Milwaukee Churches

Source of Information: Trinity Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 100th
Anniversary 1847-1947.

Transcribed by: Doug Plowman (Plamann) (see contributors page)

Genealogy of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
1. St. Paul's Lutheran Church
2. Trinity Lutheran Church 1847
3a. St. Stephens Lutheran Church 1854
3b. Immanuel Lutheran Church 1866
3c. Bethlehem 1886
4a. St. Martini's 1884
4a. Ebenezer 1894
4a. Jehovah 1895
4b. Zion Lutheran 1884
4b. St. Markus 1875
4b. Holy Ghost 1876
4b. Emmaus 1890
4b. Mt. Olive 1894

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church Milwaukee, WI The Beginnings 1847-1850 Part 1

In the spring of 1847, Solomon Juneau had already been elected to be mayor of Milwaukee and the German immigrants made up a large portion of the 10,000 inhabitants. Many of the German immigrants were Lutheran and looking to organize Lutheran Churches. In Chicago, the spring of 1847, Lutheran Pastors met in Chicago to organize the Missouri Synod. The beginnings of Trinity Lutheran Church coincides with the beginnings of the Missouri Synod, the year 1847.

The Pommern Lutherans arrived in America in 1839 with the Rev. John Andrew GRABAU, one of their leaders. The Pommern Lutherans (Alt Lutherans) suffered persecution in Pomerania because of their refusal to merge with the Evangelical and Reformed groups as decreed by Frederick William III. After reaching America, a smaller group, which was of the poorer class stayed in Buffalo with Pastor Grabau. The larger number of Alt Lutherans and those who were wealthier and had the finances to travel further west moved to the territory of Wisconsin. Most settled on farms near what is now called Freistadt and a smaller portion settled in Milwaukee. These Pommern Lutherans took their doctrine, God's Word and Holy Sacraments seriously and wanted to continue with their beliefs, but there were no Pastor's in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Lutherans elected one their own to be a spiritual leader until one schooled in theology could be called.

When Pastor Grabau heard these temporary measures of using one of their own as a spiritual leader, he wrote a pastoral letter to Milwaukee and vehemently objected to them using a laymen as a spiritual leader. He felt this was disorderly and he sent Rev. L.F. Krause to be pastor of both Milwaukee and Freistadt, BUT only those who had agreed with his position in the Pastoral Letter. The conformists in Milwaukee organized the St. Paul's Congregation and built a church on Fourth Street between Wells and Cedar Streets. Pastor Krause established his residency at Freistadt and commuted to Milwaukee to serve this congregation also.

Troubles continue to brew in Milwaukee and Pastor Krause threatened to excommunicate the Milwaukee group. In an effort to calm the troubled waters, Pastor Grabau came to Milwaukee in person. The church members were dissatisfied with Pastor Grabau's attempts with appeasement and felt his autocratic procedure was contrary to Biblical Doctrine of the church and ministry, the dissenters of Milwaukee and Freistadt sought help and advice from the Saxon pastors of Missouri, from Walther, Loeber and others. {The Saxon Lutherans like the Pommern Alt Lutherans left Saxon areas in the late 1838 in five ships and arrived in New Orleans the end of December 1838 and the first week of January 1839. The went up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, MO. After wintering there, they purchased land in Perry County, MO and there they settled buying land and forming their own communities and churches. The Missouri Synod Roots begin in Perry County, MO. Note that 1 ship was lost at sea, and only four ships made to America}

The Saxon ministers had plans of forming the Missouri Synod and hoped to achieve the union in April, 1847 in Chicago. Pastor Grabay was invited to Chicago to discuss the Milwaukee case and doctrine problems. On April 26, 1847 the Missouri Synod was organized in Chicago. Pastor Grabau did not appear, but representatives from the churches in Milwaukee and Freidstadt did appear to discuss the grievances against Pastors Grabau and Krause and asked whether they had the right to call their own pastor. After hearing the representatives and after careful consideration and analysis, the new synod declared the Wisconsin Lutherans could call their own pastor and encouraged the Milwaukee and Freidstadt groups to sever all connections with Pastor Krause and the Buffalo ministreium as false teachers and to call an orthodox pastor. The delegates returned to Milwaukee and Freistadt with joy and convinced the majority to call a new pastor. In June, 1847, they called Rev. E.G.W. KEYL of Frohna, Perry County, Missouri.

The negotiations with the Saxon Pastors constituted the real beginnings of Trinity Lutheran. A number of members of St. Paul's Church, joined by others denied membership previously united to form a new congregation and called it Trinity. They secured possession of the church property and St.Paul's Lutheran church relocated on Fifth Street between State and Prairie.

There were no railroads at that time and difficulties of transportation was evident and Pastor Keyl did not reach Milwaukee until October 27, 1847. There was an abundance of work to do. He settled in Milwaukee and served Freidstadt every two weeks. Before long he was invited to preach at Kirchhayn also. Pastor Keyl considered Trinity his first calling and found time to visit the country churches once every four weeks, and Reading services at the country churches were held in his absence.

Pastor's Keyl training and knowledge proved to be valuable when he arrived in Milwaukee. He found seven or eight different and antagonistic Lutheran groups. His devotion to search the Scriptures and Luther's writings thoroughly in order that he might be sure in every controversial doctrine. He attacked the problems and cleared up much of the confusion on the doctrine. He preached clear and convincing doctrine sermons, had Wednesday evening services where he would explain entire books of the Bible, devoted Sunday afternoons to intensive catechetical instruction, and careful study of doctrine was a part of the regular congregational meetings. His hard work and knowledge was able to calm the seas and settle the doctrinal issues.

Trinity Congregation began to frame a constitution after the arrival of Pastor Keyl and they used the constitution of Old Trinity in St.Louis as their guide, and adopted their constitution with a few changes.

Church services were full and long and when Holy Communion was served on the second Sunday of the Month, the service lasted from 9:00 am to Noon.

In May, 1848, the first church on Fourth St, was offered for sale at $600, but there were no buyers, so the old site was traded for one on the south side of Wells St on the corner of Fifth St. The old church was moved to this site and propped up on poles to protect it against the marshy ground and dampness. The church was plain with no steeple or sacristy. There were pews, a small altar with a pulpit over it and a large hymn board to accommodate the numbers for the three different hymnals.

Shortly after Christmas, 1849 the happiness of the congregation was shattered when Pastor Keyl received a call to St.Paul's church in Baltimore, Maryland. The congregation turned to Pastor Walther, the Missouri Synod President, and he urged the congregation to grant Pastor Keyl a peaceful release from his call. The congregation followed the advice and began to find another pastor. On Feb 17, 1870 they called Rev. Frederick LOCHNER, of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois. He accepted the call and after some delay, he arrived in Milwaukee to preach his first sermon on June 30, 1850.

Part 2 Trinity Lutheran Church

Pastor Frederick Carl Lochner, was one of the first missionaries sent to America by Pastor William LOEHE, and was one of the organizers of the Missouri Synod. Pastor Lochner was serving two congregations in Illinois, Pleasant Ridge and Collinsville prior to coming to Milwaukee. Pastor Lochner came to Milwaukee with the idea that the congregation in Milwaukee would not be large nor would it grow. Pastor Walther, President of the Missoui Synod also shared the view that there would be little hope of growth at Trinity, but Pastor Walther encouraged Lochner to take the call. They were proved wrong as growth was quick and immediate to the point the present church building was too small. The congregation had invited the Synod to meet in its midst in June, 1851. The prospect of the Synod meeting there and the rapid growth caused the congregation to look into larger quarters. On December 1, 1850 the congregation decided to build a larger church on the remaining portion of their property on the southeast corner of Wells and Fifth Street. Work was begun and one June 15, 1851 the new church was dedicated. The first meeting of the Missouri Synod in Wisconsin was held on June 18th, 1851, three days after the dedication.

The Synod meeting was pivotal step in the growth of the Missouri Synod. The Milwaukee Convention discussed at length the disagreements with Pastor Loehe concerning the authority of the new Synodical organization. The study of these problems was directed by Dr. Walther, whose theses presented at this time eventually resulted in the book "The Voice of our Church on the Question of the Church and the Ministry". Many doubts were dispelled by these discussions and the Milwaukee Lutherans gained assurance from the discussions. Many who postponed joining the Missouri Synod due to the doubts in the doctrine, now joined Trinity Church. Among those were many who had come to Wisconsin in the Grabau immigration and had previously found no certainty in these doctrines.

The continuing large immigration of Pomeranians and the increase in membership of Trinity year after year, the congregation started to look at the organization of mission schools and preaching stations in other parts of Milwaukee. Due to the rapid growth and the desire to branch out and the large work load of Pastor Lochner, the congregation in 1865 called Candidate August CRULL, later professor at Concordia College in Fort Wayne, to be assistant pastor. After about six months, Pastor Crull was forced to resign due to illness. The Rev. George REINSCH was then called to serve the mission congregation that was almost ready for separate organization and soon became IMMANUEL Lutheran.

Trinity continued to grow including their mission schools and branch congregations. In the first months of 1868, it was obvious that their present church structure needed expansion. However, the ground around them was swampy and not suitable for building. John PRITZLAFF, began scouting for a new building site. He set his eye on Terrace Garden on Ninth Street and Prairie. This had been the home of Frank LACKNER, one the earliest settlers of Milwaukee and was a garden spot in the city. From the peak of the hill one could see Lake Michigan in the distance along with a panoramic view of the entire city. The site had changed hands and was for sale again. On April 5, 1868 Pritzlaff purchased the eight lots of the Terrace Garden and surprised the congregation with the good news of his purchase and thrilled their hearts with the offer to present this land to Trinity Congregation provided they would soon erect a church and school on this site. The congregation accepted the generous offer and began to erect a new school and move the old church to the new location to serve a few more years until the congregation was in a position to replace it with a larger one. On January 3, 1869 the school was dedicated.

At the end of 1875, Trinity Church numbered 287 voting members and had a fine school with five teachers and 358 pupils.

This peaceful growth and internal joy was soon diminished when Pastor LOCHNER received a call to Trinity Church in Springfield, Illinois. The reason for the call to Trinity in Springfield, Illinois was due to the practical department was separated from the theoretical department at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and was relocated to Springfield, IL. With the new theological seminary at Springfield, the importance of Trinity added an emergency call to Pastor Lochner. Knowing that Pastor Walther and other guiding fathers of the Synod urged Pastor Lochner to take the call, Pastor Lochner was released and preached his farewell sermon on February 12, 1876.

Trinity began calling a number of pastors and after more than a half a year still did not have a pastor. Their patience was rewarded with a faithful pastor, a careful theologian, an excellent organizer, and in every respect the right man that Trinity needed in the next half century. Rev. Henry F. Sprengeler was installed as pastor of Trinity on July 30, 1876. He came as a young man of thirty and gave to Trinity the rest and the best of his 77 years. He was a widower when he came to Trinity and soon found a devoted wife and a mother to his young daughters in Miss Julia LOEBNER.

End of Part II.

Part III

In the fall of 1877, the congregation began to solicit subscriptions and pledges for contributions hoping to raise $20,000 , the among needed to start a new building. It was understood the total cost would not exceed $25,000. It soon became apparent to the building committee that it would be necessary to exceed this figure and the cost of the new church reached $40,000. The new sanctuary with its Gothic arches and tall towers bid the worshipers to look up and put their affections on God above. The strong and buttressed walls symbolize the strength of Zion, and the internal sanctuary for safety. Its gold cross, 200 feet above the earth, proclaims to all men the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that he died for all. The three massive bells inscribed with Latin, German and English call all to come to worship. The majestical organ sings out praises to God and encourages all to sing praises in exultant song. The pulpit carvings and altar as well as the paintings signify the offerings of the best and the most beautiful in Him who loved us.

The Synodical Convention of 1881 granted delegates from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota permission to open a theological preparatory school at Milwaukee. This school would open its doors on September 1st. However, there was no campus, no