The Mysterious Disappearance of T.F. Walther
"Rev. Theobald F. Walther accepted a call to St. Peter's Lutheran Church
in Humboldt, Kansas and was installed July 31, 1870. According to the Western
District Report of 1871, Rev. Walther mysteriously disappeared on January 31,
1871. He had preached for a church dedication at Lyons Creek, Dickinson County.
After the service, he was accompanied to Junction City by Pastor Lueker, where
he was to board a train homeward bound, but was never heard of again. Since he
had been married but six weeks, was loved by his congregation and had set the
exact time of his expected return to Humboldt, it is assumed he fell from a
coach or met foul play." (from St. Peter's 100 year anniversary brochure)
A few weeks after his disappearance, the following article appeared in the
Junction City Union.
"A German Lutheran preacher disappeared in this neighborhood a short time
since, the particulars of which are furnished the Lawrence Journal, by Mr.
Willis, of Skiddy: The Rev. Mr. Walters [sic], settled over a Lutheran church
at Humboldt, Kansas, left that place to assist in dedicating a Lutheran church
at Aroma, twenty-five miles southwest of Junction City, January 27th; arrived
at this place the same evening; got into a buggy in waiting, and went to Aroma;
attended the dedication on Sunday, and on Monday, Feb. 1st [sic], he and the
Rev. C. H. Luckers [sic], of Aroma, went to Junction City and put up at the
Germania House. In the morning the Rev. Mr. Luckers [sic] saw him in the
omnibus for the M., K. & T. train, leaving at 6 o'clock, A.M.
This was the last known of him. He did not take the train, and nothing has
been heard of him to date. These are the facts. What has become of him
interests a wife, married only six weeks, his congregation and many friends.
Any information of this gentleman communicated to Charles Lehmann, at
Humboldt, Kansas will be thankfully received."
(Sources: History from St. Peter's 100th Anniversary celebrations and The
Junction City Union, February 18, 1871)
Although originally thought to be a victim of a tragic accident or foul play,
it was later discovered that pastor Walther was indeed still alive. Pastor
Walther had served in the Civil War before entering the ministry. According
to family legend, pastor Walther became disturbed that he had killed people
during the war and at times felt that God was not blessing his ministry. As
a result, pastor Walther left his church and family and traveled west,
possibly to Colorado or Montana. Later he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota
where, as Frank T. Walther, he decided to re-establish contact with his wife
Mary Christina (Schuermann) Walther and and young son Ernst H.T. who had been
born 7 months after his father's disappearance. At first, Mary's father, the
Rev. E.A. Schuermann was outraged at the time of Walther's reappearance but
was fair about the reconciliation and later arranged for a re-marriage. Frank
T. Walther was re-married to Mary in October 1878 two more children were born
to the couple in Minneapolis, MN. Some time later, the couple moved to Battle
Creek, Nebraska where Frank T. Walther worked for the railroad. In 1897, Frank
joined a group of Lutheran families who intended to homestead land in Wyoming.
Disappointed with the prospects in Wyoming, the Walther family moved back to
Nebraska and settled in Scribner, Nebraska where Frank T. Walther worked for
the U.S. Postal service. Walther died on July 15, 1917 and was buried in
Scribner, Nebraska. His grave marker identifies him as a Civil War Veteran.
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