Memories of the early days of St. Paul’s

Selected by Karen Larsen

This article, published in the July 15, 1982 edition of the Waterville Empire Press, includes some memories of the church told by people who attended as children in the early years. Excerpts of the article are republished below.

Douglas Church still remembered

By Kathi Rivers

DOUGLAS — Men and women once sat on opposite sides of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at Douglas while songs, sermons, and Bible verses were all sung and spoken in German.

Recently designated as a national historic site, the old church now stands empty, paint peeling from harsh summers and winters and porch boards broken from years of past use.

Still, the white building with the tall spire and cross continues to add to the picture-postcard setting of the tiny community.

Anna Gray of Douglas, the sister of Albert and Henry Westerman, remembers the early services spoken in high German.

These early services lasted about one hour and 15 minutes, Mrs. Gray said.

In the Sunday School, pupils earned tickets for memorizing Bible verses, all in German, she said. Eight tickets could be turned in for a larger picture. “Did we ever have to memorize,” she emphasized.

Mrs. Gray also remembers traveling by horse and buggy to confirmation classes two days a week and grade school classes three days a week. In the winter, sleighs were used with straw in the bottom, she said. “Some also had foot warmers and some had hot rocks,” she added.

These early sermons were also given with “more fire,” Mrs. Gray said. “More like this,” she added, pounding the table.

In 1956, discussion began on merging the Douglas and Waterville Lutheran churches, and in 1968, the Douglas Church closed its doors for good.

A few years later, Henry Westerman, who now lives in the old parsonage which he also purchased, bought the church with his brother, Albert. It is their great-nephew, Kenneth Britt of Wenatchee, who was instrumental in getting the church placed on the National Register of Historic Places this year.

Although the pews are now gone, the baptismal font and altar are still in the church. The bell, bought for the church by the Westermans’ brother, Goble, was donated to a church in Sedro Woolley.