The Formation of Trinity
In 1813 the earliest Lutherans in Columbus arrived, Lorentz Heyl, his wife, their sons Christian and Conrad, widowed daughter Itegina Pilgrim and her family including grandson Christian Meyer.
Christian Heyl, was a baker, and a major benefactor in the formation of what would become Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1814 he married Esther Allspach, and they lived in a home next to his bakery on the corner of Rich and High. By 1818 a dozen similar families had taken up home around the area also. The first person to organize a church for these individuals was the Pastor Michael J Steck, of Lancaster. The first Lutheran service recorded was held that year in the 2nd story room of Christian Heyl’s OH Perry Inn, a hotel he operated beginning in 1818, which in 1841 became his Franklin House. The congregation went by the name of St. Paul’s. In 1818 the Joint Synod of Ohio was formed to add some structure and unity to the Lutheran churches of the state.
Pastor Charles Henkel, of Shenandoah County, VA, became the 1st resident pastor of Columbus he took charge in 1819. Services were moved to the home of Conrad Heyl on the southeast corner of Front and Rich, after outgrowing Franklin House. Some people in the congregation were traveling upwards of 15 miles to get to Henkel’s services. Traveling via horseback sometimes 2 per horse.
In 1820 the congregation once again outgrowing its structure acquired land on the southeast corner of 3rd between Town and Rich. Bought on payment from John Waddle for $200, erection of a structure began in Spring of that year. The 1st payment of $60 was made through contribution by Christian Heyl of $43 and from Gottlieb Lichtennecker of $17. Work on the church began slowly due to none of the members having the money to afford such a large undertaking but all helped best they could offering up money, labor, and materials until the building was finished. The pulpit was built in a traditional style of the period; rather high approached by 7 or 8 steps from the floor. The altar built on a platform a step from the floor surrounded by a balustrade around which the congregation circled twice during the Lord’s Supper receiving the Feast. Services were at 1st held only in German but by 1822 Pastor Henkel had began having English afternoon services. Henkel also held services at 2 other churches 1 of which was in Delaware, OH (once every 4 weeks). In August of that same year Christian Heyl organized a hunt that met in Franklin House on August 30, 1822. The hunt was known as the Great Squirrel Hunt, it was created due to Squirrels were overrunning the area, destroying farmer’s crops. By the end of the hunt the hunters under Heyl’s lead had collected 19,660 pelts. On June 22, 1825 Pastor Henkel was ordained as pastor of all 3 congregations by the Synod then out of Lancaster. The Synod tradition of the time was after a probation of several years a pastor would then be ordained.
When Pastor Henkel was away from St. Paul’s Lorentz Heyl would preside, since he was the senior member of the congregation up until his death in Spring of 1832. After Heyl’s death Pastor Dr. Hoge of the Presbyterian Church on Front near Town officiated. In 1827 Pastor Henkel took a call in Somerset, OH. The congregation was without a pastor for 4 years, granting the use of its building to the Episcopalians who had organized but had no building.
In the Fall of 1831 Pastor William Schmidt, a native of Germany, who had projected a seminary be established in Canton, OH that the Joint Synod of Ohio removed to Columbus at S. High and Sycamore. During his pastorship he refused to lead any services in English, stating German is the language of the Lutherans. He was active pastor until his death in 1839. He was described by many as a true Lutheran pastor; a man of kindly nature, of pronounced opinions to how his services were to be led his way, accessible to all his parishioners, showing a interest in all of their lives winning the hearts and confidence of all.
During all the early years up to 1841 Christian Heyl remained very active. Maintaining his house in which the congregation got its start, keeping it open to any Lutheran needing a place to stay for no charge. Supplying out of pocket to make up for any deficiencies the church or Synod had.
In Spring of 1840 the most Pastor Dr. Charles F. Schaotfer, of Hagerstown, MD was elected pastor. His first order was to reintroduce the English afternoon services that were discontinued upon Pastor Henkel’s leaving St. Paul’s. Pastor Schaotfer also started the 1st English Sunday School in addition to the German one. Pastor FW Winkler a professor at the Seminary with Pastor Schaotfer disagreed with him on his using English in the church causing Pastor Schaotfer to resign in 1842 and Pastor Conrad Mees was elected. At the same time the congregation was once again getting cramped in its structure and a plot came for sale at the corner of Mound and High. A structure was resurrected and would be the last time St. Paul’s would move.
Pastor Mees discontinued the English services but a growing faction had been created due to the frequent bouncing back and forth between English and German, some members of the congregation by this point did not understand English. In 1845 the Synod took action on the issue. The action led to great resentment by a large number of congregation members, and talks of withdraw began.
Two congregations were formed Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran and First English. Both under the leadership of the Pastor WF Lehmann who had also been elected sole professor of the Seminary.
Meetings were held in Christian Heyl’s home now the Mechanics’ Union Hall on Rich and High. After a year they rented the German Evangelical Church at Mound near 3rd organizing English and German Sunday Schools. In 1850 the congregational factions permanently split the First English under the leadership of Pastor E. Greenwald in an old Convert School on the Seminary grounds, then moving in 1853 to an empty church on Rich previously occupied by the Congregational Church, then to its current home on Main.
Forty-eight people from St. Paul’s congregation and the Reformed Church founded the German faction:
Mr. and Mrs. Moritz Becker
Mr. Michael Bickle
Mr. and Mrs. Johnann Conley
Mr. and Mrs. Martin Haensel
Mr. and Mrs. Valentin Heckmann
Mr. and Mrs. Christian Heyl
Mr. Konrad Heyl
Mr. John Heyl
Mr. George Heyl
Mr. and Mrs. Ludwig Heyl
Mr. and Mrs. Karl Heyl
Mr. William Heyl
Miss Katherine Kaetzel
Mr. and Mrs. David Kaetzel
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Kaetzel
Mr. George Kannemacher
Mr. and Mrs. George Krell
Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Machold
Mr. and Mrs. Heinrich Mack
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Morh
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Schmelz
Mr. Johann Andrew Schott
Pastor and Mrs. C. Spielman
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Reeg
The first church council at Trinity consisted of the following 8 men of the congregation:
Elders: Mr. Martin Hansel and Mr. Johann Conley
Deacons: Mr. Michael Bickel and Mr. Philip Schmelz
Trustees: Mr. George Kannemacher and Mr. Johann Andrew Schott
Secretary: Mr. Ludwig Heyl
Treasurer: Mr. George Krell
On January 28, 1847 they took up residence holding services in a Seminary building under the leadership of Pastor Christan Spielmann. The congregation the same year extended a call for Pastor Lehmann to return to their church, a call that he accepted. On January 28, 1848 the congregation adopted by unanimous vote the name Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church. In February of 1848 they rented the German Independent Protestant Church on Mound near 3rd holding service at that location until 1856. The congregation grew exponentially over the years they were outgrowing that building. From the beginning Trinity was a member of the Lutheran Joint Synod of Ohio. Pastor Lehmann preached in English from time to time and even formed a separate organization for English speaking Lutherans. In 1852 a choir leader was hired for $25/year, rent was $120 a year.
Rev. W.F. Lehmann