Fiftieth Anniversary of St. Paul's Lutheran Church

at Green Grove, Clark Co., Wis.

Source: Colby Phonograph of 6/27/1929

Transcribed by Stan


Sunday, June 30, 1929, will be a day of great rejoicing for St. Paul's congregation in townships Colby and Green Grove, for, on this day, the congregation will celebrate her fiftieth anniversary. For many weeks, preparations have been made to make this occasion a joyful even. Neighboring congregations have been cordially invited to join with St. Paul's in this celebration and many hearts are looking forward to it with joyous anticipation.

Three jubilee services will be conducted: At 10:00 a.m., the Rev. A. Kuring, former pastor of Zion at Colby and St. Paul's at Green Grove, will speak in the German language. At 2:00 p.m., the Rev. Witschanke of Wauwatosa, Wis., will conduct another service, after which follow an English service, Rev. S. Radtke of Auburndale being the English speaker.

A collection for the benefit of missions will be lifted in the forenoon, as well as in the afternoon.

The ladies of the congregation will serve a warm dinner, the men will furnish refreshments and a band will supply the music for the day.

Brief History

The history of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of town of Colby and Green Grove dates back to those early times when this section of the country was still covered with dense, but beautiful, pine forests, and when the early pioneers dwelt in the simplest of log huts. Wagon roads were unknown and people followed the Indian trails or blazed their own way on the tree to show their route. Streams usually had to be forded, for civilization had not yet built bridges. Flower and other provisions had to be carried on the human shoulder for many miles. Only the most fortunate owned a yoke of oxen.

Marshfield did not yet exist. Colby consisted of a few houses, a store, a hotel, and post office. The Central Railroad, later the Soo, first sent its construction crews through the rough wilderness only a few years prior to the organization of this congregation.

In this untamed wilderness those qualities of the pioneer, hospitality, courage and fortitude, made living more endurable and enjoyable. Friend or stranger alike could always find a genuine welcome in the home of the pioneer of this wilderness, even if it required personal suffering and denial of already slim resources to do so. Day after day the strong arms of the pioneer swung the axe, and the crash of falling trees loudly proclaimed the dawn of civilization for these fertile regions. Wild birds, deer, and bear were the only living companions of many a pioneer. The days were lonely and some people began to feel forsaken, but even in this isolated wilderness, God was with them.

His messengers, the first missionary pastors, looked up and gathered the lost sheep and brought them the Bread of Life.

The first missionary was Rev. W. C. Schilling, a pastor of a congregation in Stevens Point. It was in the summer of 1877 when Rev. Schilling held the first service in Green Grove. After walking many miles afoot he slept on the floor of an old attic. There was no stairway to the attic, it is told, and so Rev. Schilling had to get to his bed with the aid of an old pork barrel, which happened to stand outside the building. Such were the primitive conditions that existed when this congregation was in its infancy.

Rev. H. Erck

As the number of settlers increased, Candidate H. Erck was called in 1879 as missionary into the territory of Rev. Schilling. He was stationed in the town of Wien, Marathon County, and served the whole territory from Auburndale to Ashland, a distance of 163 miles. Services were held in an old log schoolhouse, which was later replaced by the so-called "Woodland Schoolhouse." This latter was one of the first frame buildings of this section. Here in this log schoolhouse St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was organized on the 21st of March 1879. The six founders or charter members of St. Paul's Congregation were: Ferdinand Marquardt, August Lulloff, Herman Laabs, Friedrich Grambort, Heinrich Dierbach, Justus Glenzer and Carl Theilig.

On the 6th of June 1879, Rev. Frank Steyer was called to succeed Rev. Erck. Rev Steyer served here till 1882, when he was followed by Rev. J. Schutte, who resided at Spencer and served this place as a vacancy pastor until the coming of Rev. Buenger.

Rev. Theodore Buenger

Rev. Theodore Buenger, now director of Concordia College, St. Paul, Minn., was called to Dorchester at about this time and ministered to the needs of the people of Green Grove, besides all the mission places and congregations along the Soo railroad as far as Ashland.

Rev. H. C. F. Otte

A year later Rev. H. C. F. Otte was called to Dorchester and he then became the next pastor of St. Paul's at Green Grove. He served here from 1883 to 1889, when he accepted a call to Detroit, Mich.

Rev. G. Phieler

Rev. Otte's successor was Rev. G. Phieler, who served St. Paul's along with the Colby congregation and other Lutheran groups residing immediately west of Colby. He served the congregation in this capacity for seven years and was followed by Rev. A. Kuring, who served St. Paul's from 1897 to 1903. Rev. Kuring lived at Colby. He is Dr. of Philosophy and now pastor of a large congregation at Chicago.

Rev. E. Buenger

He served the congregation until 1904.

Rev. C. Witschonke

During the pastorate of Rev. C. Witschonke, the congregation began to flourish as it had never done before. But he was here only three eyars. In 1908 he accepted a call to the Colby Congregation.

Rev. Witschonke returns on this joyous day once more to speak to his former congregation, and St. Paul's takes this opportunity to bid him a hearty welcome to the scene of his former successful labors.

Rev. Behrendt

Rev. Behrendt of Benton Harbor, Mich., accepted the call to come to green Grove in 1908. He spent his best years here, laboring diligently till evil influences in the congregation made it necessary to accept a call to a congregation in Alberta, Canada. He deserves great credit and praise for his fourteen eyars of successful labor in this congregation.

Rev. M. C. Goetsch

Serving since 1922.


May these thing always remind us of the Psamlmist's word: Ps 27:4, "One thing have I deserved of the Lord that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in this Temple."

May the lord of the Church hold his guiding and protecting hand over our Congregation and prosper it to the glory of His holy name and to the salvation of many souls. May its pulpit always sound forth the Gospel that "God so loved the World that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!"

The new church was built during the pastorate of Rev Behrendt. It is without a doubt one of the prettiest rural churches in the northern part of the state. There is plenty of room in the basement for a spacious schoolroom, well-furnished kitchen, and furnace room. The balcony and pulpit are especially unusual features in the interior of the church, which add to its beauty and attractiveness as a place of worship.

The present trustees are J. Sheer, E. Rahn, W. Tesmer, G. Theilig; the elders are H. Singstock, O. Rahn, J. Miller, H. Meyer; the treasurer is T. Sommer; the secretary is J. Bochineier.

Side Note:  Immediately following the 50th Anniversary Celebration, one of the members, Aldinger, Henry (1887 - 1929), was involved in a fatal airplaine accident while many other members, including his wife looked on.



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