From our family to yours, Happy St. Patrick’s Day – and happy 140th anniversary to Concordia Lutheran Ministries! When Concordia (then called the Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Orphanage and Old Peoples Home) was founded in 1881 by a group of German Lutheran pastors, they didn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but they still had eventful late winter/early spring seasons.
Concordia was a farm as well as an orphanage and home for seniors, and in its early days it took up just part of the current Concordia at Cabot campus. The housefathers who ran the organization kept a running journal in German that included inventory lists, the names of children and seniors who entered Concordia, purchases, weather reports and other brief details that give us a taste of what day-to-day life was really like. The journals were later translated into English by Rev. H. Earl Miller, a chaplain who came to work for Concordia in 1968.
In honor of Concordia’s 140th anniversary, take a trip back to the 1800s by reading the following housefather journal entries and learn what the first three months of the year were like back then:
• March 14, 1885 – This morning at rising time, suddenly the terrifying cry was heard: “Fire!” This cry roused the lazy risers quickly out of bed. A hasty investigation discovered that in one of the boy’s bedrooms the chimney was clogged with paper which caught fire. It was soon extinguished. All who were about to flee in their shirts came back, found their clothes, and in a short time the family was sitting comfortably around the breakfast table. May all fires end so fortunately!
• February 20, 1888 – From Mr. Kroneberg – the small corner of the land bought for $10.00, a triangle 50 ft. wide at one end 150 ft. long.
• January 13-20, 1890 – A 3-year-old cow was bought for $30.
• January 19, 1893 – Mr. Meyer came and since he is a tailor by trade and we have much mending to be done, I permitted him to spend the night and mend.
• January 20, 1898 – A piece of blue material arrived for overhauls.
• January 24, 1898 – A pig died last night, a cow had a calf and the filly jumped over a gate and hurt itself.
• February 3, 1898 – Received 50 bushels of oats from Mr. Krause – $16.75.
• February 5, 1898 – Made 5 sleighloads of ice, pieces about 2 x 2 ft. and 5 inches thick.
• March 7, 1898 – I was able to hold school again. A Mr. Knoch of Saxonburg asked for a boy to help him in the spring and summer.
• March 24, 1898 – Had about 4 ft. of water in the cellar. We had to dig up the drain.
• March 27, 1898 – Examination of this year’s confirmation class of five boys and six girls from the orphanage.
• April 3, 1898 – Eleven children were confirmed.
• January 1, 1899 – The Lord hath done great things, whereof we are glad. He will help us also in the future. I again arranged a small presentation for the children. The weather is very cold.
• January 4, 1899 – Mr. Zeller, a shoemaker, moved into our neighborhood.
• February 22, 1899 – In the evening we had a so-called “Washington Festival.” The children had recitations. In between we sang some songs. In spite of muddy roads, a number of friends attended.
These entries show how challenging, interesting and blessed Concordia’s early days were, from dealing with fire scares, completing the daily farm chores, confirming the children in the Lutheran Church to having early celebrations of Presidents’ Day. No matter what happened, the children, seniors and employees at Concordia always found reasons to be grateful – a lesson we bring into our 140th year and beyond.
If you’re interested in learning more about Concordia’s 140 years of history, each issue of Concordia’s Faith in Caring magazine will include additional photos and historical insight into our past. And each issue will be introduced here with housefather journal entries from every season of the year. Click here to read the March 2021 issue of Faith in Caring.
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