November 22, 2013


Artifact: Saint Anna Medal, Second Class

Saint Anna Medal
Saint Anna Medal ReverseDate:
circa 1828-29

Significance: This medal is one of three in the CHI collection given to Dr. Wilhelm Friedrich Abendroth by Emperor Nicholas I of Russia for heroic conduct. Abendroth was a German medical doctor who held positions in the mid-1800s as a military and royal physician. Nicholas I bestowed this medal upon Abendroth for personally giving medical aid to the emperor during a storm at sea while returning to Odessa following the Siege of Varna in 1828.

Saint George MedalSaint George Medal Reverse
About Abendroth and the Other Medals:
Wilhelm Abendroth was born on August 1, 1802, in Pirna (near Dresden). In 1827 he became the personal physician of the family of Russian General Leon Narischkin in Odessa, Russia (now Ukraine). He then served as a military doctor during the Siege of Varna (now in Bulgaria) in the summer of 1828 during the Russo-Turkish War. He received the silver war medal (left/right) with the orange and black St. George Ribbon for heroically carrying out his medical duties while under a hail of bullets. It was on the sea voyage following this siege when he cared for Emperor Nicholas I and received the Saint Anna medal mentioned above.

Alexander-Nevsky MedalAlexander-Nevsky Medal ReverseAbendroth remained in Odessa for another decade. In 1831 he married Mary Simpson, the daughter of a Scottish doctor serving in the imperial employ. At that time Abendroth was the chief physician of the nurse’s home at Odessa. He had the rank and title of Royal Court Counselor. The third medal (left/right) was awarded to Abendroth for his bravery during an outbreak of the bubonic plague in Odessa in 1837. This gold medal with the Alexander-Nevsky Ribbon was given by Nicholas I (note the initials of the emperor along with the imperial crown on one side). In 1839 Abendroth left Odessa and returned to Dresden. He died on July 13, 1863.

About the Abendroth/Lutheran Connection: These medals came into the CHI collection in the 1980s from the Naumann family, a name many will recognize as significant to American Lutheranism. Numerous family members have long played a large part within both the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods. Wilhelm Abendroth’s daughter Emily married Heinrich Naumann. Their daughter Johanna married Theodore Naether, one of the Missouri Synod’s first missionaries to India; their son George also served in India in the early 1900s as a missionary; their son Justus was president of the Minnesota Synod; and their grandson Oscar was president of the Wisconsin Synod, just to name a few. These three medals are extremely interesting in their own right, but their connection to the Naumann family gives the medals an additional significance as a part of CHI’s collection.

All photos were taken by Paul Naumann while examining the medals at CHI.

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