Church: Brighton Church History (2 Oct. 1928)

Contact: Natalie Erpenbach


Surnames: Schilling, Naatz, Erck, Bruesewitz, Stoltenow, Border, Matter, Voth, Luepke, Neuman, mellentin, Krause, Schwantes, Brummer, Frankfurth, Voelker, Schwartz, Schacht, Boeder, Martin, Schumann, Kobs, Bruss, Schuette, Siebrandt, Todt, Imm, Ziehlsdorff, Schmidt


---Source: Marshfield News (Marshfield, Wood Co., Wis.) Oct. 2, 1928  





The present house of worship, dedicated in January, 1911.



Spencer, Oct 2


Among the flourishing congregations in this section of the state which had their inception in the days of the forest primeval and the log hut is that of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran church, located in the town of Brighton, two miles north of Spencer on Highway 13, which was called into existence as a church body nearly half a century ago.  Although the formal organization was not effected until Oct. 27, 1878, services were first conducted several years prior to that time by the Rev. W. C. Schilling of the Missouri Synod, who was assigned in 1873 as resident pastor of St. Peter’s congregation at Stevens Point, and who soon thereafter established preaching stations at Junction City, Auburndale, Spencer, Colby, Dorchester, Greenleaf, Medford, Butternut, and Ashland.  In common with other pioneers, the home missionaries of that day faced severe hardships in order to serve the families who were wrestling with nature for a living for themselves and their posterity, and only those who have seen similar conditions can fully appreciate the work done by these early church workers.


At the formal organization, which took place in an old log school house on the present Naatz farm, the Rev. H. Erck of the town of Wein was called to serve the group and to preach every fifth Sunday, when possible, and to instruct the children.  At the first congregational meeting the following officers were elected: Chairman, the Rev. H. Erck; Secretary, August Bruesewitz; Elders, Carl Stoltenow, Herman Boeder, Gustav Matter.  The other founders of the congregation included Ernest Bruesewitz, Christoph Voth, August Luepke, Carl Luepke, Frank Neuman, William Mellenthin, Sr., Wilhelm Mellenthin, Jr., Frank Krause, Wilhelm Schwantes, Wilhelm Brummer, Frank Frankfurth, August Voelker, Wilhelm Schwartz, George Schacht, Ferdinand Boeder, Wilhelm Marten, Henry Schumann, Ferdinand and August Kobs, and Carl Bruss.  All but five of these have passed from time to eternity, and only one, August Kobs, is still and always has been a member of the congregation.  The other four, Carl Stoltenow, Frank Neumann, August Voelker, and Wilhelm Schwartz are affiliated with sister congregations.


Built Church in 1881

At a congregational meeting held Feb. 16, 1879, it was decided to buy a building site for a house of worship.  No further action was taken, however, until on Christmas day, 1880, when it was definitely decided to begin building preparations.  Logs were cut during the winter and taken to a mill at Romeo, where they were sawed into lumber.  The following summer, the first church was built by a Mr. Parker for the sum of $200.  This structure is still in existence, being now used as the town hall.


Meanwhile, on Sept. 5, 1879, a call had been extended to the Rev. Mr. Schuette, who became the first resident pastor at Spencer.  May 21, 1882, Trinity Lutheran congregation was formed at Spencer, and the Rev. Mr. Schuette served both churches as a joint parish until early in 1884.  The Rev. F. Siebrandt was called May 25, 1884, and served until July, 1893, when he accepted the call sent him by Trinity church at Merrill.  He was succeeded by the Rev. J. Todt, who served six years in church and school, leaving the same year the Rev. A. F. Imm was installed as Pastor and remained 10 years.  His successor was the Rev. K. E. J. Schmidt, now located at Pittsville, under whose pastorate the present church was built and dedicated to the service of God in January, 1911.  It is a frame structure, brick veneered, 32 by 72 feet in dimension, and has since been improved by the interior decoration, by the addition of a bell, and repairs, all in 1919, at a total cost of $1,500.  In 1923 the new Hinners pipe organ was installed.  The school and parsonage were built in 1912.




The first church building, erected in 1881, and now used as a town hall.


During the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. Schmidt the two congregations resolved to form two separate parishes, the St. John’s congregation being serviced by the Rev. Mr. Schmidt until Nov. 4, 1912, when he installed the present pastor, the Rev. A. F. Ziehlsdorff, who was formerly stationed at Swansville, Minn.  Although the congregation has not felt able to call a teacher, the school has not been neglected, the pastor teaching from eight to nine months each year, besides attending to his other pastoral duties.


Parish Records

During the existence of St. John’s congregation, according to the records, 515 children and adults were baptized; 412 were confirmed in the doctrine of the church; Holy Communion was partaken of 11,461 times, with private administration 185 times; 115 couples were joined in wedlock; 140 burial services were conducted.  At present the congregation numbers 314 souls, including 70 voting members, six contributing members, and 195  communicants.


Owing to the uncertain condition of the late October weather, a formal celebration of the Golden Jubilee was held Sept. 9 in the church, at which time two former pastors, the Rev. Mr. Todt of Manistee, Mich, and the Rev. Mr. Schmidt of Pittsville, assisted in the observance of the joyous occasion.  The latter preached in German at the morning service, basing his remarks on Phil. 1; 3-6.  The venerable Praesis Diab of Merrill addressed the audience at the afternoon service, choosing as his text Psalm 118, verses 24 and 25.  The evening sermon, in English, was delivered by the Rev. Mr. Todt, who spoke on the fiftieth Psalm, verses 14 and 15.  The church was fittingly decorated with flowers and with a banner made by several women of the congregation.  A plate luncheon and other refreshments were served at the dinner and supper hours, and a social time was enjoyed between services.  All contributed to make the occasion one long to be remembered by those who participated in the joyful event.


The Rev. A. F. Ziehlsdorff, who has served as pastor and teacher since Nov. 4, 1912


St. John's Lutheran, Brighton Twp., Marathon Co., WI (Church Records)




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