The beginning of St. Mark's congregation dates back to 1872. The congregation conducted services in a Methodist Church. Mr. J. Malone donated a tract of land to the small congregation for church purposes. On May 15, 1875, the congregation built a church 40x26x16 feet. The building was erected for $1,527.68 ($41,780.66 today). It was dedicated on December 26, 1875.
In 1879 the congregation bought an acre of land for burial purposes. Later six building lots and 3½ acres of land were purchased for $550. One of the buildings on the lots was rebuilt for the parsonage, and the other for school purposes.
Since the number of pupils rapidly increased, the building used for school purposes proved too small and, therefore, the congregation decided to build a new school 22x36 feet. This building was erected for $596 and was dedicated on November 3, 1885. The number of students increased, and it was decided to bring on a teacher. W. Koch, a Teachers College of Addison, Illinois graduate, was hired in August 1895.
On November 8, 1896, the congregation decided to build a new church and a new parsonage, the church to be built first. The church was built for $3,079.50 and was dedicated on September 12, 1897. In the spring of 1898, the parsonage was built for $1,106.89.
December 26, 1900, the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the first church building, was celebrated. On October 13, the congregation decided to buy a new organ from George Kilgen and Son for $1,200.00. The organ was dedicated to the Lord's service on September 30, 1903. In February of 1904, the congregation decided to build a new house for the teacher for $1,100.00 ($37,600 today).
Since the school room proved too small for the increased number of pupils, it was decided in a meeting held February 4, 1900, to build an additional school room 32x38 feet to the west side of the old building, and the old classroom to be used as a confirmation instruction room. This addition was dedicated on September 24, 1900. In a meeting on July 6, 1919, it was resolved to hire a new teacher installed in his office on August 24, 1919. Thus the school was reopened, which had been closed due to conditions brought about by the war.
In April of 1921, the congregation decided to build an addition to the west end of the church building. This addition was 38x70 feet, thus together with the old building forming a structure in the shape of a cross. The cornerstone of this new addition was laid on May 21, 1921, and the finished building was dedicated in November 1921. This addition gives a seating capacity of 800.
For some years, the need for a new school became more apparent because the school's attendance had grown so much that the crowded condition in the schoolroom became a menace to the children's health. Early in 1928, a building committee was elected to get estimates of the cost of a modern school building.
When the tentative plan and the estimated cost were presented to the congregation, the congregation decided to proceed with the building program. Architect J.W. Kennedy of East St. Louis, Illinois, made the building's plans. Mr. F. Neuhaus of Red Bud, Illinois, received the building contract. The ground for the school was donated by Mr. Albert Qilster, to which a tract of land was bought to round out an entire city block. The cornerstone of the new school was laid on July 1, 1928. The building was dedicated on December 2, 1928. The size of the school building is 84x54 feet. The building had a full basement, three large classrooms, one smaller for the confirmation class, one Ladies' Aid room, one large auditorium, one library room, a kitchen, lavatories, and other necessary rooms. The student enrollment was 115 pupils.
Excerpts from: "The Church Book of Evangelical Lutheran St. Mark's Congregation in Steeleville, Randolph County, IL, 1875-1915." A 130-page typewriter-published, searchable PDF file of the church's records. pub:1915. Enjoy.
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.