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Maybe this Christmas add a little family nostalgia to the menu by fixing a special holiday dish of Grandma's or of your heritage with perhaps a German or French themed dish. Lay out the old family album for family members to thumb through after the meal. Hang up live mistletoe to see who will go through special efforts to avoid it. Decorate your tree with old ornaments, tinsel, hand cut sugar cookies or stringed popcorn and cranberries.

Or maybe suggest a traditional outing. The Christmas Country Church Tour is a wonderful self-guided tour of thirty-two uniquely beautiful country churches in Bollinger county, northern Cape Girardeau county and Perry county. In its 13th holiday season the Christmas Country Church Tour has grown beyond the county lines of Perry County, Missouri. From little one-room white clad buildings to brick and mortar masterpieces see these century old structures each of them adorned in the spirit of Christmas. From German Lutherans, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians to German Catholic, Baptist and Methodist. Hear the choirs, listen to the music, learn the history of how these churches started generations ago with nothing more than the determination and faith of the people who immigrated here and built them. Slow down from the holiday hustle and bustle, get back to the real meaning of the season, sample one or all of the homemade cookies and enjoy the down home hospitality of those you will meet along the way as you travel from one community and country church to the other. Describe by some as a holiday treasure hunt consider making it your next tradition.

Christmas Country Church Tour December 14 & 15, 20107 2pm-9pm    

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Recently, several Perry County Historical Society members have been asking about Friedenberg Cemetery in Perry County, Missouri which inspired the director of our Genealogical Research Library and Archive Center, to pursue reprinting Chapter 11 - Peace Lutheran Cemetery - cemetery plat and lists from an out of print Friedenberg book.  The Perry County Historical Society has been granted copyright permission from Rev. Dr. Daniel Harmelink, Executive Director of Concordia Historical Institute, to reproduce portions of the book "Friedenberg Remembrances:  A Story of Peace, Faith and Life" by Friedenberg Lutheran Historical Society Book Committee, Copyright 1998 by Martin P. Oswald.

If you are of Bavarian German Lutheran descent from Perry County, Missouri, you are likely related to this group that created the Friedenberg Peace Lutheran Church.  Records have been found dating back to 1862-1863 which contain the following list of surnames composing the membership: Amschler, Angermann, Bergmann, Boxdorfer, Dippold, Fassold, Funke, Hallenberger, Hermann, Hoehn, Kleyla, Klobe, Knoll, Kropf, Lang, Lintner, Muench, Ochs, Popp, Rauh, Rothewald, Sandler, Schade, Schaupert, Schrumpf, Schuetz, Springer, Stuebinger, Taeuber, Uebel, Weinrich, Weith and Wirth.

Initially, the families that started arriving in 1838 worshipped most frequently in the home of Ferdinand Bergmann (3 Mar 1803 – 26 Nov 1853) on the north side of Cinque Hommes Creek. This group of Germans pre-dates the Saxon Lutherans who arrived in the Altenburg area around 1839. The congregation of 13 voting members organized as Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in September 1844 with Reverend E. O. Wolff as resident pastor.  

It soon grew too crowded in the Bergmann home and in 1846, the small group built a log cabin church, also on the north side of Cinque Homme Creek, about one mile North of P Road and just east of present day Highway 61.  As you drive by today, you can see a peaceful valley of crops with a large metal building with a green roof in the distance.  You can just imagine, 170 years ago a log cabin church sitting on the bank of Cinque Hommes Creek somewhere on the far edge of that field.

Soon it was necessary to build a larger log cabin church.  In 1852, they moved to the location of the cemetery under a cedar tree on the south side of Cinque Homme Creek on the Frankenberg Hill.  Across the road, they built a parsonage and a school.  For 33 years, from 1852 to 1885, the congregation worshipped in the log church on the Frankenberg Hill overlooking Cinque Hommes bottom. Peace Lutheran Cemetery is still located at this site near the intersection of Highway 61 and P Road and is maintained by an endowment to Immanuel Lutheran Church of Perryville, Missouri.

Eventually the congregation outgrew this church, and a new site was chosen to the southeast on another hill.  They named their new location Friedenberg (Hill of Peace) and their church Peace Lutheran Church.  A one room school and a parsonage were built first in 1874 across the road from the future church site.  School was taught in this red brick school house for over 70 years until 1946.  After 1946, the school was used for Saturday school where religion was taught, for dart games and Sunday School.  The names and initials of school children can still be seen etched into the soft brick. 

There was a disastrous parsonage fire in 1942 and many valuable records were lost.  The pastor and his children lived in the one room schoolhouse (while school was still in session!) until a new parsonage could be erected.  In 1975, the school and parsonage were sold and still stands today on the property of Dale and Sandy Koenig.  The Peace Lutheran School building is over 140 years old! 

In 1885, the congregation moved from the Frankenberg Hill, to Friedenberg and built the present simple, red-brick worship facility overlooking the quiet Missouri countryside.  The new church was dedicated debt-free on 27 September 1885.  This church served the congregation for the next 95 years! 

As the social and economic climate of the area changed, membership began to decline. In 1980, Peace Congregation voted to disband. The people resolved to preserve their buildings as a reminder of the heritage of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and asked Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) located at 804 Seminary Place in St. Louis to take over the property.  Concordia Historical Institute is the Department of Archives and History of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The Institute continues to own, operate and support “Hill of Peace” as a "walk-in history book" that vividly demonstrates the change in the life of the rural church that was so important in previous eras.  

The facilities, the people, and the "peace" still live on in Friedenberg through the continued efforts of the Friedenberg Historical Society 501(c)(3).  The small group of members continue to maintain the church and grounds for generations to enjoy for years to come.  Anyone interested in joining the Friedenberg Historical Society or donating time or money for the continued support of the historic “Hill of Peace” and our ancestor’s history, please contact Sandy Koenig at earlybird4848@yahoo.com.

The original Ladies Aid house, called Friedenberg Hall, was dedicated in September 1935 and burned to the ground in 2012. The current Friedenberg Hall was erected in 2014 and is available for rental across the road from the church.  Whether it is a church retreat, business meeting, wedding reception or anniversary, a baptism or confirmation reception, Friedenberg Hall provides a clean, modern facility within a quiet and historic location.  Friedenberg Hall is perfect for a family reunion or birthday party and provides a full service kitchen/serving area and handicap-accessible bathrooms.  The Hall can accommodate up to 90 people and is only 5 miles from Perryville and less than one and a half miles from Highway 61. To reserve your special day at Friedenberg Hall, please call Sandy at 573-768-1658.  Rental Fee—$100/day.  Refundable Deposit—$50.

Three annual Church Services are held each year at Friedenberg Peace Lutheran Church typically at 3:00 pm on the 2nd Sunday in March, October and December to celebrate and serve as a reunion of descendants.  Please consider attending the Fall Service at 3:00pm on Sunday, October 9, 2016 at Friedenberg Peace Lutheran Church at 510 PCR 304 Perryville, MO  63775. 

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As the season of church picnics draw to a close again with the ending of summer I would like for everyone to stop and remember the communities centered around these churches. All the communities within Perry County at one time or another boasted stores, schools, mills and proud residents. But the churches were and are the heartbeat of every community. It was because of the local church that neighbors could meet, socialize and bond into not only a family of faith but a town of support.

Every year the “church picnic” was no doubt the social event of the summer for each and every congregation. With a home cooked meal, music and games for the children the day was spent with family, friends and neighbors. Then there was the coveted make shift store commonly known as the “fancy stand.” Handmade linens, doilies, quilts, baked goods, canned fruits and vegetables, and assorted plants and flowers were proudly provided by the women to fetch the highest donations. 

It appears that the picnic crowds are slowly dwindling as the years go by and that the once anticipated summer events are becoming extinct. When was the last time you attending and supported a church picnic?

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