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Walther, Otto Hermann (1809–1841), Papers (1828–1841)

  • Collection Number: M-0045
  • .67 cf : manuscripts

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Otto Hermann Walther was born on 23 September 1809 in Langenchursdorf, Saxony, where his father, Gottlob Heinrich Wilhelm Walther (1770–1841), was the pastor. O. H. Walther, who went by the name of Hermann, was the seventh child of twelve, and the third son. Since the first two sons died in infancy, Hermann was known as the elder Walther to distinguish him from his younger brother, Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (1811–1887). Hermann entered the University of Leipzig in 1828 to study theology and received his diploma on 26 March 1831. He took a position as a private tutor in Schneeberg and later in Klösterlein bei Aue. In 1834 he became a vicar to his father, passed his examination and was ordained and installed as pastor on 9 November. After years of soul searching and distress over his personal faith, his brother-in-law E. G. W. Keyl, who was a pastor in nearby Niederfrohna, and his younger brother, Ferdinand, directed Hermann to Pastor Martin Stephan in Dresden for spiritual counsel.

Hermann became an enthusiastic follower of Martin Stephan and became his right-hand man during the Saxon immigration of 1838/1839. He wrote the “Songs of the Exiles” (Exultantenlieder) for the immigrants to sing on their journey and dedicated them to Stephan, whom he accompanied on the Olbers. He was all in favor of promoting Stephan to the office of bishop and gave him absolute authority. The ship landed in New Orleans on 20 January 1839, and its passengers arrived in Saint Louis on 19 February. Hermann became the pastor of the largest group of immigrants that remained in Saint Louis when he was installed by G. H. Loeber on 9 June. When Stephan was removed from his office and the colony in Perry County, Hermann took is especially hard and sought to do nothing more than make a clear, public confession of their guilt. He was troubled by his participation in “Stephanism,” and it has been speculated that this weakened him to the point of death. He died of typhoid on 21 February 1841 at the age of 31.

Hermann married Agnes Ernestine Buenger on 15 November 1839. She was the sister of Johann Friedrich Buenger and Theodore Buenger and sister-in-law of Friedrich Lochner. Their son Johannes Walther was born on 1 October 1840. He also became a pastor and served congregations in the Missouri Synod. After Hermann died, his widow married Rev. Ottomar Fuerbringer on 18 October 1842. She bore five more children. She died in Frankenmuth in 1895, outliving her second husband by three years.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Otto Hermann Walther collection consists mainly of his sermons, along with his letters and personal documents, his poems and documents relating to the Saxon immigration of 1838–1839. Several of the documents survived a fire at Concordia Seminary, and the edged are burned and charred. This makes identification of these documents difficult. They have generally been placed in protective envelopes in the back of the folders.

The personal documents include Walther’s certificates of baptism and ordination, among other items. In the folder on “O. H. Walther and Stephanism” are his public confession of guilt (25 August 1840), a sermon by Stephan and Walther’s sermon on repentance from 25 November 1840. His pastoral documents include his Agende, or orders of service from 1839 to 1841 and some certificates for congregation members. Included in the documents regarding his death are a list of his estate drawn up by his wife and a letter and sketch. His biographies are largely those found in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly and Der Lutheraner, among other shorter papers and what appears to be a typed journal. The Bilder-Bibel ad was from his father’s desk. His Lebenslauf, or life-story, and his journal from 1834–1838 are in the same folder. Walther’s poems are arranged by the handwritten originals and printed poems (the Exultantenlieder are located in the printed folder). There are also several documents pertaining to Walther’s descendants in the family tree folder, and correspondence and donor info are found in the folder with documents regarding the O. H. Walther collection. All copies and transcriptions of the documents have been placed in the last four folders.

FOLDER LIST

Box 1

  • Personal Documents
  • O. H. Walther and Stephanism
  • Pastoral Documents
  • Documents re Death of Otto Hermann Walther
  • Original Correspondence, 1831–1840
  • Biographies
  • Bilder-Bibel Ad (contains handwritten note to O. H. Walther’s son by his mother)
  • Prayers [originals]
  • Lebenslauf and Journal, 1834–1838
  • Notes and Miscellaneous
  • Poems for Special Occasions (originals)
  • Poems for Special Occasions (printed)
  • Family Tree
  • Documents Pertaining to the O. H. Walther Collection
  • Sermons, 1828–1830
  • Sermons, 1831–1834

Box 2

  • Sermons, 1835
  • Sermons, 1836
  • Sermons, 1837–1838
  • Sermons, 1839
  • Sermons, 1840
  • Sermons, undated (1)
  • Sermons, undated (2)

DONOR INFORMATION

Assembled from various sources.

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