Much of the material included in this 125th Anniversary history of St. John's Lutheran Church of Princeton has been taken from past histories. There was a history written in the German language by Pastor Hoyer for the 50th Anniversary/. There were also histories written for the Diamond Jubilee, and at the 90th Celebration, by Clarence Oelke. In 1964, Lucille Krueger wrote a complete history for the Centennial Anniversary.
In writing this history, many people were contacted. Past records of meetings of the church organizations were used. The Princeton Times Republic was helpful, as were the memories of some of the older members of the church. A history of the Lutheran church in the 125th Anniversary book on the founding of Princeton, written in 1973 by LaVerne Marshall, was another source. Heads and members of all the organizations were very supportive. Edna Briese helped with the German.
An effort was made to incorporate these histories, updating material as needed and to add facts pertinent to the 25 years since the last history was written. However, mistakes can be made. If you notice a mistake, you can help by calling a member of the 125th Anniversary Committee, so that it can be corrected in the next history.
There is never enough time or space to put everybody or everything into these histories, or to record the hundreds of hours freely given by hundreds of people. Only the highlights can be merely touched. But you can be sure though, that each and everyone who has ever served unselfishly, over the years, in any capacity, in the operation of the church and it's activities, to the Glory of God, is very deeply appreciated and needed. This unselfish dedication truly shows the Fruits of Faith.
By the Grace of God, St. John's, this church-home where we celebrate today, has existed and prospered for 125 years. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless, strengthen and preserve the spreading of His Word in it's true meaning, for many years to come, to the Glory of God.
THE BEGINNING OF ST. JOHN'S (1864-1869)
Records describe the beginning of the Lutheran Church, the oldest congregation in the Princeton community, in the following way: Nine years after Princeton was founded in 1848, Lutheran families of Montello, Mecan and Newton called Paster Deihlman, a "Reisprediger"--traveling preacher--to serve them. He was the only Lutheran pastor in the area and he undoubtedly conducted services in the Princeton area too, for records show that he baptized Emma Elnora Lueck on January 10, 1861, the year the Civil War began. He also served the Lutheran settlers at Dayton between 1855 and 1857. He preached to them about once every three weeks and then only on weekdays. In 1862 records show that a Teacher Schultz baptized Robert Lueck.
These men of God, in a very limited way, fulfilled the spiritual needs of these early settlers, who were a mixture of immigrants from Prusia, Germany, England, Ireland and the eastern United States. By the spring of 1864, sixteen Lutheran families in the Princeton area sensed a need for a more positive and permanent spiritual arrangement. They called J.J. Kern of Fond du Lac to serve them as the first resident Lutheran pastor.
The beginning was made. About two weeks later these sixteen religious minded Lutherans met on the third floor of what at that time was known as the August Thiel Store, in downtown Princeton. This building now houses the Lehner Law Office. (At that time it was a three-story, stone building.) These sixteen people met for the purpose of organizing a Lutheran congregation. The family names were: Dargatz, Jahnke, Persage, Lemke, Lueck, Luetke, Maulick, Reich, Schwarz, Weckworth, Weist, Seigler, Thiel, Sommerfeldt, Schwanke, and E.T. Yahr. Papers of incorporation were filed, a constitution in the German language was written and the name, "Evangelische Lutherische St. Johannis Gemeinde"-St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church-was adopted.
This infant organization than set out to seek a permanent home where the word of God could be preached in it's true meaning. They purchased a building site north of what is known as the "Old Parsonage", which now stands on the corner of So. Clinton and Wisconsin streets. Now they had the land - - a beginning. At this time however, progress came to a halt when in the spring of 1865, Pastor Kern left Princeton and went to Iowa. There were a few months when there was no shepherd to lead the flock. Then in November, 1865, Pastor J.P. Lucas, sent to America by a Missionary Society in Germany, filled this vacancy and was installed on the third Sunday in Advent.
Pastor Lucas was a young and very active man and started his work in God's name with great vigor and joy, but, sad to say, the congregation failed to cooperate with him. Records show that many congregational meetings were called but, because of a lack of a quorum, none were held. Finally on December 26, 1866, the necessary quorum assembled. The first thing on the agenda was a plan to build a church. It was decided that it be built of stone, right next door to the old parsonage, with a schoolroom in the basement.
However, when the next congregational meeting was held in February, 1867, again at Thiel's Store, records show that the following two changes were made: The church would not be built next door to the parsonage, but on the original land bought when the church was first organized, and the church would not be of stone, but of wood. This wooden structure was to be 46 ft. long, and 28 ft. wide and 18 ft. high. It was to have a foundation 4 ft. above ground. This first little church was built as specified and dedicated in 1867. In 1868, soon after the dedication, Pastor Lucas felt he wasn't accepted wholeheartedly by the congregation, so he answered a call to the town of Franklin.
Again, for about a year, the little congregation was without it's own pastor. Again, various pastors form around the area came to preach God's word in Princeton. In the records it shows that a Pastor Boerner of Berlin held some church services at this time.
A TIME OF GROWTH (1869-1884)
In the year 1869, things changed for the better for this young congregation. The church members called John August Hoyer, of Eldorado. Although he hated to leave his flock in Eldorado, he agreed to come to Princeton. Members of the church moved him, his eleven year old son, Adolph, other members of his family and his possessions from Eldorado to Princeton by ox cart. A richly blessed relationship between the congregation and the Hoyer family was the result of this move, which was to last for sixty-six years. Pastor John served until 1884, and his son Adolph, was Princeton's Lutheran pastor from 1880 (four years with his father) until 1935.
The congregation grew spiritually and physically. To the Glory of God, pastor John and the congregation worked together harmoniously. School was conducted in the parsonage, and he performed as many as 125 baptisms in a year. Mrs. Hoyer was also held in high esteem. She always had a friendly word for young and old alike. When she passed away in 1876, it was said that Princeton had never seen such a large funeral. Even from the beginning, Pastor Hoyer also served the congregation at Mecan, which was organized in 1866. (During these early years, the Mecan church was called the "Straw Church", because it was made of logs and had a straw roof.)
Around 1872, Rev. Hoyer began to hold services at St. Steven's congregation in Dayton, which was made up of about 75 or more families. Then in 1878, he began to conduct services in the homes of a few Lutheran families in Montello. All in all, he cared spiritually for perhaps 500 communicant members, scattered throughout the area around Princeton. Records don't show, but one has to believe his means of transportation was the horse and buggy.
Soon it became apparent that serving all of these congregations was an overload for one pastor alone, so in 1880, pastor Hoyer's son, Rev. Adolph Hoyer (the 11 yr. old who moved with his father from Eldorado), was called to assist his father. In May, 1881, the congregation joyfully saw him married to a local girl, Clara Thiel. Father and son worked together to the Glory of God, for four years. Pastor Adolph worked especially among the families of Mecan and Montello, and his father in Princeton and Dayton. In 1884 Montello/Mecan united to form one parish, apart from Princeton.
EXPANSION IN PRINCETION (1884-1914)
In 1884, the Lutheran flock in Princeton became so large and the small church so crowded that in February it was decided to build a larger, new one. This second church was to be in the shape of a cross, to be made of wood and to use as much of the old church as possible. It was built on the lot where the Christian Day School now stands, across the street from the present church.
About the time the new church was being built, Synod officials ruled that because the parish was so large, it would have to be divided into two fields: Mecan/Montello and Princeton/Dayton. During this year also, (1884), Pastor Hoyer, Sr. retired to St. Paul. His son, Adolph, whose father had laid such a good foundation now would receive the fruits of that labor and was called to inherit his father's church in Princeton/Dayton. On the 4th Sunday in 8184, 20 years after the founding of the congregation in Princeton, this second church was dedicated.
With the help and blessing of the Lord, Pastor Adolph carried on the work of his father and it became a lifetime labor for him. He was to spiritually serve the people of this community faithfully and successfully for 56 years. During this time, the congregation showed remarkable progress. The new church, built in 1884, was soon paid for. A new and larger organ was purchased for $1,000. In 1905, the Silver Anniversary of Pastor Hoyer's labors in the ministry was celebrated and it was at this time in his ministry (1907) that the Ladies Aid, or "Frauen Verein", was organized and became very active in serving the church.
For twenty-four years after the second church was built, the congregation had a steady growth and again there was not enough room for everyone to be seated. An addition to the church was considered impractical. In 1908, the pastor was asked to obtain pledges towards a new church. When $14,000 was promised by the members, the congregation was encouraged to build a new church, (our present one), at a cost of $25,000. A site across the street from the old church was purchased for $2,000. This new church, made of stone, would also be built in the shape of a cross, and be 104 ft. long, 72 ft. high and 54 ft. wide. The corner stone of this new church was laid on October 18, 1908. At this festival, sermons were delivered by Professor August Pieper from the Milwaukee Seminary and Rev. C. Dowidat, or Oshkosh.
Services were held in the old church while the new one was being built. On the new church, no expense was spared. Everyone worked together and donated generously. The ladies Aid supplied the electric lighting fixtures and later furnished rooms in the basement. The young people donated the funds to beautify the altar and pulpit. Individuals donated the colored windows, lights for the altar, and new altar and pulpit books. A new and larger organ with 670 speaking pipes and 16 stops was installed for $2,000. The new church was truly a thing of beauty, inside and out.
On the fourth Sunday in Advent, 1909, dedication services were held. Guest speakers were Pastor E. Hoyer, of West Bend, and Professor August Pieper and J. H. Koehler of the Milwaukee Seminary. The congregation gathered in the old church for words of farewell. Then they proceeded across the street to the new church to the ringing of the bells and the beautiful tones of the new organ. It was truly a happy occasion. The speakers inspired the listeners' hearts to praise and honor their gracious and good God for the blessings of this beautiful house of the Lord. There were three dedication services and the collect that day amounted to $500. (In 1909 that was a lot of money).
Less than a year later, smoke was seen coming out of the basement area one-half hour after the last Lenten service. The new church was afire! It was soon extinguished, however, and again the Lord was thanked for saving the new church-home. The damage was soon repaired by the church organizations and restored to it's former order. Later, a new clock donated by the Ladies Aid, and a new organ were added. The old church was torn down and materials sold.
50th JUBILEE (1914)
On Sunday, October 25, 1914, by the grace of God, the congregation celebrated the fact that it had existed and prospered for 50 years. For this Jubilee, the congregations of Dayton, Mecan, and Montello were invited to help celebrate, as their histories ran parallel to that of St. John's. Three services were held and attended by a capacity number of worshippers. The Ladies Aid served dinner and a supper in the church basement to some 1500 people. At the time of this Jubilee, the church had some 240 voting members and 60 lady members.
In November, 1914, the Ladies Aid donated a new 1600 pound bell and in 1917, a new tower-clock was erected at the base of the steeple, also donated by the Ladies Aid. It cost nearly $1,000 and strikes on the hour and one-half hour. The dials are about 6 ft. in diameter. This clock is still in service today, although it has been electrified and modernized and was somewhat altered when it was repaired after lightning struck it on Wednesday, July 23, 1980.
In 1930, Pastor Hoyer celebrated 50 years service in the ministry. Council President, Rudolph Manthey, on behalf of the congregation, thanked him for 50 years of faithful service. On May 19, 1931, Rev. and Mrs. Adolph Hoyer celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The Rev. Otto Hoyer, Winneconne, a nephew, delivered the evening sermon.
With the advent of the automobile and better roads, the members of the Dayton parish, which had been served from Princeton for some 50 years, decided to dissolve their congregation. By 1931, most of the members had joined either the Princeton or Green Lake congregations. Past histories do not state the fate of the Dayton church (St. Stevens), but the Dayton cemetery still exists today. Just follow Highway 73 south out of Princeton about 3 miles up the Barnekow hill and you come to a beautifully kept cemetery. A neat fence surrounds the area and it has stately trees and is bordered by lilacs. It is peaceful and in the quietness you can hear the song of birds. Open the gate and walk through and you'll notice that the dates on the markers range from the year 1800 to the present time. There are rows and rows of children's markers, some written in German, dated in the early 1800's, depicting bad times. There are familiar names written on some of these monuments: Ratazak, Freiheit, Gelhar, Kelm, Krueger, Polfuss, Walter and Ludjeck, among others. Then you realize that this too, is part of our church heritage and many of our fellow church members have ancestors lying here awaiting the second Advent of our Lord.
END OF AN ERA
On Palm Sunday, 1934, Mrs. Hoyer passed away. She was 71 yrs. Old and for 53 of these years she called the Lutheran parsonage her home. Early in 1935, due to this loss and his failing health, Rev. Hoyer asked the congregation to provide him with an assistant. In October, 1935, he presented his resignation to be effective when a new minister could be called.
Pastor Harold Warnke of Platte, So. Dakota, had previously been an assistant to Rev. Hoyer. So it was to him the call was sent. After three calls, Pastor Warnke consented to come to Princeton. He was to be installed on February 9, 1936, but the installation was postponed due to the most severe snowstorm in the history of this community. It wasn't until Feb. 16, that he was installed as the fifth pastor of St. John's. The congregation was then 72 yrs. Old. His installation was Rev. Hoyer's last official act at St. John's. Rev. Warnke received and accepted a call to Dale, Wisconsin in 1949.
In 1949, Pastor Strohschein was called to St. John's in Princeton. He accepted the call and was installed as St. John's sixth pastor in December of 1949 by Pastor Oelhafen of Montello. Pastor Strohschein was born in the town of Albion, Minnesota, on March 2, 1905. He completed his grade school education at Emmanuel Lutheran Christian Day School. He then attended Dr. Martin Luther College and graduated in 1925. He attended Concordia College in St. Paul and graduated in 1927. For his theological training, he attended the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary at Mequon, graduating in June, 1930. On July 13, 1930, Pastor Strohschein was ordained at St. John's Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minnesota. On August 17, he was installed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Dundee, Wisconsin and at Peace Lutheran Congregation in Waucousta. On Nov. 1, 1930, he married Bernice Oelke at St. John's Lutheran Church in Markesan. In 1936 he also assumed the mission post at Campbellsport. This congregation was united with Peace Lutheran in 1938.
During his years in Princeton, a new school (1950) and a new Parsonage (1969) were built. He served as president of the Northern Wisconsin District from 1950-1952, and as vice-president from 1952-1954. He also served as visiting Elder of the Winnebago Pastoral Conference for 23 years and as Circuit Visitor for 4 years. For several years he served on the Synod's Board of Trustees. In July, 1955, Pastor Strohschein celebrated his Silver Anniversary of his ordination into the church and on November 1 he and Mrs. Stroschein celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.
In July of 1970, Pastor Strohschein was honored at an anniversary service and reception commemorating 40 years in the Lord's service (20 years in Princeton). At this service, the Liturgist was the Rev. Waldemar Pless, Milwaukee, father of Pastor Robert Pless, and a former schoolmate of Pastor Strohschein. The Rev. Harold Kleinhans of Oshkosh preached the sermon. Mrs. Carleton Richter was the organist. Pastor and Mrs. Strohschein have twin daughters, Carol, Mrs. John Hansen of Milwaukee and Corinne, Mrs. Herb Wachholz of Princeton, and have 4 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. In 1977, Pastor Strohschein retired from the ministry after 58 years (40 at St. John's) but continued to assist when needed.
On July 13, 1977, at a special voters meeting, Pastor Paul Kolander of Montello, the Circuit Pastor, presented a call list and Pastor Robert Pless was called to be the 7th pastor of St. John's which he accepted. He was installed on the evening of August 28, 1977 by Pastor Strohschein.
Pastor Robert Pless was born July 13, 1945 in Fond du Lac, son of Pastor and Mrs. Valdemar Pless. He graduated from Nothwestern College, Watertown, Wisconsin, and form the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary at Mequon, Wisconsin. His vicarage year was at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Waukesha, Wisconsin. He was ordained and installed as pastor of Our Savior's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Bismark, North Dakota, on July 9, 1972 and remained there until August 21, 1977. On August 15, 1970, he was united in Marriage to Sharon Semerau of Marathon, Wisconsin.
After Pastor Pless' installation August 28, 1977, an informal reception was held in the school gym, to which the congregation and guests were invited. Pastor Pless delivered his initial sermon at St. John's on Sunday, September 4, 1977. He has had three calls since he's been here. In 1983 - Trinity Lutheran, Waukesha; in 1984 - Europe and in 1985 - Lafayette, Indiana all of which he refused.
SUNDAY SCHOOL ORGANIZED
In April, 1936, a Sunday School was established. At that time the classrooms were in the church basement. The first superintendent was Arnold Loeffler. In 1948, there were more than 100 children enrolled and Paul Fude was the superintendent. For a number of years, until he transferred to Markesan, Wilmer Gorske had been the superintendent. Others were Jule Breitenfeldt, and later on H. Schnitker and Richard Grunze, Mr. Enter. At the present time there are 45 children enrolled and Harold Schwark is the superintendent. He has been associated with the Sunday School for at least 10 years and also teaches the 7th and 8th graders. We have had many volunteer teachers over the years. Classes are held in the school classrooms for 45 minutes every Sunday, between the 8:00 and 10:00 o'clock services, during the regular school year. The Sunday School youngsters participate in all the programs during the church holidays such as Christmas and Easter, along with the Day School children. There isn't room to print all of the names of the people who have volunteered to teach Sunday School over the years. Some for a short time and others much longer, however long the time, it was greatly appreciated.
CHRISTIAN DAY SCHOOL
Even from the beginning of the church organization, a need for Christian training for it's children was recognized. At first, classes were held in the parsonage and in various places around town and financed by the Schulverein-School Association, with parents paying $1.00 a month per child. This was not too satisfactory an arrangement, and in 1920 the Association asked the congregation to take over it's property consisting of a school building, teacher's dwelling, and an amount of money. From that time on the entire congregation has sponsored the Christian School. The first school building was built where the Giese Lumber Yard now stands. When that building was condemned, F.T. Yahr donated a triangle of land on the west side of Princeton. In 1881 the former two-story building was erected. After the school was built in 1951 this old building was sold for $75 and torn down. The names of some of the early teachers from 1875 to 1907 were: Claus Hottwalter, Charles Frickie, Theodore Voss and Clarence Cambe. Then in 1907 M.F. Militzer answered the call and served for 35 years. He was a very talented person. He served as organist, choir director, secretary and teacher. He retired in 1942 because of ill health. Walter Gerth was the teacher from 1943 to 1946.
In the fall of 1946 Mr. H. G. Schnitzker became the principal and another full-time teacher, Mrs. A. G. Rossow was called to teach the lower grades in the second story. Again in 1950, because of the increased enrollment, a third full-time teacher, Mrs. Walter Wichmann was called to teach the intermediate grades. When Mr. Schnitker left in 1959, Mr. Richard Grunzy was called as school principal.
For a long time the congregation felt the need of a new Christian Day School. In 1944, a School Building fund was established. The money from special envelopes, memorials and gifts was placed in this fund. There was an increase in school enrollment in 1947 and 1948 which made the need for a new, bigger school all the more obvious. In 1949, the fund reached $20,000.
In January, 1950, plans for the new school were drawn and accepted. These plans included a gymnasium, three classrooms and a kitchen and would have a lannon stone finish. The cornerstone was laid on July 16, and was finished at a cost of $70,000. Dedication services were held on June 10, 1951. Guest speaker was Pastor Warnke, who had made the plans for the school when he was the pastor at St. John's. The old Methodist Episcopal Church property (adjacent to the new school) came up for sale in 1943, for $800. Eight church members-Mueller, Breitenfeldt, Warmbier, Ahrens, Grams, Schultz, Kohnke and Doepke-bought this lot, jointly. After Mr. Mueller's death in 1946, his heirs deeded his 1/8 share to the church. In 1947, the remaining 7 owners presented the rest of the lot to the congregation. This was to become the Day School playground.
In 1970, Mr. Gurnzy left and Steven Enter was called as principal. Mr. Enter left in 1979 and James Wade became principal until 1982. Then John Martin came and stayed until 1987. The Lord has always truly blessed St. John's with capable, dedicated teachers. In 1987 Kevin Buch was called and is still the principal at the present time. Teaching with him are Mrs. Suan Gorr (1969), Terry Vanderlin (1979), Donna Knuth (1983). Mrs. Helene Moldenhauer was called for the fall of 1989 to serve for one year as kindergarten teacher for half days. Her room will be in the newly renovated area in the church basement. Donna Knuth is also the organist with Kevin Buch assisting one Sunday a month and Dawn Panoch as substitute organist. There were 81 children enrolled at the Christian Day School this year and 14 children graduated from the eighth grade.
The school board members are a group a parents, coucil and lay members who are dedicated to preaching and teaching done in the school. May the Lord continue to bless these dedicated people that they may continue to mold the minds of these youngsters into a pattern of faith pleasing to the Almighty. Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph 6:4 NIV. These children today are the future of the church.
PTA (CES) 1947
The PTA (Parent Teacher's Association) organized in 1947, was very active in the 50's and 60's. It was formed in order to better promote understanding and good will between parents and teachers. The PTA held pancake suppers and bake sales and other activities to raise money for school equipment. Within the last few years the name PTA was dropped and was replaced with the CES name (Christian Education Society). The Society holds fund raising events each year and share the proceeds with the Pioneers.
Since the time the new school was built with kitchen facilities, in 1951, the Lutheran Congregation in Princeton has provided their school children with food for the body as well as for the soul. A good cook is very important and St. John's has been blessed with good cooks from the beginning. During those years, there were usually 100 or more youngsters to be fed daily. There are between 35 and 50 daily meals today. The teachers help serve the food and the youngsters take turns doing the dishes. Our present cook has to keep within a budget so donations of vegetables, fruits, etc. and even monetary donations are welcomed. There are volunteer ladies who help Valerie from time to time.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
The Cradle Roll project involves infants from birth until they graduate at 5 years and enter Kindergarten in the fall. Volunteers had this committee and they work with this group of youngsters and their parents. When baptized, the child receives a Cradle Roll Certificate. Each year the child receives a birthday card and little keepsakes and little hints and helps for the parents to begin to instill in the child the fact that they are God's children. They are given a colored leaf with their name on which is pinned on the Cradle Roll Tree on the wall. They have a graduation, usually at 5 years a couple of weeks before school starts. Their parents and relatives are invited to this graduation. They are given a diploma and treated to a graduation cake and punch. They are then given their leaf back to show they are now ready for Kindergarten. The funding for this project comes from donations from parents, friends, the congregation, and the CES.
Usually early in summer the church has their annual picnic. Food is provided and sold by the group of dedicated members. A Silent Auction is held for the baked goods that the congregation donates. Games are provided for the young and old and a good time is had by all. Proceeds from the bake sale goes to the Student Aid Fund.
Ladies Aid (Organized in 1907)
The oldest existing service organization of St. John's Church is the Ladies Aid. It was organized when Adolph Hoyer was the Pastor. At that time it was known as the "Frauen Verein" - German for Ladies Aid. In those days there were about 100 members, and many donations to church related projects can be attributed to the members of this group of dedicated women. Over the years, they have supplied the church bell, tower clock, organs, furnished carpeting, finished the lighting system, and renovated the church basement, to list just a few of the many other projects. They have done most of the planning and most of the work and helped contribute a lot of the food for the job of feeding all the people at the festivals and celebrations over the years. In those days, the preparing of the food was a tremendous chore for there were no fast foods. The husbands and children were recruited to help with tables and chairs.
At first these meals were cooked on wood-burning stoves located in the back basement of the church. Sometimes roasters and the cooking of some of the foods were "shopped out" to home ovens of members living around the church. At times it was hard to keep track of where all the food was. There was never a shortage of food even though sometimes as many as 1500 people were served to sit down dinners, with very few conveniences at that time.
There are now 40 active members and 3 honorary members: Helen Prachel, Mrs. Emma Kohnke and Mrs. A. Rossow. Many of the members are now up in years. The younger women have joined the Gleaners as they are working. Lately some of the younger women have joined the Ladies Aid and are taking on the jobs from those who have labored so faithfully over the years.
At Christmas time the Ladies Aid has a guest night - potluck. Pastors, teachers, Sunday School teachers, the Custodian, husbands and guests enjoy a wonderful meal and a fun night of entertainment. Also at Christmas, monetary gifts are given to church and school personnel and checks are sent to the East Fork Indian Mission in Arizona, the Wisconsin Lutheran Child and Family Service in Milwaukee and to Belle Plaine Lutheran Home in Minnesota. A committee decorates and packs 5-qt. Ice cream pails with homemade candies, fruits and goodies for the shut-ins at Christmas. Our annual trip this year was to the Villa Louis, the Martin Luther Prep School and the Ft. Crawford Medical Museum at Prairie due Chien. The Aid meets once a month on the first Thursday afternoon of the month. Pastor Pless presents a lesson, now usually a video on important issues within the church or synod. A fellowship period follows with coffee and a light lunch. For many years, the Ladies Aid furnished food and workers for all the funerals. Now this duty is shared by the church members as a whole. Eileen Marquardt coordinated the food and workers for a long time.
Lucille Krueger can be credited with this project. Chrismoms are Christmas tree decorations, all hand-made, some very intricate, depicting all the religious symbols of the church. It was Lucille's idea and she ordered all the supplies and along with Eileen Marquardt, Marge Dreger, Norma Rozek and other dedicated workers, hand-made all these beautiful symbols which adorn the Christmas trees and decorate the Lord's house at Christmas. A Chrismom committee and volunteers trim and untrim the trees. There are enough to adequately decorate two, 14 ft. trees. Little booklets, containing the pictured symbols and the explanation and meaning of each, are placed in the hymnal racks at the holiday season.
WORK DAY PROJECT
Another big part of the Ladies Aid is the Work Day Project. It was originated about 12 years ago by Lucille Krueger an Eileen Marquardt, sort of patterned after the war-time projects, where ladies got together to wrap bandages and knit socks. Volunteer ladies (it doesn't have to be Aid members - anyone can help) get together once a month to work on projects to supply the African Medical Mission and whatever other organizations that they send to. There are many ladies who volunteer and take charge of making muffs, bibs, restrainers, layettes, wipes, pads, bandages, etc. Edna Briese crochets all the shells for the baptismal towels and other ladies him them. Edna Braasch knits over 50 pairs of bed slippers a year and other ladies take care of the slippers made of Shelet material. The local nursing home is supplied with some of these finished items.
The Ladies Aid also has a birthday bank and a Penny Bank.
MEN'S CLUB (1950)
The Men's Club was organized in 1950, and in 1951 erected a high fence around part of the playground and later helped share the cost of blacktopping the play area. In the 1950's there were over 50 members in the Men's Club. This year there are 17. The president is Carl Lichtenberg; Vice President is Vern Jackson; Secretary is Harold Schwark, and Al Dahms is Treasurer. Most of these men have held these offices for almost 25 years. Carl, Vic and Al, for years have collected papers, aluminum cans and leather goods for the paper drive the Men's Club holds every few months. Funds they realize from these drives enables them to purchase needed equipment for the school. Two copy machines were donated to the school and this year $150 was given, among other things, to the Sunday School program.
In 1959 some of the ladies in the congregation agreed they would like to become members of the Ladies Aid, buy the Aid meets in the afternoon when the working women could not attend. They formed an evening group called the Gleaners. Gretchen Mueller became the first president. This group meets on the second Tuesday evening of the month except in June, July, and August. They hold two Dutch auctions a year to help finance their projects and to obtain needed equipment for church and school. A Program Committee plans the year's activities, which are educational and helpful.
They share the duties and the proceeds with the Ladies Aid at the Easter Breakfasts and at Christmas time they give a 2 lb. decorated coffee can of cookies to each shut-in.
To have a dedicated, dependable caretaker is a very important asset to a Church/School system. St. John's has a person to fit that description in Mr. Leland Schueler. He keeps things clean and orderly and seems to always be there when he's needed and is willing to help with whatever needs doing. He came to the job in 1978 (second time). He had been janitor before but moved away. When he moved back to Princeton, he was again hired to just care for the church. At that time Mr. Byron Gondrezick was caring for the school. When Mr. Gondrezick quit, Mr. Schueler took over caring for the school too, although he much prefers caring for the church. Now Gary Fenske is the current school janitor.
CHURCH SECRETARY (1984)
In January, 1984, in order to relive the work load of the pastor, Financial Secretary, and the Treasurer, the office of the church secretary was established. Mrs. Virginia Dahnke was hired to fill this position. Her small office is located on the second floor of the Christian Day School in a room marked "First Aid", and "Church Secretary". This job requires a work period of 10 hours a week, the year 'round' and requires typing, bookkeeping and computer skills. Our current secretary is Vicki Pulvermacher.
HIGHLIGHTS AND MILESTONES
In 1936, the translation of the Constitution into the English language was begun. In 1937, the translated and amended Constitution as accepted.
On October 26k, 1937, Pastor Hoyer passed away at the age of 81 years. Fifty-six of these years were spent at St. John's in Princeton. It was estimated that he had held 1600 baptisms, confirmed 1500 people, performed 1500 marriages and officiated at 900 funerals, besides conducting several thousands of regular church services.
In April, 1938, because there had been no major redecoration since 1909, it was decided to make any and all needed repairs. Also to redecorate the church, inside and out. The roof was repaired, the outside painted, the ceiling covered with ivory-colored Nuwood tiles, and the sanctuary painted. The inside painting was done by a Milwaukee firm assisted by Arthur Dreblow from Princeton. The exterior of the church, including the steeple, was painted by Paul Kelm, Princeton, and Erwin Brieske and Allen Fenske, Germania. Local carpenters who helped with this project were: Herman Gorr, Art Bierman, Milo Bierman, Otto Bierman, Erick Rick, Edward Renn, Edward Tagatz and Otto Lunow. Thanks to the Lord and these men plus many others in the congregation, the newly decorated church was beautiful indeed. The cost of this redecoration was close to $3,000. Dedication services, to the Glory of God, were held on October 3, 1938. In January, 1939, carpeting costing about $800, donated by the Ladies Aid, truly put the finishing touches to the splendor of the project.
Before 1925, the German language was used exclusively in all the services. English was used occasionally, but in 1939 the congregation voted to have English services every other Sunday. In 1964, the German language was discontinued entirely and today the English language is used throughout the system with two English services every Sunday at 8:00 and 10:00 o'clock.
In 1938, A Young Peoples' Society was established, flourished for a little over a decade and then, for lack of members, was disbanded.
DIAMOND JUBILEE - June, 1939
At the annual meeting in January, 1939, the congregation voted to observe the 75th anniversary of it's organization. A history was written and a book published containing pictures of the pastor, officers, committees and properties. On June 18, 1939, the Diamond Jubilee was celebrated with morning, afternoon, and evening services. The choirs participated and there was an organ recital and a concert. The members of the Ladies Aid served a cafeteria dinner and supper.
As of June, 1939, there were 82 lady members, 269 voting members, 811 communicant members and 929 souls.
At the time of the Jubilee, a native son of the congregation, Elmer Rimpler, was attending the Seminary at Springfield, Illinois. Rev. Rimpler was the first member of the congregation to become a minister. He served at Doylestown and Fall River, Wisconsin, White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and Bertrand, Nebraska, where he passed away suddenly of a heart attack. He was 53 years old.
In 1941, a church library was begun, but later it was incorporated into the school library. I n1986, a new church library was established. Books were purchased and donated in memory of loved ones. The reference books are sometimes used by the Sunday School and Day School teachers and by the Bible Study group. All church members have access to this library.
WORD WAR II
Then came the sad days of World War II. Seventy-five of the church's members served in the Armed Forces. A Spiritual Welfare Committee was appointed to maintain religious contact with congregation members serving in the military. There were two casualties: Marvin Bierman and Donald Kannenberg.
On October 17, 1954, St. John's celebrated it's 90th Anniversary. Speakers were Prof. Walter Schumann, Northwestern College, Watertown, and Rev. W. Pless of Fond du Lac. At that time there were 1011 souls and 88r communicants.
In 1955, Pastor and Mrs. Strohschein celebrated two joyous occasions: the 25th Anniversary of Pastor Stroschein's Ordination on July 13, and their Silver Wedding Anniversary on November 1st. On October 2, the congregation helped them celebrate both events. Pastor W. Pless was the guest speaker.
It was becoming apparent that a new organ would have to be purchased. An organ fund was started in 1954, and in 1957 a new Wicks electric pipe organ was purchased and installed. It was dedicated on December 1st. Chimes worth $900 were a gift to St. John's from the organ company. This is the organ in use today.
Then in 1958, a Centennial Decorating Fund was established, keeping in mind that in 1964, with the Lord's blessing, St. John's would be celebrating it's 100th birthday.
Though the new school was built near the church on the east side of town, the teacherage still was located across town on the west side. In 1960, $12,000 was offered for this old teacherage. It was decided to sell it and build a new parsonage and use the old pastor's home for a teacher's residence. In the spring of 1960 the plans for a new Parsonage were approved. Many congregation members assisted in the building of this new Pastor's home which cost nearly $26,000. It was dedicated on September 25, 1960. Pastor H. Kleinhans of Oshkosh, was the guest speaker.
Since the church was painted in 1947, a communion rail was put in place, washrooms were installed in the church basement and the pulpit was changed. The present envelope system was set up at this time so that members could contribute weekly toward congregation and synod obligations. The tower clock was restored and new steps and lights and railings were installed at the front entry of the church.
In 1959, Mrs. Hattie Matulick willed her farm to the church. It was known as the tree farm because every year trees were planted there. In 1976 this farm was sold to Lavern Zick.
In 1961, in order to preserve the beautiful stained glass windows in the church, storm windows were installed.
In 1963, in preparation for the Centennial Celebration, the congregation approved a complete renovation of the church. A new hot water heating system with LP gas was installed by Renn and Schwark Plumbing. The interior decoration of the main part of the church was done by Rath Studios from Madison. The floors were sanded and varnished by Jim Siddall. New carpeting was installed by H. Wachholz and Sons. The outside of the church was sandblasted, tuckpointed, and the brick and stone treated with a preservative. The gutters and downspouts were replaced. All metal surfaces were painted including the steeple cross. This work was done by the Cliff Mavis Maintenance Company. At the time of the 100th celebration in 1964, there were 1074 souls in the congregation.
THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
St. John's congregation commemorated the 100th year with services on May 30th and on June 6, 1965. At the May service, Pastor Harold Warnke, former pastor of St. John's and in 1965 the Principal of Fox Valley Lutheran High School in Appleton, was guest speaker. (In January, 1981, Rev. Warnke passed away at the age of 72, at his home in Inverness, Florida). At the June 6th service, Pastor Oscar Naumann, President of Synod, was the guest speaker.
Ronald Semro, son of Mrs. Arden Golz, and a son of St. John's congregation, was completing his first year at the Seminary in Mequon in 1964. He was asked to be the liturgist for the Centennial celebration. Rev. Semro graduated from the Seminary in 1968 and is now the pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Maumee, Ohio, where he has been for over 10 years. He again has been asked to serve as liturgist at the 125th Celebration.
The organist for the 100th Centennial was Mrs. Paul Kolander. Neighboring congregations and former St. John's members were invited to the celebration. Dinners for both days were prepared and served by the ladies of the congregation. Mrs. Victor Gorr, Ladies Aid President, Ruth Gruenwald, President of the Gleaners and Mrs. Elmer Mueller were in charge of all food. Wilmer Gorske prepared and sent out all the invitations and Mrs. Lucille Krueger wrote a complete 100 year history. It was printed in a lovely red suede booklet with many pictures of the people and facilities.
In 1975, a Mother's Room was provided in the church basement for families of small restless children.
In October, 1976, the congregation began providing a blanket subscription to the Northwestern Lutheran for every family in the congregation. Interest from the sale of the tree farm provides the funds.
In January, 1977, the annual report showed that there were 839 communicant members and 1044 souls.
In 1978, a new amplifier was installed in the church to aid the hearing impaired.
At the annual meeting in January, 1978, the Lutheran Pioneer Program was started under the direction of Pastor Pless. Since that time many members have served as leaders of this group.
In 1979, a new scoreboard was installed in the school gym at a cost of $697. Also, the church basement was renovated, and a scholarship fund started for those who would pursue the ministry/teacher field. Soon after Pastor Pless came, the present usher system was established. These volunteers serve as greeters and ushers at both services on Sunday and on special occasions. This is really a group of dedicated men and the head usher is Don Ebert.
On Wednesday, July 25, 1980, shortly after midnight, the church steeple was struck by lightening. A fire started but was confined to the tower by the quick action of the Princeton Fire Department. Someone had noticed the fire against the sky and turned in the alarm. The structure is about 125 feet high and Fire Chief, Herb Wachholz, Jr. noted that his ladders wouldn't reach the fire. The fire department's radio system was out, so a police squad car radio was used to call the Ripon Fire Department with it's aerial ladder.
One face of the 4-way clock was destroyed. The clocks were stopped at 12:17. Slate shingles, no doubt, helped to contain the fire. There was water damage to the ceiling tile, the steps, and to the basement, but thanks to the Lord the lovely pipe organ, located in the balcony, was not damaged. Insurance covered the loss. The next day Griese and Ross of Pickett came with a 145 foot boom and removed the cross. Lightening struck the steeple twice more within two weeks of the initial strike, resulting in more damage each time. In October, 1980, a stainless steel cross was installed in the church steeple.
PASTOR STROHSCHEIN - A 50th ANNIVERSARY
On Sunday, August 17, 1980, a special anniversary was held at St. John's Luthrean Church commemorating Pastor Strohschein's 50 years of service in the holy ministry. The late Pastor Paul Hartwig, a close friend of Pastor Stroschein, delivered the sermon. The theme: Gratitude to the Lord Jesus for 50 years of boundless Grace, based on 1 Cor. 15:10. Pastor Robert Pless served as liturgist. Pastor and Mrs. Strohschein also were further blessed this day by observing their 50th wedding anniversary. A reception was held in their honor. The Ladies Aid prepared the meal for about 500 people. Pastor Strohschein, even though retired from active ministry, sincerely wishes and prays that he can continue to serve in emergencies - for preaching and visiting the sick and shut-ins. Mrs. Strohschein is still the main organist for the weekly Nursing Home services and for the Ladies Aid and Gleaners monthly meetings. Pastor and Mrs. Strohschein have translated from the German into English, every baptism, wedding and funeral performed since the congregation began in 1964 until 1936 when they began to record in English. This is all written in 3 ledgers and the task finished in 1988.
In June, 1981 all the old steel windows in the school were replaced with new energy efficient windows equipped with safety glass. In July, 1981 two electric ceiling fans were installed in the church. In 1982, the council voted to protect the beautiful stained glass windows by covering them with clear Lexon glass.
In January, 1983 there was a gradual change from the use of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible to the New International Version (NIV).
In April, 1985, the teacherage was sold for $16,000.
In April, 1988, a $1,324 bid for floor covering for the Parsonage was accepted from Kutz of Ripon.
In 1988, there were 850 communicants and 1060 souls.
In 1988, plans were being made for the 125th Anniversary.
125TH ANNIVERSARY PRAYER
Father, lay Thy protective hand
Upon this, Your flock, we pray
Please bless this church that has survived
One hundred twenty five years today.
May the knowledge and devotion
That has brought us to today
Continue on in Christ our Lord
With His cross to point the way.
Let us ever realize
If misfortune should befall
'tis Thy will, not ours, oh Lord
We're to pray for most of all.
It's never been that easy, Lord
In this sinful world of ours
To tread the bare and lonely path
And withstand Satan's mighty powers.
But your Son has promised us
If we continue in His love
Golden treasures will be ours
In that home with Him above.
So today we do not pray
For riches without number
Earthly things just disappear
But Faith goes on forever.
Oh Holy Spirit, instill in us
A child-like faith so strong
It can withstand the Devil himself
'til we join that Heavenly Throng.
Please bless this church and keep it safe
And when the race is run
We pray that on that Advent Day
We'll hear You say, "Well done".
Written and submitted
By Mrs. Millerd Mosolf
"Upon this rock my church I build"
With call to worship never stilled!
The lofty spire pointing high
Against a crimson evening sky,
Reminds, that ancestors in brotherhood
Constructed well with stone and wood,
A building where to pray and praise
And thankful hallelujahs raise
To a triune God in heaven above,
Who blesses us with endless love!
Let song of praise and thanks resound,
And love of brotherhood abound
Amongst the members of this church.
No longer is there need to search!
The gospel preached within this place
Brings God and mankind face to face!
The precious Word within these alls
The very heart and soul enthralls:
Jesus' blood removes sin's taint,
The sinner can become a saint!
Once more the clarion bells shall ring,
As thousand voices praise and sing:
Hitherto the Lord has blessed…
Giving comfort, hope and rest!
A century and a quarter more,
He opened wide the sacred door;
And poured upon us grace and love
From Heaven's throne so far above!
Grant steadfast faith that will not fail,
"And the gates of hell shall not prevail"!!
…Elmer V. Krueger
(Based on Scripture: Matthew 16:18)
PRESERVING THE PAST
A tin chest of old papers and books, some written in German, was discovered in the back basement of the church. Becky Makurat agreed to sort out the important documents and along with other items found including a long handled collection bag and photos, display them at the Anniversary. It is hoped a permanent place can be found for these articles where they will be preserved.
DOING THE LORD'S WORK
Members of the church who went on to be school teachers are: Amy Knurowski, daughter of Pat and Judy Knurowski, called to Libertyville, Illinois; Donna Verch, daughter of the Leonard Verches, called to Fox Lake; Christine Marquardt Ferber, daughter of the Lloyd Marquardts, now in Milwaukee; Georgene Lichtenberg Schutte, daughter of the Victor Lichtenbergs, now in Milwaukee and Cheryl Schwanke Silvestrini, daughter of Mrs. Emmerman Hennes, now in Rockton, Illinois.
The congregation has maintained a Lutheran Burial Grounds on the south side of the city since before 1933. Some years later a gravel pit was bought from the city to help maintain the cemetery. Los of gravel was removed from there and when it was all taken out, Mashuda Construction leveled and evened it all off. In 1936 it was decided to install a water system in the cemetery and in 1943 a two acre addition was purchased. This addition was covered with shrubs and bushes and over the years Vic and Carl Lichtenberg have tried to clear it off and with the help of Harold Zellmer and Lavern Zick, have planted about 1000 red pine trees which may someday be harvested for pulpwood. Vic mows the grass on this two acre lot and keeps it maintained. Arnold Schwark and family cares for the cemetery, and Harold Stelter digs all the graves. A long time ago, there was a fence and a lot of bridle wreath surrounding the cemetery but it has been removed, as has a lot of the trees on the cemetery. This property just went by the name of Lutheran Cemetery. In 1958, after the death of her parents, Doris Zick drove down the hill to visit their graves, with memories of them going through her mind. She thought, that would be a nice name - Memory Hill. The church council gave it's consent and it's been Memory Hill ever since.
A memorial monument, designed and built by Milo Bierman, with a brass plaque in memory of Emma and Alfred Lichtenberg was erected. It's a cross-topped, pyramid-shaped monument and it stands out by the road at the edge of the cemetery. A marble slab on the front has the name "Memory Hill" engraved on it.
EASTER TIME AT ST. JOHN'S
The Pastors exchange pulpits for the Lenten Services with Green lake, Ripon, Waupun and Pickett. On Good Friday, a huge wooden cross, made by Milo Bierman, draped in black stands at the front of the church, but on Easter morning it becomes a Memorial Garden with almost a hundred Easter Lilies placed at the foot, fastened to the cross and surrounding the pulpit. These lilies are donated or loaned then taken home or donated to the Nursing home or to shut-ins in memory of a loved one. At the Sunrise Song Service, the choir and school children present a program of songs praising the Lord Jesus for His Great Gift, which is the true meaning of Easter. Trumpets accompany the organ music. After the church services, an Easter breakfast is enjoyed by members of the congregation, work shared by the Ladies Aid and Gleaners.
The Church Council, made up of male voting members, are elected by the voting members for a 3 year term. They govern the church and school and make the rules and regulations.
The yearly Bowling Tournament is held at Green Meadows Lanes in Green Lake. Don Ebert makes all the arrangements for this group.
Terry Krueger mails cards to guests for church attendance.
Lillian Mosolf had been the Church Librarian and has been the custodian of the Meditations since January, 1980.
For those who wish to donate flowers for the altar to celebrate an anniversary or in memory of someone, there is a Flower Chart in the church entryway where you can sign up ahead to reserve the date desired for your gift. Some weddings donate their flowers too.
NURSING HOME CHURCH SERVICES
Pastor conducts a service every Tuesday morning at the local Nursing Home. Mrs. Strohschein accompanies the singing of hymns.
Weekly newsletters from the school to keep the congregation informed of school doings is available on Sundays.
A monthly church newsletter was started to keep those members informed who had no voter member in the family, so they can see the results of Council news. This newsletter is mailed out once a month to each family.
TAPE AND ALTAR COMMITTEES
Eileen Marquardt coordinates volunteers from the congregation to deliver tapes to the shut-ins each Sunday. Helpers are designated to change the altar cloths and wash the Communion Service ___________. The volunteers for tapes change every Sunday and Altar Committees change every 2 months.
ADULT BIBLE STUDY
The Adult Bible Study Class first started on October 24, 1985. Using the People's Bible and Study Guide, Pastor Pless directs one hour sessions running for about 3 month periods. In-depth studies of the books of the Bible and how the Bible wants Christians to conduct themselves is only part of the lessons learned. Sometimes very interesting subjects are discussed.