27 February 2016

Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum


Louisa Otto

Golden Wedding Anniversary, 1902

Oregon, Holt County, Missouri

newspaper article on fiftieth wedding anniversary


Rev. Frederick Fiegenbaum and Wife, of This City. Celebrate
Their Golden Wedding, Friday. April 11.

In company with his parents and brothers and sisters, there landed at New Orleans, one fine summer day in June, 1834, bright lad of four summers.  From there they took a steam boat, landing at St. Louis where the cannon were booming and flags waving in honor [of?] the nation's 42nd birthday.  Here they rested for a while, after a nine-weeks journey across the ocean.  Then the family proceeded to Warren county, Mo., and engaged in farming.

photographic portrait of Friedrich W. and Louisa (Otto) Fiegenbaum

This lad of four is today a gray haired veteran in the service of his Master, and has passed his three-score and ten.  He was born in Old Prussia, Germany, April 10th, 1830.  He remained upon the farm and became a farmer.  When 17 years of age he was converted and united with the M. E. church.  He felt he was called to enter the service of his Master; but he liked the farm life and felt that he should continue in this work.  In 1850 he went with his parents to Wapello, Ia.  The lad; the farmer boy is today our fellow townsman, the Rev. Fred Fiegenbaum, who on Friday of last week, April 11th, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

While living in Warren county, one of his neighbors, named Otto, had a nice little girl, and they became acquainted of course; they left the neighborhood, and the families became separated, but they again met in Iowa; the acquaintance was renewed, which in due time resulted in a wedding, and Frederick Wilhelm Fiegenbaum and Miss Louisa Otto, became husband and wife, the ceremony being performed in the German M. E. stone church in Wapello, Ia., April 11, 1852.

The ceremony uniting these two people was performed by the groom's brother, Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum, who on this 50th anniversary was present to renew those bonds that had united these people for those long fifty years.  Who amid all the trials and adversities of life had gone hand in hand; heart to heart; soul to soul along down life's rugged pathway - Loving and serving their Master - Loving and serving each other.  Feeling all through these years as the 23 Psalm - 1-4 has taught them:

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

One year after his marriage, he still felt that he should enter the field of the ministry - he felt that he could no longer resist the call, and entered for a four years' course of preparation in Brush College in this state, and in the spring of 1853 he entered his Masters's [sic] service and began preaching at Peoria, Ill., where he remained for nearly two years.  On September 13, 1857, he was ordained a deacon by Bishop E. S. James at Rock Island, Ill., September 13, 1857, he was ordained an Elder by Bishop E. R. Ames, at Marion, Ia.  From 1853 to 1893 he was actively engaged in the work of the ministry excepting two years, 1872-3, which years he rested on account of health, and in 1873-5 he took a two years' course at Mount Pleasant, Ia.  Forty years, service in the Master's vineyard - Many of these years were such as try one's zeal and earnestness.  When he entered the service, there were but few railroads; travelling from station to station was chiefly by horseback; the exposures were of such character, that only the strong and sturdy could withstand them.  Only his advanced years and with feeble health, incident thereto, caused him to surrender his work, which he did here in 1896.  During these 40 year [sic] she [sic] has been stationed at the following places:

Peoria, Ill. 1853-55
Cedar Lake, Ind. 1855-56
Chirls [sic] Mount, Ia.     1856-58
Freeport, Ill. 1858-60
Salem, Minn. 1860-61
St. Paul, Minn. 1861-65
Burlington, Ia., Dist. 1865-67
Wapello, Ia. 1867-69
Des Moines, Ia. 1869-71
Polk City, Ia. 1871-73
Wilton, Ia 1875-78
Canton, Mo. 1878-81
Wathena, Kan. 1881-83
Eudora, Kan. 1883-85
Clay Center, Kan. 1885-88
Lawrence, Kan. 1888-92
Oregon, Mo. 1892-96

The wife of today and the young bride of 50 years ago, was born in Hanover, Germany, August 13, 1832, and when a mere babe of nine months came to this country with her parents, who settled in Warren county, Mo., thence to Washington county, Ia., then near Wapello, Ia.

There has been born to Mr. and Mrs. Fiegenbaum nine children:  three girls and six boys, all of whom are magnificent types of the true, high-minded, honorable, clean citizenship.  The children are:

Minnie Sexauer, whose husband is a farmer near Des Moines, Iowa; they have five children.

Adolph is a clerk in the war department at Washington; married and has one child.

Lydia Howard, wife of a farmer, near Sac City, Iowa; they have one child.

Louis, is a druggist at Geneva, Neb.; is married and has one child.

Theodore is a druggist at Lincoln, Neb.; is married.

Emma Miller is the wife of a druggist at Wathena, Kan, they have five children.

Benjaman [sic] is also a druggist, and in business at Western, Neb.; married.

Henry is in the hardware business at Lawton Okla; married.

Edward is the kid of the family and is a jeweler at Geneva, Neb., married.

In addition to the immediate children, Mrs. Rosana McDougle [sic], of Gowrie, Ia., was here, she being a daughter of Mrs. Sexauer.  She was accompanied by her eldest daughter, Mrs. C. W. Piekenrock [sic] and husband of Ellston, Ia.  This completed the circle of four generations represented at the anniversary.

The children are all living and were here to celebrate the anniversary of the wedding of their father and mother.  It was just such another glorious April as this - 50 years ago - as brightly prophetic of happiness in their life of activity as Friday last was emblematic of declining years, crowned with peace and honor.  That wedding of 50 years ago as other weddings of that time, had little of the pomp and circumstance which grace the nuptials of today.  There were no rehearsals, no attendants, no banks of palms and roses, but how much that, solemn service meant, Friday and its memories bear evidence.  Father and Mother Fiegenbaum's life here is its own commentary.  Its fruitage speaks for it more than eloquence can tell.  Their life has been peculiarly blessed.  Not a death has broken the circle of their immediate family.  Their nine children with their thirteen children enjoyed the 50th anniversary of the wedding of their parents and their grandparents.

Naturally, Friday April 11th, 1902, was one of joy and thankfulness to these two whose lives have meant so much and who have been greatly and so deservedly blessed.  Their home is a modest and unpretentious one, and on account of the limited space the children made their order for a sumptuous dinner and luncheon, which was served at the Lawn hotel, and was most elaborate affair in every detail to which some 50 of the more intimate friends and near relatives were invited, and at their home they with numerous friends came to rejoice with them in attaining what so few attain, not only years, but usefulness.

Forty-one guests gues's [sic] gathered in the dining room at the Lawn hotel at 1 o'clock.  Louis Fiegenbaum, second son of the haypy [sic] couple, had charge of the affair.  Rev. Fiegenbaum, of St. Joseph, was the first speaker.  He recalled the time when the couple was married by him half a century ago.  Rev. John Siekmann, of Oregon, followed with a short address.  A. H. Fiegenbaum, a son, then presented the aged parents with a loving cup.  On one side were the names of the nine children, all of whom were in attendance.  On the other side were the words:  "1852 - Wapello, Iowa, Golden Wedding Anniversary, Oregon, Mo., April 11, 1902.["]

After the presentation of the cup both the bride and groom made short replies.  Robert Montgomery, of Oregon, followed with a few words of congratulation.  At the conclusion of the wedding feast the guests repaired to the court house lawn where a photograph of the entire group was taken.

The children with their families in the order of their ages are as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Sexauer and son, Roscoe, Ankeay [sic], Ia.; Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Fiegenbaum, Washington, D. C.; Mr. and Mrs. Frank Howard and daughter, Genevieve, Sac City, Ia.; Mr. and Mrs. Louis S. Fiegenbaum and daughter, Inez, Geneva, Neb.; Mrs. [sic] and Mrs. Theodore J. Fiegenbaum, Lincoln, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Miller and children Louise, Frieda, Wilma, Kenneth, and Katherine, Wathena, Kas.; Mr. and Mrs. Benjaman [sic] F. Fiegenbaum, Western, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fiegenbaum, Lawton, Okla.; Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Fiegenbaum, Geneva, Neb. Other guests were Mrs. Rosanna [sic] McDougall [sic] and daughter, of Gowrie, Ia., Mr. and Mrs. Clara Piekenbrock, Ellston, Ia.; the women being grandchildren; Mr. John Otto, Wapello, Ia.; Mrs. Mary Wagner, Ankeny, Ia.; brother and sister of the bride; Rev. H. Fiegenbaum, brother of the groom; Miss Anna Fiegenbaum, of St. Joseph; Rev. J. Seikmann, pastor of the German M. E. church, Oregon, Mo.; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery, Oregon, and Mr. and Mrs. Tom Curry, Willie and Anna Curry, of Oregon.

The Fiegenbaum family is a remarkable one in one particular; the family consisted of four brothers and two sisters, all of whom are still living, the sisters being widows, and the four brothers were ministers of the German M. E. church.  The eldest, Henry began his ministerial work in 1847, and on the same day of the month, April 11, 1847, he too, was married, and 1897 celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

This is the fourth golden wedding to be celebrated in the family.  The first that of Rev. and Mrs. Henry Fiegenbaum took place just five years ago Friday in St. Joseph, an interesting ceremony being performed at the German M. E. church.  In August, 1897, Henry and Catherice [sic] Wellemeyer, the latter being a sister of the Fiegenbaum brothers, celebrated their golden wedding at their home in Garner, Ia.  In 1900 Rev. and Mrs. William Fiegenbaum celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Edwardsville, Ill.

They were the recipients of handsome presents as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Pieckenbrock berry spoon.

Mr. and Mrs. Sexauer and family, a half dozen solid silver spoons.

Mr. and Mrs. Fiegenbaum, three souvenir spoons of Washington, D. C.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Howard, a gold handled hat brush and two souvenir spoons of Sac City, Ia.

Inez Fiegenbaum, a bon bon spoon.

Anna Fiegenbaum, a linen table cover with fancy yellow border.

John Otto and Mary Waggoner, a fine clock.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Montgomery, a silver, gold lined cake basket.

Mrs. Sophia Good, St. Paul, Minn., a bon bon spoon.

They also received several pieces of gold money, amounting in all to several dollars.

Source: "For Fifty Years.", The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 18 April 1902; page 1, columns 1-3.

Digital copies accessed through Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (The Library of Congress) in November 2011.

The original article covered three columns on the front page of the paper. The digital image presented here is an accurate reproduction of the digital copy found online.


The Article

photographic portrait of Friedrich W. and Louisa (Otto) Fiegenbaum
Permission of Susan M. (Dewsnap) Terrell; all rights reserved.

The reproduction of this newspaper article available on the Library of Congress web site does not do justice to the photograph of Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm and Louisa (Otto) Fiegenbaum. Susan "Suzi" Marie (Dewsnap) Terrell has very generously shared a copy of the original with me for use on this web site.

Susan M. Terrell is related to Friedrich and Louisa. Their eldest child, Wilhelmine Christine Elizabeth Fiegenbaum (1853-1943) married Matthew Sexauer (1847-1928). Matthew and Wilhelmine's eldest child, Rosana Magdeline Sexauer, who is mentioned more than once in this article, was married to George Lafayette McDougal. May McDougal, fourth child of Rosana and George, married James Leonard Terrell, Sr. James L. Terrell, Jr. married Lillian Clare Kittle. Their son, Garrick David Terrell married Susan "Suzi" Marie Dewsnap.

The bare bones of this family line are outlined in the genealogical database at this web site. Suzi Terrell has more information and photos at her Keeper of the Family web site.

This newspaper article would have benefitted from more careful proofreading and typesetting. There are some errors which need to be questioned or corrected. There are nevertheless some important facts presented in this source which help to create a more complete picture of the Fiegenbaum-Otto family.

Migration to U.S.A.

According to his citizenship hearing in the St. Charles (Missouri) Circuit Court on 2 April 1838, Friedrich's father, Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum, declared that he and his family had emigrated from Ladbergen, Kingdom of Prussia and had landed in the United States at New Orleans, Louisiana in June 1834. Friedrich would have been a few months past his 4th birthday when his family set foot on dry land again.

In the autobiographical sketch written for his children, Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum recorded that his family arrived in New Orleans at the end of June and reached St. Louis on 3 or 4 July 1834. His brother, Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, told essentially the same story (with a different date), and it was repeated to a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch in June 1898. Maria Wilhelmine (Fiegenbaum) Winter, Friedrich's sister, mentions the ocean voyage briefly in her autobiography, but she was a babe-in-arms at the time and did not dwell on the facts.

In spite of all these versions of the story, there is some question about exactly where the family first settled after reaching Missouri. A federal land patent awarded to Friedrich's father in 1840 would suggest that the family started out in Femme Osage Township, in St. Charles County. Four years later the family had moved to land in neighboring Warren County.

By 1850, the older children in the family had struck out on their own. Many of them had experiences in St. Louis which led to their joining the German Methodist Episcopal Church. And Friedrich was once again on the move. According to the 1850 U.S. census, he (age 21, a day laborer) was living with his parents, Adolph (age 57, a farmer) and Christine (age 54) and his younger brother, Rudolph (age 14), on a farm near Wapella in Louisa County, Iowa.

Brother Heinrich Rudolph

Heinrich Rudolph Fiegenbaum, the sixth and last child of Adolph and Christine (Peterjohann) Fiegenbaum, was born in St. Charles County, Missouri. The birth and his baptism on 5 February 1837 were recorded in the baptismal register of the German evangelical church at Femme Osage, Missouri (founded in 1833 as the deutsche evangelische Kirchegemeinde and known since 1957 as Femme Osage United Church of Christ). As an adult, he was often known as H. R. or Rudolph; and occasionally as Henry (as was one of his brothers). I mention H. Rudolph specifically because he is conspicuous by his absence in the newspaper account of the celebration of Friedrich and Louisa's wedding anniversary. In 1901, he had relocated to Connell, Franklin County, Washington where he mixed his pastoral work for the Methodist Church with real estate sales. Perhaps he could not make the long trek to Oregon, Missouri. Rudolph died in 1908 at Gooding, Gooding County, Idaho and was buried next to his first wife in Concord Cemetery at Garner, Hancock County, Iowa.

Moving to Iowa

U.S. military veterans of the Mexican–American War (1846-1848) were eligible to receive a federal bounty land warrant redeemable for 160 acres of land for serving one year or more. Many veterans chose to sell their warrants rather than accept the land. It appears that residents of the St. Charles and Warren Counties, Missouri took advantage of this real estate market to take up land in Iowa. This is what Friedrich's parents seem to have done. And perhaps Louisa Otto's parents did the same. Thus were Friedrich and Louisa able to renew the acquaintance that had begun in Missouri "which in due time resulted in a wedding," as this article phrased it.

Brother Heinrich Hermann

The Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum who officiated at the wedding of Friedrich and Louisa in Iowa in 1852 and helped them renew their vows at Oregon, Missouri in 1902 was no doubt Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, Friedrich's eldest brother. In 1845-1846, while working as a carter in St. Louis, Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum struggled fitfully with his faith. He came under the influence of prominent Methodist preachers Ludwig Sigismund Jacoby and Casper Jost and was eventually converted to the German Methodist Episcopal Church. Clara Catharina Kastenbudt, his future wife, was converted at the same revival meeting. They were married at St. Louis, Missouri on 11 April 1847. After a long career in the German Methodist Episcopal Church, Heinrich and Clara had settled into retirement at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, not far from Oregon, Holt County, Missouri. As this article notes, they had celebrated their own golden wedding anniversary in 1897, just a few months before Clara's death. Heinrich would die in 1905.

The Holt County Sentinel, which published this account the the golden wedding anniversary celebration, was co-owned by Tom Curry, the husband of one of Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum's daughters. The newspaper often contained notices of the comings and goings of the various members of the Fiegenbaum-Kastenbudt and Fiegenbaum-Otto families.

Family & the Church

At one point in his article, the author began a paragraph:

The Fiegenbaum family is a remarkable one in one particular; the family consisted of four brothers and two sisters, all of whom are still living, the sisters being widows, and the four brothers were ministers of the German M. E. church.

But the author failed to finish his thought. What was remarkable was not that there were four ministers and two widows in the family. The two sisters had also married ministers of the German Methodist Episcopal Church. All six of Adolph Heinrich and Christine Elisabeth (Peterjohann) Fiegenbaum's children, as well as the parents themselves, all of whom had begun their lives as faithful members of the United Evangelical Church of their homeland and steeled themselves against the doctrine of the Methodists, had been converted and ended up in long and faithful service to their new church.

In 1898 an article appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch discussing the family's emigration from Germany and their spiritual transition.

Friedrich's Service in the Church

According to Friedrich's own telling, he struggled with the call he felt to serve as a minister. He frankly admitted that he wished to avoid the responsibilities and the meager pay. He told his children that he hoped that his marriage to Louisa would make him a less desirable candidate in the eyes of the church, but in the end he could not escape the duty that he saw before him.

According to the policy at the time in the German Methodist Episcopal Church, Friedrich did not stay long in any one charge. The list of his appointments in the newspaper article certainly underscores this feature of his family's life. Because he and his brothers moved so frequently, it has been difficult for me to trace their wanderings with great accuracy. Often a single charge might involve being a pastor to more than one community at a time – some of them rather established and others barely getting started, all in a circuit which might take days of rough travel to complete. Friedrich, in his letter to this children, spoke of these difficulties and acknowledged the tremendous hardship which Louisa endured as his wife. Maybe those experiences partly explain the dour expression on their faces in the photograph.

The Life of Women

As difficult as it is to find reliable material on the inner lives of the men in this branch of the Fiegenbaum family, it is even more frustrating to learn about the women. You may have noticed that this account of the celebration of 50 years of marriage is subtitled Rev. Frederick Fiegenbaum and Wife… and is focused mainly on Friedrich's experiences. There is a very small paragraph which reports Louisa's date and place of birth and then passing mention of generally where she lived during the first nineteen years of her life until her marriage. Her parents are never named. Only two of her eight siblings are mentioned, and the author of the article cannot decide whether the sister's married name was Mary Wagner or Waggoner.

What was it like to be the mother of ten children in the middle of the 19th century, the first born when you are 20 years old and the last when you are 37 years old? What was it like to raise a family on the wages of an itinerant minister?

This time back to Freeport, Illinois.  A place where the P. E. [Presiding Elder] said nobody wanted to go.  Yes, it was a hard place.  No house to live in could be found that suited.  There were four appointments on this circuit.  But even here we had our success.  One time when I came home, Mama set the table and put on what she had -- dry bread and black coffee.  I looked at it and said, "Is that all you got?"  "Yes," she said, "all."  Well, I told the members if they did not do better in our support, I'd go and work on the street; I could not, would not, see my family starve.  Then they did better. O, what hardships we went through, God only knows.

What was it like to pack up a household and move every two years?

Well, from here we again crossed the state of Illinois in the fall of 1855 with a horse and buggy.  The baby Adolph had the chills every day on his mother's lap.  We started Monday morning and the next Friday we got to Galena, Illinois where my brother Henry lived.  I left my wife and children and proceeded to Dubuque, Iowa where I found my appointment ten miles west Charles Mount Circuit.  Preached Sunday, then on Monday I went back to Galena and got my family.  We found a log church and a log parsonage with two rooms.  Glad to find that.

Yes, dour faces indeed!

Friedrich and Louisa's Children

This article states that Friedrich and Louisa were the parents of nine children: "three girls and six boys, all of whom are magnificent types of the true, high-minded, honorable, clean citizenship." A little later the author wrote: "Their life has been peculiarly blessed. Not a death has broken the circle of their immediate family."

In fact, ten children were born to Friedrich and Louisa. Not included in the count of the anniversary celebration is their third child, Louis Fiegenbaum, born on 6 September 1856 in Dubuque County, Iowa. He died 6 days later.

Friedrich wrote about this time in his life:

Here again a son was born to us, but died when but a few days old.  We buried him at Cincolo Mount, Iowa.  He was layed, his little body, and had an iron fence around his grave to protect it, and the infant spirit gone above where we will find him again.  At this time Mother suffered very much.  We had a bad house to live in.  While I was out collecting one morning for a new church, which I was building, a big shower came up.  O, how it did rain.  I was away from home about four miles, but hurried home as fast as my horse would take me.  I found Mama crying in bed.  I took my umbrella, held it over her to keep her dry, for it was raining on her.  Then I kindled a big fire.  The whole house was swimming with water.  God only saved her life, but she never recovered her usual health.  It was a hard time.  God only knows.  After our time, two years were up, we had to move again.

Friedrich identified the place as "Cincolo Mount, Iowa" and the newspaper article, in the list of stations which Friedrich served, called it "Chirls Mount, Ia." The correct name at the time was Sherrill's Mount. Now it is simply Sherrill, Iowa.

A transcription of the gravestones in the Sherrill Methodist Cemetery was compiled in October 2001 by Vicki and Tom Schlarman and is available on the Dubuque County Genealogy web site (updated 5 October 2004). Their work lists a Louis Fiegenbaum; son of Rev. F. and L. Fiegenbaum; died 12 September 1856, age 6 days. Louis was buried in the Sherrill, Dubuque County, Iowa Methodist Church cemetery - section A, row 5, stone 7. There is a photo and a transcription of the grave marker at the Iowa Gravestone Photo Project.

The other nine children who survived to celebrate their parents' wedding anniversary in 1902 and mentioned in this article were:


Some of the other guests mentioned by name in the article were:

More Information

Detailed genealogical information about nearly all of these people may be found in the genealogical database. The More Resources section, below, lists additional documents and photos which will also help to elaborate on these stories.

Brief Genealogy

Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum's family

Louisa Otto's family

Fiegenbaum - Otto family

More Resources