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C.A.T. (Christian August Thomas) Selle Papers

Identifier: Collection ID-1397
Christian August Thomas Selle photo

Scope and Contents

The Selle Collection consists of items assembled from various sources over a period of years. It is arranged in a simple order by type of material. Of particular note is an English translation of Selle’s autobiography. The original was published serially in Der Lutheraner after his death from May through November 1898. The translation was prepared by William H. Nielsen and edited by George R. Nielsen.

Folder List
  • f. 1 Articles [n.d.]
  • f. 2 “Die Augsburgische Confession” [notebook, n.d.]
  • f. 3 Autobiography (1898)
  • f. 4 Autobiography — Nielsen translation
  • f. 5 Correspondence (1850-1861)
  • f. 6 Critique of Student Catecheses (1883-1885)
  • f. 7 Photographs
  • f. 8 Sermons (1876-1880)


  • 1850 - 1898

Biographical / Historical

Christian August Thomas Selle was born on 21 February 1819 at Gelting, Schleswig, to Jasper Ludwig and Johanna Catharina Magdalena (Ostenfeldt) Selle. Jasper was a school teacher and organist. Under the tutelage of his father, August was teaching student in the lower grades in Gelting and other places at the age of fourteen. In 1837 he emigrated to the United States, landing at Baltimore on 29 September 1837. Unable to find a teaching position, August worked as a laborer digging a canal and building a railroad until he found a position as a typesetter with a printer in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.

On 7 November 1841 August married Anna Plocher (b. 18 November 1818; d. 6 January 1898) at Washington, Pennsylvania. Eleven children were born to this union, of whom two died in infancy and six preceded their parents in death. Among those who survived were Johanna Steinbach, Ernst (a teacher in Boone, Iowa) and Ludwig (a teacher in Chicago).

After a brief and unsuccessful business venture put August and his wife in debt, he found a temporary charge as pastor at West Newton (Robstown), Pennsylvania, in 1842. He had received a temporary license to preach from the president of the Eastern District of the Ohio Synod. At the fall convention of the district in 1843 he was given a regular license. From 1844 to 1846 he served at New Lisbon and Georgetown, Ohio. He was ordained in 1846 in Cleveland by a Pastor Schmidt.

In the meantime, Selle had come in contact with Dr. Wilhelm Sihler and Pastor F.C.D. Wyneken, from whom he became acquainted with confessional Lutheranism. Along with several other pastors, he left the Ohio Synod. In 1846 he became pastor of a congregation in Chicago of mixed Lutheran and Reformed confession. The founding meeting of the Missouri Synod was held at this congregation in 1847. In 1848 the congregation split, and Selle, left with only four families sharing his confession, reorganized the group as First St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Selle later served as pastor at Crete, Illinois (1851–1858) and Rock Island, Illinois (1858-1861). From the latter city he undertook mission trips to Iowa City, Hampton and Fort Byron, Iowa. In 1861 was called as professor at the Missouri Synod’s teacher seminary at Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1864 the school moved to Addison, Illinois, where Selle served until 1893. He moved back to Rock Island as an assistant pastor until he resigned on 6 February 1898. He died in Chicago on 3 April 1898 and is buried at Rock Island, Illinois.


0.17 Linear Feet (One 2" document box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Custodial History

Original Collection ID M-0038

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this collection were donated by various people, including E. H. Eckmeier, February 1958; John W. Heussman, May 1968; George R. Nielsen, July 1991; Jean Selle Combs, July 1997; Willis T. Gehrke, November 1997.

C.A.T. (Christian August Thomas) Selle Papers
Marvin A. Huggins
July 18, 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Concordia Historical Institute Repository

804 Seminary Place
Saint Louis MO 63105 USA