St. Paul's Lutheran Church 1837
GOOD HOPE LUTHERAN CHURCH
When settlers arrived at what is now Bucyrus, they found an old, abandoned wigwam standing in the woods on what is now the court-house yard. It was October 1819, and a party of 18 Pennsylvania Dutch Germans stayed in that wigwam 3 days until a log cabin could be built. Seth Holmes guided them there. He had been through the area taking part in the War of 1812 and had remembered the beauty of the area. Whether they knew it or not, Bucyrus was situated on the highest ridge in Ohio, the dividing line for water running north or south.
The History of Good Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church dates back to the time when this area of the country was settled. Good Hope has ties with two other congregations in Bucyrus, as we shall see later. In 1829, a Lutheran minister named J. D. Schuh preached to Lutherans in this vicinity. There was no real organization; but, there is evidence that scattered Lutherans met at an old brick schoolhouse for worship. Rev. Schuh ministered to these people for a year or less.
In 1830, Rev. Schuh’s successor was Rev. J. Strauch, also known as “father” Strauch. He came to the Bucyrus area at the age of 70 years as a missionary from Germany. Under his administration, the first Lutheran congregation was organized. (Details are sketchy since there are no official documents still available from this period.) At first, the German language was used exclusively in the services. Around 1832, a huge influx of German immigrants came directly from Germany to settle in Crawford County. As Rev. Strauch was eager to retire from active ministry, the English speaking portion of Lutherans met on December 1, 1832, and extended a call to Rev. F.J. Ruth of Ashland, who had been coming at stated times from Ashland, preached to the English speaking group. In the spring of 1835, he moved to Bucyrus. Both he and Rev. Strauch served the congregation together for several years.
The first church council was organized in January of 1833. Members of that council were: elders, Abram Mayer and George Schroll; deacons, Nicholas Failor, and Abram Schroll; trustees, Adam Blair and Nicholas Cronebaugh. At this time, the congregation outgrew the old brick schoolhouse. They moved to the county courthouse and worshiped there until they could build a church of their own. The next church council was elected in May of 1835 and increased to four elders, four deacons, and three trustees.
In the latter part of 1835 or early 1836, the trustee purchased, for $400, the lot located on the corner of E. Mansfield Street and Walnut St. After perfecting all the necessary arrangements, the cornerstone was laid on August 20, 1836. This young congregation was to be called St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the cornerstone was laid before what was called “a large concourse of people.” Records indicate that it was a matter of special pride that this congregation had the first church building in town adorned with a steeple.
Worship services continued to be held both in German and in English. Little else is known, about the particulars of this arrangement.
In 1842, the German element decided to separate itself from the congregation. After an amiable agreement, the German part sold their property rights to the English speaking portion of the congregation, thus legalizing the agreement. This settlement was finalized on December 9, 1842. The new organization was called DEUTSCHE EVANGELISCHE LUTHERISCHE GUTE HOFFNUNG GERMEINDE or the GERMAN EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN GOOD HOPE CHURCH. There are still, to this day, those who call St. Paul “the English church” and Good Hope “the German church.”
A German Lutheran pastor from the area, Rev. J. Kraus was asked to organize the new German congregation.
The two congregations continued to worship at the old St. Paul’s church building until March 29, 1857, when it was torn down.
Good Hope Church laid the cornerstone of a new building on August 12, 1857. Part of that building is now used by the St. James Episcopal congregation.
EARLY HISTORY AND OUR PASTORS
REV. J. KRAUS 1842-1854
As has already been stated, the congregation was organized while under the pastoral care of Rev. J. Kraus who, previous to 1842, served not only Bucyrus, but other places in this vicinity. At first he held services every four weeks, but later he was able to preach every two weeks. He was the first pastor who belonged to the Joint Synod of Ohio. The congregation also became organically connected with that still young and then small body. Rev. Kraus served the congregation for twelve years after its organization and then resigned both pastorate as well as ministry and moved to Tiffin, Ohio were he died December 8, 1893.
REV. A. MICHAELIS 1855-1867
In March of the year 1855, the Rev. A. Michaelis was called to become pastor of the congregation. In July of this year, a constitution was drawn up; in the same year, the congregation procured the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal, the Philadelphia edition. The year 1856 marked the beginning of the building of the congregation’s own church, for by April 1, 1857, the old St. Paul’s church in which the German services were held was to be torn down. After considerable deliberation as to the site of the new church, the lot on South Poplar Street where the Episcopal church now stands was purchased. The last service in the old St. Paul’s church was held on March 22, 1857.
August 12, 1857, marked the laying of the cornerstone of the new church, a neat little structure built of brick at a cost of $5,000. The congregation continued to grow and prosper, and after a twelve year period of faithful and splendid service, Rev. Michaelis received and accepted a call to Liverpool, Ohio. He died at Westerville, Ohio, August 13, 1885; but his body is buried in Oakwood Cemetery of this city.