Monday, November 2, 2009

A Manuscript About J. George Weller

I recently received a manuscript (as a Microsoft Word document) titled An Afterglow of Yesterday, written by Clara Alvina Koenig in 1941. She was a granddaughter of Heinrich Herman Weller, who was the brother of Johann George Weller (J. George Weller), who in 1894 became the first director of the Evangelical Lutheran School Teachers Seminary, which eventually became Concordia University.

I received the manuscript from J. George Weller's great-grandson George Weller, who received it as a photocopy from his sister Marcia (Weller) Weinhold. She has sent me an e-mail in which she told how she herself obtained the manuscript:

I visited Seward once, in the late 80’s. The manuscript was not from the Concordia library (though I think they need a copy). However, it was a library worker who put me in touch with a relative of Clara Koenig’s (sorry, names escape me) who was working at the Cattle Bank (who could forget that name?) and met me for lunch. Another relative also came and brought her copy of the document.

She allowed me to borrow it and take it back to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Kinko’s required a letter of permission to copy before they would copy it for me. I made several copies, one of which I took to the Lake James cottage. [A member of the Weller family owns a cottage at Lake James, Indiana, which family members share and use as for vacations and reunions.]

I mailed the manuscript back to the Koenig relative who had lent me the manuscript. This same relative gave me Clara’s address in a nursing home. I sent her a card thanking her for writing down the stories. I received a nice reply from a caretaker indicating that Clara was not able to write back, but enjoyed the card (whatever that may have meant).

Aunt Dollie (Margaret) was still alive (which could date my trip...) when I brought the copy to Lake James, and reported that she and Mort (Martha) had stopped in Seward some years before and obtained a copy. She did not say from whom.

I also received a ride over to the former Weller home (where it had been moved) by a 90-some year old woman named Margaret. I remember her first name only because she was the name-sake of one of our Chicago cousins, one Margaret Kruse.

Some day I hope to find all the details of that trip (they were in a box under my bed in Kalamazoo, but I’ve moved twice since then.

In 1995-96 Marcia's brother George re-typed and polished the manuscipt, and he sent me an electronic version recently. He sent me also several genealogical descriptions of the the Weller family.

The manuscript begins with the immigration of a Prussian family, the Mailands, to the United States in 1832 and ends with the Missouri Synods decision to turn the seminary in Seward into a college in 1905. During the course of the manuscript, the developments of several German immigrant families -- the Wellers are only one of several -- are described. The entire manuscript is about 80 pages, and I will provide my electronic version to anyone who requests it.

In the following articles in this blog , I will excerpt some of the manuscript's passages that involve J. George Weller and his family.

J. George Weller's parents were Johann George Weller and Katerina Regina Meyer, who emigrated separately from Germany, met each other in New Orleans, Louisiana, and eventually married there in 1854.

The manuscript is confusing about their children, but it seems they had two daughters who died in infancy and then two sons who grew to adulthood. The older son was Johann George (born in 1860), who eventually became a Lutheran pastor and then the Concordia president. The younger son was Heinrich Herman (born in 1862), who eventually became a merchant.

The family moved from Louisiana to Indiana in about 1866. In 1873, when Johann George was 13 years old, he entered a preparatory school at Fort Wayne, Indiana, to obtain an education to become a Lutheran pastor.

Johann George moved from Indiana to Nebraska to begin working as a Lutheran pastor in about 1882. Eventually his brother Heinrich Herman and then their parents followed them to Nebraska, and they all settled in Staplehurst. In 1894, Johann George moved to Seward to begin teaching at Concordia, leaving his brother and parents in Staplehurst.

Johann George Weller had eleven children and his brother Heinrich Herman had nine children. There have been many grandchildren and further descendents, who have scattered all over the United States and beyond.

Ms. Koenig, at the beginning of her manuscript, credits her sources of information as follows:

I am indebted to the following persons, documents and periodicals, as sources of information:

Wilhelmina Mailand, the active little woman whose life spanned a period of ninety-six years, and whose memory was keen to the end of her days;

Katerina Weller, who lived with my grandparents for twenty-two years and was an invalid for more than half of that time;

W. C. Hartmann, better known as “Bill” both in the story and in everyday life;

James (or “Candy Jim”) Hartmann, the eldest son of Fred Hartmann;

Mrs. Charles Scheumann, whose maiden name was Alice Daehling;

Mr. AND Mrs. H. H. Weller, “Hank” and “Lisette” in the story;

Johann Georg Weller’S passport;

Henry and John Weller's baptismal certificates;

Friedrich Hartmann’s obituary;

James Hartmann’s affidavit of identity;

Alice Daehling’s baptismal certificate;

the Friedrich Scheumann family-record and a plushpicture album owned by Mrs “Bill” Scheumann;

the early church records of both Zion and Immanuel Congregation;

the anniversary editions of the Nebraska Farmer and of the Concordia Teachers College Broadcaster.

The Architecture of Homes by J. O. Shroyer, The Homes of Nebraska by Sol. Miller, and the four paragraphs of Pioneers of the Spiritual Trail by Dr. John W. Holland), which were copied from the December 1934 edition of the Nebraska Farmer by special permission of the McKelvie Publishing Company, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Information regarding Concordia Teachers College and the quotations from The Story of Concordia by H. O. A. Keinath, also The Reminiscences of the Senior Professor by H. B. Fehner, which were taken from the November 1934 Broadcaster by permission of Prof. Keinath, editor of the college paper (at that time) and historian of the institution.

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