The origins of St. John's Evangelical Church go back to 1842 when the German immigrants in Dunklee's Grove and the outlying areas gathered to build a church in the town of Addison. Many of the early German immigrants came from Hanover, while the later settlers were from Schale, but they all came together in peace and friendship to hear the Word of God. The differences of the Evangelical, the Reformed, and the Lutheran teachings were never brought up. They named the church The German United Evangelical Reformed Lutheran Church of Addison.
In 1847, their pastor left to form a congregation in Schaumburg of Cook County. A Lutheran pastor, hearing that the church needed a minister, sent one of his candidates to give trial sermons. He hoped he could turn the church completely Lutheran in the Missouri Synod. The congregation liked him and voted to call him pastor. In good faith, they agreed to let him review the church by-laws and ordinances. At a special meeting in February of 1848, the name of the new church was read - The German Evangelical Church in the Missouri Synod. The congregation was shocked. The people from Schale realized they were being ousted from their church if they did not join the Missouri Synod. The Schale members and their parents had formed the congregation and had allowed Lutherans, Reformed, and Christians to come to their services. No one was ever asked to turn only to the Evangelical church. By this time, many more people from Hanover, Germany had immigrated to the area and they voted to change the church to Lutheran and they suggested that the Evangelical and Reformed members leave the church. Many of the remaining members did not want to lose the friendship of the neighbors who had helped them through the hard times, so they left also. There were stormy years with unrest and arguments. Within 10 years, another group left the Lutheran Church to build another Evangelical church in the same area. Since 1965, the congregation has gone by the name St. John's United Church of Christ
There were too few families and they were too poor to build another church, so they did what their parents had done before them. They gathered together in homes to study the Bible, read from their hymnals, and to listen to sermons read to them by John Henry Korthauer. He was an elderly man, a good speaker, and knowledgable about the Bible, however the congregation missed the church and going to communion. The nearest church was 12 miles away in Schaumburg.
One Sunday, John Landmeier gathered his family, hitched his oxen to the cart, and drove westward. They traveled through muddy marshes and over rough, jagged hills. After several hours, they could see the town of Schaumburg. Soon they could see the people walking to church. The pastor was happy to see his friends from Dunklee's Grove who had traveled so far to attend his church. But when Mr. Landmeier announced his intention to receive communion, the pastor asked him why he did not go to communion in the Dunklee Grove church. John Landmeier explained. After hesitating a long time, the pastor said if the Dunklee Grove church refused him, then he also could not allow communion because his congregation was Lutheran. John Landmeier said it was the saddest day in his life.
By the end of 1848, all the families decided they must form and build another church. It would be United Evangelical St. John's Church of Addison, DuPage County, Illinois. The people who lived in the northern areas of Addison and Leyden wanted to build the church near Gehrhard Landmeier's farm. The people who lived more to the south wanted to build on W. Cogswell's land on the Chicago and Elgin Road (in 1899 it was called Mannheim Road). After much debate it was decided that the group who could raise the biggest amount of money would have the church built in the area of their choice. The northerners collected $119.00 in money. Two acres of land were donated by W. Niemeyer and M. L. Dunlap. Another three acres of land were purchased for $30.00. The cost to build the church was $741.98.
The congregation needed a spiritual leader. There was only one Evangelical minister in Chicago and he suggested a pastor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since the water route was closed due to severe cold weather and there was no train service between Milwaukee and Chicago at the time, Pastor Wucherer walked the whole way. The congregation accepted him and he was glad he did not have to walk back to Milwaukee. In the spring, Pastor Wucherer's wife and son came from Milwaukee. Unfortunately, Pastor Wucherer died a year and a half later. He was laid to rest in the church cemetery. (Go back to Historical Quilt- O'Hare Airport)
Henry Korthauer and Dietrich Struckman were contracted to build a church and a parsonage with a schoolroom. The church building was completed in the fall of 1849. Henry Korthauer later built an organ for the church and Dietrich Struckman helped build the steeple.
Many changes took place as the congregation continued to thrive and grow. Land was purchased and more buildings were added. A parsonage was built and replaced. The small, old church was replaced. The current building was dedicated on November 9th, 1873. A schoolhouse was built and replaced. The old school was moved, made bigger and became the parish house. A janitor's house was added. All the work was usually done by members of the church.
In 1929, for the first time the English language was introduced in the Sunday school and was also used in the church services once a month. In 1942 English services were held every Sunday while twice a month a German service followed the English one. Reverend Bergstraesser noted that by 1952, German services were held only three times a year - New Year's, Good Friday, and Reformation Sunday. Also, when Reverend Bergstraesser first came in 1941, the men sat on one side of the church and the women on the other. Since 1965, the church has been called St. John's United Church of Christ.
The 100th anniversary of the church was celebrated in 1949, but one of the most fascinating times in the history of the church occurred in its 103rd year. The congregation had been building and expanding on fourteen acres in Orchard Place, a small German farming community near Mt. Prospect Road and Lawrence Avenue. In the early 1950's, O'Hare Airport was being built and Orchard Place was wiped off the map. The congregation had to move its church, parish house, and other buildings to a five acre site about two and a half miles west. The church that was built in October of 1873 was rededicated on June 7, 1953. The church still stands on Route 83 at Foster Avenue.
more information about St. John's , ask the Reference Librarian
for Local History folder number 30. You will find booklets from
the 50th, 75th, 100th and 150th anniversaries. They are a wealth of
information and pictures. The pastors are listed as well as the
members of the various church groups. Although the pictures are
photocopies which don't scan very well for use on this web site,
many of them do identify every person. There is also a listing
of the parishioners with birth and marriage dates.