I first saw this photo hanging on the wall of Grace Lutheran Church in the Town of Maine, Wisconsin at some point in 2012. The pastor for Grace, Nate Biebert, is a devoted and passionate historian who has spent a great deal of his time investigating the history of the church he currently leads. We had discussed this photo on several occasions, and he was generous enough to find the time to scan it for me at a very high resolution.
The photo, taken about 1900, shows Grace in the background with her congregation gathered in front. The photo is not quite clear enough to easily identify individual people, but I’ve included five detail photos showing the attendees.
There are 89 people in the photo. Everyone is very well dressed. You can see that all the boys are wearing suits… there are even two boys from a family with what look to be matching “tuxedo-style” ruffled shirts [detail photo 4]. Several have matching hats. One family of girls all have matching parasols [detail photos 2 and 3]. Many are wearing gloves and/or cloaks [detail photo 2]. Most of the older women are wearing what would have been very trendy gaudy hats [detail photos 3 and 4]. Not one single person in the photo has a bare head. Everyone is wearing a hat. So it seems to me that either a) everyone always wore their very best matching suits to church on Sunday or b) everyone knew the photographer would be coming by that day.
The latter seems much more likely. It does not seem impromptu at all. The position of the pastor above his “flock” [detail photo 2], the man with the wagon [detail photo 1], the bicycle [see below]… another prized possession of someone.. it seems to have been very new considering the model and the year of the photo, the matching outfits, stylish new hats, etc. All point to an arranged photo session that day.
[If someone can tell me more about the make/model of this bicycle based on the photo, feel free to contact me directly.]
So here are the individual faces. All 89 of them. They are listed pretty strictly from left to right. If, for some reason, you are able to identify any of these people, please get in touch and let me know. So far only two are identified.
Of these people, I have a feeling that #25 may be my great-great-grandfather, Heinrich Krueger. I’m hoping my cousin Lisa will be able to locate a copy of a photo she has taken about this time-frame which could confirm his identity. Pastor Beibert and I believe that #17 is likely Pastor John Rien, who was the Grace pastor from 1895 to 1903. That narrows down the year of the photo pretty well, confirming our belief that the photo was taken about 1900.
Here is the second set of faces:
Of these the only one I know for sure at this point is #83, who is my great-great-grand-uncle Carl Bertold Krueger.