Immigrant Women in the Settlement of Missouri

By Robyn Burnett; Ken Luebbering | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
German Women and the Church

There were few opportunities on the frontier for women to see other women outside their immediate families except for Sunday church services. In small immigrant towns throughout the state, the church was nearly always the heart of the community. Women in Missouri's German communities rarely took a visible, public role in church life, but Linda Pickle says immigrant churches “could not have functioned or, sometimes, survived without the on-going work women performed.” In Missouri's early history, women fed and housed traveling ministers, kept the church clean, decorated the altar for Sunday services, and held various fund-raisers. The wives of rural ministers often shouldered the hard physical labor of farm work with little or no help from their husbands, who were away from home much of the time because they traveled long distances as they served the needs of several parishes.

Adelheid von Borries, only eighteen when she married Pastor Hermann Garlichs in 1835, was the first German Evangelical minister's wife in the Missouri wilderness. Adelheid was born into an aristocratic family and grew up with the comforts of a wealthy home. Her father, Philip C. L. von Borries, was the head of an administrative district in Prussia. Henry Bode, who wrote a colorful chronicle of the lives of the Garlichs couple in Builders of Our Foundations, said: “What a contrast between the mansion she left behind and

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