The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 27 - 31


Around this time Captain von Rohr was sent to Magdeburg because he had allowed his child to be baptized by the Lutheran Pastor Kaul and because he had refused a visitation from the United Church. His dismissal divested him from his rank and his income, however he received an invitation from Mr. von Below of Seehof near Stolp in Pommerania. He sold his furniture and bought a wagon with the proceeds (because the railroad did not yet exist). The oboist Friedrich Müller, later a pastor in the Buffalo Synod, had also been dismissed and banished for his profession of the Lutheran teachings. He, in league with von Rohr, undertook the task of freeing Pastor Grabau from prison. Captain von Rohr took the route to Pommerania passing through Heiligenstadt. Mr. Müller, who accompanied him on the trip, went to Pastor Grabau in prison and communicated to him that Captain von Rohr waited with his wagon just beyond the gate and he was prepared to lead him to freedom. Pastor Grabau recognized this as the work of God and went with the guard for his customary stroll. When they reached the gate Pastor Grabau took his leave of the guard with the words: "Today I leave for wherever God wishes me to go, as you have so often advised me." The guard bade him farewell and Pastor Grabau ran to the wagon. As the wagon started on its way, the old guard called to him: "Pastor Grabau! Come back!"

The trip proceeded on the road to Nordhausen. That afternoon in an inn the innkeeper asked Mr. von Rohr, "Isn't that Pastor Grabau?" He recognized him as he said grace. This discovery necessitated their hasty departure. There were already guards chasing the fugitive. They asked an old woman if she had seen a wagon drawn by two brown horses with two men in it. She responded: "Yes, they came from Heiligenstadt and went towards Duderstadt." The pursuers hastened in that direction and thus lost the trail. Had the old woman seen an angel's wagon of similar aspect through which the True God deceived the persecutor? She also made the same statement before the court. They found lodging with a Lutheran family at Sangerhausen in Bennungen. When they arrived in Gräfenhayn (where Paul Gerhard was born) they sang: "Show us your path," and at night they sang by starlight as they arrived at the castle church in Wittemberg: "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." In Berlin


they breathed easier and stayed with Lutheran families. Pastor Lasins at that time was sitting in prison. During an evening church service Grabau preached 1 Corinthians 10, 12. In Angermünde they met many anxious souls; in Brüssow however the people were joyous and determined. In Stellmacher services were held in Justice Grobengiesser's house for baptism, etc. The mayor called attention to himself amid the assembly, saying "Not today," and then sadly taking his leave; shortly before this the police were searching houses. Then they went to Neuenhagen, where the pursuing guards had been searching just days before. Along the way they had to put down one of the horses, which had gone lame and delayed them by an entire day. In Stettin there was only one Lutheran family (Barthel) with whom Pastor Grabau could stay. For the most part Pastor Grabau had to get down and walk to anyplace where they were to stay while Mr. von Rohr and his rig went on to the inns. In Hakenwalde, Camin and the vicinity they ran into trouble with a sect of Pietists, who had left the United Church not because of doctrine but because they found fault with all ministries. These had also followed the path of false teaching concerning the priesthood for they believed everyone was called to the priesthood and that each one of the faithful with the gift must preach in public. Opinions circulated concerning the thousand-year empire, the interdiction concerning swearing before the court, etc. Much energy was expended in order to demonstrate to those in error God's Word and the true faith of the church. By way of Treptow they went to Triglass, where Pastor Grabau held church service with shepherds while Mr. von Rohr, to his credit, disputed with the United Church preachers.

Unfortunately the once excellent Mr. von Below had been schooled in various points of Pietistic doctrine and as a result ministerial office was abolished and in its place he himself conducted spiritual discussions similar to those of American Methodist ministers. Others preached too, including laborers and servants. The people called such extemporaneous, enthusiastic oratory "powerful preaching." Pastor Grabau, von Rohr, and also Pastor Kaul spent much time driving about to find these people in order to preach to them in love of the true profession of faith and the proper hierarchy of the church; however only a few souls heard them. Steadfast in his conviction, Mr. von Below took Pastor Grabau to his noble sister, Mrs. von P. of Versin. The large congregation there


clung steadfastly to God's Word. From this time on Pastor Grabau made nightly trips during the winter into the countryside in order to baptize children and distribute the Word and the Eucharist for the sake of maintaining the church. At one evening church service in Versin a gendarme arrived during the holy consecration. All lights were quickly extinguished and the door was locked from the inside. The room full of praying Christians stood silently in the bright moonlight. When the gendarme came to the door, he tried the door latch and then said, "Nobody is here." Then he went to the residence of the private tutor, which was unlocked and warm. Seeing this the gendarme stated, "They have been here, I saw the light and heard the singing; they escaped without donning their hats, which are still hanging in the hallway." While the gendarme was discussing this puzzlement with Mrs. von P., the gardener Manke led Pastor Grabau out through the back door. A servant of the police force stood out there; his wife was a member of the congregation. The man did not wish to apprehend his wife's spiritual caregiver. He turned around and looked up to the stars as if he had not noticed them and they went free. Pastor Grabau was led through the pasture and the forest to Mr. von Z. in the principality of Gansen. Here he had time for rest and recovery. In the spring the congregation had to be visited. To extend the loving blessing of Zoar Pastor Grabau moved to Gramenz, Stettin and Brüssow and fortified the congregations with the grace of God. When he left Hackenwald he left behind Pastor Kindermann, whom he had introduced to the Pommeranians, and he went to Berlin, where he met Pastor Wedemann. At that time Pastor Kavel had emigrated to Australia. In Pommerania many had thought of emigrating and had already exchanged letters with their friends in Ohio. They discussed their thoughts with Pastor Grabau. However he told them: "To leave simply because of the oppression and the confiscations is an injustice to the misguided authorities. One must seek the path of Luther and determine whether or not the magistrates will permit the public preaching of the gospel. Many emphasize the number of crosses we must bear in this persecution and thus courageously endure to the point where blood is drawn. Only when the lives of the persecuted are taken may one take flight." Pastor Grabau reminded it is a matter of individual conscience whether one saves his own life when he encounters such circumstances. However Luther made a case for the church and he says


this is permitted when the authorities will not suffer the gospel to be preached throughout the land: then let each leave his land and go to a place there the gospel is free. So it is also stated in the Augsburg Confession: the church is not bound to any country. Pastor Grabau went from Berlin to Magdeburg, Halberstadt, Werningerode and Erfurt and he prepared himself with God's Word and prayer for another term of imprisonment. At night he lodged with his old friend, the United minister Schöne of Niederbadeleben, whose eldest son later bacame pastor of the Lutheran Church. In this year (1838) God fortified his church with especially rich blessing. Although he was strong by nature, Pastor Grabau was exhausted by the spiritual and physical demands. He made the trek from Magdeburg to Eisleben mostly on foot. Orders of arrest had been issued for him in the cities and villages and a reward of 50 dollars was posted for his capture, thus the weak and fearful Lutherans of Eisleben were not willing to give him lodging. Here, in the ancestral home of Luther, people trembled at the disaster they would encounter if the pursued and persecuted were found among them. In addition no one was willing to provide him with a wagon. Already thoroughly exhausted, he had to travel farther at sunset where 5 miles away there was a family, who took him in. On the road to Sangerhausen his feet were so wounded that it was impossible for him to go any farther. Suffering from pain and exhaustion, without even a drink of water, he slept with his companion on the road to Graben. A fine rain fell and became their blanket. This was the Wednesday before the Ascension. "Though you drink poison, you will not be harmed." — He who said this would not be harmed by this foul circumstance but would be fortified by this divine refreshment. At sunrise they got up, newly fortified and joyous; however the injured feet would not move. The Lord showed an alternate path where the ground was softer and where walking was easier. They arrived in Sangerhausen as the sun rose. They drank at a well near the gate and cooled their injured feet. "The teachers go through the valley of tears and come to the same well and are sanctified for God himself will remain here." Psalm 84. May the Lord bestow this blessing upon Sangerhausen and dig a church well, which delivers the water of life.

From a mill in Bennungen, cared for by the loving hands of dear Brother R., he journeyed on to Erfurt with renewed energy.


Here he encountered his dying mother-in-law, who had until now advocated for the Union and who now desired the true body and blood of Jesus Christ. In the face of death yet with sound reason, she denounced the Union and asked for forgiveness of all the wrongs she had perpetrated against the church. She died the following day, certain in her blessed standing before God in Christ. After all this upheaval Pastor Grabau succumbed to a fever. Friends met along the way advised them to go to a spa in Ilmenau (Weimar), which had been established by Dr. Fitzler, a protector of Lutherans. Pastor Grabau found refuge with the first mayor and the merchant Morgenroth. The cure was so blessed that he was able from there to pastor his congregation in Erfurt.

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VI.

Additional Imprisonment. Arrangements

for Emigration

In Ilmenau there was a woman, who betrayed him through her carelessness (not out of malice). He was taken by the second mayor of the district to an aptly named stinking prison (September 21, 1838 at 12 noon) and tranported to Erfurt at night. From there he was taken back to Heiligenstadt and his old prison, where he was quietly greeted and taken into custody by the old Inspector.

Pastor Grabau fell ill and remained in prison for 17 weeks, sick, helpless, uncared for except by a wood thief, who was placed at his disposal and who gave him medicine. Lest he place himself under suspicion for any secret sympathy, the inspector took on the aspect of a brute as if possessed by a despotic nature. One morning he came before the sickbed and screamed in a resounding voice: "If I were the King of Prussia,


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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 17, 2006