The origins of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church began with the migration of hundreds of Lutherans from Europe to America, seeking religious freedom. We are blessed to still have direct ancestors from some of the founding members in our midst, and through them and their diligent keeping of old records, we can learn a few more details about their lives.
It began with three small families: Hamann, Marquardt and Garbrecht. While we have no specific information about the Garbrecht's, it is known that the Hamann's and Marquardt's were part of the Lutheran emigration from Germany which had founded two Trinity Lutheran congregations in Wisconsin, one in Milwaukee, and the other in what was a neighborhood called Freistadt, which became part of the city of Mequon. Both of these congregations are also still in existence.
The Garbrecht family was two: Wilhelm and his wife, Albertine (born Werner).
The Marquardt family was two: Carl, a single man of age 22, and his sister, Henriette, who was married to Friedrich Hamann.
The Hamann family was five. There was a father and son, who both went by their middle name of Friedrich. Father Friedrich (age 56) came with his wife, Maria (born Krenz), and their teenage daughter, Friedricke. Son Friedrich (age 26) came with his wife, Henriette (born Marquardt, as mentioned in prior paragraph), and their daughter, Maria, who was only two months old when they arrived in the Town of Wien. And to complete this circle of beginnings, it bears mentioning that six years after their arrival, Carl Marquardt married Friedricke Hamann on March 15, 1866.
It is known that the younger Friedrich Hamann purchased land in the Town of Wien in 1857, made a trip in 1858 to view the land, and returned to the Milwaukee area to earn more money for their move. The group's exact date of departure from the Milwaukee area is not known, but we do know that it took six weeks for them to travel from Stevens Point to the Town of Wien, arriving in May, 1860, on the day before Pentecost. On that last leg of the journey they had to laboriously clear a trail wide enough to accommodate their ox-drawn wagons. Each of the three families had a covered wagon which carried all of their belongings, and also served as their "mobile" home.
The Hamann's settled on the east side of what is now Pioneer Drive, and Carl Marquardt settled on the west side. Pioneer is the first north-to-south intersection one crosses when leaving our current church and heading east.
At first the group met for worship in their quickly-built log cabin homes, and were visited occasionally by various pastors in the region. These visits were no doubt received with great and humble thanksgiving! As time went by more people came to the area and joined in worship, and the growing flock found a better space in a combination town hall/public schoolhouse which used to stand on Highway N, only about one mile from the Hamann homestead.
Reverend J.F. Wilhelm Hudtloff, from a church in the Town of Berlin, did much shepherding of the growing group and eventually helped them to become an officially-organized congregation in 1869. We do not know how many members were part of the 1869 congregation, but by the end of 1875, there were about 160 baptized members. It is amazing to think of the commitment of these settlers, most of whom came as farmers but had to first be lumberjacks to clear the land, and yet, how they dedicated themselves to their faith in God. Nor can we truly imagine a day in the life of the mothers who had to tend children and home, and constantly find food for the table.
There came a time of turmoil in this young congregation, which will be discussed in a future "Anniversary Anecdote", but it will be mentioned here that a re-organization took place, and articles of incorporation were newly-written and signed in 1885. Based on the members who signed that document, we have estimated that there are approximately 30 current St. John members who can trace a direct line back to those ancestors. But all members of St. John have their own stories of how they got here and where they came from. No matter the ancestries and no matter the stories, what truly binds us is that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ!
* We have "SAVE THE DATE" cards available for you to use for the purpose of inviting. All of the pertinent details about the celebration are on the card. These cards can be found in a designated box of the congregational mailboxes.
* We have beautiful commemorative Christmas Cards for sale. $1.00 each, 6 for $5.00, or 12 for $10.00. Available after church services from Randy or June Krebsbach, or at the church office: Mon-Wed and Fridays from 1:00- 4:00pm.
* The Anniversary Committee and church office will take care of spreading public notices about, and invitation to, our 2019 celebration. This includes (for example) The Lutheran Witness, local newspapers, local congregations and the church website. There will also be advertising at events such as the Harvest Dinner and local parades.
* The church office will be contacting our former pastors with personal invitations.
* We are requesting all members to please invite, and share details, of this event with anyone who you think would appreciate knowing about it. Neither the church office, nor the Anniversary Committee, will be sending any invitations to individuals.