Digging into Doss history as church marks 100 years

The past few months, the people at Doss have been busy planning a party that’s been a century in the making.

This Sunday, members, family and friends of St. Peter Lutheran Church will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the construction of the native stone church that’s been a landmark in the Doss community since its dedication on Sept. 14, 1913.

Located at the intersection of Ranch Roads 648 and 783, the church has been used as a point of direction by many over the years, including jet pilots on training missions who were required to photograph the steeple before heading back home to their bases.

But, the congregation is even older than the church. The protocol signed by the founding members and Rev. H. Krienke, is dated Sept. 13, 1896, when Krienke, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mason, explained in detail the constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Iowa of which the new congregation would be affiliated and which was agreed to by the founders.

Now brittle with age, the yellowed page in the minute book was also signed that day by the “Founding Fathers” as they have become known over the years, including Friedrich Hahn, Christian Strackbein, William Geistweidt Jr. (my great-grandfather), Charles Geistweidt, Lorenz Wendel and Louis Hahn. Two months later when they met again, Heinrich Eckert and Christoph Feuge also signed.

St. Peter Lutheran marked a milestone on Sept. 15, 1996, when family and friends gathered to celebrate the church’s centennial.

After worshipping at different locations, these men set out to find a suitable location to build St. Peter Lutheran’s first church or “Die Alte Kirche” as it became known over the years.

Heinrich Sauer, a young man from Stonewall who had earlier settled in the Doss Valley, donated three acres for a church building and cemetery plot.

Not much is known about the construction of the first church, but it is thought that members of the congregation furnished labor and materials.

The frame structure was built in the general location of the church’s current educational building and was dedicated in October 1898.

But with more and more families homesteading in the Texas Hill Country, it didn’t take long for the members to outgrow their house of worship, so at a congregational meeting on Jan. 8, 1912, it was decided building a new church out of stone.

Our forefathers had a selfless tenacity and were determined. When they set about to build the stone sanctuary, they had no hydraulic machinery to haul the rocks, no Ingram Ready Mix to deliver the cement, no rock saws. They did everything by hand -- all for the love of their families.

Without an engineer and all the latest “bells and whistles,” a committee began planning the new church whose blueprints were adapted from those used at Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg.

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