2 January 2012

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Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum

1830 — 1914


Death of Rev. Fiegenbaum.

Rev. Frederick Fiegenbaum, the last of four brothers, all of whom were pioneer German Methodist preachers in the central and western states, died Saturday, Feb. 28, 1914, at Wathena, Kas., where he had lived ten years.

He was pastor of the Oregon German M. E. church during the years 1892-96, and was an uncle of Mrs. Tom Curry, of this city.

Rev. Fiegenbaum was nearly 84 years old, and all of the brothers attained about the same age, and were active in the pulpit until within a few years of their deaths.  Not only were the brothers Methodist preachers, but their two sisters, who survive, married preachers, one a regular pastor, and the other a local preacher of the Methodist church.  The family is widely known in German Methodism in this country.

Rev. Frederick Fiegenbaum was born in Ladbergen, Germany, April 10, 1830.  He came to America in 1832 with his parents, Adolph and Christine Fiegenbaum, and settled in Warren county, Missouri, where he grew to manhood.  His early years were spent on the farm.  Then he went to St. Louis, where his older brothers and sisters had found employment for him.  With them he was brought into contact with a German Methodist revival, and after being converted he felt the call to the ministry, as his two older brothers were.

Rev. Fiegenbaum had charges in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.  There being no German conference when he entered the ministry, he joined the Rock River conference, then later the Southwest German, now the St. Louis conference, and from there he was transferred to the West Missouri conference.  His last charge was at Oregon, Mo., from where he moved to Wathena.  His wife, who was Miss Louise Otto, and to whom he was married at Wapello, Iowa, when he was 21 years old, died November 30, 1911.  The other brothers were Rev. William, Rev. H. R., and Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum, the last named for a number of years a resident of St. Joseph, died in that city, January 13, 1905.

Six sons and three daughters survive, as follows:  Adolph H., Washington, D. C.; Louis S. Lincoln, Neb.; Theodore J., Western, Neb.; Benjamin F., Lawrence, Kas.; Henry, Springfield, Neb.; Edward W., Geneva, Neb.; and Mrs. Matthew Sexauer, Ankeny, Iowa; Mrs. Jacob Miller, Wathena.  The sisters are:  Mrs. Elizabeth Wellmeyer [sic], Warrenton, Mo., age 86, and Mrs. Mina Winter, Casper, Wyo., aged 82.

The funeral was held at Wathena, Kas., Sunday, March 1, services being conducted from the home and from the Wathena German M. E. church, burial being at Wathena.

Mrs. Tom Curry, of this city, and Mrs. Carrie Steinmetz, of St. Joseph, who was here visiting, nieces of the deceased, attended the funeral.

Source: "Death of Rev. Fiegenbaum," in The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 6 March 1914; page 1, column 4.

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

The original article appeared in the newspaper as a single column. The digital image has been presented here in two columns to conserve space.

Notes to Obituary

Date of Death

This obituary stated that Rev. Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum died on Saturday, 28 February 1914. However other sources, including his gravestone, give the date as 27 February. The obituary also stated that he had lived for ten years in Wathena, Kansas. The same newspaper had reported on 17 October 1902 that "Rev. F. W. Fiegenbaum and wife removed to Wathena, Kas., this week, where they will make their future home."

Immigration to the U.S.A.

Friedrich actually emigrated from Lengerich (Kreis Tecklenburg), Kingdom of Prussia in 1834 with his parents and four brothers and sisters (ages 13 to about 1 year). The family is reported to have disembarked at New Orleans, Louisiana in late June 1834 and to have traveled up the Mississippi River, arriving at St. Louis, Missouri about 3 or 4 July. They appear to have settled initially in Femme Osage Township, St. Charles County, Missouri. They later moved to nearby Warren County, Missouri. By 1850, the parents and at least two sons still living at home - Friedrich Wilhelm and Heinrich Rudolph - had settled near Wapello, Louisa County, Iowa.


Friedrich wrote in his autobiographical letter to his children that he and Louisa Otto were married at Wapello, Iowa on 11 April 1852. This would have been just one day after Friedrich's 22nd birthday. Louisa, who was born at Hannover, Germany on 13 August 1832, would have been about 19 years and 8 months old. They became the parents of 10 children, one of whom died a few days after his birth.

In his autobiographical letter, Friedrich described the travails Louisa faced as the wife of a pastor in the German Methodist Episcopal Church. He told his children

All your training has been mostly in the hands of your mother.  What you are, you thank her for, and God.  I was always busy in the church work and its affairs.

Louisa died at Wathena, Kansas on 30 November 1911 and was buried there in Bellemont Cemetery. Friedrich was laid to rest beside her.

Service in the Church

As was typical for a minister in the German Methodist Episcopal Church, Friedrich served for no more than a few years at each of his appointments and many of those appointments involved responsibilities to multiple congregations. The Fiegenbaums moved frequently and widely through the central states, as a chronology of the family shows.

Friedrich's three brothers were also pastors in the German Methodist Episcopal Church and his two sisters were married to ministers in the same denomination. Like Friedrich, they and their families also traveled widely on church business. Some of the documents listed below deal with their histories. Take special note of Friedrich's autobiographical letter to his children in which he describes the struggles of his conversion to the Methodist faith and the difficulty of his service to the church. Genealogical data may be found in the family database.

Family Members

The obituary twice mentions Mrs. Tom Curry. This was Christina Wilhelmina Fiegenbaum, daughter of Friedrich's brother, Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, and his wife, Clara Catherine (Kastenbudt) Fiegenbaum. Christina Wilhelmina was married to Thomas Curry, a part-owner of The Holt County Sentinel, which published this obituary.

Mrs. Carrie Steinmetz, of St. Joseph was Caroline Katherine Fiegenbaum, another daughter of Heinrich Hermann and Clara Catherine (Kastenbudt) Fiegenbaum and the wife of Johann Carl Conrad Steinmetz.

Frederick William Fiegenbaum was born in Ladbergen, Prussia 10 April 1830.  His parents emigrated to the United States in 1834 and located in the neighborhood of Hopewell, Warren County, Missouri, which was his home until he was 21 years of age.  On 19 February 1846, while attending a quarterly meeting, he was converted and became a member of the Methodist-Episcopal Church.  The following morning he received a call to enter the ministry, but did not begin active work until the spring of 1853.  In 1852 he was married to Louisa Otto, who passed to her reward 30 November 1911.  Ten children were born to them, of whom one died in infancy.  Six sons and three daughters survive.  Mrs. Minnie Sexauer of Ankeny Iowa; A. H. Fiegenbaum of Washington D.C.; Mrs. Lydia M. Howard of Sac City, Iowa; Louis Fiegenbaum of Lincoln, Nebraska; Theodore Fiegenbaum of Western, Nebraska; Mrs. Emma Miller of Wathena, Kansas; Benjamin Fiegenbaum of Lawrence, Kansas; Henry Fiegenbaum of Springfield, Nebraska and William Edward Fiegenbaum of Geneva, Nebraska.  He was superanuated in 1895 and lived in Oregon, Missouri until 1902 when he and his wife moved to Wathena.  After the death of Mrs. Fiegenbaum, he visited among the children, and in September he came to the home of his daughter, Mrs. Emma Miller.  His strength was failing at this time and grew weaker until he finally passed peacefully to his reward 27 February 1914, aged 83 years, 10 months and 17 days.  Father Fiegenbaum's presence in the community will be greatly missed.  Those who knew him well, even the child on the street, always had a word and a smile from him; he was staunch, and loyal to the last for right and truth, especially anxious always for the upbuilding of the church in the community in which he lived.  He never missed going to all the services in the town, when he was able, and was especially strong in his belief that the children had an important part in the church as in the family.  The bereaved family will always remember his anxiety and loving thoughtfulness for each alike, and may the Spirit of our Christ, who was Father Fiegenbaum's guide, in all things be ours.  The funeral was held Sunday at 2:00 p.m. from the house to the German M. E. Church. Rev.  E. Crepin and Rev. J. H. Bishop preached in English and Rev. Buechner of St. Joseph in German.  Burial was in Bellemont Cemetery by the side of his life's companion, all the children being present.  Other relatives in attendance were: Miss Anna Fiegenbaum, Mrs. Steinmetz, both of St. Joseph, Missouri; Mrs. Tom Curry of Oregon, Missouri and Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Winter of Topeka, Kansas.

Source: Obituary from an unidentified newspaper; possibly published in or near Wathena, Kansas. Transcription courtesy of Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts.

Brief Genealogy

Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum's family

Louisa Otto's family

Fiegenbaum - Otto family

More Resources