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English Evangelical Lutheran Church.—The organization of this congregation was effected in 1857 by the adoption of the following constitution:—
Preamble.—Whereas, due notice having been given, a number of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, whose names are hereunto subscribed, having assembled in convention on the 25th day of December, 1857, in the M. E. Church in Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Ohio;
And inasmuch, as a church organization, in which all its members are brought under the same rules of order and government, is considered necessary in the successful promotion of the Redeemer's cause, therefore,
Resolved, That we form ourselves into an individual church, and adopt the following constitution as rules for our government:—
Constitution.—Article I. This church shall be called the "English Evangelical Lutheran Church of Wapakoneta, Ohio," and shall be composed of all whose names are subscribed to this constitution, and who shall hereafter be received by a vote of the council, and according to the usages of our church.
Article II. The council of this church shall be composed of the pastor, two elders, and two deacons, who shall be elected by ballot by the regular communing members, and shall serve for a term of two years; one elder and one deacon to go out of office at the same time.
Article III. The election of officers shall be held at the expiration of each year; at which time a public exhibition and settlement of the church expenditures shall be made.
Article IV. The council shall appoint annually, at the first meeting alter their election, a secretary and treasurer out of their own number.
Article V. No person shall be elected as pastor of this church who is not connected with a Synod, in connection with the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the United States of North America.
Article VI The formula for the government and discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, as published by the General Synod, is hereby adopted for our government as far as it does not conflict with this constitution.
Article VII. This constitution shall not be altered or enlarged without the consent of two-thirds of the members at any regular church meeting, due notice having been given of the time of meeting, and the amendments or additions proposed.
|George Rench,||Rebecca Shawber,|
|Joshua Shawber,||Rachel Shawber,|
|John Shawber,||Catharine W. Hills,|
|George H. Dapper,||Catharine Kuhn,|
|Catharine Rench,||Malinda Elliott.|
Since the adoption of this constitution the following additions and amendments have been adopted in accoidance with the provisions of Article VII:—
Additions.—Article VIII. Adopted Dec. 25, 1864.
Resolved, That we regard dancing as a social amusement, or attending dances to connive at them, as contrary to a Christian profession, and against the rules and regulations of this church.
Article IX. Adopted Aug. 2, 1868. It shall be the duty of all the members of this congregation to contribute annually to the several objects of benevolence approved by the synods with which the congregation is connected, and it shall be the duty of the officers of this church to see that this article is carried into effect.
Article X. Adopted Dec. 25, 1874. Resolved, That it is the sense of this congregation that its pastor and officers should discountenance all efforts to appeal for pecuniary aid and contributions in our congregation for objects foreign to our work as a church.
Article XI. Adopted Dec 25, 1874. Whereas, Certain games, such as billiards and card games, viz., whist, loo, euchre, poker, and the like, are in their tendencies entailing serious evils upon society, therefore,
Resolved, That, as social amusements, we regard such games inconsistent with a Christ-like spirit, and incompatible with the dignity and integrity of the Christian character, and therefore contrary to the rules and regulations of this congregation: further
Resolved, That we regard in a similar manner, dealings in lotteries, and the well-known practice of betting, with all other forms of gambling, as contrary to the rules of the congregation.
Amendments.—Article II. Adopted January 1, 1863. The council of this church shall be composed of the pastor, three elders, and three deacons, who shall be elected by ballot by the regular communing members, and shall serve for a term of two years; one elder and one deacon to go out of office at the same time.
Article II. Adopted January 14, 1865. The council of this church shall be composed of the pastor, three elders, and three deacons, who shall be elected by ballot by the regular communing members, and shall serve for a term of three years; one elder and one deacon to go out of office at the same time.
Under the original constitution, Rev. A. F. Hills became pastor, and the first board of officers was formed by the election of Joshua Shawber and Geo. H. Dapper, elders, and John Shawber and Geo. Rench, deacons. In April, 1859, a committee on building, consisting of Joshua Shawber, J. H. Seibert, and John Shawber, was appointed, and immediate steps taken toward the erection of a church. The following June the pastor, Rev. A. F. Hills, was removed by death. He had organized the congregation and labored with it during its weakness, and his loss was severely felt. During this infancy of the church, Mr. John Shawber, by his untiring devotion, contributed largely to the advancement of the cause. He contributed freely of his means, and his home became the home of the ministers. To-day he is the same earnest worker. The first sermon was preached in the new building January 28, 1860, by Rev. W. H. Wynn. On the 31st of the same month the church was formally dedicated by Rev. W. F. Conrad, of Springfield, Ohio, who preached the dedicatory sermon, being assisted in the exercises by Rev. W. H. Wynn and Rev. J. W. Goodlin. The building and ground had cost $3000, and on this occasion $816 was raised, which was sufficient to liquidate the whole building debt. Rev. J. W. Goodlin took charge of the church April 1, 1860, serving as pastor the following eight months, and was succeeded by Rev. W. C. Barnett, April 1, 1861, who retained the pastorate until March, 1865. The following July Rev. D. W. Smith entered the field, and after serving as supply during the summer, accepted a call to the pastorate, in which capacity he labored until April, 1872, when he resigned to accept a call to Mansfield, Ohio. He was succeeded the same month by Rev. C. S. Ernsberger, who served until April, 1877, when he resigned to accept a call to Lucas, Ohio. The following June Rev. D. A. Kuhn became pastor, and is in charge of the congregation at this writing. Of the ten founders of the church eight are still living, while the four whose names follow are still in connection with the congregation: John Shawber, G. H. Dapper, Mrs. Young (née Rebecca Shawber), and Rachel Shawber.
Notwithstanding its early weakness, the congregation has steadily grown and added to its strength, until the organization which numbered ten members in 1857 has now a membership of over 200. That it is to-day a living growth is evidenced by the records of the year ending April, 1880, which show an accession of over forty members.
Present Officers and Appointees.—Pastor, Rev. D. A. Kuhn; elders, John Shawber, Geo. Romshe, and Wm. Swink; deacons, A. M. Kuhn, James Swink, and Thomas Elliott. The elders and deacons ex-officio constitute the Board of Trustees. Chorister, Will McMurray; organist, Mollie E. Rogers.
Sabbath School —During the pastorate of Rev. Barnett a school was organized, with John Shawber as superintendent. Since that period it has been fostered with solicitude, until at this writing the school consists of 17 classes, aggregating 190 pupils.
Officers: Superintendent, Thomas Elliott; Assistant Superintendent, A. M. Kuhn. Teachers: Class 1, Rev. D. A. Kuhn; Class 2, Mrs. D. A. Kuhn; Class 3, Prof. Hoover; Class 4, John Shawber; Class 5, A. M. Kuhn; Class 6. Harve Brokaw; Class 7, Mrs. Kate Brokaw; Class 8, Will McMurray: Class 9, Mrs. Thomas Elliott; Class 10, Alice Whiteinan; Class 11, Minnie Morey; Class 12, Maggie Cordell; Class 13, Mrs. Throckmorton; Class 14, Mary Hicks; Class 15, Mrs. John Shawber; Class 16, Mrs. Ralph Craig; Class 17, Mrs. Mattie Zerfey.
On Sept. 23, 1854, a committee consisting of Rev. W. C. Hollyday and Milo Templeton was appointed by the Presbytery of Sidney to visit Wapakoneta, and if deemed advisable to organize a church.
A sermon was preached by Rev. Hollyday, whereupon the following-named persons presented certificates of membership: William Shell, John Musser, Sylvia Bishop, and Margaret Walkup.
James Bishop, J. T. Mitchell, Harriet Mitchell, Jane A. Howe, and Jane S. Kelly were admitted upon examination. Thereupon William Shell was elected and installed ruling elder, and it was resolved that the church be styled the "First Presbyterian Church of Wapakoneta."
On June 23, 1855, John Musser, Mary E. Musser, and Lydia A. Young united with the church, and in 1859 James and Sarah Harper and Charlotte E. Trimble entered into the church fellowship. Aug. 22, 1859, the congregation met in the Lutheran church, and elected John Musser and James Harper ruling elders. By resolution a call was made for the labors of Rev. W. G. Hillman, one-third time at a salary of $200, to be paid quarterly. At a sessional meeting, Feb. 11, 1860, A. H. Trimble, F. C. Musser, and Jane Elliott were received into the church.
At a called meeting of the congregation April 12, 1860, it was resolved to organize by the adoption of the statutory provision for the "Incorporation of Religious Societies," under the name and style of the "First Presbyterian Church of Wapakoneta."
John Musser, James Harper, and A. H. Trimble were elected ruling elders, and A. H. Trimble clerk. Dec. 28, 1861, J. B. Craig and A. H. Trimble were elected elders. A. H. Trimble died Sept. 19, 1864, and R. D. Marshall was elected his successor.
In June, 1869, Rev. D. W. Cooper was unanimously called to labor one-half time with the congregation. In 1872 he was succeeded by W. E. Hill, who began his ministry for one year. In 1879 Rev. D. W. Cooper took charge of the congregation, in which capacity he still remains.
This body without any particular organization erected a church in 1848, and two years later effected a permanent organization and adopted a constitution. The members under this organization were as follows: John H. Fisher, Paulus Kratt, Heinrich Miiller, Johann Miiller, Johann C. Schubert, Christian Vossler, Wilhelm Taeusch, Adam Engelhaupt, Frederick Eversmann, Frederick Schlenker, Frederick Speith, Geo. Guttekunst, Gotleib Machetanz, Fred. Kohler, Manford Warren, J. H. Hassenaeur, Christian Koch, Fred. Geyer, and J. F. Katz. Rev. During was pastor in charge, serving until 1855. The board of trustees consisted of J. H. Fisher and Adam Engelhaupt. From 1855 to 1863 Rev. Heinrich Koenig served as pastor, and from the latter date until 1867 Rev. J. Sutter served in this capacity. Prior to 1868 the ministers were supplied by the synod, but at this period the church, largely of a union character, divided; the Reformed members, of whom we write, organizing independently of any synod, under the present title of "The German Evangelical St. Paul's Church." This is the foundation of the present church, while the other branch will be found treated elsewhere under "The St. Johns" congregation. In 1868 a committee was appointed to secure a new church site, and in May of same year Rev. Heinisch took charge of the congregation.
In April, 1869, it was determined to build a church, and a committee, consisting of J. H. Timmermeister, Win. Taeusch, and Chas. Wintzer, was appointed on subscriptions. The committee on building consisted of J. H. Timmermeister, Wm. Heinrich, and H. Miller. The first action was the erection of a parsonage the same year. In September, 1870, Rev. Rentzsch was elected pastor, and the following year the old building was sold, and a new one erected at a cost of about $8000. The lot was purchased for $500, and after the erection of the church the ladies of the congregation presented an organ at a cost of $1350. In 1873 Rev. Adolph Thomas was elected pastor, and two years later was succeeded by Ullrich Thomas, who was succeeded in 1876 by Rev. Zeinecke. The present pastor, Rev. Burkhardt, took charge of the congregation in 1878. In September, 1876, the church united with the Protestant Synod of the West, with which it is still associated. The present constitution was adopted June 10, 1877, and properly recorded. The membership on roll at present amounts to eighty, the organization is free from debt, and in a prosperous condition.
The present officers are as follows: J. H. Timmermeister, President; Wm. Heinrich, Secretary; Wm. Taeusch, Treasurer; Gotfreid Weber, Wm. Heinrich, Adam Engelhaupt, Trustees.
Immediately upon the settlement of the town, the Methodists formed a class, and in 1834 erected their first church building. Between 1837 and 1849 this building was used largely for school purposes, and after the latter date it also served as a court-house for a few years. At this time the following named members constituted the congregation: Jas. Elliott and family, Robt. McCullough and wife, Jos. Milnor and wife, Abraham Alspaugh and wife, Martin Barr, and Mr. Gray. The church continued in a feeble condition until 1861, when, under the ministration of Rev. L. A. Belt, a new growth was infused, and the erection of a new building undertaken. Even then the congregation only numbered nineteen. It remained largely in this weak condition until 1872, when the active labors of Rev. Cozier added to its numerical strength. Again it remained conservative, only maintaining its old status until the present year, when, under the ministration of Rev. Hunter, the church accessions had increased the membership to fifty in good standing and thirty-two on probation. The church is thus in a better condition financially and numerically than at any past period of its history. The boards of trustees, stewards, and class leaders are all full; a flourishing Sunday-school is sustained, and building improvements are contemplated for the coming season.
This church was organized about thirty years since, the building then occupying a part of the present site of the Union School building. This building was purchased by O. T. Dieker, who removed it in 1874 and converted it into a dwelling. A difficulty arose in 1867, and Prof. Lehman, President of the Ohio Synod, reorganized with a portion of the members, and in 187S the congregation purchased an unfinished building on Auglaize Street, of C. P. Davis and others, by whom it was undertaken under serious difficulties, for English Lutheran services. For some unknown cause, it was not completed, and was thus purchased by the St. Johns congregation. The first pastor was Rev. G. E. Buchbalz, whose services extended from 1867 to 1871. At the latter date Rev. F. Wendt took charge, and labored in this capacity until 1877, when the present pastor, Rev. C. Benzin, was called to the pulpit. The congregation is now in a prosperous condition, with its property free from incumbrance.
Adherents of this church took a prominent part in the settlement of this county. Francis Duchouquet, an interpreter, Peter Hammel, a French trader, and F. J. Stallo, the founder of Minster, were all Catholics. So it may be said of all the settlers and accessions to Minster, for all were German Catholics. Still, at that period no priest was found within a radius of fifty miles to minister to these pioneers. This want was supplied in 1831. Prof. Horstman, of Glandorf, Germany, of fine learning, and a physician as well as priest, absolved the ties of friendship, embarked for America in 1831, and made Glandorf, near Ottawa, Putnam County, the centre of his missionary field. In his zeal, he traversed several counties, and came to Minster in 1832. His arrival there marks the real birth of Catholicity in Auglaize County. The services of the church were held for some time in the house of Mr. Voltke, which still stands opposite the drug store of Dr. Schemeider. The visits of Prof. Horstman were only monthly; but in 1832 a log church was built at his instance and under his direction. This building was 40 x 60 feet and sixteen logs in height, and served the purpose of the congregation for several years. The simple habits of Prof. Horstman enabled him to conform to the inconveniences of frontier life. His travels over his vast field of labor were all performed on foot, and all the Catholics within a distance of fifteen miles came to Minster to worship. Among the first settlers we find the names of Voltke, Messe, Kruse, Wendeln, Drees, and Stiive. In 1832 and 1833 the cholera scourge nearly depopulated the little village of Minster, and left but few of the first congregation. Shortly after the building of the first church a school-house was erected, in which Hon. Bœhmer, now of Fort Jennings, was the first teacher. After the death of Prof. Horstman, we find the names of Younker, Brand, Partels, Herzog, and Navarron officiating in the old log church which was used by the congregation until 1848, when the present church, 120x60 feet was built, at a cost of $15,000. Rev. John Vanden Brook (C. PP. S.) was pastor at this time. In 1875 an addition of twenty feet was made to the church, and two spires erected, 190 feet in height, which, with other repairs, aggregated a cost of $15,000. The present pastor is Very Rev. A. Kunkler, C. PP. S. In 1867 a commodious school building was erected at a cost of $7000. For the convenience of distant members, a church was built three miles southeast of Minster in 1852, which was supplanted in 1878 by a fine brick church, at a cost of $6500. This church is known as Egypt. The Minster congregation numbers 342 families, and those of Egypt about forty. At the latter place the following pastors have officiated: Rev. S. Wittmer, B. Birnhaum, and the present pastor, Rev. John Vanden Brook. In 1872 a small brick church was built in Bremen at a cost of $3000, of which more than two-thirds was contributed by non-Catholics of the town. About twelve families worship here, attended by Rev. Ig. Selb, assistant priest of Minster.
Wapakoneta and Petersburg.—Prof. Horstman, when visiting Minster, would usually stop several days at these points and provide for the spiritual wants of the Catholics of the community. In 1836 a log church 40x30 feet was built at Petersburg and blessed by that missionary. In Wapakoneta he celebrated mass in private families until 1839, when a small frame church was built on the corner of Pearl and Blackhoof Streets, to which an addition was afterward built. Still the building proved too small for the growing congregation, and in 1853 it was determined to erect a brick church on the present site of the school building. Accordingly a contract was formed with Mr. John C. Bothe to build a church 80x45 feet for $8400. The payment was to be made by instalments as the building progressed, but the plan proved a stumbling-block to the congregation. Mr. Bothe was accused of a violation of contract, and by an order of the Most Rev. Archbishop was stopped in his work. Suit was instituted for damages against the church, and, after some years of litigation, a settlement was effected at the cost of about $11,000 by the congregation, and still they had no house of worship.
Rev. George Boehne Herzog and different other priests of the congregation of the Precious Blood (C. PP. S.) visited the congregation at intervals, the first regular priest being Rev. Martin L. Bobst. He remained mostly at Petersburg, where he died in October, 1848. Revs. D. M. Winands, Schafroth, and Muckerheide attended the congregation for some time. The latter resided in Freyburg, where a neat church had been built in 1850. Disappointed, but not discouraged, the Wapakoneta congregation, in 1857, began the erection of a fine church, 120 by 50 feet, on the corner of Pearl and Perry Streets. The building was completed the following year, and dedicated in honor of St. Joseph. Rev. And. Herbstrit was pastor at that time. During the year it was supplied with four bells, with an aggregate weight of 4414 pounds. These complete, with hangings, cost $1678.90. It is the custom of Catholics to deed all church property in trust to the bishop of the diocese; but as the St. Joseph Church was indebted to the amount of $20,000, the Most Rev. Archbishop refused to accept a deed, as he was unwilling to be responsible for the debt. To-day this proves to the advantage of the church, for the archbishop's assignee cannot trouble this property. We find among the Catholics of Wapakoneta, in 1834, J. Keller, M. Seifert, J. Kininger, J. Sabin, M. Landkammer, P. Goetz, D. Schmidt, And. Werst, Mosler, and Weimert.
Although burdened with a heavy debt the congregation was not satisfied with a church alone, for knowing the importance of religious instruction, they founded a school in 1853, which was conducted in various rooms until a few years later a frame building was secured, which now stands nearly opposite the present church. In 1869 a two-story brick school was erected at a cost of about $4000, and instruction is imparted in both English and German. This church, consisting of about 180 families, has reduced the debt to less than $6000, besides spending several hundreds of dollars for decorative purposes. In 1879 a beautiful and durable pipe organ was secured at a cost of $1975. The generosity of Catholics and non-Catholics of the town enabled them to pay for this in cash. Priests of the C. PP. S. attended this church since 1857. Among these may be mentioned the present bishop of Ft. Wayne, Rev. Dwenger, X. Griesmeyer, Ch. French, M. Graf, and since July, 1875, the present pastor loci, Rev. Francis Nigsch.
In 1833 John Ruppert entered a half section of land in Pusheta township, and on this land was erected the first church of Petersburg, which was dedicated in honor of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Forty acres of land, still the property of the congregation, was laid out as a town site in 1852, but the lots never sold.
Among the early settlers here were Andreas Voll, who died of the cholera in 1836; And. Seller; J. Hemmert; and And. Nuss. This congregation was weakened considerably in 1868 by many members uniting with the Botkins congregation. This almost caused the abandonment of the Petersburg church, but the following year Messrs. J Hemmert, S. and J. Dingelman, A. Nuss, M. Midler, J. Koenig, M. Warmuth, and others, resolved to build a brick church on the Sidney pike, near the county line. Accordingly, a building was erected, 55 by 35 feet, for about $3000, but no priest has charge, and so some of the members attend services at Freyburg and others at Botkins.
Freyburg.—The first settlers of this congregation were Sam Craft, 1828; George Wiss and G. Seiter, 1833; Simon Dresher and J. B. Kath, 1834; Bush and Mippgen, 1835; M. and G. Linder, J. Sellenger, A. Schaub, V. Fischer, Guttman and Weiman. These first attended at Wapakoneta and Petersburg during the visits of Prof. Horstman. For a time also they met at the houses of Messrs. Bush and Craft for services. Jos. Flick and G Seiter laid out the town of Freyburg in 1848, and immediately a church was commenced, 80 by 43 feet, which was completed in 1850. At this time the congregation consisted of about thirty families. The church was served by Revs. Winands, Mukerheide, Volm, and some priests of the C. PP. S., particularly Rev. M. Kreusch; after them by Backhaus, Goebels, and during the last eight years Rev. Henry Daniel has labored with success. In 1877 he built a fine school-house, 48 by 27 feet, two stories high, at a cost of $2000. The congregation numbers about a hundred and five families.
St. Marys.—We find Charles Murray, one of the original proprietors of the town, was the first Catholic resident of the place. Most of the old traders were French Catholics, as were also many of the raftsmen who labored between St. Marys and Ft. Wayne. Mr. Murray acted as leader of meetings as no priests were in reach. About 1825 a priest was passing this place on a missionary tour, and was taken suddenly ill. Here he remained for a time and died, and was buried by Mr. Murray. Thos. Stone came here in 1836, and from this period dates the origin of the Catholic church. Most of the canal laborers were Catholics, and a shanty on the bank of the reservoir was used for the celebration of mass. These ceremonies were conducted by a French priest from Dayton, Tenpont. In 1840 Archbishop Pureed came from Cincinnati to St. Marys, and remained over night with Mr. Black. The first church was built under the direction of Rev. A. Kunkler, in 1854. In 1867 a brick church was erected on Spring Street, by Rev. Dwenger, present bishop of Ft. Wayne. The building cost about $1200. The congregation consists of about seventy families, and was attended until 1877 by priests of the C. PP. S., among whom were J. Dwenger, P. Rist, M. Kenk, F. Nigsch, A. Guggenberger, and F. Schalk; and since 1877 by Rev. Joseph Lutz.
Glynwood.—Irish Catholics built a frame church in Moulton township, on the land of J. L. McFarland, in 1861, under the direction of Rev. P. Henneberry. The first members were J. L. McFarland, John Naughton, Anton Bailey, and the three Cogan brothers—Thomas, John, and Patrick. The congregation was attended by the priest of St. Marys until 1877, but at present from Wapakoneta by Rev. S. Kunkler.
These facts illustrate to some extent the important part the Catholics have performed in the settlement and improvement of the county. From its infancy they have contributed to the material development of the county; and though some may have left the fold of the Church, and others right indifferent as to their duties, the Church still sustains the hope that it will grow in the future as it has in the past.
From "History of Auglaize County, Ohio, with the Indian History of Wapakoneta, and the First Settlement of the County", Robert Sutton, Publishers, Wapakoneta, 1880