had followed my suggestion to call their own pastor and gave me a peaceful dismissal.  So I moved in God’s name to Town Washington in early summer 1874 with my family and lived in the center of a large mission territory.  In the late summer 1874 Candidate J. Diehl came and relieved me of several congregations and preaching places west of Shawano.  Because no candidates could be supplied for the other two calls, I had to keep the congregations west of Shawano in Belle Plaine, Town Richmond, and Town Herman.  In the meantime I had organized congregations in Gillet and Town Howe.  Thus the number of places to take care of had decreased very little through the arrival of Pastor Diehl, because in Town Gillet and Town Howe there were two preaching places in each township.  Fortunately at that time my son-in-law, Pastor Stute, could help me in my parish almost every Sunday afternoon, which he did untiringly, not only here in Town Washington but also elsewhere, especially in Shawano.
          Pastor Diehl relieved me of 4 congregations.  In the year 1876 Pastor G. Barth was called to Pella.  He also relieved me of several places.  In 1879 Pastor Ebert accepted the call to St. Martin’s Congregation of Belle Plaine.  He also assumed responsibility for a congregation in Town Richmond and somewhat later for St. James Congregation in Shawano.  In 1881 for a short time (barely 5 months) I had an assistant, Pastor Karl Schwan.  The two congregations in Belle Plaine could not agree on salary and other matters.  Consequently I had to keep St. John’s congregation myself.  Also here in Town Washington I received lasting help when Candidate O. List relieved me of Immanuel Congregation here and the congregation in Gillet.  I was still able to serve mission congregations until I was 70 and a half years old, namely the congregations in Town Howe and Town Richmond.  In the fall of 1892 Candidate Johannes Huchthausen took charge of the congregation in Town Howe and Rev. Nickel relieved me of the on in Town Richmond.
          For 34 years of my life I was privileged through God’s grace to do mission work in its real sense and to carry on Home Mission work.  During that time I lived the life of a pioneer.  Finally I had only St. Paul’s congregation in Town Washington, where I live in my own house since 1874.  Here I served five more years until the fall of 1897.  But then I was compelled for various reasons to resign from the active ministry.  Some of my old friends did not fully approve of my action.  But anyone who wishes to judge fairly must know all of the reasons which prompted my action and weigh them judiciously.  If I had not been compelled to teach school, I could have administered the holy office for one or more years, but I could not see any proper way of being relieved of this duty.  But I could no longer teach school because of my insomnia.  There were other reasons also, such as difficulty in making sick calls, accompanying funerals to the grave in winter, etc.
          God gave me abundant opportunity to do what I could still do.  I was able to help out Pastor Nickel in Shawano, so that he could do mission work among the Indians.  I could also help out frequently in the Town Washington,  Immanuel congregation, where I was vacancy pastor for almost 5 months, and afterwards during the illness of Pastor Kolb I could assist frequently.  As long as I was still able to render such assistance I was glad to do it, partly because it gave me the opportunity to witness to the grace of my God and Savior, partly because I could still show my fellow-sinners the way to salvation.  I was able to preach until I had completed my 80th year, but then I was completely done for.  I had caught a cold and became very hoarse.  I tried to preach too soon, lost my voice entirely for a time, and never fully recovered its full power.  Now there is no longer any need for my assistance.  The good and gracious God has until now provided me with a quiet old age.  Even though my family and I formerly lived in poverty, yet now in my old age I can live without worry and want.  While we have no great surplus, we do not have any lack of necessities either.
          I suppose I can say that in the years of my ministry I did not seek to feather my nest, for as often as a congregation founded by me reached the stage that they had enough of this world’s goods that they could afford to pay me a decent salary, I turned it over to another pastor, so that they could be supplied more abundantly with God’s Word.  On the other hand I assumed responsibility for new and poor congregations, in which for the first no money was to be gained.
          I have been criticized at times and the claim has been made that it was a serious mistake on my part to have served new congregations at times without salary and not to have insisted immediately that they pay their pastor a salary.  If you don’t know the circumstances, you can’t form a right judgement.  The immigrants who settled in our region at that time were almost without exception very poor.  Since they were making their beginning in primeval forest, they had to live for quite some time in very limited circumstances.  They were worse off than new settlers are today, because now they can sell their logs for good prices.  Then the settlers had to burn down their woods with considerable work, or if they could sell some of it, it hardly compensated them for the work involved.  The present settlers on new land can find work at fair wages almost everywhere.  The settlers then often had to leave their farms and families all winter long in order to find work at a great distance at generally low wages.  For a long time money was devalued and prices were inflated.  Whatever the beginners needed was usually very expensive.  Some even had to leave their families in the summer to work as harvesters in order to earn the money to buy the most urgent necessities.
          When pastors serve mission station now they receive support from the mission treasury, but at that time nothing was available for such purposes.  So if it is proper to subsidize preachers at mission stations, so that congregations in their period of poverty can hear the Word of God without paying salary, then my actions in preaching God’s Word to the poor without pay was not wrong.  If the congregations which receive subsidy for their pastor’s salary from the mission treasury for a time do not become spoiled or stingy, then I cannot be faulted for doing the same thing.  Or, if I by my procedure committed the above-named offences, then the whole Synod today is making the same mistake, for Synod is doing exactly what I did.
          In addition, the Methodists were very active at that time almost everywhere and made great efforts.  They boasted continually that they preached to the people free of charge.  Consequently I either had to do what I did, or else leave the whole field to these sectarians.  It is true that I was most anxiously concerned, lest people see in me a person who sought not the sheep but the wool.  Because I saw with my own eyes what poverty the new settlers endured, I did not have the courage to speak at once about salary matters.  In this I often took the Apostle Paul as my example, but I must admit that unlike him I did not always strike the right balance and I must also confess that here and there I should have urged the people sooner to help support the holy ministry in their midst.  My mistakes and neglect had their cause in human weakness.
          The land I owned helped to support and maintain my family.  Originally I had, on the advice of Pastor Beyer, bought 40 acres of state-owned land in Belle Plaine.  Their purpose, to help in the support of my family, was certainly accomplished.  At first some of the members helped clear some of the land.  My wife and children helped energetically in the farm work.  At times I also had a hired man, and as before said, with the help of my family we managed to scrape a bare subsistence off the land.  Since my sons had no inclination to study for the ministry I later on bought more land in Belle Plaine while it was still cheap.  When I tried to sell it later on, I could not get its value.  Since I did not want to sell it at a loss, I kept it.  Then the price rose to such an extent that it has become a substantial aid to our support in our old age.
          When I left Dodge County I had $400 in cash which I lent to a friend and the rest invested in land.  Practically all of this money was an inheritance, the major portion from my brother Herman who was unmarried when he died.  I wanted to save this money for my family.  On the advice of a congregation member in the present Town Grant, Shawano County, I bought a farm there and rented it out, so that it would bring me some income to provide for my family.  The last renters were two brothers, who, after they had lived there a few years, either wanted to buy it or move out.  At that time I made up my mind to sell them the farm, since I had an opportunity to buy some good state-owned land very cheap.  The buyers of the farm, however, were not able to pay out the purchase price immediately, so I had to have patience with them.  Because I wanted to buy the land in Town Washington anyway I turned to my brother Friedrich in Minnesota and asked him to lend me the money for a while.  He sent me $150.  Due to the delay in the payment for my farm the purchase of the state-owned land was held up.  In that way I got the same amount of land for $100 cheaper, because all state-owned land which is unsold after three years on the market (and that was the case here) is sold for the original price.  When I wanted to repay my brother later, he made me a present of the money, so that I have the land on my farm in Town Washington almost for nothing.  It was not my intention at the time to live on this land, but circumstance changed.  I myself never worked on this farm.  I simply didn’t have the time.  But it was not easy to make ends meet, since I needed quite a bit for horse and buggy, for my clothing, and for travel expenses and pocket money.  In addition the living cost for the large family which the good Lord gave me were not small.
          My dear wife bore me 13 children.  The two eldest, Karoline and Heinrich were born in Frankentrost, Michigan.  Three, namely Marie, Pauline, and Friedrich were born in Town Theresa, Dodge County.  So we moved to Belle Plaine with 5 children.  There 5 more children were born, namely, Hermann, Hermine, Anna, Wilhelm, and Karl.  Three further children were born to us in Town Washington, Johannes, Juliana, and Klara.  Johannes and Juliana were twins.  Of these 13 children 10 are still alive.  Herman died as a small boy, before he could walk.
          Friedrich died of an accidental gunshot wound.  He was driving our cows to the pasture and met some of the other boys of the neighborhood on the way.  One of the boys had a pistol, which another boy took into his hand.  He thought that the pistol would not fire, because previous attempts to shoot it had not succeeded.  When Friedrich came to this group, the boy who had the pistol in his hand wanted to frighten Friedrich, aimed at him and said: “I’ll shoot you dead.”  There was no misfire this time.  The shot hit our Friedrich in the chest.  Because the lung was perforated, he died of internal hemorrhages after 13 hours.  He was 10 years and 4 months old when he died.  I did not happen to be at home when the accident occurred, but was in Town Bear Creek.  He was still alive when I returned, but not long.  Before his death he prayed: “Lord Jesus, I live in Thee; Lord Jesus I die in Thee; Lord Jesus, thine I am, living or dying!  Take me to haven. Amen."  Also: “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses me from all sin” which he applied to himself through special emphasis on the word "me”.  He was quite weak and would doze of; when he awoke again, he would pray of his own accord such short prayers and Bible passages as mentioned.
          Our eldest daughter, Karoline, the wife of Pastor (Karl) Stute, now also deceased, died in the fall of 1883 in Tawas City, Michigan of malaria.  Although we had the blessed hope that all three children died in faith and are saved, yet we did experience deep sorrow in these three deaths, particularly in Friedrich’s case.  We could comfort ourselves with the conviction that our dear ones had merely preceded us into heavenly rest, into the Kingdom of Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and that we would follow, soon or late, just as the Savior promised when he said: “I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, ye may be also.” John 14:3.  When it is said of all Christians that they must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God, it is particularly true of the ministers of Christ, on whom God must sometimes lay a special cross.  God be praised, that they are called not only to be burden-bearers together with other Christians, but also, if they remain faithful and steadfast, to be partakers in the glory of heaven  Rev. 1:9.  Yes, God often comforts them already here on earth, as He did pious Job, and lets them win victory after victory.  That has been my experience by God’s grace.
          I was permitted to serve the Lord my God for 45 years and 4 months in the holy ministry.  It has been my goal and purpose, when I came to America, to offer my life in the service of missions and of the Lutheran Church in America, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my German countrymen, so that they might become true Christians, believe and be saved.  God be praised and glorified that He has been with me and permitted me to achieve my goal and life purpose.  In His service and with His help I could organize 34
[5] congregations.  Several of these gave up their original organization to unite with other larger congregations, so that today they number 22.  I was permitted to teach school for 40 years in my Savior’s service.  I was privileged by God’s grace to show the Way of Life to a great multitude of children both in school and in confirmation classes.  May God’s  blessing rest upon this instruction!  I thank God that He blessed the Word and my labor, so that I may hope that through me, a poor and unworthy sinner, something was accomplished to His glory and the salvation of my fellow-redeemed.  With full conviction and in all sincerity I say: “Any good that’s done in this life of mine is due entirely to Thy power divine.”  I also confess in the words of the savior: “If ye have done all that is commanded of you, say: we are unworthy servants.”  If already he is an unworthy servant who had done everything, how much more am I unworthy, how much more I, who failed by far in doing everything commanded.  I neglected much that I should have done, and much I did wrongly.  Many times I should have confessed my Savior or I should have warned men of their sins, and didn’t do it.  Oftentimes I gave offense through my quick temper and so I must cry out, when reviewing even the best of my labor: “God be merciful to me, a sinner” and “all my righteousness is as a filthy rag.”  Next to the spiritual benefactions and all the other blessings, which God has showered upon me, in my long life, those, which I have come to enjoy in my old age, are certainly not the least.  Until now I have been able to live quietly without suffering any want. My health has been such that I could attend services in God’s house almost every Sunday and my hearing stayed good enough[6] that I could hear almost every word of the sermon.  That the sermon I hear is the pure Word of God, that is a blessing so extraordinary that I cannot thank God enough for it.
          God has showered another great blessing upon me in that the true life’s companion which he let me find has been preserved at my side all these years, so that we could celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary some time ago
[7].  The children are all grown and can with God’s help provide for themselves.  When I think of all this, I must say from the bottom of my heart: “Lord I am not worthy in the least of all the mercies and of all the truth, which Thou has shown to Thy servant.”  I can only sigh:

O Father, deign Thou, I beseech Thee
To listen to my earthly lays;
A nobler strain in heaven shall reach Thee
When I with angels sing Thy praise
And learn amid their choirs to sing
Loud Hallelujahs to my King.
(The Lutheran Hymnal #30 v. 6)

[1] Translator’s Note: The writer has confused Le Havre in France with Havre de Gras in Maryland.

[2] Editor’s note: The “steamer” refers to the trip on Lake Winnebago from Fond du Lac to Appleton.

[3] Editor’s note: Hartland is now called Bonduel, Wisconsin.

[4] New London at that time was served by pastors of the Missouri Synod.

[5] The translator here inserts (24?).  

[6] until the summer of 1904

[7] 9 October 1903

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