The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 1 - 6

Part One

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Pastor Grabau's Childhood and School Years


Johannes Andreas August Grabau, the now blessed, deceased pastor of the Lutheran Trinity Church of Buffalo, was born on March 18th in the Year of the Lord [1804] in Olvenstadt, a large village near Magdeburg in the province of Saxony in the Prussian Empire. His parents were the Christian farmer, Johann Andreas Grabau, and his good Christian wife, Anna Dorothea, neé Jericho. On March 25th he received holy baptism from the united pastor of St. Larentius Church in Olvenstadt, H.L.S. Walther. His parents were pious people, who diligently read the Word of God in their home and prayed with their children, the recently deceased and his sister Lisette, who was four years younger than him. The children were educated in God's holy path, which they followed with great earnestness and joy.

In 1809 around Easter time at the age of 5 he was brought to the school of the cantor and organist H. Riess, who was also the teacher at the boys' school in Olvenstadt. The deceased says in his autobiography: "The primer on Christianity offered little, for it contained merely one rhyming morning prayer and one rhyming evening prayer, which I ceased reading more than once a week. For the prayer at meals there was still Luther's grace. The catechism used in the school in Olvenstadt was a rationalistic one in which only the five main chapters served as a beginning; this book also served for confirmation instruction in rationalism and unionism. Pastor Walther attempted to minimize Dr. M. Luther before the children,

"while presenting Zwingli and his work in full light and especially to impress upon the children the right and true teachings of Calvinist doctrine concerning the Eucharist."

In 1817 at the commemoration of the Reformation on October 31, about half a year before the confirmation of the future pastor, there was a 300 year jubilee celebration held. In his village the school children, approximately 400 boys and girls, were gathered and led by the sexton of the church to the altar where a morning and afternoon jubilee church service was held and the Union was proclaimed in the church.

From October 1817 until Easter 1818 the deceased continued to receive confirmation instruction and he was confirmed on Palm Sunday of 1818 with 24 other boys. He himself reports about it: "I received confirmation with much heartfelt emotion and on the following Wednesday I made my first private confession. Then the pastor spoke with me of God's grace and gave me absolution in the sacristy. After that there was never a private confession."

At the request of his [Grabau's] father Cantor Riess began giving him instruction in Latin, piano and organ until Michaelmas 1818 when he entered the upper fifth of the Cathedral Gymnasium [academic high school] in Magdeburg. Through sustained and true diligence and zeal he became one of the top students and already by Easter 1819 he graduated to the lower fourth and then by Michaelmas 1819 to the upper fourth. Around this time his studies were interrupted by illness but he was not completely debilitated. When he was in the upper third, between Michaelmas 1821 and Michaelmas 1822, his father died at the age of 56 on September 11, 1822 after an acute illness. This sudden death thoroughly devasted the 18-year-old boy. He himself writes of it: "With a broken heart and a tempest of tears I went behind the coffin and my weak faith could not sustain me from internal devastation as they lowered it into the grave. Wherever I went, he stood before my eyes. However I comforted myself with thoughts of his piety and I resolved to live now that he was dead as diligently as I had when he was alive. He was so kind to me and saw to everything for my education! Now my loving mother was a widow and my true advisor. My mother did not think that she could afford to support me at the gymnasium any longer.

"I however insisted upon it but since she could not pay for me to live in the city, I made the trip daily back and forth from Olvenstadt to the cathedral school at Magdeburg. At lunch time I stayed in the classroom and ate my slice of bread and the rest of my lunch. One day it happened that the classroom teacher, Wiggert, forgot something and returned to the classroom and saw me there all alone. He began to ask about my circumstances and finances and I told him everything. He became ever more earnest and friendly. After about 6 weeks (already in the second level) I learned from the rector of the gymnasium, the consistory advisor Matthias, that I had been granted a stipend of 25 dollars for the half-year. Who was happier than I? And my loving mother saw in this the finger of God, an indication that I should stay."

In 1823 the Rector of the Gymnasium recommended him to the banker, Mr. Nitze, who was looking for a trustworthy and reliable young man to instruct his son. He became a private tutor for him and was also employed by the physician, Mr. Niemeyer, in Magdeburg. Through this he not only acquired good lodging free of charge but also he earned enough money so he could continue his studies. All his school reports from the gymnasium and later the university indicate that the deceased applied great diligence in his studies and that he comported himself in his life and career in a trustworthy and conscientious manner just as he did his entire life. Among other things stated in his final report from the gymnasium it says: "His comportment towards his fellow students was always reasonable and tactful; towards his superiors he observed without exception a very praiseworthy, humble attitude of complete trust. His diligence was consistent and great and his effort was ever apparent to the utmost as he applied himself to his education " etc.

At Michaelmas 1825 he proceeded to the University at Halle. Here he heard these professors: Dr. Niemeier, Dr. Weber, Dr. Wegschneider, Dr. Gesenius, Prof. Marcks from the theology faculty, and Dr. Raabe, Dr. Gruber, Dr. Jacobs, Dr. Gerlach and Dr. Blaner from the philosophy faculty. In his departure report of May 12, 1829 it is stated: "With regard to his finances it can be certified that he took his leave with a respectable and comfortable sum due in no small extent to his frugality and moderation. In review of his scholarly achievements

it can be mentioned that one of the theological essays, which he worked on, was awarded a 35 Reichs Dollar prize on August 3, 1828."

On June 29, 1829 he passed his candidates exam with praise from the Royal Consistory of the Province of Saxony: "Good, with distinction." Dr. Marcks, Professor of Theology, University Minister and co-director of the Royal Theological Seminary said in his report concerning the candidate J. A. A. Grabau: "In him there has been demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the bible, dexterity in the development and representation of the concepts, the ability to write about and building upon ideas, the ability to fully express himself and speak powerfully. With all these fine attributes there is bound up in this young man a joyous profundity of knowledge and sense. He has the inner calling to the ministry and will therefore achieve great things."



First Ministry in the School and Church

On the 13th and 14th of May 1830 he took his finals for the education degree and was deemed "well qualified." After working so long as a private tutor he was appointed on October 14, 1831 teacher to the upper high school for girls by decree of Lord Mayor Frank of Magdeburg. After he had been there about three quarters of a year as a teacher, in June 1832 he received an appointment from the Rector of the public school in Sachsa. With the permission of the magistrate of Magdeburg he took this position in August 1832. In his final report, written by the Director of the girls' high school in Magdeburg, among other things it states: "His profound knowledge and his warm fervor worked to his advantage; the stringent impartiality, the caring and dedication, with which he performed every assignment, were as valuable as the exemplary and irreproachable manner in which he conducted his life and his

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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 16, 2006