My father-in-law, retired pastor Rev. David Plocher, recently won an award from the Concordia Historical Institute for an article he published in the “WELS Historical Institute Journal” documenting his grandfather’s missionary work with Apache Indians in Arizona during the 1890s. There was an article about the award in the Waterloo, Wisconsin, Courier, dated 6 December 2009. Dave’s original article was published in two parts (April and October 2008), with the title “Apache Lutheran Mission Beginnings from the Letters of John Plocher.”
Both Dave and my mother-in-law Naomi have been researching family history since they retired. Since 1981 they have been charter members of the WELS Historical Institute. Dave found his grandfather John (Johannes) Plocher’s letters nearly by accident in the archives of the Wisconsin Lutheran Synod’s seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin, when he was helping Naomi to write an article. Dr. Arnold Lehmann translated the original German script into German Dave could read. Then Dave spent two years translating the letters into English. Dave also discovered his grandfather had created an Apache-English dictionary in 1893 (the dictionary is now in the Newberry Library in Chicago).
My husband John Plocher is named for his grandfather. His youngest brother, Martin Plocher, was for ten years principal and teacher at the school their great-grandfather founded on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation near Peridot, Arizona. The school is next to the church Johannes Plocher built over 100 years ago on a foundation of local peridot olivine with tufa walls.
Some pictures John took on the Apache reservation during a 2002 visit:
Photos Copyright 2002 John Plocher