5 January 2014

Rev. Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum

1821 — 1905

Biographical Material & Chronology

Experience of H. Fiegenbaum

I was born on the 18th of October, in the year 1820, in Westphalia, kingdom of Prussia, Germany.  In the year 1833 our family migrated to America, and about midsummer my parents with five children landed in New Orleans. 1   This was the year when the cholera raged with such violence, and scores fell victims to it every day.  A gracious Providence preserved our lives, and we took steamboat for St. Louis, which we reached in nine days.  We did not remain long in the city, but moved to the country, and settled seventy-five miles west of St. Louis, in St. Charles county, Missouri.  Here we were in an entire wilderness, on which account no one grieved more than my mother, as she had been converted in Germany, and was now deprived of Church privileges and Christian associations.

Here we lived five years without a church or preacher. 2   "Alas, children," said mother frequently, "we will all be heathens yet." We children found a manner of life according to our wishes.  Hunting, fishing, and roaming through the forests, was our employment whenever we found a leisure hour from our labors; but with all this our heavenly Father watched over us.  We had a pious mother.  The Sabbath day was not forgotten; for every Sunday we had to read our Bibles, and she made explanations to us of difficult passages.

I was sorry that we were deprived of schooling, but finally the time came when we were supplied with a preacher.  He came from Germany as a missionary to North America.  This man was an evangelical Lutheran, and in accordance with the wishes of my parents, I went to him for instruction in the doctrines of the Church, and was confirmed.  During the time I was receiving instruction I was awakened, and a few weeks afterward was converted, and felt myself one of the happiest beings on earth.  But being left to myself, and not properly understanding the nature of the blessing that I had experienced, nor knowing how to retain it, I fell into a state of indifference and hardness of heart, which continued for five years.  Yet God restrained me from outbreaking sins; and as I had, in my confirmation, renewed my baptismal vows and was now recognized as a communicant, I was appointed to an office in the Church; and thus I lived and labored within her pale, a backslider and a benighted sinner, till I was finally waked up through the preaching of Father Swahlen, who was the first German Methodist preacher we had ever seen. 3   He made application to preach in our church, and received permission to do so; but when we found that he was a Methodist the door of the church was closed against him by my colleagues, the trustees.  But as he made an appointment and could not get into the church, he took his stand by an old tree in front of it, and preached to the people.  His word was not lost upon us: he visited us in our houses, and had he not been a Methodist he would have been received as an angel of God.

I left this neighborhood and went to St. Louis, where I fell into bad company, and made rapid progress in a course of sin.  Yet I still went to Church, sometimes to one and then another, till finally I was told that my sister, who also was now living in the city, had joined the Methodists.  Through her I became acquainted with brother L. S. Jacoby, 4  and brother Casper Jost, under whose preaching I was again awakened and converted. 5 

It was a hard matter to get my consent to be a Methodist, and still harder for me to go the altar of prayer.  I was afraid that if I were converted among the Methodists at the altar of prayer I should have to shout; however, when the Lord granted me peace I forgot all this, and my Savior was my all, and in all.

In my early youth I frequently had strong desires to do something for the cause of God; especially at times when my mother talked to me about Jesus and heaven.  But this missionary spirit died in me when I came to America.  However, at my confirmation, this feeling - a desire to do something for the cause of God - was waked up anew in my heart, but I could see no way open for me to do any thing.

When I was converted in St. Louis, the impression again was strong on my mind that I ought to preach; and as I thought over this matter I became very much alarmed, for I now saw the responsibilities resting upon a minister of the Gospel, and the infinite value of an immortal soul.  Although the impression was strong on my mind, I felt disposed to shrink from the task.  After hesitating some time, and seriously reflecting on this subject, when the providence of God opened the way for me, I started in this great work.

In the fall of 1847 I was received into the Illinois conference, and from that day to this I have endeavored to publish the word of the Lord.  I thank God that I ever found the Methodist Church, and that she received me.  In this Church I hope to remain till the Lord shall call me home.

Source: Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, "Experience of H. Fiegenbaum" in Adam Miller, compiler, Experience of German Methodist Preachers, edited by D. W. Clark (Cincinnati: Methodist Book Concern, for the author, 1859); pages 368-371.

Notes to "Experience of H. Fiegenbaum"

  1. The dates which Heinrich provided in this autobiographical sketch for his birth and for the family's immigration to the USA do not match information found in other sources.

    According to family members living in Germany who have done research in the records of the evangelical church in northwestern Germany, Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, the son of Adolph Heinrich and Christine Elisabeth (Peterjohann) Fiegenbaum, was born on 15 October 1821 in the Hohe section of the village of Lengerich, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia (German: Provinz Westfalen, Königreich Prueßen). In fact, the first five of Adolph and Christine's children were born in Lengerich. The sixth and last child was born in Missouri.

    Primary and secondary sources fail to show unanimous agreement about the date of the family's migration from Germany. These accounts state that the event took place anytime between 1832 and 1834. Sorting through these contradictions is a complicated matter which I have undertaken at another place in this web site. At this point, it is sufficient to say that I believe the correct date must be 1834 and not 1833 as Heinrich has written. That the family arrived at New Orleans in midsummer and journeyed upriver to St. Louis is corroborated by other family accounts and Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum's sworn court testimony in 1838.

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  2. I am not able to explain why Heinrich writes that the family lived for five years without a church or preacher. His younger brother, Friedrich Wilhlem, made a similar claim. In an autobiographical letter to his children, Friedrich Wilhlem wrote that after settling on 40 acres of "congreß land" in St. Charles County, Missouri, there were no churches or schools within forty or fifty miles of their home. This was not true.

    At the village of Femme Osage, less than 5 miles (as the crow flies) from their farm on the 40 acres obtained through a federal land patent in 1840, German immigrants had founded in 1833 die deutsche evangelische Kirchegemeinde, the oldest German evangelical church west of the Mississippi River. This was one year before the Fiegenbaum-Peterjohann family emigrated from Germany. In fact, Heinrich Rudolph Fiegenbaum, their youngest brother and the last child born in the family, had his birth and baptism in 1837 recorded in the baptismal register of that very church, which is still in existence.

    Hermann Garlichs, the pastor at Femme Osage, also served the community of Holstein, in Warren County, less than 20 miles from Femme Osage by modern roads, where the German community established an evangelical church in 1839. When Heinrich Hermann's uncle, Johann Heinrich Fiegenbaum, immigrated to Missouri in 1841 with 13 members of his extended family, he settled just a few miles northeast of Holstein. As the church records show, the family was active in this congregation. Moreover, in 1844, Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum, father of both Heinrich and Friedrich, obtain a second federal land patent, this time for 81.47 acres located in the same neighborhood where his brother, Johann Heinrich Fiegenbaum, resided.

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  3. Johann Swahlen began his work in the Pinckney Mission (Warren County, Missouri) in 1841. The role of itinerant missionaries in the family's life in Missouri is also described in a similar essay written by Heinrich's brother, Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum, in an autobiographical sketch written by his sister, Marie Wilhelmine (Fiegenbaum) Winter, and in an article about the Fiegenbaums, published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1898.

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  4. Ludwig Sigismund Jacoby (1813–1874) was born in Altstrelitz, Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He wrote: I had the name of an evangelical Lutheran in Germany, for so testifies my certificate of baptism at least; but I had no idea of true Christianity, although a New Testament, which had been presented to me, was my continual companion. In 1839, a year after his arrival in the USA, Jacoby was introduced to Methodism at Cincinnati, Ohio, and joined the Church on the Monday before Christmas. He began his missionary work in St. Louis, Missouri in 1841, arriving in August with his wife and a five week old daughter. He was ordained a deacon at the conference in September. In 1849, he became the first missionary to Germany from the Methodist Episcopal Church  (See: "Experience of Ludwig S. Jacoby" in Adam Miller, compiler, Experience of German Methodist Preachers, edited by D. W. Clark (Cincinnati: Printed at the Methodist Book Concern for the author, 1859), pages 125-136.).

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  5. Casper Jost emigrated from Germany in 1840 and settled first in Cole County, Missouri. In 1844 he was received into the Missouri Conference of the German Methodist Episcopal Church; the South St. Louis mission was his first appointment. In September 1845 at the annual church conference at Springfield, Illinois, he was ordained a deacon and appointed to the North St. Louis station. He was ordained an elder in September 1846 and continued his work in St. Louis. In September 1847, Pastor Jost was appointed to the Milwaukee mission. Rev. Jost officiated at the marriage of Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum and Clara Catherine Kastenbudt at St. Louis, Missouri on 11 April 1897. By all accounts, the wedding occurred at the end of a regular Sunday worship service (read about their 50th wedding anniversary).

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The German Methodist Church [of Muscatine, Muscatine County, Iowa] was organized by Revs. Henry Fiegenbaum and John Plank.  During the years 1850, 1851 and 1852, the first house of worship was built, at the cost of $1,050.  The first Sabbath school included two teachers and eight scholars.  In 1871, the Church property was sold, and May 30, 1872, the corner-stone of the present church edifice was laid; the building was completed on the 25th of August, 1872, and dedicated to the service of the Trinity of Almighty God.  The cost of this church ws $7,000.  At first, Iowa City, Wapello, Wilton, and Illinois City were included in this mission, which places, however, all have regular independent organizations now.  Connected with this Church is a Sunday school, with an average attendance of 145 scholars and 20 teachers.  Rev. Phil. Kuhl is the present Presiding Elder, and Rev. Phil. Nauman, the Pastor.

Source: History of Muscatine County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, &c., Biographical Sketches of Citizens, War Record of Its Volunteers in the Late Rebellion, General and Local Statistics, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, History of the Northwest, History of Iowa, Map of Muscatine County, Constitution of the United States, Miscellaneous Matters, &c., &c. (Chicago, Illinois: Western Historical Company, 1879); page 527.

newspaper article about the celebration of Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum's eigtieth birthday

An Unusual Celebration

Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum of 1123 North Fifth street, celebrated his 80th birthday Wednesday night in a manner eminently appropriate to his profession.  He presided at the prayer meeting of the German M. E. Church, Third and Robidoux streets.  The church was well filled with members of the congregation, who showered their good wishes upon the aged man of God.  He has served as a minister of the German Methodist church for 53 years.

The oldest members of the congregation were present and spent the hour in prayer with the preacher.  Several were even older than the minister, one of the congregation, Mrs. Elizabeth Derach, being 83.  The young people were not lacking.  The members of the Epworth League of the church were present in a body.

Rev. Fiegenbaum, who is affectionately known by the people whom he has served so long as "Grandpa" Fiegenbaum, showed much of his old-time vigor in the pulpit.  He preached a short sermon, taking as his subject: "Thankfulness." Prayer by different persons in the congregation followed.  Then the pastor of the church, Rev. P. C. Schramm, arose and read Psalm 90:10:

"Ten days of our years are three score and ten; and if by reason of strength they be four score years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."

The pastor then spoke of the age of the minister and of the labors which he performed for his church and the cause of Christianity.  He then invited the congregation forward and before they left the church each member gave the hand of the veteran preacher a hearty Methodist shake.

A Remarkable Family

Rev. Mr. Fiegenbaum is a member of a remarkable family.  There are four brothers and two sisters, all of them living.  All the brothers are ministers and the sisters married ministers.  The members of the family are as follows: Henry Fiegenbaum, St. Joseph, 80 years old; William Fiegenbaum, Edwardsville, Ill., 78 years old; Mrs. C. Wellemeyer, Garner, Ia. 76 years old; Fred W. Fiegenbaum, Oregon, Mo., 73 years old; Mrs. Mina Winter, Omaha, Neb., 70 years old; Rudolph Fiegenbaum, Walla Walla, Wash., 68 years old.

As a boy 11 years of age Rev. Fiegenbaum came to this country from Germany, where he was born in the town of Ladbergen.  The family came to this country by way of New Orleans and settled in St. Charles county, this state.  There the vetern [sic] preacher grew to young manhood.  He often went hunting at what is now the site of Warrenton, Mo., where the leading western college of the German Methodists is located.  His first charge was at Muscotah [sic], Ill.  He preached in St. Paul and Minneapolis when the twin cities were mere trading posts and he rode a circuit in Wisconsin before there was a mile of railroad in the state.

Twelve years ago Rev. Fiegenbaum retired from work at a permanent charge, traveling hundreds of miles each year and assisting at revival meetings throughout this section.  He has lived in St. Joseph many years and is the oldest minister in the Nebraska conference of which the St. Joseph church is a member. -- Gazette-Herald, October 19, 1901.

Rev. Fiegenbaum was pastor in charge of the German M. E. church, of this city, for three years, serving here in 1872-3-4.  He has hundreds of friends in Holt and Nodaway counties, who hope that he will reach the five-score mark.  He has a daughter in this city, Mrs. Mina Curry.

Source: "An Unusual Celebration" in The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 25 October 1901; page 2, columns 3-4.

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

The original article in the newspaper appeared in a slightly different layout over two columns. The digital image presented here has been altered to conserve space.

A Family of Preachers

From The Kansas City (Mo.) Journal

The Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum of St. Joseph, who celebrated his eightieth birthday anniversary in appropriate manner recently, is a member of a somewhat remarkable family.  There are four brothers and two sisters.  The four men are German Methodist ministers, and the husbands of the two women are likewise engaged in pulpit work.  The youngest, Rudolph, is sixty-eight years old, while the eldest is Henry, to whom allusion was made above.  The latter is a veteran preacher.  He expounded the Gospel in Minneapolis and St. Paul when the twin cities were only trading posts, and he "rode a circuit" in Wisconsin when there was not a mile of railroad in the State.  Although now on the retired list, he is far from inactive, and not infrequently preaches a sermon or leads a meeting with much of his old-time vigor.

Source: "A Family of Preachers" in the New York Times, Sunday, 3 November 1901; page 22. Accessed through ProQuest Historical Newspapers [online database].

photographic portrait of Rev. Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum

Heinrich Fiegenbaum, viele Jahre der Nestor der West Deutschen Konferenz, wurde am 16. October 1821 zu Ladbergen, Westfalen, geboren.  Mit seinen Eltern kam er 1834 nach Ameika.  Er arbeitete auf dem Lande und dann als Fuhrmann in St. Louis.  Hier wurde er mit den Methodisten bekannt und kam 1845, nach heftigem Bußkampf, zum seligmachenden Glauben.  Er schloß sich sofort der Kirche an.  In 1847 trat er in den heiligen Ehestand mit Katharina Kastenbudt, die über 50 Jahre Freud' und Leid mit ihm teilte.  In 1848 trat er als Probegleid in die Rock River Konferenz ein und kam 1864 in die Südwestliche Deutsche und 1879 zur West Deutschen Konferenz.  Er stand 41 Jahre ununterbrochen in den aktiven Reihen und bediente folgende Gemeinden: Mascoutah, Ill., 1848 to 1850; Muscatine, Iowa, 1850-52; Galena, Ill., 1852-54; Iowa District 1854-1860; Burlingtion-Distrikt 1860-64; Pekin, Ill. 1864-67; Quincy, Ill., 1867-70; St. Joseph-Distrikt 1870 to 1872; Oregon, Mo., 1872-75; St. Joseph-Distrikt 1875-79; Missouri-District 1879-83; St. Joseph, Mo., 1883-86; Sedalia, Mo., 1886-89.  In 1889 trat er in de superannuierte Stellung ein, predigte aber in den folgenden 15 Jahren wohl über 500 mal.  Von den 41 Jahren seines aktiven Dienstes war er 20 Jahre lang ein Vorstehender Aeltester und war in diesem Amte, wie im Pastorat, sehr erfolgreich.  Er war ein geborener Führer, ein volkstümlicher und gewaltiger Kanzelredner.  Ohne das Vorrecht einer höheren Erziehung zu haben, hatte er es durch fleißiges Studium, gesunden Mutterwiß und eine seltene Beobachtungsgabe zu hoher Rednergabe gebracht.  Bei Auflebungsversammlungen war er besonders in seinem Element.  Das hohe Alter brachte ihm mancherlei Schwächen, aber er warf sein Bertrauen nicht weg.  "Jesus allein" war das Motto seiner letzten Tage.  So ist er am 13. Januar 1905 zu seiner wohlverdienten Ruhe eingegangen.  Die Gattin war ihm um einige Jahre vorausgeeilt.  Er hinterließ vier Töchter, die ihm im Glauben nachschauen.

The following is a translation.

Heinrich Fiegenbaum, many years the Nestor 1  of the West German Conference, was born on 16 October 1821 in Ladbergen, Westphalia.  He came to America with his parents in 1834.  He worked on the land and then as a carter in St. Louis.  Here he became acquainted with Methodism and in 1845, after a vigorous struggle for repentance, he achieved sanctifying faith.  He immediately joined the church.  In 1847, he entered into holy matrimony with Katharina Kastenbudt, who over 50 years shared joy and sorrow with him.  He joined the Rock River Conference as a probationary member in 1848; the Southwest German Conference in 1864; and the West German Conference in 1879.  He stood for 41 uninterrupted years in the active ranks and served the following congregations:  Mascoutah, Ill., 1848 to 1850; Muscatine, Iowa, 1850-52; Galena, Ill.,1852-54; Iowa District 1854-1860; Burlington District 1860-64; Pekin, Ill. 1864-1867; Quincy, Ill., 1867-70; St. Joseph District 1870 to 1872; Oregon, Mo., 1872-1875; St. Joseph District 1875-79; Missouri District 1879-83; St. Joseph, Mo., 1883-86; Sedalia, Mo., 1886-89.  In 1889 he entered into retirement, but in the following 15 years he preached well over 500 times.  For 20 of his 41 years of active service he was a presiding elder and was in this office, as in his pastorates, very successful.  He was a born leader, a popular and forceful preacher.  Without the privilege of a higher education, but through diligent study, robust common sense, and a rare power of observation, he cultivated an extraordinary oratorical gift.  In a joyous assembly, he was in his element.  His later years brought various infirmities, but he never lost his confidence.  "With Jesus alone" was his motto in the last days.  And thus on 13 January 1905 he entered into his well earned rest.  His wife had preceded him by a few years.  He was survived by four daughters who follow in his faith.

Source: Otto E. Kriege, Gustav Beker, Matthäus Herrmann, and T. L Körner, Souvenir der West Deutschen Konferenz der Bischöflichen Methodistenkirche (S.l.: the Conference, 1906); pages 236-237. Transcription and translation by J. Mark Fiegenbaum.

Notes to the Biographical Sketch

  1. In Greek mythology, Nestor was the king of Pylos. In Homer's Iliad, he was an elder statesman and a sage counselor to the Greeks at Troy – a "clear-voiced orator," a venerable and wise old man. The term is employed in this manner in other 19th century writings about respected leaders in the Methodist denomination.

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In 1845 Wilhelm Schreck developed a series of preaching posts in Galena, then the most important place in the Northwest, and the region around Dubuque and Sherrill.  Little colonies of Germans were scattered over the territory where immigrants had been drawn to the wheat fields.  Galena was a strategic post and became the first self-supporting post in Northwest.  From Galena, as a kind of Methodist headquarters in the open country, work expanded westward.  In 1848 Conrad Eisenmeyer arrived in Milwaukee as the first presiding elder to live in the Northwest.  On horseback he rode the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, preaching, converting, and organizing the advance.  Eisenmeyer was succeeded in 1850 by John Plank.  On his faithful horse "Jo" he rode from Pekin, Illinois, to St. Paul, Minnesota, building a flourishing circuit.  Plank was followed by a gifted preacher named Heinrich Fiegenbaum.  He was a wise counselor, capable administrator, and constructive evangelist.  The work in other sections of the new Conference was built by pioneers of the same type.

Source: Paul F. Douglass, The Story of German Methodism: Biography of an Immigrant Soul (New York: Methodist Book Concern, 1939); page 81.

Upon the proposal of Heinrich Fiegenbaum at a meeting in Quincy, Illinois, on April 14, 1864, steps were taken to purchase for $15,000 a 940-acre farm located in Warrenton, Missouri.  The program for the develpment of a children's home was a part of the plan for moving the German department of the school in Quincy to a location where an independent German educational program could be worked out.  The college, while a part of the twofold progam, was actually secondary in the minds of those interested in the whole project.  They wanted first of all an orphans' home.  The legislature chartered the institution under the name of Western Orphan Asylum and Educational Institute. .... In 1869 the name of the project was changed by amendment of the charter to Central Wesleyan College and Orphan Asylum.

Source: Paul F. Douglass, The Story of German Methodism: Biography of an Immigrant Soul (New York: Methodist Book Concern, 1939); page 179.

North German Conference

The process of the division of Conferences necessitated by the Westward expansion of the United States reached the Northwest German Conference nearly a decade later.  The German immigrants since 1850 had settled to a large extent along the fertile plains of the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers.  Societies were established by the circuit riders and from 1851 to 1861 all the German congregations in Minnesota were included on the St. Paul District.  Heinrich Fiegenbaum had to travel as presiding elder 400 miles by steamboat from Galena, Illinois, to visit the churches in Minnesota.  The area over which the churches were spread had become so vast that Methodism, still organizing its advances, saw the wisdom of establishing the North German Conference.  Divided from the Northwest German Conference, it included the territory covered by the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, and the northern part of Wisconsin.  The Conference organized itself at Minneapolis on October 12, 1887, with Bishop Fowler presiding.

Source: Paul F. Douglass, The Story of German Methodism: Biography of an Immigrant Soul (New York: Methodist Book Concern, 1939); page 88 (emphasis in the original).

The following newspaper article published in October 1881 about the dedication of a new German Methodist Episcopal church outside of Oregon, Holt County, Missouri, mentions a Rev. Fiegenbaum. An exact identification of this Fiegenbaum is not possible, but of the four brothers associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church at this time, I believe Rev. Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum is the most likely candidate.

In 1880, according to the U.S. census, he was living at nearby St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. It is very probable that he and his family were residents of that town from 1879 to 1886.

More importantly, from 1879 to 1883 Heinrich Hermann served as an elder in the Missouri District in the West German Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It would have been entirely appropriate and no doubt expected that a pastor in that position would have been present for the official opening of a new church virtually in his own back yard.

In any event, raising the funds to establish a new congregation, to build a new church building, to pay off debt, and to expand or refurbish an existing church would have been an all too familiar task for most pastors in the course of their careers with the M. E. Church during the 19th century. Putting the faithful on the spot, as this article illustrates, was probably a common technique.

The German M. E. Church Dedication.

The dedication of the M. E. Church, which took place Sunday, October 29th, about seven miles northeast of town, was a very interesting meeting.  The weather was favorable, consequently a large number of persons were present.  After an interesting sermon by Rev. Fiegenbaum, the church was dedicated in the usual form by Rev. Fiegenbaum, Herman and Klemer.  The liberality of some on this occasion was indeed praise worthy.  Below we give the amounts as subscribed before this meeting was held.

Here, the article listed the names of 41 donors who had subscribed amounts from $1 to $100. Among the names were "Minnie Fiegenbaum" ($1.00) and "J. Helwig" ($10.00).

Rev. Fiegenbaum then told them that there was yet three hundred dollars to be raised, and that he would allow them fifteen minutes to raise that amount.  While he was holding his watch waiting for the fifteen minutes to roll away and the money to roll in, the following persons responded:

Here, the article listed the names of 36 donors (many whose names were in the first list) who subscribed amounts from $1 to $25 plus one donor who gave 1 acre of land. Among the names were "Rev. Fiegenbaum" ($6.00), "Rev. Riemes" ($5.00) and "Rev. Seip" ($1.00).

Before some of the last amounts were subscribed, Geo. Meyer stated that he would make up the amount that was yet in arrears, which was $39.  The Germans have shown themselves to be an important factor in the development of Holt county interests.  They came here as a class with nothing but willing hands.  And now they can point with their pride to their farms, and to their churches where they worship God in their own mother tongue, and say these are monuments of industry.

Within a radais [sic] of a few miles in the said community, are two mills and three churches, which speaks well for the different farmers in that neighborhood.  Kev. [sic] Herman and others communicated these things to friends and relatives in the old country which resulted in bringing a number of families of wealth to our country within the last two years.  This proves that a word of encouragement to friends abroad, contradicting the false rumors afloat concerning one of the best States in the Union, would bring families of wealth and energp [sic], of all nationalities to our State.

Source: "The German M. E. Church Dedication" in The County Paper (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 11 November 1881; page 8, column 1.

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

Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum, of St. Joseph, came up and spent the national holiday with his daughter, Mrs. Mina Curry.  We were glad indeed to see him enjoying such good health, after having such a long and serious sick spell.  On Sunday he occupied the pulpit of the German M. E. church, and although nearly 83 years of age, he preached a powerful and vigorous sermon, on Faith Hope and Love.  From 1872, to 1875 inclusive he was the pastor of the German M. E. church here, and there were several of his old-time congregation present to hear him again.

Source: The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 10 July 1903; page 5, column 4.

Accessed through Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (The Library of Congress) in December 2011.

photographic portrait of Rev. Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum

Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum, for many years one of the leading and outstanding figures in the German work in the West, was born October 16, 1821, in Ladbergen, Westfalen, Germany.  He came to America with his parents in 1834.  In St. Louis he soon came in contact with the Methodists and under their preaching was converted and joined the church.  He married a Miss Kastenbund and for fifty years they lived happily together.  In 1845 he entered the ministry and was in active service for over forty-one years, twenty of which he was a presiding elder, preaching in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.  He was a born leader, a powerful preacher in both English and German.  He had but few school advantages, but was a wide reader and a good observer.  Two brothers were also ministers.  For fifteen years he was in the superannuated relation, yet in that time he preached over five hundred sermons.  He died January 13, 1905, in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Source: J. Sterling Morton and Albert Watkins, History of Nebraska From the Earliest Explorations of the Trans-Mississippi Region, revised and edited by Augustus O. Thomas, James A. Beattie, and Arthur C. Wakeley (Lincoln, Nebraska: Western Publishing and Engraving Company, 1918); page 782.

Downloadable Files


The following is part of the emerging portrait of Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum's life. As a circuit preacher and Presiding Elder in the German Methodist Episcopal Church in the USA, he and his family moved frequently throughout the middle western states. Accounts of his pastoral service are occassionally contradictory; a totally accurate timeline has eluded me.

19 December 1793
Heinrich Hermann's father, Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum, was born at Ladbergen, Grafschaft Tecklenburg (in northwestern Germany).
5 March 1797
Heinrich Hermann's mother, Christine Elisabeth Peterjohann, was born. The year of birth may also have been 1795 or 1796. The exact place is not known; either Ladbergen or Lengerich, Grafschaft Tecklenburg, (in northwestern Germany).
25 October 1820
Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum and Christine Elisabeth Peterjohann were married in the evangelical church at Ladbergen, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia. It appears that they settled in the Hohne section of nearby Lengerich, Christine's home town.
15 October 1821
A first child, a son, Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum, was born at Lengerich, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia. 1   In his adult years he was commonly referred to by his first given name - Heinrich or Henry. Five more children were born between 1824 and 1837.
9 December 1823
Clara Catharina Kastenbudt was born at Osnabrück, Kingdom of Hannover.

Heinrich was 13 years old when his father (age 40), his mother (age 37), and siblings (ages 9 years to about 9 months) emigrated from Lengerich, Kingdom of Prussia. In 1898, his brother, Hermann Wilhelm, recalled the event.

When our mother and father and their five children - Rudolph had not been born then - landed at New Orleans, we were penniless. Henry, the oldest, was 12 years old, and Minnie, the youngest, was only a baby.

The family is reported to have disembarked at New Orleans, Louisiana in late June 1834 and to have traveled up the Mississippi River by steamboat in nine days, arriving at St. Louis, Missouri about 3 or 4 July. 2 

The family appears to have settled initially in Femme Osage Township, St. Charles County, Missouri, however, the possibility that they lived just over the line in Charrette Township, Warren County can not be ruled out.

2 January 1837
A brother, Heinrich Rudolph, 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 most often known as H. R. or Rudolph.
2 April 1838
In St. Charles County Circuit Court, the father, Adolph Fiegenbaum declared his intention to become a citizen of the USA.
June 1840

The federal census of 1840 illustrates the difficulty of establishing where the Fiegenbaum-Peterjohann family resided during their early years in Missouri. The census provides the name of only the head of each household and then a count of the number of people of each sex in the household who fall into a range of ages. For example, the number of males less than 5 years of age; the number of males 5 years to less than 10 years of age; the number of males 10 years to less than 15 years of age; etc.

The census enumerated eight people living in the "A. Frigenbottom" household in Femme Osage Township, St. Charles County, Missouri.

The census also enumerated eight people living in the "Rudolph Feigenbaum" household in Charrette Township, Warren County, Missouri (in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article in 1898, Herman Wilhelm Fiegenbaum referred to his father as Rudolph).

In each enumeration, the total number of male and female members of the households was what would be expected based on information provided by other genealogical sources, but the distribution among age groups raises questions which have not yet been answered.

1 October 1840
Adolph Fiegenbaum obtained a federal land patent in St. Louis, Missouri for 40 acres of land in St. Charles County, east of the village of Femme Osage.
The extended family of one of Heinrich's uncles (his father's elder brother), Johann Heinrich Fiegenbaum, numbering a group of at least 13 people, emigrated from Ladbergen, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia. They landed at Baltimore, Maryland on 28 June 1841 and settled in the area of Hopewell and Holstein, in neighboring Warren County, Missouri (see the passenger list of the bark, Leontine).
1 August 1844
Heinrich's father obtained a federal land patent in St. Louis, Missouri for 81.47 acres of land in the area of Hopewell and Holstein, in neighboring Warren County, where his uncle's family had settled.

An article about the family in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1898 quoted Heinrich Hermann's brother, Rev. Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum:

Mother had in former years admonished us against the doctrine of the Methodists, but this preacher changed her mind. She embraced the creed, as did all of us, in brief time. That was in 1844....

Clara Catherine Kastenbudt (about 21 years old) emigrated to the USA, settling briefly in Cincinnati, Ohio before moving on to St. Louis, Missouri.

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. He was eventually converted to the German Methodist Episcopal Church. Clara Catharina Kastenbudt, his future wife, was converted at the same revival meeting.
11 April 1847
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum and Clara Catharina Kastenbudt were married at St. Louis, Missouri by Rev. Casper Jost following a regular Sunday service.
Heinrich was granted an exhortor's license by the German Methodist Episcopal Church.
Heinrich joined the Rock River (Illinois) Conference of the Church as a probationary member until Conference. He then served on the Belleville Circuit.
1848 – 1850
Heinrich served at Mascoutah, St. Clair County, Illinois.
22 August 1848
A son, Edward Henry, was born at Mascoutah, Illinois.
August 1850
The 1850 U.S. census counted "H. H. Fiegenbaum," a 29 year old Methodist minister and "Catharine Fiegenbaum," age 26, living in a household at Mascoutah, St. Clair County, Illinois. According to this census, there was no child in the home. A son who might have been Edward was also absent from subsequent censuses, which leads to the possibility that this child died at a very early age.
3 September 1850
A daughter, Anna Maria (known as Mary), was born at Mascoutah, Illinois.
1850 – 1852
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum was pastor at Muscatine, Muscatine County, Iowa.
1852 – 1854
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served at Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois.
31 October 1852
A daughter, Caroline Katherine (known by her nickname "Carrie,") was born at Galena, Illinois.
1854 – 1860
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served the Iowa District of the Church.
1 January 1855
A son, George Adolph, was born at Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois. As an adult, he was most often known as George.
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum was a Presiding Elder in the German Methodist Episcopal Church. His territory stretched from Galena, Illinois to St. Paul, Minnesota.
28 May 1857
A daughter, Anna Julia (known as Anna), was born at Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois.
30 August 1859
A daughter, Christina Wilhelmina ("Mina") was born at Galena, Illinois.
June 1860
The 1860 U.S. census found the Fiegenbaum-Kastenbudt family living in Ward 3 of Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The enumerator spelled the surname "Freigenbaum." The household consisted of H. Freigenbaum (age 38), a "Ger. M. E. Clergy;" Clara Freigenbaum (age 36); Mary A. Freigenbaum (age 9), attending school; Caroline Freigenbaum (age 7), attending school; Georg Freigenbaum (age 5); Julian [sic] Freigenbaum (age 3); Mena Freigenbaum (age 9 months); and, Ann Vogle (age 30), a house servant.
1860 – 1864
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served the Burlington (Iowa) District of the Church. He may have been a presiding elder for all or part of this time.
24 March 1862
A daughter, Lizette Clara, was born at Wapello, Louisa County, Iowa.
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum joined the Southwest German Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
1864 – 1867
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served at Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois.
8 November 1865
A son, Franz N., born at Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois.
22 February 1866
Son Franz N. Fiegenbaum died at Pekin, Illinois. He was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery (it later became part of Lakeside Cemetery, on Rte. 29, north of town).
1867 – 1870
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served at Quincy, Adams County, Illinois.

The 1870 U.S. census found the Fiegenbaum-Kastenbudt family twice. In May, the family was enumerated in Ward 3 of St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. The household consisted of Henry Feegenbaum [sic] (age 50), a minister; Clara Feegenbaum (age 47); Mary Feegenbaum (age 19); Carri Feegenbaum (age 17); George Feegenbaum (age 16); Anna Feegenbaum (age 13); Minnie Feegenbaum (age 11); Legette [sic] Feegenbaum (age 9); Louis Deitch (age 26), a dry goods merchant; and Mike Connelly (age 22), a clerk.

In July, a census enumerator found the family in Ward 2 of Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. The household consisted of Henry Fiegenbaum (age 50), clergyman of the Methodist church, and a citizen of the USA; Clara Fiegenbaum (age 46); Mary Fiegenbaum (age 20), blind; Carrie Fiegenbaum (age 17); George Fiegenbaum (age 15); Anna Fiegenbaum (age 13); Minnie Fiegenbaum (age 11); and Lizzetta Fiegenbaum (age 8).

1870 – 1872
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served the St. Joseph District of the Church. He was a presiding elder.
30 October 1873
Daughter Caroline Katherine Fiegenbaum married Johann Carl Conrad Steinmetz at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
1872 – 1875
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served at Oregon, Holt County, Missouri.
1875 – 1879
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served the St. Joseph District of the Church.
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum joined the West German Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
1879 – 1883
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served the Missouri District of the Church.
June 1880
According to the 1880 U.S. census, the Fiegenbaum-Kastenbudt household on 4th Street at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, consisted of Henry Fiegenbaum (age 60), a minister; Clara (age 56), keeping house; Mary (age 29), daughter; George (age 25), son, a doctor; Annie (age 23), daughter; Minnie (age 20), daughter; and Lizzette (age 18), daughter.
20 October 1880
Son George Adolph Fiegenbaum married Anna Birdsall Bradrick at Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa.
14 September 1881
Daughter Lizette Fiegenbaum married Frederick Neudorff at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
1883 – 1886
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
18 February 1885
Daughter Christina Wilhelmina Fiegenbaum married Thomas Curry at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
1886 – 1889
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum served at Sedalia, Pettis County, Missouri.
Failing health while at Sedalia caused Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum to retire from active service in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He returned to St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
6 February 1892
Daughter Lizette Clara (Fiegenbaum) Neudorff died at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
27 April 1896
Son Dr. George Adolph Fiegenbaum died at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. He was buried in Ashland Cemetery at St. Joseph.
11 April 1897
At St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, Heinrich Hermann and Clara Catherine (Kastenbudt) Fiegenbaum celebrated their golden wedding anniversary (see a photo and read an account.)
2 September 1897
Clara Catherine (Kastenbudt) Fiegenbaum died at home at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
4 September 1987
Clara's funeral. She was buried in Ashland Cemetery at St. Joseph, Missouri.
June 1900

According to the 1900 U.S. census, the household at 1123 North 5th Street, St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, consisted of Henry Fiegenbaum (age 78), a widower and a minister; Anna Fiegenbaum (age 49), daughter; Julia Fiegenbaum (age 43), daughter; and Henry Fiegenbaum (age 32), nephew; and Mary Fiegenbaum (age 48), daughter.

This enumeration appears to have listed Anna Maria Fiegenbaum, born on 3 September 1850, as two separate people: Anna (age 49) and Mary (age 48). As an adult, she appears to have been known as Mary Fiegenbaum. About the age of 10, she had lost her eyesight.

The Julia Fiegenbaum, age 43, in the census, must be Anna Julia Fiegenbaum, born 28 May 1857. Often in her adult life she was known as Miss Anna Fiegenbaum.

The Henry Fiegenbaum identified in the census as a nephew is probably Heinrich Fiegenbaum (1868-1954), son of Heinrich Wilhelm and Louisa (Otto) Fiegenbaum.

13 January 1905
Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum died at home at St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
16 January 1905
Heinrich's funeral service at the German Methodist Episcopal Church on Monday afternoon, at 2:00 pm; Rev. G. Becker, officiated. He was buried in Ashland Cemetery at St. Joseph, Missouri.

Notes to the Chronology

  1. Many U.S. sources give Heinrich's place of birth as the village of Ladbergen. Researchers of church records in Germany report that the birth place was at nearby Lengerich. They note that the father, Adolph Heinrich Fiegenbaum, was born and raised at Ladbergen, but following his marriage to Christine Elisabeth Peterjohann, the couple moved to Lengerich, his wife's home town. The couple's first five children were born at Lengerich. The sixth and last child, Heinrich Rudolph, was born after the entire family had emigrated to 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 ).

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  2. See More Resources, below, for documentation. Of particular note: Adolph Fiegenbaum's Declaration of Intention; an autobiographical sketch "Experience of H. Fiegenbaum" (above); Friedrich Wilhelm Fiegenbaum's autobiographical statement; and, recollections from Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1898.

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Brief Genealogy

Heinrich Hermann Fiegenbaum's family

Clara Catherine Kastenbudt's family

Fiegenbaum - Kastenbudt family

More Resources