The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 2, Page 8.


Lutheran Congregation In City Was Organized In Pre-Civil War Period

Among the early citizens of Valparaiso were Lutherans who had migrated from Germany and established homes in this city about 1850. They found no church of their faith here. For a dozen years no attempt was made to organize a church. At that time there were probably forty to fifty families in the immediate vicinity of the town.

To their joy, Rev. William Jahn, who came here before the Civil war with his wife and five little daughters from Holstein, Germany, was asked to organize a church and become pastor. The mother of Dr. Mox Ruge was a daughter of Rev. Jahn.

Not long afterward a division occurred in the church membership ranks, some of the members going to the Reformed church. The Lutheran congregation, however, went on. Rev. Jahn went to the front during the Civil war and was killed by "guerrialas".

Succeeding Rev. Jahn here was Rev. J. P. Beyer. Under his ministry the church was fully organized, and services were held in rented quarters.

On Feb. 3, 1864, the German Evangelical society purchased a lot of John and Elsaba Urbahns on the north end of the lot, and a Gothic brick church called the "The German St. John Church of Valparaiso" was built. Rev. Carl Schwab, who in 1868 married the eldest daughter of Pastor Jahn, was the minister in charge. He was called to a larger pastorate in Illinois and the church languished.

On January 28, 1875, John Urbahns and John Tofte, trustees of the church, executed a deed for the property to the Unitarian Building society. Firman Church and Thomas Lytle were trustees of the Unitarian society. Mr. Lytle was the father of Mrs. P. L. Sisson. Rev. Enoch Powell, father of D. E. H. Powell and Rev. Parker were the Unitarian ministers.

The church failed to prosper and during the regime of Rev. Parker the property was returned to the Urbahns, original owners. In 1880, Hubbard Hunt and Firman Church, trustees of the Unitarian society, gave a quit claim deed to the lot to John Boye, father of Mrs. John Sievers, Sr. In 1881 C. W. Dickover, sheriff of Porter county, executed a sheriff's deed to John Boye. He bought the property in the hope that the Lutheran church might establish its manse and house of worship there.

Another German Society had been growing up in and around Valparaiso. They had been organized by Rev. A. Wanderley, who came here from Tolleston, Ind. A school was organized in conjunction with the church. Rv. C. Meyer, the pastor, was instructor in the school. The church and school, a three-room structure, was located at the corner of Chestnut and Academy streets. It was built in 1865.

Rev. C. Meyer, who had succeeded Rev. Beyer, remained here until 1870. He was succeeded by Rev. Bernhardt Lange, of Defiance, O.

In 1882 the Lutherans purchased the property belonging to the Unitarian society and continued to hold meetings in it until the present building of the Immanuel Lutheran church was erected on the corner of Washington and Institute streets in 1891.

Following Rev. Lange was Rev. August Rehwalt. In 1902, Rev. P. Claussen took charge of the local pastorate and remained nine years. Rev. Clarence William Bear, of Tipton, Ind., came here in 1911, and remained twelve years. He was succeeded by Rev. George Schutes, who came here from Logan, Ohio. He was succeeded by Rev. O. H. Schmidt, who came here from Cincinnati, Ohio, the present pastor.

Some of the first members of the Immanuel Lutheran society were: Mrs. Claus Specht; Mrs. Sophia Lang, who was a trained nurse from Germany; Mrs. Anna Huffman Hart, Antone, Kuehl and Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Sievers, the former two, trustees, were among the first members of the church.

Immanuel Lutheran has a large membership due to the attendance of Valparaiso university instructors and members of the student body which is largely Lutheran.

In 1888 St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran church was organized by members who became dissatisfied with the German Lutheran church. Quarters were secured in the old Methodist church building which had been moved to the corner of Lincoln avenue and Franklin. For a number of years the church had a large following, but in later years the members drifted away to other congregations and the church services were discontinued. The property was sold a number of and only this year was razed.

Since 1865, a parochial school was maintained in conjunction with the church, but was discontinued about 1910. Later the school building located in the rear of the present church was razed for the $20,000 parish hall. Among some of the later day instructors were Prof. H. Hicken, now pastor of the Lutheran church at Kouts. Prof. H. Hiden, E. W. Grothe, and Prof. A. Wolkenhaner.

In 1880 the German Lutherans of Kouts build a small frame church at a cost of $600, with Rev. Philip Smith, as pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. Julius Duusing. At the time the church was erected it was the only church building in Pleasant township. The congregation had been holding meetings in the school house since 1873. Rev. Hicko Hicken had been pastor of the church for nearly thirty years.

About the time of the Lutheran church of Kouts had it inception, a German Lutheran congregation, known as St. John's Evangelical Lutheran church was organized at Chesterton. A church building was commenced in the fall of 1880, under the ministry of a preacher named Hammon, who was the first pastor, and it was finished in 1881. The church numbered but twelve members when it was organized, but by 1880 its membership had reached forty-five.

In the late seventies a German Lutheran Congregation exited at McCool. They had no house of worship and used the Methodist church for their meetings.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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