Neuendettelsau Nostalgia


What was life like in Germany in 1830?

Actually, there was no Germany as we know it today. After the defeat of Napoleon and the Holy Roman Empire in 1815, a loose association of German-speaking Central European countries formed the German Confederation. It coordinated their economies and acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia. The long history of war and continued uneasiness made it necessary for the men to serve in the military. Most people lived in small villages scattered across the forests. Land was expensive. Life was hard. The government permitted the poor to gather dried branches and twigs in the forest preserves to heat their homes and cook their meals. One evening a shoemaker, barely making a living, stepped over the boundary of the preserve onto private property. A shot was fired at him. Although it missed its mark, it tore up the ground in front of the poor man, throwing mud onto him and into his face. This incident was the last straw, his decision was made then and there.

After hearing glowing reports of life in America, and making the decision to start a new life there, what did an emigrant do to prepare to leave?

In order to obtain the necessary exit visas, all family members had to provide documents such as baptismal and marriage certificates and, if old enough, evidence of having a trade or profession. Male emigrants of age had to prove they had fulfilled their military service. Some examples of local ancestors’ documents that have survived are passports, smallpox vaccination certificates, and even school discharge certificates complete with comments on the student’s work. These brave people set about selling their meager household belongings as well as any other property they owned. A trunk, that would make the journey with them, was carefully packed with the family Bible, documents, religious keepsakes, and perhaps items to remember loved ones they were leaving behind. Their clothing would be added as well as a few kitchen utensils, household goods, and tools. Some food would be taken. Many from this area traveled to the port of Bremen to begin their journey. Note: A dower chest (sometimes called immigrant trunk,) which made the trip from Germany to Union County in the 1830s, is on display at the Union County Historical Society.

What was a voyage across the ocean like in the 1830s?

Freight boats transported coffee, rice, tobacco, cotton and other goods from America to Bremen, and on their way back “exported” people. Seasickness, inadequate food, lack of privacy, cramped living quarters, and the spread of illnesses were all endured by the travelers. Passengers in some ships slept in narrow, closely packed bunks located below deck. One ship is described as having 28 beds 7’ wide x 5.5’ long; five people were assigned to a bed, but only four could sleep at one time. During storms the door was latched closed leaving passengers with little light or fresh air. The stench of vomit and un-emptied chamber pots could be overwhelming. The bread was old, the meat spoiled, and drinking water was rationed. The immigrants often complained of bad treatment by the crew, some saying they were treated like cattle.

Could the journey get any worse?

The Rausch family boarded a sailing ship with three masts anticipating a crossing of 50-60 days. However, storms broke the masts and shredded the sails, forcing them to endure 96 days at sea. Finally a friendly ship drew alongside giving them food and water, and tugged them for many days into the Chesapeake Bay. The Gaze family was more fortunate as they had no storms during their journey of 60 days. Despite the difficulties, many were excited by the adventure and approach of their new homes in America. To pass the time the passengers could write letters home or play games. Several babies were born at sea. The Vollrath family rejoiced in the birth of a son, but, sadly, history tells us another Vollrath family had a daughter die while at seams. Vollrath held the deceased child for three days until they reached the port so she would not be buried at sea. The Horch family experienced the birth of twins, but one died and was buried at sea as was the second son of the Rausch family who lived but one day.

On July 29, 1831, a British ship, the Brig James Beacham Galt sailed from Bremen for Baltimore. This ship was newly built and was 118’ long 28’ wide and 20’ high. It had two masts and 24 sails. The ship was also called “The Famous Dove,” or for reasons that will later become evident, “The Famous Pigeon. “Among the 162 passengers and crew onboard were Adam Blumenschein and his bride Anna Barbara Gotz. According to their passports Adam was 6’6” tall and Anna 5”4” tall. Also making the trip were future Union County settlers Johann Peter Arras, Heinrich Bauer, Blasius Beutel, Johann George Bohm, and George Ripper. When at sea 65 days and close to the coast of America, a storm came up and the ship was blown off course, losing the masts and, finally, the rudder. The ship started to thrust, knock, and crack. For two days and two nights they drifted helplessly. The ship was sinking! Amid this confusion, little twelve-year-old Margaretha Arras cried out, “If Christ stilled the waves and saved the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, He can save us, too! “The emigrants knelt on the wave-swept deck praying for deliverance. Note: The family names and stories mentioned in this series are from printed family and church histories, as well as interviews conducted in the early 1980s.If you would like your family history preserved in the congregation archives, whether your ancestors are from St. John’s or you are a first generation member, please give the information to the 175th anniversary committee.

During the storm the ship was washed upon a sand bar off the coastline of Virginia. Pumps were used to remove the water spilling into the craft. The waves finally grew smaller and at dawn it was discovered the ship was only a half mile from land. When a lifeboat was sent to shore, the occupants were noticed by a number of black slaves who were the first dark-skinned people the Germans had seen. Two of the slaves went after their master who could speak German. He told them where they had landed and helped as much as he could. Those who lived in the area opened their homes to the poor travelers and gave them something to eat. From the History of the Shipwreck, “Even though the sea had swallowed up most of their small earthly possessions, and even though this shipwreck had left them as poor strangers in a strange land, they were rich in faith in their Lord and were willing to labor and toil for their daily bread that they and their families might live. “In the hour of peril the shipwrecked immigrants made a solemn vow that if the Almighty saw fit to save them from death, they would for three generations hence gather to show their gratitude to Him who saved them. This vow continues to be honored in Hancock County, Ohio, 182 years later, on or near the date of September 17 by the descendants of the shipwreck. The churches who observe Shipwreck Sunday are Trinity in Jenera, St. Paul in Van Buren Township, Good Hope in Arlington, and St. John in Dola.

After the immigrants landed on the shores of America did they immediately head west?

Johann Phillip Bunsold was a ship stowaway. What little money he had was taken from him, and once on land he was apprenticed out to pay for his voyage. The Rausch family had only 25 cents when they landed in Baltimore in 1830, so Johann George found work in his trade of shoemaking. They were there about two years. The Shipwreck families established a camp near Norfolk, Virginia, until a steamship arrived from Baltimore to transport them to that city. After brief stays along the way, the Arras family was in Union County by 1832.It is believed the Bauers, Beutels, Blumenscheins, Bohms, and Rippers likely traveled with them. All the immigrants were seeking livelihoods. Most of them had trades, so they went where they were needed or had heard land was available. The Wolf family embarked for the United States in 1837 and spent seven years in New York State before settling here. Pennsylvania was the home of the Ruhls for three years. The Boergers, who immigrated ten years later, settled in the area now known as German Village in Columbus. They lived and worked there 15 years before coming to Union County. The Rupprechts, Scheiderers, and Schwartzkopfs also lived in or near Columbus before arriving here, while the Fladts and Kriegers first lived in the Hilliard area.

What was the journey like to Union County?

The Old National Trail through Columbus and the Divide Trail (now the Lincoln Highway through Canton and Mansfield) were the main paths and not paved. In the 1830s the usual mode of travel was by horse-drawn wagons. The wagons were piled high with belongings and with the small children, and sometimes the mothers, riding on the seats in the front. Their savings and any valuables were well hidden in the wagon. The men and older children walked. All but the smallest were often needed to help push the wagons uphill or when stuck in mud holes. The Rausch family had a dog tied to the axle of the wagon to help pull the wagon uphill and hold it back when going downhill. Along the way the travelers enjoyed the hospitality of others, as was common in those days. Once arriving in Columbus, those wanting to go on to Union County were instructed to follow an old Indian trail and not cross any streams. Finally they came to a place called Sodom and found the first German speaking people. Those arriving later would have traveled by steamer up the rivers, on the first American railroad across New York, lake steamers, and then canal boats drawn by mules.

What was Union County like when the earliest immigrants arrived?

The Ewing brothers were the first non-Indian settlers here in 1798.Ohio became the 17th state in 1802.Darby Township, originally much larger, was formed as part of Franklin County in 1803, and is the oldest township in what later became Union County. In 1820 Union County (from whence its’ name) was formed from portions of Franklin, Delaware, Logan, and Madison counties. Even though Marysville was established around 1820, only four families lived in the village when the post office was opened in 1824. The county at that time was very sparsely settled. When the German settlers began arriving early in the 1830s, the area south of Marysville was covered by dense woods. The wilderness was so thick the settlers had to mark their paths by breaking small branches on the trees they passed. Pastor Ernst, who arrived in 1843, reported to Pastor Loehe, “Nearly all members literally lived in the woods. From his own door none could see the house of the nearest neighbor. Only one main dirt road, fed by numerous trails, some coming out of the forest at unexpected points, led through the Settlement. “That dirt road today is S. R. 736. Near what we call Scottslawn road was the Brown graveyard, the only burying place for the settlers in that region.

Why this area?

Why the Arrases, Blumenscheins, and other Shipwreck families first came to Union County is unknown. On their way here they passed through low, swampy land, and found this area more desirable since it was drier. The landscape was densely wooded and would require much labor to clear the land for farming. The Rausch family had been in correspondence with the Arras family who were here by 1832.Mrs. Arras was an aunt of Anna Katherine Blumenschein Rausch, both from Winterkasten. The Rausches very much wanted to follow the Arrases to Ohio and did so within a year. In 1833 Peter Arras entered into a land contract with Adam Blumenschein, John Dasher, George Herre, and George Rausch to sell them 400 acres for $566.38, or about $1.42 an acre. George Reaper was mentioned in this contract but he does not appear to have signed. While all the men signed one contract, they were to get separate parts of the tract of land. It is interesting to note that these men were also among the charter members of the church in 1838.The Arras family moved on to Hancock County.

What was life like in the wilderness of the Settlement?

The first obstacle facing the settlers was shelter. According to the Rausch’s history, their first home is described as a log hut. “The doors, shingles, and floor of the house were made of split oak. Cracks were filled with clay. There was a fireplace built of stone, and one glass window, six by eight inches. In the beginning, the lamp they used was just a bowl of opossum or raccoon fat with a rag for a wick, which filled the house with smoke and light. “In time the huts were replaced with more substantial log cabins, frame, brick, and in a few cases, brown tile homes. Squirrels, raccoons, deer and other wild animals inhabited the woods and were a source of meat. Luscious plums were among the wild fruits the settlers enjoyed. The forest had to be cleared so the ground could be worked and planted. Both parents had to tackle this chore, so the family dog was left at the Rausch home to watch the house and children. One day when Mother Rausch returned at noontime to prepare lunch, she found the dog acting strangely. Her words wouldn’t chase him away, so she put her apron over his head and dragged him from the house. “He disappeared never to return, for he was quite mad.”

Wilderness life, continued . . . Many families gathered maple sap to be boiled down at the sugar camps to make maple syrup or sugar. One night, about this time of year, wolves surrounded the Rausch camp. At first the family kept them at bay by throwing small chunks of burning wood. The wolves would leave, only to return with more reinforcements. The sugar camp was getting low on firewood, so George Rausch daringly threw some boiling syrup on them. There was great howling and snarling as the wolves began tearing at each other, and finally left. The next morning many dead wolves were found around the camp. At that time Indians were still in the area, and often came to beg for something to eat. Mother Rausch always gave them food, even if their own family’s supply was running low. Since there were no fences in the early days, the few cows kept by families wandered away during the day. In the evening, the young boys of the Rausch family were sent out to find them and bring them home. Their mother guided them to their homestead by blowing a long horn made of metal, about five or six feet long.

When was St. John’s organized?

Without an actual church building, the settlers conducted reading services in their homes. Many of the immigrants brought with them a thick book of sermons which served as a guide for the head of the house to instruct his family. The “Gesangbuch,” another cherished book from the fatherland, was filled with songs and prayers. Around eight years after the arrival of the first settlers, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was established on Pentecost Sunday, June 3, 1838.The first building, of hewn logs, was erected by the pioneers and dedicated on that same date. As nearly as can be determined, this log church was located on the East side of today’s State Route 736, near the intersection of Scottslawn Road. The Brown graveyard, the only burying place for the settlers in that area, was nearby. Sixteen Lutherans by profession organized the church as a German-English congregation under the leadership of Pastor Fuhrmann of Springfield, Ohio. The names of the charter members are: Adam Blumenschein, John Dascher, George Adam Ell, John Ell, Michael Emmert, Melchior Goesz, George Heer, George Hegenderfer, Peter Kreitler, George Rausch, John Rausch, George Ripper, Philip Rupprecht and “three Americans:” L. S. Bartholemai (German descent,) J. Brown, and George Sager (German descent).Pastor Gerken in 1938 wrote, “The congregation was served monthly by a preacher, if weather and road conditions permitted travel. On the other Sundays, reading services were held. “A few years later the church was destroyed by fire. Members lost interest and the church practically dissolved.

Why didn’t St. John’s have a resident pastor for the first five years?

The American frontier was in desperate need of Lutheran leaders. Many Germans were establishing homes here, but they soon learned wilderness life was hard and their bread came only from the soil they tilled. Robert E. Smith writes, “The frontier was a lonely place, where few pastors lived to visit and to encourage them. Understandably, spiritual life took second place to the all-consuming need to survive and thrive.” Missionary Friedrich Wyneken reported, “There is no difference between Sunday and weekday, particularly since here no bells call the people to church services. No preacher comes to shake them out of their worldly striving and thinking, and the voice of the sweet Gospel has not been heard for a long time.” After reading Pastor Wyneken’s pleas for workers, Pastor Wilhelm Loehe in Neuendettelsau, Bavaria, sent out a call for volunteers to be trained for service in America. Johann Adam Ernst, a cobbler by training, was one of the first class of two, to be instructed by Loehe in his parsonage--not to be theologians, but men to teach and assist in the emergency situation in America. By 1842, after a one year crash course, Loehe had trained, examined, and approved Adam Ernst and Georg Burger to cross the Atlantic to begin their work.

What happened after the first church burned?

With the arrival of new immigrants, the number of Germans increased. As interest in rebuilding grew, an agreement was reached to form a new church more centrally located in the settlement. The majority expressed a strong desire for worship services to be conducted only in German; those who disagreed left the church. The members started building their house of worship without any knowledge of who would preach God’s word. The second church, about two miles north of the first site (near today’s Trinity cemetery,) was started in 1842. During this time John Adam Ernst answered their call to become the first resident pastor, and conducted the church dedication on August 20, 1843. The new log church was 32’ by 26’ and furnished with an altar, pulpit, and baptismal font. The twenty-nine charter members were: George Bangert, John Bernhard Bischoff, George Adam Blumenschein, George Blumenschein, George Boehm, Henry Delp, George Eirich, Fred Ell, George Otto Ell, John Ell, Michael Emmert, John Geer, Leonhard Geer, Melchior Goesz, Peter Gundermann, George Heer, George Hegenderfer, Sixtus Kandel, Michael Kern, John Klaiber, Philip Preiss, George Rausch, John Rausch, Gottlieb Rupprecht, Philip Rupprecht, George Scheiderer, Stephan Scheiderer, Conrad Weidmann, Ludwig Weidmann. More than 80 received the Lord’s Supper the following Sunday, and in his first weeks Pastor Ernst baptized a dozen children. The following year 32 youth were confirmed on Easter Sunday, likely the largest class and widest range of ages from 13 to 19 years. Coincidentally, that date was 169 years ago today: April 7, 1844.

How did Adam Ernst come to the Settlement?

Upon landing in New York, Ernst’s and Burger’s intentions were to find a school. However, they were given little hope after being told by Pastor Stohlmann that frontier children had no opportunity to go to school because mere survival was so time consuming. The Stohlmanns introduced the men to Pastor Winkler who was about to leave for Columbus, Ohio, to become a professor at the seminary. They were advised to go with Winkler and begin ministerial training in Columbus. After a few weeks at the seminary, Adam Ernst was offered a job teaching 90 children during the day; he helped support himself making and repairing shoes in the evenings. Pastor Gerken, in 1938, wrote the father of one of Ernst’s students “directed his attention to a colony of German Lutherans in Union County, who had built a church, wanted a pastor, and should have a teacher for their many children growing up with but little instruction.” Adam Ernst rode horse back to the Settlement home of Michael Kern, and the next day met with church members at the home of George Rausch. An agreement was reached: Johann Adam Ernst would serve a year without pay as a minister and teacher to young and old. In gratitude for his services, members according to their ability, would feed, house, and clothe him. Ernst obtained a minister’s license from the Western District of the Ohio Synod, and he already held a certificate to teach school.

Why would Adam Ernst come under such circumstances?

Upon learning of the plight of the people in the Settlement, Ernst asked himself, “Must these good people wait for service until they have the courage to extend a call? Shall their children grow up without knowing even the fundamentals of the Christian doctrine? Must I not see what can be done? “Ernst was told they were poor, but he must also have been moved by the fact most of the pioneers had come from the same district in Bavaria where Ernst had been born. Pastor Gerken wrote at the centennial anniversary, “In June, 1843,Adam Ernst began his labors in the congregation called Neuendettelsau [Neudettelsau in the church records] until 1878.He had his living quarters first with the Ruprecht families, later with George Rausch. .. . The minister ate and drank what they gave, and received clothing in exchange for produce. In the second year, for instance, the members pledged and gave in cash only $70, but 39 bu. wheat, 30 bu. oats, 57 bu. corn, 327 lbs. ham, 214 lbs. sugar, 115 lbs. lard, and 40 bu. potatoes. And among the duties of the pastor were: frequent sick calls, letter-writing for members, teaching the large school of children between 7 and 17 years of age, and the preparation for the two-hour morning and afternoon Sunday services.” He also gave advice to his parishioners on various matters.

When was the school started?

After Pastor Ernst arrived in June 1843, he began instructing 30 of the older students in a home three to five days a week to prepare them for Confirmation. In 1938 Pastor Gerken wrote, “Some of these, who had the age, strength, and agility to handle an ax well all thru the day, had not learned to read or write. The members forthwith matched the efforts of their pastor by erecting a building of logs, on the east side of the road, near where the third church was later built. When the school was ready in November, 1843, and when shipments of free books from friends in Germany had arrived, all the children between the ages of 7 and 18, 74 in number, were assembled and taught by Ernst. The course of instruction listed German reading, Bible History, the Catechism, and a little arithmetic. There were any number of grades and classes. All books remained the property of the school except those purchased by parents. “The Settlement now had a church and school with a pastor, who not only attended their spiritual needs, but also instructed their children. Life in the new world was getting better and everyone was content, weren’t they?

What caused division in the congregation?

Disagreements developed among members about what should be permitted with regard to dancing and drinking. Some had very liberal views, while others were more conservative. The propriety of a crucifix on the altar was also questioned. On June 25, 1846, the congregation split, with the more liberal majority retaining the church and cemetery. Those members appear to have been Johann Adam Blumenschein, Georg Blumenschein, Johann Leonhard Dollinger, Friedrick Ell, Johann Michael Emmert, Johann Leonhard Fensel, Martin Fensel, Johann Leonard Geer, Jakob Gotz, Georg Huber, Johann Ludwig Klaiber, Johann Michael Kohler, Nicholaus Korner, Johann Adam Kuhlmann, Johann Diedrich Muller, Johann Georg Nikol, JohannPhilip Preiss, Johannes Rausch, Adam Rausch, Georg Ruhl, Wilhelm Wagner, Konrad Weidmann, Ludwig Weidmann, and Johann Michael Wolf. Over the next thirty years the following Ohio Synod pastors served: M. During, Baehsler, Richard Herbst, Johannes Bundenthal, George Krantz, and William Lembke. The remaining conservative members retained the original name and 1843 constitution. Those members were Jakob von der Au, Blasius Beutel, Bernhard Bischoff, Georg Boehm, Joh Philipp Bunsold, Michael Eirich, Johann Adam Ell, Melchior Goesz, Georg Peter Gundermann, Joh George Hegenderfer, Michael Kern, Georg Rausch, Philipp Rupprecht, Gottlieb Rupprecht, George Scheiderer, George Kaspar Scheiderer, Martin Scheiderer, Stephan Scheiderer, and Georg Zwerner. A new brick church was built in 1847, near the school, on land donated by Johann Adam and Magdalena Ell. It served the congregation for 13 years. Another cemetery was consecrated, marked today by a white cross in the field.

How did St. John’s become a charter member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod? (Part 1)

Pastor Ernst, as well as well as other Loehe-trained emergency pastors, became increasingly dissatisfied with the “doctrine and practice” of the Ohio Synod. When their protests were ignored, Ernst and eight other ministers from Ohio and Michigan prepared a statement severing their connection with the Ohio Synod during a meeting in Cleveland September 13-18, 1845. They drew up a constitution for a new synod and wanted to share the idea with the Saxons in Missouri, whom they had come to know through Der Lutheraner. In May, 1846, St. John’s Pastor Ernst, as well as Pastors Sihler and Lochner traveled to St. Louis for three weeks to meet with Pastor Walther and the Saxons. They met in Dayton where they took a packet boat down the Miami Canal to Cincinnati, and boarded a steamboat for the 750 mile trip to St. Louis. Three Saxon ministers, Loeber, Keyl, and Gruber, going to the same conference, happened to take the samannie steamer so the six pastors became acquainted during their five day trip. During their meetings they drafted a tentative constitution and scheduled another meeting giving pastors from Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio an opportunity to discuss the plan.

How did St. John’s become a charter member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod? (Part 2)

Sixteen pastors met again in Ft. Wayne in July 1846. They decided upon a democratic form of church government. The churches were assured of all rights in settling their own affairs, especially calling and dismissal of pastors. Only the word of God could rule the church. Pastor Ernst was given $5 expense money by St. John’s for his travels to Chicago in 1847. The trip is described as follows: “Ernst and Streckfuss rode in a buggy, Mr. Voss in a wagon with a small load of books, and the others on horseback. The trip to Chicago took five days, as it was necessary to detour often on account of the many swampy sections. Night lodgings were found in huts of the hospitable settlers along the way. The weather was favorable, and the journey was made in good spirits and in happy anticipation of momentous days in Chicago, then a city of only about 16,000 inhabitants and without a railroad.” On April 26, 1847, The German Evangelical Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States was born. Twelve pastors, representing the 14 charter congregations (one a dual parish, the other a two-in-one) signed the Synod’s Constitution. St. John’s and the dual parish Zion in Willshire and Zion in Schumm, Ohio were the three Ohio churches. The other churches included five from Indiana; two from Missouri; two from Illinois; Frankenmuth, MI; and Buffalo, NY. Rev. William J. Schmelder stated in 1997, “Two threads are woven into the story of the Missouri Synod: confessional integrity and aggressive mission. From its beginning, these two have been inseparable and interconnected. Our history reminds us that you cannot have one without the other. And if you lose one, you lose the other. ”German” was dropped from the Synod name in 1917, the year the United States entered into World War I.

How did growth in the community affect the Settlement?

Darby Township experienced its largest growth in history, increasing from 881 residents in 1850 to 1269 in 1860. (Note: the township population remained about the same for 120 years.)The family farms in the Settlement could not support all of the adult children, so those who did not purchase their own farm elsewhere came to bustling Marysville to seek their livelihoods. A census of Marysville in 1860 indicated a population of 849.By 1865 the town was growing rapidly; there were six dry goods stores, a hardware store, nine or ten groceries, a steam saw mill, flour mill, a woolen factory, the “Union House” hotel, brewery, Agricultural Society fair, railroad, and “most of the trades and professions. “Travel from the Settlement to town riding a horse, or driving a horse and buggy, was not easy on rutted roads--sloppy with mud during rains, and unplowed when covered with heavy snows. In 1864 some of our members in and near Marysville received permission to form a city congregation, also served by our pastor. An old blacksmith shop on South Walnut near East Sixth Street (in the vicinity of today’s Trinity church) was purchased and renovated into a church which they called. Paul’s. The Joint Synod of Ohio congregation members (located in a corner of what is now Trinity cemetery) living nearer to town, also organized a church in Marysville, called St. John’s Lutheran Church. They worshipped in a small church building purchased from the Congregationalists, located on South Main near East Sixth Street. By 1864 (or 1868 by another account) there were four small Lutheran congregations, two in the country and two in town.

What did the growth in the Settlement in the 1860s mean for St. John’s?

Pastor Jacob Seidel was troubled by a chronic throat ailment so an assistant pastor, candidate George Schaefer, was installed to assist him with the growing congregation in 1856. When the assistant pastor accepted a call elsewhere a year later, Pastor Seidel stepped down and Pastor Friedrich Neutzel was installed in 1857. A new church, the second building on the present property, was dedicated in July 1860.Twelve pastors were present for the dedication services, German in the morning and English in the afternoon. The new house of worship was 60 x 40 feet with 25 foot side walls and a spire, topped by an angel blowing a horn, 100 feet tall. (In comparison, the present building is 60 feet wide at the transepts and 101 feet long including the chancel and narthex, the walls are 20 feet tall, and the taller tower 119 feet.)The 1883 Union County history states, “The building was pronounced at this time the finest and costliest in the county. A bell, weighing 609 pounds and costing $209 was hung upon it. ”Pastor Ernst conducted the consecration service for the cemetery still in use today. The last burial in the old cemetery in the field appears to have been about 1861. Near that same site, the growing school moved from its first building of logs into the nearby vacated third church of brick. The old church served as the school for about four years when it was dismantled and the salvaged materials used to build a school in 1864 near the new church. Within twelve years from the time of the purchase in 1852, the parsonage, church, cemetery, and school were now all located on the present property.

When did St. John’s call its first teacher?

With the establishment of the school in 1843, the pastor also served as teacher for twenty-two years. The first teacher was called in 1865, a year after the initial school building on the present property was built.

Where did the teacher live?

1870 Darby Township tax maps indicate a house was built between the church and school to house the teacher. Church records state it was replaced in 1893 (removed for the 1990 school addition.) With the large enrollment and the augmented course of studies, the church resolved to call an additional male teacher for the lower grades. In 1922 the second teacherage (now the Youth House) was constructed. 

Who were the early teachers?

G. Rolf was the first, followed by D. Fechtmann, C. Steege, M. Gaertner, August Werfelmann, and G. Semmann, all of whom served from one to three years. G. Gerlach taught for eight years with Carl Weber filling in for a year before Gotthold Burger began 22 years here in 1901. During his tenure, H. Weese, Manuel Kuechle, and Mr. Mosel each assisted for a year. In 1922 William Ehlers was hired as the second, additional called teacher and Edward Schuricht replaced Teacher Burger in 1924. Both Teacher Ehlers and Teacher Schuricht served until 1930. Only male teachers were eligible to be called at the time. The records are incomplete, but there were additional, occasional unnamed male helpers and women teachers. The unmarried young women named, who taught in the early years were Barbara Rausch, Maria Boerger, Louise Werfelmann, Katherine Nicol, Emilie Scheiderer, Anna Rupprecht, Mary Renner, Clara Eichemeyer, Dora Rausch, and Olga Knust.

Civil War Veterans

John Leonard Huber, Jr., born in 1836 in Germany, was confirmed in 1850 and married Anna Walpurga Bunsold here in 1863. They were later members of Trinity and buried in Oakdale. Wilhelm Henry Huber was born in Bavaria in 1839 and arrived in the United States in 1845. He was confirmed at age 23 in 1862, two months before enlisting. On Christmas Day, 1870, he married Anna Elisabeth Fensel. Most of his life he was a carpenter, “a skilled and thoroughly and honest workman, as well as a citizen whose integrity and patriotism has never been questioned.” He and his wife are buried at Oakdale and were the parents of nine children. Sabastian (Charles) Imhoff was born in Switzerland in 1840. After the war, he was married here in 1867 to Agathe Huber. He was an elder in the Evangelical Lutheran German Trinity Church. They are buried in Oakdale. Frederick Kahline, born in Maryland in 1842, married Christina Uthsmann here in 1869. He died at his home in Unionville Center in 1885 and is buried in our cemetery. Philip Kleiber attained the rank of Sergeant and served over four years. He was confirmed in 1855 and married Catherine Dipple here in 1865. He died in 1891 and is buried at Trinity. Gottlieb Lachemeier was born in Wurtemburg and came to Columbus in 1853, shortly thereafter moving to Marysville. In 1874 he married Margaretha Schmidt at St. John’s. He was a shoemaker in Marysville where they attended Trinity. They are buried at Oakdale.

How did St. John’s celebrate anniversaries? (Part 1)

Pastor J.H. Werfelmann led the Golden Jubilee, or 50th Anniversary, on June 24 and 25, 1888.The festively decorated church was entirely too small, so many sat on benches outside the 1860 building in the “favorable” weather and listened through the open windows. All the former pastors Ernst, Seidel, Nuetzel, and Knief accepted invitations to be a part of the celebration, as well as Rev. Herbst of Columbus. Of the first founders of the Settlement, only “mother” Anna Katherine Blumenschein (Mrs. Johann Georg) Rausch was still living. In celebration of the 75th Anniversary on June 22 and 23, 1913, all the children of the congregation who had gone into teaching or the ministry were invited. The pastors were: John E.A. Mueller, J.F. Boerger, Carl Weber, Georg Kuechle, Otto Renner, and Ernst and August Werfelmann.The teachers were George Blumenschein, Christian Eickemeyer, Christian Scheiderer, Wilhelm Vollrath, and JohnBunsold. Special offerings were raised for missions as a token of gratitude. The Centennial Celebration, 100th Anniversary, in 1938 consisted of special services over four Sundays in the summer. The first was “Birthday Sunday” on Pentecost, June 5.Rev. H.C. Kuechle, the only living former pastor, delivered the sermon at the 10:00 a.m. German service. Rev. C.H. Weber, son of the congregation then serving in Zanesville, preached at the 8:00 p.m. English service. The organists were former pupils of the school and long-time teachers George Blumenschein of Chicago and Chris Eickemeyer of Crete, Illinois. “The Centennial of Christian Education” was the theme for the June 26 services. Rev. J.F. Boerger of Racine, Wisconsin, preached at the 9:00 a.m. German service and Rev. George Kuechle of Cleveland at the 10:30 English service. Gerhard Mader, principal of a Lutheran school in Wisconsin Rapids, and Edward Schuricht, Chicago, former teacher at St. John’s, were organists. Ninety-two school children sang under the direction of teachers Emil R. Krohn and Werner J. Wulff. The Ladies Aid successfully served dinner to hundreds. The annual school picnic, amid frequent showers of rain, was held at 1:00 p.m. in the grove and included more songs by the children. Rev. H.C. Knust of Hamler, Ohio, former pastor at St. Paul’s, and Rev. H.C. Kuechle, former pastor at St. John’s, gave historical sketches. The Chuckery band furnished instrumental music and lead the parade from the school to the picnic woods. The newspaper reported, “Lunch and refreshments of many kinds can be had on the grounds.” The theme for the third Sunday celebration on July 24 was “Missions.” Rev. Cornelius Scheiderer of Owensville, Missouri, delivered the sermon at the 10:00 a.m. German service with Elmer Bunsold, of Napoleon serving as organist. At the 8:00 p.m. English service Rev. Otto Renner, Wautoma, Wisconsin, preached and Gustave Scheiderer of Bristol, Connecticut, played the organ. “This day was blessed with beautiful weather for the large gatherings. As on the other special Sundays so also this day, a loud speaker system served well the overflow crowd that could not find seats in the church. ”The choir sang at both services. After the evening service, the Senior Walther League sponsored an ice cream social providing “a few hours of splendid visiting for members and guests on the school lawn.” “Rededication” was the theme on August 28 when Rev. Louis Schwartzkopf of Chicago preached at the 10:00 a.m. German service. E.R. Krohn was the organist in the absence of Victor Vollrath of Paulina, Iowa, who regretted he was unable to be present. At the 8:00 p.m. English service, Rev. L. J. Rausch, Yale, South Dakota, delivered the sermon while Carl Nicol, teacher at the Lutheran school in Columbus, Indiana, was organist. The choir, under the direction of W.J. Wulff, offered music at both services. In the afternoon and after the evening service, the Junior Walther League sponsored an ice cream social and presented a varied musical program.

How did St. John’s celebrate anniversaries? (Part 2)

June 2, 1963, was the first anniversary service for the 125th year. Rev. Oliver R. Harms, D.D., of St. Louis, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, was the preacher and addressed the adult Bible class. Liturgist was Rev. Oscar C. Decker and organist and choir director was Werner J. Wulff. The choir made its first appearance in their new vestments. Dinner was served in the school and the annual picnic held in the afternoon. The next in a series of anniversary services was on Missions Sunday, June 23. The Rev. George Kuechle, son of former pastor H.C. Kuechle of Miami, Florida, was the speaker and Gerhard Mader of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was the organist. Loud speakers and closed circuit television were provided in the “undercroft” (basement) of the church for those unable to be seated in the sanctuary. The first anniversary book was published, authored by Pastor Decker. It was a 32-page black and white booklet which contained the church history to 1963. It included many photographs, both old and new, and pictured the organizations active in the church at that time: the Ladies Aid, Men’s Club, Married Couples Club, Walther League, and the choir. The school faculty included Mrs. H. C. (Martha) Doellinger, Mrs. J. (Georgianna) Alvarez, E. W. Rieckers, and Principal W. J. Wulff. The anniversary committee was Carl Blumenschein, Sargent Chamberlain, Rev. Decker, Robert Eickemeyer, Harold Lewis, Emanual Rausch and Luther Rausch.

How did St. John’s celebrate anniversaries? (Part 3)

“Forward into a Future Founded on 150 years of God’s Grace” was the theme for our 150th anniversary. On March 6, 1988, the Concordia Choir of Concordia College, Ann Arbor, MI, led by Dr. Paul Foelber began the year’s celebrations. Vicar Edmund E. Schafer served as guest preacher on April 17, preaching in English at 8 a.m. and German at the 10:30 worship. Soloist Nacrina Alvarez sang “Grosser Gott, Wir Loben Dich” (Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.) On May 15 former pastor Rev. Ervin Junkans was the guest preacher at both services. A pageant of church and community history, “A History of Neudettelsau: Its Families Customs and Traditions,” produced by Sandy Bunsold and Nina Boerger, was presented at Fairbanks High School on May 20. “Celebration Sunday” was observed on Pentecost, May 22, with services at 8:00 and 10:30 a.m. Rev. Wallace Schulz, associate speaker of the Lutheran Hour, delivered the sermon. Liturgist was Pastor Thomas S. Hackett and organist was Tammy Frobel. Special music was provided by the First Review and the Festival Brass Choir and red geraniums decorated the sanctuary. The woods was cleared and mowed and a tent erected for the afternoon festivities. Lunch was catered by Heflin’s. The program, conducted from wagon beds, included songs by the school children, a cantata by the Adult Mixed Choir, and musical selections by the First Review and Last Resort. The CEA provided games and prizes for all the children, and had available for purchase anniversary logo items including hats, pins, note cards, key chains, and St. John’s cookbooks. The Ladies Aid crafted anniversary banners and offered mugs. Special stands included lemonade, snow cones, and popcorn; while candy and pop were sold from the tent on the school parking lot; and ice cream and cake were served in the school. A Run/Walk/Ride Event was held and an anniversary book, edited by Lana Wetterman Schurb, was published. Committee members were Rev. Thomas Hackett, Roland Scheiderer, chairman, Oscar Decker, Lucile Bunsold, Eugene Mayer, and Nina Boerger.