IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.
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Church Index

St. Sebald German Lutheran Church
Emanuel German Lutheran Church

Strawberry Point

early drawing of St. Sebald church
early drawing of St. Sebald church

~Unless otherwise credited the newspaper articles were transcribed by S. Ferrall for Clayton co. IAGenWeb

St. Sebald
St. Sebald
Emanuel Lutheran
Emanuel Lutheran


Karl Gottlob Amman
by Robert Fenchel

My maternal 2nd great-grandfather, Karl Gottlob Amman, was the lay founder of the St. Sebald German colony, and the Iowa Synod of the Lutheran Church. In 1850 Wilhelm Loehe, his Lutheran pastor in Germany commissioned Karl to bring a group of 20 poor German families to America with the express purpose of preserving and growing Confessional Lutheran families in America, as well as giving those who came opportunities for a better life. They initially settled in Frankenhilf, MI, which is modern-day Richland, MI and near Saginaw. Karl was instrumental in establishing the Frankenhilf colony and built one of the first log cabins in Frankenhilf. Karl had built his cabin to accommodate church services for these immigrant families. Because of a theological dispute between the pastor who came with the families to America and other established Lutheran Church clergy in the area Karl, along with his own family, the pastor, and one other family moved on to Iowa. The full details of this history are written in Rev Albert Llewelyn Hock's book, THE PILGRIM COLONY (Lutheran University Press 2004). Karl is buried in St. Sebald cemetery along with his son-in-law, George Schuchmann (my great-grandfather), and Karl's daughter, Anna Amman Schuchmann.

Family portrait of Karl Gottlob Amman and family, 1860

Left to right, front: Katharina Amman (1848-?), Anna Christina Keller Amman 1816-1872), Johannes Amman (1853-?), Karl Gottlob Amman, Sr. (1812-1877), Christina Amman (1851-?); behind Johannes is Karl Gottlob Amman, Jr.

~Contributed by Robert 'Bob' Fenchel. Interested researchers can contact Bob at his email address in the Surname Registry for Amman.


St. Sebald Church Held 75th Anniversary Sunday

Strawberry Point - St. Sebald Lutheran church, located five miles northwest of here, observed its 75th anniversary of the building of the church by special services Sunday. The St. Sebald congregation had been organized by professors of the seminary located here at that time, in the year 1854, and for the first few years the services were conducted by the professors. Later, a full-time pastor was called.

The first building was a small frame structure, which served for the parsonage, church, and bible school. It was voted to build the present church building in the fall of 1867. Much native material was used and other material was hauled from McGregor by ox team. The pews were home-made and the first altar was fashioned from a large dry goods box. In 1918, at the time that the diamond anniversary was observed, a pipe organ was added. Other improvements have later been added.

The congregation has had six pastors in all. They are: J. List, until 1875; G.W. Fuehr, 1875-1918; L. Gebrt, 1918-1920; F.W. Knappe, 1920-1926; G. Melchert, 1926-1936; Rev. Paul Eilers, 1936- .

~Oelwein Daily Register, 2/10/1943


St. Sebald's Traces Its History Back to Man Who Was Never in United States
by Mrs. Alwin Zwanziger

Strawberry Point - St. Sebald Lutheran church, one of Iowa's first of that denomination, traces its history back to a man who never set foot in this country. His name was William Loethe, the father of missionary institutions in Neuendettelsau, Germany. Loethe's personal influence caused many young men to come to America as missionaries. Two of these men, the Rev. Johannes Deindoerfer and the Rev. G.M. Grossman, came to Iowa in 1853 with a group of 20 students and colonists. Mr. Grossman established a seminary in Dubuque.

Mr. Deindoerfer and the small group of colonists traveled on to Clayton county and settled at St. Sebald in the fall of 1853. Here the parsonage was built. It was also used as a church and school and called St. Sebald am Quell (St. Sebald by the Spring) in German. It was here that the Evangelical Synod of Iowa was organized in 1854. In 1930, this along with the Buffalo synod and Joint Synod of Ohio merged to form the American Lutheran church.

St. Sebald has been in continuous operation since its founding in 1853. The present church was erected in 1867. A parsonage was constructed in 1878 and a school house a year later. The church's steeple was added to the original dwelling in 1903.

St. Sebald's seventy-fifth anniversary was celebrated in 1928 with dedication of a pipe organ. About ten years ago extensive remodeling was done on the parsonage. In 1941, Mrs. Cuney Oldoerfer Koehler left the church some money in her will. The funds were used to redecorate the interior of the church and buy a new altar and pulpit. By special subscription, a new roof was also put on the building at this time.

Out of St. Sebald's congregation have come two daughter congregations, Emanuel Lutheran church, Strawberry Point, and St. John's Lutheran church at Arlington. It has a baptised membership of 208 and a confirmed membership of 156.

The longest pastorate in the church's history was that of the Rev. G.H. Fuehr who served from 1875 through 1918 when he retired at the age of 80. Present pastor is the Rev. Robert E. Glaser who bagan his ministery in September, 1948.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, 5/7/1949


Strawberry Point Lutheran Churches Closely Linked Historically
by Mrs. Alwin Zwangiger, Register Reporter

Strawberry Point - The history of the two Lutheran churches at Strawberry Point is closely connected since the one is really a daughter to the other. The history of the St. Sebald congregation located north of Strawberry Point goes back more than 100 years to the early 1850's. Pastor Wilhelm Loehe of Neuendettelsau, Germany, was responsible for sending more than 300 missionaries to German Lutherans in North America about the middle of the centruy. Among these 300 were a group of pastors sent to German colonists in the area around Saginaw, Mich. When doctrinal differences arose there, Pastor Loehe advised Pastors J. Deindorfer and G.H. Grossman to find a new location. They selected Iowa City, then the state capital, as their goal but when they arrived at Dubuque in the year 1853 they were persuaded to come to Clayton county because there were already a number of German colonists here and land was only $1.25 per acre.

They chose the spot north of Strawberry Point now the site of St. Sebald. George Andreae, a present member of the congregation still has in his possession the original letter they wrote back to Michigan describing the location as having everything they desired.

In the fall of 1853 the two men with 22 colonists from the Michigan colony returned to the area, established homes and organized St. Sebald congregation, which they named in honor of Saint Sebaldus, a missionary in the vicinity of Nuremberg, Germany. Church services were first conducted on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Synod Formed

The old Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Iowa was organized at the unfinished parsonage on Aug. 24, 1854. This organization grew into a body with about 700 congregations in 1930 when it merged with two other Synods to form the present American Lutheran Church. From 1857 to 1874 Wartburg Theological Seminary, now at Dubuque, was located on a farm about two miles from the St. Sebald church, and the pastor served as president of the Seminary for a part of that time.

The Emanuel Congregation

The town of Strawberry Point was growing rapidly, and since many members of the congregation lived there, students at the Theological seminary conducted services for them. It was not until 1878, however, that 13 of these members organized the Emanuel congregation in Strawberry Point and called their own pastor, the Rev. E. Barkow. First services were held in a hall and then in the building of another denomination before the present building was erected in 1882 at a cost of $3000. The original building was 32X50 feet with a tower 85 feet high. In 1895 the bells were dedicated and soon thereafter the transepts and a chanceel were added to make room for the growing congregation. A pipe organ was installed in 1908 and the parsonage was built in 1917. In 1922 the church basement was enlarged and improved so that it could be used as a meeting place for the organizations.

In the past ten years many improvements have been made to the church property, including automatic oil heating systems for the church and parsonage, the church basement renovated, church kitchen modernized and the church redecorated. In commemoration of the 75th anniversary, a new pipe organ was installed at a cost of more than $8000. This year it was voted to purchase new pews and they are expected to be installed in August.

St. Sebald Church Erected in 1867

Going back to the mother congregation, the present church building at St. Sebald was erected in 1867. Prior to that time one building served as a parsonage and a church building with the church bell hung on a large oak tree. The present parsonage was erected in 1878 and modernized in the late 1930's.

In the 50th anniversary year of the church in 1903, the steeple, towering nearly 100 feet in the sky, was added and a large clear-toned bell weighing nearly a ton was hung in the spire. In 1928 a pipe organ was dedicated and in 1937 a wood buring furnace was installed replacing the old heating stoves. The church interior was finished with Nu-Wood in 1941 with funds left by a member of the congregation. It was on Christmas Eve in 1943 that electric lights were first used for an evening service in historic St. Sebald.

Preparations for celebrating the centennial were begun in 1951. The project was largely completed in 1952 at a total cost of more than $10,000. The entire building was raised 18 inches, the basement excavated, a new block wall laid up, water, modern kitchen, rest rooms and automatic oil heat installed. A new asphalt tile floor was laid in the nave of the church, a gift from the estate of Mr. and Mrs. John Wuest, one time members of the congregation.

Lead in Forming Churches

Members of the St. Sebald congregation were instrumental in forming the Lutheran congregations at Arlington and Volga as well as Emanuel at Strawberry Point, and were among the charter members at both places. Both congregations take an active part in community affairs. The float prepared by the St. Sebald congregation for the Strawberry Point centennial parade in 1953 won first prize and the one constructed by Emanuel members took third place. Both congregations have a Brotherhood, a Ladies Aid, Women's Missionary Society, Luther League, Junior Mission Band and a progressive educational program.

St. Sebald Lutheran church
Rev. Herman Cronrath

Emanuel Lutheran church
Rev. S.J. Meyer

Present pastors are Rev. S.J. Meyer at Emanuel and Rev. Herman Cronrath at St. Sebald.

The Rev. Meyer came to Strawberry Point in 1945 from Correctionville. He had also served a congregation at Brighton, Iowa, previous to that time. His father, the Rev. Conrad Meyer, also a pastor, served a congregation at Readlyn for many years. The Rev. Mayer's hobby is woodworking and he has made some beautiful peices of furniture for his home.

The Rev. Cronrath was installed at St. Sebald in January of this year, coming to Iowa from a parish at Genesee, Idaho. He was born at Kenosha, Wis., 55 years ago and has also served parishes at Manawa, Oshkosh and Oconto, Wis. and Colfax, Wash. He and Mrs. Cronrath have two sons in the Lutheran ministry; Luther at Chewelah, Wash., and Daniel, at Earlville, Ia.
~Oelwein Daily Register, 8/12/1955


St. Sebald Lutheran Church Sesquicentennial

St. Sebald Lutheran Church was founded in 1853, and from its beginnings, holds a historic place in the organization of the Lutheran Church in Iowa. St. Sebald is located 6 miles northwest of Strawberry Point. It's beginnings have been traced back to early colonizing efforts under the direction of J.K. Wilhelm Loehe, a pastor in Neuendettelsau, Germany. Loehe organized an early missionary society for training young missionaries to provide the Lutheran religion to settlements he was organizing near Saginaw, Michigan, in the United States. While Loehe did all of his ministry in his small village in Germany, his life-long efforts for training foreign missionaries kept him in contact with his colonies in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. His dream was also to provide missionaries to the Native Americans.

Two of Loehe's supporters, Carl Amman and Pastor Johannes Deindoerfer, came to America with families for Loehe's initial colonizing efforts near Saginaw, Michigan, in 1850 and 1851. Only two years later, in 1853 from the Frankenhilf and Frankenmuth colonies, Amman and Deindoerfer would lead a group of 25 in an effort to colonize in Iowa and search for a place to locate a Lutheran Teachers' Seminary.

In September 1853, the group left Michigan and ventured to Dubuque, Iowa. A majority of the group remained in Dubuque, while Pastor Deindoerfer and Amman and their families took a trail to Clayton County. In November 1853, they purchased an 80-acre tract of forest for their church from the county offices in Elkader. Throughout that first winter, they began to construct a 45X32 foot parsonage church.

Pastor Deindoerfer was the first pastor to serve the area parishioners of St. Sebald. The congregation consisted mostly of German immigrants who were glad to find a community and church where their own language was spoken. The bell that invited parishioners to worship hung from a black oak tree. During the Civil War years, the bell cracked, was sent out east for repairs, but never returned to St. Sebald.

The Hausgemeinde, or family congregation, met in the parsonage-church that was built during that first winter in Clayton County, until later in 1867 when the present building was constructed. The founding families named their colony St. Sebald, after Saint Sebaldus, a legendary missionary who first brought the Gospel to their forefathers in Bavaria, Germany. A famous cathedral in Nueremberg, Germany, bears the same name.

It was August 24, 1854, one year following the founding of St. Sebald, that the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Iowa was formed at the St. Sebald parsonage-church. At that time, there were only two congregations in the Synod, at St. Sebald and Dubuque. In 1855, missionary efforts took the gospel to 16 places. From St. Sebald's congregation, missions were started in the surrounding area, particularly in the Garnavillo-Clayton Center region of the county.

In 1857, the Wartburg Seminary was relocated from Dubuque to the St. Sebald area on a farm two miles southwest of the church, at a location known as Seminary Hill. The Seminary was a two-story frame building, containing living quarters and classrooms. Seminary students and faculty moved to the farm where crop and livestock duties were part of their regular routine, in hopes that the seminary could be largely self-supporting. The Seminary remained at that location until 1874.

Missionary efforts among the Indians were initiated as early as 1857 by Missionary Moritz Braeuninger in the Montana and Wyoming region. The mission station was located at Deer Creek, a tributary of the North Platte river. Indians began visiting the station and the missionaries began learning their language. The missionary work continued until 1864 when the missionaries were warned of a planned attack on their station and a nearby military post. All missionaries returned to Iowa at that time. Two Indian boys who returned with them are buried in the St. Sebald cemetery.

In 1859, the St. Sebald colony became even more self-sufficient through the efforts of the Kleinlein family, who also immigrated from Germany under the direction of Loehe. Only one mile east of the church, in what became known as Kleinlein Hollow, Peter Kleinlein and his brother Johannes, would begin to construct a supply center for the area. Using native limestone cut from the hill west of the hollow, a mill, cheese factory and brewery were constructed.

The mill ground white and buckwheat flour. Standard cheeses and Limburger cheese, were made at the cheese factory and stored for aging n stone-arched caves built into the sloping hillside. At the height of the Kleinlein operations, commerce was directed from the industries to Cox, Cass and Lodomillo townships, and as far away as Delaware county. The mill continued to mill flour until World War I, when the rationing of wheat forced it to close. It reopened for a short time to grind animal feed.

The frame building that stands on St. Sebald grounds today was built in 1867. At that time there was no steeple, bell or basement. The pews were handmade from plain lumber by parishioners. The altar was originally a dry-goods box. The pulpit was placed high on the wall in the southeast corner of the church, with a stairway leading to it. All of the windows wer emade of clear glass.

St. Sebald became home to a small book store in 1873. The Iowa Synod book store was started in Iowa City in 1871 and moved to St. Sebald in 1873. while the book store was moved several more times in later years, it was the root for the Wartburg Press Publishing House.

In August 1875, George Heinrich Fuehr was installed as pastor at St. Sebald. He spent the next 43 years serving the parish, the longest term served by any pastor at the church. In addition to his pastoral duties, he served the colony as a teacher, missionary, postmaster, builder, physician and pharmacits. It has been said that with the seminary, the industries of Kleinlein Hollow and the skills of Pastor Fuehr, the St. Sebald colony was almost as self sufficient as a small town.

The U.S. government opened a post office at St. Sebald, located in the parsonage-church from 1875-1918. The residents of the area could have their mail addressed to St. Sebald, Iowa and pick up their mail at the parsonage.

In 1879, a school house was built at St. Sebald as a parochial school where the students were taught in the German language. Students from the surrounding area who did not have a school, boarded with St. Sebald families and attended the parochial school. When the county opened a public 'English' school, most students attended the German parish school and the English public school in alternate years. Classes were taught in German until 1918 when the parochial school was discontinued.

Many congregations in northeast Iowa sprang from the St. Sebald church, seminary and students, including Emanuel Lutheran Church in Strawberry Point (1878), St. John Lutheran Church in Arlington (1911) and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Volga (1952).

St. Sebald is proud to be the home church of five sons who have been ordained into the ministry since the early founding years of the church. They are Johann Burkhart, ordained in 1871; Johannes Gottlieb Baumgaertner, ordained in 1902; Albert L. Hock, ordained in 1945; Otto A. Zwanziger, ordained in 1955 and David H. Andreae, ordained in 1969.
~Clayton County Register, Wednesday, October 8, 2003


1905 Lutheran League

The Young people of the Lutheran League have elected the following officers for the coming year:
President - Tillie Garf
Vice President - C. Weisinder
Secretary - Emma Gratke
Treasurer - Leonard Glass
~Elkader Register, Thur., 19 Jan. 1905. Strawberry Point column

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

1907 Confirmation

Last Sunday morning a class of thirteen young people were confirmed at the German Lutheran church in this city. In the class were:
John Frederick
George Rehn
Rupert Glass
William Glass
August Meinken
Henry Meinken
Carl Hugge
Rosa Fabert
Sabina Pebler
Helen Hoyer
Eleonora Donath
Helena Graf
Clara Schuchman
~Elkader Register, Thur., 4 Apr. 1907. Strawberry Point column.

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

1919 Confirmation

Marie Gerdes
Johnnie Gerdes
Pauline Opperman
Carl Opperman
Lydia Kamoss
Emma Ladage
Bertha Ladage
Sarah Gratke

Delia Rebaschus
Bertha Reimath
Lydia Gamm
Walter Schug
Pauline Schnack
Lydia Kleinlein

~Elkader Register, Thur., 4 Apr. 1907 Strawberry Point column.
~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

Freddie Eder
Harold Glass
Otto Luther
Tillie Schaffer
Hilda Schmidt
Alice Schoen
Harold Schoentag
Leta Opperman

1921 Confirmation

A class of eight were confirmed by Rev. Fritschel in the Lutheran church last Sunday morning. The church was prettily decorated with plants. The confirmation exercises were in English and the following were confirmed:
Thelma Schuchman
Irma Glass
Anna Huebsch
Gertrude Waring
Thelma Niehaus
Celia Storbeck
Ralph Fliehler
Louie Eder
~Elkader Register, Thur., 7 Apr. 1921. Strawberry Point column

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

1922 Ladies Aid Society

The officers for the Lutheran Ladies Aid Society for the ensuing year are:
President - Mrs. Martha Schug
Vice-President - Miss Mary Glass
Secretary - Mrs. H. J. Opperman
Treasurer - Mrs. Emma Glass
~Elkader Register, Thur., 19 Jan. 1922. Strawberry Point column

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson


Ladies Aid Society
The Lutheran Ladies Aid Society met in the basement of the church last Thursday and the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: Pres. - Mrs. R. W. Schug
Vice Pres. - Mrs. Wm. Jessen
Sec. - Mrs. Ida Wesender
Treas. - Mrs. Lorenz Glass
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 13 Jan. 1927. Strawberry Point column

Last Sunday being Palm Sunday, a class of Eight boys and three girls were confirmed in the Lutheran church, by Rev. Jahr, as follows:
Marvin Skibble
Bruno Kamoss
Roland Burrack
Harold Frederick
Harold Baumgartner
Donald Fliehler
Marvin Schuchman
Donald Duncan
Elsie Heeren
Mildred Lehnertz
Maxine Muebach
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 14 April 1927

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

1928 Confirmation

A class of Thirteen members were confirmed at the Lutheran church last Sunday. The members were:
Ruth Kamoss
Helen Imlau
Maybelle Feulner
Gladys Dahl
Angelica Kleinlein
Irma Frederick
Harold Linderwell
Bernard Niehau
Arnold Jahr
Arthur Burrack
Florien Haufle
George Eder
Herman Rose
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 19 Apr. 1928. Strawberry Point column. Crowded out last week.

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

1932 Luther League

Sunday evening at the regular meeting of the Lutheran League the following officers were elected:
President - Miss Ida Fliehler.
Vice President - Ernest Opperman.
Secretary - Edgar Jahr.
Treasurer - Miss Gladys Dahl.
Reporter - Miss Lillian Feulner.
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 14 Jan. 1932. Strawberry Point column

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson


Ladies Aid
Strawberry Point: The Lutheran Ladies Aid Society met Thursday afternoon in the church parlors with Mrs. Will Burrack as hostess. Election of officers for the year resulted as follows:
President - Mrs. Otto Gipper
Vice-President - Mrs. B. F. Kleinlein
Secretary - Mrs. Frank Imlau
Treasurer - Mrs. Geo. Werger
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 12 Jan. 1933

Palm Sunday a class of ten were confirmed at the Emmanuel Lutheran church by the pastor, Rev. M. O. Jahr. Those confirmed were:
Evelyn Skibbe
Thelma Olson
Helen Gamm
Luetta Schug
Herman Schug
Willard Borcherding
Benjamin Skibbe
Paul Streicher
Alvin Feulner
Robert Hagge
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 13 April 1933. Strawberry Point column

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

1934 Aid Society

Mrs. Fred Lundt was hostess to the Lutheran Aid Society at the church parlors, Thursday afternoon. Election of officers for the ensuing year were as follows:
President - Mrs. R. W. Schug
Vice President - Mrs. Ida Wesender
Secretary - Mrs. George Weger
Treasurer - Mrs. Frank Imlau
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 11 Jan. 1934

~contributed by Reid R. Johnson


Strawberry Point


~photo sources, unless otherwise credited:
1) small drawing or lithograph of St. Sebald at the top of the page is from 'Christian art in the place and in the form of Lutheran worship', by Paul E. Kretzmann, 1921, pg. 145
2) photo of St. Sebald church is from Flickr
3) photo of the German Lutheran church (Emanuel Lutheran), Strawberry Point is from the photo postcard collection of S. Ferrall
4) newspaper photos of Rev. Conrath, St. Sebald and Rev. Meyer, Emanuel Lutheran are from the Oelwein Daily Register, 8/12/1955
5) photo of Emmanuel's Lutheran church at bottom of page is from the Clayton County Register, Centennial Edition, July 1936


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