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A History of St. Michael's Lutheran Church

Early records are incomplete, but it has been accepted in the past that the congregation was organized in 1830 when land was secured by a fox run congregation to establish a permanent congregation. The Rev. George Henry Weygandt came to this area from Washington Co. Pennsylvania in May 1827. Traveling on horseback, Rev. Weygandt began his ministry in 1828 and two years later organized the St. Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church; becoming its first pastor.

In cooperation with the Reformed members, land was purchased from Philip and Hannah Sickman and a log church was built with provision for an adjacent cemetery. The deed for this land was recorded June 25, 1830. This church stood in the northwest corner of what is now St. Michael's Cemetery on the east side of Coal Bank Road back from the main entrance of the present cemetery. The log church was replaced by a frame building which was shared with St. Michael's Reformed Church until the church constructed its own building in 1874 in the village of Marshallville. Lutheran and Reformed members worshiped on alternate Sundays. In 1875 the Lutheran congregation purchased land across the road from the old site from John Lower. Many people in the community still refer to St. Michael's as the Lower Church. The main part of the present brick structure was constructed at that time. The cemetery association of St. Michael's Church was incorporated in 1868. It still serves St. Michael's Lutheran Church, St. Michael's United Church of Christ and the Reformed Mennonite who have a church nearby. Burial records before 1909 are not complete. Trustees are chosen from lot owners who are members of the Lutheran or United Church of Christ congregation.

Rev. George Weygandt served St. Michael's congregation for 19 years until his death in 1847. He was a descendant of early Lutheran ministers, including a Bishop John Wigand who attended lectures of Martin Luther and Melanchthon. Early family records reveal that he changed his name from George Heinrich to George Henry. He owned a farm near Doylestown and always knelt in prayer as he entered and left his fields. While serving the congregation at Marshallville he also served 8-10 other congregations including Doylestown, Canal Fulton, Manchester, River Styx and the Wooster area. The earliest records contain names of English and German members. Many of these records were recorded in German Language. Family names recorded are Ault, Crites, Cotes, Culp, Frase, Felix, Geise, Ginlesberger, Habel, Musser, Neuroth, Rehm, Schriber, Stender, Strohm, Weygandt and Weimer. St. Michael's was considered a "Family Church" because many of its members were related to one another. Over the years, the name that appeared most frequently on the records was Frase. Earlist records of congregational minutes are dated April 12, 1841. During his ministry here, 291 infants and children were baptized; the first being Elizabeth Ault, March 21, 1830. Rev. Weygandt is buried near Doylestown. Many of his descendants live in the community. Mrs. Esther Kieffaber, a present member of St. Michael's is the great, great granddaughter of Rev. Weygandt. During his ministry in Ohio, 1751 were baptized, 984 confirmed, 148 marriages performed and 296 funerals conducted.

Rev. Weygandt was followed by two Reformed Pastors, Rev. M.R. Cline and Rev. A. Hamm both having short pastorates.

In 1851 Rev. D. Rothacker came from Carrollton, Ohio to accept the duties as pastor of both St. Michael's and Zion's Congregation of Doylestown. Rev. Weygandt had established a relationship, which later was known as the Doylestown Parish. Church records reveal that during its early years, sermons were preached in both English and German language. During his ministry there was much discussion by the members whether to continue this practice. The new Lutheran hymnal was to be used. The new church was built at this time, but serveral pages are missing from the records. The new records begin with the new constitution of the church. We presume they contain those records. He served until 1877.

Rev. G. Schmogrow of Goshen, Indiana served both the Doylestown and Marshallville churches from 1877-1883. During the pastorate of Rev. George C. Gardner (1884-1885), Marshallville and Doylestown were separate parishes. There were 114 English and German Communicants. Rev. G.A. Bierdeman D.D.(1886-1887) was called to serve both parishes again. Membership listed 116 German and English members.

During the years that Rev. George Harter was pastor (1887-1892), the council moved to buy an "air warming" furnace, a new pulpit and carpet. Members who desired a shed for their horses could build according to directions. Again there was much discussion among the members. This time the discussion concerned whether corpses should be brought into the church.

Rev. A.J. Reichert, D.D. became pastor in 1892 and served until 1898. In 1893, at a joint council meeting it was agreed if we paid 45% of the parsonage debt, we would own 45% of the property. German members were to have their services the last Sunday of the month. Rev. R.E.M. Engers of Toledo served one year 1899-1900. The old constitution was revised at this time. Because of a parish disagreement, St. Michael's called its own pastor.

The congregation voted to extend a call to Rev. H.H. Bachman of Adamsville, Ohio on November 22, 1900. Rev. Bachman served two years. During this period, the present stained glass windows were installed with funds provided by the women of the church.

Rev. Giles V. Schumann served from 1902-1903 and then returned to continue to serve until 1905. He resigned because of failing health but was encouraged to continue his work. Rev. C.E. Schweikert served from 1906-1910. When Rev. Schweikert resigned in 1907 because he couldn't find a place to live, council hastily purchased a parsonage. The pastor was to be paid $45.00. Following Rev. Schweikert the parish was again reunited.

Rev. Solomon D. Myers (1911-1918)was the subsequent pastor. In 1911, horse sheds were built along the west fence beginning at the church. Upon the recommendation of Rev. Myers our envelope system of offerings was adopted. In July, 1916, the church steeple was struck by lightning and damaged extensively. The balance of the steeple was removed and the bell tower capped (as it remains today). Acetylene lighting was installed in the church in 1917. (Older members report that you were never quite sure if it was going to work.)

Many of our present members participated in our 100th Anniversary Services held August 10-13, 1930, while the Rev. Isaac H. Stetler (1919-1930) was our pastor. Members were saddened by his untimely death, September 16, 1930. He and Mrs. Stetler are buried in the Doylestown cemetery.

Rev. George W. Dittmar was installed by his Father in 1931 and served 14 years; 1931-1945. During this period a Luther League was organized. Extensive work on the interior of the church was completed and the painting (Ascension of Christ) which is still a part of the chancel was purchased. Our cross and candle sticks were presented to the church, along with new paraments and flags. In 1939 the acelylene lights were replaced by electric lights, made possible by a gift.

Rev. Raymond Nickel (1945-1950) guided our congregation during this period of growth. The choir was reorganized, and a new Luther League program was initiated. The Pauline Ziegler Missionary Society and the League of Young Adult Lutherans was organized.

The 120th Anniversary of St. Michael's was celebrated with the dedication of the new parish hall and its facilities. Much of the work was completed by the members. Rev. Nickel delivered his farewell sermon at this service.

Rev. John R. Long (1951-1954) accepted a call to St. Michael's and began his work June 1, 1951. Under his leadership, members were able to carry on with the work which had begun previously.

Rev. David F. Tate (1954-1957) officiated for the dedication of the Schantz organ which was installed in 1956. Rev. Tate resigned to enter the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps.

Rev. Robert S. Kelly was the last pastor to serve the joint Doylestown-Marshallville Parish. Under his guidance the choir loft was enlarged to accomodate the adult choir, a new bulletin board was dedicated, and an amplifier system installed. Rev. Kelly served from 1957-1964. At this time members of St. Michael's voted to become a separate parish.

At this mile stone in our history, it was decided to call Rev. Long to return to our parish. He was granted a one year leave of absence to complete work for a Masters Degree at Duke University and Oberlin School of Theology. During this interval, retired pastor, Rev. M.G. Bishop (1964-1966) served as interim pastor. The parsonage, located on Fulton Rd., west of Marshallville, was purchased at this time. Rev. Long served from 1965-1973. Robes were provided for our two youth choirs. The men of the community met at the church for supper meetings. A Day Center for senior citizens was established. Pastor Long spent part of his time serving on the Chaplaincy Staff at Apple Creek State Hospital. In 1970, we again celebrated an anniversary. This time it was the 140th. In 1973 he resigned to join the staff at Apple Creek Hospital on a full time basis.

Rev. Arthur C. Lund, an American Lutheran Pastor, served from 1973-1974 while he was enrolled in Clinical Pastoral Education at Fallsview Mental Health Center, Cuyahoga Falls. His special ministry was to the youth of the church. He accepted the Chaplaincy at Holtzer Medical Center, Gallipolis, Ohio.

Rev. C. Philip Seltzer became our pastor, Dec. 1, 1974. In 1975 a special service was planned to note the 100th Anniversary of our church building. St. Michael's is one of the historical placed noted in the Wayne County historical records. A grand piano was secured to use in conjunction with the organ. We have just completed the installation of storm windows for economy and to preserve our stained glass windows. We are using the new Lutheran Service book in our worship.

The history of St. Michael's would not be complete if we did not mention that from our parish, Jay Weygandt entered the ministry and Isie Weygandt (Swavely) was commissioned September 24, 1922 for service in the mission field in India. She and her husband, Dr. Clarence Swavely served until 1960. Jay Felix was also called to serve the Lord as a Pastor.

Each year on the third Wednesday of July, St. Michael's holds their annual Homecoming Festival. For many, it is a time to renew friendships and remember their past association with the church. This tradition continues today.