Stephenson County Illinois
Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group

Church Histories

Bethel Methodist Church

Afolkey, Stephenson Co IL
Photo and Information from Karen Fyock

United Methodist Church

In 1839, in Centre County, Pennsylvania, 48 adults and children organized into a religious group headed by John Seybert, bishop of the Evangelical Church and John Folgate, a prominent farmer. They then migrated to this area by Conestoga wagon, then by steamer down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Savanna, Illinois.

In 1843, presiding elder, Samuel Baumgartner acquired land in Buckeye Township north of Cedarville. They organized the first church of the Evangelical Church on a plot of ground on what is not Illinois Route 26, 8.5 miles north of Freeport. (The site is now a rest area.) The congregation dedicated their church in May of 1850 as Zion Church. Their pastor served the community around Afolkey as well, meeting in the SOuth Afolkey schoolhouse. On March 6th, 1854, property in Afolkey was purchased for $30, and the Zion Church moved to become the new Afolkey church. A new, and still current, building was erected on the site in 1878. In 1932, the congregation joined with the Zion United Brethren Church in Orangeville as a single charge.

The Evangelical Association and the United Brethren denominations merged nationally in 1948. In 1968, the EUB denomination merged with the Methodist Episcopal denomination to become the United Methodist Church, so the Afolkey Church, too, became the Afolkey Bethel United Methodist Church still meeting in that building erected in 1878.

(Taken from the 2005 Membership Directory)


Berlin Methodist Episcopal

The Berlin M. E. Church, located near Jasper Mallory's (Rock Run Township in 1880) will be open for divine worship on next Sunday, Nov. 9. The Rev. W. D. Atchison, of Sterling, Ill., will preach at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Dedication will take place at the close of the morning service. All are cordially invited to be present. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - Freeport Weekly Journal November 5, 1879 p, 8 col. 1]

Emanuel Evangelical church

Emanuel Evangelical Congregational -- Cedarville

Dakota Methodist Church
1967 - Photo Contributed by Karen Fyock

Dakota Methodist

Dakota, Stephenson County IL


Calvary Evangelical U.B. Church
1967 - Photo Contributed by Karen Fyock

Calvary Evangelical United Brethren Church

Davis, Stephenson County IL


Davis Methodist

Methodist Church
Davis, Stephenson County IL
The Davis Methodist church, one of the oldest in the area, was organized in June 1859 under the auspices of the Rev. James McLane, with 12 charter members. For three years services were held in the Davis schoolhouse and also the church leased the Evangelical chapel, and held services there when the church was not in use by the other congregation. In 1866, four years later, the structure presently in use was built at a cost of $1800. Methodism came to the Davis area with the "circuit rider", the local preacher, and the class leader. The preacher on the frontier was often assigned very large areas through which he rode on horseback, ministering to families and settlements wherever he found them. Where there were enough people in one area, the circuit rider would organize these into a class and place someone in charge as a class leader. This pattern we find occurred in the beginning of the Davis Methodist church in 1855. Rev. Jacob Hartman was the preacher assigned to the Durand circuit by the Rock River annual conference. The present church building has been remodeled several times since it was first established. The building is in excellent repair after having been kept up by the present day congregation.


St. Paul Evangelical & Reformed Church
St. Paul
100th Anniversary

On Wednesday, June 11th, St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed church near Davis (often called the Epplyanna church) will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of its founding.  It was in June, 1847, that the members of fifteen families, who had but recently come over from Germany, gathered together in holy worship. This group had not been called together by the instigation of a missionary or pastor, but had come together of their own volition, for the were hungering for the bread of life and thirsting for the springs of living water. They had no pastor, so one of their number lead them in worship. This was the beginning of St. Paul's Evangelical church. For about a year a layman, Mr. Vehmeier, conducted the services. This continued until a home missionary, the Rev. Ernest Biene, took over, who was at the time also serving churches at Freeport and Eleroy.  In the year 1849 the first church, which was a stone building, was erected. The Rev. Biene left the community that same year. For the time being the congregation was then served by Lutheran and Reformed pastors on alternate Sundays. In 1851 the congregation called its first resident pastor, the Rev. H. Quinius, who served until 1858. In the course of its one hundred years, St. Paul's congregation has had thirteen resident pastors. Besides the Rev. Quinius just mentioned, they are, The Revs. D. Kroenhnke, 1857-1882; C. Hofmeister, 1882-1891; G. B. Schick, 1891-1896; E. Kroenke, 1896-1899; E. W. Roth, 1899-1905; C. Naureth, 1905-1909; Daniel Bierbaum, 1909-1913; C. Heldberg, 1913-1918; L. F. Kurz, 1918-1923; Wm. Rieman, 1923-1930; G. A. Winger, 1930-1937; R. E. Schwarze, 1937, up to the present time.  In the year 1860 an addition had to be built to the original church to accommodate the increased attendance at worship services. The present church building was erected in the year 1885 and dedicated on February 13, 1886. The basement was put under the church in 1934. In the year 1940 the pipe organ was moved out of the balcony and rebuilt and placed down stairs in the auditorium. Also, other improvements were made that year, including the redecoration of the interior of the church. The congregation has had a steady and healthy growth throughout its years. At the present it has membership of 385; the Sunday school enrollment including the cradle ross is 298; it has two women's societies, The Ladies' Aid and The Willing Workers; a youth organization called The Young People's League two fine choirs, the Treble Choir and the Men's chorus. The records show that during the one hundred years 1,486 have been baptized, 962 confirmed, and there have been 373 weddings. The congregation has even been known for its liberal giving toward benevolent causes. The one hundredth anniversary will be celebrated Wednesday with three services. The morning service will begin at ten o'clock with the Rev. Wm. Riemann, a former pastor of the congregation, bringing us the message. The Rev. Herman J. Schick, S. T. D. of Chicago will address us in the afternoon. This service begins at two o'clock. At the evening service beginning at eight o'clock, we will have with us the President of our Denomination, the Rev. L. W. Goebel, D. D., LL. D. The public is invited to these services. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - Davis Leader June 5, 1947]

Assembly God Church

Assembly of God
509 West American Street
Originally built in 1930 and maintained by an independent congregation, the church was first known as the Full Gospel Temple of God. In 1931, the church was dedicated by the Reverend Earl Pottinger and received its charter as an independent work from the Assemblies of God. Four years later, in 1935, the congregation voted to cease as an independent and become an affiliated church of the Assemblies of God. The church was set in order by the district superintendent of the State of Illinois that same year, and the name was changed to Assembly of God Church. The Reverend Samuel P. Bell was called as the first pastor. (Writen by Theodore Andrach, Information from the book "Camera Studies of Freeport IL" by Robert F. Koenig 1954]

1989 Dedication Story

Bethany United Church of Christ
2341 West Shephenson Street
Freeport Illinois


Christian Church
Freeport IL

Four years ago, in 1906, the First Christian church of Freeport was established by the Rev. Jordan, of Rockford, who came to Freeport as a missionary of the state association. A meeting was held at the county courthouse, to which all representatives of the denomination, as well as others interested in the faith, were invited. A church organization was there effected, about forty me and women becoming members of the church. In the same year, the Rev. J. A. Barnett was called as pastor, and the place of worship was transferred from the courthouse, where a number of meetings had been held, to the audience room of the Masonic Temple. Rev. J. A. Barnett stayed only one year, and then left to accept a call from Galesburg, Illinois. His place was taken by the Rev. F. W. Emerson, under whose pastorate the little band of workers prospered wonderfully and became greatly increased in numbers. Rev. Emerson remained only two years, but the impress of his work is still felt. There has been talk of building a church edifice at various times, but the church has never felt itself strong enough to attempt this. The membership has increased to fifty, and a Sunday school of about twenty members is maintained under the superintendency of Mr. Johnson. After the departure of Mr. Emerson the church was for some time without a pastor. Last year his place was taken by the Rev. C. O. Livingstone, who has recently accepted a call elsewhere, and the pulpit is again unoccupied. Although with one exception the youngest religious organization of the city, the Christian church is in a thriving condition and gives promise of steady and continued growth. Without doubt, a church will be built in the near future. At the present time, various plans have been adopted, but nothing definite has been accomplished. [Source: History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

1924 Directory

Church of the Brethren
South West Avenue & West Pleasant Street
Freeport IL

Church of God

Church of God
103 N. Adelbert
Freeport, IL

In 1950, Mrs. Christine Salter began having prayer meetings in her home. In 1951, a building was rented at 220 South Sheridan Avenue and services were held there. The Reverend Smith Davis was pastor. Later he left for college and was succeeded by the Reverend Robert Green. In February 1954, with the aid of the Illinois State Ministerial Assembly of the Church of God, a building at 103 North Adelbert Avenue was purchased, and a few months later the congregation of the Church of God began using this building for worship services. While at the present time the church has no permanent pastor, good progress is being made under volunteer leadership and supply pastors. Preaching services, Sunday school and Youth Fellowship meetings are held each Sunday.
[Written by Mrs. Christine Salter, Sunday School Superintendent; Information from the book "Camera Studies of Freeport IL" by Robert F. Koenig 1954 ]

Church of God in Christ

Church of God in Christ
108 S. Sheridan Ave.

In 1935, Mrs. Anna Wright was divinely led from Rollins, Illinois, to Freeport. On arriving she roomed at Mr. Blaine Wright's home on Hancock Avenue. The prayer meeting she started soon blossomed into a church which was organized by her husband, Elder Ezekiel Wright, an ordained minister. Under their leadership the church grew and was instrumental in leading many to Christ, and doing much community good. The building was erected in 1938. Elder Wright literally died in his pulpit after finishing his sermon March 25, 1949. Immediately following his death, his son George was appointed pastor by Bishop Wm. Roberts, State Overseer of the Churches of God in Christ. Since 1949 the building has been enlarged and a new front added. The church is faithfully carrying on its soul-saving evangelical message. (Written by George Wright, Pastor; Information from the book "Camera Studies of Freeport IL" by Robert F. Koenig 1954]

Emanuel Evangelical

Freeport IL

The Emanuel Evangelical or Oak Street Evangelical church has Always been described and one of Freeport's "most substantial" churches. It is also one of the oldest, having been founded as early as 1851. At that time the following membership made up the first congregation : John Krinbill, Fred Asche, Joseph Miess, John Marter, Jacob Heim, H. Thomas, G. Thomas, G. Mainzer, A. Brenner, L. Metzger, M. Metzger, John Mayer, Christian Mainzer, B. Mainzer, Mr. Lemberger, Catherine Stoskopf, William Ellebrecht, J. Wolf, J. Frey, and H. Fahringer. The original membership was very soon increased by the stirring revivals which took place and before long a church building was being discussed. Joseph Miess, a member of the congregation donated eighty acres of land, which was sold for $450, and the proceeds used, together with other contributions, for the erection of a small brick church on Oak street midway between South Galena avenue (then State street) and Empire street. In 1868 it became necessary to occupy a new church, and plans were formulated for building the present structure. These were, however, not immediately carried into effect and it was 1874, six year later, before the building was finally finished and dedicated. The present church, which is located at 18 and 20 Oak street is of brick, painted white, with an ornate tower, and affords a seating capacity for three hundred and fifty persons. It was completed under the pastorate of Rev. A. Fuessle, F. Mayer, E. Viergge, F. Heim, and F. Asche constituting the building committee.
A large number of pastors have served in the Emanuel church since its organization. Most of them have remained only for a year or two, but for the last twenty years the term of occupancy has been somewhat longer. The pastors who officiated have been the Revs. H. Rohland, C. Augenstein, J. G. Escher, L. H. Eiterman, J. Reigel, C. Kopp, E. Musselman, D. B. Byers, D. Kraemer, J. Schneider, H. Messner, A. Stahley, W. J. Walker, M. Stamm, A. Fuessle, William Schrims, A. Huelster, E. R. Troyer, Theodore Alberding, Carl Hauser, N. Wunderlich, William F. Klingbeil, and J. C. Schaefer, the present minister.
In 1908 the congregation of Salem church united with the Emanuel church, since when preaching has been held in English at the evening service and in German in the morning. The congregation numbers about one hundred and ninety-two, with a Sunday school of one hundred and seventy-two. Most of the societies of the church, and particularly all the young people's societies conduct their meetings in English. Most of the Sunday school classes are in English, but a few are taught in German. The present pastor, Rev. J. C. Schaefer, has been in charge but a short time, having come here from Washington, Illinois. The financial affairs of Emanuel church are in good condition. The church itself is valued at $13,000 together with the lot upon which it stands, while the parsonage, which is next to the church at 14 Oak street. The value of the Oak street property has risen of late years owing to the improvements in the way of paving that have been made in the vicinity.

[Source: History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

Methodist church


Named for the first Methodist minister in America, is located on Exchange Street, south of Williams; was organized in the fall of 1864 (an error) by members of the sect residing in the southern part of the city, who had previously acknowledged allegiance to the First Church. These consisted of the Rev. F.C. Winslow, the Rev. Mr. McCutcheon and wife, Hollis Jewell and wife, John Barnes and wife, Joseph Carey and wife, the Rev. Joseph Best and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Abraham German, Williams Sells, Mrs. Secrist, MRs. J.H. Staver, Mrs. Naylor, Cornelius Furst and George Swentzell. Ten of the congregation subscribed $1,000 each for the purchase of a lot and building the church, and, on Thursday June 30, 1866, the corner stone of the present church edifice was laid, at the northwest angle of the main tower, in the presence of a considerable attendance. The building which was pushed to completion rapidly is 64, 100, built of brick, with stone facings, the interior handsomely decorated, surmounted with two towers and presenting an appearance both attractive and substantial. It was dedicated in September of the same year, the Revs. J.F. Yates and S.A.W. Jewett officiating, and cost $24,000 - the balance of which amount unprovided for was subscribed on the day of dedication.

Ministers to the present day are - Revs. J.Reeves, Mr. McCutcheon, F.A. Read, F.a. Hardin, Hooper Crews, Isaac Springer, G.S. Young and Samuel Washburn.

The congregation numbers 175 communicants, and the property valuation is $20,000.  Embury M.E. Church was organized in 1865, by a few people, who for some minor dissatisfaction had withdrawn from First M.E. Church. The first church structure of Freeport brick was erected in 1866 and dedicated in 1867. It had two towers with the belfry in the taller one at the north front corner. The church was remodeled in 1895, with a large gallery and pipe organ installed. It was demolished in 1911 to make way for the present large stone edifice. At the time of this writing (1967) the writer, Mr. Leslie T. Fargher was the only member left of the Official Board at the time of its erection and the only person who had any official part in the planning and construction of the new church. [Life and Times in Freeport Illinois by Leslie T. Fargher 1967]

Embury Sunday School
C. J. Smith's Sunday School Class
(Names were handwritten on the back of the photo)

Alice Reisinger, Minnie __aber, Lottie Welch, C. J. Smith, Burr Smith, Jennie De Frain, Emma Moore,
Mary Jones Seibert, Mary Sunderland, Lottie Moers, Emma Laible, Ella Rice, Anna Wagner, Kate Meierkort,
Blanche Myers, Edith __oss, Mrs. Mernitz

The Embury M. E. church was the result of a growth beginning with the founding of a Sunday school in the year 1863. This Sunday school held meetings in a hall on Stephenson street and the result was that Rev. Joseph Wardle was sent as missionary to Freeport later in the year. About two years later, the following people who had previously belonged to the First Methodist church, met and permanently organized the new church : Rev. F. C. Winslow, Rev. Mr. McCutcheon and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Jewell, Mr. and Mrs. John Barnes, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Carey, the Rev. Joseph Best and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Abraham German, Mrs.' Sechrist, William Sells, Mrs. J. H. Staver, Mrs. Naylor, Cornelius Furst, and George Swentzell.

It was decided to build a church edifice as soon as possible. To this end ten of the congregation subscribed $1,000 a piece. A lot was bought on South Galena avenue, then known as Exchange street, and on Thursday, June 30, in the following year, 1866, the cornerstone of the present building was laid. A large audience witnessed the ceremony and the records have a great deal to say about the manner in which the stone was put in place. To quote : "An appropriate hymn was sung by the congregation, after which prayer was offered by the Rev. R. A. Blanchard, who also read the ritual ; the scripture lesson was read by the Rev. W. C. Willing,- followed by the Rev. J. F. Yates. of Galena, in an address, when the usual mementoes were placed, including a copy of the Bible, Methodist Hymn book, Discipline of the M. E. church, Minutes of the Rock River conference, statement of the organization and history of the church, list of builders of the edifice, Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and several states, copies of the local and state newspapers, specimens of national coin, etc., after which the stone was placed in position, and the audience dismissed with the benediction." The building was pushed rapidly and soon finished. The cost was $23,000 and the funds were practically all provided for before the dedication day which was in the fall of 1867.

At the formation of the church, the members decided to call it the "Embury Methodist Episcopal church" in honor of Philip Embury, the first Methodist preacher in America. Rev. Joseph Wardle became the first pastor, and was in a few years succeeded by the Rev. John H. Reaves, who early resigned on account of failing health. The Rev. R. McCutcheon, a resident minister, and one of the founders of the church, filled out his unexpired term assisted by F. C. Winslow and Joseph Best, who were local elders. In 1866, F. A. Read became pastor and filled his term of three years, a period marked by steady prosperity. Rev. F. A. Read was followed by the Rev. F. A. Hardin, a man of great energy and personal enthusiasm, Rev. Hooper Crews, Rev. S. G. Lathrop, Rev. I. E. Springer, and then again by the Rev. F. A. Hardin, who returned to take charge of his former pastorate again. Rev. G. S. Young, Rev. Sanford Washburn, and Rev. H. L. Martin occupied the pulpit in turn, and then the Rev. Joseph Wardle, the first minister, returned to the church he had helped to found after an absence of twenty years. The pastors who have filled the charge since the second occupation of the Rev. Joseph Wardle, have been: Rev. J. A. Matlack, 1886-1889; Rev. N. J. Harkness, 1889-1893; Rev. T. V. E. Sweet, 1893-1895; Rev. W. H. Haight, 1895-1897; Rev. A. R. Cronce, 1897-1898; Rev. L. C. Burling, 1898-1902; Rev. J. M. Phelps, 1902-1905; Rev. E. E. McKay, 1905-1908.

Rev. McKay was succeeded in 1908 by the Rev. Ray C. Harker, the present incumbent. Rev. Harker is a man of highly intellectual accomplishments. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, and is especially effective as a pulpit orator, having taught for two years in the Cumnock School of Oratory at Northwestern. Under his guidance the church has grown and prospered steadily. The congregation numbers about six hundred and fifty. The Sunday school, of which O. T. Smith is superintendent, numbers about five hundred. The church property is valued at $28,000 of which the parsonage, valued at $7,000 forms a part. Paul Haight is president of the brotherhood and George Green is president of the Epworth league.  
A new church building is at present contemplated to take the place of the old one, which the congregation has outgrown. The building will be commenced next spring, and a costly and beautiful structure, surpassed by none in the city will be erected on the site of the present church.  [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]


History and photos contributed by Karen Fyock

Faith Evangelical
Rev. Henry Rohland


Pictures: 2nd Church erected in 1874, remodeled church in 1902, Oak Ave. Church in 1932, and Faith Evangelical U. B. Church in 1956.

Faith United Methodist Church
Faith Evangelical United Brethren Church
Oak Ave. Evangelical Church

Freeport, Stephenson County Illinois

Faith Evangelical

As early as 1844, Evangelical ministers traveled through this community, undoubtedly preaching the Word of God. We are told that Rev. William Kolb and Rev. C. Claus, young ministers from Ohio, who joined the newly organized Illinois conference, were stationed upon the Rock River Circuit, which comprised the northwestern section of Illinois, extending as far as the Mississippi river. On their way west, in the late summer of 1844, they passed through Freeport, which according to their own statement, was composed of only a few houses.

It was during the early "forties" that many families left their homes in Pennsylvania and settled in these western states. Many of these people had come in contact with our church in the east and now in their new surroundings longed for Evangelical minister to visit them and preach the Word of God. In the year 1850, Rev. Henry Rohland Joined the Illinois conference and was appointed to Cedar Creek (Cedarville) Circuit and Freeport. He was also elected a delegate to the general conference. At the general conference he was elected presiding elder of the Peoria district, to take the place of Rev. Samuel Baumgardner, who died of cholera the previous year. Rev. Rohland, in the fall of 1851, organized our first Evangelical church in the city of Freeport, Illinois, known as "Die Emmanuels Kirche der Evangelischen Gemeinschaft." The following are the charter members of this first church: Rev. Henry Rohland, Joseph Miess, Jonathan Matter, John Mayer, Henry Thomas, George Thomas, George Meintzer, Louis Meintzer, Michael Meintzer, Benj. Meintzer, Bernhardt Meinzer, H. Wolker, Adam Bremer, Jacob Heise, John Krinbill, Benj. Lemberger, Kathryn Stoskoph, Wm. Elle brecht, John Wolf, Herman Fahringer, Julius Frey, Fred Ascher.

At first the newly organized congregation met in the homes of its members, and it was soon discovered that the greatest nee was a place of worship where they might meet on the Lord's day. In 1852 and elderly man named G. Miess donated eighty acres of land near Freeport to this congregation. This was sold at $4.50 per acre and the proceeds devoted toward building a church edifice. The first church was built in 1852 on Oak Street. The first church which was completed in the fall of 1852 was a brick structure two stories high, 40 feet by 50 feet, at a cost of about $1,500.00. The building was dedicated in 1853.

The old church building became inadequate for the growing needs of the society and in 1874 there was erected on the site of the old church a new structure 35 by 55 feet, of brick material, costing about $6,000.00. In 1902 extensive remodeling of the church was done at a cost of $7,000.00 This included also the installation of a pipe organ.

In the year 1908 Salem Evangelical church was amalgamated with Emmanuel Church, thus forming the now Oak Avenue Evangelical church. An addition was made in 1912, costing about $15.000.00. The addition was to the north side of the church for a Sunday School unit.

In 1949 an Exploratory Committee was organized to make a careful study of the wisdom of remodeling or relocating, and the kind of church needed for carrying on an aggressive church program. After extensive searching an available site of over five acres on South Walnut Street was discovered. An option was obtained upon it and on November 15, 1951 the congregation voted to purchase it. A goal of $1000,000 was set. The final amount underwritten with cash and three-year pledges was over $113.000. Excavation began on September 6th, 1955. The cornerstone was laid on May 20, 1956, and dedication was December 2, 1956. The church then was named Faith Evangelical United Brethren Church.

(Information taken from 80th Anniversary 1852-1932, and Dedication of Faith Evangelical United Brethren Church booklets)

Church First Baptist

First Baptist church of Freeport
West Empire & South Blackhawk Streets

In December, 1845, twenty-six men and women, at that time the whole of the Baptist population of the city, met in the kitchen of the Rev. James Schofield, who had been commissioned by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society to found a church in Freeport. In Rev. Schofield's kitchen, which was the only living room of the house, the organization of the First Baptist church of Freeport was effected. The twenty-six who were instrumental in establishing the church were: Rev. James Schofield and his wife Caroline, his son, John M. Schofield, and his daughter Miss Caroline Schofield (now Mrs. H. H. Wise), Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schofield, Mrs. Catherine Jones, Miss Elizabeth Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Stacks and their son and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. John Stout, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Stout, Mr. and Mrs. James Craft, Mr. and Mrs. William Perkins, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Plainer, Dexter A. Knowlton, and Royal Durfee.

Rev. James Schofield was subsequently elected first pastor of the church, the following year a lot was secured on Williams street, where St. Joseph's church stands today, and the work of building a place of worship was begun. The early history of the Baptist church in Freeport, especially that portion which deals with the building of the first church, is full of interest. Perhaps there is not a church in the city which fought harder for its existence in the days of its infancy than did the First Baptist church. It so happened that those who made up the congregation were poor men and could not aid financially in the building of the church. Instead they did manual labor, and led by their pastor, they went to work upon the edifice and built it with their own hands. Rev. James Schofield was one of the most remarkable men in the early history of the community. An unusual personality, combined with unflinching courage, a resolute will, and a devout faith made him an inspiring and energetic leader. Had it not been for his unceasing labor, the little flock would have experienced an insurmountable difficulty in surpassing the labors and trials which beset them. Fortunately for himself and for the church, Mr. Schofield had made a sufficient fortune to support himself and his family before entering the ministry fortunately, we may say, for his salary was only $300, half of it paid by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, and half by the local church. After a great deal of labor, Mr. Schofield succeeded in raising enough money to buy the lumber and shingles for the church. These were purchased in Chicago and brought to Freeport by wagon. As the roads were bad, and the distance a tremendous one to haul lumber, many of the planks and bunches of shingles were scattered along the road. Rev. Schofield had, however, carefully marked each separate plank and bunch of shingles "FOR THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH AT FREEPORT" and ultimately every lost piece found its way to its destination. The church building was forthwith completed and dedicated on Christmas day, 1850, with a board of trustees consisting James Schofield, Alfred Dan, Joshua Springer, Job Arnold, and John Montelius.  The excessive exertions of the pastor had brought on an attack of ill health and he was forced to resign his charge at the close of the year 1851. At the close of his pastorate the original twenty-six had swelled to one hundred and the outlook was becoming prosperous. Before the building of the church the Baptists met in the old courthouse which had furnished a first place of worship for so many of Freeport's churches. Later they moved temporarily to a brick schoolhouse in Knowlton town where they remained until the completion of their new edifice.

After Rev. Mr. Schofield came Rev. T. L. Breckenbridge during whose occupancy the congregation was nearly doubled. He was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Reese who stayed two years. It was at the close of these two years that another misfortune befell the church. The cholera plague which was then raging in Freeport seemed to attack the Baptist church with unwonted ferocity. Many of the members died and the doors of the church were closed. It was two years before meetings were again resumed and during that time the Sunday school had been discontinued, prayer meetings had been given up, and the congregation was scattered far and wide. To the Rev. Ichabod Clark, who visited Freeport in June, 1855, belongs the credit of the re-organization. Rev. O. D. Taylor came to fill the pastorate and was succeeded by Revs. A. G. Thomas in 1858, N. F. Ravlin in 1859, and William Crowell in 1861. While Mr. Crowell was pastor of the church plans were made for the erection of a new church building. The old church was sold to the German Catholic organization, and the Stephenson street lot which the Baptist church still occupies was purchased. In February, 1863, a chapel was completed and dedicated on this ground just west of Cherry street. Four efficient pastors succeeded Mr. Crowell: A. W. Tousey, C. W. Palmer, S. B. Gilbert, and W. H. Dorward. Then another calamity appeared in the shape of a conflagration which destroyed the almost new chapel on the day after Christmas, 1875. The members of the church were beside themselves at this new misfortune, but bravely resolved to build again. On the very day of the fire, a meeting was held at the home of Judge J. M. Bailey, at which it was decided to immediately rebuild. Plans for a somewhat more elaborate structure were formulated, and after four years of building, during which time the congregation worshipped in the lecture room of the First Presbyterian church, the present building was finished and dedicated June 29, 1879, the dedicatory sermons being preached by the Rev. Galusha Anderson, president of the University of Chicago, and the Rev. G. W. Northrup, president of the Morgan Park Union Theological Seminary. In 1878 Rev. D. H. Cooley was called and became pastor of the church. In 1882 he resigned and has been succeeded by the Rev. E. P. Savage, R. L. Halsey, W. H. Parker, A. W. Fuller, William C. Spencer, Orlo J. Price, William H. Beynon, and F. E. Webb, the present pastor.
The First Baptist church edifice of red pressed brick, valued, together with the small lot on which it stands, at about $20,000. The auditorium is located on the second floor of the building, the first floor being given over to the lecture and Sunday school rooms. The Sunday school is in a flourishing condition having a roll of about two hundred. The congregation numbers nearly three hundred. [History Of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]


Church Scientist

First Church of Christ, Scientist
429 W. Stephenson St.

Local interest in Christian Science dates from 1887, when a group of students rented a room in Fry's block, Stephenson and Chicago Streets, and inaugurated meetings on Sunday afternoons. In the 1890's, a former resident of Freeport, a student of Mrs. Eddy's, organized and taught a class here, and in 1898, under her guidance, the local organization became a branch of the Mother Church. Larger quarters soon became necessary and a room was secured on the second floor of the Wilcoxon Block, Van Buren and Exchange Streets, a Sunday school was added and a public Reading Room opened. In October 1907, the present site was purchased. In 1919, the residence occupying it was remodeled, and November 26,1925, it was dedicated as a church edifice. Services were held here until May 1939, when it was razed to make way for the present structure, which was opened to the public March 17, 1940. [Written by Charles F. Stocking, Author & Teacher; Information from the book "Camera Studies of Freeport IL" by Robert F. Koenig 1954]

First Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized in 1899, Mrs. Elizabeth Fry Burchard being especially instrumental in its organization. For a few years previous to that time, a society composed of Christian Scientists had held meetings, but nothing had been done in the way of effecting a church corporation. At that time a charter was secured from the First Church of Boston, Massachusetts, of which Mother Church the Freeport society is a branch church. For a year or more after organization the church held meetings in a hall in Fry's block. The names of about fifteen men and women appeared on the original charter of the church, and as the organization grew and quarters became crowded a larger room was secured in the Wilcoxin building.  Sunday services and Wednesday evening meetings continued to be held in the Wilcoxin building. A reading room was established in connection with the church and also a Sunday school. Later an adjoining room in the building was rented and united with the original room in order to accomodate the needs of the readding room and Sunday school.  In the fall of 1908 the property belonging to Mrs. H. E. Bogar at 229 Stephenson street was bought at a price of $6,000, most of the amount being immediately raised by subscriptions entirely within the church. A recent bequest of $2,000 by an interested outsider more than leaves the church free of debt. Services are at present being held in the house which was purchased, the interior having been redecorated and remodelled for church purposes. A church edifice is contemplated for the future on the same lot. The church reading room is now maintained in the church building at 229 Stephenson street.

The affairs of the church are at present in a prosperous condition and gratifying developments are expected. The services of this church are not conducted by a pastor, but by two readers who read selections from the Bible and the Christian Science text book. The readers are elected for terms of three years, those in office at present being Miss Silena Gransden, and Mrs. S. C. Porter. The church property is valued at about $7,000. [History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]


Freeport City Directories:
1910 First Congregationalist Church - Taylor Ave.
1917 First Congregationalist Church - #201 Taylor Ave.
1919 St. Catherine Roman Catholic Church bought the church

First Congregationalist Church
For a long time East Freeport had been designated by the mission workers as a "neglected field." It was repeatedly brought to the notice of missionaries, and as often forgotten owing to the pressing needs of other localities equally neglected. On May 24, 1908, the Rev. B. M. Southgate came to investigate the field with the result that an organization known as the East Freeport Sunday school was started in one of the buildings in Taylor's Park. Much interest was taken in the project by the Second Congregational church of Rockford, whose members had long been desirous of establishing a church in Freeport. The success of the Sunday school which was begun with only six or eight members led to the discussion of plans for a church.

Mostly through the instrumentality of the Second church of Rockford, the First church. of Freeport was established less than a year after the founding of the East Freeport Sunday school. On the twenty-fifth day of January, 1908, a band of interested workers met and organized formally the First Congregational church. A rented house on Taylor avenue was at first used for church purposes. The Sunday school was moved here from the Taylor Park location and all the machinery of the organization was set in motion.

It was at once decided to erect a church building and a suitable lot was bought across the street from the rented house on the corner of Taylor avenue and Sheridan street. The cornerstone of the edifice was laid in August, 1908, the officials of the day being the Rev. H. L. Moore, of the First Presbyterian church, the Rev. Mr. Puddefoot, superintendent of missions of the state of Indiana, and the Rev. J. G. Brooks, the local pastor who had succeeded the Rev. B. M. Southgate earlier in the year.

The work of building was continued through the winter and the next year, and by May, 1910, it was ready for use. On May 9, 1910 the church was dedicated. The building cost $7,700, which sum was raised partly by the local church and partly by outside subscription. A number of extensive additions and improvements have since been completed raising the total cost to about $8,000. The old church building on Taylor avenue is still rented and is at present utilized as a parsonage.

In January, 1910, the Rev. J. G. Brooks was succeeded by the Rev. W. G. Jones, the present incumbent. The membership of the church has risen to about fifty-six, the original number of organizing members being twenty-three. The Sunday school is somewhat larger. It was started with an enrollment of about six members and now consists of over one hundred and twenty regular attendants.

The new church building is a modest structure of frame construction, covered with pebble-dash. A small tower and spire crowns the pile, and a handsome stained-glass window in the front, as well as smaller ones on the sides add to the beauty of the whole. At the present time the First Congregational church is the newest building built exclusively for church purposes in the city of Freeport. The Second Presbyterian church, which is about completed, will presently be the newest building.  The outlook for the church is very bright at the present time. The congregation is not only a growing one, but it is composed of members who are sincere and indefatigable workers. Owing to the fact that the Congregational church has come to supply a long felt want in Freeport, the growth should be rapid and gives every indication of being so.


First English Reformed

Freeport IL

Freeport is the center of a group of Reformed churches in Stephenson and the adjoining counties, and being a growing city there is a natural field for the organization of an English Reformed church. It was not until 1906, however, that the present church was conceived. There had been a German Reformed church in the city for many years, but there were also many English adherents of that religion which dates it origin to the Reformation and stands for the principles of that great historic movement. Some of these attended the German church ; others were scattered in other congregations. In the summer of 1906, Mr. Chalmer Beaver, a student from the Heidelberg Theological Seminary, under the auspices of the Sunday school board of the Reformed church, opened a Sunday school which had for its meeting place the old Third Presbyterian church on South Galena avenue near Pleasant street. In the fall of the same year, the Rev. R. F. Schultz, of Dayton, Ohio, organized a congregation of twelve members, heads of families : Mr. and Mrs. George Scoeney, Mr. and Mrs. John Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Simon Brown, Mr. and Mrs. John Richard, Mrs. Potter, Mrs. Frank Shelley, Mrs. Rebecca Ditzler, Mrs. George Springman. These constituted the charter members. Rev. Schultz remained through the year, and in November was succeeded by the present pastor, the Rev. C. M. Rohrbaugh, who took charge of the pastorate on December ist, having come to Freeport from Germantown, Ohio. For two years services were held in the old Third Presbyterian church, during all of which time the building of a permanent church home was talked over and discussed. In 1908 the first decisive step was taken. In the early part of that year a lot was purchased on the corner of Carroll street and South Galena avenue, on a portion of the Barnes property. In the summer of that year the present edifice was erected. The cornerstone was laid on the fourteenth day of June, the speakers on the occasion being Hon. L. H. Burrell of Freeport, and the Rev. W. D. Marburger, of Dakota. The church was immediately finished and the dedication conducted on the twenty-ninth day of November. Rev. Charles E. Miller, D. D., president of the Board of Home Missions, was the principal speaker of the day. The church has now been occupied for nearly two years. The building is a handsome structure of glazed brick, trimmed with Bed- ford sand-stone. The interior is finished in oak and is modern in every respect, with an auditorium having a seating capacity of four hundred and fifty, on the main floor. There is also a splendid basement designed for Sunday school rooms and social purposes. The equipment represents an investment of approximately $15,000. $5,000 of this sum was donated by the local church and its friends in this community, and $10,000 was provided by the Board of Home Missions. Although so recently founded the church is in a flourishing condition at present, and is rapidly increasing in membership. The original twelve families concerned in the organization have now increased to over fifty. The Sunday school enrolls one hundred and forty members, with an average attendance not so large. The church property is valued at $15,000 the cost of the present structure. [History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]


Church First Lutheran

First Lutheran Church
308 South Galena

In 1851, initial steps were taken by the Lutheran Women's Home and Foreign Missionary Society in America to organize an English Lutheran Church in Freeport. First services were held in old Temperance Hall. In 1881, First Lutheran was organized by the Reverend T. F. Reiser. The following year, a lot at the southeast corner of Jackson and South Galena Streets was purchased as a church site for $900.

During the pastorate of the Reverend H. A. ou the church cornerstone was laid and the edifice was dedicated. The organization became self-supporting in 1893 and assumed its present name. Today's structure (1954) is similar to the first church building. Its twenty stained glass windows are said to be the most beautiful of their kind in the city. The church plant of today consists of the main church auditorium, the large educational building, and the structure housing the church offices and the pre-school classrooms. [Information from the book "Camera Studies of Freeport IL" by Robert F. Koenig 1954]

First Lutheran Church

The First English Lutheran is one of the younger churches of Freeport, and has only been in active existence for about thirty years. Previous to the time of its founding many attempts had been made to establish an Evangelical Lutheran mission in Freeport, but for one reason or another all of them were failures. It was not, however, that the founders failed to begin their work soon enough, for as early as 1852 the first attempt was made. Rev. Ephraim Miller, in his report as president of the Northern Illinois Synod at Chicago, spoke of the project of sending a missionary to establish a church in Freeport in November of that year, but for some unknown reason the plan was never carried into execution. In 1860 the matter was again brought to light but no very great enthusiasm was manifested and again Freeport was without its mission. It was not strange that no developments took place. The Civil War was occupying the minds and attention of everybody, and, aside from that, there were only a few Lutherans in the city at the time. Rev. Solomon Ritz, who visited Freeport in 1862 in his capacity of superintendent of missions of the synod, does not seem to have had much patience with the Lutherans of this city and their incessant cry "about war and the hard times." He stated in his report that it was his intention to "leave that place alone till after the war," but as a matter of fact he never returned. The following year, 1864, Rev. T. F. Easterday, who later became connected with the Lake Superior Presbytery, was sent to explore the field at Freeport, and reported that he "saw nothing sufficiently promising to warrant the putting forth of further efforts in that direction." In 1865 an apparently definite step was taken. Freeport was designated as a field for missionary endeavors, and the sum of $200 was voted for the cause. Rev. Lingle was placed in charge of the mission and after a single unsatisfactory year he resigned in discouragement. Subsequently Rev. Weiser visited Freeport to inspect the field but met with no inducements. Rev. S. W. Harkey, who had once before tried to develop the Freeport field by sending the Rev. T. F. Easterday, again put forth his efforts, and through his advice the synod pledged $600 to support a missionary at Freeport. The synodical superintendent being unable to secure the services of a suitable missionary for Freeport, nothing was done that year. This investigation of 1868 resulted in the sending of a report to the synod signed by the Revs. G. J. Donmeyer and John Stoll, two clergymen residing in Freeport. However, no definite action was taken at that time. In 1869 the synod sent to Freeport Rev. S. N. St. John, who had had little experience, and was quickly discouraged by the conditions which faced him in Freeport. After a year he departed, and not until 1879 was the name of Freeport again mentioned in the synod. At that time a congregation of twenty members elected the Rev. J. W. Goodlin pastor. Rev. Goodlin promptly declined as did the second pastor called, and in the face of such persistent discouragement interest waned and for two years nothing was done. In 1881 the Woman's Home and Foreign Missionary Society settled upon Freeport as a place for a mission, and Rev. Thomas F. Reeser, of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, came to Freeport June i of that year. On the last Sabbath in August the first services were held, and a formal organization effected September 19, 1881. From this time actually dates the real beginnings of the First English Lutheran church of Freeport. The organization was effected with but fourteen bona fide members, and the congregation worshiped in Temperance Hall, corner of Chicago and Exchange streets from the time it was organized until the new church was completed. In this hall a Sunday school was held which at times had a very encouraging attendance. In the year 1882 steps were taken to secure a suitable building lot. After considering various locations, the lot on the corner of South Galena avenue and Jackson street, where the church now stands, was purchased. Plans were soon formulated for building a church which was finally completed and dedicated December 21, 1884. The cornerstone had been laid October 16, of the year previous. Rev. Reeser proved an enrgetic and able pastor and under his direction the church thrived. However, on the 1st of September, 1885, he resigned, accepting a call to the Lutheran church at Polo, Illinois. The first day of January of the following year, Rev. A. M. Barrett took charge of the struggling little mission. These were dark and discouraging times, the financial troubles being among the most critical of the church's history. The congregation was, however, held together by Rev. Barrett, and on his resignation on October i, 1888, there was harmony among the people. On November 1, 1888, Rev. H. A. Ott, of Brookville, Ohio, assumed the duties of pastor of the mission. He entered into his work with untiring zeal, and soon had the sympathy, confidence, and help of every member. The Sunday school began to grow, and in a few months had doubled its attendance, then trebled, and even quadrupled that of former years. He remained for seven years, and eight months, during which time the church flourished under his leadership. The crowning event of this period was, no doubt, Easter Sunday, April 2, 1893, when the congregation declared itself no longed a mission from henceforth, but a self sustaining church. There now followed several short pastorates, as follows: Rev. W. S. Dysinger, November, 1896 to April, 1898; Rev. H. W. Tope, June, 1898 to October, 1899; Rev. G. C. Cromer, December, 1899 to October, 1902. During the pastorate of Rev. G. C. Cromer the interior of the church was redecorated and other minor improvements were made. Then followed the second longest pastorate in the history of the church, that of Rev. W. Gardner Thrall, from June, 1903 to August, 1907. During that period the church was steadily moving forward, and it is today thriving under the guidance of the Rev. Philip H. R. Mullen, who has done a great deal to advance the cause in Freeport. The church edifice on South Galena avenue together with the lot upon which it stands is valued at about $20,000. The present membership of the church is about two hundred and twenty-five, with a Sunday school of about two hundred. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]


First German Reformed Church
Freeport IL

The early history of the First German Reformed church has not been preserved with any great accuracy. It is only known that at some time during the year 1862 a little band of adherents began holding meetings in a hall over the drug store of F. Weise on the corner of Galena street and South Galena avenue (then Exchange street). The Rev. Mr. Seaman was the first pastor and the congregation embraced a small number of names, most of whom have been lost to us, among those ascertainable being Henry Schulte, Henry H. Frank, Conrad Rodeke, Peter Belger, H. Billiker, and Mr. Ode. Mr. Seaman stayed only a short time and during his residence the church did not thrive very greatly, owing to dissensions among the congregation. Rev. O. Accola who succeeded, was able to unite the warring factions and all joined in the common cause of of securing a church building, which was put up on a lot at the corner of Union and Williams streets. After a short time Rev. Accola resigned and for some time the church was without a pastor. During this time it became disorganized and scattered and it seemed at one time as if the members had completely disbanded. Several years after in 1869 it was again united by the Rev. A. Schrader who came to take charge of the pastorate.

Rev. Schrader remained in Freeport five years and built up the cause in a most gratifying manner, after which the Rev. John Wernly came to fill the pulpit. Rev. Wernly remained here for a long time and under his direction the present church edifice was built in 1879 on the site of the old one. It is a simple and unpretentious structure of brick, with a spire one hundred feet high and cost about $3,000. In 1873 a parsonage was built on the land adjoining the church, at a cost of about $2,000.

Rev. John Wernly was followed by J. J. Jannett, E. Brunochler, and William Rech. Under Rev. Mr. Rech's occupancy the church was entirely remodeled and repaired throughout at a cost of a thousand dollars. Rev. Rech remained from 1898 until 1904, the parsonage being repaired in 1903. He was succeeded by Rev. Ernst Traeger, who still fills the charge. In 1909, the church building was also repaired and remodelled, also at a cost of $1,000. The structure was painted and otherwise improved and today presents a most satisfactory appearance. The German Reformed church is in a fairly flourishing condition, but has lost much of its membership through the establishment of the English Reformed church which occurred recently. The membership embraces about one hundred and fifty voting members. The Sunday school has a roll of one hundred with an average attendance only a trifle smaller. The church property has risen in value since paving on both sides has been accomplished and with the parsonage is worth today about $10,000. [History of Stephenson County, by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

First Methodist Church
Freeport City, Stephenson County IL

In 1834 L.A. Sugg was appointed to the buffalo Grove Mission. He was succeeded by James McKean in 1835, who delivered the first Methodist sermon preached in Stephenson County, IL. In 1836-38, he was appointed by the Illinois Conference as missionary to the territory of Northern Illinois between the Rock River and the Mississippi River. Just a year previous to this appointment in 1836, the old Indian village of the noted Chief Winnesheik became the town of Freeport. Stephenson County came into being in 1837, with Freeport as its county seat, and the contract for the building of the Court House was let Dec. 6, 1837. This Court House was fitted with rough seats made of split logs supported by legs made of sticks driven into augur holes, yet it became "the best preaching place in northern Illinois." Other early meeting palces were "the home of W.W. Buck, Mr. Guieau's store and the "the little red school house."

There is no written record of the formation of a "class" in these early years. There is, however, in the custody of the Freeport Public Library, a photographic copy of the first known "Class Book" containing the following statement in the hand writing of Rev. F.D. Buckley; "The first class in Freeport was formed Dec. 13, 1840, but the leader delayed making a class book, in order to obtain a blank book from the preacher in charge, until May 11, 1841, when the class contained 25 members. When first formed it contained but nine members - ". The records for 1840 mention the fact that "prayer meetings were held Sunday and Thursday evenings, and $35.75 was the amount of money raised per quarter." The first quarterly con...(text missing)... Montague, F.D. Buckley, Peter Van Sickle, Barton Jones, Levy Robey, Barton Thatcher,, and, at the next quarterly conference J.McCool and Julius Smith were added.

The lot on which the First Methodist Church now stands was purchased Oct. 24, 1842 for $50.00, and a "frail stone foundation for a frame building was laid", but there the building stopped and the foundation lay unused until a revival in 1850 made a permanent meeting house necessary. In 1851, a frame structure, valued at $2000 was built mostly from donated labor and materials.

The Church grew rapidly, and by 1863 another church edifice was needed. The building campaign was prefaced by a series of revival meetings. A new building costing $13,000 was dedicated in 1865, but not without some grave differencs among the membership, for in that year sixty members withdrew from the First Church to form Embury Church. Some of these, it is understood, were devout souls who objected to the presence of an organ in the new First Church.

Two previous parsonages served to house ministers families; the present structure was build in 1903. Also by that time a new church edifice was needed, and, the present (1940) church building, modelled after the Studebaker Memorial Church in South Bend Ind., was erected at a cost of $34,500 and was dedicated May 7, 1905 by Bishop Wm. F. McDowell.

Each of the three church buildings entertained sessions of the Rock River Conference and the church has made a notable contribution both to its community and to the denomination. From its consecrated membership, 8 young men have gone into the Christian ministry, one has gone to the foreigh mission field, one has become a church minister of music, and five of its young women have married ministers, three of whom are serving the Rock River Conference at the present time. A bronze plaque mounted in the sanctuary entrance, bears the names of all the pastors who have served this church. [The book is titled "The Methodist Movement in Northern Illinois" written in 1940]

Evangelical U.B. church
1st U.B.The Church 1892-1929

UB Church

Main Street Evangelical United Brethren 1948

History and photos contributed by Karen Fyock

Freeport, Stephenson County Illinois

Information and pictures taken from "75th Anniversary Main Street Church Evangelical United Brethren"

1891 - Rev. N. G. Whitney, minister from Monroe, begins services in Temperance Hall and Y. M. C. A.

1892 - March 13 - Church organized with 19 charter members.

1892 - April 22 - Lot purchased by Dr. L. B. Peck, M. C., former Methodist & U. B. pastor

1892 - First trustees were Dr. L. B. Peck, L.F. Boyer, and O. B. Spielman

1892 - June 10 - Jacob Groff, C. Wendle, D. C. Overholser, N. M. Weekly were elected Building Committee.

1893 - Jan. 1 - Sunday - First service held in the church basement.

1894 - Sanctuary completed.

1897 - May 9 - Church Dedication - Offering $57.68 - E. O. Burtner, pastor.

1905-6 - Parsonage built for $2100

1907 - April 1 - Church deed recorded

1911 - Dec. 5 - Ladies" and Men's Bible Classes organized

1929 - Organ purchased, April -Dec. extensive repair, Dec. 8 reopening, dedication.

1938 - 41 - Educational Unit added

1942 - Nov. 29 - 50th Anniversary observance - H. I. Newell pastor.

1944 - July 29 - Note burning service

1946 - Name changed from First U. B. Church to Main Street Evangelical United Brethren Church because of merger with the Evangelical Church.

1949 - Chancel furniture purchased

1952 - New bell installed

1958 - New Pews

1959 - Architect draws blueprint for enlarging sanctuary and educational unit, M. H. Witt pastor


First Presbyterian church
Contributed by Karen Fyock


The First Presbyterian church of Freeport enjoys the distinction of being the oldest Protestant church, not only in Freeport, but in the county. It was organized in 1842, with Rev. Calvin Waterbury as pastor, November 24th being the traditional date of its founding. At the meeting said to have been held on that date Rev. Mr. Waterbury presided as moderator, Samuel Spencer acted as derk, and a resolution was adopted setting forth the confession of faith in the form and government of the Presbyterian church of the United States. Of the fifteen men and women who assembled on that memorable day, not one is today alive. They included, besides the pastor, the following persons, all of them names of importance in the early history of the county : Philip Reitzell, Mrs. Mary Reitzell, Orestes H. Wright, Mrs. Emmaretta Henderson, Mrs. Elizabeth Lucas, Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Lucas, Mrs. Sarah Young, Asa W. Rice, Mrs. Nancy Rice, Orrin B. Munn, Mrs. Jane L. Wright, Samuel Spencer, and Mrs. Elizabeth Spencer. The Rev. Calvin Waterbury was formally installed as minister by his congregation of fourteen, and the records state that his annual salary was fixed at $400, probably an extraordinary sum for the year 1842. For some time worship was held in the courthouse, but as the congregation grew, the trustees felt the need of a regular place of worship, and accordingly two lots were secured on the southeast corner of Walnut and Stephenson streets, where the Y. M. C. A. building stands today. One of these was purchased for the sum of $40, the other was donated by Kirkpatrick and Baker.

Plans were immediately drawn up for a church edifice of brick and stone, to occupy a space 40 by 65, and to cost $460. A subscription was undertaken and before long the directors felt safe in proceeding with the work of building. The stone for the foundation was quarried across the river and hauled to the place of building by an ox team driven by L. L. Munn. The wood timbers were also cut in the neighborhood, and the workers started out with zeal to finish their labor in a short space of time. They never finished it, however, for sufficient funds were not forthcoming, and when only half completed, the church was deserted, the pastor resigned, and with him fifteen members of the congregation left the church. It was a critical period in the history of the church, but the church survived. In December, 1847, shortly after the resignation of Rev. Mr. Waterbury, Rev. J. C. Downer was called to take charge. During the years 1847-1853 when Rev. Mr. Downer was with the church, a phenomenal growth was experienced. Work was re-commenced on the deserted church, and it was finished for occupancy in 1851. To years later, the pastor received another call and left Freeport, to be succeeded by the Rev. Isaac E. Carey. Mr. Carey remained in charge for three years, and was followed by the Rev. C. B. Van Zandt who left two years later, in 1860. Rev. Mr. Waterbury, the first pastor of the church returned again for the space of one year, and at the close of that time, resigned, leaving the church without a pastor for a whole year. In 1862, Mr. Carey was again called to the charge.
By this time the congregation had outgrown its quarters again and a movement was started for the erection of a new edifice across the street on the spot where the present building stands. In 1866 the comer stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies, and October 31, 1867 it was completed and dedicated by Professor F. W. Fiske, of Chicago, who preached the sermon, and Rev. J. W. Cunningham, who offered the dedicatory prayer. On the evening of the same day, Rev. Carey was installed as pastor, the sermon being preached by Rev. C. A. Williams of Rockford, and the charge to the pastor being given by the Rev. A. Kent, of Galena, and that to the people by the Rev. C. Marsh, of Mount Carroll. The church building cost $50,000 and on the day of dedication $17,000 was raised by subscription to pay the building debt.

This same building, erected in 1866, is still standing, and is still one of the most beautiful structures of the city, a credit to the community and especially to the brave band of followers whose labors helped to raise the pile. The First Presbyterian church is today in a flourishing condition, having a membership of nearly five hundred persons. The Sunday school, founded in 1844, by John Rice as superintendent, with only eleven pupils, is today one of the largest in the city. The church property is valued at $60,000.

Since the final departure of Rev. Isaac E. Carey in 1872, the following pastors have officiated:  Rev. H. D. Jenkins, D. D., January, 1873-September, 1889;, Rev. Edgar P. Hill, D. D., -September, 1895 ; Rev. Charles E. Dunn, January, 1896-September, 1904; Rev. Hugh Lowry Moore, February, 1905-June, 1910.

The church is for the present without a pastor, Rev. Mr. Moore having left to answer a call at Beloit, Wisconsin.  [HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

German Methodist Episcopal
Freeport IL

To the Rev. Mr. Vosholl must be assigned the credit for the establishment of the German Methodist Episcopal church. In the early days of the county's history there were a large number of Germans who adhered to the faith of John Wesley, and many of them could speak English only with very great difficulty. To overcome this inconvenience, Rev. Vosholl was appointed missionary to Freeport where he arrived October 3, 1854. Soon after reaching the field of his future labors, Rev. Vosholl collected a congregation and held services in the basement of the First Methodist church while raising funds and completing arrangements for the erection of a permanent house of worship. In the year 1858 a church edifice was erected on the corner of Chicago and Spring streets, at a cost of $1,500 and occupied until 1872, when it was razed to give place to the present one. In 1887 the present house of worship was removed to the corner of South Galena avenue and Jackson street, where it still stands. In 1880 the congregation numbered about fifty members, but from that year owing to continual drafts made thereon by reason of removals, the number diminished until the membership numbered but twenty-two. Since that time the church has taken on new life and the membership has increased to the present number of seventy. A large and flourishing Sabbath school of fifty-five is also maintained.

About seventy of the younger people of the church have joined the Epworth League, and are actively promoting the interest of that body and of the church itself. Since the establishment of the church the following pastors have officiated: Revs. H. Vosholl, H. Richter, F. Fiegenbaum, R. Tillman, C. Holl, Charles Schueler, George Haas, E. R. Irmsher, B. Becker, E. J. Funk, F. Schmidt, A. Brenner, G. E. Hiller, E. Uhl, H. Wellemeyer, W. V. Schlung, E. Christ, C. Hess, Stetter, and J. H. Klaus, who left in 1896.

In the same year he was succeeded by the Rev. J. F. Hartke, under whose occupancy the church and parsonage were remodelled. The rear portion of the church was removed and placed as an addition to the parsonage. It was then replaced by a larger and more commodious addition to the church itself. Rev. Hartke stayed until 1899 and was followed by Rev. A. F. Hilmer who stayed only one year. In 1900 the Rev. F. O. Barz came to Freeport and under his pastorate a new furnace was placed in the church and the roof raised and repaired. Under Rev. W. C. Bergmann's occupancy, which followed the five years of Rev. F. O. Barz, a large expense was caused by the paving which was done on both South Galena avenue and Jackson street. This caused a debt of about $1,200.

The church is now in charge of the Rev. H. J. Loemker, who came here in 1909 from Garner, Ohio. The property, including church and parsonage is worth at least $6,000, of which the church is worth $3,500 and the parsonage $2,500.  [History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

Freeport City, IL

Members of the Freeport Tabernacle, 620 West Chestnut street, are closing their meetings for the present, according to announcement today. An open air service in Krape park next Sunday evening, following a picnic supper at 5, will terminate the tabernacle services. Rev. George Straub of Chicago and a group of "glad tidings bearers" will conduct this June 25th meeting. Those attending the picnic are asked to bring sandwiches, a dish to pass and table service. Commencing Sunday, work at the tabernacle will be carried on by the "Open Bible" organization. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - June 23, 1944 clipping]

Grace Episcopal Church
Freeport IL
Grace episcopal church
Grace Episcopal Church on Stephenson Street - looking West

In 1848 or 1849 the movement was started which culminated in the establishment of Grace Parish. A little band of believers in the Protestant Episcopal faith had been for some time holding meetings in a little room on Galena street under the leadership of Rev. James Bentley, who afterward became the first pastor of the church. The meetings were not regularly held, but the interest in them was maintained, and the following year, the association determined to formally organize a church. On June 17, 1850, the men who had met for the purpose of organizing drew up the following resolution which is pre- served on the church records: "We, whose names are hereunto affixed, deeply sensible of the Christian religion and earnestly desiring to promote its holy influence in our own hearts, and in those of our families and neighbors, do hereby associate ourselves under the name of Zion Parish, Freeport, in communion with the Protestant Episcopal church of the United States of America, and diocese of Illinois, the authority of whose constitution and canons we do hereby recognize, and to whose liturgy and mode of worship we promise to conformed. Witness our hands (signed), Tames Bentley, Charles Powell, Andrew F. Hollenbach, George F. Johnson, William Bacon (clerk).

On July 12, 1850 the first vestry of the church was elected, consisting of Andrew F. Hollenbach, senior warden ; Daniel Brewster, junior warden; G. F. Johnson, treasurer; Charles Powell, George Puriton; William Bacon (clerk).

One of the first steps taken was the plan for erection of a church. While the process of building was in progress the church continued to hold its services in the Galena street room rented for its uses. A portion of land (the same which is at present owned by the church) was secured at the corner of Stephenson and Cherry streets and the building was begun in 1851.

In 1853 it was finished and Bishop Whitehouse consecrated the edifice, being assisted by the Revs. McKeown, of Elgin, Benedict, of Galena, and James Bentley, the Freeport rector. The frame building, thus consecrated on the 16th of February, 1853, remained in use for only nine years, when it was literally brown to pieces in a violent windstorm which occurred in that year. Owing to the war times and afflicted condition of the congregation, the loss seemed a very serious one, and nothing was done at once to replace the structure. Meetings were again held in a rented hall, and for a time no effort was made to rebuild. In a short time, however, it became necessary again to have a church building, and the fragments of the old one were rebuilt with an added central section, thus increasing the size of the building. A period of great prosperity ensued and the treasury of the church was enhanced to such a degree that a new church building was deemed advisable. In 1887 it was finished and dedicated by Dean John Wilkinson, of Dixon, assisted by clergymen from Chicago, Galena, Sycamore, and Amboy. The church is one of the handsomest in the city, being built of native white limestone, left with bold rock face. The rectory is connected with the church at the rear, and the architect, Henry E. Starbuck, of Chicago, accomplished the somewhat remarkable feat of placing both church and rectory on a lot 60x120 feet. The building is modern and up-to-date in every respect. The latest acquisition is a new church organ, unquestionably one of the finest, as well as the newest, in Freeport. Recently, the rectory was closed temporarily for various reasons and a new rectory was purchased until the old one could be improved and modernized.

The church has at present a congregation of between two and three hundred, with a Sunday school somewhat smaller. The present rector is the Rev. Frederick J. Bate, who has been in charge since February, 1905. The rectors who have officiated since the foundation of the parish by the Rev. James Bentley, have been: Rev. James Bentley, 1849-1853; Rev. A. J. Warner, 1853-1855; Rev. Adams, 1856-1857; Rev. I. L. Grover, 1857-1858; Rev. R. L. Crittenden, 1858- 1859; Rev. S. R. Weldon, 1860-1866; Rev. J. N. Clark, 1866-1868; Rev. W. I. Johnson, 1868-1871 ; Rev. G. W. Dean, 1872-1875; Rev. R. F. Sweet, 1876-1884; Rev. J. B. Draper, 1884-1886; Rev. W. C. De Witt, 1886-1889; Rev. Marcus Lane, 1889-1895; Rev. Frederick W. Keator, 1896-1900; Rev. William White, 1900-1904; Rev. Frederick J. Bate, 1905. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider, 1910]

Church Evangelical

Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church
(Old) South Chicago Ave & East Pleasant St.
(New) 1993 West Church Street

The German Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel church was founded in 1877 by the Rev. T. J. Grosse of the Lutheran Seminary at Addison, Du Page. County, Illinois. For some time after the founding of the Freeport church, Rev. Grosse continued to be identified with the Addison Seminary, but on February 23, 1877, took charge as first pastor. During the first year of its existence the church increased in membership until it reached the mark of thirty-seven. In the same year, a lot was purchased on the corner of Union and Pleasant streets. On it a small church was erected, which still meets the needs of its congregation, which has more than trebled during the thirty-three years since 1877. At the time of the founding of the church a parochial school was established in connection. This school embraced about fifty pupils under the instruction of Professor F. Case. Instruction was given both in German and English in the elementary and advanced branches. The school is still maintained and has an attendance about as large as when it was organized. Rev. T. J. Grosse, who founded the church, remained with it only a very short time. In October, 1877, in the same year that he came, he departed after an occupancy of only eight months. The congregation immediately extended a call to the Rev. F. Behrens who accepted and came to take the charge, which had increased in numbers to fifty-five. Since the time of Rev. Behrens there have been few changes in pastors, the Immanuel church being distinguished for this particular fact. The pastors who have occupied the pulpit since the foundation are Rev. T. J. Grosse, 1877; Rev. F. Behrens, 1877-1880; Rev. H. D. Schmidt, 1880-1899; Rev. A. C. Landeck, 1899.  Rev. A. C. Landeck still holds the pastorate with a congregation about one hundred and thirty. The Sunday school is also maintained with an average attendance of about one hundred. [History of Stephenson County by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

On May 6, 1877, Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Unaltered Augusburg Confession, Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois, was organized under the leadership of the Reverend T. J. Grosse. The Constitution was adopted and signed by nineteen men. On September 2, 1877, the first church was dedicated on property secured at South Chicago Avenue and West Pleasant Street. In 1886, the second church was dedicated, and the first church became the school building. Our present large and beautiful brick church, at the corner of South Chicago Avenue and East Pleasant Street, was dedicated December 1, 1900. It cost $13,000. Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church has one of the few lofty, inspiring spires, surmounted by a cross, which is so characteristic of the architecture of the early churches built in Freeport. Towers date most of the later churches. Immanuel congregation has a membership of 850 souls and 540 communicants. [Written by F.E. Barthing, Pastor; "Camera Studies of Freeport IL" by Robert F. Koenig 1954]

Freeport Mennonite 

Freeport Mennonite Church

Park Hills Evangelical Free Church
Freeport, Illinois

In March 1967, a small group of Christians began meeting in a building at 117 South Walnut Street known as the Stephenson County Farm Bureau Building. Laymen and pastors from the Rockford area as well as from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, filled the pulpit. In November Rev. Gerald Hagelin was called to serve as the first pastor of the church. With a proposed budget of $11,620.00 for the new year of 1968, the church took a step of faith and purchased the building which belonged to the First Church of the Open Bible at 700 West Chestnut Street. The congregation continued to grow, and in April 1969, decided to conduct two morning services. Five acres of land on West Stephenson Street were purchased in April 1970, for future building and expansion. Just ten months later the $25,000 loan was paid in full, and on Easter Sunday 1971, the mortgage was burned. "TO GOD BE THE GLORY." Groundbreaking ceremonies took place in March 1972. In that same year, in order to complete the structure we presently enjoy, $118,300.00 in 2nd mortgage bonds were issued. Due to the faithfulness of God and His people, both of these debts have been retired well before their due dates. In December of 1972 Rev. Kenneth Freeby was called to be youth pastor. The first service in Park Hills Evangelical Free Church was held June 3, 1973. During that year the church experienced phenomenal growth both spiritually and numerically. Five more acres of land were purchased in anticipation of the next phase of expansion.[Information taken from the 1986 Pictorial Directory; contributed by Karen Fyock]

People's Institute
Freeport IL

The People's Institute grew out of the People's Independent church, which was organized in February, 1909, by the Rev. William H. Beynon, formerly minister of the First Baptist church.

The People's Independent church sought to teach and preach a universal Christian religion, without creed or restrictions as to individual convictions.

During the year the People's Independent church was merged into a larger institution called the People's Institute. The institute had three departments; viz., religious, educational, and fraternal. It has no creed, but only a "Bond of Union," which members are expected to sign. The "Bond of Union" is a line of action, not a creed, and consistency of action therewith is expected. The "Bond of Union" reads as follows:

"We join ourselves together in service to God and man through serving man, as supremely exemplified by Jesus and the teachers of humanity, endeavoring thereby to acquire power to bear one another's burdens, wisdom to promote justice, truth and righteousness, and spirit to establish peace, purity, and love in the world."

Under the auspices of the three departments the following organizations are established:
Public religious Sunday service, at which sermons and lectures touching on modern day problems, religious, moral, economic, and political are delivered.
The Sunday school, where the Bible and religion are presented under most modern instruction. The Sunday school is graded according to the public school grades.
The Sociological Club, which deals with social problems.
The Labor Forum, which devotes itself to the study of industrial problems as related to the working classes.
The Municipal Club, which studies municipal problems, and exerts its influence for municipal reform.
The Political Forum, which is open to all political types of faith and parties to present their claims publicly.
The Ladies' Institute League, composed of the ladies of the institute, whose object is to further the interests of the institute socially and educationally.
The Young People's League, which is devoted to the development of the youth morally, socially, and educationally.

The People's Institute was founded by Mr. Beynon for the purpose of meeting the greater needs of the masses in a religious, moral, social, educational, economic, and political manner. "Believing that man is larger than any creed or any human restriction or formality imposed upon him by religious denominations or sects, and that man cannot rise to the height of the Jesus ideal, nor attain to the real brotherhood of man while hampered by factional creeds and religious restrictions, which are oftentimes the cause of dwarfing rather than developing man," Mr. Benyon conceived that an organization such as he founded would more readily help man to attain the highest ideal individually and socially, and therefore struck out to reach such a goal. Services were for a time held in the Masonic Temple, but have since been transferred to the old Salem church on Pleasant street. [History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran
Freeport, Stephenson County Illinois

First English Lutheran Church had reached capacity and the congregation decided to plant a new church which became Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church. On September 11, 1960, 134 people attended the first service held in the Veterans Memorial Home on West Galena Avenue. Seventy-two people signed the charter in 1960. Steering committee: Charles Moen, Paul Nelson, Walter Pflaume, Mrs. Clarence Ziegler, and Herbert Humphrey.

1960 - Pastor Paul Oye arrived in July to create a mission church.
1962 - Groundbreaking for the new church at 2700 W. Stephenson Road
1973 - Luther Bexell became pastor
1980 - Groundbreaking for new addition
1983 - Congregation had rapid growth
1987 - Donna Hacker Smith becomes pastor
1993 - Sunday morning early service added
1996 - Mark Luepke becomes pastor
2001 - Groundbreaking for new sanctuary
2010 - 50th Anniversary

Contributed by Karen Fyock



Rev. C. J. Schuth
Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church

Redeemer Lutheran Church
607 S. Galena Ave, Freeport, Illinois

Redeemer Lutheran Church
Photo dated 6 Dec. 1930
Information from Karen Fyock

Salem Evangelical church

The early history of Salem Evangelical church is identical with that of Trinity church which is treated elsewhere. In April, 1867, the movement which resulted in the establishment of Salem Mission was started. Nothing was done, however, until two years later. On the twenty-seventh day of April, 1869, the organizing meeting was held, presided over by the Rev. D. B. Byers, presiding elder of the Freeport District. Rev. H. Messner, the pastor, was present, and P. W. Rockey officiated as secretary. Articles of incorporation were adopted, and a board of trustees, consisting of Rev. D. W. Grissinger, John Woodside, P. W. Rockey, John Barshinger, and Simon Anstine, was appointed. The charter members of the church included Mr. and Mrs. John Woodside, Mr. and Mrs. John Barshinger, Mr. and Mrs. John Miller, Mr. and Mrs. John Wolfinger, Mr. and Mrs. John Dickover, Mr. and Mrs. Simon Anstine, Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Pease, Mr. and Mrs. T. Y. Fiss, Mr. and Mrs. Elias Bamberger, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Clark, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Spitler, Mr. and Mrs. J. Fox, Mr. and Mrs. John Howard, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Hime, Rev. D. W. Grissinger and Mrs. Grissinger, Samuel Clair, Mr. and Mrs. J. Baymiller, Miss Susan Baymiller, Aaron H. Barshinger, Mrs. H. Dengler, Miss E. Dengler, Mr. and Mrs. John Fritz, Miss C. Fritz, Mr. and Mrs. Elias Koonz, Mrs. Carrie Klock, Mrs. Mary Kaufmann, Mrs. Sarah Kyle, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Penticoff, Mrs. E. Neuman, Mr. and Mrs. P. W. Rockey, Miss P. H. Reinhuber, Miss Rebecca Rohland, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Shaffer, Mrs. Anna Stibgen, Aaron H. and Thomas H. Woodside, Mrs. Sarah Woodside, Misses Mary and Lizzie Woodside, the Revs. D. B. Byers and Henry Messner, Mesdames Byers and Messner, and Mr. and Mrs. Elias J. Duth.

For a short time services were held in "Commercial Hall" on Stephenson street, where a Sunday school was also organized and all the requisite machinery set in motion. Meanwhile a committee was appointed to procure a suitable site for a church building, and to secure funds for the erection of the same. A lot was soon purchased of David Sunderland, on Pleasant street for $2,500 and a Gothic frame building 40 x 60 feet and two stories in height was erected. The building was accomplished for the most part by the members of the congregation themselves with the pastor acting as foreman, and so effectually was the work pushed that the lecture room was finished and occupied in November of the same year. In the following year the church was finished and dedicated.

The following pastors have officiated: H. Messner, 1869-1870; E. C. Condo, 1871-1873; D. B. Byers, 1873-1876; C. Schmucker, 1876-1879; W. H. Bucks, 1879-1880; D. B. Byers, 1880-1882; W. H. Fouke, 1882-1884; S. A. Miller, 1884; W. Caton, 1885-1888; W. H. Fouke, 1888-1891.

In 1890 a break came and the Dubs faction of the Illinois Conference withdrew, taking with it all the members of Salem congregation except two. This faction in Freeport remained in control of Salem church until April, 1893, when the supreme court of Illinois decided that all property belonged to the Evangelical Association, and must be turned over to it. The Dubs adherents of Freeport then withdrew and founded the present Trinity church. The faithful two together with some others remained the congregation of Salem church.

Following the Rev. W. H. Fouke, the Rev. H. A. Kramer was sent by the Illinois Conference to rebuild the society. In 1894 he was succeeded by the Rev. W. B. Rilling, who put in four years of faithful labor, being followed by the Rev. H. A. Kramer again from 1898 to 1900. Rev. J. A. Giese came in 1900, going away in 1904, and then the Rev. F. C. Neitz, who stayed two years, leaving in 1906. The Rev. W. H. Heinmiller, who followed, stayed until the disbanding of the congregation in 1908. The causes which led to the disorganization of Salem church were deep seated. In the first place, the members of Salem Mission had originally been members of the Emanuel Evangelical church, and the congregation was for the most part made up of people who had come over from that church because they were dissatified that the conference had not allowed English preaching in the church on alternate Sundays. This obstacle being removed, and the conference permitting English preaching in the Emanuel church on Sunday evenings, there was no longer any reason for the separation of the two congregations. Futhermore, the two churches felt that in union was strength, and that the merging of Salem and Emanuel would be a wise move. It has so resulted, and although the Emanuel church lost nearly half of Salem congregation to other churches when the transfer was made, the church is prospering today and there is every indication that the decision was well timed. [Source: History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

2nd Presbyterian
The First Church built in 1850 and razed in 1895 to make way for a new and larger building.

Presbyterian Church Fire
The Second Church built in 1895 and destroyed by fire on January 9, 1910

Second Presbyterian
The present Second Presbyterian Church erected in 1910 and Dedicated April 18, 1911.

NOTE:  The First Presbyterian Church and Second Presbyterian Church merged in January 2010 to form the United Presbyterian Church.

Freeport Second Presbyterian Church

302 W Stephenson St.

This church was organized on October 30, 1847, by a committee of three presbyters - the Rev. Ithmar Pillsbury, the Re. Samuel Cleland and Elder C.A. Spring, who acted under the authoirty of th Presbytery of Rock River.  Three elders were ordained:  Samuel Dickey, A.H. Kerr and James Barber.  27 men and women became communicant members of the new church.
In July 1848, the Rev. John Ustick came as a Stated Supply.  He served for 22 months.  The Rev. James Carroll was the first installed pastor.
The early meetings were held in the old courthouse.  The first church building was completed in 1854, at a cost of between $5000 and $6000.  A second structure was erected in 1896, but this was destroyed by fire on January 9, 1910.  The present building was dedicated on April 8, 1911.  The history of the Church has been one of fruitful and steady growth.  by Anthony P. Landgraf, Pastor Second Presbyterian Church.

On October 30, 1847, the Second Presbyterian church was organized by twenty-seven persons who installed and ordained three elders : A. H. Kerr, Samuel Dickey, and James W. Barber. Earlier in the year a petition had been presented to the Presbytery of Rock River, Old School, praying for the organ- ization of a Second Presbyterian church, and signed by fifty-three persons. A public meeting was held in the old courthouse building, and a commissioner was appointed to carry the petition to the meeting of the Presbytery at Princeton. For some time after the date of organization, no services were held. The following spring a few meetings were held and eight new members received into the church. The membership at this time included the following names : A. H. Kerr, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Dickey, Mr. and Mrs. James W. Barber, Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. McKibben, Mr. and Mrs. John Van Dyke, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Badger, Mr. and Mrs. William Lamb, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Lamb, Mr.- and Mrs. Samuel Millikan, Mr. and Mrs. James Brown, Mrs. Janes McKibben, Mrs. Jane D. Lamb, and the Misses Phoebe and Martha Dickey.

In July, 1848, the Rev. John Ustick accepted a call as stated supply for the church and thus became the first pastor. Rev. Mr. Ustick remained in Freeport for twenty-two months. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Carroll during whose occupancy the first church edifice was erected. In 1850 the congregation had increased to such an extent that quarters became crowded. A building committee composed of David Nesbit, James Barfoot, and J. W. Barber was instructed to call for subscriptions. The church members responded generously, and by 1851 a $6,000 church had been completed and in September the first sermon was preached in it.

For forty-four years the congregation continued to occupy this little church. In 1850 a Sunday school had been organized and its growth was proportionate to that of the church. Rev. Mr. Carroll was succeeded in turn by A. H. Lackey, P. B. Marr, D. M. Barber, Robert Proctor, W. J. Johnstone, B. Roberts, George Elliott, John Giffen, S. M. Crissman, and W. B. Irwin. In 1890 Rev. J. D. McCaughtry, of Staunton, Illinois, was called to the Freeport charge, where he remained for ten years. Under his guidance the new church edifice was built on the site of the old church, and formally dedicated on February 9, 1896. This church was one of the finest in the city and met the needs of a growing congregation very satisfactorily. The pulpit was occupied by Rev. J. D. McCaughtry until 1900, when he resigned and Rev. Frank A. Hosmer took his place. Mr. Hosmer was in Freeport from the spring of 1900 to the fall of 1907, and his place has been taken by the Rev. H. M. Markley, who came to Freeport in the early part of 1908.

On January 9, 1910, a great calamity befell the Second Presbyterian church. The comparatively new church edifice was totally destroyed by a disastrous fire of unknown origin. So complete was the ruin that the walls and towers fell in and the prospect of rebuilding was hopeless. The fragments of the building were accordingly torn down and a new building was immediately commenced upon the ashes of its predecessor. The cornerstone of the new church has been laid and the progress upon the pile has been admirable. When the building is completed the Second Presbyterian congregation, which numbers about two hundred and fifty at present, will have not only the newest but one of the finest churches in the city. The value of the church property will be about $35,000. [Source:  HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY by Addison L. Fulwider 1910 Chapter 373]

St. John United Church of Christ
formerly known as St. John Evangelical Reformed Church
309 E. Jefferson St.

Freeport, Stephenson Co IL
Corner South Galena & Chicago Avenue

 St. John Evangelical Reformed churchSt. John Reformed ChurchSt. John Reformed Church
Pictures 2nd Church, 3rd church, Church of 1948; new church with bell tower; Contributed by Karen Fyock

History taken from "St. John Centennial 1848-1948" and the Dedication Booklet of February 28, 1960:

In June, 1848, some seven years before Freeport was incorporated as a city, a small group of German immigrants organized our St. John Church. The congregation at first met in the homes of its members under the leadership of the founding pastor, Rev. Mr. Ernest Beine. During the years 1850-51, the first permanent church building was constructed on the corner of South Chicago and South Galena Avenues. It was a very simple structure, thirty-six by forty feet. By 1865 the membership had increased to 104. This year saw the completion of a parsonage with a schoolroom in the basement and also the erection of a new church building.

The years 1866 to 1890 were marked with a rapid succession of pastorates and a period of difficulty and stress for the small congregation. It is not known what occasioned the problems of that day, however, it resulted in the loss of a number of members who went on to found the Immanuel Lutheran Church of Freeport. The historian of an earlier day indicated, however, that "this defection only strengthened the bond of union between the loyal members."

The pastor under whose leadership the church flourished and grew to be a strong and virile congregation, and whose name is still heard these many years later among the senior members of the church, was the Rev. Mr. Frederick Holke (1896-1913). His pastorate marked the beginning of an expanded program in the spiritual welfare of the congregation, also several improvements consisting of the building of a tower at the front of the church, the installation of an organ in the balcony and the redecoration of the nave which had been erected in 1866.

It was during the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. Daniel Bierbaum (1913-1920) that the English language was introduced into the services, making possible a more adequate ministry to the English speaking members of the church and community. This period of St. John's history saw the enlargement of the church edifice to become the church we knew and loved, and which served the congregation until its destruction in 1957.

In 1955, as the result of an evaluation of church school and fellowship needs, there came a renewed interest in providing additional facilities for these purposes. After much consideration a study committee concluded that the present site of the church would not adapt itself too well for expansion. The increasing parking problem was a factor that could not be overlooked. The need for extensive repair on the church itself was another factor to be considered. This it was that upon the committee's recommendation the congregation voted at its annual meeting in Jan., 1956, "to investigate... a new site for the construction of a new church." As directed by the congregation, the consistory appointed a new site committee, which then set about its task. The task became an extremely difficult one in that the sites available were not suitable to our needs, and the sites that were suitable were not for sale. However, in August, 1957, a site on South Park Blvd., which the committee deemed to be adequate, became available, and upon its recommendation the congregation on August 25, 1957, voted to purchase the property as the site for its new church plant.

It was the hope of the church that perhaps in five to ten years, after a sufficient sum had accumulated in the building fund, the congregation would proceed to build anew. But the fateful night of Dec. 20, 1957, with the total destruction of the church by fire, very quickly and with bitter finality took our plans and scattered them to the four winds. It was a difficult day for our congregation. To see something you love deeply destroyed by fire is never easy, but to see the House of God in which you have worshiped year after year and which has become for you a very sacred and holy place, enshrined with the memories of a life-time, is to experience an indefinable loss.

The members, however, soon regained their composure and with the vision and courage of the great congregation that they are, with a deep and abiding faith in God, declared on January 5, 1958, to build a new church and church school at the new site on South Park Blvd.

The only substantial item salvaged from the ruins of our old church were the three bronze bells, which had called the congregation to worship since the year 1897 when the tower was built at the front of the church. Little did we realize on that bleak December day of the fire that these bells should ever ring again. But when it was discovered that the fire had not destroyed them there was great rejoicing in the heats of our members, and there was no question but that the plans for the new church should include a tower to contain them.

Pastor: Rev. Edwin A. Arends
Choir Director: Mrs. Ford Zartman
Organist: Miss Mary Etta Nott

Although this church was founded in 1847, it was not formally organized until 1850. The founders included H. Kochsmeier, A. Boedeker, H. Huenkemeier, F. Hanke and C. Beine. Meetings were first held in the brick schoolhouse in Knowltontown. In 1852, their church building which stood where the present one is located, was completed and dedicated. In 1856 a combined parsonage and schoolhouse was erected on the church lot, and a parochial school was started but subsequently abandoned. In 1854 the Rev. J. Zimmerman became pastor, but was succeeded a year later by W. Kampmeier. During the pastorate of the latter a new building of stone was erected on the site of the old church. From time to time since then alterations have been made in the structure, a set of chimes installed, and many improvements made. In the list of pastors we find the names of P. H. Hoefer, Martin Otto, N. Severing, and F. Holke. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - September 17, 1932 clipping]

Confirmation Class Pictures:  1922 and 1925

St. Joseph's church
Photo taken 2003 from John J. Kornfeind

St. Joseph's Church

St. Joseph's Church
 As we have elsewhere stated, in the early history of St. Joseph's Parish, the congregation was merged with that of St. Mary's. The Germans and Irish were members of the same congregation, but many of the former being ignorant of the English language, it was deemed advisable to form two parishes. Father John Westkamp at once set about selecting a suitable place of worship for the Germans and on June 4, 1862, purchased the old Baptist church, which stood on the present site of St. Joseph's church. The price given was $2,000, and the congregation which paid for it numbered about one hundred and twenty-five families. The old church was repaired and fitted up as well as possible, but, in 1868, finding that it was too small to hold the rapidly growing congregation, a large gallery was built in it, and in the fall of 1871 it was decided to erect a new building. Father John Westkamp who had been the first pastor of the church had remained only one year, after which he was succeeded by Father Ignatius Baluff. It was under Father Baluff's direction that the work of building the church now went forward. During the winter before the church was built, the members of the church living in the city quarried the stone for building purposes, and those who lived in the country hauled it to the site of the new edifice in their farm wagons. Early in the spring the old building was moved back to Pleasant street and used for church purposes until the new structure was completed, after which it was torn down, and the lumber sold. Early in June the cornerstone of the new church was laid by Bishop Foley of Chicago, before a large audience of Freeporters and Catholics from other parishes. In December, 1872, it was completed, and dedicated on the fourth Sunday of advent, by Bishop Foley in the presence of a great many priests from all parts of the diocese.  St. Joseph's church is modern Gothic in style, its dimensions 50x140 and its cost $35,000. The church is built of brick and faces northeast, being located on the old Baptist church lot on Williams and Pleasant streets near Walnut. The seating capacity of the auditorium, including the gallery, is eight hundred and fifty. The stained glass in the windows of St. Joseph's is particularly beautiful, and the building from basement to spire is one of which Freeport's German population may justly be proud. In 1874, the charge was taken by Father Clement Kalvelage who has remained up to the present day and is deeply loved and revered by his congregation. He has made numerous improvements and changes during his occupancy. In 1881 the appearance of the church was greatly enhanced by the erection of the new steeple, one hundred and seventy-five feet in height and containing a set of four chimes which cost $1,000. Since that time numerous improvements and new constructions have been made in the church. Scarcely had the new church been completed and paid for when efforts were made to improve the educational advantages. At first a small frame building which had been purchased of St. Mary's congregation and which stood on the present site, was used, but this became too small and was unsuited for the purpose. In 1883 the present schoolhouse was built at a cost of $5,500. Father Kalvelage has taken a very great interest in the school and has brought it to a high standard of excellence. The school has an enrollment of about three hundred pupils and is taught by Franciscan Sisters from Joliet. Within the last few years two other notable improvements have been made. In 1895 a new parochial residence was built next to the church at a cost of about $8,500. Behind this, facing on Pleasant street a convent of similar design has been constructed at a like cost. Both buildings are of brick with white marble facings and trimmings and marble steps. The Franciscan Sisters are also in charge of St. Francis' Hospital, which was erected in 1889 and dedicated on February 12, 1890. It has since been increased and enlarged by the addition of a southern wing. The Sisters have also charge of St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum, which was founded and blessed on May 25, 1896. The orphan asylum at first occupied a small cottage on South Walnut street but has since moved to the former residence of August Bergman on Jefferson street.   St. Joseph's congregation numbers about two hundred families at present. The total valuation of the church property including the church and attached buildings, is about $75,000.  [HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY by Addison L. Fulwider 1910 Chapter 373]

The German Catholics separated from St. Mary's in 1862 and history says that with the formation of St. Joseph's Church about 125 families left St. Mary's. This new congregation purchased the little original Baptist Church, which stood on the site of the present church. It was remodeled to meet the needs of a Catholic church and was used for about ten years, when the present large church with its magnificent steeple and cross was erected. It was constructed of red brick but later plaster coated to resemble stone.

It may perhaps seem strange that I should class the one Irish Church with the seven German ones which existed in Freeport when I was a small boy. But St. Mary's Irish Catholic Church was not always all Irish. The first Germans of that faith who came to Freeport also worshipped there and in 1854, the Bishop appointed Rev. Ferdinand Kalvelage, a German, to the pastorate of St. Mary's. I believe that he was an uncle to Rev. Clemens Kalvelage who later was pastor of the German Catholic Church for more than half a century. St. Mary's was established by Rev. John Cavanagh, who had been pastor of the little stone church at New Dublin, an Irish settlement about ten miles west of Freeport. His first masses in Freeport were in the home of his sister, Mrs. Thomas Egan. The Egan home stood about where the present Freeport Savings and Loan Association office is now located. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Kalvelage that St. Mary's built its brick church. This building was replaced by the large stone structure now there. I recall nothing of this brick church, but I well remember the sad day during the wrecking of it when the roof structure collapsed, killing one man and badly injuring several others. Just why I was there when the cornerstone of the new church was laid, I do not know. I can only ascribe it to the curiosity of a 14 year old boy to be where there was a crowd. I doubt that there is another person living who was also there that day. History recitses an interesting story of the beginning and the growth of the Catholic faith in our county and city.

It has always been quite generally known that the German people, in their own country, have not been predominately good church-goers. Yet, of the Germans who came and settled here, there seemed to have been a majority who were Christian Church people. When I was a boy there were seven, out of a total of sixteen of our churches, that held to the German language, and some of these also conducted parochial schools in that language. There were some Germans who were not at all inclined toward the church. If I remember rightly, most of these were prominent in the membership of the old Germania societies.  The German Catholics separated from St. Mary's in 1862 and history says that with the formation of St. Joseph's Church about 125 families left St. Mary's. This new congregation purchased the little original Baptist Church, which stood on the site of the present church. It was remodeled to meet the needs of a Catholic church and was used for about ten years, when the present large church with its magnificent steeple and cross was erected. It was constructed of red brick but later plaster coated to resemble stone. [By Leslie Fargher 1967]

St. Mary

St. Mary's Church


St Paul Missionary Baptist
St. Paul

St. Paul Missionary Baptist
Freeport, IL

St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church started as prayer meetings in the home of Sarah Sides.
1911 - Prayer services at Sarah Sides' home, Mrs. and Mrs. Mark Clark, and Rev. H. Byarus
1912 - The mission became Oak Hill Baptist Church
1918 - East Orin Street lot purchased - St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church names
1919 - Cornerstone laid.
1920 - Parsonage purchased
1937 - Mortgage burned
1952 - Stained glass windows, Hammond organ installed
1960 - 1962 New parsonage purchased
1965 - Lots on East Stephenson Street are purchased
1967 - Cornerstone laid
1968 - March from Orin Street to new church on Stephenson Street
1968 - Coca-Cola bottling plant purchased and renovated - educational building and apartments.. Currently used for programming, library, history room, staff offices, kitchen and dining hall
1974 - Haven Court parsonage constructed
1986 - Mortgage burned - 75th anniversary
2010 - 99th anniversary
2010 - Frank Bullock associate pastor

1911 Rev. M. Williams of Chicago
1915 Rev. Rowton of Rockford
1917 Rev. D. Hicks and Rev. Hollman
1918-1925 Rev. J. H. Starks
1925-1928 Rev. W. H. Burrell
1928-1929 Rev. G. W. Nesby
1929-1937 Rev. Wm. L. Lambert
1937-1944 Rev. B. F. Paxton
1944-1946 Rev. F. H. Davis
1946-1948 Rev. R. Herbert Howard
1948-1952 Rev. Charles C. Yates
1953-1964 Rev. Clayborn Salter -- Rev. Paul Hayden -- Rev. Rudolph Shoultz
1960-1962 Rev. Clifton Brown
1962-1993 Rev. Robert L. Huff
[History and photos contributed by Karen Fyock]

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas
Our parish of St. Thomas Aquinas was established on December 4, 1921, by Bishop Muldoon. Father William McMillian was the first pastor. Previous to this time, Catholics who lived west of West Avenue belonged to St. Mary's territorially, or if they chose to, those of German descent could belong to the German parish of St. Joseph.  The corner stone of the one-story church building was laid in May 1921. The building was completed the following year and dedicated May 28, 1922. In September, 1929, Father Daniel O'Connell was appointed to succeed Father McMillian. During his pastorate, a second floor was added to the building, providing four classrooms, two rooms of which were opened in September, 1931, by the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa.

Father Alex McIsaac became pastor in August, 1936, during a period of expansion for the church. In 1954, there were one hundred and eighty-one pupils in the school. The population of the parish increased in these years to three hundred families.

Father Arthur O'Neill was appointed pastor on June 9, 1957. The school enrollment had grown to two hundred and twenty-five by the year of 1956-57. Temporary classrooms were erected in the parish hall. Enrollment continues to increase, so four classrooms and a gymnasium were constructed to the north of the church.

Father James Murphy became pastor of St. Thomas Parish on June 9, 1967. He worked with the parishioners in paying off the parish debt and making plans for a new church. Because of the continues increase in the number of parishioners, serious thought was given to the possibility of constructing the new church on a new site to the west of the city.

Father Louis Pesut became pastor on June 15, 1971., time lay committees were established, an architect was contracted , the new church and plans put out for bids.

On October 2, 1973, Msgr. Raymond J. Wahl became pastor of the parish. Taking advantage of preliminary work that had been done, it was possible to have ground breaking ceremonies for the new church on October 21st, and laying of the cornerstone on June 30, 1974. Former pastor, now Bishop, O'Neill returned to his former parish and dedicated the new church building on December 15, 1974.

Monsignor Wahl's pastorate at St. Thomas Aquinas ended in February, 1978, when he accepted a new assignment in the diocese. Father Richard Kramer then administered the parish until the appointment of its eighth pastor, Father Thomas Dzielak, in March, 1978.

During Father Dzielak's pastorate the people were able to eliminate the debt for the new church building and to turn attention to the continued growth in population in the parish.

[Information and pictures from the Saint Thomas Pictorial Directories of 1974 and 1985; Sub. by Karen Fyock]

Theosophical Society
Freeport IL 

The Freeport Theosophical Society was organized in Freeport in the year 1898 by C. H. Little, who became its first president. William Brinsmaid became the first secretary. Meetings were at first held at the home of Mr. Little on West Stephenson street and in his parlor the fourteen original members gathered to hold their regular meetings. Afterwards it became inconvenient to hold meetings at Mr. Little's residence, and a room was rented in the Rice building, now the Mackay block. A few years later the society procured a suite of rooms in the Wilcoxin Block, which they used for some time. For the past few years the lodge has met at the home of F. J. Kunz on West street. From the original number of fourteen the society has increased to twenty-five. The officers of the Theosophical Society for the current year are: President, T. D. Wilcoxin; vice president, F. J. Kunz; secretary, Miss Alma Kunz.[History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

Trinity Church
Trinity United Evangelical Church

Trinity United Evangelical Church

The early history of Trinity church is the same as that of the Salem Evangelical church, which only recently disbanded. In April, 1867, the movement was started which resulted in the establishment of Salem Mission at Freeport. At the annual session of the Illinois Conference, held in Naperville, Rev. Henry Rohland offered a motion which was seconded by the Rev. S. Dickover that the Salem Mission of Freeport be established. The motion was carried but not acted upon and for a whole year nothing was done. Two years later the spring conference appointed a pastor and the Rev. Henry Messner was delegated to become the first guide of Salem Mission. The Rev. D. B. Byers was elected presiding elder of the district. Fifty-four members made up the first congregation, most of them coming by letter from the Oak street Emanuel Evangelical church, which held services only in German. A petition had been presented to the conference to permit preaching in English on alternate Sundays, but this was refused. As a result, many of the congregation withdrew, most of them going over to the Salem church. The records of the church state that the first quarterly conference leaders were as follows: Class leaders, Paul W. Rockey, Rev. D. W. Crissinger; exhorters, H. W. Pease, John Miller; trustees, John Barshinger, Paul W. Rockey, D. W. Grissinger, John Woodside, Simon Anstine; stewards, T. Y. Fiss, John Wolfinger, Elias Bamberger. For six months after its founding, Salem Mission worshiped in "Commercial Hall" on Stephenson street, but negotiations for the erection of a suitable church edifice were immediately started. In the meantime a Sunday school was organized and the various departments of church work were begun. A house and lot on Pleasant street was secured and a building, which still stands, was immediately constructed, the total cost of lot and building being nearly $8,000. In 1888 an eleven hundred dollar parsonage was built next to the church. The temporal affairs of the church prospered and the pulpit was successively occupied by Rev. H. Messner (1869-70), E. C. Condo (1871-73), D. B. Byers (1873-76), C. Schmucker (1876-79), W. H. Bucks (1879-80), D. B. Byers (1880-82), W. H. Fouke (1882-84), S. A. Miller (1884), W. Caton (1885- 88), W. H. Fouke (1888-91), J. H. Keagle (1891-94). In 1893 came a break The Dubs faction withdrew from the Illinois conference, and with it went Salem congregation all except two members who . remained outside. These leaders together with some others became the founders of the present Trinity church. The old Salem church was left to the faithful two and the members of Trinity sought a new place. A house and lot were bought on the corner of Union and Pleasant streets, where the present building stands, and a frame edifice was erected, the house being made over into a parsonage. Following J. H. Keagle, who will always be remembered by the congregation of Trinity for his untiring labor and enthusiasm, the pulpit was occupied by: S. P. Entorf, 1894-1898; B. R. Schultze, 1898-1900; John Divan, 1900-1903; F. W. Landwer, 1903-1906; L. C. Schmidt, 1906-1910. The period of Rev. L. C. Schmidt's occupancy was a time of rapid growth and increase and at this time the present church building was built. The project was talked over in 1906, and the following year it was definitely decided to build a new church. The old parsonage and frame church were removed, and a large, handsome structure of colonial brick was erected on the old site. The new church which cost about $25,000 is a credit to the congregation whose labors helped to build it. It is surmounted by a tower, not crowned with a spire, but of unusual height, and is built throughout in the modern style of church architecture. The cornerstone was laid in 1907, Bishop Heil presiding, assisted the presiding elder C. G. Unangst, and the church was soon finished. In April, 1910, a parsonage, at 40 Broadway was bought to take the place of the old one which was removed when the new church was built. The price of the new parsonage was $4,200, the building being an up to date one with all modern conveniences. The total valuation of the church property, including the parsonage, is about $25,000. Trinity church is in a prosperous condition at present under the leadership of Rev. J. G. Eller, who succeeded Rev. L. C. Schmidt in January, 1910. The congregation number three hundred and four, and the Sunday school two hundred and eighty-two.[History of Stephenson County, by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

United Brethren Church
Freeport IL

The United Brethren church of Freeport was organized in 1892, and is consequently of comparatively recent origin. Previous to 1892 a number of adherents of the sect had lived in the city, but not in sufficient number to warrant the formation of a church. A number of attempts to establish a church were made, but nothing permanent was accomplished and the project had been repeatedly abandoned. In the early spring of 1892, on the 13th day of March, nineteen members of the brotherhood met together and adopted resolutions organizing the United Brethren church of Freeport. These nineteen members, some of whom are still with the church, were: Rev. N. G. Whitney, Mrs. M. L. Whitney, Dr. L. B. Peck, Ira Long, Eva Long, Sarah Whitehead, George R. Ringer, Anna M. Ringer, A. E. Peck, Lizzie De Jongh, Anna M. Myers, Ezra Burling, George Brown, M. C. Brown, O. P. Spielman, Noah Peck, Mrs. E. A. Peck, M. Adleman and Mrs. M. Adleman. The succeeding years were marked by prosperity and rapid growth. No sooner had the congregation organized than they began to look about and find a suitable spot for erecting their church edifice. A lot on the corner of Galena and Locust streets, at the western extremity of the former was found procurable, and the present building was erected and dedicated the following spring. It is a handsome structure, unassuming in appearance, but substantially built of brick, and quite competent to fill the needs of the congregation. The style of architecture is Gothic and a beautiful tower and spire crowns the pile. On the second story is the auditorium which will hold about one hundred and fifty persons. The first floor is given over to lecture rooms, Sunday school rooms, etc. About four years ago, a parsonage was built on Galena street, next to the church. This parsonage, the cost of which was about $4,000 is one of the finest in the city, and a great credit to the church. At the present time the membership of the church has risen to one hundred and ninety and a Sunday school is maintained, the roll of which numbers one hundred and sixty, with a regular attendance somewhat smaller. Since the founding of the church in Freeport, the pulpit has been occupied by a large number of pastors, all of whom have remained in the city for a very brief term. The present incumbent, the Rev. D. E. Bear, has been in Freeport for about a year, having come here from the southern part of the state. [History of Stephenson County - by Addison L. Fulwider 1910]

Zion Church
 History and Photos from Karen Fyock

Zion Church
Zion United Church of Christ
Zion Reformed Church

Freeport, IL

During the Civil War days of 1862, Rev. W. C. Seaman was successful in organizing a small group of the community into a congregation. Services were held in a hall above the W. Wise drug store. After a short time the pastor resigned, and the small congregation was without a pastor until 1865. At that time Rev. O. Occola re-organized the group, and during the following year the site of the present church building was purchased. The first building a modest frame structure, was erected at this time.

Although the congregation was without a pastor at several intervals during succeeding years, there was sufficient interest to keep the congregation intact. From 1869 to 1874, Rev. A. Schroeder served as pastor and was successful in building up the congregation. Following his retirement, Rev. J. Wernley became pastor for only one year. During short intervals J. L. Schats and W. G. Hackman led the congregation.

The members of the congregation held Rev. Wernley in high esteem and challenged him to become their pastor a second time. He accepted the challenge in 1877, and soon afterward a parochial school was conducted in the church building.

Early in 1879 the growing congregation realized the need for a larger building. Plans were drawn up for a brick building 36 feet by 50 feet. On September 28, 1879, the new building was dedicated; its total cost, $2,843.87. The old frame building was moved to the rear of the lat and continued to house the school.

During 1881, Rev. Wernley again resigns, and Rev. J. J. Janett was called. He attempted to place the congregation of a more efficient basis by means of greater organization. While Rev. Janett was pastor, a church bell was installed in the tower. This bell has been preserved till the present, and it is the same one that rings at the beginning of services today. Another accomplishment during this period was the installation of a pipe organ.

Rev. Ernst Brunoehler succeeded Rev. Janett, who resigned in 1891. It was found necessary to discontinue the parochial school since it was impossible to support a capable teacher and supply proper equipment. Rev. William Rech succeeded Rev. Brunoehler in 1898. During his pastorate many necessary repairs were made to the church property. Also, an addition was built to the parsonage which was adjacent to the church building.

In 1904, Rev. Ernst Traeger was chosen to fill the place vacated by Rev. Rech. He remained as pastor for a longer period of time than any other except Rev. Grahl. Again some improvements were made although some unrest can be noted because of disagreement concerning language. Until this time only the German language had been used officially by the congregation and its pastors. However, the younger generation began more and more to demand English as official. Rev. Traeger introduced English evening services but more was desired by some members.

In 1917, Rev. Traeger resigned, and on January 1, 1918, Rev. H. LEhman took charge of the congregation. During this time English as well as German became official in the congregation, and membership, attendance, and interest in the work increased considerably. An attempt was made at his time to remodel the church building, but because of the high cost following World War I, it was found impossible. However, during this early effort of rebuilding, the seeds were sown for plans of our present building.

After four years of fruitful service, Rev. Lehman resigned in 1921, to be followed by Rev. R. A. Worthman. With the continue progress it was decided at a special congregational meeting in 1923, to begin a fund for remodeling the old or erecting a new building. In March, 1927, the contract to build a new structure was given by the building committee. During December of the same year the building which is now used for church services was dedicated. Rev. Worthman continued to serve Zion faithfully and Fruitfully until 1930.

At that time Rev. Carl M. Grahl began his long and faithful service and in now experiencing his thirty-third year of ministering to the congregation. During these years the major physical improvement of the church were the purchase of the present parsonage, the erection of the Sunday School building, the remodeling of the auditorium to double the seating capacity, the purchase of church furniture, and acquisition of two residential lots adjacent to the church building which are presently used for parking space. [Information and pictures from the "Dedication Souvenir at Zion Reformed Church", Freeport, Illinois December 18, 1927 and the "100th Anniversary" Zion United Church of Christ 1862-1962.]

This congregation continues to minister to the city of Freeport and has recently built a new church on the Western edge of the Freeport community.

Methodist Episcopal Church
Kent, IL

The earliest religious meetings in this community were held in the 1840's by Peter Cartwright. He often preached at the Kellogg Grove Tavern, which stood where the Blackhawk Monument now stands. The Methodist Episcopal Church was built in Kent and dedicated July 14, 1878. It belonged to the Rock River Conference - Freeport District. The cost of the frame structure was $1,8000. In 1894, the charge was made "Kent and Willow" when the Pearl City church was cut from Kent. In 1900 the charge was called "Kent Circuit." Camp meetings were held at the Lena Camp Grounds. Members attended from Kent and Willow, living in tents and cooking meals over kerosene stoves. The 50th anniversary of the church was held October 2, 1927. At the conference session at Dixon in 1932 the Pearl City and Kent churches were consolidated to make one charge again. Rev. J. M. Beck was appointed to serve - and was the only pastor to serve six consecutive years. The annex was dedicated May 3, 1937. Extensive remodeling was done while Rev. Randall T. Stump was pastor, 1951-1956. At the annual session of the Rock River Conference of the Methodist Church in June, 1965, the First Methodist Church of Pearl City, the Kent Methodist Church and the Van Brocklin Methodist Church were decreed a Larger Parish. In June, 1966, Willow Methodist Church joined the Larger Parish, and in December 1966 Mrs. Hazel Clark became secretary of the four churches. Rev. Frederick L. Rickleff and Mrs. Rickleff came to the parish in 1972. Rev. Rickleff serves all four churches without an assistant. [Contributed by Karen Fyock 1976 scrapbook clipping]

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church
Kent, IL

St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kent was organized in August 1869 and for two years met in the United Brethren Church every other Sunday. In September 1871 the cornerstone of their own church was laid. The church was dedicated December 17, 1871. The huge bell that rang loudly and clearly from the belfry that day can still be heard every Sunday morning. Rev. J. A. Beidler served the church from the time of its organization in 1869 till 1874. He returned to serve as pastor from 1889 to 1891. Unusual for a small rural church was the orchestra organized in 1924 by Harold Finkenbinder. Each Sunday morning (for three or four years) it had a special selection. The Rev. Frank Schroer, pastor from 1924 until his death in 1937, did much to increase church membership, to involve the young people in Luther League, and to enlarge the church building. An altar, designed and made by Leslie Finkenbinder, was dedicated in his memory on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939. Reverend Milton L. Whitney returned as pastor in 1972 to serve both the Kent and Pearl City Lutheran Church. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - 1976 scrapbook clipping]

Ebenezer United Church of Christ

On January 4, 1866, a group met and planned to build a house of worship on one of the highest hills southeast of Loran. Stone from a nearby quarry was hauled to the hilltop where four acres of land had been donated by two neighboring farmers. This "stone" church, dedicated November 18, 1866, was first named German Evangelical Ebenezer Church. Services were conducted in German until 1917 or 1918. Gradually English was used and German dropped. Rev. E. Burquoin, the first resident pastor, lived in the stone parsonage built in 1867. his yearly salary was $300.00. Changes were made through the years. On Saturday evenings the clear ringing bell rang out over the hills and vales. In 1905 the present parsonage replaced the original stone one. In 1934 the Reformed and Evangelical Synods merged and by 1959 Congregational Christian Churches joined these synods. Since May 6, 1951, Ebenezer and Salem have been one parish, each retaining a place of worship and separate officials together with a joint council. Rev. Max Schroedel, who served the church from 1923 to 1944, is remembered by a memorial stone just inside the cemetery gate. Three of his sons became ordained ministers. The Rev. James Holl is presently the pastor at Ebenezer. [Contributed by Karen Fyock 1976 scrapbook clipping]

First United Methodist
Pearl City IL

On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the First United Methodist Church of Pearl City, members recall the seventy-five years the present church structure has served the community, not forgetting those Methodists who as early as the 1850's attended services at Kellogg Grove. Here Peter Cartwright, famous circuit rider, held services in a two-room log cabin. When the number of Methodists grew, services were moved to Yellow Creek school. Early records not only tell of pastors appointed but also record names of early church members. With evangelistic services held in the 1880's interest increased. in 1890 many signed to organize a permanent English Methodist Church. The pastor, who served Loran, Kent, and Yellow Creek at an annual salary of $600, lived in the parsonage at the southwest end of town, formerly the residence of Fred Endress, now owned by James Blackmore. In 1893 the church name changed to Pearl city Methodist and the congregation became a separate charge. In 1901 the church was erected at a cost of $5,000 and in 1909 the present parsonage was built at a cost of $3,000. In 1932 the Kent and Pearl City churches were consolidated to make one charge again. The fiftieth anniversary of the church building was celebrated September 23, 1951, with Randall T. Stump, pastor, In 1953 extensive remodeling and redecorating was done. In 1954 the Methodist Church of Pearl City was named one of three churches in a Larger Parish, including Kent and Van Brocklin Methodist churches. Willow Methodist joined the Larger Parish in 1966. In 1975 a log cabin, given by LeRoy Krahmer as a memorial to his parents, was reconstructed and dedicated. Final Diamond Jubilee services were held May 2, 1976. The Reverend Frederick L. Rickleff has served as pastor since 1972.  [Contributed by Karen Fyock - 1976 scrapbook clipping]

St. John's Lutheran Church
Pearl City, IL

Members of the Pearl City St. John's Lutheran church will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the church with special services and a program to be held next Sunday Sept. 11, 1938 and on the following Tuesday, September 13, 193. Rev. William Eckert, professor of Bible at the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary will deliver the anniversary adders next Sunday morning at 9:30. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper will be administered following the anniversary service. At noon there will be a basket dinner in the parish hall and the afternoon will be devoted to good fellowship and greetings from former pastors. in the evening at 8 o'clock Rev. O. Garfield Beckstrand will preach the sermon.  The golden jubilee banquet will be held in the parrish hall Tuesday evening at _? o'clock. Carl Block will be the toastmaster, and Rev. C.H. Hightower of Mt. Morris will deliver the address. Rev. Carl Kammeyer of Polo, president of the northern conference will convey official greetings.

St. John's at Pearl City was founded on Sept. 6, 1888 at an organization meeting held in the home of John S. Boop under the guidance of the Rev. N. Klock who became the first pastor. A.K. Eby donated the lot where Barnes and Rees Hardware stands and there was built the church and dedicated Dec. 27, 1888. The Sunday school was organized the same year with Hiram Ditzier as the first superintendent. The Ladies Aid was organized the following year and has been active ever since. There were fourteen charter members and the names of eleven are known as follows; John Gable, John C. Ditzler, Hiram L. Ditzler, John S. Boop, Miss Lizzie Krape, David Bell, Mrs. Mary A. Mitchell, Matthias Ditzler, Ira Mitchell, Mrs.. Amanda K. Mitchell and Mrs. Elizabeth Gable. Henry Hahn Joined the following year of organization, making him the oldest living member of the church. During these fifty years twelve pastors have served this parish. Of the twelve four are living; The Rev. E.E. Campbell of Nevada, Ohio; the Rev. L.F. Gunderman of Flint, Mich.; Rev. P.H. Stahl of Nachusa and rev. Henry Voegtly of Gibsonia, PA. The present pastor is the Rev. H.E. Bernard of Jonesboro, a graduate of Carthage College in '32 and the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1935.

The church has grown from a charter membership of 14 to the present confirmed membership of 260. There are 180 enrolled in Sunday school and 60 members in the Ladies Aid society. The Luther League has an enrollment of 42 members. [From the Freeport Journal Standard 7 September 1938]

Zion United Methodist Church
Pearl City, Stephenson County IL 
1864 - 1989

125 years ago, March 7, 1864, several pioneer Christian people decided to meet in the Lamb School House, one mile north of the present church building, to hold meetings. The asked a "Circuit Riding Preacher", to minister to these pioneers and to study God's Word. Jacob Hershey was the first secretary and from his books, the growth and interest of the society was recorded. The Organized officially under the Zion Society of the Evangelical Association. They had 28 charter members. Three trustees were elected. The elected a class leader and a Sunday School Superintendent. In October of 1865, the new building was completed. It was dedicated by the Bishop of the Zion Church of the Evangelical Association. In 1907. the church was completely renovated to accommodate the increasing congregation. In 1915, 50 years was celebrated with a 5 day celebration. In 1940, 75 years was celebrated by the "little white church" that sets on the hill, Rev. T. R. Moritz was the pastor, A women's Missionary Society was well as the Ladies Aid were functioning at this time. A Y.P.M. C. (Young People Married Couple) class was organized with 24 charter members. An Albright Brotherhood had also been organized. In 1948, we needed more room. Rev. Eldon Schriver was pastor, and at this time an annex was built and dedicated on October 3, 1948, for the use of the primary Sunday School, as well as other functions. In 1952, the walls of the church were redone, The metal siding was removed and replaced with wall board. In 1964, we celebrated 100 years. We had a day long celebration on October 11, 1964. In 1972, an addition was added to the annex. A basement was put under the entire annex, with a kitchen and dining room for the food and fellowship of our members. Much needed bathrooms were installed on the first floor along with additional Sunday School room. Carpeting was laid and the walls were paneled with makes for a nice room for meetings of other social functions. In 1981, the red carpeting was laid in the sanctuary. This was purchased with memorial money. Ceiling fans have been installed to cut down on heating bills and to circulate the air in the hot weather. Pew cushions have been placed on the seats and new hymnals have been ordered. Many articles in the church have been purchased with memorials left by our loved ones, to enable us to continue to worship in the church our forefathers built so long ago. We've come a long way from wood burning stoves and kerosene lights, to oil burning furnaces and electric lights.  [From Karen Fyock - Information taken from "125 Years of Sharing Our Best" cookbook printed in 1989]

Rock Run Presbyterian Church - Meeting Records

St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Rock Grove, IL - History

 Van Brocklin Methodist Church - History

Amity Lutheran Church

Amity Lutheran Church
Lena, IL

Lena Baptist Church

Lena Baptist Church
Rev. James Qurollo

Grace Free Methodist Church

McConnell, Illinois

Just before the turn of the century a class was started which became known as the Grace United Brethren Church. The official organization date was in 1896, and a church building was dedicated in 1898. Services at this church were conducted in English. Although the building was destroyed by fire in 1935, another was built immediately. This congregation became known as Evangelical United Brethren in 1946, and then in 1965 became affiliated with the Free Methodist denomination, changing its name to Grace Free Methodist Church. [From the history of 1970, submitted by Karen Fyock]

Methodist United Church

McConnell, IL

Just before the turn of the century a class was started which became known as the Grace United Brethren Church. The official organization date was in 1896, and a church building was dedicated in 1898. Services at this church were conducted in English. Although the building was destroyed by fire in 1935, another was built immediately. This congregation became known as Evangelical United Brethren in 1946, and then in 1965 became affiliated with the Free Methodist denomination, changing its name to Grace Free Methodist Church.
[Contributed by Karen Fyock]

Orangeville United Methodist church

Orangeville United Methodist Church
Orangeville, IL 

Like most of the United Methodist Churches in our area, the Orangeville Church's history parallels the history of the denomination as a whole. Our church is the result of the mergers of three previous denominations into the United Methodist Church. The Evangelical Association church was the Hope Evangelical Church which merged with the Zion United Brethren denomination in 1947. The two denominations merged nationally in 1948 to become the Evangelical United Brethren denomination in 1948. The Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church organized in 1888 and opened their first building in 1890. In 1968, the EUB denomination merged with the Methodist Episcopal denomination to become the United Methodist Church. The Orangeville United Methodist Church is located on the site of the Zion United Brethren Church. We celebrate all those people, beginning with the first settlers, who came from Centre County, Pennsylvania in 1839, who have kept alive and vital our common Wesleyan heritage throughout the generations in our county. The Afolkey United Methodist Church is our sister church and has a similar history. We have been partners since 1932. (Taken from the 2005 Membership Directory, Photo and Information from Karen Fyock )

Red Oak United Methodist Church

Red Oak United Methodist Church

Richland Methodist Church


Some of the German speaking settlers in the area began in 1870 to plan for a church of their own. The congregation affiliated with the Northwest German conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and in 1873 erected a building on the Buckeye side of Scheider Road, which marks the division between Buckeye and Waddams townships. The church was just north of Richland Road at the intersection between the two thoroughfares. The church became known as "Jerusalem" because of the enthusiastic singing and joyful worship of the congregation. In the early days there were "bush" meetings outdoors under the trees with basket dinners. The church building was rebuilt in 1899 after a fire and in time underwent other improvements. In 1930, the church went with the German Conference into the Rock River Conference of the Methodist denomination. In 1959 after a consolidation, the building was closed. It was reopened in April 1962, under the auspices of the Free Methodist denomination, with Rev. Lyle D. Babcock of the Freeport church as pastor."  [Source: 1970 History of Stephenson County;  Contributed by Karen Fyock, picture taken in May 2011]

Rock City Evangelical UB church
Founded 1868
[Submitted by Karen Fyock]

Rock City Evangelical United Brethren
In this modern day of mergers, it is interesting to note that the Rock City church is now a member of its third denomination since its establishment one hundred years ago.  The first denominational tie was with the Evangelical Church started by Jacob Albright in Pennsylvania during the early part of the nineteenth century. Many of these early churches were formed in homes by those early pioneers who kept moving westward in search of the many opportunities that this vast land offered. These early pioneers were of German stock, who, due to religious persecutions, moved in order worship God as they saw fit. And they were served by the hardy circuit rider preacher who considered the natural hardships of bad weather nothing more than the temptations place in his path by the Devil. The Rock City Evangelical church was organized in the year 1868 and met in the home of the chartered members until the present structure was built in 1869. The total cost of the sanctuary at that time was $2,200 and the first minister was hired to serve the Davis circuit was the Rev. Henry Rohland and his annual salary was $575. It was in 1885 that the church began to change from the use of the German language to English but it was accomplished after long and often heated debates usually in both languages.
In the year 1946 the Evangelical Church and the United Brethren in Christ Church formed what was then considered the most successful church union in the history of Churches of the United States. This was the second denominational affiliation of the Rock City church and the new name was the Salem Evangelical United Brethren Church. In the year 1948 an addition was built that included a Sunday school room, dining hall and kitchen which was dedicated May 15, 1949. During September of that same year the name Salem was changed so that the title was Rock City Evangelical United Brethren. On July 14, 1957 an impressive dedication service was held and much of the present furniture and fixtures were given as memorial gifts. On May 3, 1964 there was a note burning service symbolizing the completion of paying for the church remodeling and improvements that came to over $8,000. In the early months of 1966 a discussion was held with the Methodist Churches of Davis and Dakota, and the EUB Churches of Davis, Rock Grove, and Rock City and plans were drawn up, a constitution written and the United Rock Run Parish was formed to begin in June 1966. In April, 1968, at Dallas, Tex. the Uniting Conference was held that formed the third denomination for the Rock City Church. The Rock City United Methodist Church is now being served by the pastors, Virgil and John Smith ('s) and has a membership of 93.
 [unknown source/year]

Mt. Carmel Evangelical
Submitted by Karen Fyock

Rock Grove Mt. Carmel Evangelical United Brethren

Presbyterian Church in Warren Illinois 

Presbyterian Church

Warren, IL

Episcopal Church in Winslow

Episcopal Methodist
Winslow IL

Grace church

[formerly known as United Brethren Church]
Winslow, Illinois

The United Brethren Church was built at the foot of the hill on Hubbard Street in 1891. Today it is called the Grace Bible Church." [source: 1970 Stephenson County History; submitted by Karen Fyock]

Methodist Church
The picture was taken in May 2011 - the church has been sold and is not currently being used.
Contributed by Karen Fyock

Winslow Methodist Church
This church in Winslow was a Methodist Church.




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