The Rev. Peter Buschmann
Peter Buschmann (also spelled Buschman; in Latvian, Pēteris Bušmanis) was born October 15, 1883, in Latvia. He came to the United States in July 1907 to study at the Rochester Theological Seminary in New York.1 He was one of several Latvians in Rochester, and while there Buschmann came under the influence of the Social Gospel movement. After graduating from the seminary, Buschmann relocated to Boston, where he took over duties as minister to the Latvian Baptist church and started to pursue studies at Harvard University. He also began courting his future wife, Emilija Neubuck (daughter of Latvian Baptist minister John Neubuck). Unhappy in Boston, Buschmann accepted an invitation from the St. Paul Baptist Church (Pāvila draudze) in Liepāja to become its new pastor. However, the outbreak of World War I prevented travel back to his homeland and Buschmann stayed for a while longer in Boston. On December 30, 1914, Buschmann, 31, and Emilija, 18, were married in Cambridge, Massachusetts.2 The couple relocated to Philadelphia, where Buschmann replaced the late John Neubuck as pastor. While his first years in Philadelphia appeared to be successful, Buschmann's relationship with Emilija continued to be as rocky as it had been before they married, according to his diaries. The Buschmann couple had a daughter, Lola (Lolly), in 1915, but she died at age 3 from tubercular meningitis3. Besides ministering to the Philadelphia congregation, Buschmann also served Latvian Baptists in Bucks County (north of Philadelphia); Sussex County, Virginia; and Lavallette, New Jersey. He wrote frequently for the Baptist journal Jaunā Tēvija and briefly was the second co-editor of its successor, Drauga Balss, from November 1918 through March 1919. Sometime in the early 1920s, Peter and Emilija divorced. In April 1924, Buschmann applied for a passport so he could return to Latvia for a visit. Back in his homeland, he delivered sermons in several Baptist churches. He also met Valija (Valia) Stanley, who became his second wife. Buschmann continued as pastor of the Philadelphia Latvian Baptist Church until 1928. Buschmann eventually drifted away from the Baptist faith and adopted radical sympathies — although he remained religious. He and Valija moved to Staten Island, New York, where they had one daughter, Camille. Buschmann for years worked in a Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Co. plant in Port Ivory, New York (see, for example, his 1942 draft registration) In his spare time, Buschmann read widely and continued his involvement in radical politics and liberal theology. He was a frequent contributor to the Latvian-American communist newspaper Amerikas Latvietis4.
1. Ž. Kalniņš, "P. Bušmaņa izvadīšana no Liepājas uz Ročesteri, Z. Ameriku," Avots 7:30 (July 25, 1907) p. 357.
2. "Unique Wedding at First Baptist Church," Cambridge Chronicle, January 2, 1915, p. 8.
3. Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1964 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
4. The newspaper was published in Boston from 1940-1976. It should not be confused with the earlier Baptist periodical by the same name, published 1902-1905 in Philadelphia.