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Rev Hermann William Fiegenbaum

Rev Hermann William Fiegenbaum

Death 30 Nov 1906 (aged 82)
Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, USA
Burial Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 27617774 · View Source
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Hermann Wilhelm Fiegenbaum was born 1824 in Lengerich, Westphalia, Germany. He immigrated to America with his family in 1934. He married Sophia Caroline Gusewelle in St. Louis, MO, 01 Oct 1849. Settling in Edwardsville, IL, his wife preceded him in death on 07 Feb 1904.

Most of information below is from the Reverend William Fiegenbaum's obituary in Edwardsville Intelligencer 30 November 1906:

The Reverend Fiegenbaum was born in Lengerich, Westphalia, Germany. He was son of Adolph and Christine (Peterjohann) Fiegenbaum. At the age of ten, he emigrated to America landing at New Orleans and then heading up the Mississippi to St. Louis and finally settling in Femme Osage, St. Chares County, MO. His father took up farming, but young William did not feel drawn to that line of work and went to St. Louis and began clerking in a store. It was there in St. Louis that he discovered his life's work of serving in the ministry. His service began in the town of Highland, IL, in 1847, where his circuit extended over a large area requiring fourteen days of traveling on horseback to cover. From there Reverend Fiegenbaum's territory extended all along the Mississippi valley, to Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and northern Illinois. From 1870-1875, he was pastor of the German Methodist church in Edwardsville.

He died at 1:15 this morning, as peacefully as he had lived. Several times of late he had observed that he was glad to state that he suffered not at all. ... There are six children, Fred A., Dr. Edward W. and Martha, wife of C.H. Lynch, of Edwardsville; Dr. Julius H., of Alton; Bertha, wife of Rev. Chas. F. Blume, of Winona, Minnesota, and Lydia, wife of Rev., H. C. Jacoby, of Quincy. ... 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 [German Methodist Church, Edwardsville], however, and on September 16 of this year [1906], 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 mentally, 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.


An insight into the early life and then journey of William Fiegenbaum to the Methodist Episcopal ministry was written by him. The Reverend Adam Miller, M. D. collected, arranged, and published a book of stories entitled "Experiences of German Methodist Preachers" in 1859. The information below is copied as written by Reverend William Fiegenbaum:

I was in my tenth year when my parents concluded to emigrate to America. While we remained at the tavern in Bremen, I found an old Hymn-Book, in which I read the following lines:

"He who seeks for earthly treasures
Can not my disciple be."

This so affected my heart that I wept aloud, and showed the lines to my father, and told him we were not Christ's disciples, for we were seeking earthly treasures. I was, however, comforted by my parents when they told me that the hymn was not the word of God, but man's composition.

In my school years, from twelve to sixteen, I often though if all these people, who call themselves Christians, are so, then the Bible can not be true. The time of my catechetical instruction was a very sinful part of my life; yet my conscience waked up as I received the hold sacrament, and condemned me for having taken it unworthily, and I went home with a load of sin upon my heart. Still I had a desire to partake of this holy sacrament worthily.

There was a report of some German Methodists in Ohio who were said to have fallen from the faith. Finally, a number of German Methodists came to Missouri; but the preachers were hated and persecuted, and, in many places, deprived of the privilege of preaching. Yet my parents opened their house and allowed them to preach in it. After this I went to St. Louis, and one evening went to the Methodist church. The sermon awakened me to a sense of my lost condition. The word was "quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of joints and marrow, and was a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." My heart was very much affected, and I at once resolved to join the Methodist church. Now a voice, as from my heavenly Father, came to me, to repent, return, and be converted; and to this was added the exhortation of my brother and sister. This induced me, on the next Sabbath, to go to the church again. After the sermon there was prayer meeting, but my heart remained cold and indifferent. While penitents were kneeling around the alter, I was induced by curiosity to go up close and see who it was that cried so earnestly for the pardon of his sins. It was my brother, who had previously been a violent persecutor of the children of God. He lay there pleading for mercy, while the pious were offering up prayers for his salvation. I was at once convicted of sin, and sought to meet with the children of God. I spent fourteen days seeking for pardon; others prayed with me; but though thus seeking I could not find.

On the following Sabbath I went again. This was a day of the Lord to my soul. The preacher, Rev., C. Jest, took for his text, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." After the sermon it was asked how it was with me, and I was told that I must seek earnestly by faith; for the "kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." This I experienced, indeed, when I lay down in the evening to sleep, and offered up my soul to God, that he might seal it with the spirit of promise to the day of redemption. The joy that I found in a union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is not to be fully expressed by human tongue. It was now my earnest desire to live near to the Lord, and to follow after holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord.

I had frequent impressions that I should preach, even previous to my conversion, and these impressions increased ten-fold afterward. The responsibility of the ministerial office for some time deterred me; yet my eyes were opened to see how all men had corrupted their way before the Lord, and I had an abiding impression on my mind of the wonderful love of God, which he manifested to the human family. I was often so affected that I went to others, and told them of their danger in neglecting their salvation. My heart was at the same time filled with joy and sorrow—the former from a view of God's goodness, the latter from a view of man's lost condition.

The impression that I should preach grew so strong that I told some friends of it; and they exhorted me not to resist this impression. At first I felt a great struggle within, yet I was convinced that it was my duty to call sinners to repentance. I finally resolved to devote myself wholly to the service of the Lord. Now my soul was satisfied, and the Lord strengthened me in knowledge and in his grace and love to him. Soon after, I received license to preach. At my first efforts the Lord strengthened and blessed me. I commenced my labors in March, 1848, in the name of God. Since then I have seen many come from darkness to light. May the Lord keep us all faithful, and bring us at last to praise him before his throne!


Early Methodist and Evangelical information below is gleaned from Brink, Immanuel/Immanuels, and Highland, Illinois, Sesquicentennial Association history and sources:

In 1836, heads of the Methodist Episcopal Church began a mission to establish congregations west of Ohio and Pennsylvania among the Germans. Reverend Wm. Hemminghaus went to Highland as one of the earliest preachers there. Reverend Koeneke organized the first society in Highland in 1846. He was succeeded by Reverend Kunz in 1847 and Reverend William Fiegenbaum in 1848. A church was completed in 1849, 40 by 30 feet, two stories high, with a steeple and bell; its value was put at $2000 circa 1882. Reverend Fiegenbaum was in charge of the mission which included many of the surrounding communities. Among those were Edwardsville, Fosterburg, Moro, Upper Alton, and Staunton. He was assisted by Rev. Keck and Reverend Koch who in 1882 became president of Central Wesleyan College at Warrenton, MO (Brink 1882).

"Great and exhausting were the labors of those early pioneer preachers, but they felt themselves equal to almost any emergency. With heroic devotion to their work and self-denying determination, they shared the hardships and difficulties of the early German settlers. They were on horseback almost every day, seeking the lost sheep of the house of Israel, preaching in log cabins, school houses, and where ever they could get any hearers, many or few, to teach them the way of righteousness, expecting very little compensation but what the great Shepherd might please to give them at the great day. And their labors were not in vain. Many persons became converted and rejoiced in the experience a new life."

"When in the year 1849 the Cholera broke out, eight to ten persons died almost every day at Highland. Rev. Wm. Fiegenbaum was stopped on his rounds for fear he would spread the disease. But then he went to nurse the sick and dying, often day and night, for two months, administering faithfully to their bodily and spiritual wants. After that he resumed his labors and was eminently successful in building up the societies in Madison county. Several years later a new church was built at Beaver Creek, where a society still exists. Most of the above mentioned appointments are still places for public worship; they are either formed into separate organizations or connected with other charges (Brink, p. 292, 1882)."

In 1860 Edwardsville was made a separate charge with a preacher of its own. Dr. Weir, Sr., was the main influence for the establishment of the Edwardsville congregation. He took a great interest in the German work and gave the church his support. Rev. Wm. Koeneke was the first resident pastor in Edwardsville in 1866 (Brink 1882).

The Highland, Illinois, Sesquicentennial Association, 1810-1987, reported that the first religious services in Highland in 1837 were conducted in a primitive schoolhouse on "Methodist Hill." This was at the intersection of Zschokke and Twelfth Streets. This corner eventually became the site of a school and then the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church beginnings were in 1845 in the schoolhouse, but by 1846 a decision was made to build a new church. This church of rough stone and brick was completed in 1849 at the same corner of Zschokke and Twelfth Streets. The site would later become the W. O. W. and Hi-Land Auto Parts; this area is still known as Methodist Hill in 2005.

To digress to the Evangelical of Highland, IL, the Highland, Sesquicentennial Association, 1810-1987 continues:
There were no resident ministers in these early years and all shared the little schoolhouse. All services and creeds were welcomed. The German and Swiss people were always broad-minded on religious subjects and the settlers of Highland were no exception. Out of this "spiritual climate," the beginnings of the Evangelical UCC of Highland took shape in 1840 under the direction of a young Protestant clergyman named Joseph Rieger. Between 1840 and 1843, under Pastor Rieger's leadership, the congregation decided to build a church at the present-day site of 1013 Ninth Street. This church was described as 40 feet long and 20 feet wide. In 1963, this church and site were vacated and a new church was built at 2406 Poplar; the name of the church became officially "The Evangelical United Church of Christ."

Pastor Rieger also served the Immanuel/Immanuels UCC, Holstein, MO. By 1847 The Reverend Joseph Rieger had returned to the Gravois, St. Louis, settlement and soon accepted the position of first resident minister of Immanuel/Immanuels U.C. C., Holstein, MO. There was no parsonage at the time, so arrangements were made for his family to live in an old log cabin on the Henry Oberhellman farm. At that time in Charrette Township, there were only three men who owned a wagon; one of these was Wilhelm Schoppenhorst, uncle by marriage of the Reverend William Fiegenbaum. Mr. Schoppenhorst's wife, Maria, was a sister to mother of Reverend Feigenbaum. Wilhelm Schoppenhorst had made previous trips to St. Louis, so he organized the trip that would bring Pastor Rieger's household from Gravois, St. Louis, to his new home at Holstein, Charrette settlement. This journey was blessed with mild Indian summer weather and took four days. Pastor Rieger and his family followed in their one horse wagon. With all the good work that Pastor Rieger was to accomplish at Holstein, he also helped found and develop the Evangelical Seminary at Marthasville, now Emmaus Home Inc (Immanuels UCC 1989).

In 1846 above Wilhelm Schoppenhorst was fully ordained and received a Ministers License and on 23 February 1850, a Local Preaching License, which was annually renewed. Such was another connection of the Fiegenbaum family to the Schoppenhorst. For "Stories of the Schoppenhorst Family," please see the homepage of Dr. Martin Schoppenhorst, Berlin, Germany:

Gretchen (Klein) Leenerts deserves much credit for researching the Fiegenbaum family. For additional Fiegenbaum family information, please visit the web site of J. Mark Fiegenbaum:




  • Created by: Jane Denny
  • Added: 17 Jun 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 27617774
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Hermann William Fiegenbaum (17 Sep 1824–30 Nov 1906), Find A Grave Memorial no. 27617774, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Jane Denny (contributor 46932556) .