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The Story of Solomon: Part 2

OBSERVING 175TH ANNIVERSARY 1841 — 2016
THE STORY OF SOLOMON — HISTORICAL STORY #2

 

Rev. Cronenwett arrived in Woodville in 1841 and ministered until his death in January 1888, serving for 46 years at Solomon Church. This story covers the early ministry of Pastor “Father” Georg/George Cronenwett.

VITAL STATISTICS:

  • Born November 1, 1814 in Langensteinbach, Baden, Germany.
  • Parochial School education and privately tutored in music.
  • Attended Normal Institute in Karlsruhe planning to be a teacher.
  • Father desired to exempt sons George and Jacob from military service
    and migrated to Monroe, MI in 1832.
  • Organist in an English Episcopal church and he taught in a German
    parochial school.
  • Married to Magdalena Knab (Age 16) on March 24, 1836.
  • Studied Greek and theology to become a minister and was ordained in September 1841.

 

His First Church:

The young minister and wife Magdalena and their two children arrived in
Woodville in the Fall of 1841. He was the first minister for the newly organized German Evangelical
Lutheran Reform Church, and his first sermon was delivered on the 3rd Sunday in Advent.
The first home for the Cronenwett Family was about a mile south of town near Henrick’s Mill. In
Pastor’s own words: “I had at first very poor lodging. It was a sort of porch on one side of a wagon
shop, another family occupying the opposite porch. We had a stove and two beds in one small room.
When it rained we had to place an umbrella over us when sleeping.” It was a sorry reception.
However the women of the church were very friendly to the young wife although she could not
comprehend their low-German tongue (Plattdeutsch). By the following year the church provided a
two-story five room plastered hewn-log house near the church in town.
Dedication of a 30 x 40 ft. wood frame church building that stood at the corner of College and Perry
Streets was in March 1843. The membership was 67 families. The church incorporated in 1843 and
adopted their first constitution in 1844.

 

What characteristics did young Cronenwett possess?

In a 1926 publication his son, the Rev. Emanuel Cronenwett, states that his father “was of stalwart proportion and unflinching endurance, an imposing presence, erect, towering six and third feet high, of martial build and patriarchal bearing
coupled with faculties of mind, corresponding qualities of heart, strength of character, and unblemished
honor, a prophet of God and leader among men, affable, even and courteous….he commanded the
attention of respect wherever he appeared, and left the cast of stability on his life-work.”

 

What was life like living in the Woodville area in the 1830s and 1840s — in the heart of the Great
Black Swamp?

The settlement of Woodville and the township is a story of pioneer struggle and hardship: perseverance against overwhelming circumstances, sickness and death, isolation from the world, and an almost hopeless fight with Mother Nature. A malaria type illness — ague/marsh fever/miasma was most prevalent in the fall, and sometimes lingered on through the year. In 1834 the
dreadful disease of cholera struck; many died without attendance and the living could scarcely bury the dead. Cholera epidemics occurred several times during these years. In the winter of 1848-49 an often fatal and exceedingly malignant type of erysipelas struck,. Milk sickness (the trembles) was thought to be caused by cows grazing on decayed vegetation. Other diseases that struck frequently were diphtheria and dysentery. Many of these diseases lessened as the swamp was drained.

 

Rev. Cronenwett’s early ministry:

His words: “the roads through the woods were very bad and often hard to find. I often missed my way in going to preach to the settlers at a distance. Sometimes I had to follow marks blazed on the trees through the woods.” He visited whole families afflicted with fever, comforted them with the Word of God, gave them the Holy Sacrament, and slept on the floor for the night. He went house to house to preach the Word of God and gave them the Lord’s Supper. The people were concerned about him that he might become ill, but that did not bother him and he continued in the Lord’s work.
In Cronenwett’s early years he served the church in town and the Woodville community, but he also continued
the circuit ministry. He traveled on horseback through the forests and marshlands following the northeast bank
of the Portage River preaching and visiting the sick. He would be gone for days at a time as he made his way as
far as the Sandusky Bay area. He served thirteen settlements in Lucas, Wood, Sandusky and Ottawa Counties.
His dedication to the church and his fellow Germans also reached to the south as distant as Bradner, and
westward to the Salem (Schweitz). An easier circuit was traveling to Stony Ridge, Perrysburg and Toledo due
to the improved Maumee & Western Reserve Toll Road.

 

Maumee & Western Reserve Toll Road 1838 — 1888:

The road stretched from Bellevue to Perrysburg ending at the Maumee River. There were seven toll houses with one located three miles east of Woodville. The Historical Museum has the toll keeper’s desk and toll book on display. Tolls were collected according to the size of the rig, carriage, coach or wagon, number of horses or mules, the size of the load, and the size of the wheel rim. Milestones were set in 1842 between Lower Sandusky (Fremont) and Perrysburg as this was the most difficult section of the road to navigate. A milestone sits in front of Pills & Packages Store indicating that it is 16 miles to Perrysburg and 15 miles to Lower Sandusky (Fremont).

With great respect and honor he was known as “Father” Cronenwett. His endurance was legendary.
His stature enviable as he stood so tall that his head was between the rafters of the humble cabins of
his parishioners. His pastoral work and ability was immeasurable in the establishment of Lutheran
Churches in our area.

 

Other Early Historical Events:
1836 First platting of Woodville, Clay Township, Sandusky County — Founding Day June 13, 1836
1836 First recorded burial in Woodville Township — Sugar Creek Cemetery/Collins Cemetery — Mrs. C. B. Collins — wife of Superintendent of workers on the Maumee & Western Reserve Road.
1840 Sandusky County forms 12 townships as they now exist.
1843 German Methodist Church is built — group of about twenty members.
1843 Second platting of Woodville.
1844 Methodist-Episcopal Church is organized.
1846 First burial in Woodville Cemetery (Lime Road) — 3 year old Stephen Brown.
1851 Roman Catholic Church converts home into church building — north side Main Street midway between Elm and Cherry Streets. A missionary priest conducted services as early as 1843.
1854 First burial in Catholic Cemetery — Byron Fay — native of Ireland.
1857 United Brethren Church organized.
1859 Methodists, Presbyterians and Evangelicals build “Union” Church

 

“The Story of Solomon” articles have been put together by Mary Lou Busdiecker in honor of Solomon Lutheran Church’s 175th Anniversary. We thank her for her diligence in research for, and organization of, this special time in Solomon’s life!

Comment(1)

  1. Reply
    Mark A. Cronenwett says

    What an honor for our family to have some of the history of our family and my great, great Grandfather honored. My line is: Rev George, his oldest son Charles Frederick and his youngest son, Charles William and his son my dad, Dr Paul H. Cronenwett and my brother Paul R “Bud” and myself. Congratulations on 176 years to Soloman Lutheran Church.

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