Archive for June 28th, 2018

Oral History: Personal Views about the Curtis Stephan Clan at Valpo

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Denunciations, smears and slander against the Stephan family name flowed from colony descendants as well. Some personal examples:
A son of a Theology professor at Valparaiso University (Valpo), a Lutheran related U. in Valpariaso IN, a student in my German class declared that I was “one of those Stephans.” Non-LCMS students in the room looked shocked.
I […]

A Brief Survey of Views on the Saxon Emigration, Part I

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Saxon Emigration in Historical Context

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

To understand Martin Stephan’s life and the SE story, we’ll first look at the web of historical/confessional/geographic/political conflagrations in Central Europe shaping German church history, the desire for religious freedom and the eventual founding of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS) .

Prelude: The Saxon Emigration of 1838

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Prelude: The Saxon Emigration of 1838 (SE)
The Saxon Immigration of 1838 presents a complex, fascinating, yet controversial chapter of German-American emigration. Martin Stephan was a powerful figure in the German Lutheran Church, leading over six hundred confessional Lutherans from Saxony to America. His wife Julia remained behind with seven daughters, while their only son Martin Jr. accompanied his father.
The leader of this emigration was Bishop Martin Stephan, my Great-great Grandfather What is my mission with this Reflections blog? To honor Bishop Martin Stephan’s contributions to the SE and rehabilitate his tarnished reputation. I base my conclusions on primary sources, research, family documents, travel, correspondence, and personal contacts.
The Saxons sailed in a fleet of five ships to New Orleans and on by steamer to St. Louis, landing in 1839. A few hundred Lutheran immigrants in New York and a smaller group led by a Pastor Karl Gruber joined them for a total of 900 souls.
The SE plan was launched by Great-great Grandfather in 1831. Seven years of intense and careful planning ensued. After sailing to America, Martin’s role ended with armed arrest on May 28, 1839, in his cabin near the Mississippi in Perry County, Missouri. Outside, an armed mob of hundreds stood encircled, demanding expulsion of their leader from the colony. Some of them, including children, filled the cabin to hear Attorney Carl Vehse, (a fellow passenger with Stephan), spew forth invectives upon the helpless and naked Bishop.
What followed were horrific acts of attempted murder, false accusations, injustice, removal of Stephan from his title as Bishop, and banishment from the SE colony. After Martin was rowed over the Mississippi, a new church body was formed on a rock of crime, contempt and lies.