HISTORY OF ST.JOHN'S , ST. PETER'S

AND LAFE , ARKANSAS

DONATED BY : LORETTA HOUSE

THANK YOU !

tina@grnco.net

http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ar/county/greene/

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NOTES FROM LORETTA HOUSE

" I WAS TOLD BY FAMILY MEMBERS THAT THE CORNER STONES TO ST. PETER'S CHURCH WERE STILL UP ON THE HILL NEXT TO THE ST. PETER'S CEMETERY . ON NOVEMBER 14, 1886 WAS THE FIRST SERVICE AT ST. PETER'S OFFICIALLY ORGANIZED JANUARY 1887 THE LAST SERVICE AT ST. PETER'S WAS IN 1918 WHEN THE ST. PETER'S JOINED WITH ST. JOHN'S. "

ABOVE A OLD PHOTO OF ST. PETER'S CEMETERY

THE SURNAMES TRITCH, LUEKER, BECHLER, GERDES, WERE JUST A FEW OF HER FAMILY LINES . SOME OF THE FIRST SETTLER'S OF THE TOWN OF LAFE . THE INFORMATION BELOW WAS FROM A ST. JOHN'S LUTHERAN DIRECTORY GIVEN TO HER BY LYDIA TRITCH.

 

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Baptismal Records 1886 - 1971

 

A HISTORICAL REVIEW

IN 1886, A GERMAN IMMIGRANT NAMED HERMAN TOELKEN MOVED FROM NEW HAVEN , FRANKLIN COUNTY, MISSOURI, TO THE PRESENT TOWN OF LAFE , GREENE COUNTY , ARKANSAS. AFTER MOVING HIS FAMILY FROM NEW HAVEN , MR. TOELKEN ADVERTISED IN THE " GERMANIA" NEWSPAPER. THE AD INVITED OTHER GERMAN LUTHERANS TO COME AND SETTLE IN THE LAFE AREA AND MANY CAME.

ACCORDING TO CHURCH RECORDS , A SMALL GROUP OF SETTLERS HELD RELIGIOUS SERVICES ON NOVEMBER 14, 1886 , WITH REVERAND A. FREDERKING OFFICIATING. ST. PETER'S EVANGELICAL CHURCH WAS OFFICIALLY ORGANIZED ON JANUARY 9, 1887 AT " UPPER LAFE " . REVERAND R. BANGERTER ARRIVED IN 1888 , AS FULL TIME MINISTER AT ST. PETER'S . IN 1889 , SERVICES WERE HELD AT " LOWER LAFE " FORMERLY NEWBERRY , AND REV. BANGERTER SERVED BOTH CHURCHES. IN 1890 , ST. PETER'S BECOME A MEMBER OF THE MISSOURI SYNOD. THE FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH AT LOWER LAFE , ST. JOHN'S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH , WAS BUILT IN 1891. REV. BANGERTER CONTINUED TO SERVE BOTH CHURCHES.

IN 1892 , A NEW CHURCH WAS BUILT AT ST. PETER'S , REVERAND F. STEYER AND HIS FAMILY ARRIVED FROM SOUTH DAKOTA IN 1894 . REV. STEYER DID NOT ALWAYS HAVE A SET SALARY , WHENEVER HE NEEDED MONEY, HE TOLD W.H. GERDES , THE TREASURER, WHO COLLECTED WHAT HE COULD FROM CHURCH MEMBERS. REV. STEYER ALWAYS SEEMED SATISFIED WITH WHATEVER AMOUNT HE RECEIVED. REV. STEYER SERVED BOTH CHURCHES FROM 1894 TO 1918. HE OFTEN STUDIED BOOKS WHILE WALKING THROUGH THE WOODS FROM ST. JOHN'S TO ST. PETER'S . A NEW CHURCH WAS BUILT AT ST. JOHN'S IN 1911 AND THE 1891 CHURCH WAS CONVERTED TO A ONE-ROOM SCHOOLHOUSE.

ABOVE - ENTIRE CONGREGATION AT ST. JOHN'S , DEDICATION OF 1911 CHURCH WITH REV. STEYER IN CENTER OF DOORWAY . MINNIE (TOELKEN) GERDES WITH CHILD STANDING BEHIND BUGGY. DAUGHTER OF NORMAN TOELKEN .

 

PAROCHIAL SCHOOL WAS TAUGHT IN GERMAN BY THE PASTORS TO GRADES 1 THROUGH 8 . IN 1917 , ST. JOHN'S HAD 47 COMMUNICANT MEMBERS. IN 1918 , SERVICES AT ST. PETER'S WERE DISCONTINUED DUE TO DWINDLING MEMBERSHIP AND THE CONGREGATION JOINED WITH ST. JOHN'S . THEN , ST. JOHN'S MEMBERSHIP TOTALLED 102 . ALTHOUGH THE CHURCH WAS HEATED WITH A LARGE WOODSTOVE , IT WAS NEVER VERY WARM AND EVERYONE KEPT THEIR COATS ON . A KEROSENE CHANDELIER AND WALL LAMPS WERE USED FOR LIGHTING. THE ORGAN HAD FOOT-OPERATED PEDALS .

MANY OF ST. JOHN'S MEMBERS SERVED IN WORLD WAR I , BY THE GRACE OF GOD NONE WERE KILLED. IN 1918 , THE CHURCH SERVED A MEAL AT THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TO THE ARMY'S COMPANY F, WHO CAME THROUGH LAFE BY TRAIN. ALSO IN 1918 , REVERAND DAUMLER ARRIVED. HE ALTERNATED SERVICES OF GERMAN AND ENGLISH. AND , THE CONFIRMATION CLASS OF MARCH 1920, WAS THE FIRST TO BE TAUGHT IN ENGLISH . FOLLOWING WWI , YOUNGER MEN WENT TO ILLINOIS, MICHIGAN AND MISSOURI SEEKING FACTORY WORK. THOSE WERE LEAN YEARS AND THE PASTOR'S SALARIES WERE MADE UP OF HOME-GROWN PRODUCE , MILK COWS , BUTCHERED MEAT, EGGS, MOLASSES AND STOVE WOOD FROM CHURCH MEMBERS. A WOODFRAME PARSONAGE WAS BUILT AROUND 1920, AND REV. HEMMANN WAS THE FIRST TO LIVE THERE AFTER ARRIVING IN 1922.

IN 1925, REV. H.E. DUEKER WAS INSTALLED ON DECEMBER 13. CHURCH RECORDS ARE REFLECTED IN THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION. A MISSION FESTIVAL WAS HELD IN 1926 WITH GUEST SPEAKERS REV. STEYER AND REV. JOHN DVOROVY. ON MISSION SUNDAY IN 1929 THE 50 THE ANNIVERSARY OF REV. STEYER'S ORDINATION WAS CELEBRATED. " IN RECOGNITION OF HIS FAITHFUL SERVICE OF 24 YEARS A PURSE OF SIX DOLLARS WAS HANDED HIM. "

ABOVE - REV. R.G. LANGE WITH 1929 PAROCHIAL SCHOOL CHILDREN . 1927-1930

IN THE 1930'S , COMMUNION WAS CELEBRATED FOUR TIMES: EASTER , PENTECOST, THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS. ONLY DARK CLOTHING WAS WORN TO COMMUNION AND HEADS WERE KEPT COVERED BY LADIES AND CHILDREN. DURING THESE YEARS, THE SUNDAY SCHOOL PICNIC WAS A HIGHLIGHT FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY OF LAFE. IT WAS HELD AT THE HOELSCHER, DRITTLER, LAUSCHTAEDT OR MUELLER WOODS. CHRISTMAS TREES WERE TALL CEDARS WITH LIT CANDLES , WHICH STARTED SMALL FIRES. ONE OF THE MEN WOULD STAND-BY WITH A LONG POLE TO SNUFF OUT THE FLAMES.

IN 1934 , THERE WERE 112 COMMUNICANT MEMBERS. " ON APRIL 8, 1934, BY RESOLUTION OF THED CONGREGATION , ALL MORNING SERVICES WERE CHANGED TO ENGLISH ... ( A.) TO HAVE SUNDAY SCHOOL CHILDREN STAY FOR SERVICE ; (B.) TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR VISITORS TO ATTEND ; (C.) HELP TO KEEP OUR YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH AND PROMOTE REGULAR ATTENDANCE : (D) BY REGULAR ATTENDANCE IT WAS THOUGHT THAT REMITTANCES WOULD BE MORE REGULAR AND BETTER. "

IN FEBRUARY OF 1937 , THE FIRST LIGHTS WERE INSTALLED IN THE PARSONAGE AND CHURCH , THEY WERE RAN BY A DELCO GAS GENERATOR SYSTEM. IN JUNE , THE GOLDEN JUBILEE WAS OBSERVED WITH THREE SERVICES AND A DINNER " NETTED $ 42.00 WHICH WENT FOR NEW CHURCH BUILDING FUND. " NOVEMBER OF 1939 , ELECTRIC LIGHTS FROM " HI-LINE" WERE INSTALLED IN THE CHURCH, SCHOOL AND PARSONAGE. AN ELECTRIC BLOWER WAS INSTALLED UNDER THE ORGAN TO OPERATE THE PEDALS. AND ON DECEMBER 5, CIRCUIT VEISITOR REV. R.G. LANGE HELD VISITATION. " EVERYTHING WAS FOUND IN THE BEST OF CONDITIONS, EXCEPT FINANCES , WHICH WERE DEPLORABLE. " IN 1940 , COMMUNICANT MEMBERS NUMBERED 138 . IT WAS THE CUSTOM TO ANOUNCE FOR COMMUNION AT THE PARSONAGE ON FRIDAY OR SATURDAY BEFOR THE COMMUNION SUNDAY. THE ONLY ALTAR PARAMENT FOR MANY YEARS WAS BLACK WITH " ALLELUA" IN GERMAN . IN 1941 , REV. W.F. VATTHAUER WAS INSTALLED BY PASTOR F.J. ZIRBEL OF WALDENBURG, ARKANSAS.

HORSE AND BUGGY OR WAGON WERE THE MAIN TRANSPORTATION TO CHURCH UNTIL ABOUT 1944. IN 1945, REV. C.W. KOCH FROM BLACKBURN , MISSOURI WAS INSTALLED. ABOUT APRIL OF 1947 , EXCAVATION WAS BEGUN FOR THE NEW CHURCH. THE CORNERSTONE WAS LAID ON JANUARY 25, 1948 AND THE CHURCH WAS DEDICATED THAT DECEMBER WITH A COST OF ABOUT $30,000 . MUCH OF THE LABOR WAS DONE BY ST. JOHN'S MEMBERS. THE LUMBER FOR THE BASEMENT CEILING WAS FROM THE INTERIOR OF THE 1911 CHURCH AND ITS BELL WAS USED IN THE NEW CHURCH. EDWIN BARNER , SR. BUILT THE WOODEN ALTAR AND BAPTISMAL FONT. A NEW ELECTRIC ORGAN WAS PURCHASED . THE 1911 CHURCH WAS SOLD FOR LUMBER AND THE SCHOOLHOUSE WAS ALSO SOLD IN 1949. COAL WAS USED FOR HEATING THE NEW CHURCH. A LIGHTED CROSS WAS MOUNTED ON THE STEEPLE.

ABOVE CHURCH BULLETIN CELEBRATING THE 65TH ANNIVERSARY

IN 1951 , REV. MARTIN O. KOCH WAS ORDAINED AND INSTALLED. IN 1952 , THE 65TH ANNIVERSARY WAS CELEBRATED WITH A BULLETIN . THE OFFERING TOTALLED $440 DOLLARS AND WAS USED TO PAY THE BUILDING DEBT. DURING 1955 , A HIGHLIGHT WAS THE MISSION FESTIVAL WITH ALL NEIGHBORING CONGREGATIONS INVITED. ST. JOHN'S HAD 108 COMMUNICANT MEMBERS. ABOUT 1956, A GAS FURNACE WAS INSTALLED AND THE FIRST INDOOR BATHROOMS REPLACED THE COALBIN IN THE BASEMENT.

THE TOTAL BUDGET FOR 1962 WAS $6259.00 . IN 1963 , A NEW BRICK PARSONAGE WAS IN THE SAME LOCATION AS THE OLD ONE. IN 1964 , A CHOIR WAS STARTED . IN 1965 , REV. PHILLIP WAS INSTALLED . IN 1968 , REV. BOHOT WAS INSTALLED AS DUAL PASTOR FOR ST. JOHN'S AND ST. MATTHEW'S IN CORNING . BY 1970 , THE ADULT MEMBERSHIP OF ST. JOHN'S WAS 134. REV. SCHWARTZ ARRIVED IN 1971 . AND IN NOVEMBER OF 1973 , THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1948 CHURCH WAS CELEBRATED WITH GUEST SPEAKER REV. CLINTON KOCH OF NEW HAVEN , MISSOURI. THE FIRST MEETING OF THE LUTHERAN LAYMEN'S LEAGUE WAS HELD IN JUNE OF 1974 . TENNIS COURTS WITH BASKETBALL GOALS WERE BUILT IN 1977. IN 1979 WAS THE YEAR OF OUR BABY BOOM AT ST. JOHN'S WITH THIRTEEN BIRTHS.

ON SUNDAY , JUNE 24, 1979 , VICAR JOHN REIMOLD WAS INSTALLED AS PASTOR OF ST. JOHN'S BY CIRCUIT COUNSELOR, REV. RALPH BIRD , PASTOR REIMOLD WAS ORDAINED INTO THE HOLY MINISTRY ON FEBRUARY 24, 1980 AND CONTINUES TO SERVE DUAL PARISHES OF ST. JOHN'S AND ST. MATTHEW'S CORNING , ARKANSAS.

MUCH CONGREGATIONAL ENTHUSIASM WAS GENERATED BY THE PLANNING AND BUILDING OF THE EDUCATIONAL WING AT ST. JOHN'S . THE GROUND BREAKING TOOK PLACE ON SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 1981. FIVE MONTHS LATER ON AUGUST 30, THIS NEW WING WAS DEDICATED TO THE GLORY OF GOD. DR. WILBERT GRIESSE, PRESIDENT OF THE MID-SOUTH DISTRICT, WAS THE GUEST SPEAKER. LITURGISTS WERE REV. CLINTON KOCH AND REV. ROBERT MUELLER. A NEW ORGAN PURCHASED.

THE NEW WING WAS ERECTED IN RECORD TIME WITH A $50,000 LOAN FROM THE LUTHERAN CHURCH EXTENSION FUND AND $45,000 CASH RAISED FROM THE MEMBERS. MUCH OF THE LABOR WAS DONE BY CHURCH MEMBERS. WITHIN THE NEXT TWO YEARS , THE REMAINING DEBT WILL BE PAID IN FULL , GOD WILLING.

PASTOR REIMOLD HAS PERFORMED SEVENTY-THREE BAPTISMS SINCE 1979 , WITH SIXTY-FIVE AS CHILDREN AND EIGHT AS ADULTS. THERE ARE CURRENTLY SEVENTY CHILDREN IN THE CONGREGATION UNDER CONFIRMATION AGE. BECAUSE OF THE BLESSING OF SO MANY CHILDREN , A WEEK DAY SCHOOL PROGRAM WAS STARTED IN 1983 , FOR THE RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION OF GRADES 3 THROUGH 8. TWENTY CHILDREN ARE PRESENTLY ENROLLED IN THE PROGRAM AND THEY FORM THE CHILDREN'S CHOIR.

ST. JOHN'S FIRST OFFERED VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL CLASSES IN THE SUMMER OF 1953 , WITH FIFTY-NINE STUDENTS AND EIGHT TEACHERS. IN 1986 , SEVENTY -NINE CHILDREN WITH SEVENTEEN TEACHERS ATTENDED VBS. AGAIN , GOD HAD BLESSED OUR CHURCH WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF CHILDREN.

JANUARY OF 1986 MARKED THE BEGINNING OF OUR CONGREGATION'S INVOLVEMENT IN A TWO-YEAR CHURCH GROWTH PROCESS. IT IS HOPED THAT THIS PROCESS WILL MAKE THE MEMBERS OF ST. JOHN'S MORE AWARE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES GOD CONTINUES TO OPEN BEFORE US IN OUR COMMUNITY. WITH THE LORD'S BLESSING, ST. JOHN'S IS GROWING. IN 1979, THE MEMBERSHIP WAS 191 BAPTIZED AND 149 CONFIRMED. IN 1986, THE MEMBERSHIP REACHED 233 BAPTIZED AND 163 CONFIRMED. ST. JOHN'S CONGREGATION CAN LOOK FORWARD TO A BRIGHT FUTURE UNDER GOD'S BLESSING. THE SEVENTY CHILDREN OF TODAY'S CONGREGATION WILL BE THE FABRIC OF THE CHURCH TOMORROW. THE YOUNG COUPLES OF ST. JOHN'S FORM A STABLE FAMILY BASIS FOR THE FUTURE GROWTH OF THE CHURCH.

ACTIVE LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS AT ST. JOHN'S INCLUDE THE DORCAS SOCIETY ( LUTHERAN WOMEN'S MISSIONARY LEAGUE ) , LLL ( LUTHERAN LAYMEN'S LEAGUE) , AAL ( AID ASSOCIATION FOR LUTHERANS) AND THE LYF ( LUTHERAN YOUTH FELLOWSHIP ) ST. JOHN'S ALSO HAS A MEN'S SOFTBALL TEAM, WHICH PARTICIPATES IN A COUNTY-WIDE CHURCH LEAGUE AND THE LUTHERAN CHURCH TOURNAMENTS.

FUTURE PLANS AT ST. JOHN'S INCLUDE THE RESURFACING OF THE PARKING LOT WITH AN EMPHASIS ON OUR VISITORS AND HANDICAPPED. THE SERVICES OF A FULL-TIME PASTOR WILL ALSO BE REQUIRED IN THE NEAR FUTURE. OUR PRAYER IS THAT GOD WILL CONTINUE TO USE THE MINISTRY OF ST. JOHN'S TO DIRECT PEOPLE TO JESUS CHRIST BECAUSE IN HIM WE CAN BE ASSURED OF ETERNAL LIFE.