Wright County, Minnesota

Genealogy Trails History Group

Genealogy and History
Volunteers Dedicated to Free Genealogy

Church News and History

Go To Church News

Wright County Minnesota Church History
Source: Wright County Church History; transcribed by Camilla Jackson


Crow River Circuit, Minneapolis District, Northern Minnesota Conference

In 1859 the first church was founded in Franklin Town. It was named the Cassel German Methodist Church, as a number of members including the Seibels, had come from Cassel, Germany. The first Pastor was H. Schnittger. He was succeeded in 1860 by Pastor H. Singenstren. In 1861 a log building was erected on land given by John "Captain" Seibel; the first trustees were Gottlieb Epple, Henry Brandt, and Walter Albitz. Pastor Singenstren was followed by the Rev. J. Mentz in 1862, J. G. Bauer in 1865, Wm. Pagenhart in 1869, Geo. Hartung in 1872, Wm. H. Traeger in 1873, D. Pfaff in 1874, H. E. Young in 1877, J. M. Nippolt in 1879, J. F. Priene in 1880, and A. F. W. Krienke in 1883. In 1884 a new building was erected at a cost of $2,000. The Cassel church became the leading German Methodist Church in the county. The building was a beautiful example of church architecture of that period, with a slender spire above the bell-tower, stained glass windows, and unique furnishings.

Rev. Krienke was followed by C. L. Lehnert in 1886, G. Raile in 1889, W. F. Maas in 1893, G. A. Jahn in 1894, Geo. R. Fritze in 1895, A. Biebighaeuser in 1899, J. E. Bentz in 1902, W . G. Boemmels in 1906, H. E. Young in 1913. Familiar names in the church records of Baptism, Membership, and Marriages run through like colored threads: Epple, Wandersee, Kespohl, Ziemer, Schwerin, Plath, Seibel, and Ziebarth. The Pastors served several other churches as well as Cassel - Rockford, Buffalo, Montrose, and in the very early days two or three others.

Services were held in the German language, except when Rev. Boemmels started to preach in English at Montrose, continuing the German services at Cassel and Zion Church.

An Epworth League, a young people's group was formed, which met after church. Their service was conducted in English. Everyone stayed after Sunday School for the meetings.

After Rev. Young left in 1918, Rev. G. Raille was appointed to the circuit. He came by train to Montrose, stayed at the John Epple home. There is mention of a parsonage in Montrose in earlier times, where Rev. Boemmels lived.

Rev. Biebighaeuser returned about 1920, stayed until 1924, was followed by Rev. Munson, who conducted all services in English; he in turn was followed by L. Allen in 1928, who stayed until 1932. In that year the association with Montrose was severed when Montrose being joined with Howard Lake and Cassel with Delano. J. E. Dowler served as Pastor. During this time the 75th anniversary of Cassel Church was observed. In 1937 D. S. McGuire was appointed Pastor. He was followed by Arthur Kent in 1940. In 1944 it was decided to close the church. Members had moved away to the extent that few were left. It happened that Rev. Kent was gone at the time the decision was made and when told of it he said, "It was never my wish that that little Church be closed." However, Cassel Church lives on, in the Cassel group of the Delano United Methodist Women. They are devoted members of the Cassel group and of the Church, and on Sunday mornings, it is the Cassel bell which calls the members to worship.

The Cassel Cemetery
On April 30, 1869 John Seibel deeded land in the southwest corner of section 33, Township 119 to the Cemetery Board to be held in trust by them "forever." The first Board members were Gottlieb Epple, Walter Albitz, and Henry Brandt.


The Evangelical Free Church of Delano had its early beginnings in a Bible Study Group started in July of 1964, which was taught by Rev. Mervin Seashore of Maple Plain. The group met for one year, two times each month.

In July of 1965 the group felt a need for a church, so Rev. Seashore, having been associated with the Evangelical Free Church of America called a meeting with the District Supt., Rev. H. E. Sodergren, to discuss the doctrine and beliefs of this denomination. On September 22, 1965, another meeting was held at the Ted L. Johnson home north of Delano, with Rev. Sodergren and five couples in attendance. The group voted to incorporate as the Evangelical Free Church of Delano and asked Rev. Seashore to serve as pastor.

The young church met in the homes of the members on Sunday evenings until October 17, 1965 when the old cafeteria annex of the Delano Public School was secured as a meeting place.

On July 31, 1966, 4 acres of land were purchased from Herbert Levens on east Elm Street in Delano for the purpose of erecting a church building. On August 2nd, before the group met for their general board meeting, they assembled at the new site and each one offered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving and sang the hymn they had chosen as their theme song - To God Be The Glory - written by Fanny Crosby. It was the prayer of each person present that this church may never lose sight of its purpose, to bring lost souls to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ with hearts full of Joy, Praise, and Thanksgiving. The group returned to the Forest Osgood residence for the business meeting.

On June 6, 1967, after the Sunday morning service, a ground breaking ceremony was held for the new church building. Work started September 1st.

On November 22nd, the first Thanksgiving service was held in the basement of the new building with 122 persons attending. We continued to meet in the basement until March 9, 1969, when the sanctuary was completed.

On May 4, 1969, the new church building was dedicated - To the glory of God the Father, to the honor of His Son, Jesus Christ, the teaching of His Word, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Message of Dedication by Dr. Arnold J. Olson, President of the Evangelical Free Church of America.

Building Committee -
Ted L. Johnson
John R. Madsen Sr.
Cornelius Jacobson
Forest Osgood
Anton L. Glommen

Interior Decorating -
Roger Jasperson, Chairman


In November, 1970, a meeting was held for people interested in having an American Lutheran Church congregation in Delano. People new to the community felt the need was enough to warrant a congregation here. About the same time a similar need was present and relayed to the Mission Office from Rockford. Several joint meetings were held and it was decided to begin holding services in both Delano and Rockford Schools, on alternating Sundays.

A parsonage was purchased in Delano and in August 1971 Pastor Manuel Johnson and his family came to serve the Mission Parish. Services continued to be held in the schools until the new church, built in Rockford, was dedicated in January, 1975.

The parish now serves eighty families in the two communities.


St. Mary's Church in Czenstochown is a mission church, starting a separate congregation, branching off from St. Peter's Parish in Delano, in 1884. In 1913 the church became a mission church of St. Joseph's.

On June 19, 1913, the first frame church was struck by lightning and burned. The Rev. S. Zdechlik began work to rebuild the church. A new brick structure was built at the cost of $18,000. The cornerstone was blessed and laid on June 15, 1914, and the first Mass celebrated on January 17, 1915.


In 1864 the oldest German Lutheran Church in Wright County was organized three and one-half miles west of Delano on what was then called the Waverly Road. It was a German Evangelical Lutheran Church, known for some time as the "Schroeder Church". The first divine services were conducted by laymen, as was the Sunday School - the "Christenlehre". After a year or two the Synod president sent out a Missionary Pastor, who came every six or eight weeks. Pastors William Scheitel and M. Kreuter served the mission, holding services in homes as well as the public school. Later Pastor Ludwig Emmel came from Greenfield every four weeks, walking the distance from one parish to the other. A log building was erected on land given by Christian Schroeder, who also gave land for the cemetery still known as the Schroeder Cemetery.

After Pastor Emmel left, Greenfield was served by pastors of the Schroeder Church. Pelican Lake was added in 1882.

In 1884 a frame church was built and was named the Salem Church. In 1885 a parsonage was built a half mile west of the Church, enabling the Pastors to serve Salem, Trinity in Rockford, Pelican Lake, and Buffalo which was added in 1887. In 1890 Pastor P. Heinrich Franz was assigned to the Parish but left the same year, and was succeeded by Rev. George Lahme. In 1895 Rev. Julius Engel was assigned and in 1902 his place was taken by his brother, Rev. Theodore Engel.

In 1903 a new building was erected, the third for the parish. By 1905 Pelican Lake and Buffalo had their own Pastors; Salem and Trinity were reinforced by a new congregation in Rockford, and another in Montrose. In 1907 Rev. J. Blumenkrantz became Pastor and in 1910 was succeeded by Rev. Henry Bruns. A short time later the country parsonage was sold and a house rented in Delano; then a house on Third and Bridge Streets was purchased for a parsonage. In 1918 Rev. Bruns was followed by his brother Rev. Edwin H. Bruns. In 1927 Salem Church was dissolved and the 134 members joined the Mount Olive Church in Delano.

Information Supplied By Estella Hildebrandt, Grand-daughter of Christian Schroeder.


On March 18, 1879 Salem Lutheran Congregation held a special meeting in the church in Franklin township to decide about the building of a new church. With a big majority it was voted to build the church in the village of Delano instead of out in the country. The minority kept on holding their services in the Franklin township building and affiliated with the Wisconsin Lutheran Synod.

The majority who wished to build in Delano organized a new congregation on April 20, 1879 at the home of John Eppler. The following charter members were present: Gustav Rettke, Jacob Horsch, Jacob Geiger, Louis Bock, John Kaeppe, Fred Adickes, Theodor Strauch, Ernest Zierman, Henry Bentz, John Eppler, Gustav Hackenbeil, William Ziebarth, Fred Jabs, Conrad Marth, Henry Karsdorf and a Mr. Bornemann.

Of these charter members Gustav Hackenbeil, John Eppler, Gustav Rettke, Louis Bock and William Ziebarth were elected as the church board and building committee. The name adopted for the new congregation was German Evangelical Congregation and i t became affiliated with German Evangelical Synod of North America -- the American counterpart of the state churches of Germany.

On February 15, 1880 the dedication of the new church took place with Pastor Bauer of St. Paul officiating. The mother of the present organist of fifty-three years service, Mildred Sawatzke, was the first child baptized in the new sanctuary.

Until 1883 the congregation was served by a traveling pastor. In 1883 Delano and Albion township were merged into one charge for twenty years. Later the Forest City church was connected with Delano for a number of years.

In 1934 the Evangelical Synod merged with the German Reformed Church (which in October 1975 celebrates its 250 years in America) into the Evangelical and Reformed Church. In 1947 the local church added the identifying name of St. Paul's.

In 1957 the Evangelical and Reformed Church united with the Congregational Christian Churches into the United Church of Christ in Cleveland in a Service attended by two later ministers, Kosower and Meiners.

After this until 1970 the Watertown Community Church was yoked with St. Paul's. From the spring of 1968 until April 15, 1974 St. Paul's United Church of Christ was yoked in the Delano United Shared Ministry with the Delano United Methodist Church.

In 1922 the home at 237 Buffalo Street was built as a parsonage. The functional Christian Education Fellowship unit was dedicated on November 9, 1958. The congregation has its own well kept cemetery three miles west on highway 12.

One son of the congregation, the late Rev. Henry Rieder, was ordained into the Christian Ministry in 1914. In addition to the charter members, some of whose descendants are still very active in the church, the late Leonard J. Rieder and family were very active in the history of the church.

The following pastors have served the church:
1879 - 1883 Rev. Lange (traveling)
1883 - 1891 Rev. Uhlman
1891 - 1892 Rev. C. Mayer
1892 - 1900 Rev. K. Zeyher
1900 - 1905 Rev. F. Brennecke
1905 - 1906 Rev. Beirsdorf
1906 - 1910 Rev. C. Raase
1910 - 1918 Rev. Wm. Weltge
1918 - 1941 Rev. Ed. Merz
1942 - 1946 Rev. Helmuth Kehle
1946 - 1950 Rev. Gerhard Meiners
1950 - 1957 Rev. Otto Rapp
1958 - 1963 Rev. Clyde Lee
1963 - 1967 Rev. James Alf. Parker
1968 - 1974 Rev. Albert Kosower
1974 - ---- Rev. Gerhard Meiners

Appropriate to illustrate the current outreach of the church is the fact that three-fifths of the Church Board have non-German names; and the current minister is the chairman of the official Wright County Bicentennial Committee.


The first religious services were held in the Powers Hotel in 1869 and the preaching was soon followed in 1870 by the organization of a Methodist Society under the guidance of the Rev. Mr. Cressy. Charter members were William Hawker and Mary Hawker, Luther Walter and Mary Walter, W. H. Landis, Mrs. Maude Chance, Mr. and Mrs. Luther Cunningham, Sarah Powers, Mary Powers and Carry Powers, J. W. Powell and Miner Ball and Mother Walter.

Lucas Hall was secured for services until their own building was erected on 3rd Street in 1872 or 1873. The architect, Rev. Copp, was paid $20.00 for his services. Miner Ball sent out an appeal for funds to pay the $500.00 owed on the building so it could be dedicated. The funds were raised, and the Church was dedicated in 1875. Rev. McChesney preached the sermon of dedication.

A Ladies Aid Society was formed in 1873, when Rev. F. L. Tuttle was Pastor. A union Sunday School was also formed with Wm. Hawker as Superintendent, before the Church Building was erected, and met in a log school house on the river bank at the corner of Elm and River Streets.

Pastors and Supply Pastors followed one another in rather quick succession a number of years; the Circuit was very large, and the life was arduous.

In 1887 the Rev. John Doran was appointed. His two years were rewarding and 103 members were added to the Circuit. There were several short ministries, then in 1887, by petition to the Conference, John Doran was again appointed to the Circuit, which included Delano. He writes of being thrown from his sleigh and from his buggy, which laid him up for a time. This is his schedule:
1906 Sunday, once in two weeks - Mound City - 10:00 a.m.
1906 Sunday, once in two weeks - Watertown - 3:00 p.m.
1906 Sunday, every week - Delano - 7:30 p.m.
1906 Saturday, once in two weeks - No. Rockford - 7:30 p.m.
1906 Sunday, once in two weeks - Rockford - 10:30 a.m.
1906 Sunday, once in two weeks - Armstrong - 3:00 p.m.

In 1889 the Circuit was divided and W. H. Wilson was appointed to Delano- Rockford. The $600.00 salary was apportioned thus: Delano $350, Rockford $200, North Rockford $50. The Board of Trustees voted to build a parsonage; sufficient funds were raised to start the building, but i t became necessary to borrow $600.00 to complete the house and to make some necessary improvements to the Church. At the same time the North Rockford people were cutting and sawing logs for their new church. At the second quarterly Conference both societies were incorporated as Methodist Episcopal Churches. A number of brief pastorates and a period of discouragement followed until the Fall of 1899. The debt at this time was $820.00; by December 30th the debt was paid and enough cash and subscriptions raised to paint the parsonage and for some necessary work on the church.

Rev. T. J. Chapple was appointed in 1901. The work prospered under his leadership and it was possible to improve the property. In 1903 Rev. A. Hopkins was appointed to Delano, Rockford, and Armstrong. Conditions on the Circuit, spiritual and material, were good. Storm windows were installed on the Parsonage, "improving the temperature that coldest of winters of 1903." In the spring of 1904 the Armstrong Church was painted inside and out. In October 1906 Rev. A. J. Ewing was appointed to the Circuit, which now included Rockford and Delano, since Armstrong had withdrawn from this Circuit and had joined with Mound. The salary was fixed at $600.00, and the Circuit was given $100.00 Missionary appropriation.

Wm. K. Gray followed as Pastor in 1907 and during this year an Epworth League was formed with attendance from 25 to 35. The congregation was growing. Nevertheless, he was followed in 1908 by Rev. F. Gibbs. During this year a new furnace was installed, a new hardwood floor was laid, and a chimney built for the furnace. The improvements cost $600.00, $80.00 of which was raised by the Ladies Aid at a stand in the Park during the 4th of July celebration; the balance was raised by subscription.

Rev. Radcliffe succeeded Rev. Gibbs in 1909 as Pastor of Delano and Rockford. The Charge received $50.00 from the Conference. In the summer of 1910 the Radcliffe's traveled to England and the Isle of Mann, reporting a most enjoyable time. In October, 1911, Rev. Kaneen was appointed Pastor and remained until 1913, when he was succeeded by M. L. Fancher, who soon resigned. In 1913 Rockford separated from the Circuit and for the first time Delano was on its own.

George L. Haggans came to Delano in the summer of 1914 after graduating from Hamline University. While in Delano he was married to Miss Blanche Workman, a vivacious, friendly girl who came from a family of Methodist Ministers. He was followed by S. L. Hartin in 1916; the Armstrong Church was returned to the Delano Circuit in 1918. The Pastor's salary was increased to $1,000.00. During the fall of 1918 a piano was placed in the church. Rev. R. P. Cummings was appointed in 1919, and had the longest pastorage in Delano to date. The church prospered under his leadership; major additions and improvements were made. However, Rev. Cummings became ill shortly after the completion of the work and never preached in the remodeled building. After his death Mrs. Cummings, a most capable woman, carried on the work of the church with the aid of fellow pastors in the district. At the end of the year she went south to teach in a Home Mission School. By this time a Women's Home Missionary Society had been formed in the Delano Church. This was a National Organization, as was the Women's Foreign Missionary Society. Some churches had both. The National Societies sent out and supported their own missionaries, independently of the Board of Missions. This was probably a result of the requests of early missionaries for women missionaries. Mrs. Cummings is buried by her husband in the Delano Cemetery. Her memorial sermon was given by her cousin, Dr. George Valentine, the long-time pastor of Park Ave. Church in Minneapolis.

George Galbraith was the next pastor and remained two years. The Galbraith's were friendly people and helpful in emergencies. When young Alma Johnson needed mastoid surgery following scarlet fever they took her, in their "enclosed car" to Asbury Hospital. Their daughter Joyce was a nurse there, and cared for Alma. Alma remembers her as a very sweet girl, and added, "I felt so bad when she contracted scarlet fever from me." Their son Ernest became a church organist. Robert W. Duel was the next pastor coming in the fall of 1927. Music was his second love, and he soon organized a band of the Delano and Armstrong young people. He was vitally interested in young people. He helped stimulate interest in the Boy Scout organization and was Delano's first Scoutmaster. He preached at Delano in the morning, Armstrong in the afternoon, and had a mid-week prayer service at Armstrong. The Epworth League met every Sunday evening. The Armstrong young people were a part of the Epworth League, also Mrs. Duel had a keen interest in Church School work, and occasionally filled in for a missing pianist. These were the depression years. The Duel's remained in Delano until 1932. By 1932 the North German Conference merged with the North Minnesota Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and when J. E. Dowler came to Delano in 1932, the Cassel church was added to the Delano-Armstrong charge. The parsonage was in need of repair and refurbishing; the exterior of both church and parsonage were painted. In 1936 new wood was installed in the nave, narthex and the League room. A badly needed and much appreciated bathroom was put into the parsonage. Mrs. Dowler worked in the church school and brought some new ideas into the Ladies Aid; she also was an able speaker. A 7:00 a.m. Christmas Day service was started about 1932; this was given by the Pastor and Choir. The Church would be beautifully decorated with greens and lit with candles. This service continued for nearly 20 years when it was changed back to Christmas Eve. The Rev. D. S. McGuire was appointed to the Charge in 1937, and remained until 1940. During this time a basement was excavated under the parsonage and a furnace installed, replacing the various stoves. In 1939 the Armstrong Church was closed and some of the membership transferred to Delano. The McGuire's had two sons, both of whom became Methodist Ministers; they have since transferred to the U.C.C. Church. Rev. McGuire was moved from Delano to Beardsley during the Conference year, and Delano was in the position of searching for a minister. After Arthur Kent spoke here one Sunday, it was felt that he would be acceptable. This was a happy choice for Delano. Mr. Kent, a widower, was a retired schoolteacher and a devoutly religious man. He had a gift for winning people, and doubled the membership of the church. His sermons were understandable to all ages; one little boy was heard to whisper after an illustration, "That was a good story."

At about this time there was a fundamental change in the women's work of the church, partly as a result of the merging of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and The Methodist Protestant Church into "The Methodist Church." The separate Ladies Aid Societies, The Women's Foreign Missionary Society, and the Women's Home Missionary Society were merged into a national organization of Methodist Women, "The Women's Society of Christian Serviced” in 1944. Another change was the closing of the Cassel Church, which was the first church to be formed in Franklin Town in 1858. Thus, these country churches, relics of pioneer times, became casualties of a changing way of life. The bell of Cassel Church now hangs in the bell tower in the Delano Methodist Church. Another asset Delano gained from Cassel was one of the hardest working and devoted members Delano has ever had, Mrs. Lizzie Plath, one whose church always came first in her life. Delano was again a single charge. In 1945, Rev. Kent's health, never robust, forced him to retire. His last years were spent at Welker Methodist Home and at his death, according to his wish, he was buried in the Delano Cemetery. While looking for a new Pastor, considerable work was done on the Parsonage. Hardwood floors were laid and the kitchen was considerably improved. It is impossible to think of the Rev. Fred W. Hedke without also thinking of Mrs. Hedke, a warmhearted woman and a gracious hostess. They came here late in the fall of 1945 and immediately made friends. They both worked hard for the church, with a fine group of young people, and Mrs. Hedke with the W.S.C.S. One feature of their ministry is unforgettable. The fall service of Thanksgiving, when the church would be beautifully decorated for the Sunday service with flowers, fruits, and vegetables. A picture of the same service at Castle Rock where they went from here, appeared in color in the Minneapolis Tribune. A permanent Memorial Fund was established during this time; one result of this was the placing of the colored windows, which replaced the plain ones in the church. The Hedke's had a successful ministry, and it was with regret that the congregation learned in 1950 that they were leaving.

The Rev. George Haggans returned to Delano in 1950. Mrs. Haggans helped in the Church School, and at least one little boy learned that the parsonage kitchen was a good source of cookies. The work continued well during the two years they were here. Our next Pastor was Lewis Allin , who came from Drew Seminary; he and his wife, Joyce, brought youthful enthusiasm and energy to their work. Joyce was a talented singer, and did outstanding work in the Church School, both Sunday and vacation schools. They both worked with the Methodist Youth Fellowship; Rev. Allin became Leader of the Boy Scouts. The membership of both the Church and Church School had increased to such an extent during the years that more room was needed. As a result, in the spring of 1953, ground was broken for an addition and extensive remodeling. The building fund was given a start with the proceeds of a turkey dinner served by the church women the previous fall. This continued for a number of years and was a substantial contribution to the building fund. A substantial addition was made to the back of the building, both the basement and main floor. When funds ran low, the project went ahead, due to many hours of labor donated by the men of the church.

In 1955, due to the scarcity of ministers, Rockford was again added to the Delano charge. The three Allin children, David, Kevin, and Carol Sue were born while they lived in Delano. In 1957, they were transferred to Princeton. Rev. Allin’s successor was the Rev. Forest Pierce. He and his wife Fern had nurse's training which they put to use when time allowed. Mrs. Pierce sang in the choir. While they were here Mrs. Pierce was ordained and was assigned to Howard Lake-Montrose, then to Montrose alone. Mr. Pierce was active in community affairs, including the Boy Scout troop, serving as Camp Counselor and for a time Scoutmaster. During this time, the work on the church was completed. New ceiling tile was installed, the narthex, nave, and chancel plastered, new pews and chancel furnishings installed.

In 1960, the Pierce's were appointed to Vernon Center and Amboy,and were succeeded by the Rev. Frank L. Sechrist. Rev. Sechrist was a friendly, scholarly man, and Mrs. Sechrist was, as the District Superintendent had described, "One of our choice parsonage ladies". She was active in the W.S.C.S., taught in the released time classes, and helped when needed. Not long ago, Rev. Sechrist, now the Chaplain at Walker Home said, I wish I could be in Delano again, walking down the streets, and saying "Hello" to the people I know". We regretted losing the Sechrist's during the Conference year, when they were unexpectedly transferred to Hector in the summer of 1964. In September of 1964, a young family came here from Illinois. James Barbre, who was to be our Pastor while he was attending St. Cloud State College, his wife, Joy, and their two children. The Barbre's did a fine work with the youth of the church; one event they started was an annual spaghetti supper to raise funds for the support of a Korean child they had decided to support. Joy was very active in the W.S.C.S., taught in the Friday released time classes. The Barbre's were also active in Community activities. In addition to his school work, Mr. Barbre was conscientious about the needs of the Delano and Rockford people conducting funerals, calling on the sick and other Pastoral duties. Joy started a nursery for the very small children so their parents could attend church. Mr. Barbre's pastorate came, to an end in 1968. They live in Delano and still serve the community. Mr. Barbre is in business in Delano.

The District Superintendent informed the Board that there were no ministers available for Delano-Rockford, so he and the Superintendent of the U.C.C. Church arranged for a shared ministry for the two Methodist churches and the U.C.C. Church of Delano. The minister assigned was the Rev. A. A. Kosower, a minister of the United Church of Christ. Since he and his family occupied the U.C.C. parsonage, it was decided to sell the Methodist parsonage. Rev. Kosower had the sorrow of losing his wife, Rosemma, who had been a great help and support in his ministry, and an attractive and friendly woman who was liked by all. The women of the church were very successful for a number of years with their fund-raising projects, enabling them, to purchase equipment for the church. Mr. Kosower married a very popular and gifted Delano teacher, Le Julsrud. He accepted a call to a church in Freeborn, Minn., and left Delano in the spring of 1974. During these years, the Rev. Mr. Gerhardt Meiners substituted most ably at times for Rev. Kosower. At the next Conference, the Rev. Hugh Stephenson was appointed to Delano; after 20 years Delano again became a single charge. A highly suitable house was purchased for a parsonage, where he, his wife Mary, and their infant son live.


From the time of its organization in 1912 until it was able to acquire its own property in 1915, Mt. Olive rented the old Swedish Mission in Delano for its services. Pastor Henry Bruns, the first resident pastor, organized the congregation with the following charter members: Fred Bauer, John Grassinger, Julius Hildebrandt, Carl Lenz, August Schilling, Robert Schuman, Otto Tomnitz, and Emil Zabel. Three years later, when the Presbyterian church was offered for sale, it resolved to purchase this brick house of worship for an amount "not to exceed $1,000." The cost of refinishing the interior, laying a cement floor in the basement, installing a furnace, and making repairs to the woodwork added several hundred dollars to the final total. After a new altar, pulpit, and chairs were added, the entire property was valued at $1,800. When one thinks of present day values, one marvels at the type of building procured for that amount.


Purchased by Mt. Olive and used until the present building was built

The year 1917 saw Mt. Olive joining the Wisconsin Synod. During the year Pastor Henry Bruns also accepted a call to Sanborn. The house which became the parsonage until 1972, and is now Teacherage #2 for the lady teachers, was purchased during the vacancy. Rev. Edwin H. Bruns, brother of the founder, became the next pastor and served also Montrose and Crawford Lake until this multiple parish arrangement was ended in 1922. Prior to this the parish included a small rural congregation in Franklin Township, organized in 1884 under the name of Salem, but popularly known as the "Schroeder" church because i t was built on land donated by him. When Salem dissolved in 1927 and consolidated with Mt. Olive, the former house of worship became too small to hold a-1 the hearers. Plans were begun immediately to build a new church. The edifice of English Gothic design was completed the following year and dedicated on September 9. The cost, including a Moeller pipe organ, was about $26,000.

The services were conducted in English and German until 1941 when the schedule was changed to include only one German service a month. In 1945 German was discontinued entirely. When Rev. Bruns resigned in 1948 for health reasons, Pastor Manfred J. Lenz of Alma City succeeded him and was installed on November 7, 1948. A breezeway and attached garage were added to the parsonage in 1949. The kitchen was modernized some years later. Improvements to the church included an enlarged electrical system, tile floor and acoustical ceiling in the basement, organ chimes, aisle carpets, and overhauling of the art glass windows. A survey was begun in 1950 to obtain information concerning the possibility of starting a Christian day school. Off-street parking was provided, and lots for a school were purchased. Four years later, plans were approved for a two room brick veneer day school which was dedicated on August 28, 1955. The cost was about $30,000 without equipment. Miss Fern Frank became the first teacher. Enrollment reached 30 pupils by opening day. Mr. Arnold Strehler accepted the call as principal two years later. A teacherage was built for him in 1957. Interest in Christian education continued at so high a pitch that the school was soon overcrowded. In 1962 the members realized that not only the staff but also the facilities would have to be enlarged. A third teacher was called. The addition of two classrooms, gymnasium, kitchen, and storage rooms was ordered built for an estimated $75,000. The playgrounds, classrooms, principal's home, and duplex for the women teachers then represented an investment of some $135,000. The staff as of 1975 numbers four, Mr. Roger Klockziem, Principal; Miss Dawn Else, grades 5-6, Miss Sue McLosky, grades 2-3-4; and Miss Karen Frey, grades 1 and Kindergarten. Enrollment at this date numbers 76 or 55% of the possible Mt. Olive school aged children. On March 6, 1972, the congregation voted to build a new parsonage. This parsonage was built on the lot where the old duplex was located, between the church and the teacherage at 423 East Bridge, at an approximate cost of $30,000. Dedication was held on September 17, 1972.

In March of 1973 Pastor Lenz accepted a call to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church at Thousand Oaks, California and he preached his farewell sermon on June 10, 1973. On July 15, 1973, Pastor Warren J. Henrich was installed as the new pastor of Mt. Olive. At this date the present membership is numbered at 743 souls and 575 communicant members.


Polish Catholics, wishing for a church of their own in which to worship God according to their customs and traditions and to have the Gospel preached in their own language decided to separate from Saint Peter's Parish, which they had helped found and maintain along with German Catholics for many years. Archbishop John Ireland encouraged the erection of another Catholic Church in Delano for the Poles. In 1902 he commissioned Father Savs, the Pastor of Saint Peter's Church, to begin work at once on this new church for the Poles.

The first meeting to organize the new Parish was held on July 23, 1902 under Father Savs' leadership. Members of the first Committee chosen to make all necessary building arrangements were: Martin Stralka, President; Jacob J. Gabriel, Secretary and Treasurer; and Auditors, John J. Czock, Frank Kittock, and Joseph M. Wandok.

A vote taken at one of these first meetings to decide on a name for the new Parish, found a choice between Saint Michael and St. Joseph, with Saint Michael winning by a three to two vote. Apparently, the vote was later changed and the name finally chosen was Saint Joseph.

On August 29, 1902, a committee consisting of J. M. Wandok, John Czock, and Jacob Gabriel, went to Archbishop Ireland to discuss the new church. Permission to build the church was given with the original specifications stating that i t was to be a frame church. Discussion regarding the possibilities of also having a school built was postponed, but a Pastor was promised by the Archbishop upon the completion of the church. Corporation papers for the church were signed on September 2, 1902 and bids were opened for the building of the church on April 6, 1903. Six bids were presented. Contractors Cebulla and Soshnik were awarded the contract on April 16, 1903; the original bid was for $10,485.00.

A special meeting was also held in April, 1903, to decide on the site for the new church. The original site, which had been much nearer the river, was not favored by many of the people. The site decided upon was the corner of River and Oak Streets, by a new vote of 51 to 8. Four lots were then purchased for a total cost of $450.00. The cornerstone for the new Catholic Church of Saint Joseph was blessed and laid by Father Savs on July 5, 1903. The new church was completed by January 1, 1904 at a cost of $10,150.00 for the building only. Much of the work was done by the parishioners themselves, who donated their time and effort to the construction.

When the church was completed, Archbishop Ireland informed the trustees that they must provide a residence for the Pastor before he would send the new congregation a priest. The trustees procured a temporary rectory for six months, or until the rectory was built. They paid $7.00 a month to Louis Marth for rental of his building. On May 1, 1904 the first resident pastor of Saint Joseph's Church of Delano, the Reverend Father Joseph Smiech, took charge. The new Parish had 376 members of Polish descent. The Church of Saint Joseph was constructed of brick, trimmed with Bedford stone, having a seating capacity for about 450. When Father Smiech arrived the church interior was completely unfurnished. The first Mass was said on a small wooden table. The congregation stood or knelt on the floors, until pews and kneelers were installed on May 12, 1904. On May 23, 1904, the altars were installed in the church at a cost of $750.00. The main altar, of Renaissance carving, was made of hard quarter oak with two smaller side altars of similar construction. These unusual, distinctively different, beautiful altars are s t i l l standing in the church today. Lovely stained glass windows with full figures of Christ, His Mother and various popular Saints were donated by members of the Parish. Father Smiech began construction of a rectory, which was completed on November 13, 1904 at a total cost of $2,705.00.

The first Baptism in the new church was that of Cecilia Motzko on May 22, 1904. The first marriage, that of Gregory Kittock and Frances Janicula, took place in Saint Joseph's Church on July 19, 1904. The first funeral was that of Anthony Drymalla on July 14, 1904. Father Peter Roy, the first priest to be ordained from Saint Joseph's Parishioners, celebrated his First Mass in the church in June of 1907.

Trustees of the newly begun Parish at this time were Lawrence Kaniuth, Treasurer and Frank Kittock, Secretary. Annual church dues or pew rent in those early days of the church were set at $4.00 a year - or ten cents per Sunday. A Parochial school was begun in September of 1906, with classes being held in the basement of the church. Lessons were given in both English and Polish. The total enrollment of this first class was 56, under the direction of one lay teacher. An old inventory of the equipment used in this early school showed a total of one map, one globe, one blackboard and fifty desks. In 1918, the subject of building a parochial school was again brought up and a special meeting was held to discuss such a possibility. The school never materialized and classes continued to be held in the basement. In 1922, the basement school ended when the teacher, Miss Wanda Tomczak, resigned and no other was available to take over the classes. A request for Franciscal Sisters was refused by the Mother Superior, who felt that a church basement was not a good school situation. (When the public school burned to the ground in 1926, the basement of Saint Joseph's Church was again utilized as a school. The basement was divided into three classrooms and classes were held there until the new public school was completed in 1927.)

Under the leadership of Father Smiech, the first Pastor of Saint Joseph's the Saint Michael's Society (actually organized at St. Peter's for the Poles in 1898) was organized as a branch of the Polish Union of the United States of North America. This is a fraternal and benevolent society still existing today. The Saint Hedwig's Society for women was begun in 1905 and still continues to operate in the Parish. The Rosary Society was begun in June 8, 1907 and is still a vibrant asset to the Parish. At this time the Third Order of Saint Francis was established in the Parish under the Jurisdiction of the Polish Franciscan Fathers in Pulaski, Wisconsin. It exists today comprising members from both Delano Churches. In 1907 Reverend Father Albert Szulkowski came to serve as the second pastor. Under his leadership the Catholic Order of Foresters was organized on February 16, 1908, with 21 charter members. Saint Stanislaus Kostka was chosen as Patron for this group. Father Stephen Zdechlik became the third Pastor of the Parish in June of 1911. On June 19, 1913, the original frame church of Saint Mary of Czestochowa burned to the ground. In 1914 Father Zdechlik began rebuilding a new structure which was completed on June 17, 1915. Father Zdechlik served this Parish as a mission to Saint Joseph's. The priests at Saint Joseph's continued to care for Saint Mary's until Father Andrew Handzel became the first permanent Pastor in 1940. In 1916 a five acre cemetery was purchased by Jacob J. Gabriel, Parish Treasurer, from John Teichner at a cost of $200.00 an acre. The cemetery was consecrated on September 9, 1917. The first parishioner to be buried in the new cemetery was Mrs. Agnes Webber who died on November 6, 1917. Father Vincent Yany, a native son of the Parish, became the 4th Pastor of Saint Joseph's in 1919. In 1934 he organized Summer Vacation School for the children of the Parish which was taught by the Polish Franciscan Sisters of Sylvania, Ohio. This summer school program is still vibrantly alive and plays an important role in the spiritual development and growth of the children. Father Yany organized the Ladies' Guild Organization which has become the right arm of the Parish for most of the social functions of a fund raising nature. In 1939 repairs, improvements and redecorating was done in the church and church hall.

Father Andrew Handzel became the fifth Pastor of Saint Joseph's in 1942. Under his influence and guidance membership in Saint Joseph's grew. Father Handzel was aware that the Church of Saint Joseph had served God and the Community by helping to Americanize the first Polish immigrants and their children. Now young people no longer felt the same need for preserving traditions and customs of Poland which did not have the same meaning in their lives as to the older generations. Many young people of the Parish had married or would marry into other nationalities. Membership in the Parish was now open to all who felt Saint Joseph's as their spiritual home. Father Handzel's work with youth in a sports program endeared him to the entire Delano Community. He purchased the Miller property for $4,300.00 (2 lots & building) to the north of the church. He organized released time classes for the youngsters of the Parish in the public school. Under his inspiration a Junior Choir was formed and continues to serve and sing for the Glory of God. In 1964 an educational and recreational building was erected for the needs of the slowly growing Parish. This modern building is completely free of debt and an asset not only to the Parish but is at the service of the entire Delano Community. This building cost approximately $200,000.00. On October 3, 1973, Father Handzel after almost 33 years of service to the Parish suffered a partially paralyzing stroke. This forced Father Handzel to retire. Until a permanent Pastor would be assigned the Oblate Fathers in Buffalo cared for the Parish and Father Eugene Abbott made many sacrifices to see that the Parish would function as normally as possible.

In September of 1974 the Archdiocese entrusted the care of Saint Joseph's Parish to the Franciscan Fathers of the Third Order Regular for a five year period. The first Franciscan Pastor to be appointed to succeed Father Andrew Handzel, as the sixth Pastor was Father Adalbert Wolski. Several improvements and additions to sanctuary and the church, necessitated by the Liturgical Prescriptions of Vatican Council II, were done at this time. At this writing plans are being formed for the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the foundation of the Parish in 1977.


The first people to settle in Wright County were of French and German descent. Joseph Matter, along with his brothers and several of his countrymen, began to settle the land three miles west of Delano in 1856. In 1865, Joseph, Louis, Phillip, John and Anthony Matter, Mathias Schaust, Joseph Bauman, Andrew Oehrlien, John Kuchenmeister, John Muckenhirn, Joseph Stoltzand Mike Brenner built a church near what is now old St. Peter's Cemetery. An interesting account tells that the following year Father Ireland (later Archbishop Ireland), while traveling on foot over the state to minister to his scattered flock, often slept on the floor of a farmer's shack with his suitcase for a pillow and his overcoat for covering. He made several trips to Watertown, Waverly Mills and Delano in the late 1860's over poor roads, often mere trails. On one of these trips in 1866 he walked to Waverly Mills carrying his suitcase and Mass kit and on the way to Watertown became lost on the crossroads and trails of the Big Wood country. Before he could decide which trail to take the singing of a French hymn reached his ears. Following the sound, he found a small frame church and a congregation celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi as they were accustomed to celebrate it in Alsatia and Bavaria. He surprised them by entering, preached a sermon and conducted the service to the end, after which he continued his journey. This little church was called St. Peter's of Delano. In 1868 Crow River (now Delano) began to grow as the railroad progressed through the little town and hardware and merchandise stores were opened. By 1874 the Catholic residents began to object to the long walk to the church in the country. At a meeting held in Val Eppel's store on March 1, 1874, Joseph Kuban, Charles Eppel and Fred Brandes were appointed to serve as a committee to confer with Bishop Grace and obtain permission to build a church in Delano. Permission was granted and the church was to be called St. Peter's. The lot for the church was bought from Mr. Bred, who donated the logs and stones for the building.

The cornerstone was laid on June 15, 1874 by Father Steinacher of Watertown mission. The church served the township of Franklin, Rockford, Woodland, Hollywood and Independence. A steeple was added and a new bell to replace the old one from the old church in the country, which was cracked, bringing the total cost of the church to $7,500. The Rev. Damasus Socha (Sachs) was the first resident pastor (1875-1884). In 1875 Father Socha built the parish's first school. Josephine Michaels taught catechism as well as all eight elementary grades.

The Rev. John Rynda served as pastor of St. Peter's in 1884. He was succeeded by Fr. J. B. Wenning. The Rev. Lawrence Zawadzki assumed the pastorship in September of 1887 and remained until his death on November 7, 1896. In 1884 the fifty Polish families in the congregation of St. Peter's wished to build a church of their own. Under the supervision of Father Wenning they built the first church of St. Mary's of Czenstochowa. It was attached as a mission church to St. Peter's. By 1900 Father Wenning had 1,537 souls to care for in the parish of St. Peter's.

St. Mary's remained a mission church attached to St. Peter's parish until it was transferred as a mission church to St. Joseph's of Delano.

By 1888 the school built by Father Zawadzki became too small and a new school was built. The cost of the building was $6,500. The Sisters of St. Francis of Rochester, Minnesota arrived that year to begin teaching at St. Peter's. In 1891 the old parish rectory was built at a cost of $2,500. Father Mathias Savs became pastor of St. Peter's in Delano on April 15, 1896. He was one of the most colorful and beloved men to serve the parishioners. He was sent to Delano straight from St. Thomas seminary and remained as pastor until he was transferred to Shakopee on September 16, 1917.

In 1901 Fr. Savs decided to tear down the pioneer church of St. Peter as it was becoming obvious that a new, larger church was needed in Delano. Archbishop Ireland yielded to the request of the Polish Catholics to build their own church, and St. Joseph's was completed in 1904 at a cost of $10,150 with Fr. Joseph Smieck as its first pastor.

On February 25, 1906 the congregation of St. Peter's parish held an open meeting and it was decided to build a new church within ten years from that date. The congregation was made up of many nationalities, including German, Irish, Polish, French, Bohemian, Hollander and Scotch. Fr. Savs was a Slovenian. Early contributions toward the building fund were invested in farm mortgages. Fr. Savs canvassed the parish in 1911 and was successful in securing enough contributions so that construction could begin in June, 1912. The artistic wisdom of Fr. Savs and his congregation may easily be seen as the church still stands as one of the most beautiful tributes of Catholic faith in Wright County. Father Ignatius Schumacher succeeded Fr. Savs and served the parish until he was transferred on July 12, 1928. He in turn was succeeded by Fr. Stephen J. Winters, who remained at St. Peter's until October 4, 1936. Under Fr. Winters the convent was built in 1928 and the school was built in 1929.

Fr. Francis P. Neumann was assigned to take Fr. Winter's place. In 1951 the parish celebrated his silver jubilee with him. On November 26, 1960, Fr. Neumann suffered a fatal heart attack and was laid to rest in the parish cemetery. Archbishop Brady celebrated the solemn requiem high mass.

The Very Rev. Robert J. Wittman was appointed pastor of the Church of St. Peter in Delano. He came to Delano from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, where he was the Registrar. Under Fr. Wittman1s direction a new rectory was built in 1964 to replace the original one constructed in 1891. At that time there were 300 families in the parish and 1,280 souls. The grade school enrollment was 317 students. Fr. Wittman was transferred to St. Charles Boremeo in 1965 and Fr. Benedict Peichel came to St. Peter's as pastor. In 1971 Fr. Peichel was transferred to Holy Name Church in Minneapolis. In 1970 the Sisters of St. Francis withdrew from teaching at St. Peter's School due to a shortage of nuns and a complete lay faculty staffed the school.

Fr. Joseph Krause came to St. Peter's parish in 1971 and left in June 1974 to do missionary work in Venezuela. Fr. Bernadine Ramonas, O.F.M., arrived June 18, 1974 and is presently the pastor at St. Peter's.

Wright County Home Page

Genealogy Trails

Copyright © Genealogy Trails