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150th Anniversary of the Salem Eldorado Methodist Church

We are inviting all former members, friends and neighbors to join the members of Salem Eldorado Methodist Church in celebrating our150th anniversary Sunday, May 15, 2005. Come in an old fashioned costume if you want.

8:35AM: Arrival of circuit rider (traveling minister) on horseback
9:00AM: Worship service
10:30AM: Cemetery walk, highlighting founders of the church and ancestors of current members
12:00 noon: Potluck lunch (bring a dish to share)
1:00PM: Anniversary worship service

There will be commemorative mugs for sale at $5.00 each. Come and join us for a day of celebration. The church is located at W 7910 County I at the corner of Church Road and County I. This is located west of Fond du Lac and east of Rosendale about 3 miles north of the intersection of Highway 23 and County I.

History of the Eldorado Salem United Methodist Church

In 1853, the congregation obtained the first minister, Rev. J.C. Eszlinger, from the Oshkosh Mission. As early as 1852, Rev. William Strassburg of Mayville preached occasionally in the Eldorado area. He was a missionary from the Fox River Mission which was established in 1852. After the Conference of 1853, the Oshkosh Mission was established. Rev. Eszlinger s circuit included Oshkosh, Eldorado, Menomonee, Vinland, and Black Wolf.

On May 13, 1855, Rev. Eszlinger preached in the home of Anton and Charlotte George, and it was at this time and place that the first thirteen charter members were received, namely: Anton and Charlotte George, Henrich and Anna Dreier, Father Richter and daughter, Augusta, Ferdinand and Charlotte Kemnitz, Diedrich and Anna Averbeck, Benjamin Beekman, John and Johanna Ellert.

Of the thirteen original members, four descendants still remain as members today. They are Merlyn Messner, Walter Messner and Drew and Lauren Messner, all descendants of Diedrich and Anna Averbeck.

Location and Building

The plot of land, where our church now stands, was purchased in 1859 from John E. Gould for the price of one dollar. The first trustees, C.W. Frederick, Sr., Carl Halle, and Diedrich Averbeck, received the land on behalf of the congregation. The church was built the same year, and in September, it was dedicated by Rev. G.H. Blank. Only one other church had been built in the Oshkosh Mission, and that was in Oshkosh.

The church was torn down and replaced by the second church in 1913 when Rev. F.T.Eilert was pastor. It was dedicated by Rev. H.E. Erffmeyer, the Presiding Elder. The building committee included A. Rudolph, C.J. Westphal, C.L. Fredereick Jr., F. Nitschke, and Wm. Schmidt.

On Sunday, March 1, 1931, the church burned to the ground, and the third church was erected immediately, when Rev. H.A. Franzke was pastor. Those on the building committee were George Braeger, Henry Frederick, Arthur Patt, Henry Kemnitz, and Arnold Rudolph. The corner stone was laid April 19, 1931, and the church was dedicated July 26 by Rev. Philip Schneider, Presiding Elder.

Our church has been hallowed and consecrated by time, money, and talent given by those in the past, who sacrificed to organize and maintain it. Let us remember the weary miles through trackless wilderness traveled by circuit riding ministers. We must realize that we are dependent upon our forefathers for support. Although we do not have a large congregation, there are many friends and relatives from far and near who look to this church with gratitude for the spiritual nurture it has given to them.

Church Name

On March 16, 1864, our church was incorporated, and it was resolved that the said society would be known by the name of The Salems Church of the Evangelical Association at Eldorado being a society of the Evangelical Association of North America. Our Ridge Road Salem Evangelical Church kept its name until 1946, when the Evangelical Churches merged with the United Brethren Churches and our church was called the Salem Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Churches joined the Methodist Churches, and our church received its present name of Ridge Road Salem United Methodist Church of Eldorado Township.

Compiled by Nancy J. Westphal from the 125th anniversary in 1980