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Hilisboro, North Dakota

In 1879, the family of John Bohnsack settled and took a homestead on the south bank of the Elm River about ten miles west of the Red River of the North in what is now Bohnsack Township, Traill County. In the following years, more families of German descent moved into the territory. Missionary Engel of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states came into this small settlement of Lutherans in 1881.
In 1883, this group of pioneers, together with a similar group of Lutherans who had settled on the Goose River in Eldorado Township east of Hillsboro, called as their pastor, Candidate J. Frick, a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. The congregation of Elm River numbered six families at this time, and services were held in the homes of members.
Under Pastor Frick in 1886, the congregation organized and adopted a constitution; nine men signed it. After three years, Pastor Frick was forced to resign because of illness. Pastor Strinden then served until 1888.
In the spring ot 1888, Pastor Gotthard Potraz accepted a call to the parish. The membership now had increased to eighteen families so the homes were too small for services. They, then, held services in a nearby schoolhouse. Plans were made to build a church and John Bohnsack donated land for a cemetery.
The cornerstone of the building was laid May 11, 1890. With minor repairs, this church served the congregation until 1930. During the years of 1888 to 1929. the following pastors served G. Potraz, G. Sebald, C. H. Burmester, E. Riess, W. C. Hitzemann, F. H. Rotermund, P. T Schumn and M. T. Jank. Reverend R. T. Schuricht came in 1929, to serve the congregation. He remained for thirty-three years. retiring in 1962.
Under Pastor Schuricht services were still held in both the English and German language. The pastor had to drive twelve miles to Elm River for services. Some members had to drive that far too. It was then decided to conduct services in Hillsboro. For two years. the armory, where the Red Carpet Apartments are now located, served as a place of worship for both St Johnís and Immanuel congregations.
In 1935, steps were taken to purchase the Lutheran Free Church in Hillsboro. St. John Church celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1936. In 1940, they purchased the Foogman home to be used as a parsonage,
The Immanuel congregation, east of Hillsboro, disbanded in 1947, and its members were received in St. Johnís by transfer There was need for additional room so in 1949, an addition was built. At this time the membership numbered 367 persons with seventy voting members,
During the vacancy that followed, Reverend Schurichtís retirement, Pastors from Hope and Fargo served the congregation. The old parsonage was sold and the Harry Sorum house was purchased as the new parsonage. A garage was also built.
Pastor Biberdorf answered the call for a pastor in 1963. He served until October 10, 1969, when the Lord called him to eternal rest. Again, the church was without a pastor. Then, Pastor Elmer Steenbock came to Hillsboro in June 1971, to serve St. Johnís. During his stay the present church was built. He accepted a call to Coos Bay, Oregon. in the Fall of 1974. The congregation placed a call to Terrill Bramstedt of the Lehr-Napoleon Parish. He accepted and was installed November 2, 1975.

A History of Traill County, North Dakota, 1976.
Contributed by Gerry Forde Mohn

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