A century of history
It was education, not necessarily worship, that inspired the construction of St. John's Lutheran Church.
The church, which marked its 100th year last month, was founded in 1911 by a group of 13 German immigrant families. The farm families had enrolled their children at a church school in Inver Grove Heights, but they wanted something closer.
"In 1911, traveling every day 11 or 12 miles to get your kids to school was a pretty different deal," said St. John's pastor John Moe.
So, the families set to work on their own church and school. Work on the St. John's building began in 1910 and was completed in 1911. Much of the labor was donated. Early services were conducted entirely in German.
The church has changed over the years, but it hasn't moved. A new building was constructed on the same site in 1977, again largely with donated labor. The original church was moved about half a mile east, where it still stands along County Road 42.
The original church accommodated 150 worshippers. The current church seats 280.
The church's original pastor, August Hilger, served until 1920, when he resigned to sell insurance. He remained involved in the parish.
Many of the church's original families remained involved over the years. Leonora Volkert, who was born in Rosemount in 1910, had her funeral at the church Oct. 9 of 2010.
Volkert's father was the oldest of about 12 brothers and sisters, Moe said. The family was active in the construction of the church.
Henry Franzmeier was the chairman of the committee that built the original church. In 1976 Henry's grandson Roger chaired the committee that oversaw the building of the new church.
"Those 13 families were quite a number of people spread out over what would be considered a couple of generations," Moe said.
The church celebrated its centennial June 19 with a special service, a pig roast dinner and music in the afternoon. Several former pastors attended, as did former members of the church family.
"It was a nice time," Moe said.