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1857 John Baitinger family departed the train in St. Cloud and walked 30 miles to a German settlement near Paynesville.  Mr Baitinger settled on land which he purchased for $1.25 per acre.  


1860 Michael F. Plantikow, his wife Louise and children Frank, Herman, Minnie and Augusta were the first family to settle in the town of Zion.  They homesteaded the south half of the south half of section 32. .  He and and his father-in-law Samuel Helmer arrived from Monroe, Wisconsin. They were converted and joined the Evangelical Association.  Mr. Plantikow paid $200 for his first land south of the Salem church where the Manford Theel family lived later.  Travel was difficult as there were no bridges and the trail was marked with peeled poplar poles.  


1861 The first prayer meeting was held in the home of M.F. Plantikow.  Evangelical missionary Rev. C. Lahr was told there were some German families living near Paynesville who desired a minister. 


1862 Indian massacre


1863 Others that settled in the Salem Church neighborhood were Frederick  Moede and F. Wendlandt.  

1864 Frederick Miller & Sophia (Moede) Miller, came to Salem community directly from Germany and established their homestead in Section 27 (80 acres) & Section 28 (80 acres). They were awarded ownership in 1871, the required seven years later, with a homestead certificate bearing the signature of Ulysses S. Grant. Frederick's younger brother, William Miller, arrived some years later.  Documents bear the nae Muller which was changed to Miller around 1917. 


1864 David Moede, Christian Wendlandt, Michael Nehring, Gottfried Heitke, Gottlieb Weber came as a group from Monroe Wisconsin, leaving there in the early part of May and arriving in the middle of June.  They came cross country in ox teams via Prairie du Chien Wisconsin, Decorah Iowa, Preston, Rochester, Zumbrota, Fort Snelling, Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minnesota.  Immediately on arrival these people located their respective claims, which had previously been selected for them by Michael F. Plantikow and Frederick Moede. They commenced with the building of their log cabins and organized their permanent homes.


1864 Rev. C. Brill organized the first class in the Salem area and F. Moede was the first class leader. 


1865 The Sunday School was organized and Michael Nehring was the first Superintendent. 


1965 The first log school house (later called the Brick School) was build in section 29 at the corner of 293rd Ave & Stearns County #16, about 3 miles north of Paynesville.  Church services were held here until the first church was built. 


1865 Arrived: Wm. Arndt, Samuel Nehring, Michael Gess, Ludwig Koepp.

1866 Arrived: Christian Gehrke, Wm. Zabel, and George Unger. 

1867 Arrived: Gottlieb Krupke, Herman Manz, and August Sack.


1867 Zion organized as a township from parts of Verndale and St. Martin. 


1868 Arrived: Carl Schmidt 1871: Arrived: Christian Frank.


1869 July 4th-first burial at Salem, the only cemetery in the township:  Mrs. Hanna Nehring listed in records as J.L. (female)


1870 It was decided to build a wooden fence around the cemetery.  Each family was asked to deliver their allotment of fence posts

or pay 10 cents.  To raise money to build the fence and gates, they sold lots for $3.50.  A single grave for an adult was $1.00, a child 

under 14 was $.50.


1870, October 31: The Salem congregaton was organized and Incorporated.  The 1st annual meeting was held in the school house.  Decision was made to fence in a cemetery and designate burial plots.


1871 The Salem congregation built their first church this year under the supervision of E.H. Bauman.  It was the first church of the Evangelical Association to be built in the Paynesville area.  It was valued by the conference at $2,500.   The church building was dedicated on September 16, 1871. 


1873:  Arrived: William Miller and John Welk.


1873 The congregation of Salem already numbered 146 members.  The 6th Evangelical Conference was held at Salem.


1875-1990's Arrived: August Hein, Gottfried Schultz, Julius Behr, Wilhelm F. Reeck, Carl Theel, August Lueck, Gustav Glenz, Ferdinand Heuer, F. Gumtow, Wm. Ernst, Fred Busse, John Meyer, Carl Wendt, Christ Nehring, Radel, Nagel, C. Luckow, and Schoehnerr. 


1888 YPA Young People's Alliance (the Jugenbund) was organized.  In the early 20's the name was changed to Evangelical League of Christian Endeavor.  Years later it was again changed to Youth Fellowship.  The annual Evangelical Conference was held at Salem this year.


1892 Evangelical Church built in Paynesville.


1896 A cyclonic disturbance on April 25th severely damaged the wooden church.  Then on August 7th, lightning struck Salem as it was in the stage of being repaired.


1897  During the pastorate of J. Gongoll, the congregation voted to tear down the old wooden church and build in its place a larger, substantial, brick veneered church.  The cornerstone was installed in June.  


1897 The bell came from the Buckeye Bell Foundry.  It is 41 inches in diameter and weighs about 1600 pounds.  A German inscription can be found on the bell that is 'Komm, Komm Bet An" which translates to ' Come, Come Pray On".  


1897 The dedication of the church was held on October 24.  The cost to build the new yellow brick church was $6,183 and was raised in full by the end of the day.  The Paynesville Press recorded it was a sunny warm October day and more than 600 people attended the days' services.  


1904 The annual conference was held in the beautiful large Salem Church. 


1908 The Salem Concert Band was organized.  (See the MUSIC tab for more info and names of charter members). 


1910 The interior walls were papered and screens were installed over the side windows.


1911, October 30th;  The 50th Anniversary of the organization of Salem's congregation was celebrated. Among the principal speakers on the jubilee program were: Rev. A.H. Utzinger, Rev. H. Plantikow, Rev. F.R. Plantikow, Rev. J.M. Baitinger, Rev. J. Gongoll, Rev. J. Manthey, Rev. C.F. Sydow, Rev. C.W. Sydow, Rev. H. Isker, Rev. J. Graeben , Rev. H. Isker, Rev. JH. Graeben, Rev. F.M. Tesch, Rev. A. Zabel, Rev. A. Reeck, Rev. F.F. Arndt and Rev. W. Sack.  The music was furnished by the Salem male choir and the Salem concert band.  The members of the male choir were Wm. C. Miller, Robert Weber, W.H. Weber, John Weber, Gustav Moede, Emil Krupke, Gustav Weber and Fred C. Nehring.  


1916 Salem begins to offer services in English along with the German language.


1919 A new coal and wood furnace in installed in the partial basement. 


1922 The Salem men help this year with the construction of the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds. 


1922 The Evangelical Association and the United Evangelical Church merged this year to become known as The Evangelical Church.  


1931 The Men's Brotherhood was organized  and immediately began planting shade trees around the church and cemetery in 1932.


1932 Junior League was organized.


1933 Corporation established:  "The Salem Cemetery Inc" for the care and management of the cemetery. 


1936 The Women's Christian Circle was organized with 18 ladies.  The first meetings were held in members' homes and consisted maily of sewing and quilting for missions.


1939 Dedication of the church basement.  The Brotherhood furnished 226 work hours towards the project, greatly increasing the size and making it usable for fellowship. 


1946 The Evangelical Church merged with the United Brethren Church to become known as The Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB).


1961 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Zion Circuit is celebrated at Salem. 


1968 EUB's merged with the Methodists to form new denomination: The United Methodists. 


1968 July, last Sunday service was held at Salem.


1968 July 25, last ice cream social at Salem with proceeds given to Camp Courage.


1968 Additional land bought around cemetery from Bob Weber.


1970 Cemetery Association bought the Salem building from Grace Church for $1.00.


8/2/1970  First "Salem Fest' was held.  Offering was $161.37.


1/31/1981  Vandalism reported on pews, piano, light fixtures.  


May 1997 Appleton Public TV filmed the documentary, 'Salem:  A Country Church'.   


August 1997 Celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Salem Church building.


12/20/1997 First Christmas program after a 30 year absence.  


8/8/1998 First ice cream social after a 30 year absence.  


2000 The Salem cookbook was finished and available for sale at the August Salem Fest. 

2001 Stained glass window restoration

2002 Drain tile system and basement windows restored

2005 Last Ice Cream social (after closing in 1968) was held this year 

2005 The pews were refinished

2007 Steeple repair

2008 Easter Sunrise service held every year through 2019

2013 New outside doors

2014 electric work completed inside the church

2015 replaced the shingles

2016 Handicap access installed & 1 furnace replaced

2017 air conditioner installed

2017 Salem Fest this year was a tribute to Lowell Gess's life of ministry

2018 Salem Fest program included a memorial to the lives of Willie & Gloria Scheel and Lon Moon

2019 Cemetery cleanup and tombstone repair by 'Northern Bedrock' company

2019 50th Salem Fest held since the closing in 1968

2020 Salem Fest Cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a walk-through the cemetery was offered instead asking that people keep their distance and wear masks. 

2020 Salem Christmas program cancelled due to the pandemic

2020 Video 'Salem Christmas 2020, Paynesville MN' produced in lieu of the program


















The Salem Church was part of the largest Evangelical United Brethren constituency in the Minnesota conference.  The five churches in this vicinity were known in earlier times as Salem, Zion, Grove (Poplar Grove or Emmanuel Grove), Ebenezer (Bush or Eden Valley) and Paynesville.  They are so closely related with each other that their history blends together. Salem was separated from the Zion community by a wide flat which was then called the "Slough".  It wasn't unusual for members from Salem to walk the 8-9 miles to attend worship with the Zion congregation and vise versa.  When all five churches were active, this feeling of closeness existed between all of them. 




Mergers: 1922, 1946 & 1968 (see timeline below).  With the final merger in 1968, Salem Church was closed.  Memberships were transferred to Grace United Methodist Church in Paynesville as well as other area churches.  Since then, the church has been used for the annual Salem Fest each summer.  In 1997 a Christmas program was held for the first time in 30 years and is now an annual event held each December.  Since 1998, the corporation that is responsible for its upkeep, preservation, and improvements has been known as 'The Salem Historical Church And Cemetery Association, Inc.'  


The following timeline contains the dates and events that formed the Salem Church from inception to current times.  



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