The first thing you see when you come into New Hamburg from the east, west or south (and, maybe the north, too) is the St. Lawrence Catholic Church.
It, like the Guardian Angel Catholic Church in Oran, is an impressive structure, both inside and out.
Ornate inside, with a story
Shy Reader, who says she visited there practically every other weekend when she was growing up, shared an interesting tidbit: “The story I heard was that at the time the Catholic church was stripping its churches of statues, altars, etc., the folks at Hamburg took down the statues and hid them in barns, etc. Then, when the parish decided to restore the church, these idolic “geegaws” made their way back. Nice story, but not sure it’s true.”
Sign outlines history
I like the part where it says the congregants were required to donate $5, or deliver eight wagonloads of stone, or take off every tenth day to work on building the church.
How it got its name
Edison Shrum, who wrote The History of Scott County, describes how the church was named:
In 1847, church activities were transferred from Benton to the present site of New Hamburg. Here, services were held in a renovated poultry house on the Wendolin Bucher farm until a new log church was built in 1848 on 3 acres donated by Mr. Bucher. In 1849, more land was obtained adjacent to the new church property and soon a school was functioning as part of the yet unnamed church.
As more new immigrants arrived, the church became too small and in 1857, plans were drawn for a larger and better church which was to be built of stone, 80 feet long ,”excluding the choir” , and 50 feet wide. The new church, modeled after St. Nicolas Church in Schirrhein was completed in September, 1858, and it was time to name the church. The parishioners had many different ideas for a name which resulted in violent arguments.
Finally, Mr. Bucher settled the arguing by stating “…enough of this quarreling! Are you not ashamed of yourselves? Now I will put a stop to this. I gave the land, and I shall name the church in honor of the patron saint of my son, St. Lawrence.” So, the church was named St. Lawrence.
The graveyard behind the church contains many old and impressive stones. I’ve always had a weakness for ones that contain photographs of the deceased.
The FindAGrave website lists 675 interments in the cemetery.
Photo gallery of St. Lawrence Catholic Church
Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to mover through the gallery.