When the first settlers came to the Town of Richmond, they came to a wilderness. There was
around occasionally to baptize children, perform weddings, and bury the dead. The early
settlers began to gather weekly in their homes to worship. A pastor from St James, Shawano,
began to come every two weeks to lead the worship. Worship on the alternate Sunday was
led by one of the laymen.
Many settlers had come up along the Wolf River and stopped in the area of Belle Plaine. That
region was settled earliest and consequently the Lutheran church there was the first in this
area. The Town of Richmond children, in the early days, went to Belle Plaine to be confirmed.
They boarded with farmers in that area during confirmation instructions. Pastor Hudtloff
confirmed many of them.
The record of the baptism of the first area child was that of (Auguste) Emilie Buettner, sister
of Albert Buettner, born August 14, 1870, and baptized November 8, 1870. The first recorded
marriage was that of Wilhelm Kosban and Wilhelmine Samp on October 21, 1875.
In 1863 twelve families got together to build a church. Land was bought from Wm. Wendorff
and August Engel on November 24, 1883 for a consideration of $25.00. William Barfknecht
gave permission to go in his forest to cut logs for the church. Each of the twelve members was
assigned to cut a certain number of logs. The log church was built in 1885 on a site just east
of the present parsonage. The altar, pulpit, and benches were built by William Barfknecht.
The size of the church was about 28’ x 32’. It was built for a total cost of $100, land included!
A cast iron box heater stood at the north end of the room with the stove pipe extending to the
chimney at the south end. This long stove pipe helped to heat the interior. When evening
services were held, each family brought its own candle with holder or kerosene lantern to help
light the church.
The first baby baptized in the log church was Martha Marie Elizabeth Buettner, another sister
of Albert Buettner, born September 6, 1885, and baptized September 13, 1885. After the log
church was built, Pastors probably came regularly, but services were held Sunday afternoons
because the pastor held services at St. James, Shawano, in the forenoon and travel by horses
was slow.
The log church was later sided and painted. It served as the house of worship until 1908, and
as the school and meeting hall until November, 1951, when the present parish hall was
completed. The old pulpit later graced the pine grove and was used during the mission
festival outdoor services for many years.
Mission festivals were held since the early days. Each one was a big event in the church year.
Outdoor services were always held and, of course, the cooking and eating was also done
outdoors. Margaret Martzke remembers her mother cooking coffee in a big iron pot on the
church grounds. Homemade ice cream was made with several young men and boys taking
turns cranking the ice cream freezer until it was done. For this they received their dish of ice
cream free. An outside speaker was invited to deliver the sermon. Proceeds from the ice
cream and other items which were sold that day would go to missions.
In 1907 and 1908 the last church was built under the guidance of Pastor F.F. Selle. The
architect was Christ Fritze and the principal carpenter was Henry Krueger. The bricklayer was
Albert Dickow from Gresham. Albert Buettner and Herman Nuske, as members of the church
board, laid the cornerstone for the new church. Albert Buettner was also one of the principal
builders of the church, using his skills in masonry to good advantage. The new church cost
$4,425.48. The 600-lb. bell was pulled up to the steeple by Albert Wendorff and his team of
horses, using a hayfork rope. Albert Buettner and Ernest Engel bravely climbed into the
steeple and guided the bell into place. The bell cost $90 with $14 for freight. The furnace cost
Lighting was done using beautiful “crown lights.” These were circles of 8 or 10 kerosene lamps
with decorated chimneys hanging from the ceiling that could be lowered for lighting or
extinguishing. There were also kerosene lamps in racks along the sides.
By 1909 the membership had grown to 34 families. The Shawano pastors continued to serve
St. James, Town of Richmond, until 1914. Pastor Selle encouraged the building of the
parsonage and the calling of a separate pastor, as it was becoming more than they could
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