History: St. John's Lutheran Church, Auburndale, Wis.

Poster: Janet Schwarze

----Source: "History of Auburndale, Wisconsin", Marshfield Journal, 23 Aug 1928.

----St. John's Lutheran Church, Auburndale, Wis. History, 1928



St. John's Lutheran, Auburndale, Wisconsin

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation,--like so many other congregations in this state,--saw its beginning in the time of the forest primeval and the log hut.  St. John's grew with the children of the pioneers and shared joys, sorrows, troubles, and hardships with them.

The Missouri Synod; having been informed that Lutheran people were settling in various localities of Northern Wisconsin, commissioned Rev. Strieter, at that time pastor in Germania, Marquette County, Wisconsin, to make a tour for the the purpose of investigating missionary opportunities in this part of the state.  This was in 1863.  Later Rev. J. J. Hoffman, located north of Wausau, took charge of this field.  A few years after this Rev. Ph. Estel was called to take charge of the the congregation at Four Mile Creek, Town of Grant, Portage County, Wis., and from there he also served Stevens Point.  On Christmas Day, 1871, Pastor Leibe was installed at Four Mile Creek.  From then on the congregation at Stevens Point was served regularly.  In 1873, Rev. W. C. Shilling was called to take charge of the St. Pul's Congregation at St. Point, Wis.  Rev. Schilling then established preaching Stations at Junction City, Auburndale, Spencer, Colby, Greenleaf, Dorchester, Medford, Butternut, Ashland, etc.

Auburndale then became a preching station.  Services were held in the homes of the people.  Under the leadership of Rev. H. Ereck, who was stationed at Town Wien, Marathon County, Wisconsin, St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was organized and incorporated in the first congregational meeting held on Dec. 20, 1878.  The following officers (missing section) and William Medenwald; Trustees, Frederick Schultz, William Medenwald, and Fr. Schroeder; Elders, Ferdinand Schulz and F. Becker.

In 1879 and 1880, Rev. F. Steyer also took care of the young congregation.  In the summer of 1880, however, St John's received its first resident pastor in the person of Rev. J. Schuette.  He served here from 1880 to 1882, when he accepted a call to the newly organized congregation at Spencer, Wis. Rev. F. W. Heinke then became the shepherd of the local congregation.  But in 1884 he was followed by Rev. F. H. Reichmann who also accepted a call into another field in 1886.  During a vacancy of about three years the congregation was served by the pastors Schilling and Stebrandt and Student Uplegger.  In 1889, Rev. E. Heck accepted a call to St. John's and served until 1892.  From 1892 to 1896, Rev. W. Georgl was pastor at Auburndale.  Up to this time the congregation had experienced many changes.  But in 1896, conditions became more settled when Rev. A. W. Ristow became pastor of St. John's.  He came as a young man and spent his best years building up this parish.  At first his field included the parishes of Auburndale, Junction City, Sherry and Cancy.  Later he was relieved of the the latter three and Auburndale and Hewitt still remained under his care.  Very faithfully did the labor here for almost 25 years, until his health finally made it necessary that he resign and take a rest.  On the eight of August, 1920, he installed his successor, the present incumbent, Rev. S. E. Rathke.

The need of a new church had long been felt by the congregation.  Since the old structure, a frame building, 28 x 40, erected in 1886, had become very inadequate in every way.

(missing part) Auburndale State Bank, was bought from the R. Connor Co., for $2,100.00 and in the annual meeting held in January, 1926, the motion was made and carried by a unanimous vote to build a brick and tile structure. A building committee was elected composed of the Messrs: Wm. F. Kuehnhold, J. O. Gerdan, E. Budke, Hy. Grube, Wm. Mews, and the pastor S. E. Rathke.  From several plans submitted, Mr. G. A. Krasin's plan was accepted by the congregation.  A two-tower church, 38 by 86, built of brick and tile in Tudor-Gothic architecture was then erected.  With heart and soul the members joined the enterprise; they did the hauling of stone, sand, and brick themselves, and , also excavated the basement.  On Trinity Sunday, May 20, 1926, the corner stone was laid.  A German-English Service was held in the open on the  floor of the new church, in which Re. O. Hensel delivered the sermons.  The work of building progressed nicely and on the 18th Sunday after Trinity, Oct. 3rd, 1926 the splendid new edifice was dedicated to the service of God.