Grand Rapids - The First Congregational Church
The First Congregational Church of Grand Rapids was organized with ten members on March 2nd, 1862. Plans are now on foot for the erection of a new and more centrally located church, the growth of the congregation having made a change necessary. Since the time of its organization the church has had 474 members. The present membership is 190.
In 1906 the church built a large and beautiful parsonage on the west bank of the Wisconsin River. This is one of the most beautifully located Congregational parsonages in the state.
Connected with the church are the following auxiliary societies: One Sunday School, one Christian Endeavor Society, one Ladies' Aid Society on each side of the river, one Women's Foreign Missionary Society, and one Mission Band.
Rev. Father Staff came to our city from Fort Atkinson about two years ago. He not only received a unanimous vote in a call to this pastorate, but he is receiving the undivided support of the church and congregation. He is the right man in the right place, and is appreciated, respected and admired by the entire city.
[Source: Grand Rapids Illustrated, Descriptive of Grand Rapids, Wood County and the Wisconsin River, by A. Decker (1907) transcribed by FoFG mz]
History of Marshfield Churches (1923)
The cause of religion in Marshfield has kept pace with that of education.
The First Presbyterian Church of Marshfield was organized Nov. 27, 1878, by Rev. Jacob Patch, and started with 15 members, namely: Mrs. Hulda Bronson, Mrs. Elizabeth Curler, L. D. Wood, Mrs. Matilda Wood, William H. Upham, Mrs. Mary C. Upham, Mrs. C. E. Kellogg, G. N. Stanley, Mrs. Matilda J. Stanley, Mrs. Rachel Grout, H. H. Curler, David Arnoldson, Dr. W. T. Saw, Mrs. E. F. Saw and James Johnson. For awhile services were held in the schoolhouse, which was a small building containing only 12 chairs, so that those who came late were obliged to stand. Owing to this cause late arrivals were rare. In 1882 a church building was erected on the present site, corner of Third and Chestnut Streets. This was burned in 1885, after which the present building, minus certain improvements since made, was erected. The improvements referred to were put in in the fall of 1907, the church building being raised and a basement put underneath, the main building enlarged and new seating put in, all at a cost of about $9,000. The present property, including the lot is worth over $30,000. The Rev. Jacob Patch, the first pastor, served the church until October, 1879, the succeeding pastors having been as follows: Rev. L. F. Brickles, November, 1879 to April, 1882; Rev. L. H. Jenkins, from June to November, 1882, when he was stricken with paralysis; Rev. Frederick P. Baker, December, 1882 to August, 1887; Rev. W. V. Chapin, September, 1887 to September, 1888; Rev. J. M. Smith, December, 1888 to November, 1889; Rev. O. J. Scovell, April, 1890 to December, 1892; Rev. Rollo Branch, January, 1893 to December, 1896; Rev. J. Frank Young, January, 1897 to February, 1906; Rev. H. C. Postlethwaite, June, 1906 to March, 1911; Rev. Melvin R. Laird, May. 1911 to February, 1913; Rev. F. Halsey Ambrose, August, 1913 to September, 1918; Rev. Joseph R. Warwick, December, 1918 to April, 1920; Rev. Frank Zimmerman, July, 1920 to the present time. Under the pastorate of the Rev. O. J. Scovell the church secured a pipe organ. The elders since the beginning have been as follows: James Johnson, 1878-1882; L. D. Wood, 1878-1884; W. H. Upham, 1878-1879; Dr. W. T. Saw, 1879-1880 (died while serving); Warren E. Wheeler, 1882-1883; Frank R. Upham, February, 1882 to the present time; Peter Le Mayhew, 1884-1891; Jason Payne, 1883-1884; Adam Long, 1884-1905; Benjamin Elvis, 1889-1911; Henry L. Brooks, 1886-1889 and 1891 to the present time; Herman S. Buchmiller, February, 1905 to March, 1908; C. I. Morrison, April, 1908 to March, 1910; E. A. Severson, March, 1910 to March, 1913; Herbert Burt, March, 1910 to the present; G. N. Loughead, March, 1913 to date; Hans Henry William Rossman, March, 1917 to date; F. W. Fornefelt, March, 1917, to date. The church has now about 400 members, the Sunday school enrollment being about 300. The societies connected with the church are the Ladies' Aid, Ladies' Missionary and Young People's Society for Christian Endeavor.
Immanuel's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Marshfield was founded in October of 1880 by the Rev. M. Denninger, of the Town of Mozelle, in Sheboygan County. The first congregation included about a dozen families and had its officers the following: H. Scharmann, president; H. A. Pankow, secretary; and Fred Zirbel, treasurer. A church building was immediately erected, located near the site of the present edifice, which supplanted it in 1892, the original building now being in use as a garage. The first minister to serve the congregation was Rev. B. Ungrodt, who came from Medford every fourth Sunday to hold services; he was followed in 1885 by the Rev. L. Thom, who still resides in Marshfield and whose ministry to this congregation extended over a period of 36 years. He was followed in 1921 by the present pastor, Rev. O. Hensel. A parochial school building was erected just back of the church in 1905, and an excellent brick parsonage was built in 1915. There are now almost 800 communicant members of the congregation, which numbers a total of 1,100 souls. About 100 children attend the parochial school, which employs two teachers. There are nine teachers for the Sunday School classes, and about 100 pupils attend. There is also a Luther League with about 65 members, and there are two organizations of the ladies of the church, a Sewing Circle having a membership of 35 and a Ladies' Aid Society of about 225 active workers.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Marshfield was organized in 1881 by the Rev. O. A. Britton as an out-appointment of Spencer. The parsonage was at Spencer, and at that time Spencer was considered the principal town on the Wisconsin Central Railway. The first service was held in the public school house. In 1883, during the pastorate of Rev. C. C. Swartz, action was taken toward building a church. In the Conference Minutes for 1884 was the record, "At Marshfield a new and beautiful church is about ready for dedication." On the tenth of May in the following year the church was dedicated. It was located on the corner of Central Avenue and Sixth Street, where the Winona oil station is now located. These lots were given by the Fox River Valley Co. and the church was built according to plans provided by the Church Extension Society. The record of the first board of trustees contains the name of C. B. Wharfield, who still remains on the Board. In 1886, during the pastorate of Rev. G. A. Fulcher, the church was moved to the corner of East Third and Maple Streets; the Conference Minutes record the event as follows, in the report of Presiding Elder W. R. Irish: "Our church at Marshfield and Spencer charge has been removed from the suburbs to a central location at an expense of $150.00". The church had to be moved over ground covered with logs, brush, and green stumps. In 1892 the Rev. W. J. Speers had the interior changed by building an alcove for the pulpit on the east side, increasing the seating capacity and making the interior more pleasing. Chairs were used for seating until 1895, when the Rev. A. L. Tull secured pews and art glass windows for the church. During his pastorate in 1901 Rev. E. A. McKinney led people in an enlargement of the property nearly doubling its seating capacity. The last improvement to the old building was made in 1912, when a basement was added to the church and furnaces installed. In the fall of 1920 the old building was inadequate and beyond economical repair. The official board, with a vision of the needs of tomorrow, made plans for the erection of the beautiful new building which was dedicated June 11, 1922. W. L. Alban, of St. Paul, an experienced architect in church work, was engaged to draw the plan, and W. Townsend of Reedsburg, Wis., was selected to superintend the construction. The result is one of the finest church buildings in Wisconsin, incorporating all the modern principles of church construction. The design is Gothic, with central tower; the dimensions are 88 by 83 feet; the outside construction is of brick and stone, and the interior of the auditorium is finished in paneled oak, with ceiling beams to match. The auditorium floor is sloped, so that the occupant of every seat may have an uninterrupted view of the pulpit, and there is a choir loft with seating capacity for a choir of thirty. The organ is a masterpiece of the famous organ builder, M. P. Moller, or Hagerstown, Maryland, whose factory is the largest in the world. Separate from the auditorium by folding partitions is the Sunday School section, which is arranged on the most up to date plan with separate rooms for each department and yet so planned that all rooms can be opened into the main auditorium when so desired, making the seating capacity of the church about 750. There is a fine gymnasium about 60 feet long by 35 feet wide, with a stage for concerts at the north end. This room can be used as a dining hall where large numbers can be served. Space for bowling alleys has been provided, with shower baths and lockers. There is a pastor's study, with built-in bookcases and fireplace. Every feature, in fact, which could add to the convenience, utility, or beauty of the edifice has been incorporated. Beginning in 1881 with eight members the church now has nearly 300 enrolled. A strong, well graded Sunday School meets each week. Senior and Junior Epworth Leagues cater to the needs of the young people. A Men's Club furnishes social entertainment and inspiration to the men of the congregation. The women of the church render untiring service through the Ladies' Aid. Also there are Woman's Home and Woman's Foreign Missionary Societies. Today the interest is growing and large audiences attend all services. Rev. Fred J. Jordan, who has been in charge of the congregation since 1917, is a man of exceptional ability and commands deep respect throughout the community.
Zion's Church of the Evangelical Association was established in Marshfield about 1888. Its first establishment in central Wisconsin was in 1879, in Grant Township, Clark County. In 1882 a branch was started in the village of Dorchester in the same county, and in 1883 one in the Township of Fremont in that county. The Marshfield congregation was the next to be established. The present building was erected at that time, and services were held by the pastor of the Dorchester congregation, Rev. Ellen Siebert being the first to serve in this way. At a later date a resident minister was secured, and there are now 96 members of the church here. The Sunday School is taught by eleven teachers and is attended by 140 pupils; there is a good Ladies' Aid Society with 26 members. The present pastor, Rev. W. F. Schuelke, has served the congregation for the past six years and also holds services at four outlaying points, including Cary Bluff, in Wood County; the congregation there was organized in the fall of 1921; it now has 50 members and plans for the erection of a suitable edifice are under way.
Saint Alban's Mission (Episcopal), Marshfield, is an organic part of the diocese of Fond du Lac, Bishop Weller being the ecclesiastical head. Bishop Weller, then rector of Stevens Point, in the year 1891 came to Marshfield to look up communicants of the church and the possibilities of starting a mission. After making a house to house canvass he found two communicants, Mrs. Dewey and Mrs. E. C. Pors. Of the two oldest communicants Mrs. E. C. Pors is still connected with the mission and is a hard and faithful worker in the Guild. In the year 1891 the Right Reverend Bishop Grafton visited and confirmed a class for confirmation consisting of Mrs. John Gill, Miss Jessie Gill, Miss Viola Hayter and Miss Anna Bayless, now Mrs. Anna Bouldrie. Mrs. Bouldrie is the one of the four still living in Marshfield and she is an active member of the Guild and Mission. The first service held in Marshfield was held in the M. E. Church building in April, 1893. The Sunday School was started and the list contains the names of Jean Cracraft, the Eiche children and Matt Wright. The Bishop rented a small building which stood next to the Elks Club house, and a lay reader was sent into the city to conduct the services, Bishop Weller, or, as he was then known, Father Weller, coming into Marshfield to say Mass. It might be of interest to state that the first missionary was Mr. Percy Silver, who is now Father Silver, Chaplain of West Point. About 22 years ago William Henry Roddis and family moved to Marshfield, and with the advent of that family the church took on new life. The present piece of property was purchased and the church building erected. Mr. W. H. Roddis was senior warden for 25 years and his death was a blow to the work. During his life Mr. Roddis was a very liberal supporter, and it was through his donations that the church was able to continue its life in the community. In 1921 a Guild Hall was erected costing $35,000. The Mission owns property valued at $65,000 and has an endowment. Saint Alban's Mission is actively engaged in social service work. The present vicar, Henry A. Link, is a native of New York. He received his education at Morris High School, Columbia University, and the University of Wisconsin. His theological work was done at Nashotah House, Nashotah, Wis. During his vicarship the Mission has advanced spiritually and materially. Rev. H. A. Link.
St. Paul's Evangelical Church congregation held its first meeting Sept. 11, 1893, and was first served by the Rev. Conrad Hartenstein; it originally numbered 20 members. The present church edifice was erected immediately after the congregation was formed, and was dedicated Nov. 18, 1894. Rev. Hartenstein was followed by Rev. Ludwig, who served from 1897 to 1899 and was succeeded by Rev. Koch, who remained one year. After him Rev. Lauxman served from 1900 to 1902 and was followed in order by Rev. Ringle, Rev. Ludwig Streich, Rev. Bitzer, Rev. A. G. Fleer, Rev. Elmer Fleer, Rev. Beier, Rev. Link, Rev. Rosenfeld, and Rev. G. A. Schmeisser. The last named resigned in August of 1922, since which time, up to the present writing, the church has been served by the Rev. Grauer of Wausau. There are about 100 members now; there is, a good Sunday School and a Ladies' Aid Society of 57 members. A good frame parsonage was erected in 1900.
The Marshfield congregation of the Seventh Day Adventists had its origin in a meeting held June 8, 1901; the church was formally organized with sixteen charter members at a meeting held the following day, when officers were appointed as follows: C. E. Hamel, elder; A. P. Guptill, deacon; Della Cady, clerk;,W. H. Budge, treasurer and librarian. A church building was purchased in 1904. There are now 42 members of the congregation; the Sunday School is attended by 38 pupils, and there is an active organization of the ladies of the congregation known as the Busy Bee Society. A parochial school equipped to teach the full eight grades is maintained, of which the present teacher is Walter Nelson.
The Marshfield congregation of Christian Scientists was organized in the fall of 1913. Services were held in the Odd Fellows' Hall for about one year, and then for about four years in the Deming Hall, after which the present church property at the corner of Second and Maple Streets was purchased. The organization now has a good membership.
First English Lutheran Church of Marshfield, Wis. "It was at a convention of the Oshkosh Conference of the Joint Synod of Ohio and other states, held at Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, in the fall of 1919 that the first thoughts were entertained and the first steps taken to open an English Lutheran Church at Marshfield. After some brief investigation the project was put aside for the time being. During the summer of 1921 the need of an English Lutheran Church became more apparent; a church in which the faith of our fathers might be taught, especially to the younger American generation, as also to those of Scandanavian descent, of which there were a goodly number in and about Marshfield who were eagerly waiting to have the Lutheran faith spoken and taught to them and their children in a language other than the German. After some preliminary work by Rev. George Beckmann, of Wausau, Wis., and the finding that the people interested were sufficient in number to warrant the practicability of starting this new church, a meeting was called for the evening of Aug. 26, 1921, to publicly consider the matter and if possible effect an organization. The project was explained from various angles and thoroughly discussed, whereupon the formation of such an organization was unanimously agreed upon. The name for this new enterprise was then acted upon, and "The First English Lutheran Church of Marshfield" adopted as the official name. Mr. R. J. Anderson was elected as first president of this new organization and Mr. Robert Schroeder secretary and treasurer. On Sunday, Sept. 4, 1921, the first divine service was conducted by the undersigned, in the church of the Adventists, the use of which had been secured by leasing. From the very beginning the attendance and interest manifested was encouraging. Services were then held every Sunday, alternating morning and evening. Rev. George Beckmann served the church, coming over from Wausau until snow became too deep to go the " Ford-way", and, there being no Sunday train service, neighboring pastors willingly and energetically assisted in the rendering of Sunday services until the present permanent pastor, Rev. J. M. Johnson, was installed March 12, 1922, who since spent his time and energy for the upbuilding and welfare of the First English Lutheran Church at Marshfield; under his able leadership, the interest which was shown from the beginning is being fostered and not permitted to decrease." Rev. George Beckmann. [Source: History of Wood County, Wisconsin (1923) compiled by George O. Jones, pages 199-204]
History of Wisconsin Rapids Churches (1923)
The religious life of Wisconsin Rapids covers a period of 85 years, beginning in the year 1837, when Father Van Den Broeck, then of Green Bay, visited the embryo settlement and conducted Catholic services. Such services continued to be held at intervals, both by Father Van Den Broeck and other priests, his successors, and were the initial steps in the establishment of the Catholic Churches in this city. In 1842 the Rev. J. S. Hurlbut, a Methodist missionary, arrived, and three years later a Methodist Church was organized. These early religious efforts resulted in strong churches, and to them have since been added a number of others, of different denominations, the most recent being St. John's Evangelical, founded in 1915. There are now (Sept. 1922) fourteen church organizations in the city. An account of the two Catholic congregations may be found in the special article on the Catholic Church in Wood County, written by the Rev. William Reding, for this history. The respective histories of the other twelve may be found on the following pages.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church, Wisconsin Rapids, had its beginning in the Rock River conference in 1845, at which time the Rev. J. S. Hurlbut was appointed to the Wisconsin River Mission, the territory of which included what is now the parish of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Wisconsin Rapids. He served this territory for two years, but after his departure it was for ten years without a regular pastor. In 1848 the conference territory was divided and a new conference known as the Wisconsin Annual Conference was instituted. Under its regime a regular minister was assigned to the territory in 1857, the first appointee being Rev. L. D. Tracy; the church was at this time a part of the Stevens Point district. It was during Rev. Tracy's pastorate that the church as it now exists was formally organized, with the following eight charter members: Jane Sampson, T. E. Whitman, Jane Whitman, Samuel Purdy, Mrs. Sherman, Hiram Davis, Mrs. Hiram Davis, and Mrs. Campbell. In 1863 the Rev. A. S. Tomkins became pastor and it was during his stay that work on the first church edifice was begun; the building was dedicated while Rev. W. J. Mitchell was pastor, he being appointed to succeed Rev. Tomkins in 1868 and remaining two years. In 1890 the Rev. James Churm was appointed pastor, and during his pastorate the present church building was erected. In 1894 Rev. John Reynolds became pastor and moved into the newly completed parsonage. The present pastor, Rev. A. A. Bennett, who came in the fall of 1920, is the thirty-third regularly appointed minister to fill the pulpit. The membership has grown steadily and now numbers 346. Auxiliary to the church are the Women's Foreign Missionary Society, a fully organized Sunday School with about 340 members, a thriving Epworth League, and a Ladies' Aid Society having three branches - the East Side Ladies' Aid, the West Side Ladies' Aid, and the Lincoln Circle.
The First Congregational Church of Wisconsin Rapids had its origin in 1856, when a few people of the Congregational faith, seeking pastoral ministrations, secured the services of the Rev. Jesse Edwards. His successor was apparently the Rev. Mr. Smith, who was succeeded in 1860 by the Rev. Mr. Freeman, the latter being followed a year later by the Rev. J. H. Harris. During Mr. Harris's pastorate a church building was erected on what was then Water Street, services having previously been held in school houses and in Hurley's Hall. The first parsonage was a small building erected just north of the church. Mr. Harris resigned in 1868, and the Rev. John Cameron came but remained only a few months. The church was then without a pastor until the following year, when it secured the services of the Rev. E. G. Carpenter. The latter was followed in 1871 by Rev. R. M. Webster, who remained until 1875. The next pastor was the Rev. J. S. Norris, who served the church from 1875 until 1882. Then, after a brief interim, the Rev. John Rowland came, and he was followed in 1886 by the Rev. A. L. P. Loomis. In the meanwhile Centralia, the town on the west side of the river, had, like Grand Rapids, been enjoying a steady growth and a considerable part of the congregation resided there, they in fact being in numbers and substance the stronger portion, the East Side (or Grand Rapids) members being unable alone to support a church. All, however, worshipped in the building on the East Side, already referred to, until April, 1888, when the bridge across the river was swept away by a flood and for some time there was no means of crossing except by boat. Thus left temporarily without a church home, the West Side members were thrown upon their own resources, and as a way out of the difficulty sought affiliation with the Methodists. Together they erected a building on Fourth Avenue South, which was called Unity Church and was served for several years thereafter by the Methodist and Congregational ministers who lived on the East Side. Then the two branches of Congregationalists, wishing to merge again, brought out the Methodists and continued to use Unity Church until after the completion of the present church edifice, when it was sold, in November, 1911, to the Masons and is now used as a Masonic Temple. The original church and parsonage on the East Side were sold in 1902 to the Christian Scientists. To resume the line of pastors, it should be stated that the Rev. A. L. P. Loomis was succeeded by the Rev. William Kilburne, who took charge in 1890 and remained until 1896, when he was in turn succeeded by Rev. Fred S. Wheeler, the latter serving as pastor until December, 1898. In July, 1899, the Rev. B. H. J. Shaw assumed charge and he remained until 1904, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Fred Staff, who served for nine years, and under whose pastorate the present church was built. The next pastor was the Rev. Robert Locke, and the latter's successor was the present pastor, Rev. Noel J. Breed, who assumed charge in October, 1918.
The present church edifice, located at the corner of First and Birch streets, is a magnificent stone building of stately and imposing architecture, and was erected at a cost of $50,000. It was made possible by large gifts from some of the wealthy members, E. W. Ellis, George W. Mead, F. J. Wood and Mrs. Frank Garrison contributing $5,000 each, while the other members of the congregation, practically without exception, showed a spirit of self-sacrifice in contributing to the utmost limit of their means. One of the hardest workers for the church was the pastor, the Rev. Fred Staff, who became ill from the effects of over exertion of his mental and physical powers. In 1906 the Saul Preston residence on First Avenue South was purchased and has since been used as a parsonage. The membership of the church is now about 402. Its active societies, aside from the Sunday school, are the Womens Association and various Boys and Guild Organizations.
The First Moravian Church of Wisconsin Rapids.- In 1888 the Rev. Christian Madsen came here as a home missionary and on Jan. 20, 1889 organized in what was then Centralia the First Moravian Church, with a membership of eleven. The little society erected a building - now the Trinity Moravian Church – and held services there. Mr. Madsen was succeeded as pastor by Rev. A. Petterson, who built the present edifice on First Avenue South, a fine brick building completed in 1899, and served both Moravian churches for about seven years, being assisted one year by the Rev. Garhard Francke. The Rev. D. C. Helmich became pastor of the First Moravian Church in 1901 and the Rev. Franz Zeller in 1902. After serving a few months the latter had to relinquish the charge on account of illness and his place was supplied by Rev. Mr. Miller, who was in charge from October, 1902 to January, 1903. The society at this time was not in a flourishing condition, so little interest being manifested that it seemed problematical whether it would continue much longer to exist. But with the coming of the Rev. C. A. Meilicke on Jan. 30, 1903, who has since remained pastor, a new era began, marked by greater spirituality, more active work on the part of all, and material prosperity as an organization, so that the church now exerts a strong moral and spiritual influence in the town. Among its notable achievements was the putting over, without any committee or personal solicitation, a drive for $12,000 (over-subscribed $2,000) for the Larger Life Foundation of the general church, the interest to go to missions, schools and old folks' homes, under the trusteeship of the general church. The present membership is about 450, of whom 340 are communicants. In 1904 the present parsonage was bought. The Christian Endeavor Society has been for many years the first Moravian society of the kind in the state in point of numbers. From this church started the Moravian churches at Rudolph, Kellner and Veedum, and two missions, the Saratoga Union Church and the Ten Mile Creek Mission.
Trinity Moravian Church, located at the corner of Third Avenue North and McKinley Street, Wisconsin Rapids, was started in 1897 as the Scandanavian Moravian Church; upon the erection of a new First Moravian Church, in 1899, the older edifice became the Scandanavian Moravian. The Rev. A. Petterson served both churches during his stay, but when he left separate ministers were secured for the two churches and the Rev. J. J. Groenfeldt came to the Scandanavian Moravian Church, now the Trinity Moravian. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Johnson, whose successor, the Rev. Theodore Reineke, served three years till 1920, when the present pastor, Rev. H. Shoechert came. He has made great improvements, having raised the church and put in a basement, built an addition and renovated the interior. The pastor of Trinity Moravian also serves the Moravian Church in Rudolph, and the Union Church in Saratoga Township, the latter arrangement having existed for twenty-five years or more. The present total membership is about 331; communicant membership, 140. The Church is a frame structure.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Wisconsin Rapids was founded about about 1890 by Mrs. Sarah Harp, a resident of the city who died in 1919. The society held services in the residences of the members (generally at Mrs. Harp's house) until the erection of a church edifice in 1907. Since this building was sold, April 1, 1922, they have met at the home of Henry Horock, 213 Twelfth Street North. A new building was planned, funds for which were available, but at a recent conference it was decided to postpone such action until after making a drive for new members, the success of which will determine the size and cost of the church. In this drive they will be aided by the Seventh Day Adventists Church at large. At one time this church had about 60 members but its strength has since been reduced to about four families.
Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church situated at the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Roosevelt Street, Wisconsin Rapids, started in 1908 with about 25 members, by the Rev. C. A. Rosander, of Prentiss, Wis. The newly formed congregation bought the site of the present church and for about twelve years used as a chapel two rooms in the house which at that time stood on the property, the remainder of the house being rented for residence purposes. Services were held one Sunday in each month. Mr. Rosander was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Rehner, who was the first resident pastor; he served only six months and was succeeded by Rev. J. A. Nordling. For most of the time until 1920 the church was in a pastorate of several churches. After Rev. Mr. Nordling left the Rev. A. E. Monell served as vice pastor until, the Rev. Fred G. Olson, took charge Oct. 1, 1919. Mr. Olson at once cleared away the standing debt of $650 and at the annual meeting of 1920 it was decided to build a new church. The work was started that spring, and the new building a fine brick structure was dedicated in Sept. 1920. The parsonage was built in 1921 and the total value of the property is now conservatively estimated at $25,000. In the last three years the society has increased in strength from about 80 souls to 184.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Rapids, was founded in the spring of 1899 by the Rev. G. Baum with about 18 families. The frame church edifice, situated at the corner of Ninth Avenue North and McKinley Street, was dedicated in December, 1899 and in 1901 a parsonage was built. The Rev. Mr. Baum was succeeded in 1907 by Rev. Wm. Nommensen, who served nine years, his successor being the present pastor, the Rev. G. N. Thurow. A fine brick school building was erected adjoining the church in 1910, and 95 pupils, distributed among the eight grades, are taught in this school by Prof. S. J. Bergemann and Miss Adeline Mittelstaedt. In 1921 a pipe organ costing $3,000 was installed in the church. The congregation now numbers 88 members, there is a Young Peoples' Society of about 70 members, a Ladies' Aid Society of 88 members and a Sunday School of about 150 members.
St. John's Evangelical Church. This congregation held its first religious meeting April 25, 1915, the church being formally organized with a congregation of five families by the Rev. G. E. Pauloweit at a meeting held May 23, 1915. Previous to the construction of the new church edifice at the corner of North Fourth and Oak Streets, which was started in 1920 and dedicated Sept, 25. 1921, services were held in the old G. A. R. Hall. There are now 110 communicant members; there is a Sunday school with 45 members, a Young People's Society with a membership of 21, and a Ladies' Aid Society numbering about 27. The church edifice is a fine brick structure conservatively valued at $15,000. It is provided with the only "direct shower lighting" system in the city, the lights being placed above the ceiling and the light being softened by passing through diamond-cut lenses. The Rev. G. E. Pauloweit is still pastor and also serves St. John's Evangelical Church in Arpin.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Wisconsin Rapids, was started in the late 70's, and on Oct. 1879, Daniel Rezini, Thomas Rezin, John Albee, Emanuel Dutruit, and S. H. W. Lord as a building committee purchased from Ella R. Cochran and J. Wilbur Cochran the site at Third Avenue North and McKinley Street. Until about 1885 a priest came from Wausau, the first resident priest being Father Gardner. There were many changes in the ministry, and in 1916 the present pastor, Rev. Johannes Rockstroh came. A sanctuary, guild hall and rectory were built in 1898, a portion of the expense being met by the congregation and a part by Bishop Grafton personally, the small remaining indebtedness being cleared away three years later. A baptismal font was placed in the church in 1888, in memory of Lauchlau Alexander MacKinnon, child of a family in the church; and in 1902 Mr. J. D. Witter's bequest of $1,000 was used to purchase a pipe organ. In 1912 the church was thoroughly overhauled and redecorated and four years later the vicarage was enlarged and thoroughly overhauled.
The First Baptist Church, located at Second and Maple Streets, Wisconsin Rapids, was organized by the Rev. C. H. Rust at a meeting held in the Chapel Car "Glad Tidings", June 15, 1903. Rev. D. W. Hurlburt of the Wisconsin State Baptist Convention, conducted the work of the chapel car, and he and Rev. E. B. Edmonds, Wisconsin Sunday School Missionary, a member of the chapel cars organization, assisted the Rev. Mr. Rust in the organization of the church. Mr. Rust remained to further organize the work, and was in charge of it for some time. Services were at first held in rooms rented for the purpose in the downtown district, but in 1905, under the pastorage of Rev. A. L. Putnam, the present beautiful church structure was erected, overlooking the river. The first elected minister after Rev. Mr. Putnam was the Rev. William Barstow, who came in 1908, and was succeeded in 1909 by Rev. M. B. Milne, who remained three years. Substitute ministers then filled the pulpit until 1914, when the Rev. J. F. Dew was elected; he was succeeded in 1916 by Rev. T. C. Hanson, who was followed in the spring of 1919 by the present pastor, Rev. John De Vries. The present membership is about 145, twenty of whom were organized in 1916 as a Polish mission and joined the church at that time. The church has a well attended Sunday School, a Ladies' Aid Society, a Baptist Young Peoples Union, and a branch of the World-Wide Guild, a young ladies' missionary society.
Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wisconsin Rapids originated about 1873 when it was founded with eight members by Rev. F. Leyhe, of Kellner, Mr. Leyhe served the congregation until 1886, when he was succeeded by the Rev. J. F. Bittner, who remained nineteen years. The Rev. H. Maack served the church after this until 1912, when he was followed by Rev. R. F. W. Pautz, who remained until the present pastor, Rev. F. H. Kretzschmar took charge in 1920. The church now has 600 communicant members. The auxiliary societies are the Walther League, both Senior and Junior departments, with approximately 90 active members, a Ladies' Aid Society with about 85 members, and a parochial school whose enrollment last year was 110 pupils. Heretofore the school has been conducted in the basement of the church building, which was equipped for that purpose, but starting with the next school year it will be housed in the building that was formerly the Seventh Day Adventist Church and that has recently been purchased by the Immanuel congregation. Mr. E. H. Voskamp is principal of the school, in which the full eight grades are taught, and is also superintendent of the Sunday school, which has an enrollment of 80. The present fine brick church building at Prospect and North Eighth streets was built in 1909. The membership of the church has experienced a very gratifying increase during the last five years.
A Christian Science congregation was organized in Wisconsin Rapids in or about 1904 and has since held meetings in the old Congregational church. In 1915 they remodeled the building, which is located on the East Side, north of the public library. [Source: History of Wood County, Wisconsin (1923) compiled by George O. Jones, pages 167-172]
© Copyright by Genealogy Trails