The following information from 1893 was translated from the original German by Pastor Alfred (Fred) Scholar. The translations were completed in 1992, shortly before St John’s 100th Anniversary. Pastor Fred provided the following commentary with his translations:
November 10, 1992
“Finally, I finished the translations of the old church records. Sorry that it took that long, but it required more time as I thought it would at the beginning. These old Germans who came over here, started a new life, and founded a new church, felt much more comfortable with an ax or a plow in their fists that with a writing pen. The records contain, beside the hard to read ancient script, lots of syntactical and orthographical mistakes and I think only a German who is familiar with the ways of living and thinking of rural people from a century ago could be able to figure out the meanings. In my translation, I tried to stay as much as possible with the simple, often incorrect ways of expression, and to translate the text as much by word as possible. In some sentences I had to add a few word(sic) to make them understandable for the English reader.”
“It was much of an enjoyment for me, and often my thoughts wandered away, connected with those people whose words I tried to understand, shared in their sorrows, and hopes, and admired their spirit, and their strength, as they set out to build a new personal, and as well spiritual home in this strange country”
Pastor Alfred Scholer of Bethany Lutheran Church in Perkins MI, died very suddenly in May of 1995 from a brain aneurysm. We will always be grateful to him for translating these early minutes.
St. Johns Records from 1893
(Editors note: This was a transitional time for the community that would eventually take on the name of Hubbell MI. While you will see the location at the top of these pages changes with time, all the notes pertain to the same church building which remains unmoved. The Post office which still stands down the road from the church was the Groverton Office from 1886 until 11/13/1893, the South Lake Linden Office from 11/14/1894 until 11/19/1903, and became the Hubbell Post Office (Named for Lawyer, Judge, and Senator Jay Hubbell who died in 1900). Some sources also state that 1903 is when the railroad was completed to reach the new town of Hubbell. Our story begins on a Monday…..)
May 15th, 1893
We, the undersigned residents of Groverton and surroundings state herewith or willingness to join together in an Evangelical Lutheran Congregation with shall bear the name of Saint Johnannes Congregation.
1 Elias F. Moehrke
2 Julius Hoenig
3 August Moehrke
4 Carl Krug
5 Reinhold Schuster
6 Elias Messner
9 Johann Horst
10 Frank E. Greif
11 William Moehring
12 Johann F. Hecker
The meeting was opened by Pastor Engelder. It was decided:
- that Mr. Carl Moehrke should be the council secretary.
- that a building committee should be elected, which was done with the following result: Carl Krug, Herrmann Wiendenhoeffer, Frank Greif, John Horst, John F Heckert and Carl Moehrke; these persons should take care of all matters the best way possible.
- that a committee of two persons, August Moerke and Frank Greif, should be authorized to ask, on behalf of the congregation, President Aggiez(sic) for a donation to the Church Building Fund.
- that there should be services whenever the hall could be rented.
The meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer. Signed: F. Moehrke, secretary.
(Editors notes: It can be seen here that building committee members weren’t all necessarily signers to the new congregation, and that services were to be commenced immediately once a location could be rented to have them. These services were first conducted in the Grover Cleveland School -built in 1886- which used to reside in what is currently the church parking lot. Services were also held in the Methodist church in Lake Linden, and a hall located down the street from the new church building. President Agassiz was head of the Calumet and Hecla mine, the largest copper producing mine in the area at that time. He normally visited the mines in the spring and fall of each year and was an advocate in the 1880’s of providing schools and churches for the mine workers to promote company loyalty. In 1893, when this request was made, there was some mining unrest, so he may have been in the area for a longer period of time. Strikers took over the hoist/engine house of the C&H mine to attempt stop mining operations. They were fired, and removed by the county sheriff. By the end of 1893, 20 churches resided on C&H property. So funding this request was likely a way for C&H to show its benevolence and reward loyalty from it’s workers. Little did they know that the Panic of 1893 was coming in June)
South Lake Linden, May 29th, 1893
The meeting was called to attention by the pastor. It was decided to elect church officers for the following positions:
Council President Carl Krug
Secretary Julius Hoenig
Treasurer Carl F. Moehrke
Trustees: August Moerke for one year for the district of Grover
Frank Greif for two years from the district of Lake Linden
John Horst for three years for the districts of Quinci, Oscola, Tamarak, Mills, and Tamerak City.
Each trustee has to collect the church contributions in his district monthly.
Carl Moehrke and Frank Greif shall ask Mr. Bohlms for a donation for the church building fund.
Report of the building committee
Two lots were bought; Lot I in section G, Grover, Lot VI in Section A Meollens-land, and Section 14 Fischer and Mc Entire addition, for the price of 200 dollars.
The contract was signed by five members of the building committee.
The proposed costs for the church building are 1286 dollars and 50 cents.
adopted Sept. 3, 1893
(Editors Notes: Here it can be seen that collections were not taken weekly from the members, but instead the trustees collected them monthly from the towns they were responsible for. Also the church purchased the lots, but as was customary in the mining days, the mineral rights below the lots were retained by the mining companies. As will be seen later, the church building cost did not include the existing basement but was just for the upper structure. Mr Bohlms is believed to be Ernest Bollman based on later documentation of the churches 50th anniversary. He was president of the Village of Laurium and a member of the Calumet church as well as a prominent local citizen at the time. As of this July date, the Panic of 1893 -which started in June- was causing bank runs throughout the country in one of the most severe financial crisis to hit the United states. It resulted in the largest Depression to hit the US until the Depression of 1930. In the beginning of 1893, railroads started to fail. In May of 1893, the final straw causing this panic was the National Cordage Company’s failed attempt to corner the hemp market, resulting in a selloff of its stock (it was one of the highest volume stocks traded at the time) and triggering the indiscriminate selling of stocks across the stock exchanges. The depression following the panic lasted five years, and resulted in the failure of more than 15,000 companies and 500 banks, with unemployment reaching nearly 20 percent. In fact, by 1895 this run caused the US Government itself to come within hours of failing because of policies that cause a run on gold. It was saved by a loan of 3.5 million ounces of gold from JP Morgan and the English Rothchilds. In the face of such unemployment and other issues, it ended up to be a tough time to start a new congregation or take out a loan)
South Lake Linden, July 17th, 1893
The pastor opened the meeting.
Decisions were made, that on the occasion of the dedication of the church on August 13th, the congregations of Lake Linden, Calumet, and Hancock shall be invited.
- that the amount of $600 shall be borrowed to pay the debts of the church.
- the money shall be borrowed for one year at an interest rate of 4%. The trustees have to take care of all the necessary paperwork.
Adopted September 3rd 1893
(Editors notes: An August 13th dedication date means the churches upper structure was completed in just 90 days. It would appear from the earlier meetings that the church building may have had funding of 50% from the people asked to donate earlier. This was a relatively good interest rate and the interbank loans via Collateral Loan Certificates rate at this time out of New York (somewhat like today’s Prime interest rate) had jumped to 6% interest due to the collapse of the price of silver and beginnings of the run on gold at banks nationwide which would last for two years.)
South Lake Linden, September 3rd, 1893
After a bylaw to the constitution was adopted, the pastor called the meeting to order.
Members present: Carl Krug, Julius Hoenig, Carl Moehrke, August Moehrke, Frank Greif, Herrmann Wiedenhoefer and Wilhelm Moehring.
It was decided, that names of the donors to the church building will be written into a booklet, which will be kept in the church.
- that the trustees shall audit the books and cash register of the building committee. If the Trustee John Horst will not be present, the President Carl Krug shall fill in for him.
- that at the next meeting a constitution shall be discussed and adopted.
- that Mr C. Moehrke shall buy books, one with pages numbered for the church order.
- that Julius Hoenig shall buy a mirror, a comb, a water pail, and a drinking glass for the church.
- that the trustees have to hand over the money of the monthly contributions directly to the treasurer.
- to give Mr. John Horst I 10 dollars as gratification for collecting the contributions
Two candidates for the council were voted into membership, Mr. Louis Roeder, and Mr. Carl Moehring.
The meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer.
adopted October 8th, 1893
(Editors Notes: Apparently, Mr Horsts travels to all communities he was assigned to as Trustee to collect funds for the church merited special compensation relative to the other trustees. Also, then as now, it would appear a Mirror and Comb were necessary so people could make sure they looked OK for church, and it being August and early September since the last meeting and around the current labor day timeframe, The warm weather probably made water bucket and glass seemed like a good idea too.)
South Lake Linden, October 8th, 1893
The pastor caller the meeting to order and opened it with a prayer.
Members present: Carl Krug, Julius Heonig, Carl Moehrke, August Moehrke, Frank Greif, Elias Messner, Herrmann Weiderhoefer, John Messner and Louis Roeder.
The books of the building committee were audited and found to be in good order.
Income to date $1869.19
Expenses to date $1758.19
Cash amount $111.38
- Herman Wiedenhoefer has to take care that the church basement will be closed.
- Pastor shall, beginning July 1st, receive quarterly (30) dollars for salary.
- The constitution was read, discussed, and adopted.
- Mr. August Moerke shall apply for incorporation, on expense of the congregation.
- Mr. Greif shall go to Calumet and ask them to send their pastor next Sunday.
- To Mr. Roeder was a thank you expressed for the stove.
- John Messner shall overtake the collection of the church contributions from John Horst.
The meeting was closed with a prayer.
Adopted November 26th, 1893
(Editors notes: The new church did very well, despite the financial issues in the country and beginning depression at the time. It would appear that the church successfully erected the basic building and paid for it in just under 5 months. It also had enough cash on hand to provide back pay for the visiting pastor from Saturday July 1st 1893. This may have been the first service for the new congregation by the visiting pastor if he was still preaching at his regular congregation on Sunday, and trains weren’t readily available in “South Lake Linden” yet. Even though some bylaws had been approved in the previous meeting, it would appear that the first constitution -in German- came into official recognition at this meeting. As we can see, the basement was “open” at this point. This means the building was likely built with timbers on piers as was a common building practice in these days. We are aware from other documents that the actual church basement wasn’t completed until 1903, so “closing” the basement likely meant just filling in the space between the piers at this point with wind wasn’t blowing under the building and cold air wasn’t seeping up though the floor. Now that winter was coming on, the gift of a wood stove (meaning that first building also had a chimney as seen in the 1895 picture) was likely greatly appreciated as it is unlikely that the building had any insulation at this point. This was a simple building at this point. The current pulpit, altar, and bell did not exist yet and the interior of the church wasn’t finished. There was no organ, and no electricity.)
South Lake Linden, November 26th, 1893
Pastor opened the meeting and called the roll.
Members present: Carl Krug, Julius Hoenig, Carl Moehrke, August Moehrke, Frank Greif, John Horst, Elias Messner, Herrmann Wiedenhoefer, John Messner, Wilhelm Moehring, and Louis Roeder.
The members decided to call pastor Huebner at a substitute until there will be a pastor again at Calumet.
- Mr Horst will be send to Hancock to ask Pastor Huebner whether he is able to come.
- To Pastor Engelder shall be paid back his $50, also he was thanked for his efforts.
- The teachers of Hancock will be asked to translate the constitution into English.
- Carl Krug shall order the Christmas tree.
Christ Grebb, and Hermann Schuster signed the constitution as members.
The meeting closed with the Lord’s Prayer.
Julius Hoenig, Sec.
Adopted March 4, 1894
(Editors notes: As seen in the next meeting, Pastor Huebner did accept the role of substitute until the first pastor could be called. Also as early as the end of 1893, the leadership already envisioned the eventual English speaking members and church. As we can see from the last meeting, the council had agreed to pay the visiting pastor $10 per month or $30 per quarter. It is likely that the $50 referred to in this meeting was actually back pay for the 5 months Pastor Engelder had provided services until this point. This would have been a significant amount of money giving the ongoing depression happening in the country at the time.
South Lake Linden, January 28th, 1894
A special meeting was called to order and voted:
- to send a letter of call to Pastor Huchthausen
- to send Frank Greif and Julien Hoenig to Calumet to discuss matters of calling a new pastor with the congregation there.
- to ask Pastor Huebner to install Pastor Huchthausen in his new office.
- to pay Pastor Huebner $25 as settlement for his services
adopted March 4, 1894
Events at St Johns in 1893
On August 13th, 1893 when St John’s Lutheran Church of South Lake Linden was dedicated, the first to babies were also baptized. They were:
Johann Jacob Julius Koenig (born April 11, 1893) whose parents were Julius and Louise (nee Bethke) Koenig. Sponsers were Karl Krug and Wilhelmine Moerke.
Walther Friedrich Allen Moehring (born August 3rd, 1893) whose parents were Wilhelm and Marie (nee Wuebben) Moehring. Sponsers were Friedrick Moehring and Adelaid Moehring.
A third Baptism also took place that year. On December 10th, 1893 Edward Karl Greif (born December 4, 1893) was also baptized. His parents were Franz and Wilhelmine (nee Messner) Greif and his sponsers were Karl Moerke, Johannes Messner and Maria Messner.
Holy Communion was only celebrated twice during 1893. Once on the dedication, August 13th, when twenty six members took communion, and on November 26th when 30 people took communion.
There were no funerals, weddings, or confirmations in that first year.