Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-168
Location: LH-168

(Description ID: 594727)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Fremont, Ohio St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran
Church Records, 1842-1977


Agency History
Scope and Content

A microfilm of the St. John’s Lutheran Church local history collection is available. Portions of St. John’s Lutheran Church vital records have been translated and transcribed in print format. Much of this work may be credited to member Frieda Ried. St. John’s Lutheran Church Records: 1842 - 1941, Fremont, Ohio (F499 F9 R51 ORR) contains the baptisms from 1842 to 1864 and from 1890 to 1994; confirmations from 1845 to 1928; communions from 1842 to 1849; and deaths from 1843 to 1846 and 1890 to 1941. Henry Lang’s Record Books, I - V, 1852 to 1859 (F499 F9 R52 ORR) contains baptisms, confirmations, communions, deaths, and church activities appearing in Rev. Lang’s record books (I through V). Rev. Lang provided pastoral services for several small Lutheran congregations in Seneca and Sandusky Counties during this period.. Information on these congregations and their activities is included in Lang’s five volumes. The work contains an index. St. John’s Lutheran Church Marriage Records, 1844 - 1877 (F499 F9 R5 ORR) contains data on the marriages performed by Rev. Lang during this period, including those performed at other Lutheran churches in Sandusky and Seneca Counties. St. John’s Lutheran Church, Fremont, Ohio: 1843 - 1983 (F499 F9 S24 ORR) contains a history of the congregation and a church bulletin for the 140th anniversary service. The described works may be viewed in the Hayes Presidential Center’s reading room.

Agency History
By 1820 German Lutherans from Pennsylvania and Germany had moved into Sandusky County, Ohio. Their spiritual needs were served by missionary ministers but at lengthy intervals. In 1842 a group of German Reformed and German Lutherans met in the Howland Street School in Fremont and formed a congregation. The next year the 40 members adopted a constitution and called Henry Lang as their first pastor. At that time they were called the Evangelical Lutheran and German Reformed St. John’s Congregation. In 1853, the congregation’s name was changed to Evangelical Lutheran St. John’s Congregation. In 1845, the congregation purchased the old courthouse in Fremont, Ohio, located at the east end of Court Street. Services were held on the second floor while the first floor functioned as a parsonage. A new brick church was built in 1861 at the corner of Court and Clover Streets, the site of the present church. Rev. Lang was very active in the community, serving 20 years on the Board of Education. When he died in 1890, the congregation had grown to 800 members.

Edward Pfeiffer was installed as the church’s second pastor in the fall of 1890. It was soon evident there was a need for an assistant pastor to help meet the needs of the growing parish and Carl Ackerman was called. In 1892, about 200 members who preferred services in English withdrew and formed Grace Lutheran Church with Rev. Pfeiffer as their pastor. Later that same year, another group led by Rev. Ackerman withdrew and formed Trinity Lutheran Church at Kingsway.

George Mochel served as the next pastor. During his 14-year tenure, the congregation continued to grow and an addition to the church to accommodate the Sunday School and other activities was built. Rev. Mochel was succeeded by William Rose. Rev. Rose served the church for 35 years. In 1909 a new parsonage was built next door to the church and then in 1919, a new church building was dedicated. Constructed of sandstone blocks and colored art glass windows, this Gothic structure continues to be the congregation’s home.

Elmer Zimmerman started his pastorate in June 1941 and began a time focused on youth. The rapidly growing parish soon saw a need for expanded facilities and in 1952 renovated the church interior and broke ground for a new parish house that was completed the following year. Rev. Zimmerman served St. John’s for 30 years and in addition to the growing building oversaw an expansion of the staff to include a parish worker aided by several interns and then an assistant pastor.

Pastor Klopfer and then Pastor Bauer led the congregation from 1972 to 1977 when Rev. Ervin Walther was called to St. John’s Church. The congregation continues to grow and take an active role in the spiritual life of Fremont. From 1920 to 1980 at least 19 young people entered ministry as a missionary, parish worker, or ordained minister.

Scope and Content
This collection holds many records of the first 100 years for St. John’s Lutheran Church, one of the oldest and largest congregations in Fremont, Ohio. The record books of Rev. Henry Lang, the first pastor of the church, cover the years 1852-1890 and include baptism, confirmation, and communion lists. There are also many membership records such as marriages (1844-1977), births (1844-1865), baptisms and burials (1890-1941) and confirmation records (1877-1882 and 1891-1941). The church council records for 1874-1892 and again 1912-1941 and minute books for the Ladies Aid Society for 1893-1894 and the Woman’s Home Missionary Society for 1900-1945 give an insight into the activities and interests of the congregation for those years. And, information regarding youth groups within the church such as Girl’s Chorus, the Luther League, and the Sunday School is found in this collection.

Additional items of interest include: bulletins, special booklets for significant events and celebrations in the church’s life, several hymnals, and catechism books. Some of these hymnals and catechisms as well as some of the early church records are in German.

2½ linear ft.

Box 1

Folders:   1 Record Book of H. Lang, 1852-1853 (private communion, baptisms, confirmation classes, etc.)
                2 Record Book of H. Lang, May 1853 - October 1855
                3 Record Book of H. Lang, 1855-1857
                4 Record Book of H. Lang, January 13, 1857 - July 1858
                5 Record Book of H. Lang, 1858-1859
                6 Record Book of H. Lang, 1859-1860
                7 Record Book of H. Lang, 1860-1861
                8 Record Book of H. Lang, 1862-1863
                9 Record Book of H. Lang, 1863-1865
                10 Record Book of H. Lang, 1865-1866
                11 Record Book of H. Lang, 1866-1869
                12 Record Book of H. Lang, 1867-1870
                13 Record Book of H. Lang, 1869-1873
                14 Record Book of H. Lang, 1874-1876
                15 Record Book of H. Lang, 1875-1880

Box 2

Folders    1 Record Book of H. Lang, 1877-1885 (communion recipients)
                2 Memorandum Book listing confirmands, 1877-1882
                3 Record Book of H. Lang, 1880-1884
                4 Record Book of H. Lang, 1884-1887
                5 Record Book of H. Lang, 1887-1890
                6 Financial Record Book, 1859-1875
                7 Miscellaneous Record Book of H. Lang, 1874 - May 1876
                8 Subscription Book, 1858
                9 Subscription/Treasurer’s Book, up to January 21, 1862 - 1865-1869 (in German)
                10 Subscription Book, 1870
                11 Financial Record Book, 1877-1879, 1887, 1888
                12 Ledger of Expenses, 1908-1912
                13 Treasurer’s Book for the Girl’s Chorus, 1936-1946
                14 Secretary’s Book, Lutheran Sunday School, 1875-1884
                15 Transcription of Treasurer’s Book #3, 1858-1862
                16 History of the Church, handwritten by Rev. H. Lang
                17 Song used for worship in the 1870s
                18 Lutheran Sunday School Class Book, #2, October 1842 - April 1843
                19 Birth Register, 1844-1865
                20 Marriage Register, 1844-1890, 1896-1977 (typed transcript ????)
                21 Confirmed Register, 1891-1936 - Grace Lutheran Church

Box 3

Folders:   1 Minutes and Attendance, Ladies Aid Society, 1893-1894
                2 Minutes and Attendance, Womans’ Home Missionary Society, 1934-1945
                3 Minutes, Meetings of St. John’s Brotherhood, December 1929 - December 1930, January
                    1931 - November 1931
                4 Newspaper Clippings, May 12, 1919 re: Dedication of St. John’s Church (OVERSIZE C-2)
                5 Church Book of St. John’s Parish, 1843 in German (includes xerox copies with transcriptions)
                6 Communicant’s Book, June 1879-1892
                7 Communicant’s Book, March 1894 - May 1904

Box 4

Folders:   1 Record Book (in German & English) containing:
                   Baptisms - 1890-1941
                   Confirmations - 1891-June 1941
                   Marriages - 1890-June 1941
                   Burials - 1890-June 1941
                   Memberships & Dism??? - 1890-1896 (translated to English)
                2 Church Council Minutes (in German), 1874-1892
                3 Church Council Minutes (in German & English), 1912-1941

Box 5

Folders:   1 Photograph of Mrs. William E. Lang
                2 Hymnal of Rev. H. Lang, 1855
                3 Hymnal "presented to Charlie on his 15th birthday, Nov. 8, 1864, by his father, Henry Lang"
                4 German hymnal for the Evangelical Lutheran Church, H. Lang, 1863
                5 Kleine Catechismus, H. Lang, 1877 (Luther’s Small Catechism)
                6 Kleiner Katechismus, Etta Lang, 1873
                7 Minutes, Woman’s Home Missionary Society, 1900-1906
                8 Minutes, Woman’s Home Missionary Society, 1907-1913
                9 Minutes, Woman’s Home Missionary Society, 1914-1921

Box 6

Folders:   1 Minutes, Woman’s Home Missionary Society, 1922-1934
                2 Correspondence, Woman’s Home Missionary Society, 1914-1915
                3 Minutes and Treasurer’s Reports, St. John’s Male Chorus, 1949-1950
                4 Minutes, Young People’s Society, January 1897-1901
                5 Correspondence with the Josephinum Church Furniture Co., 1951
                    re: purchase of pews
                6 Architect’s Plan for Education Building, 1951
                7 Miscellaneous material about the building plan, late 1940s-early 1950s
                8 Financial Report, year ending December 31, 1943
                9 Booklet for the 90th Anniversary Celebration, 1858-1948
                10 Booklet for Centennial Celebration, 1843-1943
                11 Booklet for Dedication of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Parish House, 1953
                12 Programs for Organ Recitals, 1944, 1967, and n.d.
                13 Bulletin from Praise & Thanksgiving Service for the Installation of Rev. Martin L. Miller,
                     January 15, 1961
                14 Bulletin from Praise & Thanksgiving Service for the Dedication and Consecration of the Church
                     Pipe Organ, April 23, 1967
                15 Bulletins from the Ordination Services of David E. Hetrick, Robert E. Zimmerman, and Karl O.
                     Kessler, 1961 & 1963
                16 Bulletins from Youth Sunday School, May 7, 1967
                17 Bulletins from Witnessing Sunday, May 14, 1967
                18 Bulletins from Mission Emphasis Sunday, May 21, 1967
                19 Bulletins from Stewardship Emphasis Sunday, May 28, 1967
                20 Bulletins from Service Commemorating St. John’s Anniversaries, 1963
                21 Newsclippings about Dr. William Lehman as he turns 100
                22 Miscellaneous Papers

Bound volumes: Oversize with collection
Communicants Record (in German & English), 1913-1921
German Family Bible, Hubbard Brothers
Luther League Minutes, 1913-1923 in Box 5
Luther League Minutes, 1902-1912 in Box 6
German Catechism dated 1774, inscribed "H. Lang, Fremont"

Transferred to Portrait File:
Tintype of Henry Lang

Transferred to Local History Photo Collection:
Draped Altar of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Fremont