Stirewalt Family papers, 1830s-1993

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Stirewalt family
6 Linear Feet
2750 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Stirewalt Family Papers, 1828-1993 (bulk 1850-1947), are comprised of the personal papers of individuals from four successive generations of the Stirewalt family. The correspondence, writings, diaries, legal/financial documents, photographs, and other miscellaneous papers found in this collection document the Stirewalt Family's personal lives and involvement in the Lutheran Church as ministers, educators and missionaries. The collection is divided into four primary series which reflect the individuals whose papers make up this collection: Jacob Stirewalt, Jerome Paul Stirewalt, Martin Luther Stirewalt, and Catherine A. Stirewalt. The arrangement of the collection is primarily chronological, following the lineage of the Stirewalt family. Subsections within each major series are determined by the type of materials found within the collection and are arranged either chronologically, as in the case of the Diaries and Correspondence Subseries, or alphabetically and thereunder chronologically, as in the case of the Writings Subseries.

The Stirewalt family is descended from Jacob Stirewalt, a minister and member of the Tennessee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Jacob Stirewalt was primarily active in and around New Market, Va. and Rowan and Shenandoah counties in Virginia. The Subseries related to Jacob Stirewalt includes Correspondence from 1828-1858, Writings (primarily sermons and sermon outlines in German and English) from the 1830s to the 1860s, and Diaries, which includes a Memorandum book where he recorded financial transactions and other records of his career as a minister from 1834 to his death in 1869.

Jerome Paul Stirewalt, the son of Jacob Stirewalt, was also a minister and a leader of the Tennessee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. He served as a minister in several pastorates in Virginia and North Carolina and several terms as president, secretary, and treasurer of the Tennessee Synod in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His papers are primarily composed of Correspondence, 1870-1933, with other ministers, relating to the business of the Tennessee Synod, and with family members. The collection also includes Jerome Paul Stirewalt's Writings, primarily sermons and sermon outlines, and other miscellaneous financial and legal papers. The Diaries Subseries is primarily memorandum books which list the date and location of religious services performed and the topic or title of sermons delivered by J.P. Stirewalt. These books serve to provide a record of Stirewalt's work as a Lutheran minister.

Martin Luther Stirewalt, the son of Jerome Paul Stirewalt, was also a Lutheran minister and educator at Lutheran schools and colleges in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Chicago, Ill. This series includes correspondence, diaries, writings and clippings which provide a picture of Stirewalt's theological education, activities as a minister and educator, and insights into his personal life and familial relationships.

The papers of Catherine A Stirewalt, Martin Luther Stirewalt's daughter, are primarily correspondence written while she was a Lutheran Missionary in China from 1939-1949. This correspondence provides documentation of the Lutheran Church's activities in China prior to and after World War II. Catherine Stirewalt's letters provide a great deal of detail about the daily lives of missionaries in China and some information about the lives of the Chinese people working as instructors or attending the mission school. There is no correspondence from the period of the first two years of World War II when she was interned in the Weihsien concentration camp near Tsingtao, China. Other miscellaneous clippings, photographs, and writings in this series provide further documentation of her experiences in China.

Biographical / historical:
Jacob Stirewalt
Date Event
Born August 17, in Rowan Cty., Va.
Married Henrietta Henkel, New Market, Va.
Licensed by the Tennessee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Ordained by the Tennessee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Died August 21; buried at Emmanuel Church, New Market, Va.

After his ordination, Jacob Stirewalt served pastorates in Shenandoah, Page, and Rockingham Counties in Virginia. He was an active member of the Tennessee Synod, often speaking at conventions held in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. He fathered four sons, two of whom became Lutheran ministers, and six daughters.

Jerome Paul Stirewalt
Date Event
Born, April 11, New Market, Va.
Ordained by the Tennessee Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Married to Tirzah A. Coffman, Shenandoah Cty., Va
D.D. Lenoir Rhyne College. Hickory, N.C.
Retired to New Market, Va.
Died; buried at New Market, Va.

Jerome Paul Stirewalt, one of Jacob Stirewalt's four sons, studied theology under pastors of the Tennessee Synod. During his career as a pastor, which spanned from 1874 to 1920, he served fourteen different churches in pastorates in Virginia. Jerome Paul Stirewalt was very active in the leadership of the Tennessee Synod, serving as secretary for six terms, and four terms each as treasurer and president. He was a frequent contributor to Lutheran and secular periodicals and contributed an article on the history of the Tennessee Synod for "The Lutherans in America," edited by E.J. Wolf.

Martin Luther Stirewalt
Date Event
Born, July 24, New Market, Va.
A.B. Lenoir Rhyne College, Hickory, N.C.
B.D. Chicago Seminary.
Instructor, Weidner Institute, Mulberry, Indiana.
Married Caroline Dentzer, Chicago, Ill.
Ordained, Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Professor of Ancient Languages at lenoir Rhyne College.
D.D. Lenoir Rhyne College.
Professor of Practical Theology, Chicago Seminary.
Graduate Study at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
Pastor of a Lutheran Church in Salsbury, N.C.
Retired to Hickory, N.C.
Associate Professor, Lenoir Rhyne College.
Member of the Board of Lenoir Rhyne College.
Died, March 10, Hickory, N.C.; Buried in New Market, Va.

Martin Luther Stirewalt, the only son of Jerome Paul Stirewalt, served as an instructor at the Weidner Institue, a Lutheran School in a suburb of Chicago, from 1906-1909. He was active in the leadership of the North Carolina Synod, serving as vice-president from 1917-1922 and from 1919-1922 was the secretary of the joint commission overseeing the merger of the Tennessee Synod with the North Carolina Synod. He also served on the board of Lenoir Rhyne College from 1921-1922 and again from 1935-1960.

Catherine A. Stirewalt
Date Event
B.A., Carthage College.
M.A., New York University.
Traveled to China to study Chinese and to begin missionary work for the Lutheran Church near Tsingtao in the Shantung Province.
Interned by the Japanese in the Weihsien Concentration Camp near Tsingtao, China during World War II.
Repatriated to United States.
Returned to China to resume missionary work for the Lutheran Church. Taught school in a Lutheran Mission near Tsingtao.
Left China as the Communists came to power.
Accepted as a Deaconess in the United Lutheran Church.

Catherine A. Stirewalt is the daughter of Martin Luther Stirewalt. Prior to pursuing her missionary activities, she worked as a high school teacher.

Acquisition information:
The collection was received in several separate gifts between 1988 and 1998.
Processing information:

Processed by Don Sechler

Completed 9/18/1998

Encoded by Don Sechler

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For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
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[Identification of item], Stirewalt Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.