History of the Trinity Lutheran Church
Bridgeport , Texas
In 1869, a group of German families left Mecklenburg , Germany for the United States . The families were: John Tackel, Sr., John Kaker, Fred Kaker, Joe H. Tyre, Joseph Dethloff and Chris Earick. They were later joined by the families of Franz Wolff, Paul Lehmberg and Adolph Lehmberg.
This group lived in Vandalia , Ohio for a number of years then migrated to Dallas , Texas . Around 1879, the group formed a settlement two and a half miles south of Bridgeport , Texas . This area was known as the East Mound Community. The families located as shown on the map below.
These settlers were Lutherans only there were no Lutheran congregations in this area. In 1882 the Texas District convention had authorized the calling of missionaries to serve large areas. The Rev. J. C. Schulenburg was called in 1892 to serve Fort Worth and the area to the west as far a Vernon , Texas . He organized the congregation in Bridgeport in 1894 which was known as the Episcopal Lutheran TrinityValley congregation. The church services were held in homes of the members until a church building could be acquired. The charter members of the church were; John Tackel, William Tackel, Fred Tackel, John Kaker, Fred Kaker, Joe Tyre, Chris Earick, Franz Wolff, Stephen Wolff, Joseph Dethloff, J. Bastian, Gottlief Harder, Chris Harmon, Fred Harms, George Kiehl, Louis Schuelke, John Weinmann and John Wendling.
In 1906, the Trinity Lutheran congregation built their first church in the East Mound Community on the property donated by the Paul Lehmberg family. The location was selected since the majority of the members lived in the East Mound Community.
There are very few known photographs of this building when it was being used as a church. The building was moved to the farm of Henry Kaker in 1956. The building was used as a hay barn by Bud and Sam Kaker.
The only two photos that exist that shows a portion of the build are shown below.
The building measured 16 feet by 24 feet. It was later enlarged to 16 feet by 30 feet and the weather-worn box boards were covered with siding and painted. There were about 60 wooden chairs for seating. There was a pot bellied wood stove for heat. There was no electricity for lighting. The pulpit was in the south end of the building. A pump organ was played for music.
Shortly after the congregation started meeting in their new church it was joined with Decatur and Bowie in a self-supporting three congregation parish. The Decatur congregation consisted mainly of another group of immigrants from Germany . John Tackel’s father, Fritz Tackel and the rest of his family came to America in 1882. They first lived on the west side of Bridgeport . They later moved to Decatur where they lived the rest of their lives. This group belonged to the Decatur Lutheran congregation. This three congregation arrangement continued into the 1920’s.With the coming of the automobile, it was feasible for one location to serve a much wider area and the Lutheran group in Decatur became amalgamated with the Bridgeport congregation. This occurred in 1927. Even though the Bridgeport church was too small, poorly located, and sadly dilapidated, the worship service attendance was quite good. Pastor Boerger once commented in a report to the Mission Board that “the men’s side is sometimes filled”. It may be safe to assume that the women’s side was always filled.
Trinity continued as a dual Parish with St. Peter of Bowie . At times it was served by St. Paul of Denton, St. Paul of Fort Worth, and Good Shepherd of Azle.
The residents of the East Mound Community started to decline in the 1940’s and 50’s. In 1957 the congregation made the decision to relocate into the city of Bridgeport . The Mission Board refused financial assistance, so bonds were sold to church members and the balance was financed through a local bank. Land was purchased on Hwy. 114 north of the overpass. After lots of hard work by the congregation, the church was finally dedicated on May 22, 1960. After 66 years, Trinity Lutheran Church finally had a new home. Pastor William Rumpel was serving Trinity at this time.
This building served as home for Trinity until 1987 when the present building at 1307 Tenth Street was purchased. A parsonage was also purchased. Trinity Lutheran operated as a single parish for the first and only time in the church history. The dedication of the new building and the installation of Rev. Bagwell were celebrated in a service on 12 April 1987. Photographs of the church building on 10th Street are shown below.
Due to less than expected growth, Trinity had to return to a dual parish status and the congregation accepted the invitation to join with the Faith Lutheran congregation in Graham. Rev. Gerald W. Peterman began serving Trinity in 1989.
The Trinity Lutheran Church celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a special service on 17 April 1994. Pastors Stan Geisler, Jerry Bagwell, former pastors of Trinity and Gerald Peterman the present pastor, participated in the anniversary service.
The Trinity Lutheran Church celebrated its 110th anniversary with a special service on 24 October 2004. The service was attended by approximately 100 congregation members and guests. Three ministers, who had previously served the Trinity Lutheran Church, participated in the service. Rev. Stanley W. Geisler of Azle, Texas presented the sermon. Rev. John Aliman of Colorado acted as liturgist, while Rev. Gerald Peterman served as lector. Rev. Peterman is the present pastor of Trinity. The acolyte for the service was Joe Herbel and organist was Glenda Blessing. Calvin Wolff, president of the Trinity congregation, welcomed everyone and gave necessary information about the luncheon and events of the day. During this service a quilt was dedicated to the memory of the founding ladies of the church. The quilt was made during the late 1930’s by a group of ladies from the church and a few of their friends.The ladies signatures are embroidered on the patch work of the quilt. You can view the quilt by clicking on the image.
Trinity Lutheran Church of Bridgeport has continued to serve the Lord through years of trials and celebrations thanks to many dedicated, hard-working members and pastors and to the love and guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pastor Peterman has continued his dedicated service to Trinity since 1989 and continues to guide us through today. A barbeque luncheon, which was prepared and served by members of the congregation, was held at Sagebrush Hall on Halsell St. in downtown Bridgeport following the service. Pictures and memorabilia of the history of Trinity Lutheran Church, its pastors, and congregation were displayed at the luncheon. A program followed the meal, which included stories of the church from pastors, congregation members and descendants of past members. A list of the Trinity Pastors from 1894 to the present may be viewed by clicking on the image.
The text here-in was compiled by Royce Raven from information in the files of Ruth Raven Smith, Reba Raven Gamble, Jean Moody, Rev. Carl Jeaurgenson, Glenda Blessing, Royce Raven and edited by Lee Roy and Beverly Schmedthorst. The photographs are from the collection of M.L. Smith, Calvin Wolff, Jean Moody and Royce Raven.