Memories of Immanuel Lutheran Church and School [by permission of Jan Smith]
Submitted by: Arliss Baumgarten Powell
[Original copy at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum, Clarinda, Iowa]

Immanuel Lutheran School has been an integral part of the Immanuel Congregation's history. A separate building for the Lutheran School was built in 1877. Its location was approximately the same as where the present school is. This building cost $592.11. This structure served well until 1923 when the present building was erected. The old school was moved to the Orval Otte farm and is still used as a garage. There was also a long shed, called the horsebarn north of the teacherage where the horses were sheltered through the day. It was not always a pleasant experience to get the horses out of the barn and hitched to the cart or buggy. Sometimes the language pupils used out there made one question what they had learned in school. Although the kids will be kids! There manners were probably no better or worse than children now. There were times when the horses were unruly too. The children going North from school to go home sometimes had horse races, and some pupils learned to ride their horses or ponies standing on there backs like a circus performer.
The school itself was heated by a large wood or coal burning heating stove. The ashes were cleaned out by the pupils after school. These ashes were used to make a path to the teacherage, the coal house, the two outhouses, or on the driveway. Coal and cobs were carried in for the next day. The school was swept and dusted by the pupils who were assigned that task by the teacher. They also cleaned the blackboards and erasers. All this was done after school was dismissed for the day. Many members of Immanuel Church remember their days at the parochial school. One person to gather these memories from others and to share many of her own is Frieda Baumgarten [Frieda born Jan 5, 1901]. She says of those days, "my three years of schooling at Immanuel Lutheran Parochial School started in the fall of 1911, after I had completed the fifth grade in public school. I entered what at that time was called the German School, and was exposed to books written in German and began to began to use the English fifth reader which was the highest reader being used by the pupils at that time. That year we had studies in English Language, plus those in German Catechism, Bible History, Hymns, Reading, Writing, Spelling, Arithmetic, and Language. I remember well the advise given by my parents, 'You mind and obey what the teacher says. If you get a spanking in school, you will get more when you get home.' And believe me, I took my parents advise.
Learning to read, write, and speak German (High German), especially the printed word was very hard for most pupils. In our homes various dialects of Low German were spoken when we were small, but as we grew older and played with neighborhood children we spoke English. This made even speaking Low German a bit difficult. We had a teacher who came here from London, England, and to him this was a German School. So he wanted the children to speak German even on the playground. This was done until he was out of hearing range, then we returned to the use of English. He did not understand that talking High German was very difficult for most pupils, as probably only six families of the congregation used it as there main language. In Low German the use of different dialects made it hard to communicate effectively. Reading German was not as difficult, we could read and understand what was in our school books, but conversing was quite a bit different. Sometimes those who could speak High German made fun of the students who didn't by saying 'I'm glad I'm not Low German like you!'
Our pastors' and teachers' were very strict and disciplined without delay. Much firmer discipline was carried out on in the early 1900's. If you needed to be corrected you might have to stay in your seat at recess and write a sentence 50 or 100 times. Or you might receive a slap on the hand, possibly with a big ruler while you had your palm out and fingers up. Another punishment was a swat on the rear end or across the shoulders with a stick.
Teacher Moeller thought that holding a pen or pencil correctly was a must and if anyone didn't, a hit across the finger with a ruler was the penalty. If you were sitting humped over he would jab his thumb in you r spine until you corrected your posture. He expected the pupils to come to school clean each morning and have their shoes shined. Before I started to this school, I had visited one day. The day before three of the older boys had been absent without the teachers consent. The boys said that they had attended a funeral. The teacher was displeased with this excuse (to put it mildly). He had several big sticks and he called the three boys to the front of the room. He asked them why they had not been in schoo! and gave them quite a few words advise. Then he took a stick and hit each of them three licks across the shoulders, and then sent them to the back room to think things over. This was quite an experience for a first time visitor!
The roads in those days were narrow dirt roads with hedge fences (osage orange trees is the proper name for them), on each side. After a rain the ruts in the road would become very deep, making travel very difficult.
Our transportation to and from school was mostly walking or horseback riding. Although some had two wheel carts had two wheel carts pulled by one horse. A few had a buggy or top buggy, or a big family or several children in the neighborhood had a two seat spring buggy using two horses. The lucky ones even had a sled or sleigh when there was snow.
We lived four miles from school, on the old Dick Nothwehr farm now where Mrs. James Pittman lives. Sometimes I walked (if dad needed the horse), otherwise I rode horseback without a saddle. I used just a small blanket over the horses back fastened with a girdle. (A sort of elastic 4 or 5 inch band with leather at each end and a metal buckle fastener.) If I didn't ride horseback I used a two wheel, one seat cart with one horse. Then I would stop along the road and take two girls, Ethel Robberts and Verna Mascher, to school with me. With three girls, three dinner pails, heavy coats, overshoes, and a horse blanket to cover out legs in cold weather, this was quite a cart full. Of course we each had a book satchel (a cloth sack with a strap to hang your head and shoulder), that had to fit in the cart too. It was always full of homework in the Catechism and our other studies.
Every child had his own chores to do also when he returned home. Chores at home consisted of picking up cobs from the hog pen and carrying them to the cob shed, and some to the house to be used in the kitchen stove. Then we would hunt the eggs, as the hens had access to all the buildings (sometimes under them). Then we had to help milk the cows, separate the milk and feed the calves. Then after supper was over and homework was done, it was 9:00 p.m. and time for bed.
When the winter came it was quite a sacrifice our parents had to make to get up early and feed and water the horse to be ready for us to take. And of course our mothers had to bake breads and cakes for our lunches.
Sometimes when the winter was severe and snow blocked the roads, I would stay with Joe and Anna Otte on the farm where Doyle Otte now lives. There were more children in that neighborhood and more travel. Also more men to scoop the snow, and it was only two miles instead of four. Many times we got frostbitten ears, nose, fingers, and toes. This was a regular experience through the winter and in those days the treatment was putting snow or cold packs on the frostbitten area then gradually warming the area. This is certainly not recommended as a treatment today. Some pupils walked four or five miles all through their years at Immanuel. The school lunches were all of homemade bread sandwiches with butter and jelly or applebutter. Or sometimes home cured and cooked meat or cheese or boiled or fried eggs. Some had coffeecake, plain cake, or fruit (generally apples which were homegrown). All of this was brought in a lunch bucket of some type. Some brought lunch buckets with a wire handle and well fitted lid; others used syrup or molasses buckets. There was also an oblong metal basket that you could buy that was very special. At this time all the foods had to be those that wouldn't spoil as there was no refrigeration at the school or in most homes.
The drinking water was carried by the pupils from the well at the teacherage. There was a dipper in the bucket. You could dip the water and pour into your own cup if you had one. Or at the pump you placed your hand over the pump spout to form a cup, and you drank from that.
Recess was the fun time of school days when you had the opportunity to become acquainted with all of the children in school and develop closer friendships. The games played included baseball, pitching horseshoes, rope jumping, footraces, blindmans bluff, hide and seek, tug of war, go in and the window. There were several swings tied the tall trees that bordered the north and south road banks. The trees provided a nice shady place to play.

On Friday after recess we sometimes had spelling contests or cipherings. That was a real treat, and educational as well as entertaining.

The styles of clothing worn to school by all were in keeping with the times. The girls in the 13-14 years age group were permitted to wear corsets to school, the kind with heavy stays in them and laced up the back. Having a slim waist was the style and an 18-19 inch waist was desired but not acquired! Homemade corset covers were also worn.
Girls were not supposed to expose their legs above the knee, so a very full skirt was required, plus a couple of ruffled petticoats and knee length bloomer, black sateen in the winter and muslin in warm weather. Also you had long ribbed black stockings and black shoes. We were allowed to go barefoot in hot weather. Dresses were mostly homemade or sewn by a seamstress. They were made of calico, percale, gingham, or shirting, which was used in milder weather, and a woolen dress with a big coverall apron over that for cold weather. The overshoes were one, two, or three buckle with rubber soles and cloth rubberized tops and leggings. Hairstyles for the girls were long hair in braids, with ribbons or rolled in a figure 8 or bun and pinned with hair pins at the neckline. The girls with heavy hair and long braids were sort of special. Some had four braids with the hair parted in the middle, then half was side parted from the center of the head to the ear and braided. Then a ribbon was tied to each braid at the neckline or half way down the braid. Sometimes they had two braids, one back of each ear, then the braids pinned over the head or across the back of the head. During the 1911 to 1914 years big hair ribbons were the fashion.

There were various styles of ribbons. One style was four yards of four inch ribbon looped and sewed on a four to five inch strip of cloth and then pinned across the back of the neck line; also in this time period the older girls would part their hair according to the style wanted then rat it (now call back combing) and have the hair puffed. Others saved the combings of their hair and made hair pads called (rats) and combed their hair over this pad to get the puffed look. Hair pins were used to hold the hair in place.
The boys had regular hair cuts. Some wore it center parted, others side parted. A few combed it straight back in a pompadour.
The school clothes for boys were generally blue denim bib overalls with blue chambray shirts. Occasionally some boys would wear a Sunday suit. They also wore sweaters, old suit coats, blue denim jackets, duck coats or overcoats. Long underwear was worn in cold. They had heavy leather shoes and a few even came in rubber boots or high buckle overshoes.
The confirmation classes were instructed by the pastor in the confirmation room (the east room of the old school) every morning for one hour. During this time the catechism was thoroughly explained, and we had to memorize it and also many bible verses.
Palm Sunday was the traditional Confirmation Day. As the time drew near for confirmation, the girls started plans for their dresses.
During that era the girls wore white dresses. In the 1907-1911 period white cotton eyelet embroidery was used. With this they wore black shoes and hose and a wide band bracelet.
By 1914 white lace over white poplin or silk and silk crepe dechene was used and
they had white hose and white shoes. Most girls had a fancy handkerchief and a gift
of a locket or lavaliere necklace. Some had bracelets and a ring.
Colored dresses for confirmation was the fashion some years later when white robes
were used by both boys and girls. Now it seems the fashion is returning to white
The boys that had been wearing knee length pants or knickers would get their first long pants. A suit with a vest and a white shirt and tie and tie clasp. They also had a hat.
Each confirmand received their own hymnal (without music) and took it with him to all church services.
Confirmation Day was a very important day in the life of each person. It was the day that you made the promise to be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his teachings and word as long as you lived. You became a communicant member of the church and were ready to partake of his body and blood in holy communion for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.
After the church service there was usually a big dinner served at home with relatives and friends there, and if you were the first to invite them the pastor and teacher might be there. Many times everyone would stay for supper.
There were eight boys and eight girls in the confirmation class of Mrs. Ida Herzberg and nineteen in the class when Mrs. U.J. Goecker and Albert Baumgarten were confirmed. Those were the days when the pupils made flowers of tissue or crepe paper to decorate the church for Confirmation Day.
As the teachers always had to play the organ for funerals, the school children attended every funeral.
When there was a death in the household the body was kept at home until the day of the funeral. Friends and relatives sent in food and 2 or 3 people would stay with the family and keep watch all night. The day of the funeral a prayer service was held in the home then the casket was closed and taken to the cemetery for burial; then the family and friends went to the church where the memorial service was given. All members of the family wore black, some women wore a heavy veil over their faces -all wore hats, winter and summer.

One of the main events then and now was the Christmas Eve Program. These were held in the church. They took a lot of memorizing for the songs and recitations. All the children had some part in the program. Of course, we all looked forward to this event as it usually meant getting a new dress for the girls and a new shirt or tie for the boys. Plus a sack of treats. Also we had the biggest Christmas tree in the area with many candles on it that were lit. Buckets of water were near by in case of fire. The last day of school or Fourth of July celebrations took place on the farm now owned by the Kenneth Sundermans. At that time there was a small ditch and a big grove of trees where the pond is now located. Several flat bed hayracks were grouped together to form the platform where the program was to be given. Long, heavy wood planks were placed around this stage for the audience to sit on. Musical numbers (singing accompanied by a foot pump organ), dialogues, and recitations made up the program.

Large crowds attended. Members of the local congregation and people of St. Paul, Yorktown and St. John, Clarinda, and the public in general attended. Cold drinks and candy were sold. The drinks were cooled in large tanks or tubs filled with ice water. This was furnished by the school board members and the volunteer helpers. Sometimes there were few embarrassing events during the performances on stage. Such as when the button came off a girls panties and down the panties slid. She was petrified and couldn't move, or was to frightened to move until the dear mother walked up to the stage and lifted her off.
Some teachers liked to have the children to march with flags or dummy guns and they looked like a regular military drill.
On the Fourth of July fire crackers and fire works were plentiful and sometimes accidents happened.
During the years when Teacher Hoffman was here, the school children had a program on Reformation Sunday.
Lenten Services were conducted on Friday mornings and the school children went to church with their parents and then to school for the remainder of the school day. The John and Herman Eitzen parents lived in the Coin area, too far away for them to attend school until their sister Rosa was married to Dick Rope. Then they had the sisters and brothers in the confirmation age group come and stay with them until they were Confirmed.
Mrs. Joe (Anna) Otte, one of our oldest members, has the distinction of having two of the fourth generation in her family attending Immanuel Lutheran School: Andy Otte, son of Gene and Ann, grandson of Herbert and Frances; and Chris Eickemeyer, son of Bobbie and Wanda Eickemeyer, grandson of Herbert and Frances Otte. Through the years many members of the parochial school belonged to the first All Farmers Band in Iowa which was conducted by the late Major Landers. They gave band concerts on the school grounds on Sunday nights for many years as well as playing at the County and State Fairs. The boys and girls of the school belonged to 4-H clubs and FFA.
In the early years pupils from Immanuel seemed to stay on farms in nearby communities after their school years were finished, a tradition was for the fathers to buy a 40 or 80 acre plot of land in the vicinity and help newlyweds get started in farming, a few went to college. Those who didn't choose to farm followed all the various occupations, many of the former students of Immanuel served in the Armed Forces of our country.
After the first and second World Wars the young men and women scattered to various places of the U.S.A. and foreign lands.
Another tradition was that the young men and women of the church married members of the church. Before long it seemed everyone was related to everyone else in that age group. Many then enlarged their acquaintances and dated young men or women of other churches or some not belonging to any church, and many of these became members of Immanuel too.
Following is a list of those who have prepared for professional service in our church:
Teachers:                                                                                           Parish Workers:
Otto Sunderman (Deceased)                                                           Judy Herzberg (Micanek)
Edward Steeve                                                                                  MarceneRobberts (Wiltse)
Carl Freudenburg (Deceased)                                                          Marlene Otte (Robberts)
Ed Werner
Emil Herzberg
Doris Buch (Schulz)                                                                          Preparing for Service:
Edith Herzberg (Steinmiller)                                                              Loren Otte
Delores Sunderman (Freudenburg)                                                  Debbie Otte
Mildred Sunderman (Wolfranger)
Sharon Sunderman (Brown)                                                             Gary Sunderman (Deceased)
Margaret Glasgow (Rambo)
Ronald Wagoner                                                                                Pastors:
Dorene Otte (Santell)                                                                        Jerome Wagoner
Diane Sunderman                                                                             Richard Wagoner (CRM)
Donna Herzberg (Endorf)                                                                  Marlin Otte (Worker-Priest)
Joel Wagoner


In the past ten years there has been a renewed interest in the multi-grade school. With the younger students learning from the older ones, Immanuel School has maintained this kind of system for the past 100 years. And it is easy to tell from visiting with former students or present students that they ail enjoyed their two-room school, and have benefitted from it both academically and spiritually.
Former students speaking of immanuel in the late 40's and early 50's recall that their mode of transportation to school was still by horseback until the temperature fell below 20 degrees or was raining or snowing and then they rode by car. The boys wore bib-overalls in earlier years and iater on the standard blue jeans. Girls had dresses that came to mid-calf and turned down white bobby-socks and saddle shoes.
Subjects taught were religion, reading, writing, arithmetic, english, health, geography, civics and American history.
After school was dismissed students who were appointed for the day would sweep
the school room, burn the trash and clean the blackboards and erasers.
The standard discipline was for the teacher to make the students stay in at recess or
after school if the need arose, or a spanking as the last result.
At recess time they played softball in good weather and basketball in the winter.
Immanuel played Yorktown and Council Bluffs in baseball games for Field Day. The
school children got "coupons" worth 150 from the school board to get treats at the
refreshment stand.
As with earlier students the Christmas Eve program was still the highlight of the year. The first four front pews in the old church were turned to face the center for all the children who were in the program to set in.
Confirmation classes were in the confirmation room at the school and later in the parsonage while Rev. Fritz was here.
Palm Sunday remained the traditional day for confirmation. The confirmation class would sing during the worship service.
The students, teachers and pastor had a picnic the last week of school. Everyone would bring a covered dish and hot dogs and soda pop were supplied also, and made a big hit with the kids.
One student recalls going to school after Walther League meetings. There was often a picture of the teacher on a blackboard. The first one at school knew he'd better erase it!
Present students at Immanuel probably do not realize how closely their school year resembles those of former students. Although modern conveniences make it much less rigorous for students attending school today.
School begins at 8:45 a.m. Students arrive in well packed cars as parents from the same neighborhood usually form a car pool. In the spring a few students ride their bikes.
The students are dressed very casually, with boys and girls wearing the "uniform" of the 70's. A T-shirt, faded blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Occasionally one of the girls appears with a dress on.
The hair styles for both boys and girls (ear length and cropped close to the head) are so similar one often has to look quite closely to tell them apart. If it is a nice day the students arriving early stay outside until the bell rings. If the weather is bad they either go down to the gym and play or play quietly in their room. The bell rings and the teachers in both rooms K-4 and 5-8 begin the day with a study of religion, with the 7th and 8th grades going to the church for confirmation class. Also sometime during the day a devotion and Bible reading is presented by one of the students or teachers.
On Wednesdays a chapel service is held at the church with everyone participating at one time or another.
As we take a look at subjects being taught the basics haven't changed much over the past 100 years, but a few more extra curricular activities are offered. A study of religion, math, reading, English, spelling, handwriting, American history, Iowa history, science, social studies, physical education, music and art are all presently taught. With those students who choose to play band instruments being able to participate with the public school band students.
Of course, recess is still very popular with the students. Games they play are softball, football, basketball (or a new fad—riding on skateboards). Also the present students enjoy a good selection of playground equipment which was donated by the Parent-Teachers League in 1976.

The students still do daily cleaning chores of sweeping, cleaning blackboards, and picking up trash. Only they are allowed the last 15 minutes of the school day to do it.
Christmas programs are still a big event of the year. With all the children of the congregation K-8 participating. Girls still look forward to a new dress and boys a new pair of pants and sport coat or sweater. The traditional bag of treats are still given to every child on Christmas Eve. the programs given are varied from year to year but the message in song and recitation is always the same, the Good News of God's Love to us through Jesus Christ.
Also there is a special program given by the students during the month of May as a closing day program.
Students in the 7th and 8th grade have Confirmation Class every morning of the week for 45 minutes. They meet with the Pastor three mornings a week at the church and study on their own two mornings a week. Over the last several years a variety of materials based on the Small Catechism by Dr. Martin Luther have been used. During the Centennial year confirmation text was Luther's Small Catechism, which has been the standard text in past years.
In recent years there has been no traditional day used for confirmation. St. Paul, Yorktown, and St. John, Clarinda, have coordinated their confirmation Sunday so they would not all be on the same day.
The girls in the class still decide well ahead of time what kind of dress they will wear. Most of the dresses have been white over the last ten years. Both long and short dresses have been popular. The boys usually have a new suit for the occasion. Most families still do have a big dinner to honor the new confirmands. And gifts of hymnals and Bibles (usually with the confirmands name on it) are common gifts as well as personal items such as jewelry and placques or books. The pastor and teachers are invited for the dinners and usually accept the first invitation offered.
During the year a number of special activities are offered. In recent years many students have participated in the Gathering of the Talents at Concordia Teachers College, Seward, Nebraska. Some special football games, and basketball games were arranged with other schools, and the traditional Field Day with track events is still a big day for the students. Field Day is held in cooperation with St. Paul, Yorktown. Students of both the upper and lower rooms have presented programs to their Senior Citizens group and at Bethesda Care Center, Clarinda.
The last day of school there is a picnic with ail the students, teachers, pastor and parents. Usually a softball game gets under way after dinner if there are any present who can still run after the big dinner. Our present principal Mr. Keith Marsh has been with us since 1973.
Miss Brenda Keely, who has been with us since 1974, will be married this summer and move to Fremont, Nebraska. Immanuel congregation thanks them for their service in feeding God's lambs.
It is the prayer of Immanuel Lutheran Congregation that this school, which was started 100 years ago by our ancestors, who had a great deal of foresight, can continue to flourish in these fast changing times. So be it with the help of God.