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Picture: Zion Lutheran Church. Courtesy of A. Wacker Family. The church preceded the present structure and is now used for the Lutheran School The building in the right background was the school at that time.

History of Wilton Lutheran Church

Transcribed by Lynn McCleary, April 18, 2015

    In 1853 Pastor Veitz, who lived in Muscatine, held service for Lutherans in a schoolhouse at the “settlement” two and one-half miles south of Wilton. By 1856 Pastor Kiesel, also of Muscatine, held services in the town of Wilton in the roomy house of Mr. Schwartztreiber. A congregation of about one dozen families was organized in December 1856. In the summer of 1857 a church 24 x 24 ft. was built on a lot which was donated by Benedict Maurer.

     In 1863 a house was purchased to serve as a parsonage. Four years later it was sold and a new parsonage was built on the church lot. The same year the small church was moved from its site and a brick church was built in its place. By this time the congregation had increased to 40 families. One room in the parsonage was used for school purposes and the pastor served as the teacher.

     The brick church and the parsonage were destroyed in the big Wilton fire of August 24, 1874 which consumed about half the business district. Within a year a new school and parsonage were built and a frame church was under construction. This church was razed in 1944 after the Iowa Synod Congregation had disbanded.

     While attending a Synodical session in Madison, Wis. In 1875, Pastor Strobel decided to leave the Iowa Synod and join the Missouri Synod. The congregation had not joined any Synod up to that time. Pastor Strobel informed the congregation of his action and no objection was…

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    This page is sponsored in memory of Reverend and Mrs. P. W. Happel by their children. Dr. E. H. Happel, Mrs. Joe (Irene) Armbrecht, Mrs. Charles (Harriet) Bell and Mrs. Alva (Ruth) Jipp.

Picture: Lutheran Young Ladies Sewing Circle. Courtesy of A. Wacker Family.
Back row (left to right) - Marie Dornseif, Lizzie Gruenwaldt, Anna Sessler, Alma Brammeier, Lizzie Wacker, Edna Maurer, Louise Dornseif, Clara Heiden.
Front row - Caroline Maroff, Della Wacker, Emma Dornseif, Mamie Brammeier, Louise Maurer, Clara Brammeier, Minnie Grunder.

…raised. Not long after, however, a disturbance took place which resulted in the division of the congregation. A part of the congregation followed Pastor Strobel and formed a new group which accepted the name Zion. Salem congregation then formally joined the Iowa Synod and called its own pastor.

     In 1881 Zion Congregation purchased land, almost 2 acres on North Maurer Street, its present site, on which at first a parsonage and school were built. The school building was also used for divine services. In 1892 a frame church was built.

     The services had been conducted only in the German language, but at the time of World War I animosity arose against the use of the German language. In a special meeting on May 30, 1918 the congregation decided to conduct all services in the English language. English evening services had already been held before this for some time. When the war was over English services were continued regularly every Sunday, while services in German language continued to be held for a number of years.

     In November 1928 the congregation decided to build a new brick church and that, at the same time, the present church building should be moved somewhat to the east and converted into a two-room school. On December 8, 1929 the new church was dedicated. In 1948 the old parsonage was moved and in its place a fine brick parsonage was built.

     Rev. P. W. Happel loyally and faithfully served as pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church for 48 ˝ years coming to Wilton in 1911. This is the longest service of any minister in this area. Rev. and Mrs. Happel had four children, all born and reared in Wilton.

     In December 1959 the Rev. John B. Nieman was installed and served until his death.

     On Jan. 7, 1968 Rev. Garth Baker was installed as pastor and is still serving (1976).

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    Remember when the northeast section of Wilton was Mrs. Pirkey’s cow pasture?

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Page created April 18, 2015 by Lynn McCleary