EARLY PICKRELL COMMUNITY, GAGE COUNTY
The gentle rolling hills, with their terraces and contoured crops, bear evidence that changes have taken place in the farming practices around Zion. But as we look out over the peaceful country side today, it is hard for us to visualize all the changes of the past century. It is equally difficult to imagine the hardships that greeted our forefathers.
The founding and growth of Zion Lutheran Church is closely associated with the immigration of colonists from East Fresia, a small and at that time, almost overpopulated territory in Northwest Germany. Many of the Immigrants came from the rural areas around Aurich. They came to the prairie and to the Great Plains States as part of the mighty wave of immigration that engulfed the North American Continent in the second half of the 19th century.
A number of these early settlers first stopped with friends and relatives in a Fresian settlement near Golden, Adams Co Il. Often they stayed there for a number of years before moving on into southeastern Ne. They usually came by way of Nebraska City and the Nemaha settlement.
The first Fresian settler near Beer Creek in northern Gage Co was Tamme ZIMMERMAN. He came here with his wife, Tientje (nee MUEULER) in 1862, 5 years after the founding of the town of Beatrice. They settled about 1 mile west of the church.
These pioneers were determined to acquire their own land and a lot of their ancestral grandchildren are still living on the same land. They lacked spiritual ministrations and took their children to be baptized at the "Stone church" located near Auburn Ne. Pastor F. W. JOHN, a circuit riding missionary of the Mo Synod, visited in the Bear Creek settlement off and on. In 1872, he left a record of 11 children baptized, 4 children confirmed, and 4 marriages solemnized. The first baptism recorded in Zion's church records was that of Jana EHMEN dau of Wilm EHMEN and his wife Amke (nee FOCKENGA) on 7 Apr 1872.