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History of the Concord German Baptist Church
Located at Bakertown, Concord Township, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
The first meeting of Baptists to
organize a congregation was held on
Deacons: August Gutzmer and William Hoefs
Helper: Carl Yake
Church Secretary: August Hanf
Church Treasurer: Julius Yake
Sunday School Secretary and Treasurer: William Weber
(Very likely all of those present and some who joined during the next few years were new immigrants to America and brought with them their Baptismal Certificates issued to them when they were baptized in their homeland).
The members were incorporated as a
The tract of land on which the
church was built, the northern half of which was designated for a cemetery, was
purchased from Caroline Kothlow for $100 on
The "Golden Years" of this congregation were its early years. From 1870 and earlier for a period of about 20 years there was an influx of German families into the area, many of whom had been converted to the Baptist faith in Germany, and others who were influenced by the Baptist witness both in Germany and after they came to America. Also, since it was the only church within 5 miles, the German Methodists and Lutherans of the neighborhood often attended the services not only to worship, but also to meet and visit with their neighbors at the close of the service.
What seemed to be such a wonderful beginning and promising future was changed in the 1890s when challenge and call to better land held sway, and many of the members left their farms of hill, woods, and swamp. Of those leaving, the greatest number went to purchase new farms in an area south of Whitewater, Wisconsin, over 20 miles away. Family names who were in this group, included Gutzmer Yake, Hanf, Quass, and Scharine. For a number of years the local church made an effort to keep contact and serve this group in their new location, the pastor and some of the members going with him to hold services in the homes there.
After 1920 only one family showed continued interest in the local work - the Carl Yake family, and eventually the Baptist witness died out in the south Whitewater group. Another Gutzmer family and a Bass family moved to Watertown and attended the services there, as the German Baptist Church of Watertown was organized in the same years [1880’s] as the Concord Church, both being daughters of the older Lebanon German Baptist Church.
Clarification: The Watertown German Baptist congregation was actually founded in 1854. It is the Baptist church building that dates from the “the same years at the Concord Church.”
Watertown German Baptist Church: The doctrine
of John the Baptist was represented
in Watertown by a congregation of Germans, numbering 105, who worshiped in
a church edifice on
Throughout its entire history the Boltz family of four brothers and their sister and some of their descendants were prominent in the congregation. Charles Boltz and his sons Sidney each served many years as church clerk. Emilie Boltz Hoffmann's husband, George, served many years as Deacon, Sunday School Superintendent, and Janitor. Amalia Boltz Norman's husband, Constantine, and her son, Frank, served many years as Deacons and she served as Church treasurer.
From the beginning of this congregation, the mother church - the Lebanon German Baptist Church - shared its pastor every third Sunday with this congregation. Evangelistic meetings were held at least once each year and often during the winter months. Even baptisms were conducted in winter by chopping holes in river ice. Until 1920 Children's Day and Christmas programs were conducted each year.
Pastors serving the church during its life were as follows: Rev. Glasor, Rev. H. Mueller, Rev. P.C.A. Menard, Rev. Reichle, Rev. Lohse, Rev. Herman Glaske, and Rev. Gustave Wetter.
The first services held in the
English language were the evening services starting on
During the approximate 40 years of sharing of their pastor by the Lebanon church with the Concord church there were problems. The churches were 13 miles apart and during the horse and buggy era, travel was sure but often disagreeable because of the weather. The advent of the automobile and roads often muddy or snowbound, brought more uncertain travel. Rev. Glaske, having an auto and many times unable to use it, found it necessary to either walk on Saturday afternoon to one, of the Concord members and stay overnight for the Sunday service or get up very early Sunday and walk to the Concord church. The agreement from the beginning with the Lebanon congregation was to have the pastor serve the Concord congregation on every third Sunday, and near the end of Rev. Glaske's pastorate some of the members of the Lebanon church wanted the pastor on a full time basis, so this eventually brought about a discontinuance of this arrangement.
In 1926 the Rev. G. Wetter became the new pastor at the Watertown German Baptist church, coming from his first pastorate at Alpena, Michigan. The Watertown congregation had plans for a new building and had purchased property at Fifth and Dodge Streets for their new building and also planned to use the house on this property as a parsonage. They appeared to welcome the sharing of their new pastor with the Concord church, and an agreement was reached whereby the Watertown church would release the pastor on the last Sunday of each month to serve the Concord church. For this service the Concord church was to contribute $150 per year toward the pastor's salary. This agreement continued for about 10 years and then as roads improved and Rev. Wetter wanted to give the Concord congregation additional service, he often came during the summer and fall months to the Concord church for an early 9:00 A.M. service on the second Sunday morning of the month and then drove back to the Watertown church for the regular worship service.
By January, 1940 it became apparent
that the Watertown congregation wanted to have the pastor for all Sunday
morning worship services and offered to the Concord congregation to have the
pastor come out on at least two Sunday evenings a month and to urge their
members to come out to the Concord church and share in the service. The Concord congregation did not like this
offer and as a result the sharing of pastor with the Watertown church was
terminated. For the next 10 or 12 years
the Concord congregation was served on two Sundays each month; one Sunday by
Mr. David Goetsch, a deacon of the Watertown church
and on the other Sunday by Mr. Sam Dobbertin, a
layman from the Merton Baptist Church.
After this arrangement came to an end the congregation disbanded. On
Because of the need of extensive
repairs to the church building, including the roof, the cemetery association
decided at its annual meeting on
(Information for this history is in part from the church records, some from that which was told me by my parents and grandparents and their records, and from my own recollections in attending as a member of the Concord German Baptist Church / Roger Norman)