The Sewing Circle is Smaller

Quilts, Zion Chatt.

Quilts, Zion Chatt.

Zion Chatt’s sewing circle is smaller these days. Catherine (Leininger) Miller, one of Zion’s faithful sewers, passed away last week. Catherine liked to knot the comforts sewn by Zion’s Women of the Church, tying knots with heavy thread to bind the layers of fabric together.

Catherine Miller, at the age of 90, was the oldest female lifetime member of Zion Chatt. Catherine was born 30 October 1922 in Mercer County, Ohio to Theodore “Ted” and Carrie (Becher) Leininger. Catherine was baptized 7 December 1922 by Rev. Albrecht at Zion, confirmed 31 May 1936 by Rev. Carl Yahl at Zion and married 29 December 1945 at Zion. Her funeral was 16 March 2013 at Zion. And she faithfully attended services at Zion all throughout her lifetime.

L to Rt Front: Helen Miller, Lela Bollenbacher, Rev. Carl Yahl, Irene Schott, Catherine Leininger. Back: Johh Willrath, Paul Schott, Catherine Becher, Laverne Ripley, Cleo Heffner, Rosemary Byer, Waldo Stuckey, Kenneth Byer.

1936 Confirmation Class. L to Rt Front: Helen Miller, Lela Bollenbacher, Rev. Carl Yahl, Irene Schott, Catherine Leininger. Back: Johh Willrath, Paul Schott, Catherine Becher, Laverne Ripley, Cleo Heffner, Rosemary Byer, Waldo Stuckey, Kenneth Byer.

Catherine’s maternal Becher family line goes to back to the very beginning of Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga. In fact, Catherine’s great-great-grandparents were sponsors for the first child baptized at Zion. Zion’s first recorded baptism was that of Johann Haeffner, born 22 October 1854 and baptized 18 November 1854 by Rev. Gackenheimer. His sponsors were Johann Becher, Friedrich and Margaretha Becher. This baptism actually occurred a couple months before Zion’s official formation in 1855.

If you follow my Tombstone Tuesday blog posts you will notice that I have recently featured members of the Becher family of Chattanooga. This past Tuesday I featured the tombstone of Margaretha (Schmidt) Becher, Catherine’s great-great-grandmother. Margaretha (Schmidt) Haffner married Friedrich Becher. Their son Johannes Becher married Anna Maria Becker. Friedrich and Anna Maria’s seventh child was Heinrich Conrad Becher who married Rosina Schlenker. Heinrich and Rosina’s daughter Carrie Becher married Ted Leininger. Ted and Carrie were Catherine’s parents.

Catherine’s maternal Becher line looks like this:
Friedrich Becher (1797-1878) & Margaretha Schmidt (1800-1875)
Johannes Becher (1833-1883) & Anna Maria Becker (1837-1917)
Heinrich Conrad (1866-1906) & Rosina Schlenker (1871-1964)
Ted Leininger (1895-1992) & Carrie Becher (1898-1988)
Glenn Miller (1923-1994) Catherine Leininger (1922-2013)

Catherine’s great-great-grandfather Friedrich Becher and great-grandfather Johannes Becher were both born in Germany and came to America about 1840. All of this wonderful family history is from Zion’s church records. Thanks to the German Lutherans for being great record-keepers.

Catherine & Dolores at Zion, 2005.

Catherine & Dolores at Zion, 2005.

We will miss seeing Catherine at church on Sunday mornings. She sat on our side of the church, about half way back. We don’t have assigned seating at Zion but everyone seems to sit in their own particular pew on Sunday mornings. As I recall, Catherine and her husband Glenn used to sit on the other side of the church before Glenn passed away in 1994. I think her parents used to sit near them back then.

I remember going to Sunday School and Bible School with Catherine’s children, Janet and Jerry. I remember the times her sister and nieces would attend Zion for a visit. Catherine often helped with Vacation Bible School in the summer. She said she enjoyed being around the children. She was also the Parkway High School secretary for 21 years.

Sewing and knotting comforts at Zion Chatt.

Sewing and knotting comforts at Zion Chatt.

Every year Zion’s Church Women sew between 50-100 comforts for Lutheran World Relief and now the sewing circle is a little smaller. And we will always remember this great lady who knotted the comforts.





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  1. This wonderful tribute to my Aunt Catherine brought tears to my eyes this morning. Thank you so much.

    1. You are welcome. She was a wonderful lady.

  2. Passing through the cemetary this week to check on the family markers and decorations, I noticed the fresh dirt and fading flowers. Although curious who had passed, I did not stop and check, but you have answered that question now. While most cemetaries are unfriendly, uncomfortable places, the small, open area at Zion always seems warm and welcoming (even on a cold, windy March day). Perhaps that is because of the peace we feel for our loved ones waiting there for that great Easter Day.

    1. Yes, Zion’s cemetery is warm and welcoming as you say, but I find most cemeteries that way. To me cemeteries are peaceful and I enjoy strolling through just about any cemetery. The markers have so much to tell. But I know what you mean–I feel especially close ties to cemeteries where family is laid to rest.

  3. Just noticed Waldo Stucky in the class photo. I think that is the first time I have ever seen him. I am told that I was named after him and his brother Elbert. Apparently it was a coincidence that Rev. Waldo Byers was there to perform my baptism.

    1. I did notice the name of Waldo Stucky but didn’t realize you were named after him. Interesting. They were perhaps good friends with your parents?

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