St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church

Witten, South Dakota


Rev. William Fettinger was the first missionary. From 1909 to 1911 he traveled from his home in Lynch, Nebraska to do his mission work. In 1911 Rev. Fettinger decided to move to Witten to be closer to his mission stations of Winner, Hamill, Jordan, Brunson, Witten and Lynch. By 1917, and with failing health, Rev. Fettinger resigned.

On December 11, 1924, at Mr. Adam Adel's residence, the Lutherans who had been attending services at Witten, organized St. John's Evangelical Lutheran congregation and adopted a constitution. Those present were: Rev. Wm. Holzhausen, Adam Adel, Henry Adel, Wm. A. Adel, Carl Baden, Rev. Wm. Fettinger, David Reinke, John Schwarting and Henry Struss.

On September 15, 1927, the congregation voted to build a church. On July 29, 1928 the completed church was dedicated.

The railroad extended to Wood, and this necessitated moving the town of Witten near the railroad. A townsite was purchased about two miles south of Witten. All the business places, the schoolhouse, and most of the residences were moved to the new location. St. John's congregation decided to move the church and the parsonage. The first service at the new location, the present location, was conducted on July 27, 1930.


St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
under construction

People working in front of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Witten, South Dakota:
Left to right, Lester Schwarting, Tillie Schwarting, Meta Fettinger,
Ida Fettinger (wife of William Fettinger), Harold Bridgman, Thekla Schwarting,
and Ester Schwarting.
Note: Meta and Thekla, Rev. Fettinger's daughters.


Rev. William Fettinger

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Pastors

Rev. Wm. Fettinger ................ 1909 1917
Rev. Walter Baumann ............... 1917 - 1923
Rev. Wm. Holzhausen ............... 1924 1925
Rev. Roland Kremer ................ 1925 1928
Rev. Leo Gruendeman ............... 1928 1937
Rev. Gerhard Geiger ............... 1937 1940
Rev. W. J. Oelhafen ............... 1941 1945
Rev. Lloyd Wenzel ................. 1945 1955
Rev. O. W. Eckert ................. 1956 1958
Rev. David Plocher ................ 1959 1965
Vicar Fred Kogler ................. 1965 1966
Rev. Wm. Leerssen ................. 1966 1977
Rev. Norris Baumann ............... 1977 1985
Rev. Wm. Allwardt ................. 1986 1998
Rev. Michael Neuman ............... 1998

(Sources: St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church-75 Years, Rev. Wm. Fettinger obit and Photos submitted by Pennie Malenke.)


  • Return to Homepage