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


As we look back to 1860's, this area was prairie, good fertile soil; timber area near the Nodaway River. Indian trails were marked over various sections of this area. In fact, Indians camped just north of our church on "posta earth" which to Indians was a warmer soil.

A group of first settlers came from Germany and Indiana. Names: Driftmier, Sunderman, and Otte. Soon others as Steeve, Rope, Wagoner, Baumgarten and Herzberg.

Talk about the good ole days!! I am sure our forefathers had many qualms—but at the same time, very courageous. Traveling by wagon train, covered wagons, as St. Joseph, Mo. Was the nearest railroad station. Pioneering, building farm­steads, breaking up land with oxen teams, kept them busy. Winters were very severe; getting wood from the Nodaway river area to keep warm and build farmsteads.

How would we have reacted: First Lutheran services were in homes. Reading from a sermon book and singing hymns. In 1868 Pastor Landgraff came from Kansas to have a communion service in the Fred Sunderman home.

Eight members signed a constitution to have a Lutheran congregation, Missouri Synod in August 1869. Soon a church and parsonage was built in 1869. This building (16x32x14) cost $600.00. Church services were held upstairs and the pastor lived downstairs. Seven years later this building burned and two months later another building was ready for worship.

In 1877 another building was built just for church and school. This building is now on the Orval Otte place. It served till 1923 as our parochial school.

In 1885 our old church was built on the cemetery site for $4,400.00. Later in 1914 it was moved southwest on the same plot. As the members were moving the church, it is reported the clock in church never stopped. This church was used for worship until 1960.

Our new edifice was dedicated in 1960 at a cost of $145,000.00 and may God bless our present and future endeavors in Christ's kingdom.

Just a few figures on expenses:

1871: Broom - 25 cents, bucket 30 cents, tin cup 10 cents, coal shovel 50 cents
Pastor Lohr's salary - $300.00 - 1874 Past Jobst's salary $450.00 - 1900 First church building - $600.00 Church building (torn down in 1960) - $4,400.00 Present building - $145,000.00


In 1905 - August 26 to September 1, Immanuel was host to the Iowa Synodical convention. Iowa was all one district at that time. 209 attended the convention; 108 pastors and 77 voting congregations. Mission collection was $137.50. "The Doctrine of Justification in Lutheran Church in Contrast to Catholic and Reformed Churches" - Prof. Pieper.

In 1939, August 21-15, Immanuel was host to Iowa West District. Total attendance was 248. Eight congregations joined at that time, including Villisca. Since 1942, district conventions have been held at Lake Okoboji.

Dayton, Trinity -                   1858
Ft. Dodge, St, Paul             1863
Boone, Trinity                      1866
Clarinda, Immanuel            1869

Thus we are the 4th oldest in the Iowa District West.

Parochial School started 92 years ago. Pastor was the teacher. School was closed during World War 1, 1918 -1920. Early enrollment was 40 pupils. Highest enrollment under Busse was 70 pupils. 100% of all congregation children was under Schamber's tenure. First school cost $592.11; teacherage cost $1,200.00.


Ladies Aid - organized July 1, 1920. 25 ladies signed the first constitution. Adeline Rope was the first President. This group became affiliated with IWML in 1946. Present membership is 44 ladies.

Men's Club - formed during Pastor Kruetz time, November 1945 with 22 charter members. Orval Otte was the first chairman. The club was reorganized this past spring - Immanuel LLL. Couples are now members. Also, any adult may be a member.

Walther League joined International W. L. in 1938. This past year reorganized as to service projects.

Wedding Ring Club - formed during Pastor Fritz's stay here. Young couples whose ages equal 70 are members. Raymond Buch is presently chairman.

P.T.L. was formed when Mr. Harmening was teaching. First president - Vivian Sunderman. Lyle Sunderman is president now. Organization helps create a closer bond as to teachers-pupils-parents.

Recruitment League was formed during Past Ehlen's pastorate in 1963. 7 grants of $1,100 have been given to help college students preparing for church work.


First wedding at Immanuel Lutheran Church - February 1, 1877 - Dietrick Harms and Wilhelmina Wagoner. Second wedding - August 1877 - Henry Goecker and Lucinda Otte.

First baptism - H. F. Sunderman before church organization. L. J. Sunderman was the first baptism recorded in church records. First confirmation was Ben Goecker's mother, namely Lucinda Otte in 1878.

Lucinda Otte was the first female child born in Douglas Township.

Before mail routes in the area, teacher Eickemeyer went to the post office riding horseback. Also, during his stay here, the teacherage was built for $1,200.

Henry Sunderman was government surveyor, probably in Douglas Township - to map out roads. Henry J. hauled the big stone in a small wagon, which was put in the ground every half and mile corners.

Every Saturday evening before the telephone, the church bell was rung at six o'clock to call parishoners to prayer and prepare for Sunday morning service. Also when a death occurred, the bell was "tolled".

First car bought and owned by Fred Herzberg, July 4, 1907 - a 2 cylinder Buick. Imagine going 15 miles an our and no doors for the front seat. Many a one rode in the front seat, legs hanging out, getting ready to jump if need be. Some cars had doors in back as wheels were quite high on cars. It really was dangerous for a team or horses or mules to meet a car. Some cars made such a noise and at a rate of 15 miles an hour, a team of horses usually took for the ditch.

The owner of the first steam powered automobile came to church - his family attended the service, but he had to stay out and keep the steam up so they could drive it back home!

Before cars, people went to church in wagons, buggies, carriages, also horseback. Some even walked. Christmas was always quite an event. Folks took soap stones, bedded wagons with hay or straw and had plenty of blankets to keep from getting cold. How it has changed - a 10 minute ride in a warm or cool car, depending on the season, and we're at church.

War Veterans buried in our cemetery -

John D. Rope 1843-1921 Civil War Veteran, 82nd III. Infantry Henry Wagoner August 1840 - April 1926 - Civil War Veteran George Wehrkamp 1967 - World War I Veteran



Rev. Brandt - first and only pastor who was a teacher. Yorktown congregation Was organized. Also burned down the outhouse - innocently burning out Excess paper - you know "catalogs".

Rev. Jobst - had cows and horses. Also St. John's congregation was organized.

Rev. Jabker - Raise pure Wyandotte chickens. One of largest families. Very
Dependent on his spouse. Had to adjust to preaching American language

Rev. Isreal - Easy going - patience all over the place.

Rev. Wm. Mueller - Had full blood Guernsey cows. Drove a big Packard car. Had Iowa West Convention. Was good at keeping secrets.

Rev. Kreutz - Most decorative hand writing. When playing piano, put his whole Human motions in it. Taught school during teachers vacancy. Remember Our old water tower and tank? Rev. Kreutz was stranded on it because The wind had blown down the ladder. Very energetic and always on the move.

Rev. E. Koberg - Helped get gravel roads to church. Sunday School started While he was here. Voted to build new parsonage. Very ambitious and Wanted to reach out to gain souls.

Rev. E. Fritz - liked to reminisce. Also set up chronological records. First pastor and wife in the new parsonage. Voted to build our new church.

Rev. R. Ehlen - Noted for immaculate yard and garden. A perfectionist.

Rev. D. Erickson - Married first year he was pastor. Serviced three other con-Gregations besides Immanuel. Rachel Anne first baby in the new Immanuel Parsonage. Impressed upon us to be aware of world problems And need of all mission obligations.


Emil Sunderman and Emma Eitzen Otto and Bill Hartstack Edna and Lena Jabker Wilbert Jabker - surviving twin Ina and Inez Fastenau Donald and Dale Herzberg Richard and Raymond Wagoner Connie and Bonnie Neville Jen and Jay Herzberg Lora and Lisa Herzberg Teryl and Cheryl Sunderman

Largest Family - Albert Herzberg - 20 children, all single births, all grew to adult-Hood
Largest Present Family - Bruce Wagoner - an even dozen


Prairie Fire 1856 or 1857. Henry Otte sod house burned. An ox team was used to plow a furrow around the buildings, but fire jumped the furrow and the home was lost. Mrs. Henry Otte was severely burned. Indians were camping just south of the place. An Indian Squaw took care of Mrs. Otte, helping burns to heal; also the squaw nursed Lucinda Otte, Ben Goecker's mother, as she was a baby at that time.

In 1888, Rolfs fell from load of hay, died of broken neck. First husband of Mrs. Karl Rurode.

1875 - Grasshopper Plague. June 13th - 3 days. Crops were destroyed. Grass­hoppers so thick they even clouded the sun.

1883 - Diptheria Epidemic - Eight children died from three families ranging in age from 2 to 14 years. H. H. Sunderman family lost 3 children in 18 days. Dick Rope family lost 5 children in 8 days. Henry Steeve family lost 2 children within 8 days.

1886 - George H. Sunderman died July 6 from drowning. He was 17 years old. They had driven cattle to Hepburn. Father was on his way to Chicago. Boys decided to swim in the Nodaway River.

1903 - Three young men died within a half a year. July 20 August Otte was killed by a binder wheel during a lightning storm. George was riding the lead team of the five horses pulling the binder. August was fixing the double tree when the horses were spooked by a bolt of lightning. The binder wheel ran over August. Robert was shocking bundles near by. Wm. Sunderman, son of John Sunderman, died October 16   He was 28 years old - a victim of typhoid fever. Fred Fruedenburg died in early 1904 - 29 years old. H. H. Sunderman was scalded to death by steam from a steam enging pulling a threshing machine. This happened as he was moving from the Steeve farm to Bill Steeve's (now Arnold Herzberg farm). The steam engine broke down the bridge. This was September 4, 1901.

Wild country wolves were a menace to folks in the area. Lots of animals were killed by wolves.

Wm. Wehmiller was killed by a tractor wheel going over his body in 1923.

The 97 foot high church steeple was a land mark for Immanuel. A wind storm toppled the steeple in the early 1920's. The one rebuilt was not as high.

In the fall of 1949, we had three deaths in 38 days. Namely, Mrs. D. C. Rope, A heart victim O tober 15th; Fred Robberts died of a blood clot after an accident of falling in corn crib; November 15th - Wilbert Sunderman was the victime of his tractor pinning him underneath it. December 7th, Mrs. John Sump was the victim of a stroke suffered the latter part of November. She had been a member of Immanuel and had just joined St. Johns.

In April 1964 several of our Immanuel families felt the "terrible twist" of the 1964 Yorktown tornado.

A recent car accident victim last Thanksgiving was that of Gary Sunderman, 20 years of age.

NOTE: This was re-typed from a booklet prepared and handed out at the 100th Anniversary of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Clarinda, Iowa.