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Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church -- Historical Site

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Our History

Here is the story of the beginnings of our church and how we became what we are today.



  The beginning of the Lutheran faith in the Guilford and Thompson townships area is hard to pinpoint because of the record keeping of the time. What is known, is that in the 1830's the lead mines, the lead-hauling trails and the countryside that resembled that of their homeland in German was what brought a lot of Lutheran's to this area. They came with hopes and dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. As time passed those German Lutherans had a void in their lives. A desire to gather with others like themselves and give thanks for all that their Almighty God had given them as they had done in the old country of German.

               Their prayers were answered when Reverend John Klindworth came to Galena in August of 1858. He founded St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Galena on September 21, 1858 . At first many from the Guilford and Thompson area traveled to Galena for the church services. Later Rev. Klindworth would travel to the Guilford area to hold church at a local country school house (which now is owned by the Roger Sawyer Family and was know at the time as the Schoenhard and Taylor Schoolhouse). He traveled by foot most of the time, later on horseback and finally by horse and buggy. The journey for all was very difficult. According to our record book, the first child baptized in our congregation was Sophia Hauser, the daughter of Johann George and Maria Hauser, on October 23, 1859 .

       The congregation grew and decided to purchase land. On June 18, 1866 , the congregation (Evangelical Lutheran  Church of Mill Creek) purchased land from Mr. & Mrs. Henry Sam for the total price of $10.00. In 1867, a woman with the last name of Keller was the first funeral held and she was buried in the cemetery next to where the church would be built two years later. It took another two years to build the church. Henry Wachter, who was born in Switzerland and came to America and settled in the Guilford Township area, was a farmer but a carpenter by trade and later built the Lutheran church in Guilford. He and his family were members of this congregation. The new church in Guilford was dedicated on September 18, 1870 . The first couple to be married in the church was Henry Hinden and his bride, Julie Weber on June 2, 1874 . Confirmation classes were held at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Galena with Rev. Klindworth teaching and confirming the students.

The congregation purchased land from Anton Schap in Schapville on March 24, 1879 , to build the first parsonage. With the help of Rev. Klindworth, the congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Mill Creek obtained their first live-in pastor. Reverend George Kaempflein was installed in 1879. The first confirmation class of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Mill Creek was confirmed on April 11, 1879 . The first eight students were:  Erhard Hesselbacher, Joseph Frick, Ernst Siegel, Ernst Kirchner, Christian Otto, Juliana Wachter, and Maria Hoffman.

        In 1881, the first schoolhouse was built onto the parsonage. The school term was four days a week during the five months before Easter. Tuition was 50 cents a month per student.

        In 1885, the Annual Meeting had a discussion on building a second church but it was tabled to a later meeting. In December of 1885, a meeting was held to discuss why the congregation needed a second church. The minister got up and gave his reasons. The elders took a vote and it was passed that a second church would be built in the Schapville area. Land was purchased from Philip Parkin on March 13, 1886 . [Philip Parkin was a local farmer who inherited the land from his wife's family. He also gave land for the country school that is just down the road outside of Schapville.] On October 10, 1886 , the new church was dedicated to the Glory of Our Lord. The church in Schapville was also built by Henry Wachter at a cost to the congregation of $2,408.95. The two congregations would now share a pastor and a church council. The Guilford church was known as the Upper Church and the Schapville/Thompson Church was known as the Lower Church . The day of the dedication was also the farewell of Reverend Kaempflein. On October 11, 1886 , the two congregations installed their new pastor, Rev. Hugo B. Kuhn. On October 19, 1886 , the Lower Church purchased property for a cemetery from Hr. Theodore Hoppe. In 1887, a new bell was purchased for the lower church and copper lamp so that they could have night services. In October of 1888, Rev. Kuhn resigned because of his health.

        The founder's son, Reverend G.F. Klindworth, was installed as pastor on October 21, 1888 . In January of 1889, a collection was taken up for a new organ at the lower church.

       On February 3, 1889 , a joint meeting of both congregations was held in the upper church. The subject of the discussion was whether to have one treasurer instead of two. It was decided that if there are repairs to be done at the school house or if there is anything to be built the money should come out of both parts of the churches. It was also decided that the upper church would be called St. Paul ’s Congregation and the lower one Zion Congregation.  

        On March 17, 1889 , both congregations decided to build a new picket fence around the parsonage.

        On October 13, 1889 , the congregation meets to purchase new iron desks to be used in the school house. The cost for the desks was $42.00 (this included the freight charge).

       On November 2, 1890 , the Zion congregation voted on the duties of the janitor. The duties are as follows:

1. Keep the church clean.

2. Keep it warm (Have the temperature at 70 degrees at church time)

3. Light the altar candles.    

 4. To put up the numbers for the hymns.

5.  Towing the bell. The bell should be rung on Saturday evening, on Sundays at 10:30 am , and at funerals.

6.  Take care of the baptismal water.     

7.  Get drinking water in the summer.

8.  Be able to be on call at any time of the day.   

 9.  Get somebody to take his place when he is not able to be there.

       On February 12, 1893 , the Zion congregation decided to repair the chimney of the church, and to paint the picket fence around the parsonage.

      The congregation of Zion decided to buy a new organ for the use in the school house in 1894.

        The 1900's Annual meeting was held on January 1.  The minister had the following to say:

  •         Each member (this was males only) has a right to express his opinion at any time but only will be permitted to talking after the talking has finished.                                                               
  • If you have something to say,  you should stand up and say “I want the word”.

        It was approved to appoint a secretary to take minutes and read them at each meeting held at the church. It was decided to build a new barn. It was to become the property of Zion Lutheran Church . This was to be used by the pastor and his family.

        On January 29, 1900 , it was God's will that the parsonage would burn to the ground. The following article appeared in the Galena Gazette on February 1, 1900 .  


    Rev. G.F. Klindworth, son of Rev. John Klindworth, of this city and pastor of the Schapville Lutheran Church , writes the Gazette as follows relatives to the burning of the church parsonage occupted by himself and family.

    The Lutheran parsonage at Schapville , IL , used also as a parochial school was consumed by fire, January 29th at 5 o’clock p.m. In the afternoon a chimney had been on fire. The fire afterwards was found to be extinct to the chimney, but about an hour later flames broke out from the roof. Many came to help and so most of the contents of the building were saved. It was soon apparent that the building could not be saved and burned to the ground.

* * * * * * * * * *

        February 23, 1900 . A meeting was held at Zion concerning the building of the new parsonage. The plans for the new parsonage was to build it 16 x 28 and the kitchen 16 x16 and 14 feet high walls. There was a  motion by one of the trustees that the parsonage should be built according to plans. The main living space 16 x 28, the kitchen 16 x 16, basement 16 x16, and the school 16 x 28 and the wall one foot higher than in the plans. The school house should be frame. The motion was tabled until they could meet with St. Paul's (now known as St. John) Congregation.

        On April 17, 1900, both congregations met at St. Paul's (St. John’s) Church in Guilford to consider the building of a parsonage and other items. The meeting went from friendly to all out war. Some believed the building committee were wanting to build a chicken house for the pastor to live in. Others members wanted all members of the congregation to be able to receive Holy Communion. Many speeches were given that morning. The outcome of this meeting ended with the congregation asking Reverend Klindworth to find a new church.

        On October 16, 1900, a Congregational meeting was held, to decided if the congregation would call a pastor from the Ohio synod with the understanding that Pastor Klindworth would leaves his position her at St. Paul's & Zion. A vote was taken that Pastor Meyer from Clintville, Wisconsin would be the new pastor. He was installed on December 5, 1900 by Pastor Klindworth of Galena, IL. The new parsonage was built.

        During  the time that Reverend H.F. Meyer's served this congregations a Mission Festival was started. The first Mission Festival offering raised $77.15.  Rev. Meyer was involved with the purchase of the ornate copper ceiling for Zion. It was purchased in Chicago. Pastor Meyer and Henry Boldt made the trip to Chicago to personally select the material. The cost of the ceiling was $800.00 and the two men surprised the congregation with a large crown in the center of the chancel at an additional cost of $10.00. George Kuhn and others from the church helped bring the ceiling from Scales Mound to the church. To this day the ceiling has been a topic of interest and curiosity. The exact composition of the material on the ceiling is still a bit of a mystery! The altar at Zion was handcrafted in Germany. It was shipped to America by boat to the harbor in Milwaukee, Wis. and then sent by railroad to Apple River, IL. Louis Schultz and Henry Schlichting brought the altar to the Zion church by a team and wagon. The altar cost $800.00.  


  In 1902, it was decided that parents who send their children to confirmation instructions (who do not belong to the church) should pay $5.00 into the treasury. The congregations approved the motion dealing with who could be buried in the cemetery. It was decided that just Lutherans can be buried and only the presiding pastor or a relief pastor could perform the funeral services.

        On December 9, 1907, Reverend Meyer contracted tuberculosis and his health caused him to resign and retire from the ministry. On February 26, 1908, Reverend H. Hofhenke became the new pastor served both congregations as their pastor for 13 years.

        In 1908, a cement sidewalk was pour in front of the parsonage, a new woven wire fence (with cedar posts and two iron gates) replaced the picket fence around the parsonage, build an outdoor toilet, paint the parsonage and the barn, and the presidents should see to it that the pumps are put back into operation.

        In 1909, the Ohio Hymnals were purchased, a new chicken house was built, a new fence around the garden at the parsonage was built, the school house was repaired,  a new organ (the best they could afford) was purchased, and the old organ was put into the school house.

        In 1911, Zion Lutheran Church in Schapville celebrated its 25th anniversary.

        In 1912, a summer kitchen was built onto the parsonage. It would be 16 x 20 or 18 x 20, which ever way it would fit best. 

        In 1914, new carpeting was purchased, the doors were changed to open to the outside, and a woodshed was built at  Zion.   A new black pulpit and altar was added at St. John's site.

        In 1916, any member of the two congregations would pay  $25.00 into the treasury to be buried in the cemeteries, the church roof was painted, the gold plated cross was placed on the steeple, cement foundation for the outside toilets were poured, and an auto garage was to be built (14 x 20 x 10). St. John's, would hold one English speaking service a month and the rest of the services would be held in the German language.

        In 1917, The Zion Lutheran Church install a new heating system. The Brotherhood was established and each male member was to join. (October 20).

        In 1920, each student attending Confirmation classes would pay for their own books, new collection plates were purchased for Zion, and the parsonage and Zion Lutheran Church were hooked up to electricity. That same year, Reverend Hofhenke received a call from another congregation and accepted the call. He resigned in 1921.

        Reverend H. Holzhausen was installed on the 3rd day of April, 1921, by Rev. Kubitz of Madison , Wisconsin. In the fall the cellar of the parsonage was cemented and the windows of the parsonage were repaired.

        In 1922, the parsonage was painted white and the roof was repaired.  A special meeting with both congregations was held on Friday, September 15th at 2 o'clock to deal with the considerable dissatisfaction in the congregation in regards to their pastor. Rev. Pagels (from Galena) was present to hold and do the investigating in the matter of removing the pastor. The congregations wanted a different pastor, and they were granted the request.

        Reverend H.F. Leschensky was installed on July 8, 1923. St. John's and Zion became holding 50% English speaking services and 50% German speaking services. The parsonage was remodeled and made into a more modern home. In 1925, the school house (that we now know) was built separate from the parsonage. Both were dedicated on December 13th 1923.





Four members of Shepherd of the Hills congregation became Ministers of the Lutheran Faith.

Rev. John Schlichting -- He was born Johann George Ludwig Schlichting on February 13, 1870. The son of Ludwig and Sofia (Wich) Schlichting. He was baptized on May 22, 1870 at St. John's Lutheran Church and was confirmed in 1885. 

Rev. Louis Brandt -- He was born Ludwig Wilhelm Friedrith Brandt on November 3, 1886 in the village of Woodbine, IL. The son of Friedrick and Dorattea Buhse Brandt. He was baptized on November 28, 1886 at St. John's and confirmed in 1902. According to the 1910 Census, he was a boarder while living in St. Paul's, Minnesota. His WWI register card (that was dated June 1917) stated that he lived in Hill County, Montana. He was a farmer / clergyman and was married and had four children. Rev. Brandt passed away on February 10, 1936 in Montana.

Rev. John Bonhoff, 72, former Schapville area resident and pastor for forty-seven years of the Valley City, N. D. Lutheran church, died Sept. 4th, according to word received by his relatives. Funeral service and burial took place Sept. 8th in Valley City. Born in Germany, Rev. Bonhoff came to America with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Bonhoff, when he was a child. He grew to manhood in the Schapville area and received theological training in Afton and St. Paul, Minn. He went to Valley City as a candidate for the Lutheran church shortly after his ordination into ministry. Although he told the congregation that he did not desire to remain as pastor of the church, he was persuaded to do so-members of the church having prevailed upon him to become their minister between trains. In addition to serving as pastor in the North Dakota city, where he arrived in 1895, Rev. Bonhoff also was mayor of the community for several terms and served as a member of the Valley City school board until he resigned recently because of illness. During his frequent visits to Jo Daviess county, Rev. Bonhoff conducted services several times in Schapville. Surviving in addition to the widow, are two sons, Lawrence of Fargo, N. D., and Edward of Grand Forks, N. D.; a daughter, Miss Effie Bonhoff at home; three brothers, William of Stockton, Louis of Galena and Fred of Springfield, Neb., and three sisters, Mrs. Henry Wulff of Elizabeth, Mrs. Evelyn Martin of McLloyd, N. D. and Mrs. Dora Steinborn of Valley City. [Sept. 16, 1943]

Rev. Christina (Grebner) Stienstra --  She was baptized and confirmed in the congregations of St. John's/Zion Lutheran Churches. She is the daughter of LaVerne and Laura (Krug) Grebner. She is married to Darryl Stienstra and has two adult daughters.   

Shepherd of the Hill -- 536 E. Schapville Road -- Scales Mound, IL 61075 -- 815-845-2061