5 January 2014

Rev. Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum

1824 — 1906


Reverend William Fiegenbaum of this city, an aged servant of the Lord, was called away today to the promised reward.  He died at 1:15 this morning, peacefully as he had lived.  Several times of late, he had observed that he was glad to state that he suffered not at all.  Rev. Fiegenbaum's death was not due to any particular ailment.  Right up to dissolution his pulse and respiration were normal.  Up to this week he ate three hearty meals a day and exercised by walks.  It seemed merely as if the allotted span of his life had been reached, and without sickness or pain he received a message to lay down the load and enter into the kingdom whose joys he had spent his lifetime in preaching.  The funeral will be Sunday afternoon at two o'clock from the German Methodist Church and will be in charge of Rev. J. G. Hildenstein.  Rev. Dr. F. Brinkmeier of Belleville, Presiding Elder of this district, will speak in German, and Dr. G. B. Addicks, President of the Central Wesleyan College at Warrenton, Missouri will speak in English.  William Fiegenbaum was born 17 September 1824 in Laengrich, Westphalia, Germany and had therefore attained, at the time of his death, the age of 82 years, 2 months and 12 days.  He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Fiegenbaum, who came to this country with their family in 1834.  They landed at New Orleans and came up the Mississippi to St. Louis, removing thence to what is known as the Femme Osage District near St. Charles.  They took up farming, but William did not feel drawn to that line of work and went to St. Louis and commenced clerking in a store.  There he recognized the need for live, energetic preachers and dedicated his life to the work.  Without special preparation other than his home studies he was received into the ministry, and began 4 March 1847 at Highland, this county.  His labors extended over a large field, as he had a circuit which required fourteen days' traveling on horseback to cover.  On 27 September 1849 he was married in St. Louis to Sophia Gusewelle.  She died 7 September 1904.  It will be observed that the family anniversaries came on sevens in September:  Mr. Fiegenbaum's birthday being 17 September, their wedding anniversary 27 September and Mrs. Fiegenbaum's death on 7 September.  There are six children:  Fred A., Dr. Edward W., and Martha wife of C. H. Lynch all of Edwardsville; Dr. Julius H. of Alton; Bertha, wife of Rev. Charles F. Blume, of Winona, Minnesota; and Lydia, wife of Rev. H. C. Jacoby of Quincy.  Of the original family, two brothers and two sisters are living:  Rev. Fred W. Fiegenbaum of Wathena, Kansas; Rev. H. R. Fiegenbaum of Connell, Washington; Mrs. Wellemeyer of Warrenton, Missouri and Mrs. Winters of Oskaloosa, Iowa. Rev. Henry Fiegenbaum, another brother, died two years ago, and this was the first break in the original family in seventy years.  The family was noted for its connection with the church.  The father, Adolph Fiegenbaum, was a carpenter, but every one of his sons became a minister and the daughters all married ministers.  Rev. William Fiegenbaum's territory was extended all along the Mississippi Valley, to Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Northern Illinois.  From 1870 to 1875 he was pastor of the German Methodist Church in Edwardsville.  In 1893 after continuous service of almost half a century he retired, and since then lived quietly in a little cottage on Union Street, preferring to maintain his own household, look after his chickens and the other routine of a home.  He preached frequently here, however, and on 16 September of this year, on the occasion of the conference in Edwardsville, he delivered an address at the church which will always be remembered by its hearers for its force and the deep piety expressed.  The excitement of that day and the eloquent effort he made seemed to tell upon him and he was never quite so energetic afterwards, though he got about as usual.  Rev. Fiegenbaum was of the old stock, sturdy and strong as to physique and mentality, one who lived well, continued active and thought deeply.  He rounded out the biblical span of years, ministered to with the tenderest care by his children and possessing the veneration and affectionate respect of all who knew him.

Source: Transcription courtesy of Frances Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts. Gretchen reported that this obituary had been published in the Edwardsville Intelligencer, Edwardsville, Illinois on 30 November 1906.

Pioneer German Minister Dead.

The death of Rev. William Fiegenbaum, one of the pioneer preachers of Southern Illinois, occurred at his home in Edwardsville, Illinois, Friday morning, November 30, 1906, at 1:15 o'clock, in his 83rd year.  He had been able to be about until a short time prior to his demise.

He was a native of Germany and came to this country when a lad of 10 years, his parents locating in Missouri.  He early concluded to enter the German Methodist ministry, and was ordained at the age of 21.  He continued in the ministry until a few years ago, when he was put on the superannuated list.  With his aged wife, who died a year ago, he celebrated his golden wedding anniversary several years since, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

During his ministerial career he was stationed in Misseuri [sic], Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, the greater portion of the time in the southern portion of Illinois.  The children surviving are Dr. J. H. Fiegenbaum, of Alton, Illinois; Dr. E. W. Fiegenbaum and Mrs. C. H. Lynch, of Edwardsville, Illinois; Adolph Fiegenbaum, of Washington, D. C; Mrs. Rev. C. F. Blume, of Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mrs. Rev. Jacoby, of Quincy, Illinois.

Rev. Fiegenbaum was in Holt county at an early day, about 1851.  At that time he was located at Jefferson City, and from there traveled on horseback over the entire portion of Northwest Missouri, his territory reaching as far as Rock Port, Atchison county.  He was engaged in Missionary or rather frontier work, his duties being to hunt up the German families in this section of the country, and he would then hold services at the various homes he would visit, at that time there being no German churches in the small towns.  When here in those early days, about 1851, we are informed, he helped to cut and haul the logs to build the first German M. E. church and parsonage combined, ever built in Holt county, which was located in this city near the present location.  He was, many years after this, in 1877, stationed here, for one year, as pastor in charge of the German M. E. church, of this city.  At this time his wife was living, and beside his wife, four of their children, Julius, Bertha.  Martha and Lydia were with them.  They will be remembered by many of our older citizens, and all were held in high esteem by our citizens.

He was the second of four brothers, all of whom were German M. E. ministers, and the three eldest of the brothers and a sister, lived to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.  The eldest of these was Rev. Henry H., who died in St. Joseph, Mo.. Friday, January 13, 1905, and who was pastor here for three years in 1874-5-6.  Rev. F. W , who had charge of the church here for several years, and afterwards made this his home for a few years, when about three years ago he removed to Wathena. Kansas, where he is now residing.  Rev. Rudolph, stationed at Connell, Washington.  Rev. William Fiegenbaum was an uncle of Mrs. Mina Curry, of this city.

Source: The Holt County Sentinel (Oregon, Missouri); Friday, 7 December 1906; page 8, column 3.

Digital copies accessed through Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (The Library of Congress) in November 2011.

Rev. Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, at Edwardsville, Illinois, alongside his wife, Sophia (Gusewelle) Fiegenbaum.

Brief Genealogy

Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum's family

Sophia Gusewelle's family

Fiegenbaum - Gusewelle family

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