Trinity book 9/3

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Heinrich Puntmann was run over by a wagon or a cart and killed in 1881.

Karl Klingemann was burned to death after falling into a hot brewing kettle in 1863.

Heinrich Almstedt died from drinking too much cold water in 1893.

The plain black and white pages of Trinity Lutheran Church's new genealogy tell a colorful story about the church's early years and the struggles and triumphs of its members.

"People need to learn about the past, about the formation of our church and problems the members had," said Ruth Kasten, who was instrumental in the book's publication.

When the church formed in 1854, all services were in German. Women were not allowed to vote on church issues. Infant deaths of "convulsions," "lung paralysis" and "typhus" were as common as births and weddings.

The details found in records of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths from 1854 to 1904 weave together the stories of Trinity's first families.

The records were translated from German into English and combined with the church's original constitution and other historical information in a 377-page soft-bound book.

Kasten and three other church members helped type and proofread the book, while Edgar Dryer of Frohna, Mo., and Walter Seibel of Cape Girardeau translated the original German records.

"It was a big job. I went in with the idea it would be very simple," Kasten said. "But every pastor wrote differently. To read their handwriting sometimes was almost impossible."

The letters and phonetics were different as well, said Kasten, which further complicated the work of translation.

Kasten has been interested in genealogy for more than 25 years and got the idea to translate Trinity Lutheran Church's records after receiving numerous inquiries from people interested in tracing their ancestors.

Immigrants from throughout Germany made up the original congregation and first met in the homes of members.

The first church was built at 512 William St. in 1855. By 1865, the church had developed a Christian school with two teachers and English was taught for the first time.

In that year, a two-story brick school was built and served as such until 1925.

"It was interesting to see who people were back then, and then to research their names," said Kasten.

Many of those names are still familiar ones among the church congregation even today, she said.

Copies of "The First 50 Years" are available for $35 from the church office at 100 N. Frederick St. or by calling 335-8224 or 335-3559.

335-6611, extension 128

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