University of Arizona

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Papers of Francis J. Uplegger

Masthead of Lutheran Newspaper, 1899

Francis J. Uplegger was an ordained pastor of Saint John's Congregation in Hermansfort, Wisconsin, in July, 1891 and continued an active preaching career until his retirement. His son Alfred Uplegger followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a Lutheran minister and moved to Arizona to be a missionary to the Apache Indians on the San Carlos Reservation. Two years later Francis Uplegger joined him on the reservation and ministered there for the rest of his life.

Adept at languages, Francis quickly began to learn how to speak and write the Apache language. He went on to compile the first Apache dictionary. He also wrote approximately twenty-five Gospel hymns in Apache and translated several important Lutheran liturgical documents and portions of the Bible into Apache. Held in high esteem by many of the members of the tribe, he was affectionately called "Old Man Missionary." He assisted the tribe in drawing up a constitution in 1930-31 that was later used as a model by several other tribes. In 1957 Concordia Theological Seminary conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity upon him. Francis Uplegger was married to Emma Plass, who had come from Germany to be his bride in 1891. Their children were Dorothea, Gertrude, Johana, and Alfred.

Includes correspondence, writings, Bible translations, sermons, reports, and audiotapes, chiefly from 1917-1960, of Francis J. Uplegger, 1867-1964, and his son, Alfred Uplegger, relating to their work as Lutheran missionaries on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. Also included are biographical and background materials, mission records, and works of Alfred and Francis Uplegger.

Some material in German and Apache.