ST. PETER'S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, MISHICOTInformation taken from: "The Blum Family History", H.E. Blum; "A History of Manitowoc County", Ralph G. Plumb; "History of Manitowoc County", Dr. Louis Falge; and testimony from parishioners.
During the mid 1800's, most of the citizens in and around Mishicott found people of their own faith and worshipped in groups in homes and schoolhouses. At first they were served by preachers who were "circuit riders". These preachers almost exclusively men, travelled from community to community. Their aim was to establish congregations, and eventually be able to have their own congregation to serve as Pastor.
Pastor Carl F. Goldhammer (see photo under St. John's Ev. Luth. Ch., Newtonburg), made infrequent trips to the Mishicot area. Pastor Goldhammer organized the Newtonburg and Manitowoc congregations, as well as the one in Mishicott.
On May 20th, 1861 a group of dedicated Christians along with Pastor Goldhammer, organized St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Township of Mishicot, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.
The little congregation met in homes and a small school house located on Cemetery Hill (near Holy Cross II Cemetery) across from Siebold's Mill. During the period 1863-1872, the congregation was served by Pastor Bartles, Pastor Quehl, and Pastor Zuberbier of Two Rivers.
The church records show that Diedrich Wenholz was an Elder of the church since about the time he arrived in Mishicott (1867). He attended all of the church meetings and for 3-4 years he kept the minutes of the meeting writing them in German. At this time, all of the meetings and services were held in German.
By 1871, the congregation realized they were quickly outgrowing the small schoolhouse and started thinking of a church building of their own. To prepare for this they decided to purchase land to build on. Struggling to make enough to survive themselves, the cost of the land was a little more than the treasury of the congregation could provide. A meeting of the congregation was called to discuss the situation. After the congregation voted to borrow the money, Wilhelm Blum (aka William Blum) and Johann Heinrich Wulf (aka Henry Wulf) lent the congregation $200 at 10% interest, to be payable over two years. The mortgage was signed by Carl Wilsman, Frederick Drews and Dietrich Knickrehm.Finances in the early congregation didn't improve very rapidly so it was over five years before the mortgage was paid. The courthouse records show that on December 6, 1878 at 11:30 a.m. the satisfaction of the mortgage was received and recorded in Volume 5, page 595. The satisfaction of mortgage reads as follows:
Pastor Nietman and Pastor Frankenstien served the church from 1872-1874. During Pastor Frankenstien's serve, a parsonage was build. His home was used as a school for individual and group instruction.
Pastor Jaeger served the church from 1874-1881. A new church building was erected in 1875.
The frame structure built in 1875 served the congregation until 1925, when the present edifice was erected. The old school building was sold and the new church was put up. The architect of the building was Karl Koehler. From the air, you can immediately spot that St. Peter's is a church, as it was designed in the shape of a cross. The building is made from red granite stone, from Red Granite, Wisconsin. When the church was built, the stones were shipped in from Red Granite to Francis Creek, Wisconsin. The men of the congregation brought horse drawn wagons to the depot in Francis Creek to pick up the stones, and take them back to the building site in Mishicot. On June 12, 1927 the new church building was dedicated.
During the period 1881-1902, Pastor Prohl, Koehler, Ziegler, and Doehler served the church. Pastor Bartels, pastor of the Two Rivers congregation, served in 1886.
In 1902, St. Peter's and Rockwood congregations combined to form one parish. The two are still combined today.
The present parsonage was built during the serve of Pastor Gustave Vator. This parsonage still remains and is in use today. Pastor Dornfeld served the church during the years 1908-1911.
In 1911, Pastor Edward Zell began his 47 year serve of St. Peter's and Rockwood Churches. He also served Jambo Creek Church until 1949 when the church disbanded. Pastor Zell received 3 calls to leave the congregation but was dedicated and remained to serve the people of Mishicot.
The picture to the right was taken in front of the Wenholz farmhouse, still standing just up the grade from East Main Street past and across the street from the entrance to the apartments. During his first year in Mishicot Pastor Zell was unmarried and lived at least for a while with the Wenholzes. The horse on Pastor Zell's buggy is named Easy (cp. his initials EZ). The lady in the buggy with Pastor Zell is Ida Wenholz, daughter of Diedrich. She later became Mrs. Hugo Ploekelman. According to Bill Zell, son of Pastor Zell, this may be a show-off picture of his new horse. Pastor Zell bought it in Juneau and drove up to Mishicot in three days. He told Bill once he had seen this horse before going to Mishicot, fell in love with her, and at the first opportunity went back and bought her. That horse and buggy were put to good use in courting Alice Jindra when she was teaching school up on the Range Line somewhere. Pastor Zell married Alice, daughter of George Jindra, Jr. and Mary Lenhardt Jindra. They had two sons and three daughters.
In January 1917, the church voted to pay Diedrich Wenholz, $45.00 as an annual salary to keep the church clean and to ring the bell at the start of services and for the daily 6 o'clock ringing. During the week, Diedrich would prepare the church for special occasions. He pulled the church bell announcing the weddings of the young couples that were married, and tolling for an elderly parishioner who had died. Diedrich was janitor of the church for 36 years. He and his wife, Sophie Wilhelmina Carstens Wenholz (daughter of Johann Herman Carstens (aka Herman Carstens) and Marie Boli Carstens, were members of the church for over 60 years.
Before 1920, all of the services were spoken in German. It was decided in 1920, that once per month, services would be spoken in English. As the population of the area grew, more and more people began speaking English, and leaving their native tongues. By 1930, the congregation voted to hold 3 church services in English and only 1 in German.
In 1932, Miss Alice Zell (daughter of Pastor Zell) began the church choir. In 1933, Ladies Bible Hour was started. A Conn Electric Organ was purchased and put in the church in 1953. You could hear Miss Alice Zell proudly playing that organ every Sunday morning.
In 1958, the congregation mourned the passing of Pastor Zell. The congregation went three months with a temporary pastor until Rev. David Worgull answered the call. During this time, Vacation Bible School started and the Young Peoples' Society. In 1961, the church had hopes of building a Christian Day School sometime in the future. They purchased 4 1/2 acres of land North of the church on the hill. 1961 was also the year of their Centennial Celebration.
1965 brought Pastor Arlyn Schmeling as vacancy pastor to the congregation. On November 20, 1966 Pastor Herbert Kesting answered the call to the church. Pastor Kesting was from Gibbon, MN. In 1968, the tower and sacristy were remodeled.
Pastor Kesting celebrated 35 years of Pastoral service in 1971. During this same time, an addition was added to the church, which included new Sunday School rooms and a church nursery. Frederick and Hazel Eisenmann donated to the church an Electric Carillon in 1993. It was donated in memory of their parents. Pastor Kesting was laid to rest in Cemetery 63 in 1999.
On March 3rd, 1985, Pastor David Waege was called to serve the congregation. Pastor Drews served from about 1997-99. The current pastor held his installation service on June 11, 2000.