The Frau Erica Project
Muellers in America:
The first 154 years







 
 
   

Gerhard Mueller got a Detroit Lakes photographer to shoot St. John’s Church at Height of Land, Minnesota, a church his Uncle Paul built. The credit stamp on the back of the print says “Rev. Gerhard Mueller’s church / N.W. Rasmussen, Johnson Studio, Detroit Lakes, Minn.”

“Immer eine Freude in Height of Land zu predigen”

Gerhard Mueller’s last Christmas letter to the California aunts, written December 20, 1969, and transcribed by his sister Frieda. Gerhard was serving St. John’s Lutheran Church in Height of Land, a congregation established by his uncle, the aunts’ brother Rev. Paul Gerhard Mueller.


Gerhard writes from “winter quarters”

With his unheated parsonage and unheated churches too cold for winter survival, Gerhard would move into the Morningside Motel in the fall and stay until the weather warmed reliably in the spring. He referred to the Morningside Motel as his “winter quarters.” No one seemed to know details about the annual arrangement — only that Gerhard was reasonably warm and safe during the worst part of the northern Minnesota winter.

The first sentence of Gerhard’s letter was written in German script. Gerhard sprinkled German script throughout his letters — more often than any of his siblings and sometimes to people he knew would not be able to decipher it.


Frazee, Minnesota
Den 20 Dezember 1969

Frazee, Minnesota
December 20, 1969

Liebe Tanten,

Dear Aunts,

Ich wohne hier im Winter in einer Herberge ein, zwischen Frazee und Detroit Lakes. Auf English, würde das ein Motel bedeuten. Schnee brauch ich nicht wegschaffen und Holz muß ich auch nicht spalten. Der Eigentümer der Herberge heißt Ericksen und ist Lutherisch. Er ist immer bereit mich zur Kirche nach Height of Land zu fahren im kältesten Wetter (auch um 5 Uhr Morgens).

In the winter here, I reside in an inn between Frazee and Detroit Lakes. In English, that would be a motel. I do not need to clear away the snow, nor do I need to split wood. The proprietor of this establishment is named Ericksen and he’s Lutheran. He is always ready to drive me to church at Height of Land even in the coldest weather — and at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Vor 15 Jahren gab es hier in Height of Land einer großen Krawall. Die Gemeinden trennten sich. Die große Schwester Erna war sehr betrübt über diesen Zustand und schrieb: “I am greatly depressed in mind to think what has happened to Uncle PG’s churches.” [It was Rev. P.G. Mueller who first preached at Pine Point Indian Reservation for the Lutheran Church. — FEM]

Fifteen years ago, there was a great uproar here in Height of Land. The congregation dissolved. Big sister Erna was very disturbed by those circumstances and wrote me, “I am greatly depressed in mind to think what has happened to Uncle PG’s churches.” [It was Rev. P.G. Mueller who first preached at Pine Point Indian Reservation for the Lutheran Church. — Frieda]

Als nun keiner mehr hier predigen wollte, kam die Reihe an mich: “Why not go to Ponsford?” Weil nun die große Schwester so “greatly depressed in mind” war, habe ich des Onkel’s Parochie übernommen — “auf ein Jahr.” Es sind jetzt 12 Jahre geworden. Der Onkel hat hier eine feine Kirche gebaut und hat auch ein buntes Fenster gestiftet zum Andenken an Wilhelm und Adelheid Müller. Alles ist noch gerade so als wie am Einweihungstage. Wenn nun der schöne Sonntag kommt, dann ist es mir immer eine Freude in Height of Land zu predigen. Der Kirchenbesuch ist nicht der beste. Es sind Leute die nicht in Christlichen Verhältnißen erzogen worden sind. Ich habe sie unterrichtet und konfirmiert als Erwachssene, aber mehr habe ich mich erreicht. In 1969 waren es 12 Erwachsene die ich konfirmiert habe. (Der Visitator behauptet ich habe sie verkonfirmiert.) Im Laufe des letzten Jahres fuhr ich an die 40,000 Meilen mit meinem geschenkten Automobile (Geschenk von Walter und Lydia Deubner, Lake George, Minnesota). Predigte in Beltrami County und in drei Gemeinden in Becker County.

So, now that no one wanted to preach here anymore, I thought it was my turn: “Why not go to Ponsford?” Since the big sister was so “greatly depressed in mind,” I took over my uncle’s parish — just for a year. It has been 12 years now. Uncle Paul built a fine church here and paid for a stained glass window in memory of Wilhelm and Adelheid Mueller. Everything is just as it was on the day the church was consecrated. Now when the sabbath day comes, it is always a joy for me to preach in Height of Land. The church attendance is not the best. These are people who were not brought up well in a Christian tradition. I have given them instruction and confirmed them as adults, but I have a lot left to do. In 1969 I confirmed 12 adults. (The circuit counselor maintains that I confirmed them absolutely.) In the course of this last year, I’ve put about 40,000 miles on my donated car (a gift of Walter and Lydia Deubner of Lake George, Minnesota). I preached in Beltrami County and at three congregations in Becker County.

Our Dad often spoke of moving to Australia to reform the church and begin anew a free church in a free land. It takes a pious parentage and Christian environment.

Our Dad often spoke of moving to Australia to reform the church and begin anew a free church in a free land. It takes a pious parentage and Christian environment.

Fröhliche Weihnachten,

Merry Christmas,

Gerhard

Gerhard

Height of Land