Pictured is the inside of Glandorf’s St. John’s the Baptist Church, which is celebrating its 175th this September.
Pictured is the inside of Glandorf’s St. John’s the Baptist Church, which is celebrating its 175th this September.
By Sara Bailey

Staff Writer

GLANDORF - 175 years ago, Father Johann Wilhelm Horstmann, a priest and native of Glandorf, Germany, emigrated with settlers to Putnam County, Ohio, in 1834, and founded "Neu" Glandorf, according to parish historian Michael Leach's book, Laborers in the Vineyard.

Once here, Horstmann brought the community/parish together by providing secular and religious services to the people of Glandorf.

According to Leach's book, "Upon Father Horstmann's arrival he had a log cabin constructed to serve as a church, school and priest house. The cabin measured 16' x 18' and served the community until separate buildings could be built for those purposes."

By 1836, the congregation had outgrown the cabin and needed a new church. A larger structure was erected in 1848, following Horstmann's death.

Years later in 1878, the new St. John's Church was dedicated by Bishop Gilmore of Cleveland, according to Leach, which is the structure that still stands in Glandorf today.

"It was the largest Roman Catholic Church in all of Ohio, including the cathedral in Cleveland, under the Cleveland Diocese," said Leach.

Several awesome structures don the inside of the church, including figurines from Austria, stained glass windows imported from Munich, Germany, and a highly detailed pulpit which was purchased for $1,400 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Today, the pulpit is worth approximately $1.5 million, said Leach.

"When you walk into the church it is just absolutely magnificent," he said. "It's breath taking."

Another site to see in Glandorf is Pioneer cemetery, which holds the grave of Fr. Horstmann and many other pioneers of Glandorf.

In 1992, the church endured a fire leaving behind $1.2 million worth of damage to the inside. Fortunately the community and surrounding fire departments came together to extinguish the blaze, but damage had already been done.

The front of the church had to be repainted, carpet was removed, pews were installed to replicate those from the 70s and the original frescoes were restored, said Leach, who worked as restoration specialist after the fire.

Leach also conducts tours of the church about once a month and was the first contact person for the Germans when they traveled to Glandorf, Ohio, in 1976.

Leach has visited Glandorf, Germany, several times, and believes there are similarities between the native land and Glandorf, Ohio, as both locations have a church central to the communities, remarkable Mass attendance on Sundays, hardworking and industrious citizens, real civic pride and similar culinary tastes.

The Glandorf Germans will be visiting Glandorf, Ohio, once again, for the Glandorf Park Fest from Sept. 4 - 6. The festival will also be featuring a tent containing historical items of the church and town of Glandorf. All are welcome to attend.

Schedule of Glandorf Park Fest

Friday, a ceremonial keg-tapping with the Germans will kick off the festival at 6 p.m. A live remote broadcast with T102, turtle races and the Ruffed Up Sammy Band are to follow the opening ceremony until midnight.

Saturday, guests are invited to start the day with a 5K Run and Fun Walk at 10 a.m. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., an Arts and Crafts Show will take place in the school gymnasium. Also new, is the band Red Ball Jets, which will perform 70s, 80s and 90s rock music from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Sunday is all about heritage, with the parade beginning at 2 p.m. and Squeeze Box Polka Band performing from 5 to 9 p.m. The church will also be making sauerkraut soup, German potato salad, pulled pork sandwiches and hot dogs.

"There's something for everybody," said Glandorf Park Fest coordinator Tom Nienberg. "Entertainment is free and there is a large variety of stuff to do. We hope everyone comes out to celebrate our anniversary."

For more information on the park fest and to access registration forms for the 5K run and fun walk, please visit www.glandorfpark.org.