The history of Zion closely resembles the history of the town of its residence, Readfield, WI in the Township of Caledonia. Beginning around 1849 or 1850 some Scotchmen, Irishmen, Englishmen and Germans settled in the area. The Huebners arrived at around 1851 and lived in a dugout along the ledge about a mile north of Readfield.Other families that settled around the ledge at that time included the Trambauers, Fergots and Gorgeses. Descendents of these settlers are still members of Zion’s congregation today.
Lutheran missionary work was done in the area during the early years. The first pastors in the area were Pastor Gottlieb, Pastor Fachtman, Carl Waldt, and Carl Wagner. St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Congregation was organized in 1863 and was accepted into the Wisconsin Synod that same year. Zion’s congregation as organized in 1866 under Pastor Theodore Jaekel. Their first church building was dedicated on Palm Sunday in 1867, the same year it was accepted into the Wisconsin Synod. For many years, Zion had three sister congregations. The sister congregations were St. John’s in Caledonia, Immanuel in Zittau, and St. Peter’s in Larsen. Immanuel in Zittau separated from the Wisconsin Synod in 1882 and is now a member of ELCA. The St. John’s congregation disbanded in 1960 and merged with Zion. St. Peter’s and Zion shared a pastor until 2003, when the congregations decided their membership could support splitting.
In 1902, Zion built a new church at a cost of $6,000 because their first church was too small. The foundation was poured by Paul Neuman and the building was erected by R. Fluor & Brothers. It was originally painted a combination of reddish brown and terra cotta tint. Years later it was painted white with green trimming with a green roof. The church was remodeled in 1946 and the Sunday School addition was put on in 1966. The original church building remains on the property and was used as a school house until the Sunday School addition was added. This building is still used for teen bible class, Vacation Bible School and for the backdrop of Zion’s Summer Outdoor Services.
On April 10, 2011, a tornado came through the town of Readfield, knocking the cross off the steeple of the church. Many trees were uprooted, shingles were blown off the parsonage and outbuildings and the chimney was removed from the school house. Remarkably the church received little damage, except the steeple.
Ministers that have served or are currently serving Zion Ev. Lutheran Church are Pastor Theodore Jaekel (1866-1868), Pastor August Wiese (1868-1870), Pastor John Meyer, Pastor August Kleinhans (1882-1893), Pastor Herman Gerhard (1893-1896), Pastor Oswald Theobald (1896-1904), Pastor John Dowidat (1904-1921), Ferdinand C. Weyland (1921-1944), Pastor Armin Engel (1944-1960), Pastor Edward Stelter (1960-1968), Pastor John P. Brandt (1969-2000), Pastor Robert Diener (2000-2011), and Pastor Peter Kesting (2011-present).
Source Consulted: http://files.usgarchives.net/wi/outagamie/news/nl/V/5readfd.txt
“Nearly a Century For Christ, 1857-1950” by Pastor Armin Engel, 1951