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Conrad Stuenkel in Illinois

 
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roger.pape
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:46 pm    Post subject: Conrad Stuenkel in Illinois Reply with quote

At St. Paul’s Lutheran Church’s 175th Anniversary Heritage Week celebration, the question was raised as to why Conrad lived in Illinois after his arrival in the U.S. Although there is no recorded information as to the exact location where he spent the years of 1838-9, one can speculate as to why he went to the area of southern Illinois at that time.

Conrad left a brief personal diary of his travels from Germany to his eventual arrival in Concordia in 1840. (See Conrad Stuenkel Personal Diary). Although the information he recorded is limited, the names, dates and places contained in it are consistent with other documentation and family history. The only information about his time in Illinois is that he went there in 1838 six weeks after arriving in St. Louis in the spring of 1838 and stayed there until Feb. 1840.

[Note. There was also a Friedrich Stuenkel family on the same Burmah voyage as Conrad. They were from Dudensen, Germany. This family settled in DuPage County, IL (northern Illinois, just west of Chicago). As far as can be determined, they were not related to him, at least not closely.]

First of all, one notes that he spent most of his adult life in Germany (until 1837, i.e. the year he emigrated to the U.S.) in the German army working as a blacksmith. Based on that fact, one can assume that he had relatively little money when he came to America and had to find work quickly to support himself. He notes that on arrival in the U.S. he stayed in New York City from September 1837 to March 1838. He worked in NYC during that period, possibly as a blacksmith since that was his background.

Conrad does not mention how he traveled to St. Louis in the spring of 1838, but it was most likely by boat, via the Hudson River, Erie Canal, Lake Erie, and Ohio River since that was the most economical and convenient means at that time (about a five week trip). Upon arrival in St. Louis, he again had to look for work. He wanted to be a farmer. On the Burmah passenger list, he declared that he was a farmer even though he had little if any experience farming. To find a farming job, he had to travel outside of St. Louis instead of staying in the city as many of the immigrants who arrived there did. Since Missouri was still in the early stages of development at that time, it may have been difficult to find employment on a farm there. Because Illinois had been developed earlier, it is reasonable that he would travel across the Mississippi River to look for employment there. So he went to southern Illinois and did found a farming job in that area.

One of the questions that is not answered by his diary is how and when he met his future wife Marie Gerberding. In any event, he traveled back to St. Louis by Feb. 1840 to marry her there. They were married by George Wendelin Wall, pastor of the Holy Ghost German Protestant Church (see the marriage certificate in the posting at Johann Heinrich Bruns Family Immigration). [Footnote. Most of the early German Lutherans appear to have worshiped at Holy Ghost Church. The Saxons had arrived in St. Louis in 1939 but were not well established in the German community at that time. The main body of them soon moved to the colony they established in Perry County, although about 120 of them remained in St. Louis. Trinity, the first Lutheran congregation in St. Louis, was formed in 1839 but they initially worshiped in Christ Episcopal Church until they built their historic church on Lombard Street in 1842.]

Notice on Conrad and Marie's marriage certiificate that the two witnesses to the marriage were both named Heinrich Bruns. Conrad had a brother-in-law Heinrich David Bruns as well another acquaintance Johann “Heinrich” Bruns both of whom had just arrived in St. Louis at that time. So either or both of them were probably these witnesses. Conrad and Marie moved to Concordia shortly after the wedding because he had enough money by then to buy the inexpensive government land and knew the people there. He may have traveled with Johann “Heinrich” Bruns because they purchased adjacent land in the Concordia area about the same time.
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