Uplegger, Francis J., 1867-1964

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Biographical note: Missionary; Francis J. Uplegger was a Lutheran minister who arrived at San Carlos with his family in 1919 to establish a mission to the San Carlos Apache. He learned their language, then translated the Lutheran catechism, creed, liturgy and bible into Apache. Uplegger also wrote a four-volume Apache-English dictionary and assisted the Apache in writing their constitution. Uplegger was officially adopted into the San Carlos community in 1961.

From the description of Apache language songbook, 1940-1960. (Arizona Historical Society, Southern Arizona Division). WorldCat record id: 49980521

Father and son Lutheran missionaries on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona.

From the description of Francis J. Uplegger papers, 1899-1964 (bulk 1917-1960). (University of Arizona). WorldCat record id: 27959831

Lutheran missionary (Wisconsin Synod) to the San Carlos Apache Indians from 1919 until his death; he was adopted into the tribe in 1961. Married Emma Plass in 1891, they had four children, Johanna, Alfred, Dorothea, and Gertrude.

From the description of Francis J. Uplegger photographs, ca. 1915-ca. 1965. (Scottsdale Public Library). WorldCat record id: 27302336

Francis J. Uplegger was born in Rastozk, Germany on October 29, 1867, and died on the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona on June 13, 1964. Educated in Germany, he emigrated to the United States at age nineteen and enrolled at Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He was ordained pastor of Saint John's Congregation in Hermansfort, Wisconsin, in July, 1891 and continued an active preaching career until his retirement, nearly 70 years later, in February, 1961.

His son Alfred Uplegger followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a Lutheran minister. In 1917 he 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.

From the guide to the Francis J. Uplegger papers, 1867-1964 (bulk 1917-1960), (University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections)

Franz John Theo Uplegger (more commonly known as Francis J. Uplegger) was born in Rostock, Germany on October 29, 1867. He emigrated to the United States in August of 1886 and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. He studied at the Concordia Seminary, but was not granted a Doctorate of Divinity until 1957. Uplegger was naturalized in 1895. In 1891, he became pastor of the St. John's congregation (Wisconsin Synod) in Hermansfort, Wisconsin. He went on to hold posts in Denmark and Germany and served as director of the Lutheran high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin upon returning to the United States. In 1919 Uplegger followed his son (also a Lutheran pastor) to San Carlos, Arizona (then known as Rice) to establish a mission to the San Carlos Apache, where he remained for the rest of his life.

When Uplegger arrived in Arizona he was already familiar with German, English, Norwegian, French, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. He learned the Apache language while at the mission and wrote a four-volume Apache-English dictionary. His works include Apache translations of most of the Lutheran catechism, creed, liturgy, and much of the Bible. Uplegger also assisted the San Carlos Apache in writing their constitution in 1930-1931. This document was later used as a model by many other tribes. Known fondly as Old Man Missionary, Uplegger was officially adopted into the San Carlos tribe in 1961. He died on the reservation on June 13, 1964.

Uplegger married Emma Plass (1866-1925) on August 20, 1891 in Dodge County, Wisconsin. They had four children, Alfred Martin Johannes (1892-1984), Johanna (Uplegger) Rosin (1896-1983), Gertrude E. (1898-1991), and Dorothea (Uplegger) Behn (1902-1986).

From the guide to the Preliminary Inventory of the Reverend F. J. Uplegger Papers, 1896-1986, (Arizona State University Libraries Arizona Collection)

Franz John Theo Uplegger (more commonly known as Francis J. Uplegger) was born in Rostock, Germany on October 29, 1867. He emigrated to the United States in August of 1886 and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. He studied at the Concordia Seminary, but was not granted a Doctorate of Divinity until 1957. Uplegger was naturalized in 1895. In 1891, he became pastor of the St. John's congregation (Wisconsin Synod) in Hermansfort, Wisconsin. He went on to hold posts in Denmark and Germany and served as director of the Lutheran high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin upon returning to the United States. In 1919 Uplegger followed his son (also a Lutheran pastor) to San Carlos, Arizona (then known as Rice) to establish a mission to the San Carlos Apache, where he remained for the rest of his life.

When Uplegger arrived in Arizona he was already familiar with German, English, Norwegian, French, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. He learned the Apache language while at the mission and wrote a four-volume Apache-English dictionary. His works include Apache translations of most of the Lutheran catechism, creed, liturgy, and much of the Bible. Uplegger also assisted the San Carlos Apache in writing their constitution in 1930-1931. This document was later used as a model by many other tribes. Known fondly as Old Man Missionary, Uplegger was officially adopted into the San Carlos tribe in 1961. He died on the reservation on June 13, 1964.

Uplegger married Emma Plass (1866-1925) on August 20, 1891 in Dodge County, Wisconsin. They had four children, Alfred Martin Johannes (1892-1984), Johanna (Uplegger) Rosin (1896-1983), Gertrude E. (1898-1991), and Dorothea (Uplegger) Behn (1902-1986).

From the guide to the Francis J. Uplegger Photographs, circa 1915-circa 1965, (Arizona State University Libraries Arizona Collection)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Francis J. Uplegger Photographs, circa 1915-circa 1965 Arizona State University Libraries Arizona Collection
creatorOf Uplegger, Francis J., 1867-1964. Francis J. Uplegger papers, 1899-1964 (bulk 1917-1960). University of Arizona Libraries
creatorOf Uplegger, Francis J., 1867-1964. Apache language songbook, 1940-1960. Arizona Historical Society, Southern Arizona Division
referencedIn Newcomer, E. D., 1896-1973. Newcomer portraits, M-Z, 1926-1970 (bulk 1950-1969). Arizona Historical Society, Southern Arizona Division
creatorOf Francis J. Uplegger papers, 1867-1964 (bulk 1917-1960) University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
creatorOf Preliminary Inventory of the Reverend F. J. Uplegger Papers, 1896-1986 Arizona State University Libraries Arizona Collection
creatorOf Uplegger, Francis J., 1867-1964. Francis J. Uplegger photographs, ca. 1915-ca. 1965. Arizona State University Libraries
referencedIn Woody, Clara T., 1885-1981. Gila County photographs, ca. 1885-1935. Arizona Historical Society, Southern Arizona Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arizona State University. Libraries. Dept. of Archives and Manuscripts corporateBody
associatedWith Brockman, Paul. person
associatedWith Evangelical Lutheran Church corporateBody
associatedWith Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other States. corporateBody
associatedWith Evangelical Lutheran Mission (San Carlos, Ariz.) corporateBody
associatedWith Guenther, Edgar. person
associatedWith Newcomer, E. D., 1896-1973. person
associatedWith Uplegger, Alfred person
associatedWith Uplegger, Alfred. person
associatedWith Uplegger, Dorothea. person
associatedWith Uplegger, Gertrude. person
associatedWith Uplegger, Johanna. person
associatedWith Woody, Clara T., 1885-1981. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
San Carlos Indian Reservation (Ariz.)
San Carlos Indian Reservation (Ariz.)
Arizona
Arizona
San Carlos Indian Reservation (Ariz.)
Arizona
Subject
Apache languages
Lutheran Church--Clergy--Photographs
Missionaries--Archives
Missionaries
Missionaries--Photographs
Apache Indians--Missions
Songbooks--Texts
Photograph collections
Indians of North America--Missions--Pictorial works
Lutheran Church--Missions
Missions--Photographs
Missions
Apache Indians--Pictorial works
Lutheran Church--Missions--Photograph
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1867-10-29

Death 1964-06-13

English,

Apache languages,

German

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