and the necessity to remain involved in the enterprise kept the community from completely dissolving. At the beginning to the emigration movement there was approximately $135,000 in capital; now only a few thousand dollars were on hand along with a tract of undeveloped land. The choice was simple - they were in a foreign land divested of everything. The least they could do was retain the title to the colony and attempt to regain a portion of the money wasted so needlessly by developing part of it.
We cannot ignore the supposition that certain associates connected with the emigration plan, who had financial resources of their own and were not limited by the constraints of holy office, had invested some of the funds which were under Stephan's control, in order to recognize a profit. This supposition may prove to be fact in the near future.
We return to an article from the German newspaper, which described the congregation's situation at that time. We place all the more importance upon it since the editor of the Anzeiger des Westens, Dr. W. Weber, was a very honest man and a close friend of Dr. Bimpage, an agent for the congregation.
Note: On several occasions we have mentioned that many members of the community had left the congregation. These included the Quelimalz family from Dresden, which moved to Illinois, the stone mason Stumpf, also of Dresden, and the Prussian Lieutenant von Schlegel, who joined the emigrants in Magdeburg.
Marginalia: ?? Marbach, Vehse - so sagt Stephan [sich] selbst - ?? Marbach, Vehse. So Stephan himself states.
Dr. Weber was in a position to supply information concerning the congregation which the majority of the members had kept hidden.
After Stephan's dismissal, which we described on page 105, the following was published:
Anzeiger des Westens, June 8, 1839
Recently hundreds of old people, women and children were transported to a region where more than half had to camp out in the elements without a roof over their heads, where the lack of supplies and food is felt daily and no hope exists to better their circumstance through work. The torrential rains of spring have soaked the population, flooded the area and infected their bodies with fever. All this has been done with the malicious intention of chaining them to their tyrants and serving them up as offerings to ministerial greed. This is the first step towards preventing any possibility for these people to leave this community. Measures have been taken to alter letters of credit, form new lay committees, enact new regulations and in the end extract renewed commitment to their pastors.
Previously members of the congregation received receipts for the money they paid into the credit account which were signed by the two appointed cashiers.
Since landing here these cashiers have found out that ther names were there not only as a formality since they have been dragged before the civil courts several times and forced to pay substantial sums to stay out of prison. They now seek to divest themselves of this dreadful responsibility. Attempts are beng made to gather up and redraft these notes so that no individual person is responsible for the repayments. One can scarcely doubt that the force of this blow would place the community squarely in the hands of its leaders since it would not be able to maintain a credit account and it would be fully at the discretion of the administrators whether or not to pay out the funds on demand!
Second. Lay committees were formed to keep the members from leaving the community and to reinforce the leadership. They were told that they would have a free hand in choosing the committeemen and they should exercise caution; — however after the election they must submit unconditionally to its rules and regulations and there should be no more talk of leaving.
Third. The reinstallment of the pastors and new pledges to them were necessary steps because all knew of their complicity and assistance in Stephan's transgressions. The congregation members were call upon to forgive these pastors and allow them to again preach the word of God to them.
Their current misfortune was the greatest reaon for staying together and letting bygones be bygones.
To carry out these last two points Dr. Vehse called for a meeting of the portion of the congregation remaining in St. Louis. At this meeting, held on Thursday evening, 6 committeemen were elected at his recommendation and it was resolved that a well known German of this city, who did not belong to the congregation but who had served it on many occasions, be chosen as president. "He may not be a Christian," it was said of him, "but there is enough grace in him. People could place their trust in him becuase he is a man well versed in the congregation's current state of affairs."
It is not yet known if the post has been offered or accepted but this much is certain. The committee was immediately formed and it has received instructions concerning what it is to do and what it is permitted to do from the committee leaders, to whom the committee is answerable. At this same meeting it was expressly stated by Dr. Vehse that Pastor Löber, a man of unblemished character and thus first among all, had advised that the other pastors be forgiven for their complicity in the Stephan affair and that they once more be obeyed. In the spirit of this advice it was resolved that Pastor Walther, who had declared himself too unclean to continue preaching the gospel, be offered forgiveness
and allowed to return to his teaching duties.
Matters have progressed thus far. In the knowledge that they have been deceived, that their wives and daughters have been dishonored, that they are in deepest peril of dissolution and in the knowledge that it was not Stephan alone who brought them to this unfortunate situation, this congregation still has not let this serve as a warning. Instead it blindly places itself anew in the arms of those who turned them into mere tools! — It is of the utmost necessity that the entire German population take these poor, deceived and broken men in hand and give them the means to become self reliant individuals. Give them the hope of rebuilding themselves by means or their own moral and physical power. May the above announced meeting arouse the interest of the Germans so they might be of assistance to these poor people to the extent that they still can be helped!
Anzeiger des Westens, June 15, 1839
Reports of the saddest nature have reached us from private sources within the "Old Lutheran" settlement in Perry County. They say that a larger portion of the settlers are living without a roof over their heads. 150 men live pressed together in hastily built barracks which give no protection against wind or rain. They are soaked through to the skin
Go to pages 114 -118
Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks