The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 68 - 72

Shortly after the sale of the land it was privately decided that in wording of the deed "assigns" must be stricken and replaced with the sentence "Rev. J. A. A. Grabau and successor in office." Pastor Grabau asked Mr. Patchin to do both these things. Later it showed that Mr. Patchin had put in the word "successor" with the words "in office" but the word "assigns" had not been stricken; indeed this had so little meaning that the sentence "in trust for the synod" seemed sufficiently significant to indicate that the property was not a personal asset but rather one held and administrated. To this end in 1853 a duly filed constitution and declaration were made whereby according to the laws of the State of New York the property was secured for the synod. Due to a mistake on the part of the commissioned notary the declaration was not recorded, thus it had no validity before the Law. When in 1866 Pastor Grabau's persecutors approached him, saying that he should draw up another deed, he was prepared to do so but in return he desired from them a valid Revers in which they would pay him for his 19 years of instruction in the college, as was proper before God and man that a worker receive compensation for his labor. He had not worked for 19 years in the college just to be tossed out of office and church amid insult, scorn and slander from his students. He was not obliged to have offered up his time, work and energy for the Buffalo Synod's falling into false doctrine concerning church hierarchy and godless practice, (later) delivering a portion of them to Missouri. He may very well have labored for 19 years at the college for nothing, but he had never given the synod a promise concerning it. It had never been his intention to serve our church foes, those people from Missouri persecuting us since 1841, by educating ministers and teachers; rather he intended to serve the Lord Jesus and his church. His love of Christ's Church, his desire to preserve and broaden the pure doctrine of the Lutheran Church allowed him to perform such difficult and arduous work with joy in and for those who wished to stand by and reside in the truth. No man, who has any sense of justice, can desire that he be maltreated with spiritual kicks and punches from people who became someones because of him; such demands should not be placed upon someone expending so much effort and work on someone else's behalf!

On June 14, 1866 Shoemaker H. came to Pastor Grabau with a prepared deed and wanted him to sign it. This deed was made out to the college trustees. Pastor Grabau, who knew that the college was not incorporated under law, had misgivings about turning the college over to a body, which did not have a legal charter of incorporation, so he did not sign it but he would immediately have a deed drawn up in the name of their new senior and representative, Pastor Maschop, in trust for the synod. The notary, who executed the deed, doubted that Pastor Grabau had a legal right to such a transfer so he asked an attorney, who clarified: Pastor Grabau could not transfer the deed to a private person such as Maschop. While this was happening Pastor Grabau was being accused by his opponents. Since he could not in good conscience sign the college over to an alleged corporation with no legal standing and he could not sign the college over to Maschop in trust for the synod he did the only thing left to him and for this he was sued. He consulted legal authorities so they could decide.

Three times the plaintiffs went to court, the last time in the Supreme Court; each time the court awarded the deed to the college in trust for the synod. Judge Clinton himself refuted the foolish and false claim of the enemies, that Pastor Grabau wanted the college for himself; he proffered the deed to the opposing attorney and said: "he is the holder but not the owner; he never can take it for his own personal use." Thus the college remained in the possession of the legally established Buffalo Synod, to which Pastor Grabau was newly elected as Senior Minister and representative on June 8, 1866. He immediately transferred the deed to one electee from the synod and filed a charter of college incorporation composed of 21 men with 7 trustees signing the charter. Now these men, as Pastor Grabau had done previously alone, hold the college in trust for the synod. (See the Act of Incorporation in the appendix of this book.)

From the above account we see that their intention to snatch the college for themselves did not succeed. The greatly embittered enemies were not ashamed that they had publically insulted Pastor Grabau by calling him a traitor and perjurer. One of the students went so far as to propagate and further this campaign by publishing a thoroughly common book of slanders and lies.[1.]


[1.] Translator's note: This book is titled What Grabau Teaches and Professes. The book and its translation can be found at Return to text

Pastor Grabau supposedly perjured himself because he denied the following untrue assertions of his opponents:

1. The assertion that the plaintiff was a pre-existent corporation under and in accordance with the laws of the State of New York. In reality such was not the case since the college was not incorporated before 1866.

2. The assertion "that the alleged corporation acquired and provided funding for the property and that in accordance with an expressed agreement among themselves the deed was drawn up in the name of Pastor Grabau, representative of the synod, and that after they were duly incorporated Pastor Grabau was supposed to hand over the deed to said corporation. To the advantage and for the use of said corporation, the corporate officers (the plaintiffs) had allowed the bill of sale to the property be transferred through Aran Patchin to Pastor Grabau, as president of the synod, and his successors in office on December 16, 1852."

Pastor Grabau could not acknowledge such untruths in good conscience; indeed he had to deny them. Thus 1.) the alleged corporation (the plaintiffs) could not have acquired and purchased the property in 1852 because, as our 2nd Synodal Letter, pages 39 and 40, proves, the college trustees were first elected in June 1853 and up to that point no trustees were at hand. Thus it must 2.) also be untrue that they had allowed the transfer of the deed from Patchin to Pastor Grabau's name with the stipulation that he would hand it over to them after the incorporation and 3.) that the piece of land had been purchased to the advantage and for the use of said corporation (which had no legal existence according to the laws of the States.)

3. The assertion: "that said corporation at the time had laid down the purchase sum of $200.00 and later collected money and fully paid off the mortgage given to Pastor Grabau;" since 1.) there were no trustees on December 16, 1852,

they could not have paid the $200. The truth is that Pastor Grabau personally on Dec. 16, 1852 paid Mr. Patchin with funds from the congregations and especially from funds accumulated from the Buffalo congregation.

4. The assertion: "that the entire purchase price for the land and the costs and expenditures for its improvement as well as the construction of the building were paid by the plaintiff or from the funds belonging to the plaintiff and that they were not paid by the accused or paid out of his personal funds."

Pastor Grabau had never asserted or stated that the payments were paid out of his own funds; regardless of whether it was by him or through him, the payments were not made by the plaintiffs for the above listed reasons.

5. The assertion: "that the defendant (Pastor Grabau) held the title to said land in trust for the plaintiffs." No! He publically stated he held the deed in trust for the synod, not for the corporation, which had no legal status at the time.

6. The assertion: that Pastor Grabau "had been asked by the plaintiff after the legal incorporation of the trustees to give the deed to said land over to the plaintiff since this was the reason for their incorporation but the pastor refused to do this."

Pastor Grabau could deny this in good conscience since they asserted here that they supposedly approached Pastor Grabau for the transfer of the deed on August 28, 1853 after their incorporation. This is untrue. They never approached him until the schism in 1866. As reported above, he was approached by H. after the schism; he did not deny this but rather he testified to it while providing evidence related to the pre-existent deed.

This matter is reported in such fine detail in accordance with the court decrees I have before me in order to refute the charge of perjury with the truth; the charge was widely spread by the above mentioned book of slander and lies

and it uprooted the faith in many a heart unacquainted with the true state of affairs. The comparison of all the decrees from the trial with the history of the college, as they can be verified in the 2nd Synodal Letter and the old editions of the Informatorium, show that Pastor Grabau had not recklessly or falsely given testimony under oath; rather he was a man who in good conscience gave evidence only to the truth of the matter. May God forgive all his enemies, persecutors and slanderers and teach them the way.



Sickness, Death and Burial

Although he (Pastor Grabau) had often suffered from serious illness, early on during the time of his imprisonment and in the first 10 years here in America, and although he had been led to the brink of death, the Lord God allowed him to reach a ripe old age for the sake of his church. He had the high and wondrous spiritual gift, which God had granted him, and clear theological understanding, which lived completely in the Word of God and the true teachings of our Lutheran church. He practiced and fortified himself in these things, remaining true to the service of the Church of God until the Lord called him back from his true work by sending him his last serious ilness in February 3rd of this year (1879). Even during his illness the well-being of his loyal Trinity congregation and the well-being of all Christian congregations throughout the synod were ever close to his heart. And although he was no longer able to personally attend to the varied and many requests for Christian counsel concerning ministerial and congregational matters in or outside of our synodal circle, he did these things through others. The body was broken but the spirit remained still fresh and

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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 19, 2006