Freistadt Lutheran Church 110 Yrs. Old
extracted from the Ozaukee Press
October 20, 1949
Freistadt -- This Sunday the Trinity Ev.
Lutheran church of Freistadt will celebrate the 110th anniversary of its organization
with special services conducted by the pastor Rev. H. H. Wiechmann.
The English service will be at 9 a.m. and the German at 10:30. The Rev. George Beiderwiden of Milwaukee, chairman of the directors for the southern Wisconsin district of the Lutheran church-Missouri synod, will be guest speaker at the 2:30 p.m. service. The male, mixed and children's choruses will render special anniversary music for this occasion.
Founded in 1839
At the time when Milwaukee was still spelled "Milwaukie" a band of Prussian immigrants were making their way to the shores of a free land - America. They left their comfortable homes because of religious persecution. Some stayed in Buffalo, N.Y., but about 250 of them hearing that "school land" was available in the territory of Wisconsin, made their way by water to Milwaukee, arriving Oct. 5, 1839. A committee of three was appointed to check the government surveyor's reports and they then chose the site which is known by the name of their choice - Freistadt, meaning "free city."
When Freistadt was founded in 1839 Wisconsin had only 30,774 inhabitants and 5,601 of these lived in Milwaukee. The first forty acres of land were bought for a church, school and parsonage at a cost of $1.25 per acre. This so-called "school land" was sold by the government to raise the money to erect schools and a university. After the church site had been selected, the other members of the party of about 40 families chose their acreages by lot.
The first building erected was a house for the leader of the band of people - Henry von Rohr. School as well as Sunday church services were held in his home until 1840, when the first church was erected with a cash outlay of $45.50. This log building soon became too small, since many of other German immigrants came to Freistadt, and another church was built the following year. Each family had to provide 300 hand hewn shingles for this new church. The sawing of the timbers cost them $70 and the brick was made at a cost of $2.75 per thousand. This building was adequate until 1884, at which time the present stone church was erected. A complete remodeling job was done last year and the interior was equipped with new furniture. A new organ has been ordered, but hasn't been delivered.
Ten resident pastors have served the congregation during these 110 years. They are Reverends L. Krause, Ernst Keyl, Ottomar Fuerbringer, Anton Wagner, John Boehling, Frederich Schumann, Theodore Wichmann, Claus Seuel, Herman Wehrs and H. H. Wiechmann.
School Oldest in State
A Christian day school was conducted from the beginning and sessions were even held on board ship enroute to this country. At present three teachers conduct the classes for the 97 children. They are Fred Loppnow, Paul Peters and Ruth Rauschelbach. Besides teaching they also serve as church organists, choir and band directors. In addition there is a mid-week Bible class which boats an attendance of over 200 at each session. There are about 700 members in the congregation.
Many of the families are still in possession of the descendents of these early settlers. Some of the familiar names still on the rolls of the church include such pioneers as Barthel, Radue, Wilde, Klug, Schoessow, Pipkorn, Ernst Bellin, Hilgendorf, Willie, Frenz, Dobberfuhl, Bruss and Lemke. Trinity congregation still holds title to the 40 acres bought back in 1839.
A committee is busy gathering old pictures, newspaper and magazine articles which have appeared during the past eyars and these and antiques will be on display in the school rooms after the afternoon church services.