The Destinies and Adventures of the Stephanists who emigrated from Saxony to America - pages 89 - 93

we list the shoemaker Sagner of Dresden, a very respectable man. Even when he granted an audience to someone, he greeted that individual with icy indifference and aristocratic haughtiness. This might have been the reason why he did not receive the friendliest reception when he drove to church or went out. He longed to leave the city behind since he was not accustomed to seeing his activities described and criticized in the public press. He believed he would be able to live a freer life in Perry County. The construction went far too slowly for him and when the household, which the settlers were building for him, was not completed by the end of April he openly discussed his displeasure and stated that in the end he would have to turn himself into a carpenter. He left St. Louis and moved to Martin's Farm, which had been splendidly decorated for him. Those immigrants, whom the bishop liked, were permitted to follow him even though the settlement of a large number could not be accommodated because of the lack of shelters. Four American carpenters began their work to build a few blockhouses.

Stephan changed the arrangements regarding some of his female household staff. A few women remained behind and two new individuals came as replacements. Stephan was now free to give into his every whim since there was nothing to interfere with his quiet country life. But we will leave him and his lovely company alone for now and not return to this topic

until we see him uprooted by powerful hands away from his lusty ecstasy.


The month of May was disasterous for the Stephanists and dark storm clouds gathered over the heads of their leaders. These people would learn there were limits even in a state offering ultimate freedom to all religious persuasions. Only so much absurdity and peculiarity would be tolerated. Disgraceful behavior disguised as religious practice was bound to incite the horror and indignation of the educated residents.

Certain business transactions contributed much towards building mistrust in a considerable portion of the congregation. The congregation administrators were coming to the conclusion that the current state of affairs for the congregation might go on for an incredibly long period of time. They started to hold meetings more frequently than usual. Amid this turmoil there were reports coming to St. Louis from the colony. Stephan had too openly and freely led the life of a Turkish pasha rather than a life appropriate for a Christian bishop. This garnered the attention and the disapproval of even the most infatuated individuals.

One member of the congregation, Mr. Nitzsche of Dresden, ventured to make the bishop aware of the ever-increasing gossip in the most respectful terms. However his eminence reproached him:

"Oh, what is this! These are the same old Dresden

"fairytales warmed up in America! — Everything will eventually come out and my innocence will be proven!"

To his Mr. Nitzsche replied, "Only if it's the truth!" In saying this Mr. Nitzsche dared to cast some doubt on Stephan's word. Stephan forbade him to ever come within his sight again.

Meanwhile four young women living in St. Louis, Louise Völker, Sophie Henschel [Herschel], Wilhelmine Hahn and Auguste Pötzsch, came to deliver important news to the pastors. Stephan had shown all four his paradise and they had eaten of the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Their testimony produced horrifying evidence that the servant of their religion had used the lowest and most common means to satisfy his lust and how he had turned matters of pure and immaculate faith and profession into sinful pleasure, believing that through the exercise of his lustful desires he had forever chained the offerings to himself. — The feathers could barely take down the disgraceful acts, the shameful ideas and the obscene connection between the holiest matters of faith and the sinful initiations this evil hypocrite employed to attain his unworthy goal. We will say no more about this scandal for it would surely evoke the deepest feeling of disgust in the reader. — Incidentally, Stephan had not forgotten

to bind the tongues of his offerings by a fearful oath so that his sins would not reach the light of day. —

These facts put the pastors in a dreadful dilemma. It was necessary to take decisive steps once the affair had become public and the encroaching mistrust within the congregation threatened to become dangerous for them. The affair could no longer be hushed up. People decided to take extreme measures and oust the bishop, whom previously they had seen as a gift from heaven, in order to save at least a portion of their honor. It is also worthy of mention that among the many ministers and candidates ambitious plans, etc. were considered and perhaps envy and jealousy were behind them. These may have contributed to Stephan's ouster.

At the many meetings of the ministers and administrators it was decided that the congregation members should go to Perry County as soon as possible since not all of them had been informed of the situation there. In this way they hoped to avoid having members, who had been incited by the Germans of St. Louis, leave the congregation on their own and go to reclaim whatever sum of money they had paid out. Once in Perry County, the ministers and administrators would go to the bishop's residence and demand his resignation.

A steamboat was rented and they were about to begin the journey when a small event interrupted their plans.

A while ago the Tennstädt family had gone to the administrators and attempted to get their money back. They wanted to establish their own lives in St. Louis since the construction of the settlement in Perry County was taking too long. However the administrators were not willing to fulfill the family's wish. Once the report concerning Stephan came out, Tennstädt tried to retrieve his money Since the administrators refused to give it back, he took the next step and filed a complaint with the courts. In such cases the American justice system moves quikcly and the two administrators of the congregation funds who were named in the complaint, Jäckel and Barthel, had to come up with $1000 dollars for bail to avoid being incarcerated.

Before their journey to Perry County the pastors and administrators gave the following declaration to the editorial staff of the Anzeiger des Westens. It was published in the next issue.

         Anzeiger des Westens, June 1, 1839


The undersigned have felt compelled for the past few weeks to refute the many malicious rumors coming from Germany, which have spread about our Bishop Stephan. Since all allegations against him remain unproven, as based on our own observations as well as on the investigations of the courts,

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Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks