Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

History of St. John's Lutheran Church at Hanover

One of the most wealthy German communities in Iowa is located in the southwestern part of Buena Vista county and the nearby townships of Cherokee, Ida and Sac counties.  Some of the pioneers came to the fertile and beautiful Maple Valley in 1870, and since then the colony has gradually extended and increased in wealth, until it now numbers more than five hundred souls.


The German Lutheran church, located in the midst of this settlement, was organized in the fall of 1879 by the following gentlemen:  William Schmidt, Carl Schuekle, Carl Fett, Louis Bumann, Carl Getzmeier, August Kaskey, John Hans, Fred Seehagen, and Henry Hoffmeier.  Of these William Schmidt, August Kaskey and Carl Schuelke constituted the first official board, and two of these gentlemen are still members of the church.  In September, 1880, the first church, the size of which was twenty-four by thirty-six, was dedicated, having been built the preceding summer.  But as the number of members rapidly increased another church was found necessary, which was built in 1889, and is the present church.  This building is thirty-eight by seventy-two, and

was dedicated in October of that year.  The first church is now used as a schoolhouse and stands to the south of the church.


The first pastor was William Grumm, who served from 1880 to 1883.  He was succeeded by Philip Dornseif, who remained five years.  In 1889 Rev. Henry Wehking was called and he has faithfully served for twenty years, being the present pastor.  The official board today is composed of C. Zwemke, J. Otto, William Ell, G. Miller, Fred Kaskey, H. Hinkledey; William Schmidt is treasurer and J. Schmidt is secretary.  There are one hundred and fifteen families connected with the church, and four hundred and ninety-five is the number of communicants.


In May, 1900, a beautiful pipe organ was dedicated with appropriate services. Prof. J. Schmidt is organist of the church.


The parochial school conducted in connection with the church has always been well attended, and in the spring of 1900 a second schoolhouse was erected four miles southeast of the church.  Both schools are now taxed to their capacity.


The teachers who have been in charge of the schools are John Eschenbacher, who resided there from 1888 to 1890.  Jacob Schmidt came that year and is still in charge of the educational work.  In the second school Lydia Zimmerman taught from 1900 to 1902, Martin Boese in 1903, Albert Siebert in 1904, Martin Heinke and Walter Becker in 1905, and since then Welhelmine Wehking, who is the present teacher.  The number of scholars is one hundred and twelve.


Rev. Wehking is president, and several of his parishioners are of the official board of the German Lutheran Hospital at Sioux City.  It is a contented and prosperous community, and the church is the center about which all things that are for the best of the people are grouped. 


Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole.  Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa.  Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 118.