About The Archives May 2021

Bells & Steeples

As Christians we are to called to patience and perseverance. I know many of you have commented about the 1877 Cornerstone which now is displayed in the Skylight Room. Researching the history of this through the newly translated records brings to light just how these Christian virtues were practiced by our founding members.

First mention of a steeple in the minutes:

Kenton, HO 1863

General meeting on Sunday, 31 May 1863 at the Evangelical Protestant St. Johannes congregation. The church council and the ward members gathered after the completed Sunday service, where the president called the meeting to order.

Important business was handled.

2. Ehrhart Blum made the suggestion and Benedict Fink supported it, saying a new roof with pine shingles and a steeple should be put on the church, which was passed unanimously.”

Second stage of constructing a steeple (turned out to be the base for one that did house a bell).

“Monday evening, 18 July 1864

The church council gathered to vote once again, if the church steeple should be finished completely at once or piece by piece. The majority decided on completely. It was also decided that Allies Meyer, who has done other work on the church building, would be tasked with this job for two hundred and ninety dollar – $290, with all the material being delivered to him. Allies Meyer would have to do the work well and durable, which would be checked by the building committee. K. Zulauf, G. Resch and M. Gerlach are that committee. Since there was no other business, the meeting was adjourned until an unknown time.

Attested Konrad Zulauf.”

In 1865 a Bell Society was formed to purchase a bell for the new Tower. John Pfeiffer was sent to Springfield to purchase and deliver the bell. He did so by ox cart. A journey that would have taken an 11-to-12-day round trip.

Third mention of the steeple (tower) when project was approved.

Monday evening, 25 May 1877

The church council together with the various committees gathered at the church and Mr. Pastor Diehl, who was presiding, opened the meeting with a prayer.

First the finance committee reported, that although they had not been able to acquire the money, they ensure that they would be able to. With the in mind, the building committee could move forward in their planning, so that the start of construction could start as soon as possible.

2. The building committee reported, that they were unable to reach a conclusion about the truss. The situation was discussed by the council and the whole committee and after all ideas and points were discussed, the following was decided: 1. The truss should be raised 5 to 6 feet and shall be covered in slate. 2. The tower should be 10 feet over the rooftop, build with bricks and should ca. 100 feet tall. 3. That the tower, the new addition and the truss, as well as the removal of the inner wall, and the opening of the pulpit alcove, shall be given out with a contract. 4. That the congregation will order the needed brick, but all other materials shall be obtained by the contractors. The meeting was adjourned”

The actual construction is finally mentioned.

Monday night, 6 Aug 1877

The church council gathered at the parsonage and the meeting was opened by a prayer of Mr. Pastor Diehl. After the protocol of last meeting was read and approved, the committee responsible for finding a new local for the Sunday ser- vice during the repairs, shared their news. They had reached out to Pastor Waddel of the United Presbyterian Church and said church would be available to the congregation to use every Sunday afternoons for no charge. It was decided, that this offer would be accepted with gratitude and in friendship.

The following question was also being discussed: Should we let Mr. Heinrich Schnaut do the inner work of our church or not. The decision was, that Mr. Schnaut would be supervise the work.

2. That the day laborers should be selected of the congregation, that the wage of the trades people should not be paid more than $2.00 per day, that day laborers should not be paid more than $1.50 per day and that the supervisor should not paid more than $2.50 per day.”

As you can see it took over twenty years for the plan for a Church with a bell and real steeple to come to fruition. It would be the following year, 1878, before the project was completed. So, when we get frustrated with the pace of change at church, remember this is not a new experience. God’s timing always trumps our human expectations. It is our job to persevere.

Jerry Pfister, Historian