The history of the Friedens Evangelical church of Elkader is one of splendid progress. For years there was practically no organized church of that creed in Elkader. At times services for the families of the German Lutheran faith in this vicinity were held in other churches by the Rev. F.W. Seifert of Clayton Center, and other pastors of neighboring churches.
The present chuch organization was formed in 1905, and the Rev. F. Lenhart was sent by the Central Board of Home Missions to become its pastor, the synod assisting in the maintenance of the church for a few years. The Methodist Episcopal church building was purchased and later the property admoining was acquired and a parsonage built.
The first officers and ten charter members were: H.W. Wilke, president; H. Storbeck, vice president; H.C. Katschkowsky, treasurer; J.H. Hagensick, secretary; H. Dohrer, J. Uecker, H. Freitag, trustees; W.E. Witt, F. Lembke and J.C. Stemmer, committee.
The Rev. Lenhart was compelled to give up his charge in 1908 on account of his health, and from June until July 16, the church was without a regular pastor. After that time the Rev. C.H. Franke became pastor. In the fall of 1908, the parsonage was built, and May 16, 1909, the building adjoining it was purchased for school purposes. In December, 1909, the congregation purchased the bell from the old Universalist church on the east side. When the new church was built it was moved to the new building. The old church was heated for many years with a number of large wood-buring stoves. In 1910 the Frauen Verein installed a new heating system.
In 1910 the congregation became self-sustaining. Jan. 15, 1911, the old organ was replaced with a new pipe organ. Another improvement to the old church was the new decorative windows installed in February, 1912, and dedicated Feb 12, with appropriate services.
It finally became apparent that the old quarters were inadequate to the growing needs of the congregation, and it was recognized that a new and larger building was needed. This culminated in the purchase of the site for the new church in 1916 and active solicitation of funds was begun early in 1917. Owing to conditions arising from the entrance of this country into the World War, the project was dropped indefinitely. Early in 1922, however, it was again taken up and such rapid progress was made in financing the new church that plans were secured that summer, the contract for the foundation was let, the excavation made, and the walls of the foundation nearly completed that fall. Early in the spring, work was resumed. The cornerstone was laid July 1, 1923, and the work pushed to completion as rapidly as possible.
Evangelical Lutheran church, 1936
Architecturally the church is of the tudor Gothic style with buttressed walls. The foundation is of native stone and the walls of the super-structure are of dark red rough-faced brick trimmed with dolomite cut stone from the Clermont quarries. The building is 46 X 82 feet, with the main entrance and bell tower at the east corner. The main floor of the auditorium is 43 X 60 feet, the additional space at the west end of the building being taken up by the chancel, the organ and choir, the vestry and pulpit. A spacious balcony above the east end of the main floor adds about one-third to the seating capacity of the auditorium. Wide aisles give easy access to the pews. these will easily accommodate about 550 persons, 400 on the main floor and 150 in the balcony.
The altar, pulpit and pews are of mission oak, and the interior woodwork, including the beams of the ceiling, are finished to match. The auditorium is splendidly lighted by day by large windows of beautiful art glass, while a simple but well arranged system of electric lights furnishes ample flood of soft lights at night.
The basement is the full size of the church and has many uses. It is high, airy and well-lighted. A speaker's rostrum is at the east end, while at the west end is a spacious and well-appointed witchen with large serving openings in the partition which can be closed. The well-appointed kitchen is equipped with a range, hot water boiler, large sinks with hot and cold water faucets, cupboards, etc. alongside the kitchen is the steam heating plant, with fuel storage at the rear.
The building cost, including the foundation and lot, approximately $30,000, and was financed by subscriptions, mainly among the members.
The church was dedicated Dec. 16, 1923, with three impressive services. Dr. J. Baltzer, president general of the synod, delivered the dedicatory sermon. Gospel messages were also given by the Rev. Arno H. Franks, son of the local pastor; the Rev. E. Schmidt, Postville; the Rev. E.T. Finck, Guttenberg; with the Rev. K.W. Braun, the Rev. R. Lusk and the Rev. W. Warner serving at the altar.
The Rev. Paul Kitterer, present pastor, succeeded the Rev. Franke in September, 1931.
The Frauen Verein was organized in 1908 with 24 charter members. the first officers were Mrs. Elizabeth Stemmer, president; Mrs. Caroline Becker, vice president; Mrs. Anna Wilke, treasurer; Mrs. Minnie Feldman, secretary. Present officers are Mrs. Elmer Bandow, president; Mrs. William Allen, Jr., vice president; Miss Emma Hagensick, treasurer, and Mrs. Milda Meyer, secretary.
Other organizations which are connected with the church are the Dorcas society, Young People's society and Sunday School. Present officers of the church are Arthur Hochhaus, president; Fred Ihlenfeld, vice president; Harry Meyer, secretary, and Frank Bente, treasurer. Other members of the board are Walter Dittmer and Gus Storbeck.
~source of history: The Clayton County Register, Elkader, Iowa, July 1, 1936; Centennial Edition.
~photos: postcard photo ca1907 (top) & newspaper photo accompanying the article, 1936 (mid-page)
~contributed by Sharyl Ferrall for Clayton co. IAGenWeb
to Church Index
Return to Clayton County Index