Research into the history of Peppertown and the surrounding Salt Creek Township area reveals that the first mention of the building of a church came in 1849 when Thomas Malston, a black citizen, donated one-half acre to be used as a public cemetery. At the same time he offered to donate a plat for a community church, but the second part of his offer was never acted upon.

In 1850 this part of Southeastern Indiana was a dense forest and thinly settled. The early pioneers, however, were honest and God-fearing people. The area attracted an ever-increasing number of German Lutheran immigrants. Because they were relatively few in number, early meetings were held in their homes, however, they desired a Lutheran house of worship in their community.

Led by their first pastor, Rev. William Younts, a small group of men met and began to plan for a Lutheran church building. John S. Scott offered the group seven choice acres of land for 35 dollars, but they were so poor they could not buy it. Sometime later they managed to purchase one acre of excellent land from Nicholas Heinemann for 12 dollars. However, they had to borrow 50 dollars from Lutheran friends at nearby Huntersville to purchase the materials needed to build a church.

Then they cut down trees, cleared the ground, sawed and hewed the logs, rolled them together, dovetailed them and used wooden pegs to hold them together. When they were finished, they proudly assembled in the humble little log church, located on the center of the lot they had purchased.

Every Sunday for almost twenty years thereafter, they assembled there for worship services. The first pastor listed in the church records was Gustave Michelman, who served from 1850 to 1852, then returned in 1899 to serve again--almost 50 years later! Thirty-three members from several close-knit families formed that early 1850s congregation.

These were days of extreme hardships and toil. There were no roads, only footpaths through the woods to the farms that settlers were slowly carving from the forest. Two of these early settlers walked every Monday morning from Peppertown to Connersville, worked all week, then returned home Saturday evening, carrying heavy loads of supplies home for their families.

Lives of the pioneer women were particularly stressful. They often worked beside their husbands and raised their children in primitive conditions. Sickness and accidents claimed the lives of young and old alike. One of the women members of this church fell and broke her arm. She prayed to God and begged for strength sufficient to bear the pain. She promised that if her prayer was answered, she would make a special sacrifice to God. Her prayer was answered, and when she was able, she donated a crucifix to the Peppertown church. It is still displayed there today.

The ground around the little church was dedicated as a cemetery, and all too soon it began to serve as a resting place for many members of these humble families. As the group became more organized, they began to keep a priceless German-language church record book, with the first entries dated 1863.

Mr. John C. Koerner, the local storekeeper, founded Peppertown by commissioning its survey, and he also selected its name to honor his partner in business, Mr. August Pepper. At a meeting of the German Lutheran congregation early in 1875, Mr. Koerner made a motion to build a new church, and it was seconded and carried. Church leaders decided to build a brick church. The location they selected was particularly sacred because it enshrined and protected a number of early graves of their own family members. On September 11, 1875, construction officially began when the cornerstone was laid. Services were conducted the Rev. Charles F. Diehl.

Members of the church were encouraged to sacrifice their time, labor and money to construct the beautiful edifice. Building materials were hauled by wagons and teams to Peppertown from Batesville--long, tiresome and difficult trips. Mr. Holtel served as contractor, and all of the work was done by members.

The new brick church was dedicated on October 22, 1876--in the Centennial year of the United States--by Rev. Joseph Schmalzl, accompanied by three guest pastors, former Peppertown pastor, Rev. G. Brandstetter, Rev. Williams of Brookville, and Rev. Binder of Cross Roads. The official name: The Evangelical Lutheran St. Nicolai Church. The first trustees: Mr. Jacob Stierle, Mr. Justus Becht, and Mr. Charles Pepper. A committee of three--Mr. Jacob Reifel, Mr. Conrad Mohr, and Mr. L. W. Koerner--was appointed to make a final financial report on the construction. Their report was presented, found correct, and accepted.

Members were challenged to help cancel all debt associated with the construction by January 1, 1880, and they agreed. They pledged to donate generously. Each family was faithful to its promise, and they satisfied all obligations by the end of 1879.

The constitution of the church is written in the German language on the first pages of the church record book. At its conclusion, heads of families and older male members signed their names beginning in 1863 and continuing through the late 1800s. These rare signatures include: (Both lists are the same historic signatures, just in a different order.)

Alphabetical OrderChronological Order
Bauer, John (p. 19)Heinemann, Johan Nichol. (p. 16)
Bauer, Michael (p. 17)Pansk, John Conrad (p. 16)
Becht, Justus (p. 18)Pepper, August (p. 16)
Becht, William (p. 18)Pausch, Heinrich
Bessert, Heinrich (p.18)Wolf, Ferdinand (p. 16)
Blenzinger, [no FN] (p. 17)Erb, Lorenz (p. 16)
Brach, Ludwig (p. 18)Steinhagen, T T (p. 16)
Broun, Michael (p. 18)Hirhic, Heinrich (p. 17)
Doebbeling, Friedrich H (p. 17)Koehler, Friederich (p. 17)
Doebbeling, Henry (p. 17)Koehler, Gottlieb (p. 17)
Erb, Lorenz (p. 16)Koerner, Johann, (p. 17)
Ellerman, Christian (p. 19)Henebaum, Heinrich (p. 17)
Ellerman, Herman (p. 18)Pouch, Johannes (p. 17)
Fendrich, Jacob (p. 18)Shitel, Elizlisn (p. 17)
Fichtenkam, John (p. 17)Kopp, John Martin (p. 17)
Gassler, John (p. 18)Kirschbaum, Michael (p. 17)
Goehringer, John (p. 19)Schonert, Theodor (p. 17)
Groene, F. (p. 17)Seibel, Heinrich (p. 17)
Hanebaum, F. (p. 17)Herrman, Michael (p. 17)
Hanebaum, Franz (p. 18)Stirn, Georg Michael (p. 17)
Hanebaum, Heinrich (p. 17)Groene, F. (p. 17)
Heinemann, Heinrich (p. 17)Hanebaum, F. (p. 17)
Heinemann, Johann Nicol. (p. 16)Doebbeling, Friedrich H. (p. 17)
Heinemann, Wilhelm (p. 18)Koch, George Friedrich (p. 17)
Herrman, Michael (p. 17)Koch, Heinrich Herman (p. 17)
Hirhic (Hirt?), Heinrich (p. 17)Vohland, Michael (p. 17)
Horstmann, Wilhelm (p. 18)Reifel, Georg Jakob (p. 17)
Hunsinger, Jacob (p. 19)Stierle, Jakob (p. 17)
Kirschbaum, George (p. 19)Bauer, Michael (p. 17)
Kirschbaum, Michael (p. 17)Reifel, John G. (p. 17)
Knerr, Jakob (p. 18)Blenzinger [no FN] (p. 17)
Koch, George Friedrich (p. 17)Reider, Fred B. (p. 17)
Koch, Heinrich Herman (p. 17)Doebbeling, Henry (p. 17)
Koch, Henry (p. 19)Schlegel, Friedrich (p. 17)
Koch, John Ernst (p. 18)Heinemann, Heinrich (p. 17)
Koehler, Friedrich (p. 17)Reifel, Michael (p. 17)
Koehler, Gottlieb (p. 17)Fichtenkam, John (p. 17)
Koerner, Charles (p. 19)Nicolay, Louis (p. 18)
Koerner, Johann (p. 17)Becht, Justus (p. 18)
Koerner, Louis W. (p. 19)Reifel, Jacob (p. 18)
Koerner, Matthaus (p. 18)Hanebaum, Franz (p. 18)
Kopp, John Martin (p. 17)Mohr, Jacob (p. 18)
Loescher, Heinrich (p. 19)Becht, William (p. 18)
Mohr, Conrad (p. 18)Koch, John Ernst (p. 18)
Mohr, Jacob (p. 18)Ellerman, Herman (p. 18)
Mohr, Philipp (p. 18)Horstmann, Wilhelm (p. 18)
Mueller, Friedrich (p. 18)Heineman, Wilhelm (p. 18)
Nicolay, Louis (p. 18)Knerr, Jakob (p. 18)
Pansk, John Conrad (p. 16)Gassler, John (p. 18)
Pausch, Heinrich (p. 16)Mohr, Philipp (p. 18)
Pepper, August (p. 16)Fendrich, Jacob (p. 18)
Pepper, Charles (p. 19)Koerner, Matthaus (p. 18)
Pepper, Louis R. (p. 19)Bessert, Heinrich (p. 18)
Pouch, Johannes (p. 17)Broun, Michael (p. 18)
Reider, Fred B. (p. 17)Schenkel, Peter (p. 18)
Reifel, Conrad (p. 18)Mueller, Friedrich (p. 18)
Reifel, Georg Jakob (p. 17)Schoenemann, William (p. 18)
Reifel, Jacob (p. 18)Brach, Ludwig (p. 18)
Reifel, Jakob W (p. 19)Mohr, Conrad (p. 18)
Reifel, John G. (p. 17)Reifel, Conrad (p. 18)
Reifel, Michael (p. 17)Wambach, Johannes (p. 18)
Reifel, Philipp (p. 19)Wolf, Karl (p. 18)
Reifel, Theobald (?) (p. 19)Roemer, Heinrich (p. 18)
Roemer, Heinrich (p. 18)Ellerman, Christian (p. 19)
Roemer, John (p. 19)Reifel, Philipp (p. 19)
Roemer, Justus (p. 19)Koch, Henry (p. 19)
Schenkel, Peter (p. 18)Hunsinger, Jacob (p. 19)
Schlegel, Friedrich (p. 17)Stirn, Heinrich (p. 19)
Schlenker, Johann (p. 19)Reifel, Jakob W (p. 19)
Schoenemann, William (p. 18)Reifel, Theobald (?) (p. 19)
Schonert, Theodor (p. 17)Schlenker, Johann (p. 19)
Seibel, Heinrich (p. 17)Bauer, John (p. 19)
Shitel, Elezlisn (p. 17)Pepper, Charles (p. 19)
Simpson, Franz (p. 19)Koerner, Louis W. (p. 19)
Steinhagen, T.T. (p. 16)Pepper, Louis R. (p. 19)
Stierle, Jakob (p. 17)Koerner, Charles (p. 19)
Stirn, Georg Michael (p. 17)Kirschbaum, George (p. 19)
Stirn, Heinrich (p. 19)Roemer, Justus (p. 19)
Vohland, Adolph (p. 19)Roemer, John (p. 19)
Vohland, Eugen (p. 19)Vohland, Adolph (p. 19)
Vohland, Michael (p. 17)Simpson, Franz (p. 19)
Wambach, Johannes (p. 18)Vohland, Eugen (p. 19)
Wolf, Ferdinand (p. 16)Loescher, Heinrich (p. 19)
Wolf, Karl (p. 18)Goehringer, John (p. 19)

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Thanks to
Larry Christensen

for this history & lists.

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1914 Citizen-Donors
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