St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery

“My Redeemer Lives”
Courtesy of St. Paul’s Cemetery

A Brief, But Incomplete History of St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery Fund Inc.

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in the fall of 1852 by seven German immigrant families wanting a community place of worship rather than relying on itinerant preachers passing through the area. The seven families gathered together and searched for property for the church’s location. Forty acres were purchased along and atop a hill overlooking Lohman, Missouri for the price of $50.

From its beginnings as a simple log structure on the hillside to the present red brick structure dominating the hilltop skyline, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church has endured through 165 years of history and changes. The members of St. Paul’s are proud of the beautiful, well maintained cemetery surrounding the church on its northern and eastern sides.

Courtesy of St. Paul’s Cemetery

Should you visit the cemetery you may wish to view the oldest grave. The memorial marker bears the inscription “Anna Margaretta Plochberger”, row 22/plot 16, who died in 1857. The next oldest is that of “Paul Jungmaier”, row 22/ plot 17, born in 1797, died in 1858. An unmarked grave, row 15/plot 16, became known as the “lost Koestner grave”. After diligent research, it was revealed to be the grave of Emma Koestner, born on January 1, 1849, died August 23, 1862. The Scrivner-Morrow Funeral Home, Russellville, MO prepared and generously donated a small grave marker for this gravesite in late 2002. This area is the oldest part of the cemetery. The upper area bordering the open field was the infant/children section due to a layer of bedrock several feet below the surface. Another interesting memorial is that of Civil War veteran “Erhard J. Kautsch”, born in 1815, died October 8, 1864, killed by Confederate soldiers.

Yes, throughout the past 165 years, St. Paul’s has seen its sons and daughters answer our nation’s call for service. And one member, Otto John Strobel, had a dream.

The following information is taken from parts of “Walking Veteran of WWI” written by Jeremy P. Amick, a military historian who writes on behalf of the Silver Stars Families of America and the recollections of local historian and relative, Gertrude Strobel, affectionately known as Gert.

According to Gert, it was customary for males to have the same first name to include members in the immediate household. So the men and boys were often called by their middle names. Jeremy Amick’s article refers to him as John Otto Strobel while church records to include his memorial marker, refers to him as Otto John Strobel. To eliminate confusion, this brief history will refer to him as Otto Strobel.

Otto Strobel
Courtesy of Gertrude Strobel

Otto Strobel was born on May 9, 1889, the son of Henry P. and Anna Maria (Lochner) Strobel, on a farm approximately one mile west of Lohman. According Gert, “He spent his entire life in Lohman, except for the time he was in the army. He was also very dedicated to his faith and enjoyed being a member of St. Paul’s.”

 

After the United States’ entry into World War I, Otto enlisted into the U.S. Army on September 20, 1917, leaving Lohman for the first time in his life. His departure from Lohman took him 280 miles west to Camp Funston, located on the present site of today’s Fort Riley, Kansas. Here was spent a short-lived time training as an infantryman. In November, 1917, Otto was sent to Camp Pike, Arkansas as a replacement to train as an artilleryman and with his artillery training completed, he soon found himself aboard a troopship bound for the battlefields of France. He participated in six major campaigns and was awarded five medals for valor.

Returning from the war in April 1919, Gert recalls stories of Otto returning to his family’s farm and living there with his only sibling, his sister Elizabeth Antonia (Donie) Strobel. Otto gained a reputation as a hard worker though the Lohman community’s perceptions of him often limited his employment opportunities.

“He was not very good at communicating with people, “said Gert, “which led many people to believe that because of the way he expressed himself’ he might have some type of mental impairment.” She added, “All he was ever really given was menial work around town, but he was really a very bright man, an avid reader who was truly self-educated.”

Newspaper accounts note that the former artillery soldier became an active member of the VFW Post 1003 in Jefferson City in the mid-1930s and even served as the post surgeon, although the duties associated with this position were not clearly described.

The most interesting of the veteran’s post-war endeavors is his journey to the VFW post’s bi-monthly meetings, utilizing the railroad tracks of the former Bagnell Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad that once lay between Lohman and Jefferson City.

“Every two weeks for the last 28 months he has awakened around 3 a.m., garbed himself in his uniform cap and trod the 14 miles from his home to the city,” as was explained in the April 25, 1937 edition of The Sunday News and Tribune.

The article further noted that Otto, a self-described “astute student of political science” would arrive in the city several hours prior to the meeting so that he could spend time at the library reading books in both English and German.

“He loved to talk about his military service and when he got to the VFW, he felt right at home,” said Gert. “After some of the meetings, the people at the Capitol knew he was coming and would let him spend the night on one of the benches inside. The next morning, he would get up and walk back to Lohman along the railroad tracks.”
Otto Strobel passed away at the Veterans’ Hospital in St. Louis on December 20, 1962, at 73 years of age and was laid to rest in the cemetery of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, row G/plot 18, where he had been a lifelong member. A simple white marble standard-issued military monument adorns his gravesite. Even in his passing, this often-misunderstood veteran was able to help provide for his community.

He and his sister never made a lot of money in their lives but they never spent anything either, if they had ten cents they would save nine cents of it,” said Gert. “When both he and his sister died, they gave their entire estate, a pretty good sum of money, to the church so that a perpetual cemetery could be established.”

Gert continued, “Nobody ever paid much attention to him but he gave a lot to both his country and this community. Since neither he nor his sister ever married or had any children, there has really been no one to carry on his memory, and that is a shame considering what he did for the community and his service in the war.”

Indeed it was Otto’s dream to have perpetual care for the cemetery bordering his beloved church. Though he had a final resting place in the National Cemetery in Jefferson City, it was his desire to be buried in his own church cemetery, but it was not of perpetual care. Upon his death, his share of the Strobel estate was willed to a perpetual care fund. However, with his sister Donie still residing on the farm, it could not be sold until her death.

At the 1963 annual meeting of the congregation, a planning committee was appointed to look into the matter of a perpetual care fund. On August 20, 1963, the first minutes of the St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery Fund, Inc. of Lohman, Missouri were recorded. The Cemetery Fund Planning committee selected five charter officers, Irlee Linhardt (President), Otto Linsenbardt (1st Vice-President), Henry Woehrer (2nd Vice-President), A.A. Raithel (Treasurer), and O.W. Soell (Secretary).

The committee began the task of organizing a corporation to “run, operate, manage and control the presently existing cemetery and burial grounds connected with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Lohman, Missouri, by providing a perpetual care and organized method of the operation of said cemetery, including the establishment of a method of perpetual care for the cemetery, the grave spaces, monuments and tombstones and by providing for the orderly process of the operation of said cemetery in the laying out and platting of future lots as a non-profit organization for the benefit of the people of Lohman, Missouri, community and others who might be acceptable and in particular members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Lohman, Missouri and to provide funds for said purpose.”

It was indeed a huge undertaking. However, tragedy soon struck. A.A. Raithel suffered a heart attack and died during the early morning hours of September 25, 1963. Oscar M. Gemeinhardt was nominated as his replacement on the committee.

With an unmatched perseverance, the committee pushed forward to fulfill Otto’s dream and A.A. Raithel commitment to that goal. On January 13, 1964, the Certificate of Incorporation was received from the State of Missouri, making it a not-for-profit corporation. It was agreed that the endowment fund must reach $3000 before the corporation could accept control and maintenance of the cemetery.

By the latter part of 1966, the $3000 goal was met and the corporation was ready to accept the cemetery maintenance responsibilities. At the 1967 annual congregational meeting, a resolution was approved that the St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery Fund, Inc. accept all the responsibilities of the cemetery. During the next several months, the transitional process was discussed, implemented and completed on May 8, 1968, when the corporation took responsibility for the 40 acres of the existing cemetery.

Courtesy of St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery

The next several years saw significant improvements. In 1969, a road was constructed through the cemetery on the north and east side of the church with 300 feet of the road finished with a layer of asphalt. By July 1970, there were sufficient funds to complete and pave the remainder of the circular drive around the south side of the parsonage.

In September 1971, Donie Strobel willed her one half of the 90 acre farm to the cemetery fund. In gratitude, the Board of Directors approved a motion to furnish the farm “dwelling with electric power and a cook stove and heater and refrigerator and also look after her water supply.”

Also in September 1971, the President of the Board of Directors entered into discussion with the St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church council concerning expansion of the cemetery. On September 21, 1973, in “consideration of $1.00 and Other Valuable Considerations” 2.592 acres were added to the existing cemetery. This is the portion of the cemetery currently being used for new interments.

Omar Heidbreder dedicated much time on the new part of the cemetery. He drew a blueprint and platted the new section. During the following years, other improvements were made. Concrete benches were placed in various locations, and though no longer standing, a small utility shed was erected north of the present day outdoor directory. Several lawn mowers to include riding mowers were purchased as needed and stored in the shed. The church youths were hired to do the mowing. A member of the present day church council fondly recalled memories of grass cutting. “You started out with a push mower hoping to graduate to a riding mower.” And he did after three years of pushing a mower. The concrete pad is all that remains today of those childhood memories.

Courtesy of St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery

After the death of Donie Strobel in late 1973, the Board of Directors held a discussion concerning the settlement of the Strobel estate. The Board decided to sell the property at auction at the Cole County Courthouse on January 26, 1974. Also, to provide an additional source of income for perpetual care, the Board established pricing on grave plots in the newly acquired cemetery addition. The completion of Otto John and Donie Strobel’s dream occurred in December 1974 when the cemetery corporation received a $15,134.70 check for the sale of the Strobel property.

Courtesy of St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery

The next significant event occurred in June 1977 when the William Linsenbardt family requested permission to erect a cross as a memorial to their parents, William J. and A. Mathilda Linsenbardt. The agreed location was the northeast curve of the circular drive where today a magnificent white wrought iron cross stands as a focal point of a beautiful, well-maintained cemetery.

When approached by the Ladies Aid during September 1983, the corporation agreed to participate financially in the building of a new garage and storage building. In return, the corporation received storage space in the new building upon completion eliminating the need for the storage building on the north side of the cemetery.

During early 1987, several discussions were held concerning the cemetery and church property lines. It was discovered that the old description of the lines were not where everyone thought they were. A portion of the church rested on the property that was deeded to the cemetery corporation. A motion was made to change the lines by trading property with the church. After resurveying the properties to be traded, the transfer was completed by early March 1990.

By late 1991, a series of year-long discussions were being held on the subject of cremations and should the cemetery make spots available for inurnments. The furthest eastward row in the newly developed portion of the cemetery as well as the use of a regular grave plot was discussed as solutions. However since no resolutions was reached, cremations continued to be a subject of discussion until late 2008.

It was also during this time period, during the 1992 annual meeting, it was decided that on jointed grave sites, while standing at the foot of the site, the male will be interred on the right and the female will be interred on the left. The 1995 annual meeting saw the abolishment of the infant burial row. And in October 1995, the cemetery corporation received a generous $11,677.51 gift from the estate of Helen Pauline Koestner to be “used for the upkeep of the Church cemetery.”

Courtesy of St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery

By the late 1990’s, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church began a major expansion on the east side of the church. As the work neared completion, the cemetery Board of Directors authorized replacing the asphalt cemetery drive with a concrete cemetery drive that is presently being used.

By 2005 and following years, the main topic at the annual membership meeting was a mausoleum, columbarium, or a memorial garden for the placement of urns. The need for future cemetery expansion and replacement of the rules sign board were also discussed.

By late 2008 significant progress began in these areas. An area a few feet northwest of the white cross was chosen as the site for a columbarium and sign/directory board. Plans were presented for a double-sided columbarium with 63 double urn niches on each side. It was decided to build the columbarium structure with the niche sides facing east/west and the first set of niches, at a cost of $11,277, installed on the west side. Bee Seen Signs was contracted for plans for a new sign/directory. By the September 2009 annual meeting, the information for the new sign was in the final stage of design and name checking while the Board awaited the final columbarium layout plans from the columbarium supplier.

It was also reported at the September 2009 meeting that the 5 exploratory holes dug in the area north of the cemetery revealed that it was not suited for cemetery expansion due to the closeness of underlying bedrock to the surface. The holes could only be dug about 4 feet before hitting solid rock. A minimum of 6 feet is required for a grave site.

Courtesy of St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery

LeRoy Plochberger and Marie Scheperle offered an area of approximately .7 acres south of the existing cemetery for future expansion. The offer was graciously accepted by the corporation with the land transfer completed on February 27, 2010.

On December 12, 2009 the Board accepted a $2,500 bid for the foundation excavation, concrete work and materials with the block and brick laying to be done by others. The work was to begin as soon as the weather permitted. Melvin Stubinger made a trip to Phoenix, AZ and brought back the columbarium niches and framework. Work continued throughout 2010.

By the September 18, 2011 annual meeting the columbarium has been completed with Mitch Anderson donating his time in completing the exterior brickwork. During the meeting, Joan Stubinger reported that only a few more names needed to be added and the sign should be completed soon. Extensive research and comprehensive planning occurred for the design of the new sign/directory. Until the mid-1940’s, all church records were kept in German so the accurate translation of the records was a time-consuming task. All known gravesites with the corresponding interments are plotted on the directory. When facing the directory and looking east (or downhill), you are viewing the newer portion of the cemetery. Facing west or uphill, the directory shows the layout of the older part of the cemetery.

Courtesy of St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery

Previously, Joan and Melvin donated money to help pay part of the cost for the new sign/directory. She now asked that when the cemetery board receives the final bill, they would like to donate the remaining amount needed to cover the cost. As a final touch, Joan and Melvin completed the landscaping around the columbarium and sign/directory foundation. Through their generosity, St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery has a beautiful sign/directory that complements the beauty of the cemetery. It will serve the needs of the cemetery for many years.

Many others have contributed their time, talents and efforts throughout the years especially those who have served on the Board of Directors. A very special thank you is extended to Leon Pistel and Marvin Bubach for laying out the grave plots when the sad occasions arises.

Over the years, the St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery Fund, Inc. has been blessed by the many gifts, donations and bequeaths it has received to support our operations. Your generosity and support is greatly appreciated.

As stated earlier, this is only a brief and very incomplete history of our cemetery. Much of what is printed here was taken or interpreted from the past minutes. Please remember that the minutes only go back in time to the late 1960’s. Our cemetery history goes back to the 1850’s. There are many stories that still needs to be told, more pictures to be added, plus the hard work and dedication of others needs to be recognized.

The Board of Directors wishes to make this a “Living History” so future generations will continue to learn from our ancestors. Any stories, articles, or pictures you would like to add will be greatly appreciated. Family lineages can be added linking today’s family with their ancestral roots. Any omissions or errors in this history need to be corrected.

Comments and questions can be directed to any Board member.

Sincerely,
The St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery Fund, Inc.
Board of Directors

Download the St. Paul’s Perpetual Cemetery Regulations