THE HISTORY OF
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
The history of Trinity actually begins in the autumn of 1833 when over five
million acres in northeast Illinois was ceded to the federal government in a treaty with the
Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomie Indians. Public sale of the land took place in 1839.
Edward S. Winslow, one of the earlier settlers in the area, purchased the church property.
The cost was $1.25 per acre. By 1889 the young German Lutheran congregation was
ready to build a church, “our own church where things will be Lutheran.”
The growing church, which was organized July 27, 1884 by families who were
members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wheaton, had worshipped first at the home of
Johann Kohls, on 314 Harrison Street. Reverend Koch called the first meeting of the
Evangelical Lutheran Holy Trinity Church of Turner Junction; which was what Trinity
was called at the time. Sixteen members were received into the congregation, these men
signed the Constitution and became the “Founding Fathers” of our church. They are:
Joachim Schuett, Chairman, Johann Kruse, Hermann Will, Johann Kohls, Treasurer, Karl
Kohls, Ferdinand Quast, August Ziemer, Friedrich Glashagel, Hermann Schwanz, Karl
Zahn, Friedrich Ruenger, Johann Buchert, Friedrich Grossklags, Johann Gerdes,
Theodore Radunz, and August Brandt. Baptisms, marriages, and funerals were
performed in the homes; although, some of the members made the trip to Wheaton,
especially for marriages and confirmations. After space became a problem, they moved to
the basement of the old Methodist Church and worshipped there for five years. In 1886,
after the departure of Pastor Koch, Reverend Johann Heyer was called and served both
the Wheaton and the Turner Junction churches until 1888, when Reverend L. August
Heerboth became pastor of the Wheaton-Turner churches.
In 1889, where the present church building now stands, Charles and Mattie Bolles
sold the property to the Evangelical German Lutheran Congregation for the sum of
$287.00, of which $150.00 was donated with the understanding that “said lots are to be
used for church and school purposes only.”
In the spring of 1889, Mr. Friedrich Berndt of Batavia was commissioned to build
the church for the sum of $1,200.00. In the evenings, after a long day’s work, members
hauled stone for the foundation from the Batavia Quarry by horse and wagon. The
building was completed by October 1889. It had clear glass windows and was heated by a
large potbelly stove located at the rear of the church. On cold Sunday mornings a member
of the congregation who lived close by would arrive early and light the fire. When the
church was warm, two ladies of the congregation would come and clean the building.
They would then return home and get their families ready for the service. It was a
common sight for people along the Northwestern route to see a hand car, loaded with
people in their Sunday best, coming down the tracks on Sunday mornings. Upon entering
the church, the families separated; the men sat on the left and the women sat on the right.
When Holy Communion was celebrated, the men were served first.
The West Chicago congregation had grown and was strong enough by 1893 to
call its own resident pastor, Reverend Karl Fricke. He arrived in 1898 and served the
congregation for eight years, leaving in 1901. He left to accept a call to Immanuel in
August 18, 1889 was a great day in the history of Christian education at Trinity.
On that day a voters’ meeting was held and a survey committee reported that if the church
started a school, 20 children would attend. It was immediately decided that a teacher
should be called. Two kind offers were received from members and were accepted that
day; one by Mrs. Johann Kruse, to board the teacher, and one from Mr. K. Kuehl, to give
the teacher his room, both free of charge. School was conducted in the back of the church
until a building could be erected. The first teacher of record is Mr. Heinz. He was
followed by Mr. A. O. Stolper, and he, in turn, was followed by Mr. T. F. Wunderlich
until 1917, when Mr. Wunderlich receive and accepted a call to teach in St. Louis,
Missouri. The pastors were then called upon to take over the teaching duties.
Mr. Berndt built Trinity’s parsonage in 1896. The cost of the building was
$1,766.61, which did not include another $100.00 for the 16 x 22 x 14 barn, that was to
sit at the rear of the property. The parsonage, which is still in use today, has been
remodeled slightly to accommodate modern plumbing and laundry facilities.
Reverend Fred Mahnke, who remained pastor until 1915, succeeded Reverend
Fricke. A call was sent to Reverend Louis Gressens of Sterling, Illinois, who accepted
and was installed as Trinity’s third pastor, where he remained until 1924, when he left to
serve at the Orphan’s Home in Addison.
This brings us to the end of the “German School” era. The schooled closed in
1924. This was not the end of Christian education at Trinity. Sunday school had been
started in 1902, being taught first in German and later in English. The first confirmation
class to be instructed in English was confirmed March 6, 1921. During the twenty years
that the school remained closed, Christian education at Trinity continued through its
Sunday school program. Sunday school is still an essential part of Trinity today.
A. F. Fairbanks, of West Chicago, built the present brick church. Mr. Menke of
Elgin designed the church. The first service in the new church was held on March 16,
1924. The church has been redecorated twice, and completely renovated in 1972. Most of
the original dark oak furnishings were sold and the dark oak floor, which was an
additional cost of $180.00 in 1923, is now covered by carpet. A freestanding altar and
retable below the stained glass window replaced the chancel furnishings. The light
fixtures were replaced and others were added, which extensively brightened the interior
of the church.
Reverend W. A. Spruth served Trinity faithfully for eighteen years between 1925-
1942. Reverend W.J. Danker, of Harvard, Illinois, succeeded him in 1942.
After two very successful Vacation Bible school sessions in 1943 and 1944, a
Christian Day School was opened in 1944, and classes were held in the basement of the
church. Plans were made to purchase the land directly across the street from the church to
build a school at a future date. Facilities were available for kindergarten through the third
grade with plans to add a grade a year until all of the eight grades were included. Miss
Norma Cimaglio and Miss Marie Hendrickson were hired by the congregation to be
Trinity’s teachers. Mrs. Grace Kruse, who had devoted many years of service training the
tiny tots of the congregation to know the love of Jesus through her work in Sunday
school, assumed the duties of kindergarten teacher in 1946 which was when Miss
Cimaglio had left. Miss Esther Koepsel succeeded Miss Hendrickson, who was then
succeeded by Mr. Wally Hiedorn for the 1947-1948 school year. Kindergarten was then
under the direction of Miss Marion Kammeyer. Illness interrupted Mr. Hiedorn’s year at
Trinity. Mrs. Paul Sywaukla took over the task of teaching for the remainder of the year.
In 1948 a Teacherage was built at 319 Sherman Street and Mr. Walter Christian
was called to be the Principal at the reopening of Trinity Christian Day School. Under
Mr. Christian’s leadership, the school was expanded to include all eight grades, including
a kindergarten. Also in 1948, Reverend Danker was commissioned as the first resident
missionary to Japan for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The Reverend I.T.
Droegemueller was installed on November 4, 1948, as pastor.
Other teachers that taught at Trinity were: Miss Patricia Kohn, Miss Rhoda
Munderloh, and Miss Mildred Becker. In 1952, Miss Evangeline Stelzel assumed the
duties of teaching the lower grades. Mr. Clarence Rakow was called in 1953 to take over
the duties of principal of the school when Mr. Christian accepted a call to another parish.
A steady increase in enrollment, which was aided by the purchase of a station wagon for
transportation purposes, encouraged the congregation to approve the building of a
$65,000 structure in August 1957, and ground was broken for the building that would
house the Christian Day School. Chairman George Glasshagel appointed the building
committee members: Art Kruse, Willard Rakow, Herman Schmidt, Abel Gent, Woody
Gregory, John Ward, Leon Kroning, Carl Mennecke, Cordelle King, Joe Hitzmann,
Gordon Wienecke, Melvin Zahn, Roy Kiiskiila, Clarence Rakow, and Reverend
Droegemueller. Mr. L. S. Rudbeck of Glen Elyn was awarded the contract for the
building. The new building contained three classrooms, a library, and office, toilet
facilities, and a storage area and boiler room in the lower level. Tuesday, April 10, 1958,
with Pastor W. J. Baese leading the procession, the students and teachers left the church
basement and entered the new classrooms. Mr. Henry Schroder was the first full-time
custodian in 1957-1958. Mr. Albert Voelz had served faithfully in this capacity for many
decades on a part-time basis.
With a marked increase in the kindergarten enrollment in the fall of 1958, it
became necessary to replace Miss Stezel with Mrs. Shirley Rakow, wife of the principal,
who had four years of teaching experience. The school enrollment was now up to 63.
Teachers were hired for grades 4, 5, and 6 for the 1959-1960 school year. Mr. James
Gent, a member of the congregation and graduate of Wabash College, became the first
teacher employed for the intermediate grades. Mrs. Virginia Neumeister became the
primary grade teacher. Children from Geneva and St. Charles began attending classes at
Trinity. When the school opened in the fall of 1960, enrollment was up to 103. The old
station wagon had been replaced with a brand new school bus and the custodian, Mr.
Henry Schroeder, was in the driver’s seat. The bus was purchased with money donated to
the church by Mrs. Anna Voelz. During the 1961-1962 school year, Mrs. Clarissa Berndt
of Batavia succeeded Miss Neumeister. Mr. and Mrs. James Witt joined the teaching staff
for the 1962-1963 school year. Mrs. Witt assumed the duties of the lower grades and Mr.
Witt succeeded Mr. Gent with the intermediate grades. Mr. Henry Altergott became the
bus driver and custodian that same year. On Palm Sunday, April 7, ground breaking took
place for the first addition to the school, which was completed in the fall of 1963. It
contained three more classrooms, a lunchroom, an office, and a storage room.
Trinity has been most fortunate in having several devoted members of various
professional fields who have donated many hours of their time putting their talents to
work for the betterment of the school. Mrs. Harry Glasshagel, a former elementary school
teacher with excellent training and experience, assisted in special education of the lower
grades. She also taught phonics to the first and second graders. Mrs. Carl Mennecke and
Mrs. George Punter, both registered nurses, served as health supervisors. With the
assistance of the County Public Health Nurse, they set up a health program that was
excellent. Mrs. Evelyn Petterson, of St. Charles, served as secretary of the school.
In 1957 Pastor Droegemueller accepted a call to Janesville, Wisconsin, and on
December 15, Reverend Walter J. Baese was installed at Trinity. Pastor Baese remained
for three years and then received a call from Birnanwood, Wisconsin, and left in January
of 1962. After a year and half of having a vacant pulpit, Reverend Kenneth J. Weber
became pastor in February of 1963 until 1966. In 1967, Reverend Donald G. Dannenberg
became pastor. Mr. Everett Waugh assumed duties of the Principal of the Christian Day
School in 1970, when Mr. Rakow retired from the teaching profession. The unrest of the
1960’s weighed heavily on Trinity as many of its’ members left to join other churches that
could better accommodate their “charismatic” beliefs. This also caused a decline of
enrollment in the school.
Following is a list of additional teachers who served Trinity between 1964 -1974:
Mr. Terry Weslock -Intern Teacher
Mrs. Roselyn Keck
Mr. Glen Lohrman -Intern Teacher
Miss Vivian Trost -Intern Teacher
Mrs. Joyce Berthold
Mr. Edgar Rehmer
Mrs. Lois Isreal
Mr. Robert Schaeffer
Mr. Robert Gruetzmacher
Mr. James Schroeder
Miss Nancy Austin
Mrs. Beverly Fawell
Pastor Dannenberg left in 1973, and Reverend Edward A. Lazarz, who had
served as a guest speaker several times during the vacancy, became pastor on November
17, 1974, until his death in 1981. At that time it was decided to close Trinity School. Mr.
Waugh left Trinity to teach elsewhere, and Mr. Dave Kleimola was called to take his
place. During the pastorate of Reverend Lazarz, the decision was made to reopen the
school as a preschool. Miss Nancy Austin, who had stayed on as church secretary, served
as teacher for the preschool. Pastor Savage was ordained and installed August 16,1981,
and the preschool was expanded to include daycare, as well as, preschool and
In 1982, Sue Helweg (Shahrrava) was called to be the Director of the school. It
was also during 1982, that Miss Austin left Trinity. Marlene Rippy joined the staff as
kindergarten teacher in August 1983. During the summer, both Sue and Marlene left
Trinity to teach elsewhere. It was in September of 1984, that Pastor Savage also left to
accept a position as a chaplain in the United States Air Force. Reverend Tony Davison
succeeded Pastor Savage in 1984 until 1995. During Reverend Davison’s pastorate, he
helped straighten Trinity’s financial matters. Reverend Davison left in 1995. Reverend
Tim Anderson, who served as vacancy pastor until 1996, succeeded him. Reverend David
P. Balla arrived in February of 1996, and was installed on a full-time basis in July of
1996. Reverend Balla is the current pastor at Trinity. According to Pastor Balla, the last
fifteen years can be characterized as trying to improve the financial status of Trinity.
In 1999, the preschool/daycare blossomed. Over 100 families have children from
the ages of 3 to 6 attending the school. Recently, new playground equipment has been
added to the playground. The children now have two covered sandboxes and a mini
house to play in! Miss Dahlas Gregory is teaching the first grade class for the 1999-2000
school year. Beginning with this first grade class and with the hopes of adding another
grade with each subsequent school year, Trinity opens its doors for a grade school once
In 1997 Trinity installed its Web Site on the Internet. On a typical day five people
will visit the site. The school building has a small local computer network for
In the summer of 1997, a Saturday evening worship service was introduced.
Trinity has also experimented with different types of worship services: the traditional
hymnal liturgy and a written out liturgy.
Due to the large number of people attending the previous year’s service, an
additional Christmas Eve service was added in 1997. In 1999, at the request of the
parishioners, alcohol-free wine was provided during Communion services.
In August 1999, a new front door was installed at the church, replacing a very
heavy white door. On each side of the door there are glass windows etched with the
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Cross logo. Pew pads were installed during the same
Besides Loane Dierking, an additional organist, Mr. John Fillo, began playing
during worship services at Trinity in 1997. The three different choirs that participate in
worship services each Sunday from September through April are: the Senior Choir, the
Primary Choir and the Junior Choir. Dahlas and Heather Gregory direct the choirs.
In 1996, the church began supporting an organization called Project Little Lamb, which is headed by Pastor Bud Morelock, a missionary to Russia and China. Trinity continues to support Mr. David Kruecheberg, who is involved in the Ministry of Horse Track Racing, the Bethesda
Lutheran Homes, the Lutheran Church Fund, and the Deaconess Fieldwork Program as
In the past, the women of Trinity have sewn quilts and prepared health kits to
donate to Lutheran World Relief. The Church has also donated to the Lutheran Woman’s
Missionary League. PADS, a local food charity, continually receives donations from
various members of the congregation.
Trinity hosts monthly church services and communion for the DuPage
Convalescent Home and West Chicago Terrace residents. In the 1980’s the Golden Agers
were actively involved in Christmas Bazaars and Rummage sales.
Pastors of Trinity Lutheran in West Chicago, IL
|1898||1901||C. F. Fricke|
|1902||1915||F. W. Mahnke|
|1925||1942||W. A. Spruth|
|1943||1948||W. J. Danker|
|1949||1957||I. T. Droegemueller|
|1957||1962||W. J. Baese|
|1963||1966||K. J. Weber|
|1967||1973||D. G. Dannenberg|