Anna Susanna Termenstein


This biography was in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly Vol # 11. and was written by her great-grandaughter.

It was too old-fashioned for the walls of the living-room, yet too much respected and loved to be stored away, so her yellow, partially faded picture in a carved walnut frame, was hung over the bed of my childhood. Every night and earliy each morning the tender dark eyes of my great-grandmother gazed at me from the wall. A cheerful yet dignified smile lit up her enrie countrenance It was a majestic face, too so very round and softlooking. Her white hair was parted in the middle and combed back straight and smooth. The elaborate lace collar which covered her round shoulders was pinned together in front with a rich gold brooch that looked as if it were lying on a big soft cushion and might have rested there without being fastened. I always wished I could have known her. The uncles and aunts never seemed to tire speaking of that dear old soul and so my great grandmother became very real to me.

She was of the sturdy stock of Saxons that had survived the teduim of a three-month ocean voyage and the hardships of the early settlements on the banks of the Mississippi. Although she had just entered her third year of life on the sixth of November, just a few weeks before Father Timensteold in had provided passport in the emigration of 1838, she must not have been un-fluential on the Olbers. Indeed, the story has been handed down that during the heavy storms, when many suffered seasickness, she was a comfort to all. Her elder sister w cheerfully relieved of the duties of nurse-maid by the twelve-year old Johann Schuricht, who carried little Aemmchen around constanty was delighted with her cooing, and called her his Kleiner Schiffsbrummer. So "Big Sister" found it very convenient that Johann had become a passenger of the Olber, which really happened by mistake.

When his four elder brothers and he, chartered to sail on the Amalia, had been detained by persuading a sixth brother to join them their entire belongings, which had preceded them to Breen, had been accientally loaded on the Olbers and it had been deemed more convenient to change passengers rather then freight to another ship. She is said to have remembered little of that brief period during which her parents failed to gain foothold in Perry Co., but often to have referred to the trying years in which her father developed a business as coppersmith in St. Louis, and her mother, with German resourcefulness, established a prosperous millinery shop on Carondelet [Broadway] and Chouteau avenues, with many girls to help bleach, press and trim those fancy hats of the pre-civil war days.

There was a delicate experience of romance in her young life to which reference was seldom made. As kleiner Schiffsbrummer she had been tie to bind the friendship between her cherished body-guard of the Olbers and "Big Sister". Later their betrothal brought much joy to the girl now quite grown and keenly alert to the romance and excitement of wedding preparations. How her young faith must have been tried and [being God's child] strengthed when, not Johann Schuricht, but death quite unexpectedly took the young bride and she entere that heavenly home above instead of the new home below. At the close of the next decade of her life, during which she had faithfully cheered her bereaved parents and tried to fill the gap left by the elder sister, she had also graually but completely filled the void in Johann's heart, and his Kleiner Schiffsbrummer became his beloved wife.The young husband who had founded the Saxony Flour Mills together with a certain Mr Leonhardt, built a home just across the city border on Second Carondelet [now eighteenth street]. He immediately hired a house-keeper so his Kleiner Schiffsbrummer, as he continued to call her in whimsical moments, need not be alone way out there all day. I like to picture her to myself reigning in that three story home with all the dignity and refinement of the wholesome culture of her native land, yet as a real mid-western American. In great grandfather's anxious moments and perplexities as Treasurer of Synod she must have suffered, too, but he remembered only how she had sustained and encouraged him through it all with tactful wisdom of a Christian wife. Although she was very short of stature, she was also very, very plump; a solid compact mass of energy, which she carried about the house on feet so light and swift that nothing escaped her attention. Not one of her three maids or five daughters ever failed to receive guidance or inspection in every branch of the art of house keeping. She needed ample assistance for her home, which besides having become a cheerful dwelling for a large family, was a place where genuine hospitality was shown to rich and poor.

The hungry and needy never left her kitchen with hollow stomachs or empty hands. One lame war veteran regularly received his plate of soup and a widow her weekly supply of bread. Daily the huge door of the parlor opened to receive the ecclesiastical dignitaries of the Seminary not far away, who found relaxation under the spell of her kindly influence and evening of pleasant conversation and music. They never were permitted to leave her home without bodily refreshment. With characteristic rapidity she would leave the room and hustle down the stairs to the kitchen on the ground floor. Soon the aroma of coffee stimulated the appetites of her guests. The delicious pumpernickel bread she herself always baked in eighteen-inch-long tins made by her father, and the home made hand cheese [which she would keep fresh in a second subway storeroom, usually called the cyclone cellar] were a delight to every preacher in the city. Even the most exacting housekeeper gladly acknowledged that her German coffee cake with Eier-schaecke was the best to be had in St. Louis.Then came the great tragedy of the burning of the flour mill, the anxious months that followed when great grandfathers health failed as a result of the strain and purchase of the fruit farm, eight long miles south of St Louis where he was to get the outdoor exercise prescribed by his physician. Here, too, she subtly molded her life to fit the pattern of his. While he was out among his cherry, peach and apple tree or busy among his bees, she adapted herself to domestic agricultural duties with admirable versatility of the people of those days. She had her own particular way of bleaching asparagus. My uncles and aunts, the children of those days, still enthusiastically describe its delicate flavor while relating of the care they had to practice in helping her pick it. She made her soap herself in huge cauldrons, out in the yard, with grease she had collected and sifted wood ashes.

The secret of her delicious roast chicken extended far beyond the kitchen into the coop where she raised chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Every time she set a hen she reverently made the sign of the cross above it, explaining to the awe stricken grandchildren, who were always welcome to watch that all depends upon God's blessing. That immense three gabled house still stands on Cherry Hill Farm overlooking Jefferson Barracks. As we her descendants [so unlike her, I am afraid] sit on the lawn before it, where she once raised roses of rare beauty, we are told that originally that center section was a large substantial log cabin. Great grandfather added wings of equal size on both sides, erected gables above it, and boarded the entire exterior as we find it today. The students of the Seminary named it die heilige Dreicingkeit and spent happy week-ends within its walls.

They usually arrived with great grandfather when he returned with horse and buggy from his traveling adventure to town for exchange of products. Several orphan boys were reared here and given the opportunity of an education in theology. In later years when the family returned to the city and great grandfather resumed his city work, the farm was kept as a side line and summer home.

Great grandfathers only son became a business man like his father and succeed him as Treasurer of Synod. Her daughters were married in Old Trinity Church to servants of the Master, who traced many rich blessings back to that delightful Christian home. Her grandchildren never fail to relate that at one particularly pleasant occasion the reverend Dr. Walther, who was often her guest, bowed low over her hand and said, "A lady in satin gown with a hand that has not spurned the labors of home making".The graceful activity of her solid little body brought humorous enjoyment to every guest. Even the steep stairway to the tower room, although almost a trifle to narrow was not too steep for her, and no guest ever failed to view the Mississippi from its lofty heights. Her round, short figure seemed to fly through the house. She was remarkably light on her feet and always busy. My great grandfather was wont to say, "I suspect that even in heaven the dear Lord will often have to say, 'Do tie up that plump little angel for a while."