There have been a number of local news stories the past week on the new pipe organ being put into Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard. This organ will have pipes 3 stories tall and will be one of the largest pipe organs in St. Louis. This reminded me of the connection Trinity has to many other Lutheran churches in the metro area. It is the mother church to many other congregations but also the first owner of the organ which is in the balcony of St. Salvator Lutheran Church in Venedy Illinois.
Old Trinity, Historic Trinity, was founded by Saxon immigrants in the 1830's. Some of those who came over from Germany and landed in St. Louis headed down to Perry County while another 200 or so stayed in the Soulard area. The locals built a church which of course included an organ and when the congregation became too large for the first building, a second was constructed in 1864. The organ was deemed too small for the new church and was sold to the members of St. Salvator.
"Six Venedy farmers, all members of the Venedy congregation, volunteered to bring the organ from St. Louis to Venedy, a distance of about 55 miles over the single dirt road that existed at that time. The day was 1865, and America was in the final days of - the Civil War. Carpetbaggers and other outlaws made traveling hazardous. The old St. Louis Trace crossed the Kaskaskia River at the only ferry in existence, located near the present hamlet of New Memphis Station. Once over the Cox's ferry here, the road was west through Mascoutah, Belleville, and on to St. Louis. The route was little more than a trail, rutted, muddy and little used. The roundtrip involved more than a week with several stops at inns on the road. Remember, this was before Ead's bridge spanned the Mississippi. So a second ferry crossing was made here. There were several minor mishaps, but eventually the organ reached Venedy."
Over the years there was periodic debate in Venedy over whether to scrap the old organ, but instead, repairs were made when needed. A musician from St Louis came to see the organ in the 1960's and said, "Junking this organ would be like putting the axe to some artifacts in the Smithsonian!"
This organ still leads the congregation in worship each Sunday!
The founder of Old Trinity and Concordia Seminary was CFW Walther who's nephew was the 3rd pastor in Venedy. Venedy's first pastor, Ottomar Feuerbringer, went to Chicago with Walther and others in the 1840's to officially form the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
So many connections. So much history.