One hundred years ago this June, on the evening of 21 June 1916 at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield, Illinois, twenty young men graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary. The Reverend Frederick Brand addressed the soon-to-be Lutheran ministers to “Go out in the name of the Lord, preach the gospel in the name of the Lord and do it under the protection of the Lord.” My grandfather, Conrad Albert Rook, was a member of this class.
It would be forty years before many of these men would see one another again. On 16 June 1956, thirteen members of their class (which included a classmate who, though an original member of their class, graduated in 1915) held a reunion in St. Paul, Minnesota.
To help commemorate the occasion, the class members each wrote short autobiographies and compiled them into a folder with the Latin title, “Spes Mea Christus” [My hope is Christ]. Each pastor wrote his biography differently; many include reminisces of their early, college, and later years, providing what are probably rare glimpses into the lives of these men.
These were the “good ole days” in Springfield, especially the three years I roomed in the third story of the “Kaffee Muehle”. Never will I forget the two years of fellowship in Room 302 with “Dad” Strickert, “Dutch” Heilman, Fritz Wegener, Herman Schleef, and my older brother who considered it his bounded duty always to keep a watchful eye over me.
-Rev. Conrad Albert Rook
The following men contributed autobiographies to the typescript:
- Rev. J. August Birnbaum
- Rev. August F. Bobzin
- Rev. Herman Dubbe
- Rev. Edward C. Hauer
- Rev. Gotthilf Hermann Hentschel
- Rev. Paul R. Jank
- Rev. Bernard W. Jannsen
- Rev. Ludwig Karcher
- Rev. Henry F. Krohn
- Rev. George E. Nelson
- Rev. Fredrick W. Parduhn
- Rev. Herman J. Reinking (graduated 1915)
- Rev. Conrad Albert Rook
- Rev. Arthur Schulz
- Rev. Arthur F. Wegener
- Rev. Fred A. Wegener
- Rev. Edward L. Wittkopp
The folder, passed down to my mother, is a family history treasure. A digital copy of the typescript was given to the Concordia Historical Institute in St. Louis, Missouri in 2015. (For more information on the Concordia Historical Institute, see this post.) Copies of the autobiographies should be obtainable through them. I am also able to share them with family members and researchers (see my contact information under the “About” section). I hope this posting finds its way to the descendants of Springfield’s Concordia Theological Seminary Class of 1916.
- “Young Pastors Given Diplomas,” Illinois State Register (Springfield), 22 June 1916 (Thursday), p. 8, col. 4; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 4 February 2013).
- “Lutheran Pastor Completes 40th Year in the Ministery,” clipping dated 1956, from unidentified newspaper (probably from Battle Creek, Michigan); Collier Collection, vol. 65, p. 12, Willard Library, Helen Warner Branch, Battle Creek, Michigan.
- Concordia Theological Seminary (Springfield, Illinois), Class of 1916, “Spes Mea Christus, 1916-1956” (typescript, 1956); copy in possession of Mary Bernthal [address for private use], 2016.
- Concordia Theological Seminary (Springfield, Illinois), Class of 1916, “Spes Mea Christus, 1916-1956,” upaginated, autobiography of Conrad Albert Rook.