Among the first acts of immigrants in the mid-19th century was usually to
establish churches in their native languages; these would become the focus
of their community life and would help them adjust to their new lives in
America. Collectively, the churches would help form a strong tradition of
church membership and a role of religion in American life that continues
The experience of Johann David Christian Rau, who emigrated in the
mid-1850s from Germany to central Missouri, is similar to that of many
19th century European immigrants, particularly those who moved to regions
where there were large numbers of their countrymen. This was certainly the
case in Missouri: the 1850s was the peak period of German immigration to
America (see timeline),
with 215,000 Germans arriving in 1854 alone. Many were attracted to
Missouri not only because of its rich farmland, but because many of their
countrymen were already there. Once established, the new German
communities soon founded churches and other civic institutions in their
Rau was a founding member of three successive Cooper County churches:
in Boonville, Clarks Fork, and Lone Elm. His son William Martin Rowe (the
surname now anglicized), who married Christine Anna Louise Toellner,
daughter of fellow German immigrants Christopher and Anna Timm
Töllner, would continue his father's activity in the Lone Elm and
Boonville congregations, as would his own children and grandchildren: the
Rau/Rowe family connection to the churches of their ancestors would
continue strongly into the third and fourth generations.
(L) The 02 January 1859 wedding photo of Johann David Christian Rau and
Rebekah Ann Goodman at the German Evangelical Church in Boonville, as
recorded in the Trau [Marriage] Register of the church Kirchenbuch.
(R) The 24 July 1901 wedding photo of William Martin and Christine
Anna Toellner Rowe, at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Lone Elm. William was the son of David and Rebecca Rowe (as their names
were now spelled) and Christine the daughter of Christopher and Anna K.
Toellner. (See the wedding news report.)
The Background of Johann David Rau in Germany
Johann David Christian Rau was born on 31 March 1834 in Rettert, Germany,
in the current Rhineland-Palatinate [Rheinland-Pfalz] region,
formerly a part of the Duchy
of Nassau. Rettert is roughly halfway between Koblenz to the
Northwest and Wiesbaden to the Southeast, in Germany's wine-producing
heartland roughly 20 kilometers east of the Rhine. Johann was oldest of
four children of the farmer and stonemason Georg Philipp Rau (born 17
December 1798 in Bettendorf), and his wife Anna Magdalina Bingel (born 20
May 1808 in Langschied), and was the only one to emigrate to America.
Johann's siblings [all born in Rettert] were Philipp Peter Rau (born 27
September 1835), Philipp Jacob Rau (born 12 June 1840) and Maria Caterina
Rau (born 08 November 1843).
Rettert and Bettendorf are ca. 3-4 kilometers apart, with Langschied ca.
8-10 kilometers southeast (the Rhine at Spay is ca. 20 km west of
Rettert). Until Johann Rau left for America, three generations of his
family had lived only a few kilometers apart.
(Image via Google Maps,
click to enlarge)
Johann's grandfather, the shepherd Johann Peter Rau (born 27 June 1766)
had been born in Bettendorf as well, as had his wife Elisabethe Catharina
Zimmer [or Zimmerman] (born 09 August 1766) and his older brother
Ferdinand Rau (born 31 March 1789).
The parents of Johann's paternal grandmother, Anna Magdalina Bingel
[Justus Anton Bingel, born 11 April 1786, and Elisabethe Margarethe
Brenser (or Brömsser or Brömser), born 11 December 1785] had
likewise been born in Langschied, as had Anna. Until Johann left for
America, at least three generations of his family on both sides had lived
within a radius of only a few kilometers.
This changed dramatically when Rau, at the age of 21, together with
several of his relatives, joined the wave of Germans who were leaving for
America. In the 1980s research of Dorothy 'Dotty' Rowe, wife
of Johann Rau's future youngest grandson Kenneth Christian Rowe,
Johann is thought to have arrived in the Port of New Orleans on January 26,
1855 aboard the S.S. Judith from Le Havre, being the 'Johann Rau' listed
in the ship's manifest. His obituary says he
remained in New Orleans 'a short time' before proceeding to Cooper County
to reside. Family narrative reports that after landing he was separated
from his relatives and never regained contact with them.
'Johann Rau' in the manifest of the SS Judith
[The Glazier-Filby Germans to
America series from which this was taken is known to be rife with
see study by Antonius
Holtmann and his team]
From New Orleans Rau would typically have travelled by steamship up the
Mississippi River to St. Louis and then westward along the Missouri River
to Boonville. The first confirmed records [to date] of his new life in
America are from Boonville. 'David Rau' is one of 30 names on the first
Constitution, dated 01 January 1855, which officially established the
German Evangelical Church of Boonville.
The Trau [Marriage] Register of the church's Kirchenbuch [PDF] later records the marriage by Rev. C.L. Greiner of 'John David Rau' to Rebekah Ann Goodman on 02 January 1859, with witnesses/sponsors having been Benj. Goodmann (sic.) and Peter Back. Rebekah was 18 years old, having been born in nearby Wooldridge, Missouri, on 17 October 1841, the daughter of
Johnson Goodman (07 August 1797-19 May 1875) and Lucy Bailey (06 July 1795-11 November 1859). Johnson Goodman had been born 'of English descent' in Kentucky (or Virginia, as is variously reported) and had moved to the Clarks Fork region (see map below) in 1817.
A Question Still Open: When Exactly Did Rau Arrive in America?
As may often happen with immigration records, when documentation is
incomplete and the spelling of names varies, confirming identities and
dates may be problematic. Did Johann Rau really arrive on the
Judith in January 1855? His age in the manifest is 23; this would not
match his birthdate. It is possible the age was recorded incorrectly, as
the manifest also lists him as 'female.'
David Rau's Nov. 1859 U.S. citizenship certificate.
This testifies that Rau, formerly a subject of the Grand Duke of Nassau,
had lived continuously in the U.S. for at least five years as of September
Several other details also would not seem to match the January 1855
arrival date. Rau's obituary described him as making the 49-day voyage at
the age of 20, which would have had him arriving in 1854. Also, he became
a U.S. citizen on November 1, 1859; citizenship requires a 5-year waiting
period. This would match an arrival by mid-1854, but not one in 1855.
Further, while 'Johann' was his first given name, no records apart from
his wedding indicates that he used this name, with other records showing
'David' or 'David C.' Rau/Rowe.
The Boonville Kirchenbuch [PDF]records 'David Rau' as one of
its founding members; no other Rau or Rauh appears in early church
records. Although the church was initially organized in August 1853, its
constitution was adopted two years later, on January 1, 1855. This is the
document on which David Rau's name appears. If Rau had arrived in 1854
(or earlier), he could have been a 'founding member' when the church
constitution was adopted, but an 1855 arrival would make this problematic.
In other Boonville records of the time, a 'David Rauh' was an 1852-53 member of the
Sänger Chor [which had been founded the same year; in 1868
it would merge with the Boonville Turn Verein, which had been
founded in 1858, to form the Turn und Gesang Verein].
No other record has yet been found of a David Rauh/Rau in
Boonville before 1855; the 1850 census for Cooper County District 23 did
not include any persons named 'Rauh'; only 'Catherine Rau' from Germany,
aged 22. However, in 1860 the spelling of 'Rauh' was used in in the
records of the Clarks Fork Trinity Church, of which Johann David was also
a founder, and variances in the spelling of German names were not unusual
in records of the time.
Were '[Johann] David Rau' and 'David Rauh' different persons? Was
another 'David Rauh' in Boonville 2-3 years earlier than Johann David? If
not, his immigration date would need to be at least 2 years earlier for
him to have been an 1853 member of the Sänger Chor and an 1853
founder of the church. Perhaps supporting the idea that they might be the
same person is that Johann David was known for his singing; musical
ability was also apparent in his descendants. Thus one may have expected
him to have joined a singing group. This, however, is only speculation.
Genealogist Virgil Hein, who has studied the Toellner family
history, feels Rau could instead have been the 'Johann Rau' who arrived in
New Orleans on the ship Argo from Le Havre on 30 June 1849 at the age of
15. This would have made possible his membership in both the
Sänger Chor in 1852-53 and involvement in even the initial
organization of the Evangelical Church in 1853. However it conflicts with
the report of Rau's obituary that he arrived
at the age of 20 (Hein feels this is the point most prone to error).
Research continues on his date of arrival.
Why Central Missouri and Boonville?
The question of how and why Rau ended up in Boonville is also open. It
is known that the 1829 publication in Elberfeld, Germany, of Gottfried
Duden's Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America
[Bericht über eine Reise nach den westlichen Staaten
book excerpt] had motivated many Germans to immigrate to the rich
farmland alongside the Missouri River west of St. Louis [see also more
detail on this from a 2002 study by
Dorris Keeven about Duden's influence on Missouri settlement]. It is
further known that a rather large number (relative to the population of
this rural area) of immigrants from Rettert/Roettert and its surroundings
in the Duchy of Nassau had immigrated to Cooper County, Missouri (of which
Boonville is a part) both prior to Rau's arrival and thereafter (see Germans From
Rettert/Nassau in Boonville, mid-1850s). It has also been reported
that Rau had left Rettert for America 'with relatives' (presumably also
from Rettert or its nearby villages). One might thus speculate that many
Rettert emigrants left with the specific destination of Cooper County,
where they would join others with whom there were some relationships from
the homeland. However, what exact connections, if any, may exist between
these points is at present not known.
Religious Background of Early Churches in Boonville
The Duchy of Nassau from which David Rau had immigrated had a strong
Evangelical tradition, a result of Frederick William III, King of Prussia
from 1797 to 1840, having forcibly combined the Lutheran and Reformed
churches into the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union (this was
subsequently to form the basis for the Evangelical Synod of North America
after German immigrants brought their Evangelical faith to America). Thus
the Evangelical faith would have been familiar to David Rau. However,
family narrative says that David Rau was Lutheran.
The locations of the Turn und Gesang Verein and the three German
churches built between 1852-1854
(Click to enlarge)
In the early 1850s the Methodist (1830s), Presbyterian (1841),
Episcopal (1845) and Baptist (1847) churches were well-established in
Boonville. However, all were English-speaking. They also sympathized with
the American South and its practice of slavery, with which
the Germans did not agree. Thus as the Germans arrived, they founded their
own churches, as well as cultural organizations like the Sänger Chor and Turn Verein.
German Methodists organized in 1850 and built a church in 1852 on the
southeast corner of 6th and Vine. German Evangelicals and Catholics at
first shared a building adjacent to the present Catholic Church, holding
services on alternate Sundays. But soon both built their own churches, across the street from each other on the northeast and southeast corners of 7th and Spring streets, respectively.
The first German Evangelical Church in Boonville (erected 1854/55, rebuilt
in 1887, enlarged in 1915)
There was no Lutheran congregation in Boonville at the time, although
when Rau later moved to Clarks Fork, there were enough other German
Lutherans in the area to establish their own German Lutheran church.
An Early Pattern of Cooperation
These patterns suggest that in their early years, German churches were
characterized by a shared language and culture, which at first prevailed
over sectarian distinctions. The congregation of the Evangelical Church
included Lutherans and other non-Evangelical Germans. It is apparent that
the churches and their members cooperated during their initial struggle to
establish themselves in a new country and new language.
Indeed, this cooperation was part of a larger ecumenical support at the
time, as the first pastors of the new church were subsidized by annual grants from the Presbyterian Church Mission Board. These grants began in 1850, when there were not yet enough members to form a self-sustaining church, and ended in 1856 after the congregation, now in its own building, had completed a year of operation under its January 1855 constitution.
[Initially the Presbyterians subsidized 'circuit rider' pastors, who
visited Boonville twice a month. The first resident pastor, Johann Wettle, began in 1853 and served until October 1856, when the Evangelical Church called Rev. C.L. Greiner to be their first independent pastor.]
However, over the coming decades, this cooperation would be strained.
As the immigrants' children assimilated into American culture and their German identities diminished, sectarian differences would sharpen, and congregations would divide or dissolve. While the Evangelical and Catholic churches are still active in 21st-century Boonville, the German Methodist church would vanish in the early 20th century, along with the Turn und Gesang Verein.
German Influence in the Growth of Church and Town
The industriousness of the German immigrants helped the new town
of Boonville prosper. While the 'Boonslick' region was first settled in
the first decade of the 1800s, the town itself was only platted in 1817
and incorporated in 1839. Thus when the German Evangelical Church formed,
Boonville itself was in only its second decade. Yet both town and county
were growing rapidly: whereas in 1830 the county population had been only
5,901, by 1840 it was 10,484; by 1850 12,908; and by 1856 15,082.
In turn, the 1830 population of Boonville is estimated at only some
600, although by 1840 it was 1,666 and by 1853 2,800, with an increase of
roughly 140 a year. The increase from 1853 was largely due to the influx
of Germans, whose contributions to the community were soon seen
everywhere, not least with the construction by German brickmasons of many
homes and businesses now comprising 'historic downtown Boonville.'
George Vollrath's Boonville Pottery, ca. 1870 (on Locust Street,
where David Barton School now stands)
One of the most influential members of the new Evangelical Church was
George Vollrath, an immigrant potter, vintner and miller from Saxe-Coburg
who arrived in Boonville in the late 1830's. In 1840 at the age of 29 he
purchased the 7-year-old Boonville Pottery from its founder, Marcus
Williams (who had recently been elected Mayor of Boonville, and was having
trouble running both the town and his pottery), and rapidly expanded it
into the largest stoneware business in Missouri, responsible for an
estimated 70% of all the pottery produced in Missouri by the beginning of
the Civil War. At his death in 1865 his estate was worth over $35,000, a
fortune for the time.
Vollrath was one of the founding members, and first trustees, of the
Evangelical Church. It was largely through his energy and financing that
the first church building was constructed in 1854/55, as well as a school
just south of the church for the congregation's children in 1857. While
he made his fortune as a potter, he was also an active vintner, where his
interests overlapped with at least three other prominent church founders,
William Haas, Jacob Neef and John Henry (J.H.) Boller.
Many of the early German immigrants were from Germany's wine-producing
regions, and soon realized the rich potential of Cooper County for wine
production. Soon there were numerous vinyards inside and outside the
town, leading to Boonville being known at the time as the 'Vine-clad
City.' Virtually every German family grew grapes to eat, to preserve in
jams and jellies, and to produce their own wine. (The German custom at
the time was to offer visitors to one's home a glass of one's own wine,
produced from their own grapes, apples or dandelions, much like offering
Grapes were an abundant and economical crop; any extra grapes German
housewifes were not able to eat, preserve or use for wine would have a
ready market in the commercial wine producers which were springing up,
chief among which was the Boonville Wine Company started by Emile Haas,
which neighbored the vinyards of George Vollrath, Jacob Neef, William Haas
and J.H. Boller.
Remains of the Haas Brewery/Wine Company (Click for a closeup). In the
foreground are the former vinyards; in the background the Katy railroad
Photo ca. 1905 by M.E. Schmidt
Emile Haas had first founded Haas Brewery, just west of Boonville's
Harley Park where the bluffs slope down to the Missouri River. He
later expanded the Brewery into the Boonville Wine Company, which boasted
the largest vinyard in the county, with some 115 acres of grapes and
apples. (Major William Harley, after whom Harley Park is named, was Haas'
partner in the Wine Company.)
Incorporated in 1855, the Boonville Wine Company quickly grew to be the
area's largest industry, with a magnificent 4-level stone building fronting the Missouri river above eleven arched underground storage cellars. One of its wines, Haas' Catawba, received a first prize at the 1876 Philadelphia Fair, and was widely sold throughout Missouri and in the eastern states. The wine (and beer) was often preserved and sold in stoneware jugs produced by George Vollrath's pottery.
As the immigrants began to flourish, from their wines, pottery, business endeavors and otherwise, a portion of their growing prosperity always went to their church, which gradually grew in status within the community.
But it was not only in construction, pottery, wine and beer that
church members left their mark in town. Many among the church's first
generation, including Jacob Gmelich, William Mittelbach, Charles, Julius
and Henry Sombart, and Drs. Charles and Alex van Ravenswaay, among many
others in addition to Vollrath, Haas, Boller and Neef, have been cited
among Boonville's most influential historic citizens for their
contributions to business, medicine, education and community life.
David and Rebecca Rowe's headstone in Boonville's Walnut Grove Cemetery
Among their most lasting contributions is Boonville's
Walnut Grove Cemetery, atop Locust Street hill above George Vollrath's
pottery. The cemetery's initial property was purchased in 1852 by Carl
Franz and Eliza Aehle, with its development influenced significantly by
fellow church members Jacob Gmelich (see below) and William Mittelbach.
While the cemetery has been public since 1881, and those of all faiths
have always been influential in its development, a special relationship
between the German Evangelical Church and the cemetery has existed from
Among the cemetery's first burials in 1877 was the church's first
regular pastor, Rev. C.L. Greiner. Just inside the cemetery's present
entrance are aligned the graves of the church's longest-serving pastor,
Rev. Emil F. Abele; 20-year cemetery secretary and church board member
William Mittelbach (whose marker is a fountain given by the cemetery in
commemoration of his two decades as its Superintendent and Secretary); and
longest-serving musical director and choirmaster, Woodard B. Hopkins, Sr.,
and their families. It is also the final resting place of David and
Rebecca Rowe and their son William Martin Rowe (who long served as
treasurer of both the Cemetery Board and his Church Board) and his wife
Christine Töllner Rowe, as well as successive generations of the Rowe
David and Rebecca Rowe Leave Boonville to Farm in Clarks Fork
At present it is not known how David Rowe had earned his living after
arriving in Boonville. He might have been employed in enterprises owned
by fellow church members, or he may have been a farm laborer outside
Boonville, or both. However it is known that David and his bride Rebecca
had earned enough money to be able to buy their own farm in rural Clarks
Fork Township, southeast of Boonville, shortly after their marriage on
January 2, 1859.
Their move from Boonville to Lone Elm, in Clarks Fork Township, is
evident from church and birth records. There are no further references in
the Boonville Kirchenbuch to David and Rebekah Rau after 1859.
However, in 1860 'David Rauh' is recorded as one of the 28
founding members of the new (German) Trinity Lutheran church of Clarks
Fork. David and Rebecca Rowe (the 'Johann/John' is no longer recorded,
'Rebekah' is now 'Rebecca' and 'Rau/Rauh' has been anglicized to 'Rowe')
are cited often in Clarks Fork Trinity church marriage and baptismal
records between 1860 and 1888. Further, their first child, Mary Catherine
Sophia, was born on October 17, 1859, 'in Clarks Fork near Washington
School,' as it is recorded in the genealogy notes of Dorothy Rowe, further
evidence that they had moved to Clarks Fork shortly after their wedding.
Extract of Section 8, Township 47N, Range 16W.
Arrows point to
David Rowe's property, the Washington School immediately to the
south, and the Clarks Fork Trinity church to the southeast.
(Click to enlarge)
The reason why David Rowe moved from Boonville to Clarks Fork was to
start farming; land records show that he owned a farm near Lone Elm in
Clarks Fork township, as can be seen in Section 8 of the 1897
Township 47N, Range 16W Cooper County plat map [the detail
is the same in the 1877 plat map, but the 1897 edition is
easier to read]. Further, Rebecca's obituary says
that "after her marriage in January 1859 she began married life in her
home community, later moving to a farm in the Washington school district
of Clarks Fork where she and David lived for many years."
[The Clarks Fork Trinity Lutheran congregation met in the Washington
School before a church building was constructed. The Washington School
building, now a private home, still stands, and can be located via Google
Earth at 8 degrees 51 minutes 22.50 seconds North Latitude; 92 degrees
41 minutes 21.74 seconds West Longitude, just south of where David and
Rebecca Rowe's farm had been.]
While little detail survives of the Rowe farm, German immigrant farmers
in Cooper County generally employed a diversified, efficient mixture of
animals and crops which aimed at self-sufficiency. Chickens were raised
for their meat and eggs, pigs for meat and lard, cows for meat and milk,
sheep for meat and wool, and horses to pull wagons and plows. Hides were
tanned, wool was spun and used for clothing, and the manure from all animals would be tilled back into the soil.
Wheat, corn, and oats were raised for family consumption, and hay and
clover as animal feed or for composting, with any surplus sold or exchanged
for sugar, salt, herbs, spices, cotton cloth and other staples. Every farm
would grow, in addition to seasonal crops, potatoes, cabbage, carrots and
other staples of the traditional German diet that would keep well through
the winter in root cellars or be canned or (in the case of cabbage)
preserved as sauerkraut. Likewise, apples were grown for eating or for
preservation as applekraut or apple wine. Every farm would also have a
grape arbor, with
the abundant fruit used for eating, preservation as jams and jellies, or
for homemade wine.
The 1910 census, the last for which Rowe was alive, records him and
Rebecca as living in Lone Elm on a mortgaged farm, with 7 of their [now
adult] children still living. These were Mary Catherine Sophia (born 17
October 1859); Alice Maggie (born 31 August 1861); Laura Joan (born 23 May
1863); Louise Frances (born 23 May 1868, died 26 November 1877); George
Philip (born 11 October 1870); William Martin (born 11 June 1873; Ida May
(23 July 1880); and David Carroll (28 February 1883). A ninth child, Henry
Otto (born 25 January 1866 and christened 'Ferdinand Heinrich Albert Otto'
at Clarks Fork church on 25 March, died 23 April 1866, just short of 3
David Rowe died on January 28, 1917 at the age of 83 years, 9 months
and 27 days (as his obituary noted), at the home of his daughter Ida near
Tipton. Rebecca died on February 23, 1925 at the home of her daughter and
son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Sponcler, in Kelly Township, southwest of
John King, David Rowe, and the Arrival of the Holstein Germans
Most of the Germans who had immigrated to the Boonville area thus far had
been from southern Germany, including the Rhineland-Palatinate,
Saxe-Coburg, Baden-Württemburg and neighboring regions (see map). The coming
years were see the arrival of northern Germans as well, many from the
Schleswig-Holstein region north of Hamburg.
John King (Koenke)
(Photo: Johnson's History of Cooper County, 448)
Responsible for many of these was one John King (originally Koenke or
Koehnke or Koehnecke), born on February 15, 1828 in Holstein. According to
the National Historical Company's 1883 History of Howard and Cooper
Counties, Missouri (see page
he immigrated to America in 1853, arriving in New Orleans and
travelling from there up the Mississippi to Davenport, Iowa. In 1854,
hearing about the free land available in the new Kansas territory, he
returned to St. Louis and boarded a steamboat for Kansas. However, along
the way he stopped at Boonville and there met several other Germans who
convinced him to stay. Whether David Rowe was one of these Germans is not
known, but the lives of King and Rowe were thereafter to be closely
King first worked as a stagecoach driver and then as a farm laborer. In
1859, like David Rowe, he had saved enough to buy a tract of land in
Clarks Fork Township, just north of the future Lone Elm Church in Sections
13 and 24 of
Township 47N, Range 17W (the "J.King" whose property borders David
Rowe's land in the previous plat map is that of Jacob King, also a
founding member of the Clarks Fork church). Also like Rowe, John King
married in January 1859, to Sophia Friedmeyer, daughter of Bernard and
Sophia (Karnes) Friedmeyer.
[Jacob King (18 July 1817-23 Febuary 1878), also from Holstein,
immigrated in 1857 and bought in 1867 what came to be known as 'Valley
View' farm just northwest of David Rowe's land. In 1866 he married Anna
Nohrenburg, brother of Peter Nohrenburg, who was also a founder of the
Clarks Fork church. Jacob King's son Johan Washington ('John W.') King
inherited Valley View.]
[The fact that many Clarks Fork church and land records are only
labelled "J. King" has been a source of much confusion, along with the
fact that both Jacob and John had sons named Henry 'Henry M.' for
Jacob and 'Henry O.' for John. (Lone Elm church records do not have
this confusion, as Jacob died in 1878, before the church was
founded in 1896.) At present it is not known if Jacob and John King were
related; if so they were at best cousins, as John had only one surviving
brother, named Auble.]
Also like David Rowe, in 1860 John King was to be one of the 28
founding members of the Clarks Fork Lutheran Church, of which he was
to serve as deacon for nearly two decades. Later, again with David Rowe,
he would be one of the founders of the Zion Lutheran Church in Lone Elm.
Yet the connections between John King and David Rowe did not stop
there. Through King's influence many other Holstein Germans learned of
prospects in Cooper County and were encouraged to emigrate; King would even aid them financially and travel to New York to assist them with their journey to Missouri. Among these Holstein Germans were several who would closely interact with David Rowe and his family.
Arrival of the Töllner Siblings and Their Future Spouses from
The Holstein Germans included the brothers Herman and Christopher Toellner
(originally Töllner) and their sister Meta; as well as Herman and
Christopher's future wives, Sophia Schnack and Anna Katherine Louise Timm.
Herman (born 05 November 1845), Christopher (born 11 July 1849) and Meta
(born 20 May 1864) Toellner emigrated from Krempermoor; Sophia Schnack
from Quickborn, Hoernerkirchen, Hemdingen; and Anna Timm from Barmstedt,
all in Holstein.
Holstein map showing the proximity of Krempermoor (the
Töllners), Hemdingen (Sophia Schnack), and Barmstedt (Anna Timm),
with the Elbe River at left
(Click to enlarge)
The three Toellners emigrated separately. Herman was the first to leave,
arriving in New York from Hamburg, according to his U.S.
passport application dated 21 April 1900, 'on or about January 26, 1867.'
Christopher followed a year and a half later, arriving
in New York on the Holsatia from Hamburg on June 22, 1868 at the age of 19
(assuming he is the "? Tollner, farmer, age 19") in the
ship's manifest. This general date of arrival is confirmed by his April
21, 1900 U.S. passport application, on which he states he arrived
on the Holsatia 'on or about July 10, 1868.'
Three years later, on 10 May 1871, Christopher filed his
intention to take U.S. citizenship; he received it six years later, on 04
April 1877, at age 28.
Meta Toellner joined her brothers 13 years later, with
Hamburg exit records showing her as leaving on 10 April 1881 and New
York entry records showing her, age 17, arriving from Hamburg and Le Havre
on the ship Cimbria on 23 April 1881.
(L-R): Christopher, Meta and Herman Toellner
the front porch of Chris's home in Lone Elm
(Early 20th century; date unknown)
Sophie Schnack arrived in New York on June 23, 1870 at the age of 20 on
the S.S. Hammonia from Hamburg and Le Havre, possibly with other members
of her family (see her wedding record below). At present, it is not known
when Anna Timm immigrated.
Shortly after arrival, Herman and Christopher joined the Boonville
Evangelical Church. The November 15, 1872 marriage of Herrman (sic)
Toellner (born 1845) to Sophia Snak (sic) (born 1841) is recorded in the
Kirchenbuch only a few [un-numbered] pages after the marriage of
'John David' and 'Rebekah Ann' Rau. Witnesses were Christoph (sic)
Toellner and Lena Snak (sic).
However, there are no further references to the Toellners in the
Kirchenbuch after 1872. Trinity Lutheran records show that
Christopher and Herman moved to Clarks Fork within two years after their
marriage, first appearing in baptismal records in January 1874. Their
Clarks Fork church records continue through 1896, when both of the
Toellners and David Rowe, along with John King and others, transferred
their membership to the newly-established Lone Elm Zion Lutheran church
Like David Rowe, Herman and Christopher (now known as 'Christ' or
'Chris') Toellner left Boonville for Clarks Fork Township to begin
farming. Herman and Sophia's property can be seen in the same plat map as
David Rowe's [above], in Section 19 (spilling over into Section 30 beneath
it), a bit to the south and west from David Rowe's in Section 8.
Chris Toellner bought land further south and east from David and Herman
in the Lone Elm sector of Clarks Fork Township, as can be seen in Section
23 of the
47N Range 17W plat map [which adjoins the map showing David Rowe
and Herman Toellner's property]. Chris Toellner's land in Section 23 is
separated only by that of Henry Timm from the Zion Lutheran Church of Lone
Elm, to the east across the present County Road "B" in Section 24,
diagonally just across the road from the property of John King.
Christopher and Anna Toellner's Family in Lone Elm
After Chris Toellner immigrated to America, he worked as a farmhand for
several years, saving his earnings first to rent land, and eventually to
purchase his own farm. On 25 February 1876 he married Anna Katherine Timm
at Clarks Fork Trinity Church. The following year he bought 100 acres of
'unimproved prairie land' in the Lone Elm neighborhood of Clarks Fork
Township. Over time he built a large home with several outbuildings, and
in 1895 purchased an additional 100 acres of land.
Chris and Anna Toellner had nine children: Sophie Meta Catherine
(born 12 January 1878); Christine Anna Louise (born 26 August 1879);
Hermann Johannes (born 11 August 1882, died 1927); Emma Lourine Dorothea
(born 29 March 1884); Matilda Magdalena (born 21 December 1886); George
Heinrich (born 13 January 1888); Heinrich Christian (born 25 July 1890);
Walter Wilhelm Christian (born 09 March 1892); and William Albert Carl
(born 20 February 1896). Another child, Gotgab [or Gottgab, old
German for 'god-given'], was apparently stillborn on 28 August 1894.
The Rowes and Toellners Transfer to Zion Lutheran Church in 1896
On Dec 27, 1896, members of the Clarks Fork Trinity congregation who lived
in Lone Elm [which is also in Clarks Fork township] were authorized to
establish a daughter congregation closer to their homes, as the 4-5 mile
trip to the Trinity church had been an arduous journey on primitive roads.
Both David Rowe and Herman and Christopher Toellner and their families
transferred from Clarks Fork Trinity to the new Zion Evangelical Lutheran
The Rowe and Toellner farms relative to the Clarks Fork and
Lone Elm churches (2010 roads)
(Click to enlarge)
Miss Christine Anna Louise Toellner (ca. 1895)
One of the incentives for David Rowe's family to transfer to the new Lone
(Click to enlarge)
While poor roads and closer proximity to the Lone Elm church are the
reasons cited in the church history, family relationships were undoubtedly
also a factor. The Lone Elm church was indeed closer to Chris
Toellner's property (about a 10-minute walk), but it was
further away from David Rowe than the Clarks Fork church,
and also further for Herman Toellner (although apparent distance on this
2010 map may have been different with the roads of the time).
The family connections involved more than Chris and Herman being
brothers; there were close connections between the Chris Toellner and
David Rowe families as well. Not only did William Martin Rowe marry
Christine Anna Toellner in 1901, soon after the Lone Elm church was
founded, but three years later, on 01 June 1904, William's brother George
Philip would marry Christine's sister Emma Lourine. The close
family connections which culminated in four of their children marrying may
have influenced Rowe's decision to transfer his membership to Lone Elm
even if it did involve a longer journey between home and church.
The Toellner brothers remained lifelong members of the Lone Elm church.
Both are buried in the church cemetery, along with their families and
numerous descendants. David Rowe remained a member of Zion Lutheran until
his death in 1917, although he and Rebecca are buried in Boonville's
Walnut Grove Cemetery, the early history of which had been so strongly
associated with the German Evangelical Church he had helped to found.
However, by 1917 the word "German" had disappeared from the name of the
church, as English rapidly began to replace German as the church language.
Church records and certificates were still in German in the first decade of the 20th century (see for example the 1903 Boonville Church's 50th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet [PDF] and the 1907 Lone Elm baptism certificate for Erna M. Rowe), but this would soon also change.
The speed of the changeover from German to English is apparent from pages 7 through 12 of the English translation [PDF] of the 50th Anniversary Booklet. While in 1893 the church felt that "keeping up the German language was of critical importance for the congregation (p.7), in 1899 one English evening sermon a month was being given in English (p.8), and by 1900 all evening sermons were given in English, the Sunday School and confirmation instruction was given only in English, and new church youth groups such as the Endeavor Society used only English (p.8). The Endeavor Society's founding constitution noted that "the language used by the society would be English, as the young people of our congregation are not able to use the German language" (p.12).
The second and especially third generations of the church's founders were no longer fluent in German, and the churches were forced to change from German to English in order not to lose their younger members. While the 1903 Anniversary Booklet was still published only in German (see the original German publication [PDF]), and the name of the church was still "The German Evangelical Congregation", the approach of World War I made any connection to German or Germany politically risky, and within the next ten years most of the German churches would operate solely in English.
William Martin Rowe and Christine Toellner Marry and Return to
On July 24, 1901, David Rowe's son William Martin married Christine Anna
Louise Toellner, daughter of Christopher Toellner and Anna Katherine
Louise Timm, at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lone Elm.
The Lone Elm General Store operated by W.M. Rowe
(Click to enlarge)
Born on June 11, 1873, William Martin Rowe first worked as a farmer
until 1896, but then began a properous career in business and public
service, with his first employment at the Lone Elm general store, then
owned by Julis Hosp.
On 03 September 1900 he was appointed Postmaster in Lone Elm. On August
1, 1901 (a week after his marriage to Christine), he took over the
operation of the late George H. Meyer's store in Clarks Fork, returning to
Lone Elm in November 1905 to become Julius Hosp's partner in the Lone Elm
On July 4, 1909 he sold his interest in the Lone Elm store and moved
with Christine and their three oldest children to Boonville (their fourth
child Vera was born 3 days later), to become President of the new
Boonville Mercantile Company, a position he would hold until his death.
The Boonville Mercantile: W.M. Rowe, President
(Before Rowe expanded
the building in 1914/15). The house at left which was demolished for the
expansion had belonged to Major William Harley
(Click to enlarge)
After their move to Boonville, The family and their six surviving
children returned to the original home church of their grandfather Johann
David Christian Rau. The church was now known as the Evangelical Church
in Boonville (later the Evangelical and Reformed Church, presently the
United Church of Christ).
William and Christine Rowe's surviving children were Alverta Ann Rowe
Souder (born 05 April 1903); Edwin Herman Rowe (30 September 1904);
Erna Matilda Rowe Hopkins (23 July 1907); Vera Elizabeth Sophie Rowe
Grathwohl (12 July 1909); William Toellner [W.T.] Rowe (28
September 1915); and Kenneth Christian Rowe (24 September 1916).
A seventh child, Virgie Christine, was born on 13 August 1906 but died
one day later.
The Rowe family lived at 513 Third Street (shown
here in the early 1920s), one of the first two homes built atop the crest
of Third Street across from the future 'Hitch House' on the Kemper
Military School property, until the children married and left home. The
home was only a short walk from both the Boonville Mercantile Company and
Grocery, later to be owned by William and Christine Rowe's daughter Erna and her husband Woodard B. Hopkins (Senior). Erna Rowe Hopkins and Vera Rowe Grathwohl would remain life-long Boonville residents and Evangelical church members.
Christine and William Martin Rowe in the early 1930s at the peak of his
influence in church and community.
William Rowe was active in the church his father had helped found. He
served as Treasurer of the church board for 22 years, and headed the
committee to expand the church building in 1915 (just after he had
expanded the Mercantile building). He was Vice-President of the church
board at the time of his death.
Rowe was also a long-standing member and treasurer of the church choir.
For the last three years of his life he sang under the direction
of his son-in-law Woodard B. Hopkins, who was just beginning his three-decade
tenure as the church's musical director and choirmaster.
In addition, William Rowe served as clerk in the Missouri State Legislature and as a member of the Boonville city council, as well as Board Member and
Treasurer of the Walnut Grove Cemetery Association.
William Rowe died on 29 March 1936; Christine on 30 September 1960.
William Rowe's funeral was the first occasion on which the choir wore
the robes it had been his project to obtain, which were completed just in
time for the service. In his memory a church Memorial Fund was created
which still exists today.
A Close Association With Three Churches, All German in Origin
David Rowe, Christopher Toellner, John King and their families shared a
close association with German immigrant churches from the beginning of their new lives in Missouri until the end. Rowe helped start all three, first in Boonville, then in Clarks Fork, and finally in Lone Elm.
The Rowe family experience was largely representative of other
immigrants as well. Wherever immigrants arrived, they established churches
which provided sanctuaries in their own languages and the cultural values
of their former homelands; from this secure 'home' in their new country
the interactions of all the churches in each community would help the
immigrants to gradually assimilate into a 'common' American culture.
This pattern established a strong tradition of church membership and a
role of religion and church in American life which continues
today. While not all immigrants would be as active as David Rowe in
helping to found three successive churches, virtually all were closely
involved with their fellow countrymen in religious and cultural
institutions initially transplanted from their homelands and subsequently
adapted to the American milieu: one of many ways in which immigrants helped form the present-day fabric of America.