The Destinies and Adventures of the Stephanists who emigrated from Saxony to America - pages 34 - 38


At the time the Stephanists arrived and throughout the winter months of 1839 market prices for food were approximately as follows:
      A pound of pork - 12 cents or about 4 Gröschen (100 cents equals one dollar.)
      A pound of beef - 10 cents.
      A pound of butter - 1/3 dollar.
      A bushel (approx. 1/3 Dresden-bushel) corn - 1 dollar and 10 cents.
      A bushel of wheat - 1 and 1/3 dollar.
      A bushel of potatoes - 1 to 1 ½ dollars
      A bushel of apples - 1 ½ to 2 dollars.

In and around St. Louis firewood is very scarce and expensive. Coal, which comes in loads from Illinois, is used instead and a bushel usually costs between ¼ to ½ dollar. Clothing, etc. is not only very expensive but very poorly made.

The streets are straight and wide and the houses, especially the newer ones, are beautifully made. Renting costs are steep.

The climate of this region is by no means the most healthy. Rapid changes in the weather result in much sickness and the fever often reaches plague level.

After our brief digression let us return to our emigrants. Bishop Stephan was always sick and he wanted no one near him other than his confidant, Pastor Walther. The house in which he lived had three entrances and as is the American style, each led to separate living quarters so that the house was rented to three separate parties. From the parterre a staircase led to the upper floors,


so everything brought into the house had to go up from the lower staircase. The middle residence was rented for the bishop's court at a cost of 20 dollars per month.

We believe we would be performing a service for our readers if we give them a tour of the Eldorado of the "most blessed man of the Lord," but from the outset we must ask them to follow us quietly and peaceably. On the ground floor 3 congregation members lived, including the author of this report. These people cared for the everyday needs of the bishop, announced visitors and were the true guardians of the household. — The second floor was designated for various meetings and the ministers and candidates. — We draw the reader's attention to the kitchen built on this floor from which the delicious aroma of roasted turkey, prepared for the bishop's table, might waft the senses. Without further ado follow us up the stairs to the rooms of the ministerial master. Here things are quite different from the rooms of most of the emigrants, who previously had nice households of their own as Dresden natives or citizens of other areas. Here costly furniture and plush cushions invite one to an invigorating rest while many Stephanists lay their heads on hard beds, praying and dreaming of Jacob's ladder descending from heaven. — We should leave now, lest we disturb the bishop's rest, but wait! We mentioned a third story and our readers want us to take them up there. We will show you but only under one condition,


dear reader, and it is for the sake of our beloved female reader that we must promise not to say anything further, so
      Quietly - Quietly - Don't make any noise! -
Here, devoted reader, we will open the door just a little and peek in to find five women whose purpose in life is to make the existence of their beloved teacher as pleasant as possible and to cast rose petals onto his thorny path. Among them there is peace because each is inspired by love for him. Oh, the worthy female soul, which offers up itself at the dictates of its heart. Your names deserve to be preserved for posterity.

The following members of the female gender took care of the bishop's household, including physical needs and other necessities of life with the keanest attention:
Louis Völker, Louise Günther, Mad. Schneider, Pauline Weidlich and Marie Schubert.

The last woman, a girl around 16 years of age, is known to have run away from her relatives in Germany with a boy. The arrest warrant from the authorities did not catch up with Pastor Walther the younger. In Bremerhafen he boarded a different ship than the one assigned to him in place of another person. When they searched for him on the other ship, naturally they did not find him. Only Widow Binger was detained for some time.

Besides those listed above, many other women and girls entered and left the house and a gentle rivalry


developed among these good souls. Can there be any sweeter calling than to brighten up the lonely hours of our fellow human beings? What matters the judgment of the suspicious world?

Before we go any further, we must mention a congregation which from now on would be closely associated with the Stephanists. Some time back a pietistical congregation with inclinations similar to the emigrating Stephanists had established itself in New York. Its lay leaders were Brother Spröde [Rudloff] and a man by the name of Rudloff [Spröde], two Germans who jointly owned a large bakery in New York. The spiritual leader of this congregation of 90 was Pastor Oertel, son of Dr. Oertel who had become well known for his writings on hydropathy.

In the spring of 1838 the elder Rudloff [Spröde] made a trip to Germany at the commission of his congregation and came to Radeberg, where he stayed with Pastor Stephan. Here the plans for the intended emigration were laid. Rudloff [Spröde] returned to New York and reported to his congregation that next winter the celebrated Stephan would go to St. Louis. Per their agreement, Stephan wrote to Rudloff [Spröde] when he was ready to depart from Dresden. After receiving the letter Brother Spröde [Rudloff] and Rudloff [Spröde] went to St. Louis and their congregation was supposed to leave New York once Stephan arrived.


The residents of St. Louis did not warmly receive the Stephanists. Extensive newspaper articles describing the circumstances under which the emigrants had left Germany had informed the Germans living in St. Louis about the nature of this sect. The articles focused on open contempt for the domination exercised by the ministers on the congregation rather than on the beliefs of the congregation itself, with which people might not have agreed but which might have elicited their sympathy. The entire episode is best exemplified by articles from the Anzeiger des Westens [Clarion of the West], which we will add at the appropriate spots. We add these passages, which attempted to represent the situation of the congregation and their leaders, not only out of a sense of fairness but also because we believe they are necessary to form a proper assessment.

The arrival of the first three ships was announced to the German community as follows:

   Anzeiger des Westens, Jan. 26, 1839

We wish to inform our readers of the arrival of the first two groups of Stephanists, numbering approximately 300. There were many elderly men within this group who had good lives back in their homeland but were goaded by their pastors into thinking that they could not die in sanctity in old Europe. They were mislead into thinking they had to travel the uncertain path of emigration, which in their advanced years was particularly dangerous. They had to commit all their financial resources to the frivolous project of communal resettlement. As things stand now both spiritual and


Go to pages 39 - 43


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

Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks