Early in 1867 a delegation of German immigrants from Winfield Illinois set out to meet with the Right Reverand James Duggan, Bishop of Chicago. The delegation included: Nicholas Berkes, John Schramer, Anton Schmitt, Nicholas Gerwas and John Hix. Other residents included: Michael and his brother Christopher Daleiden, Michael Besch, Nicholas Fuchsen, Nicolas T. Schramer, Jacob Berkes, Nicholas Enders, Michael and Valentine Dieter, Johann Germann, Peter Wagemann, Matthias Schramer, George Klein, and the Sieber brothers, Michael, Bartholomew, and Donatius.
A warranty deed was immediately drawn up and filed on February 21, 1867 and recorded with DuPage County as Document 8277. The deed contained one acre of land on which the current St. John Church currently stands. The grantor was Julius M. Warren to grantee Right Rev. James Duggan, D.D,, Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago. The deed stipulated the payment of $1, and “the further consideration that there be erected on the land hereby conveyed a church building at least 30 feet by 50. Also a dwelling for priest and a school house“. (See pp, 118 to 128, Louise Spanke, Winfield’s Good Old Days: History ( Winfield Public Library Board, 1978).
In 1869, a rectory and home for the Pastor Father John Wiederhold was temporarily made in the new home of Nicholas Enders (still standing at the northeast corner of Beecher and Church Streets in Winfield). The parish purchased from Colonel Warren (the founder of Warrenville Illinois) the stone house across from the church and remade it into a school building.
The transfer of the land was made at a price of $1,800 on May 18,1869. The land purchase also included a one acre parcel of land on Gary’s Mill Road for the St. John Cemetery.
The first wedding to take place in the new Church was that of “Christ Daleiden and Margaret Weiland” the first pastor Father M. Corbinian officiated at the ceremonies. This blogger’s parents George and Louise (nee Schlick) Davis would be married in the same church some eighty years latter in August of 1959. Christopher and Margaret were my mother’s great-great-grandparents and my great great great grandparents. My two sisters (Mary and Sandra Davis ) would both be married in the new St John’s church as well many years later. I would be baptized, receive my first communion and be confirmed into the Catholic faith at St. John’s. St. John’s has played a big part in the faith life of my family for over 150 years!
In an 1882 History of DuPage County, Rufus Blanchard writes: This church was built in 1867 by the people of Winfield. It was first attended to by the Benedictine Fathers from St. Joseph’s Church, Chicago until 1869, March 1. After this date, Rev. Father John Weiderhold was appointed as pastor of this church, who keeps the pulpit there at this time . The parish numbered, at its beginning, about thirty families, but at present  the number is about eigthy-five. In course of time, the church, being only 45 x 30 feet long and twenty-seven feet high, became too small for the still growing congregation, and in 1879 they found it necessary to enlarge the church to the extension of 100 feet. In February, 1880 it was completed, and duly blessed on the 2nd of that month by Very Rev. J. McMillen [ Source: Rufus Blanchard. History of DuPage County, Illinois. O.L. Basking & Co., Historical Publishers 1882, page 268.}.
On August 17, 1906 lightning struck the new church. Here is an account per Winfeld Historian and Librarian Louise Spanke:
“During an afternoon storm, a single bolt hit the church’s wooden steeple, and half an hour later only the smoke-stained walls remained. The alarm spread as the fire, and teh villagers worked frantically to save what they could. Christ Daleiden and William Zeier had to be ordered down from the blazing roof by Father Weiderhold, so the story goes. Only the alter, pews, stations of the cross, and communion rail could be saved.” (Source Louise Spanke, Winfield’s Good Old Days: A History of Winfield Illinois (1978) page 123).
The August 24 1906 Wheaton Illinoian reported:
“Wheaton and West Chicago hook and ladder companies were called, and to their work is due the saving of the buildings about the church and perhaps the town. Rev. Father Weiderhold is pastor of the church. He states that the total loss (the building was valued at $12,000) after insurance will be approximate $6,000. The gold and silver fixtures in the church were also destroyed. In all probability the church will be rebuilt immediately.”
The Daleidens played an important part in helping to establish and maintain the St. John’s the Baptist Church in Winfield. Christopher per the above account was willing to risk his physical well being to save the church he loved and was instrumental in getting built during the 1906 fire.