Perhaps no institution has influenced the development of Hillsboro more than the organized church.
At the turn of the last century, Hillsboro was home to six churches: First Mennonite, Mennonite Brethren, German Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Seventh-Day Adventist. Five or so Mennonite-related congregations were meeting outside of town.
The German Baptists, in 1881, became the first congregation to organize within the boundaries of the town, and built their meetinghouse at 312 West Grand.
The congregation reached a peak membership of about 150 around 1887 and sustained a substantial membership until 1900, when J.C. Pankratz became pastor. The congregation closed its doors in the late 1920s.
In 1883, Zion Lutheran Church was the second congregation to organize?and continues to minister to the community to this day.
R.G. Hellwege was pastor in 1900 and would have administered the Christian day school the church operated from 1895 to 1933. It offered public school classes as well as Bible doctrine and the German language. The schoolhouse, built in 1908, still stands on church property.
The Seventh-Day and Methodist congregations organized in 1884. F.G. Gordon was the Methodist pastor in 1900 . Two years later he was succeeded by F.G. Severance of New York state.
The Severance family brought with them the culture and practice of their English background, including several words which had unusual meanings for the common, Americanized home folks.
Once, Mrs. Severance went to a Hillsboro store and asked to purchase a ?spider,? which was the proper designation?even according to Webster?for a skillet. In his confusion, the clerk offered Mrs. Severance everything from a mousetrap to a spittoon before the mystery was solved.
Adapted from Hillsboro: City on the Prairie by Raymond F. Wiebe.