St. Pauls

Evangelical Lutheran Church

Dixon, Lee Co. IL

Contributed & Copyrighted by Margaret Gagliardi

Music Will Have Important Place in Church Jubilee
Special Numbers to Be Profuse in St. Paulís Celebration.

Music will have a large part in the Diamond Jubilee Services of St. Paulís Lutheran church this coming Sunday to Wednesday. There will be special numbers at every service under the leadership of Mrs. E. M. Goodsell, choirister, and Mrs. Dwight Chapman, organist.

The Young Peopleís choir will sing Sunday and Monday evenings, and the orchestra, lead by Earl Senneff, will give special numbers at the Monday night service.

The crowning musical event of the services will be the sacred cantata on Wednesday evening. It has special parts for solo, chorus and organ. Its words are chiefly Biblical. Its music is very beautiful and inspiring too. It opens with an invitation to Godís house, then tells the necessary preparation for those coming to that sacred place. Love is the requirement of entrance into the kingdom. The Good Shepherd, Jesus, is next exalted and the pathway of life explained in the words of the Twenty third Psalm. There is a prayer for light when earthly scenes shall pass away in Thee to find the open gate to death less home and endless day, then the cantata tells of Christ, the Heavenly Light.

The subject of the cantata, The Crown of the Life, is then introduced more definitely, in the thought that enduring temptation is the condition of receiving the crown of life, in the Fatherís House on High. There is a plea for the true Christian life of ďliving sacrificeĒ. The cantata closes in a final chorus of praise of God, eternal praise and there is now, the Lord is the refuge and strength of His people.

Each part of the cantata has one or more special parts _ the chorus numbers. The chorus has been at work on the jubilee music for some time, and a treat is ready for each service.

Stories of Long Ago

In the timber southeast of the courthouse a clearing was made in the scrub oak and under _ and _ First Church of St. Paulís _ congregation was built on the west side of what is now Crawford Avenue, north fourth street. People came there from the woods and prairies for miles around and some used to tie their horses to the posts supporting the long flight of wooden steps which led to the main entrance.

The building was begun in 1854 and two other churches Methodist and Roman Catholic were under construction the same year. It was dedicated in September 1855. One hundred and fifty buildings were erected in Dixon during 1855 and that fall the population was 3,054.

Rev Uhl Prime Mover

The prime mover in the erection of the First Church by the Lutherans was Rev. Wm. Uhl an interesting character in the secular history was well as in connection with church life. He was born in Maryland in 1819, graduated from Gettysburg College, Pa., about 1845, entered the ministry and six years later became a missionary pastor at Peru, Ill. He came to the Dixon charge in 1853 and that year was one of ďeight ex_ing missionariesĒ in this part of the state.

Mr. Uhl had frequent periods of ill health which forced him to leave his missionary work, and it was one of these which brought him to Dixon. He settled on a farm and in a few months became the Lutheran pastor.

In 1860 he purchased the ďFarmers MillĒ built two years before which became known as the Uhl Mill. He was a dealer in agricultural implements, and a charter member of both the banks in Dixon at that time. He went to California in 1891, and died in Los Angeles six years later. He was closely connected with church life in this vicinity for forty years and is mentioned in the year records of many churches in this part of Illinois.

Rev Uhl lived in the house just west of Dixon Public Hospital and his daughter, Mrs. Bennett next west in the house now known as the Rosborrok? home. Mr. Bennett was frequently associated with Mr. Uhl in business here.

The basement of the old First Church was on the group level reached by one or two steps from its entrance under the high platform leading to the main floor above.. It had three rooms. One was used for coal, after the railroad came through and it became cheaper. Before that wood was burned in the two stoves each half way down the side of the room above.

Dr. Everettís Exhibit

Another room had an exhibit of stuffed birds, minerals and other specimens belonging to Dr. Oliver Everett, the earliest physician in Dixon. He came in 1836 and is said to have been a naturalist, a pioneer, and a gentleman. His work as a physician covered hundred of miles of thinly settled territory over which his saddle bags carried, nourishing food as well as medicine. The children greatly enjoyed the exhibit before and after Sunday school. It remained there until a room was needed for public school purposes. At least part of the exhibit was taken to the Dixon Public Library.

Various organizations met in the basement of the old church in those days when public buildings were more rare than now. One of the most noted was the Dixon College Institute which was organized in 1865 and commenced its first term May under the care of Rev W. W. Harsha , the first Presbyterian pastor here. Besides Rev Harsha, Prof. E. C. Smith, Mrs. E. A. Smith, Mrs. C. L. Harsha and Miss Jenny L. Backus are mentioned among its early teachers. The next New Year, the Lutheran church trustees were authorized to rent this basement of the church to the Presbyterians for school purposes.

Just how long the institute met there is not know, but later, perhaps in 1858, a large brick building was built at what was then the east end of Second street, about where the Morrison residence now stands. People now living in Dixon remember attending this school when children M. M. Tooke was in charge of it in 1866. The building stood on the bluff, and could be seen above the timber half way to Grand Detour. The timber on East Second was not cut down until about thirty years ago, old residents say.

The Institute continued to be the finest school in this vicinity until after the coming of the N. I N. S. whose first buildings were erected in 1881, in West Dixon, and which later became the successor of the old Institute; when Prof Dillie was at the head of both. The building on what is now Bluff Park was condemned for school purposes, and was torn down about thirty years ago by W. A. Schuler.

The basement of the old First Church therefore housed what later became the Dixon College and Normal School, which for years was one of this community's largest educational institutions.

Merchants Interested

Several Dixon merchants have been active workers in St. Paulís church. One of these was Theodore Moeller, who came to Dixon with his parents in 1850. He was born in 1834 and died in Dixon July 20, 1914. He was a merchant here for twenty eight years, stating in the grocery business with Edward Welbezain, and later conducted the business alone. After his retirement in 1897, he was tax collector for eleven years.

At the time of his death, he was a little the oldest male member of St. Paulís, having joined early in 1869. He was elected in elder in 1871, and was an officer forty three years. He was Elder Emeritus the last three years.

Prof. Edmund Miller was a book and shoe merchant here in the sixties. He was a brother in law of St. Paulís pastor, Rev. Trimper. A. F. Robinson was associated with him in business for many years. Both of these men were members of St. Paulís church council and superintendents of its Sunday school.

Another Lutheran shoe merchant was Horace Fleck, who graduated from Dixon High School in 1873. He was a son of John G. Fleck and both were very active in St. Paulís. The father settled near Dixon in 1856.

Prof. Miller was principal of the old Hillsboro (Ill.) Academy in the fifties and it was to visit this former teacher that Dr. O. B. Blackman first came to Dixon.

From the book "Introduction to Early Churches" it is written - "On August 20 1848, the "First Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Lee County," was organized in the barn of J. N. Burket, South Dixon, by Rev. Jacob Burket, and the following members: John N. Burket, Mary Burket, John Moyer, Elizabeth Moyer, Catharine Grow, Nathan Hetler, Catherine Hetler, Philip Mower, Mary Mower, Jacob Shoop, Catherine Shoop, Nancy Smice, Lydia Courtright, Catherine Palmer, Magdeline Clinetob, and Mary A. M. Burket. Jacob Burket continued in charge as pastor until Aug 1850. Ephraim Miller from May 1851 to April 1852, Chas. Young from May 1852 to Aug. 1853, William Uhl from Sept. 1853 to 1855. Nov. 12 1853 the name of the society was changed to St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the certificate of organization recorded in the Recorder's office. D. Harbaugh was pastor from July 1855 to July 1856; William Uhl from Sept. 1856 to July 1858. In Dec. 1856 the German portion of the church withdrew and organized a separate congregation under the pastoral care of Rev. Chas. Young. J. L. Guard became pastor of the English branch in July 1858, continuing until 1861; J.R. Kelser from Sept. 1861 to Oct. 1864; A. Trimper from spring of 1865 to 1870, during which time the two congregations were again united.

When members of St. Pauls' Evangelical Lutheran congregation dedicated their unpretentious little brick structure on September 31, 1855, at a cost of $4,000, they hardly expected that one day the church would be planning a place of worship to cost a quarter of a million dollars.

With an anticipated $165,000 to $175,000 in cash and pledges, members expect to see construction begin this spring on its Gothic structure of Lannon stone, with completion expected by spring or summer of 1952 at the new church site at Fifth street and Peoria avenue.

In October 1948, a month long observance of the church's centennial was held by the congregation after plans for their new building began in 1945. The history of this famous Dixon church began August 20, 1848, when 16 persons gathered for worship in a barn belonging to John N. Burket east of Dixon, under the Rev. Jacob N. Burket and organized the First Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Lee County.

A resolution November 22, 1853 changed the name of the congregation to St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Lee County and State of Illinois. The parsonage was completed a year after the first building was finished in 1855 and by 1861 membership was 152.

The increasing numbers of the congregation after the Civil War required a new building and in 1868 the present structure was erected at a cost of $14, 664, and was dedicated February 14, 1869. After having separated in 1853 the English and German congregations reunited in 1870 and at the turn of the century the church celebrated its golden jubilee with renovations costing $7,000.

In this year, 1898, there were 492 members and the church helped sponsor a revival meeting under Billy Sunday, the fiery evangelist, when 172 new members were brought into the church.

In 1905 the first teacher-training class was graduated and the Young Ladies Missionary society organized. Church repairs were again made in 1907 and a pipe organ dedicated in 1914. In 1917 improvements totaling $5839 were made. In 1928, year of its diamond mubilee, the church had 891 baptized members, 688 confirmed members and 556 communing memers. In 1936 $3200 was spent on improvements. The monthly St. Pauls news made its appearnace in1937 and the new kitchen and beginners room built. A building fund for the presently proposed church as begun in 1945 and in 1946 the L.O.Y.A.L. (League of Young Adult Lutherans) was organized.

Pastor of St. Paul's is the Rev. George J. Curran who is assisted iwth office work and young peoples' activities by Miss Ruth Rose, a ful time parish worker.

The congregation numbers 1450 baptized members, 1075 confirmed members and 865 communing members. Church organizations and their membership numbers include; Men's Brotherhood, 25; Ladies Aid, 85; Women's Missonary Society, 25; Women's Missionary congress No. 16, 30; Young Womens' Missionary congress No. 91, 12; LOYAL, 50; Sunday School, 450; senior and intermediate Youth Leagues, 30; childrens choir, 30; youth choir, 15; senior choir, 25; church council, 15, lay members and the pastor; and building committee, 9.

From the Dixon Evening Telegraph May 1, 1951 Anniversary Edition

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