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Faith in Caring June 2021 – Spring into the 1800s

June 8, 2021

When Concordia Lutheran Ministries was founded 140 years ago by German Lutheran pastors, there was no running water, electricity, telephones or cars – which made the early days of this organization as a farm, orphanage and home for seniors challenging.

What the housefathers who ran Concordia’s daily operations did have, however, were their journals – handwritten records, kept in German, of day-to-day life. The journals were translated into English by Rev. H. Earl Miller, a chaplain who came to work for Concordia in 1968.The entries below cover spring and early summer at Concordia at the end of the 1800s, and they show that while everyday life might have been simpler back then, it was certainly still interesting.

Related: Celebrating Concordia’s 140th Anniversary: Glimpses of the 1800s  

One housefather clearly didn’t care for Concordia’s Annual Summer Festival, and a few years later a different housefather didn’t like the campus’s dog. Sermons at the Festival were given in German and then in English, showing just how strong Concordia’s German roots were. All of the churches that formed Concordia (and all of our member churches now as well) were part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), a Lutheran denomination that Concordia remains an RSO (Registered Service Organization) of to this day, and the early housefathers interacted with the churches and LCMS frequently. Plenty of vegetables were planted at the farm to feed everyone at Concordia, which involved a lot of hard work. New technologies were installed, most notably gas lighting.

The hard work, dedication and faith of the early Concordia Family always shone through, no matter what the days brought:

1884

  • June 24, 1884 – The Festival. Much disorder. I didn’t like the whole business.

1890

  • April 26, 1890 – Eight bushels of early potatoes were planted in the garden, 50 bushels in the field behind the barn. Various other vegetables were planted. Except for corn, the farm is sown.
  • June 19, 1890 – The Home’s dog Turk did us a great favor and died.

1892

  • June 6, 1892 – Trip to [the Lutheran Church Missouri] Synod in Boston and visiting orphanages in Philadelphia, New York and West Roxbury.

1893

  • June 18, 1893 – Festival Day. Good Weather. Pastor Ahner and Pastor Huegli preached.

1894

  • June 6, 1894 – Mr. W. C. Meyer and son here to install the fire alarms.

1896

  • June 16, 1896 – The bricklayers started on the cellar windows this afternoon.
  •  June 21, 1896 – Orphan festival. In the afternoon there was a heavy storm. C. Weisshen was struck by lightning and stayed in the orphanage until Tuesday. Pastor Guckenberger preached in German and Pastor Hemmeter in English.

1897

  • May 9, 1897 – The 50th anniversary of the [Lutheran Church] Missouri Synod was celebrated in the morning in the church, in the afternoon in our schoolhouse.

1898

  • April 12, 1898 – Went with the 3 o’clock train to Pittsburgh to the Board of Directors meeting. It was resolved to celebrate the Festival not in the city but in our woods on June 19.
  • April 23, 1898 – Today Heinrich Trautermann went to Mr. Kastroll in Pittsburgh to learn the tinsmith trade.
  • April 30, 1898 – A man from Pittsburgh brought two fire extinguishers.
  • May 19, 1898 – Tillie Lauer brought beans to plant.
  • June 19, 1898 – It rained heavily all night. In the morning the expectations of being able to hold our annual Festival were poor. After 10 o’clock the sky cleared and we were able to celebrate our Festival in the woods in beautiful weather. The attendance was not as great as usual, because of the rain, but it was a beautiful Festival. Pastor Lothmann of Akron, OH, preached in the morning and Pastor Walz in the afternoon. Pastor Huegli preached in English.
  • June 27, 1898 – I’ve planted a total of about 400 celery, 800 red beets, 650 kohlrabi, 830 tomatoes and 1,800 cabbage plants.

1899

  • April 10, 1899 – Mr. W. C. Meyer and son were here and brought the gas lighting. They didn’t have something, so his son had to come back the next day.
  • April 11, 1899 – The gas illumination is fine.
  • May 1, 1899 – 150 arborvitae [evergreen trees] and 225 Japanese quince [flowering shrubs] arrived.
  • May 2, 1899 – Began to plant corn. Warm and dry.
  • May 30, 1899 – Planted 441 beets, 112 cabbages and 161 tomatoes.

If you’re interested in learning more about Concordia’s 140 years of history, each issue of Concordia’s Faith in Caring magazine will include additional photos and historical insight. And each issue will be introduced here with housefather journal entries from every season. Click here to read the June 2021 issue of Faith in Caring.

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  • History1
  • Inside School House sm
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  • Old Folks Home & Chapel sm
  • Schwalms Miller
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