Church Photo Identified as St. Petri's Stone Church
Only Cemetery and Memories Remain
"Church Photo Identified as St. Petri's Stone Church Only Cemetery and Memories Remain." Hazen Star, 26 August 2004, 6.
This is the original
St. Petri's (Peter's) Stone Church, built in 1896, 12 miles
north of Hazen.
I got all my instruction
there (St. Peter's), all in German. That's the only language we
knew then. Everything was in German but the outside world was English.
It was our way of living.
-Harold Miller Pick City-
The stone church
was replaced by this new wooden church, built in 1916 at a
cost of $4,000. After the church dissolved in 1958, the building
was sold and moved to Beulah where it was used as a shop.
The mystery photo of folks gathered in front of an old, whitewashed
stone building that was previously printed in the Beulah Beacon
and Hazen Star July 1 issue has been positively identified as St.
Petri's Stone Church.
St Petri's was located about 12 miles north and one mile east of
Hazen along the road now known as Highway 1806. Originally built
and dedicated in 1896, the church later became known as St. Peter's,
the American version of its name.
In 1916 the old stone church was replaced with a new, modern wooden
church and a tall, towering steeple and bell tower. The new church
was built at a cost to its congregation of $4,000, a hefty price
for those early days.
Sadly, all that now remains, as proof that this old church once
existed, is a cemetery and memories of past days, from past members
who attended the church as children.
After the mystery photograph was first printed a few tips were
called into the newspaper office. Darold Benz, Beulah, and his wife,
Della, recognized the photograph from early scrapbooks kept by his
The same photo along with several others were identified in scrapbook
newspaper clippings dated 1939 commemorating the 50th Jubilee of
the Christ Parish, the original parish of St. Peter's.
Neither St. Petri's Stone Church, nor its wooden replacement exists
today. In fact, the church is now ashes - the end of the trail for
one of the first churches of Mercer County.
St. Petri's Stone Church was built at the NE corner of Section
15, 146, 86, just one mile east of Hazen Bay Road. The cemetery
that is still in use today is located on the north side of 1806.
The church once stood nearby, on the south side of the highway.
St. Petri's was one of five original German-Russian Lutheran preaching
places that in 1889 organized the Christ Parish. The others were
Priebes Church, later known as St. Paul's, St. John's Church, located
at Krem, Bohrers' Schoolhouse, and Immanuel Church, located at Kronthal.
In 1939 St. Peter's, and Immanuel were part of the Christ Parish.
The two churches shared pastors and later services for many years.
St. Peter's was served by its first clergy in 1887 when missionary
Rev. H.A. Dieter made four trips from Mandan to the northeast corner
of Mercer County to serve the early settlers.
Rev. and Mrs. Christian
Goecker served St. Peter's Lutheran Church from 1925-30.
Fifteen pastors served St. Peter's until 1939. After Dieter the
pastors were J. Niedarty, 1889-90, William Knappe, 1890-92, O. Bartsch,
1893, Andreas Leupp, 1893-98, N. Brein, 1898-1901, E.O. Engler,
1901-04, L. Drews, 1904-07, N. Mattheis, 1907-08, G.A. Graepp, 1909-13,
A. Kelpe, 1914-20, John Grill, 1921-25, Christian Goecker, 1925-30,
E.J. Hammer, 1930-36, and A.A. Krause, 1937-39. No information was
available through 1958.
Following an early church history is not easy, especially one whose
original members have also gone to ashes. But the children and grandchildren
of this early church still have memories of St. Peter's on the prairie.
Benz, whose grandfather, Mattheis, and father, Friedebert, were
original, early members of St. Peter's and his mother's family was
early members of Immanuel, remembers attending both churches in
the Christ Parish as a boy.
Benz also remembers attending six weeks of Bible school at St.
Peter's each summer.
"It was a pretty big church for those days," Benz said,
looking at the photograph in his mother's scrapbook.
Indeed, the new building of St. Peter's appears to be quite large
and stately, with tall glass windows along both sides and a steeple
tower with two additional large windows overlooking the front entrance.
Harold Miller of Pick City also attended St. Peter's as a boy.
"I got all my instructions there, all in German. That's the
only language we knew then," Miller said. "Everything
was in German but the outside world was English. It was our way
Miller said services were always in German at St. Peter's, but
he said when Pastor A.A. Krause arrived in 1937, English services
were held in the evenings sometimes.
Miller described St. Peter's as a nice church inside with chandeliers
that disappeared once it was no longer in use.
The St. Peter's congregation was dissolved in 1958. At that time,
the majority of its members joined Peace Lutheran Church in Hazen.
Sometimes shortly after it closed, the church building was sold
at auction to August Jeager of Beulah to be used as a shop. The
building was moved into Beulah and sat along Highway 49 where the
present Hillside Office Complex is now located.
Helen (Miller) Hilz, a cousin to Harold Miller, also attended St.
Peter's as a child. Hilz said when she drove by the building she
recognized it, even though it no longer had a steeple.
"I would say `Oh, there's my church I used to go to,"
Hilz also has fond childhood memories of attending St. Peter's.
"I remember taking the sled to Christmas services and the
candles burning on the (Christmas) tree," Hilz said.
Hilz remembers singing in German and attending German Sunday School.
She also remembers that the women and children, boys and girls,
sat on one side of the church, while the men and older boys sat
on the other.
Although St. Peter's Lutheran Church has been gone many years,
burned to the ground in a shop fire just two years after its arrival
in Beulah, its memories will live on, carried on by the families
who found it a worthy place to worship more for so many years.
The church cemetery is still in the final place for many St. Peter's
former congregation members, as burials continue to take place there
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The church that was built on the
dusty prairie still lives.
The cemetery is
all that remains of the original St. Peter's Lutheran Church.
It is located along Highway 1806, 12 miles north and one mile
east of Hazen.
Reprinted with permission of the Hazen Star.