OBSERVING 175th ANNIVERSARY 1841 – 2016
THE STORY OF SOLOMON – HISTORICAL STORY #6
Our first pastor, The Rev. “Father” George Cronenwett served The Lutheran Solomon Church of Woodville for forty-seven years from 1841 to early 1888. During that time a frame church was built on College Avenue which later became the site of the Parochial School that opened in 1862. Our present sanctuary was built and dedicated on Christmas Eve in 1865. Another major accomplishment of Cronenwett’s ministry was the establishment of the Woodville Normal and Academy whose purpose was to train parochial school teachers.
During Cronenwett’s last days and illness, the congregation turned to Rev. Dr. William Steinmann, who was the Director of the Normal School and became Solomon’s Interim minister.
Rev. Paul Raether taught at the Normal School beginning in 1887. In March 1888 Raether was named as Solomon’s pastor and serving until 1903. At the beginning of his ministry, he taught at the Normal School and was Solomon’s full time pastor.
The Woodville area was experiencing economic events that shaped Solomon Church. The first oil well in Woodville Township came into production in 1888. From 1891 to 1899 there were 4,347 wells drilled, 4,032 of which were considered to be producing wells. Other businesses flourished supplying the wooden sucker rods, oil well equipment and supplies, food and shelter for the many, many oil workers. The first sizable stone business, Standard Lime and Stone Company, and the first sizable lime business, Washington Building Lime Company started in 1888-89. The Oil Boom ended in about 1905, but during the short period of less than two decades the oil business added a big boost to the local economy. Oil brought great prosperity to Woodville and Woodville Township and many of the farmers with wells on their property retired and moved to town building fine large homes.
Solomon’s building improvements and changes occurred during these years. The first pipe organ was dedicated in April 1896. Electric lights were installed in the sanctuary in 1898-99, and a furnace was installed in 1902.
Solomon activities included many choirs and musical groups: Damenchor (women), Maennerchor (men), Kindergesang (children), Gemischter (mixed chorus) and an orchestra and ensembles. Sunday School picnics were held at the George Mauntler place along the river on Findlay Road. An 1896 statistic states that Solomon was a congregation of over 200 families and 500 communicants. The school served over 100 children with two teachers.
Solomon was considered a German language church. German was the language used for sermons and catechism, and also the language used for the Parochial School. In 1899 catechism students were first offered the option of being confirmed in the English language. German continued to be used in the school and was discontinued during World War I.
In 1890 two lots running along Cherry Street from Main to College Avenue were purchased for $6,000.
Sometime a few years later, a two story white frame building was erected on the lot that fronted on Main Street. The building housed meeting rooms for Sunday School and church groups, as well as being the home for the preacher’s family. Rev. Raether’s family was probably the first family to live in this house. (pictures of the house are on the next page…..when Cronenwett Hall was added to the Educational Building in the early 1970s, this home was moved to Lynn Street near the railroad tracks).
Rev. Julius Bauch who was elderly and near retirement served as an Interim Minister in 1903 and 1904. His wife was the former Julia Cronenwett, daughter of the Rev. George.
Rev. Peter Langendorf followed and served from 1904 to 1912. He, too, had a love of music, but not much can be found relating to his years. In 1907 English services were introduced in an afternoon service held once each month.
Rev. Herman Blohm came to Solomon in 1913 and stayed until 1922. The Blohm family’s home was in the white parsonage, and daughter Martha wrote a nostalgic little book for her grandchildren about her life in Woodville. She tells that there was a coal furnace in the basement; however, no plumbing. A pump was in the kitchen to draw water and in the winter the pump would freeze-up. There was an outside toilet in the backyard, and baths were in the washtub! The house did not have electric lights.
Martha recalls that when meetings were to be held downstairs, she was sent upstairs to her bedroom where she sat on the register looking down and listening to the adult conversation. She also recalls that many of the people in the church were farmers, and the family was invited to a Sunday dinner almost every week. It was chicken every Sunday!
Farm life in rural Woodville was a simple life, and probably there was very little progress and change during these years. Rural electrification did not occur in many of the country areas until in the 1940s, and the people of German heritage embraced the ways and methods of their emigrant parents and grandparents. This lack of progress and slow change probably kept Solomon a German language church embracing the old ways.
However, during the later days of Blohm’s ministry, the congregation began to talk about remodeling the sanctuary. World War I was over and the sanctuary was now over sixty years old; it was time for change. Blohm left in 1922 and Rev. William Nordsieck (Woodville Normal Director) was named Interim Pastor.
Dr. Henry Lindemann accepted the call coming to Solomon in 1923. The next story will be about the Lindemann years and the 1925 remodeling of the sanctuary.
“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!