- Collection Number: M-0017
- Collection Size: 14.2 linear feet
Christian Philipp Koehler (1828-1895)
Rev. Christian Philipp Koehler was born on 8 October 1828 in Neuwied2 on the river Rhine, state of Rhineland Palatinate in Germany. He was the son of a brocade linen weaver in a home industry at this time. He was trained by his father to become a brocade linen weaver also, but he was an unwilling apprentice with a native and trained sense of precision. At the age of 18 he applied for admission to Barmer Missionshaus, a mission society, where he was accepted and entered on 1 January 1847. For unknown reasons he had to leave this school the same year but later returned, only to leave again in May 1848. He graduated from the Barmer Missionshaus in 1854.
C. P. Koehler emigrated to America in 1854 as Sendbote der Langenberger Gesellschaft, a Confessionalist emissary of the Langenberger Mission Association.
Following his first call C. P. Koehler moved to Addison, Wisconsin, on 6 June 1855. There he married his fiancee, Apollonia Schick (b. 23 August 1829), whom he had known in Germany, on 20 June 1855.
Other Wisconsin parishes he served as a pastor were Barton (starting 6 June 1855); Washington County in 1857; Nenno, Washington County, in 1858; and First German Lutheran Church in Manitowoc from 1 September 1858 to 1867. He resigned his Manitowoc pastorate due to a throat disorder. From 1867 until his death in 1895 he served Bethany Lutheran Church in Hustisford.
On 23 July 1863, when the Wisconsin Synod was 13 years old, C. P. Koehler declared in a formal communiqué to his synodical superior that he was determined to leave the synod because of differences with the synod’s founder. This statement refers to Koehler’s judgment: “Muehlhaeuser with his crooked ways” (“Muehlhaeuser: mit seinen krummen Wegen”).
Christian Koehler was drafted into the Union Army in 1863 but after his departure was exempted from service. He became a U.S. citizen on 2 October 1882. In 1895 he was injured and contracted blood poisoning, which subsequently was the cause of his death on 3 or 4 September 1895.
Johann Philipp Koehler (1859-1951)
Johann Philipp Koehler was born on 17 January 1859 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He studied at Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin, and at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, where he graduated in 1880. After assisting his father as a vicar in Hustisford, Wisconsin, he served from 1882 to 1888 as a pastor of St. Johannes in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. There he designed the new brick church, modeled after a miniature Gothic cathedral, which was completed in 1890.
Northwestern College (Watertown, WI) called J.P. Koehler as a professor of history, penmanship, Latin and as dean. In 1900 he accepted the chair of the New Testament exegesis, church history, hermeneutics, liturgies and church music at the theological seminary of the Wisconsin Synod in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He served as president of the seminary from 1920 to 1930.
J.P. Koehler has been considered a highly original theologian and historian, distinguishing himself in many fields. It is especially noteworthy to mention his broad sense of church history as comprehending everything as it unfolds in Christ alone (Eph. 1:10). He taught the American Lutheran Synod’s history of the church in the total context of world history and gave special attention to music, literature, art and architecture. This resulted in works like Das Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte (1917); History of the Wisconsin Synod, 1925; Der Brief Pauli an die Galater, 1910; and Interpretation of the Gospel of John, The First Epistle of John, Epheserbrief, etc.
J.P. Koehler was also an accomplished artist. His father taught him the elements of watercolor at the age of five. During his vicarage he studied under three German master oil painters in Milwaukee. Sixty of his paintings have been reproduced in color, including “The Twelve Year Old Jesus,” “Christ in Gethsemane” and “The Crucifixion,” all with the classic palette of lamp black, flake white, yellow ochre, vermilion. In later life he regretted not using bright rainbow colors.
In 1930 he was ousted from his professorship as a result of his colleague August Pieper’s agitation, resulting in the Protes’tant Controversy (1929-the present). He retired in Neillsville, Wisconsin, where he lived until his death on 30 September 1951.
Karl Koehler (1885-1948)
Karl Koehler was born in 1885 in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. He was the elder son of Johann Philipp Koehler, who was pastor at St. Johannes Kirche in the same town (1882-1888).
He attended the parochial school in Watertown and was confirmed there. In 1903 Karl graduated from Northwestern College (Watertown, Wisconsin) and from the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) in 1908. He taught at the newly founded Milwaukee Lutheran High School from 1904 to 1906 while attending the seminary, at the insistence of Professor August Pieper.
Karl Koehler audited several courses at Concordia Seminary under various professors there (Georg Stoeckhardt, W. H. T. Dau, etc.). He also audited lectures at Gettysburg Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; at Mount Airy Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; at Capitol Seminary, Columbus, Ohio (Lenski’s lectures); at Wartburg Seminary (Michael Reu’s lectures); and at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. In addition, he studied thermodynamics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Karl worked as a feature writer for two years for the Milwaukee Journal, probably between his attendance at Northwestern College and the seminary (1903-1905). He also wrote for the Chicago Abendschule. From 1909 to 1916 he was pastor in Kingston, Wisconsin. From 1916 to 1917 he edited his father’s Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte for publication on 31 October 1917, the four-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.
Karl taught at five Synodical schools: Milwaukee Lutheran High School; Michigan Lutheran Seminary (Saginaw, Michigan), a Wisconsin Synod preparatory high school; Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minnesota (until its closure in bankruptcy at 1919); Dr. Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota; and Northwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin, where he also taught Latin, history and English from 1921 to 1924.
In the company of August Pieper, Koehler traveled to Germany in 1921 before his Northwestern tenure. He resigned his professorship at Northwestern College in 1924 when the college board re-enrolled dismissed student thieves over the heads of the faculty.
He designed and built churches in Minocqua, Wisconsin (1924-1925); Mishicot, Wisconsin (1925-1927); and Glendale, Arizona (1927-1929). The latter place was a complex comprising a church, school and parsonage. He built a home for his parents, his sister Ada and himself in Neillsville, Wisconsin (1935-1938), called “The Manse.”
Karl was called as editor of Faith-Life in 1929 and continued in that office until his death in 1948. His chief literary works include Old Testament Bible Study Outlines (5 volumes); Interpretation of Habakkuk; translation and revision, and completion of The History of the Wisconsin Synod, published in 1925. He died of cancer and a stroke three years before his father in May 1948.
Kurt Koehler (1894-1965)
Kurt Koehler was born in Watertown, Wisconsin, in 1894 as the second living son of J. P. Koehler, one of 10 children. He graduated from Northwestern College in 1915 and from the Wauwatosa Seminary in 1918. Following this he studied under Edgar J. Goodspeed at the University of Chicago from 1918 to 1919. He held pastorates in Omak, Washington (1920-1922); Mansfield, Washington (1922-1924); Palouse, Washington (1925-1926); Princeton, Illinois (1930-1932). Kurt also accompanied his father to Europe from March to December 1924. Among his unpublished work is: “Exposition of Jude.” He died in 1965.
Scope and Content Note
The Koehler family collection contains principally the papers of four people. The first major part comprises the papers of Christian Philipp Koehler (1828-1895). By far the largest part of the collection belongs to C. P. Koehler’s son, Johann Philipp Koehler (1859-1951); this part also includes related papers of the Protes’tant Conference. The third and fourth are the smaller units of the collection. They include diverse documents of Karl Koehler (1885- 1948) and Kurt Koehler (1894-1965), J. P. Koehler’s sons. The description of the four individual collections is combined and will follow this general explanation. A variety of translations of Koehler material was compiled by Rev. Philemon Hensel and is interfiled with the original material.
Christian Philipp Koehler
Christian Philipp Koehler’s (CPK) papers range from 1854 to 1895. The correspondence is filed in chronological order; all other documents are arranged alphabetically. In the final folder (f.514) of this collection are two lists of correspondence prepared by Rev. Philemon Hensel. One contains a synopsis of various correspondence to and from C.P. Koehler. The time frame of this list ranges from 1857 to 1887. The second is a chronological listing of letters and the persons to whom they were sent.
The sermons are generally arranged by books of the bible. The topical sermons and those not based on a particular text can be found at the end of the sermon section (f.14-39).
Johann Philipp Koehler
Johann Philipp Koehler’s (JPK) papers and documents are subdivided into the following series: Correspondence, Essays and Lectures, Writings, Sermons, Art and Miscellaneous; in addition there are documents of the Wauwatosa Seminary Faculty Controversy, various Controversy Case Documents, and the Protes’tant Conference Papers.
The Correspondence is filed in chronological order and is separated into Letters to JPK and Letters from JPK. The Letters to JPK are in chronological order Some letters found in the collection were not written by J. P. Koehler or addressed directly to him. It was assumed that these letters were forwarded to him and are filed in this section of the correspondence.
The folders containing the Letters from JPK are filed in alphabetical order by type of correspondence or by name of the correspondent. Due to the volume of correspondence between Missouri Synod (India) Missionary Kurt Zorn and J. P. Koehler, this exchange is filed separately (f.90-91). Correspondence that could be identified as being written by family members is also located in this section of the correspondence.
The Essays and Lectures of J. P. Koehler are arranged into four basic categories: exegetical, theological, topical and miscellaneous. Most of the essays are in German; the folder list provides a translation of the topic in italics. Each of the four categories is in alphabetical order. Manuscripts of four lectures and a variety of incomplete writings complete the series.
A major series in this collection is the Writings of J. P. Koehler. They are arranged into the research material for the History of the Wisconsin Synod (f.190-211), the manuscript and research papers of the publication “Retrospective” (f.212-218) and into a variety of short stories called novellas. A complete bibliography of all published works of J. P. Koehler was published in Faith-Life 63: No. 3 (May/June 1990) (available in libraries and in f.231).
There were fragments which could not be identified by title or date. These appear at the beginning of the Writings section .
The Sermons of J. P. Koehler are arranged according to biblical text. About 75 percent of the sermons include a biblical text; some sermons are clearly topical and are filed at the end of the sermon series.
The Miscellaneous series of the J. P. K. collection includes handwritten notebooks, books personally owned by him with marginalia, and a variety of material brought back from his trip to Europe in 1924. There is also a manuscript copy of the Black and Red, a publication produced at Watertown in 1870.
There are various pieces of music which he edited. Concordia Seminary’s musicologist Walter E. Buszin found that J. P. Koehler was the first American musicologist to edit professionally published Reformation and Baroque music like Perlen alter Kirchenmusik (1905) and Das Gemeindelied (1911).
There is another section of the Miscellaneous series located in folders 324 to 338. These folders are arranged in alphabetical order by type of material. There are newsclippings, student exams, and reports.
A very important part of the JPK collection is the Art series. It contains a large variety of unfinished sketches, drawing books, a multitude of art ideas that he collected and studied, and a number of unfinished paintings on canvas. The latter had numbers stamped on the back ascending from No.1394 on. These numbers were used in our inventory sheets.
Two photo albums containing 81/2-by-11 photographs of original paintings done by J. P. Koehler were collected from the owners by Rev. Philemon Hensel and added to the collection. Rev. Hensel also supplied slides of Koehler’s paintings with an accompanying a catalog (f.512-513). Another small photo album (f.321) shows pictures of J. P. Koehler’s life. Another grouping of Karl Koehler’s unidentified photographs, depicting St. Peter’s church in Mishicot, Wisconsin, during construction has been removed from an acidic photo album (f.323).
The last part of this collection contains the papers of the Wauwatosa Seminary Faculty Controversy, the Controversy Case Documents and the Protes’tant Conference Papers, which are all filed topically in alphabetical order. A major part of the Protes’tant Conference papers consists of correspondence ranging from 1908 to 1981, filed chronologically. A brief yet detailed history of the Protes’tant Conference written by Rev. Philemon Hensel appears in the last folder of the collection (f.514).
Two boxes of material originally placed with the Protes’tant Conference Papers contained mainly diaries and correspondence pertaining to Marcus O. Koch, a 1929 Wauwatosa seminary graduate who was denied a call because of his defense of J. P. Koehler. This material has been separated and is known as the Marcus O. Koch Collection.
Kurt Koehler’s (KUK) papers follow those of his father. They consist of three series: Correspondence, 1920-1969 (arranged chronologically); Sermons; and Writings. The sermons are filed in 13 separate folders but are not arranged in any specific order, since it was too difficult to identify the biblical text.
The last part of this collection contains the papers of Karl Koehler (KAK), the elder of the two sons. The majority of his lifetime correspondence was burned by his sister the day of his death (according to Rev. Hensel’s information). Some printed materials were removed and placed in the CHI library (for lists see f.502).
Karl’s materials are arranged in alphabetical order by type of document or by topic. The correspondence within three folders is in chronological order. The letters between Karl and his brother-in-law Rev. E. Arnold Sitz in Arizona are in a separate folder.
There are thirteen notebooks that Karl kept. The last one cannot be identified as one of the Koehler’s notebooks, according to Rev. Hensel.
The photographs include a variety of pictures, some of which were identifiable, the majority however, came from the postcard file. Since they could be clearly identified as photos, they were separated from the postcards.
Throughout the entire Koehler Family Collection is an array of picture postcards, the collecting of which seemed to be a family hobby. Though they are not limited to Karl as the collector, they are filed in his section, since most of them were found among his papers. The postcards usually depict cities and scenes in Germany from 1915 to 1925 (f.87, f.505-510). In addition there are 4″x31/4″ negatives, some of which are in very bad condition.
A total of 187 glass slides are in the Koehler Family Collection. The last two boxes of the collection hold five sets of glass lantern slides in two sizes: 4″x31/4″ and 5″x4″. The first set of slides had original numbers affixed to them; these numbers were copied and were used as the base to file all of the slides in the collection (#1-193).
The first set (#1-60) depicts mainly landscapes (in color), several black and white floor plans and different views of an extremely beautiful home, possibly the “Manse.” There is one broken slide and one unnumbered slide in this first set of 54 glass slides. Missing numbers in the sequence are: 4-11, 55-57 and 59. Duplicated numbers are: 17-18, 26 and 29. The second slides with these numbers are designated: 17A, 18A, 26A and 29A.
The second set (#61-97) are 5″x4″ slides. They primarily show different poses of an admirer and young friend of the Koehler family, Emmy Lochner, who died unexpectedly. J. P. Koehler’s funeral sermon for Lochner is included in the JPK Sermons section (f.245). There are some nature scenes in this slide set also.
The third set (#98-141) are 4″x31/4″ slides. They appear to be works by various artists.
The fourth set (#142-182) are 4″x31/4″ slides and is a complete series of slides to be used in presentation. Slides 142-151 are titles that are to be used throughout the series when presented. The slides depict the site, floor plans, street maps and building designs of the future seminary in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, as designed down to the doorknobs by the director, Prof. J. Ph. Koehler.
The final set of glass slides (#183-193) are 4″ x 31/4″ in size. Numbers 183-192 duplicate and add to the portraits of Emmy Lochner and another unidentified lady that are located in the second set of 5″x4″ slides. The final slide is another piece of artwork.
The collection includes a set of 59 plastic slides of J. P. Koehler’s paintings, prepared by Rev. Hensel. Two catalogs of the plastic slides accompany the slides.
The final folder in the collection contains a chronological letter index from J. P. Koehler and a detailed analysis of the history of the Protes’tant Conference written by Rev. Philemon Hensel. There are also other notes that Rev. Hensel made while working with the Koehler Collection.
The J. P. Koehler collection was stored until Karl’s death in May 1948 at The Manse, which is the house Karl built for his parents, his sister and himself. This residence is located in Neillsville, Wisconsin. The Koehler Papers were then transported to Kurt’s home in Rock Island, Illinois, until Kurt’s death in 1965. Kurt Koehler had sent two cartons to CHI in 1952 but never completed the transfer.
After Kurt’s death the remainder of the collection was transported to Dr. Marcus O. Koch’s home in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and remained there until his death in 1984. Both Kurt Koehler and Dr. Koch made many transcriptions of J. P. Koehler’s essays and letters. The collection was then transported to the tower storeroom of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Valders, Wisconsin, Rev. Paul Hensel’s (1916-1977) church.
In October 1994 the collection was removed from the tower and shipped to Concordia Historical Institute in 25 packing cases by Rev. Philemon Hensel.
Rev. Philemon. Hensel graduated from Concordia Seminary in 1951 and was ordained into the Missouri Synod ministry in October of that same year by the Manitoba-Saskatchewan District President, Leonard W. Koehler in Winkler, Manitoba, where Pastor Hensel served until 1953.
Rev. Hensel has been active in the Evangelical Lutheran ministry since 1951. He received his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1968 in Medieval Canon Law. He was asked by the Protes’tant Conference to accompany the Koehler collection to St. Lnuis. In the autumn of 1995 Rev. Hensel started, in painstaking work, to inventory, classify and arrange sheet by sheet the entire Koehler family collection. He has been financially supported by the Protes’tant Conference and his congregation Grace Evangelical Lutheran in Valders, Wisconsin. He came to St. Louis nine different times over three years, for a duration of 4 weeks each to complete this tremendous task.
Christian Philip Koehler
f.2: Certificate of Graduation
f.3: Correspondence originals
f.4: Correspondence transcriptions
f.5: Diary and Budget Book
f.6: Erinnerungen an meine Eltern by JPK
f.7: Instructions to Candidate C. P. Koehler
f.9: Lecture Notes – Jesuit Order and Life Insurance
f.10: Legal Documents
f.11: New Years Card to Parents
f.12: News clippings
f.13: Treasure Book
Johann Philipp Koehler
f.40-80: Correspondence to JPK (1885-1949)
f.81-92: Correspondence from JKP (1864-1948)
f.93-102: Essays (exegetical):
f.103-129: Essays (theological):
f.130-170: Essays (topical):
f.171-172: Essays (miscellaneous):
f.190-211: History of Wisconsin Synod:
f.231: Bibliography as published in Faith – Life
Miscellaneous Series (see also f.324-338)
f.262-264: Original Paintings
f.265: Black & Red Publication
f.266: JPK Book: Kirchengeschichte, Liturgik, Hermeneutik
f.267: JPK Book: Der Brief Pauli an die Galater
f.268-274: Europe Trip 1924:
f.275: JPK Album 1
f.276: JPK Album 2
f.277-282: JPK Music
Art Series (see also f.262-264, f.512-513)
f.299-320: Art Ideas
f.321: Photo Album
f.322: Photographs (1)
f.323: Photographs (2)
Miscellaneous Series – cont’d (see also f.252-282)
f.324: Confirmation Certificate
f.325: Convention Papers 1926 – Froehlich Referat
f.326: Gräbner Referat – Das Predigtamt
f.327: Minutes from Emmanuel Church Decotah Co & Biography of W. Thomson
f.328: Minutes of 1906 meeting with Ohio Synod Representatives
f.329: News clippings (1)
f.330: News clippings (2)
f.331: News clippings (3)
f.332: Notes on Duerer & Holbein
f.333: Polen Mission
f.334: Report of the Theological Seminar 1920-1921
f.335: Weltgeschichtstafel für Johannes Bading (World Chronology for Johannes Bading)
f.336: Student Examina
f.337: Various Memorabilia
f.338: Various Sermons by Kriterow
Wauwatosa Seminary Faculty Controversy Series
f.339: Essay Beleuchtung
f.340: Geschichte des Wortlautstreits
f.341: Henkel in meinen Handel mit dem Board
f.342: Miscellaneous Pamphlets
f.343: Program, Thiensville Seminary Opening 1929
f.344: Report on Board Meeting
f.345: Response to the Gutachten staff of the board
f.346: Response to Hoenecke’s Sermon: Suender Freue Dich)
f.347: Tiffs with August Pieper
Controversy Case Files Series
f.348: Character description w/witness Victor Otto, Oconomowoc Wisconsin
f.349: Cincinnati Case
f.350: Correspondence, general
f.351: Dr. H. Wente (NWC Prof.) Case
f.352: Exchange with A. Pieper
f.353: Foreign Cases
f.354: Ft. Atkinson Case: Elizabeth Reuter, Gerda Koch, 1925-26
f.355: Gutachten Case
f.356: Hass – Sauer Case 1928
f.357: Intersynodical Controversy Re: Predestination
f.358: Janke R.J.
f.359: Kiouka Case
f.360: Koch M., John J., vs. Pieper A. 1927-28
f.361: Koehler (Kurt) vs. Soll Fr.
f.362: Letter to Board of Control
f.363: Meyer F. vs. Pieper A.
f.364: Meyer F., Pieper A., Ruediger G., vs. Pieper A
f.365: Meyer (Fritz), Luther. School 1st Principal 1904-13
f.366: Milwaukee, Luth. High school – Student Wedekind case
f.367: Missouri Propaganda
f.368: Oconomowoc Case, congregation vs. Rev. W. P. Hass 1921
f.369: Protokoll des Allgem
f.370: Rev. Chr. Albrecht vs. Praeses Nommenson Case
f.371: River Forest Case, Feb. 1921
f.372: Ruediger Case 1921-27f.373: Various Documents
f.374: Verhandlungen des grossen Kommittees 29 May 1929
f.375: Wauwatosa Faculty Gutachten
Protes’tant Conference Series
f.376: Preliminary Notes on Protes’tant Conference
f.377: Big Commission, Protes’tant to Board, Ertrag
f.378-417: Correspondence (1908-1981)
f.418: Church Bulletins
f.419: Church & Conference folders
f.420: Financial Reports, 22 Aug 1953-5 Jan 1971
f.421: Hensel, Oswald
f.422: Hensel, Paul Gerhard
f.424: Koch, Hans
f.425: Minutes Nov 1953-Nov 1958
f.426: Pless, Joel
f.427: Protocoll, Synod. Meeting 5 Aug 1925
f.428: Protocoll, Wohltätigkeits Konference 1917
f.429: Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly
f.430: Call Document (KUK)
f.431-447: Correspondence (1919-1969)
f.473: Academic Reports
f.474: Biographical Material on various people
f.475: Biographical Sketch on his father f. JPK
f.476: Business Documents
f.477: Correspondence, 1909-1919
f.478: Correspondence, 1920-1926
f.479: Correspondence, 1927-1948
f.480: Correspondence, to and from A. Sitz
f.481: Diary 1910
f.482: Diary 1921
f.484: News clippings
f.499: Postcards (1)
f.500: Postcards (2)
f.501: Postcards (3)
f.502: Postcards (4)
f.503: Postcards (5)
f.504: Postcards (6)
f.506: Reply to the board position
f.507: Seminary Diploma
f.508: Sermon Outline
f.509: Songbook (Mimeographed)
f.510: Various Notes
f.511: Writings (misc.)
Philemon Hensel contributions
f.512: Slides Catalogues
f.514: Detailed Information
Glass slides: #1-#60 (set 1)
Glass slides: #61-#193 (sets 2-5)
C. P. Koehler – Correspondence
Series I from 1847-1887
1. Three books have been published dealing with or about J. P. Koehler and the Wauwatosa Theology
- John P. Koehler and the Wauwatosa Theology, 1964, by Leigh Donald Jordahl 1925
- The Wauwatosa Theology, 1997, Essays, ed. M. Weterhaus
- J. P. Koehler and his Exegetical Wauwatosa Theology, 1979 by Charles E. Werth
2. If you want to find Barmen on a 20th Century map you have to look for the city Wuppertal. In 1929 Wuppertal, Barmen, Langenberg and Elberfeld were combined into one political unit. They are located about 80 miles north of Neuwied and five miles east of the river Rhine.