German Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church

Lincoln township, Iowa County, Iowa

By
Julie Eggert Getter

An Abbreviated history with personal accounts and accompanying photographs
© Copyright 2011 by Julie Getter

Table of Contents

  1. History - and Church building drawings
  2. Church Life and People (Photos) - Some Identification needed
  3. Ministers over the years

 

Author/Contributor: Julie Eggert Getter, January 2011
Published: Iowa County IAGenWeb Website, 06 Jun & 10 Jul 2011, by SDW
Media Sources: MS-Word files and photo scans from the author
Permissions: Usage of Victor Quasquicentennial quotes - Orville W. Bloethe

History

This little church (now gone) holds a special place in the hearts of many German descendants in Iowa County.  While it was the church of my great-grandfather and his family, he was not in Iowa in time to be a founder.  Life for the Eggert family revolved around hard work on the farm and dedication to the teachings of this church.  Worship in the native German tongue was one of the freedoms of America, and it continued until 1925.

From the time of settlement until the demise of the congregation, families spent hours in preparation for weekend worship.  Sunday afternoon picnics were often enjoyed on the church lawn.  The church membership was truly an expanded family for the German settlers in the area.  Many of its members were inspired to a life of Christian service. 

 

Quotes from Orville W. Bloethe in January, 2011:
 
“I remember…walking the dirt road from our home some 3 miles to the Immanuel Church.  On Saturdays we would go to catechism classes and…later graduated; for which I recall being very proud to do so.

I remember the picnics we would have…really the only significant event.  We would always, always go to church.  It was the center stage part of our social life.  You knew everyone very, very well and were very proud to be a part of the group.  The only time we would dress up was to go to church.

In August we would gather for playing softball and have watermelon.  Our church connection was always so very important to us.  Everything else took a backseat to church.”
 
The early founders were: Mr. and Mrs. George Dieterich, Mr. and Mrs. Diedrich Brandt, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wahl, Mr. and Mrs. Dieterich Intermann, Mr. and Mrs. Ranfeld, Mr. and Mrs. Chris Mohr, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Mohr, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bohling, Mr. and Mrs. Shonig, Mr. and Mrs. Bloethe, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Schwiebert, Louis Carl, Mrs. Sophia Bonn and Albert Schrader.

The extensive history of this church and the many links in the chain are well documented in the Victor, Iowa Quasquicentennial book of 1993.  The Immanuel history was compiled by Mrs. Arch Ranfeld, Charles Ranfeld, and Orville W. Bloethe, with earlier history written by Walter H. Bonn.

Services began in 1870 in a schoolhouse just north of where the church would later be located.  The early preachers were Methodist circuit riders, serving 2-3 churches at a time, traveling 20-30 miles on horseback.  Rev. Bonn and George Dieterich were instrumental in bringing services to the schoolhouse permanently in 1875; Mr. Dieterich preached in the absence of Rev. Bonn, and gave generously of his time and effort.  Immanuel became the larger of the churches (Salem members transferring to it) and a proper church building was erected.

 

To quote from the Victor book:

“In 1884 during the pastorate of Rev. Litzrodt, this church was built.  However, it was later remodeled in 1907 under the pastorate of Rev. Hertzler.  The pulpit in the original church was located in the east and the seats faced the east.  There was a row of seats through the center and one row on each side of the building.  There was a gallery in the rear under which was a room, which was used for class and prayer meetings and similar purposes.  The entrance to the church was through a door on the northwest corner of the building and from the hallway a stair was located which lead up to the gallery.  There was also an outside door on the southwest corner, which lead into the classroom and from the classroom into the main auditorium of the church.  There was a high steeple with a bell on the west end of the roof of the building in the center of the building.

Mr. Louis Carl who was always a devoted member of Immanuel church until the time of his death paid for and donated the bell which was placed in the steeple…at the time of his death bequeathed $100…for the purchase of the organ.”

The families who worked and worshipped so diligently here include these names:
Bair, Bloethe, Bohling, Bonn, Brandt, Carl, Cordes, Davis, Dieterich, Eggert, Hartz, Intermann, Klug, Leitzman, Maack, Mohr, Niestaedt, Norden, Ranfeld, Rinehart, Schrader, Schwaerzel, Schwiebert, Smith, Ueltzen, Waline, Walton, Weigel, Weisbeck, Weisskopf and many others.

A parsonage had been built in 1883 but burned.  In 1884 Mr. and Mrs. Fred Wahl offered to donate 4 acres for use by the church, parsonage, and the minister’s cow and horse.  The church members felt the gift too generous, in view of the Wahl’s previous financial gifts, but accepted 2 acres.  Mr. Wahl planted many trees on the parsonage grounds.  Devout members donated much of the labor of building the church and parsonage.

An acre of ground for the cemetery was purchased at about the same time from Ed Griswold.  Mr. Wahl was the devoted caretaker.  The first burial was the grandmother of Rev. Litzrodt.

I am pleased to share photographs of the church and windows which belonged to Viola Eggert, a lifelong Sunday School teacher, and her husband Otto, who gave over 25 years as Superintendent of the Sunday School.

These rare photos are of the beautiful stained glass windows, which our ancestors worked so hard to purchase and install.  They were destroyed in a tornado on May 25, 1965 and the windows were boarded up.  At that time, the church was damaged so badly and the membership so small, that decisions had to be reached.  In 1966, the membership voted to merge with the Victor (IA) First Methodist Church. 37 members of Immanuel joined to form the Victor Methodist Church.

Although the inscriptions on the windows are unreadable on the photos, the Victor book has spelled them out.  What priceless information for all of us and we are able to credit certain families with the memorial windows.

Rev. H.F. Hertzler was assigned to the church in 1906 and undertook the task of drawing up plans for remodeling.

W-1
W-1:
angel at tomb
W-1b
W-1
Curved pews, 1907
W-5
W-5
Jesus praying
W-5b
W-5
Piano area, 1907
W-3-4
W-3-4
Windows and new altar, 1960s
W-3-4b
W-3-4
"Selig sind, die das Wort Gottes hören und bewahren.", 1907
Wall text translation: [Luke 11:28] "blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it".
W-7
W-7
Good Shepherd, 1960s

“…the present beautiful structure is the result of his efforts, with the support of the congregation.  The construction work was under the supervision of Mr. John Soler of Davenport, who was the father of Mrs. Hertzler, and hence had a personal interest in producing a symmetrical and beautiful structure.

The large art glass window at the west representing an angel at the tomb of Christ with side windows showing an emblem of harp and crown were donated by the children of Mr. and Mrs. George Dieterich…(W-1)

The large art window at the east showing Christ in the Garden and side window having the emblems of cross and anchor were donated by John Maack and his mother in honor of his father (who died in 1878 on the ship to America). (W-5)

The window on the north side of the church and west of the pulpit carrying the emblem of the cross and crown was donated by the children of Diedrich Brandt in honor of their parents, Diedrich and Katharina Brandt. (W-2, no photo, see drawing)

In the pulpit the window (to the left) with the emblem of the Holy Bible was donated by Mrs. Bonn and her son in honor of Rev. G. Bonn who organized this congregation and departed this life in 1909. (W-3)

The art window on the east side of the pulpit having an emblem of a dove representing the Holy Spirit was donated by the children of Dieterich and Metta Intermann in honor of their parents. (W-4)

The East window in the Sunday School room in the rear showing emblem of a river scene was donated by the children of Henry and Mary Bloethe in honor of their parents.  Mrs. Bloethe was the inspiration for the congregation to move forward with giving funds for the building of the original church. (W-6, no photo, see drawing)

The South window in the Sunday School room…was donated by…W.F.M.S. (Women’s Foreign Missionary Society) (East panel showing emblem of W.F.M.S.)…Sunday School (center panel showing the emblem of the good shepherd)…Epworth League (West panel showing emblem of E.L.)… (W-7)

The pulpit, table and chairs were lovingly crafted by the Rev. Hertzler himself... the bell tower was placed on the southwest corner of the church and the bell donated by Louis Carl…was replaced. (note: again placed)

The pulpit…was changed to the north side and the seats faced north in a semi-circle.  To the east is a platform for the piano.”

The parsonage was remodeled during the tenure of Rev. Nagel. 

Church configuration

The 1884 church was built with the pulpit on the east end; pews faced east in three columns. A gallery above the west end had a classroom beneath it. There were two doors: one into the church, one into the classroom.

The 1907 remodeled church put the pulpit on the north end; pews were semi-circular and faced north. A piano platform was built on the east side. The bell was reinstalled in the new steeple on the southwest corner of the building. One main door was installed.

“Passing the time of day under the large maple tree was a trademark of Immanuel.”

…from the Victor Quasquicentennial book, page 73

 

Further notes from the author...

Some photos are from my own family collection but seem to capture the flavor of the gatherings.  I have used exact dates and based others on my father’s birth in 1917.  Of course, there are numerous people who are unidentified. 

Findagrave.com is a volunteer site of interest for this congregation and its descendants.  There are over 180 memorials on it for Immanuel’s cemetery, which was founded in 1884; the old gravestones in German are interesting.  It is an active, very neatly kept cemetery in 2011.  More names are to be found on that site and photos and tributes can be added. [Also consider adding photos to the Iowa Gravestone Photo Project.]

This website contains Pauline Lillie’s description of the cemetery in 1976, LaVerna Moser’s index of 2008, maps and other aids to finding the families associated with Immanuel.  

There are many more names, as families intermarried and stayed in the area.  There are current burials in this peaceful country cemetery that are not included in the materials I have. 

If anyone wishes to add more photos, please contact the IAGenWeb Iowa County coordinator.  Enjoy the photographs!  A picture is certainly worth 1000 words.

Julie Eggert Getter

(daughter of Leland, granddaughter of Gus, great-granddaughter of Henry Eggert, immigrant in 1882 from Germany to Iowa)

January 2011

 

Church Life and People

(Click a photo to visit the album and view at maximum size via the Zoom in button. Help us identify people!)

 

Ministers and their families

people
Rev. & Mrs. Nagel
on bicycle feeding chickens
people
Rev. & Mrs. Nagel
With Thelma & Leland Eggert, circa 1919
people
Rev. Fritz & Family
With Cornelia, Herbert & Mrs. Fritz, 1930s. (Cornelia was later Mrs. Milton Maack. She was everyone's piano teacher & my sister's mentor - Julie)
people
Rev. & Mrs. Bellows
By the door, 1949

Ministers of Immanuel Methodist Church

(With notes on church building and remodeling; drawings including windows)

Dates served Name Comments
1870 Rev. George Zollmann Visited from Iowa City; saw a need for the German families
1870-1872 Rev. Louis Kroeck Assigned to circuit
1872-1873 Rev. Herman W. Axthelm Circuit preacher in 3 schoolhouses
1873-1874 Rev. Henry Diener  
1874-1876 Rev. Gottfried G. Bonn (1st time) (wife Sophia née Brandt) Salary of $200 per year; preached in schoolhouse just north of where church would be built later
1876 Rev. W. Gethmann  
1876-1877 Rev. J.G. Vogel  
1877-1878 Rev. G.L. Hilmer  
1879-1882 Rev. Charles J. Lotz (wife Maggie)  
1882-1885 Rev. Frederick L. Litzrodt (1st time) (wife Mary) 1st parsonage built in 1883
1885-1886 Rev. J.N. Dewin Church built in 1884 (see below)
1886-1891 Rev. G. Bonn (2nd time) 1st parsonage burned; rebuilt
1891-1895 Rev. P.C. Philip  
1895-1900 Rev. H.F. Hertzler (1st time)  
1900-1904 Rev. W.P. Ludwig  
1904-1905 Rev. John Helmers  
1905 Rev. J.B. Schwiebert; also Rev. G. Bonn (3rd time/was retired)  
1906-1909 Rev. Hertzler (2nd time) Church remodeled in 1907 (see below)
1909-1912 Rev. Litzrodt (2nd time)  
1912-1921 Rev. Wesley L. Nagel(wife Minnie) (have photo) Parsonage remodeled
1921-1925 Rev. Carl Fritz (wife Edna) (have photo)
1925 Services mostly in English after 1925
1925-1933 Rev. H.W. Brandt (have photo) First minister to have grown up in this church
1933-1937 Rev. Barr  
1937-1938 Rev. Stine  
1938-1943 Rev. O.C. Ellis  
1943-1947 Dr. John Helmers Uncle of Mrs. Art Schwiebert
1947-1949 Dr. Bellows (have photo)
1949-1951 Rev. J.J. Pritchard Formerly at the Victor Church; instituted repairs to Immanuel
1951-1952 Rev. George Weiss  
1952-1956 Revs. Lawrence & Lillian Hight Redecorated the parsonage; last ministers to live there
1956-1958 Rev. Paul Williamson Immanuel now a 2-circuit church with Ohio Methodist Church
1958-1959 Rev. Clarence McPherson Big west window sustained wind damage, was repaired
1960 Rev. Vern Weigel  
1961 Immanuel now on circuit with Victor and not Ohio churches
1961-1964 Rev. Robert Bowers Responsible for major work on cemetery & fence; painted outside of church; redecorated sanctuary
1964-1966 Rev. Paul Textor  
May 25, 1965 Tornado -- extensive wind damage to stained glass windows; members of congregation boarded up the windows, decided not to replace them
June 1, 1966 Membership meeting; voted to merge with Victor 1st Methodist
June 2, 1966 Membership meeting by Victor Church; voted to accept merger
June 12, 1966 Large public picnic held; singing; reading of church history by Mr. Orville Bloethe
June 19, 1966 Last service held at Immanuel 37 members at time of merger
     
“Local Ministers” George Dieterich, followed by his son, Vince Dieterich Served throughout his lifetime in many ways
  Diedrich Brandt Member of congregation who also ministered
  Fred G. Wahl Member of congregation who also ministered
  B. Cordes Member of congregation who also ministered
Musicians Many talented musicians were members of Immanuel’s family
Sunday School superintendents J. Henry Brandt – early years  
  Otto C. Eggert – 1938-1964  
  Orville W. Bloethe – 1964-1966