Pieces of Our Past

May 26, 2012

Artifact: Rev. August Friedrich Craemer’s Marriage Certificate

Size: roughly 8 x 10 inches

Date: 1845

Significance: May 26 marks the bicentennial of the birth of August Friedrich Craemer (pictured right), one of the founding pastors of the Missouri Synod and head of the Synod’s practical seminary from 1850 to 1891.
He met his wife, Dorothea Benthien (pictured left), on the ship from Germany, and the couple married in New York soon after their arrival in America.

How they met: In 1845 August Craemer embarked on the ship that not only carried him to his calling in America but also pointed him to his future wife. Craemer was the leader and pastor of  group of Franconian immigrants
who were traveling to America in order to bring the Gospel to Native Americans. He had been prepared and sent by Wilhelm Löhe of Neuendettelsau. Dorothea Benthien, on the other hand, was traveling from Hanover with her young son, Heinrich, and accompanying her brother and his family to Fort Wayne, Indiana. These two groups happened to be traveling on the same ship, and the captain saw fit to put both groups of German Lutherans together for the journey. When a smallpox outbreak afflicted the passengers, Dorothea cared for many of the ill and dying. This fearless care and tireless work brought her to the attention of Craemer and his party. It seemed that Dorothea might make a good helpmeet for an immigrant pastor starting a new colony and carrying out mission work to Native Americans.

First, Craemer asked whether she would like to be a missionary helper instead of heading to Fort Wayne as planned. When she responded affirmatively to that question, Craemer asked for her hand in marriage, and the two wasted no time before starting their lives together. As soon as they arrived in New York, they were married at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church by Pastor Stohlmann. The new family then continued on with the rest of the Franconian immigrants to their final destination: Michigan. The Craemers went on to have a long marriage, spending nearly 40 years together and raising seven children to adulthood. (The image at right is from a tintype of an older Pastor and Mrs. Craemer.

Translation of the certificate:

Excerpt from the church book of the “United German Evangelical Lutheran Church in New York.” [Saint Matthew Lutheran Church]

This certifies that August Friedrich Craemer, a single man,
born at Kleinlangheim, Lower Franconia, Bavaria,
and Doris Benthien, a maiden,
from Achim, near Bremen,
were united in marriage on the 10th of June 1845 by the pastor
of the above named congregation, attested by
the seal of the church and his signature below.

Witnesses were: Johann Fr. Carl Lochner, from Nürnberg;
Heinrich Benthien, from Achim, near Bremen.
New York, the 11th of June 1845.
Carl Fr. E. Stohlmann, Pastor
[seal]

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