CHURCHES BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS
A HISTORY OF THE
LUTHERAN CONGREGATIONS IN
PERRY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
REV. D. H. FOCHT, A.M.
(Pastor of Christ's Lutheran Church,
New Bloomfield, Perry County, Penna.)
Baltimore; T. Newton Kurtz; 151
West Pratt Street; 1862.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by David H. Focht, In
the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.
As A Humble Contribution
THE LOCAL HISTORY OF THE CHURCH,
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
THE LUTHERAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
GENERAL SYNOD IN THE UNITED STATES.
In May, 1859, the Historical Society of the
Lutheran Church in the United States passed the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the ministers of our Church be requested, each to prepare a
brief statement from church-records in his charge, of the date of the formation
of each church, the successive pastors in charge, the present number of
communicants, the language or languages employed in public worship, together
with any important events in its history, and sketches of the life of the
pastors, and forward the same in a letter by mail to our Curator, at Gettysburg,
Previous to the passage of this resolution, the writer of these pages had
prepared historical sketches of the churches of his own charge, and afterwards
at the request of others he extended his researches to all the Lutheran
congregations in Perry County. The result of his labors is now before the
Until a late date, no church-records were kept by most of the older
congregations, and as the aged who had some knowledge of their early history
were passing rapidly away, it was thought that something should be done, and
done soon ,to rescue from oblivion the history of those congregations; it was
thought, also, that such a history would be interesting and instructive to the
present and future generations.
At first it was supposed that the task thus assumed would be an easy and
pleasant one; and if nothing more than a general statement of facts had been
required, this supposition would have been correct. But vague generalities
would have been unsatisfactory in a local history, and not in accordance with
the wish of those for whose benefit it was specially designed. The only
course left for the writer was to enter into a detail of particulars.
Here, however, the difficulties he encountered were great, often almost
insurmountable, owing to the want of data. In such cases, collateral aids
were called into requisition.
The author availed himself of every source of information within his
reach. He consulted scores of aged persons, overhauled the minutes of the
different Synods, sought out old documents in the hands of individuals, in the
archives of the different churches and of the court-house of the county, turned
over the leaves of the Church periodicals, especially of the Lutheran
Observer, and of the different secular papers published in the county, and
corresponded with all those of whom it was supposed information could be
obtained. Sometimes he was successful, but as often disappointed, in
eliciting the information he wanted. He flatters himself, however, with
the conviction, that not a fact of essential importance escaped his notice.
Great care was taken to verify all the data, to arrange the facts and material
in chronological order, and to allow the facts so arranged to tell their own
story, and frequently in their own language. The history of each church is
brought down to June, 1862. As the circumstances of the different
congregations were often so similar, repetition was sometimes unavoidable.
Each congregation has a history of its own, and it was deemed proper to give
that history without regard to the many or few points in which it coincided with
the history of other congregations. The style is adapted, as much as
possible, to the nature of the subjects treated. our indebtedness for aid
from different persons and sources is noticed at the proper place.
After the completion of the work, it was the author's design to "forward
the same by mail to the Curator, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania." This
design was, however, overruled by the wish of the Synod of Central Pennsylvania,
and the protestation of the members of the churches in Perry County, all of whom
expressed a strong desire that it might be given them in a permanent form.
This request the writer could not set aside, especially when he remembered that
from local histories, in which facts are minutely detailed, a general history of
the Church must be constructed, and that in this respect these humble pages
might contribute their mite. And though these sketches contain many facts
and incidents of recent date and still fresh in the memory of many, the writer
was reminded that time, in its onward march, will invest them with interest
increasing in proportion as they fade from the recollection of men and sink away
into the past. It was argued, also, that by this means there would be
placed in the hands of those who cherish veneration for departed ancestry, love
for the Church, or long association or present residence, a record of religious
history of peculiar interest,---a record which parents would wish to hand down
to their children; that there are many, who still worship God where their
fathers sung the praises of the Most High and their orisons paid, and who often
meditate with deep solemnity over their silent graves; and that there are not a
few, now dwelling in the far West, where they are surrounded by new scenes, but
still bound to old ones by ties that can not be broken,--to all these it was
supposed no service more acceptable could be rendered than by giving them, in a
permanent form, a remembrancer of the old, middle-aged, and new churches with
which are associated their earliest and latest recollections, and of the old and
new graveyards in which repose the ashes of their dearest and nearest friends.
These sketches were prepared amid the constant interruptions and many hindrances
incident to the duties a pastor owes a large charge. They are not what we
could wish them to be, yet they are all we could make them in three years' hard
labor,---labor snatched from hours we should have had for rest. Only he
who has made the experiment can fully appreciate the works of this kind, and
fully comprehend the difficulties connected with their preparation. We
send this volume out into the world, assured that those who can form any
conception of the labor required in its preparation, growing out of the want of
documents, of lost and faded records, of deciphering bad German manuscripts, of
the sameness of material to be presented, and of the vagueness of traditions to
be consulted, will with readiness appreciate any merit it may possess, and with
mildness censure the defects from which it does not claim to be free.
New Bloomfield, PA.
Sept. 24th, 1862
FROM THE SYNOD OF CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA
The document placed in the hands of
committee, No. 17, is a history of all the Lutheran congregations in Perry
County, Pa., by the Rev. D.H. Focht of New Bloomfield. Said history traces
the rise and progress of the congregations from their earliest inception to the
present time. The document bears evidence of great care and patient
investigation in its preparation. It contains much of importance to the
Lutheran Church, and will contribute,--if published, as we trust it will
be,---to Lutheran literature. We congratulate Rev. Focht for his success
in collecting so many valuable statistics in this document, and hope that he
will have it published as soon as possible. As an expression of the
opinion of your committee, we would beg leave to offer the following:
Resolved. That this Synod
recommend the publication of said history.
Resolved, That in the opinion of this Synod, this history contains
matter that should be particularly interesting to the members of the Lutheran
Church in Perry County, and that a copy should be purchased by every family.
Resolved, That this Synod use its influence in introducing this work
among Lutherans generally within its bounds.
Belleville, PA., May 4th, 1861
On motion, this report was accepted and adopted. See Minutes of Synod
pp. 26, 27.
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