In the meantime they sought to purchase an appropriate parcel of land. Dr. Marbach, Pastor Walther and three countrymen named Palitzsch, Gube and Schlimpert accompanied Dr. Bimpage on many trips for this purpose and on April 8, 1839 the negotiations were concluded on 6000 acres. The acreage, in Perry County approximately 100 English miles south of St. Louis, was on the Mississippi shore between the rivers of Apple Creek and Brazeau. One section with fertile soil offered a very good landing spot and the land was particularly good for growing tabacco. The price per acre varied according to the arability of the soil, ranging from 1 to 6 dollars per acre. Those tracts already cultivated naturally demanded the highest prices. The largest portion is the so-called Congress land, purchased from the State and uncultivated for a price of 1 dollar per acre. On this piece of land there was a small farm belonging to an American by the name of Martin, thus the place was known as Martin's Farm. The Stephanists thought this was a sign of blessing from heaven since their bishop's name was Martin. They decided to build the bishop's residence there.
A portion of the congregation went to Perry County to build blockhouses and lend a hand. In St. Louis itself people lived
comfortable lives. The ministers and candidates met often at Stephan's house. There were singing practices, after which entertaining diversions were held and the spiritual gentlemen filled their stomachs. Master Rudloff baked a variety of pancake and of course there was never a lack of good drink.
April 13 was a feastday for the congregation. On this day the reverend bishop commemorated his 30 year jubilee. An elegant celebration took place at the lodgings of Dr. Vehse with only the chosen ones and the deputies in attendance. Other congregation members were segregated in a warehouse where they received free beer and a modest meal.
Around this time the oft-mentioned Dr. Gempp allowed his children, 2 and 4 years of age, to be baptised. In America you often met people of 18 to 20 years of age who had not been baptised.
On April 26th the Anzeiger des Westens published an article from Germany on Bishop Stephan in its Correspondence section. There was particular mention that Dr. Scheibel, the well-known chairman and defender of the "outlawed Lutherans" living in Silesia who had refused to merge with the Reform religion, had declared that he was in no way associated with Stephan, etc. Without reproducing the letter here, which in its powerful rhetoric did no disservice to Dr. Scheibel, without giving any further acquiesence to the opinions of this man or looking for other claims appropriate to this progressive era,
we still could not help but express our consensus that it would be a grave injustice to compare or confuse this man or his endeavors with the machinations of Martin Stephan. — In this same article, derived from the Leipzig newspaper, there are declarations of many ministers and one by Superintendent Rudelbach which state these men's formal renunciation of Stephan.
In response the pastors felt compelled to issue the following:
Anzeiger des Westens, April 27, 1839
In the last issue of this newspaper many biased opinions and rumors coming from Germany were broadcast concerning our bishop and his emigrant congregation. We are too far away from our old fatherland to defend ourselves against accusations from people having special interests, who are always willing to rehash conflicting facts anew in correspondence. Whenever these accusations impugn the integrity of our good name and that of our bishop, he turned the matter over to fully-sanctioned legal counsel who had the right to bring the matter before the court. However for the impartial and truth-loving reader of this newspaper the undersigned believe it is sufficient to state that the opinions and reports published by the Anzeiger des Westens
concerning our bishop from newspapers in Germany are based partly on lies of the most malicious intent and partly on the shameless distortion of certain relationships and circumstances, which could not be further developed here. [Why not?!]
Since we are all friends of the truth here we are willing to give details about what was said and we will also take the opportunity to discuss certain details of our emigration in a newspaper from a neighboring state, which so amicably greeted us as newcomers.
All there is to tell we will tell here in the hope that people might hear the other side of the story; in this way when people hear or read further gossip about us they will not be carried away by the lies or participate in the slander.
At the same time we declare for all time that in so far as we are not compelled to do so by the laws of the land, we will not respond to any more of the lies printed in this newspaper. The less we do, the more the editor of this newspaper will appear to be a great lover of European lies. We leave it to him to do as he pleases since he believes he will be able to answer before God on Judgment Day. This is a fate he will not be able to avoid. In closing let us just say that we and our bishop know just as little about the faith that Dr. Scheibel, Superintendent Rudelbach and their followers
call Lutheran. We have had no interest in them in the past and have no interest in them now. We abide by pure biblical faith as professed by the revered old Lutheran church in its symbolic writings.
St. Louis, April 24, 1839.
The editorial staff of the Anzeiger des Westens added the following postscript:
Sic volo, sic jubeo; stat pro ratione voluntas!
In the preceeding we give our readers a good taste of priestly arrogance. Instead of giving answers, instead of refuting what's been said about them, they use lies and deceptions to reprimand. They pray for fire and brimstone to come down from heaven upon their detracters. They turn their eyes and wrap themselves up in their modest mantels of sanctity.
"For the impartial, truth-loving readers of this newspaper," they say, "the undersigned believe it sufficient to declare that these opinions and reports are lies of the most malicious intent and shameless distortions of certain circumstances, etc., etc."
Dumb logic. Why should these "mere declarations" be sufficient? Are the "unbiased, truth-loving readers" of this newspaper too unimportant for you to give a word in defense and explanation?
Go to pages 79 - 83
Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks