Landmark Church Sesquicentennial

Landmark Church Sesquicentennial
Event Date – Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nearly 400 people came to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Salem Landmark Church building and observe the dedication of new Wisconsin state historical marker recognizing the beginnings of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  Beginning with an opening worship service centered on Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things, those of long ago, representatives from each of our synod's founding congregations participated.  Pastor Dan Simons from Salem Town of Granville (Milwaukee), Pastor Dale Reckzin from the Town of Oakwood (Oak Creek), and Staff Minister Frederick Horn from Grace in Milwaukee, led everyone to remember the blessings God has showered upon his church throughout the ages. 
Following the 9:00 A.M. worship service at Salem church, participants moved to the front of the Landmark church building.  Professor James Korthals began the outdoor dedication observance by giving a brief overview of the beginnings of the Wisconsin Synod.  Pastor Dan Simons conducted the rite of dedication for the new historical marker that now sits in front of the Landmark church building.  The new marker reads:

                On Christmas Day 1847, a group of German-speaking settlers, mostly from Pennsylvania, met and founded the German Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Church of Granville Township. By June 1849, these settlers had built and dedicated a log church on a site just south of the West Granville Cemetery, eventually renaming the congregation Salem Lutheran Church. On December 8, 1849, three Lutheran pastors, John Muehlhaeuser of Grace Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, John Weinmann of St. John Lutheran Church in Oak Creek, and William Wrede of Salem Lutheran Church in Granville, met in the Grace Church hall and made plans to organize a new church body, the First German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Wisconsin. Muehlhaeuser was elected president, Weinmann secretary, and Wrede treasurer. Pastor Muehlhaeuser was entrusted with drawing up a constitution for the new synod.
                The first synod convention was held at Salem Lutheran Church in Granville on May 26, 1850. Five pastors representing eighteen congregations met and adopted a constitution. This event marked the beginning of what is now the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a Lutheran denomination that has become an international church body. Thus the Wisconsin Synod was conceived at Grace Lutheran Church in Milwaukee and born at Salem Lutheran Church in Granville.
                Salem Lutheran Church later divided along denominational lines. In 1860 the Reformed members founded what is now West Granville Presbyterian Church, located just to the north. In 1863 the Lutheran members constructed a Milwaukee cream brick church on this site. This historic church was used by the Salem congregation until 1977. Today the 1863 church is known as Salem Lutheran Landmark Church and Museum. It is one of the oldest church buildings in the city of Milwaukee and is a representative example of Italianate architecture. The church was designated a City of Milwaukee historic site in 1992.
Erected 2013
Wisconsin Historical Society
Pastor Mark Schroeder, president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Paul Jakubovich from the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission, and Milwaukee 5th District Alderman Jim Bohl each addressed the audience and congratulated Salem congregation and the WELS Historical Institute for their work.  The First Brigade Band ended the dedication portion of the program with a selection of songs played on their authentic civil-war era instruments.

During lunch people had time to browse a variety of displays from local historical organizations such as the Milwaukee County Historical Society and Trinity Lutheran Church Freistadt.  They could also research their genealogy through the assistance of the staff from the Pommerscher Verein Freistadt, watch a demonstration of antique farming equipment, learn about Civil War uniform and weapons, or browse the displays on our synod in the Landmark museum building. 

The afternoon began with the opening of the cornerstone of the Landmark building.  Steve Miller, board member of the WELS Historical Institute and Salem Church historian, oversaw the opening.  After being sealed for 150 years, the small metal box was opened and the contents were removed and were found to be in remarkably good condition.  The contents of the cornerstone include the following:
  1. Verhandlungen der Evangel.-Lutherischen Synode von Wisconsin und Angrenzenden Staaten Gehalten in der Kirche der Columbus, Wis. Vom 14 bis. 18 Juni A.D. 1862.
    Watertown Gedruckt in der weltbüger office 1862
    (Proceedings of the twelfth assembly of the Evang. Lutheran Synod of Wisconsin and adjacent States. Held in the church of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Columbus, WI from the 14th to the 18th day of June A.D. 1862).
    2. Church Paper:  Der Lutherische Herold ein Literarisches Blatt für Kirche und Haus.

Motto: Gottes wort und Luther’s Lehr Vergehet Nun und Nimmermehr.
13 Jahrgang  No.1   New York  1, Mai 1863  Ganze No. 289
(The Lutheran Herold a publication for Church and home. Motto:  Gods word and Luther’s teaching will never pass away. 
  1. Church Paper:  Lutherische Zeitschrift Jungendfreund und Missionblätter.
    Vereinigtes Blatt für die Familie, Schule und Kirche   Mai 23, 1863
    Pastor S.K. Brobst    Redakteur und herausgeber  Allentown, PA
    Ein Thaler das Jahr   Band 6  Nummer 11.
    (Lutheran Periodical   friend of youth and mission paper.   United paper for the Family, School and Church). 
  1. Church Paper:  Lutherischer Kirchenbote  Herausgegeben von Past. V. Austädt (The Lutheran Church Messenger)
    Jahrgang 22.  Selinsgrove, PA  Freitag den 8, Mai 1863  Nummer 10.
  2. Gemeinde-Ordnung fur die Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Wisconsin
Auch als Anhang zum Bericht der Evangelisch-Lutherischer Wisconsin-Synode 1858 Also as an addendum to the Report of the Evang. Lutheran Wisconsin Synod 1858
Milwaukie 1858  Buch druckerei von Banner und Volksfreund
(Constitution of the Wisconsin Synod). 
  1. Der Lutherische Kalender für das Jahr 1863 Nach der Geburt unsers Herren und Heilandes Jesu Christi. (The Lutheran Calendar for the year 1863 after the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior). 
  1. Small German Hymn book (5 inch ht. x 3 ½ inch wide) 
  1. Small silver plaque (Believed to be the date marker, the date the cornerstone ceremony was held.)
    on face – “June 5th 1863”
    on reverse – etched by hand “Henry Boorse Milwaukee, Wis.” (Henry Boorse was a prominent member of Salem at that time). The plaque measures 2 5/16 inch x 7/8 inch. 
  1. Very small Lutheran hymn book 1859 (in English).  “Lutheran board of Publications Philadelphia”.
    (3 ¾ inch ht. x 2 ½ inch wide x 1 ¾ inch thick) 
  1. Church Paper:  The Lutheran  Devoted to the interests of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
    Rev. Chas. P. Krauth  Philadelphia  General Editor
    Rev. W.A. Passavant  Pittsburgh co-editor    
    Philadelphia  May 14, 1863  Vol. II  No. 29.  -  Whole No. 81  (this paper is in English).
  2. German prayer book possibly with some liturgy. (6 in. ht. x 4 in. wide) 
  1. Book:  Small English Bible Old and New Testaments  Leather bound. (5 ½ in ht. x 3 ½ in. wide) 
  1. Lutheran Books (in English) by publisher Lindsay & Blakiston’s 1858, Included Small Catachism & Augsburg Confession. “In a trust for the German Ev. Luth. Ministerium of Penn. & adjacent States (Eastern district of the State of Penn.)”  measures 6 in. x 4 in. 
  1. Seven Coins:  Quarter dollar 1858, copper Indian head penny1863, dime 1861, silver one cent piece 1863, half dime 1857, half dime 1861, gold dollar 1853.
The date of the laying of the cornerstone ceremony was June 5, 1863.  There were 20 items included in the cornerstone.  Each item was included because of its significance to the members of one of the founding congregations of the Wisconsin Synod.  An analysis of each item will be conducted and an article describing the importance of the items will be described in an upcoming edition of the WELS Historical Institute Journal.  If you are interested in receiving this journal, simply become a member here

Following the cornerstone opening, the First Brigade Band paid a special graveside tribute to Johann Gottlieb Herzog.  Johann Herzog was a member of Salem buried in the West Granville Cemetery.  He was born in 1846 and died in 1923.  Johann fought in the Civil War and was part of the 6th Wisconsin “Iron Brigade."  In the afternoon, people stayed for tours of the cemetery, Landmark Church, or the nearby West Granville Presbyterian Church (built in 1861 when the Lutheran and Reformed members at Salem split). The day was filled with wonderful events related to the history of Salem congregation, the Wisconsin Synod, and the Granville (northwest Milwaukee) area.  We began the day by focusing on Isaiah 46:9, "Remember the former things, those of long ago." Those words guided our thoughts of thanksgiving. We look to the future with thanks in our hearts as well. We are thankful that the story of God's grace in the WELS is not limited to a single item that can be placed in a cornerstone or written on a sign.  We are blessed to have that same living and enduring Word of God leading us today as it led the faithful people in Granville 150 years ago.

To view a gallery of pictures, follow this link.

Commemorative booklets are available by request for a donation.  The booklet includes a number of interesting articles and pictures including a review of the early history of the Wisconsin Synod, a biography of each pastor who served at Salem Landmark Church, a review of the restoration and remodeling of the building, as well as a description of the 1,072 pound bell that sits in the steeple.   If you are interested in receiving a booklet, please email
The anniversary worship service folder is attached below.  

A video of the anniversary event can be found here:
Anniversary Service Folder