The Old Society Church
On May 8, 1846, the so-called Society of German Noblemen established the German colony of Fredericksburg. When the site for the colony was surveyed and laid out into streets and lots, a place for a church building was also designated, namely, in the middle of Main Street on the market place square in the center of town. Schubert, an official of the Society, planned the building itself. The structure, called “The Coffee Mill Church” because of its unique shape, formed a regular octagon, with sides 18 feet long and about 18 feet high. The incline of the roof was such that, after a rise of ten feet, a cupola of the same height and also ten feet wide was erected. This formed an eight-sided roof six to seven feet high, which came to a point. A weathercock was placed on the tip, but in 1862 lightening knocked it down---there was no fire damage---and a cross replaced it.
The entire structure was built of wood and the best trees in the area were selected for that purpose. On the inside of the church stood four strong pillars on which the cross timbers of the prism rested and from which the connecting timbers and rafters rose. According to a report written in 1887, a fifth pillar was placed in the center after the large church bell was installed. The walls were made of plain boards and the floor of sand. Later, the floor was covered with stone slabs and the walls lined with masonry. An ordinary table served as the altar and clumsy wooden benches as seats until a pulpit, better seats and a ceiling to cover the timbers could be provided. A very small bell had to serve the purpose until the larger one was installed. The church was considered common property for all settlers in Gillespie County.
Mr. Basse, an immigrant who came from the principality of Wittgenstein, was appointed pastor for the Protestants. In addition to his pastoral duties, Mr. Basse engaged in farming to supplement his meager remuneration as minister. He served for three years after which he resigned and was followed by Pastor B. Dangers, an immigrant who was still in New Braunfels. The latter served at least 20 years until his death in 1869. He shared the esteem of all unbiased people and his funeral gave evidence of the sorrow the community suffered.
During Pastor Danger’s ministry a new catechism and new Evangelical songbooks were introduced. This is what probably caused a number of dissatisfied members to withdraw to organize a Lutheran church. Even during Mr. Basse’s ministry, a Methodist church had already been established.
The Catholics had relinquished the use of the church even earlier, about the same time the Society went bankrupt. They left without dissent and later received from the Protestants a voluntary stipend for their interest in the Vereins church.
In 1852, the Society’s agent ordered a title to the church property to be issued to the officials of the Catholic and the Protestant congregations. However, after the withdrawal of the Catholics, the Protestants remained sole possessors of the property.
After Pastor Danger’s death, Pastor Hermann, from near Cincinnati, became pastor of the Protestant congregation. He replaced the simple statutes of the church with a constitution under which the congregation accepted the augmented name of “the Holy Ghost”. After two years of service, he resigned because a salary increase was denied. Mr. Christian Koch, a missionary from Chrischona, Switzerland, followed Pastor Hermann and gave satisfactory service until his death on March 10, 1886. The grave marker, which the congregation erected, is evidence of a true memorial in his honor.
Following Pastor Koch was Pastor Heinzelmann. During his pastorate, because of innovations and changes that he proposed, strife arose within the congregation, which broke into two factions and resulted in a controversy as to the ownership of the church.
The excluded group of the congregation searched for another pastor and found one on July 27, 1887 by the name of DeGeller. He led the congregation in its devotional exercises in an old mill until the suit for the ownership of the old church was settled in their favor and they again took possession of the church. The other congregation used the Southern Methodist Church building for its worship services until they erected their own building. The old round structure was regarded unfit for further use. Even the congregation, which had gained legal possession of the building, erected its own sanctuary.