Y’all, I’m more excited than a speckled bird in a little red submarine with a screen door!
Why? Because I think I’ve solved the mystery of where the “old” Trinity Dime Box building came from.
Quick recap: Pr. John Socha, who compiled a history of the congregation for their 85th anniversary in 1985, was able to determine that at some point the congregation purchased a building in Lincoln from the Texas Synod and moved it to the current site, and that in 1941 the congregation purchased another building from the Evangelical Synod, and moved that building to the current site, whereupon the first building was used as an annex.
The “Evangelical Synod” (the Evangelical Synod of North America) was a denomination that– much like the Union Church in Prussia– had a mix of Reformed and Lutheran theology. By 1934, it had actually merged with the Reformed Church in the United States to form the Evangelical and Reformed Church, which later merged with the Congregational Christian Churches in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ.
The RCUS was primarily active in the Northeastern United States, so any UCC church in Texas that predates the 1934 merger with the RCUS was probably an Evangelical Synod church.
That being the case, I started looking for nearby UCC churches that might have constructed a new building around 1941. I didn’t find any, but I did find that three UCC churches in Lyons, Mound Prairie, and Birch had merged in 1961 to form the Evangelical United Church of Christ in Lyons. Perhaps the Birch congregation, which was only a little over sixteen miles from Dime Box, had replaced its building prior to the merger.
It seemed unlikely, but since I didn’t have any better ideas at the time, I set off looking for information about that congregation, Salem Evangelical and Reformed Church. That led me to the 1946 edition of the Evangelical and Reformed Church’s Almanac which listed all of its congregations.
It occurred to me that perhaps I could find an edition that predated Trinity’s 1941 building purchase. Fortunately, I was able to find the 1936 edition online. I was very surprised to find that it listed a congregation in Dime Box– St. John.
I then set off looking for information about this congregation and found that the October 4, 1923 edition of the Evangelical Herald (published by the Evangelical Synod) had an article about the dedication of a new building by St. John Evangelical Church of Dime Box. The building was said to be located on The King’s Highway (also known as the Old San Antonio Road or SH 21).
Did this congregation perhaps dissolve around 1941? Fortunately, I was able to locate 1940, 1941, and 1942 editions of the Almanac online. The 1940 edition still lists St. John in Dime Box. In 1941, for whatever reason, they only listed congregations in towns with more than 7,500 (so Dime Box wouldn’t be listed even if the church was still active). The 1942 edition does not list a congregation in Dime Box, though it clearly lists congregations in small towns (Lyons, Birch, Burton, etc.).
That’s enough for me to say with a high degree of certainty that in 1941, Trinity purchased the building that had been used by St. John Evangelical Church from the Evangelical and Reformed Church (which probably would have still been commonly called “the Evangelical Synod” in Texas). It certainly would have been convenient, because it would have only been necessary to move the building a few miles down SH 21.
But… here’s another interesting thing I uncovered yesterday while doing research at Trinity and the Dime Box Heritage Museum.
Have a look at the photos attached. The middle set of photos is from an article in the Giddings News announcing the upcoming dedication of Trinity’s new building. The photograph on the right belonged to Pr. Spitzenberger’s mother, Adele Zschech Spitzenberger, and also shows the old Trinity building.
The top of the bell tower clearly changed at some point.
On the left is a photo of the Dime Box Brethren Church’s second building. It was struck by lightning and burned in the early fifties. The top of the bell tower sure looks like the Trinity bell tower in Mrs. Spitzenberger’s photo, doesn’t it?
I suspect the Brethren church’s bell tower wasn’t damaged by the fire, and the folks at Trinity acquired and “recycled” it.
Oh, if you’d like to read the article about the dedication of the building for St. John’s Evangelical Church, you can find it here: