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The lands west of the Kittochtinny Hills, otherwise called the Endless or Blue Mountains, were not purchased of the Indians of the Six Nations till July, 1754.  As early, however, as 1740 or 1741, "one Frederick Star, a German, with two or three of his countrymen, made some small settlements on Big Juniata, situate about twenty-five miles from the mouth thereof, and about ten miles north from the Blue Hills, a place much esteemed by the Indians for some of their best hunting-ground."*
(*Colonial Records, Vol. V, pp. 441-445)
These small settlements were located on a flat, on the west bank of the Juniata, and a short distance northwest of Newport; and these Germans were the first white settlers, of whom we have any account, northwest of the Blue or North Mountains and west of the Susquehanna.  At the urgent request of the Indians, the Provincial Government removed these Germans in 1742, and forbade others, "at their highest peril," from settling on those lands.  But notwithstanding the earnest protestation of the Indians and the strict prohibition of the Government, the example of Star was soon followed by many others, of Scotch-Irish and German origin, and settlements were commenced on Juniata River and in Sherman's Valley.  In 1750, when Cumberland County was organized, the Government took decisive measures for the removal of all who had settled on lands not bought of the Indians.  They were all driven to the east of the North Mountains, their cabins were burnt, and the settlements destroyed.  Not long after, many of them returned to their former places of improvement in the wilderness.  The Provincial Government was strong enough to drive these squatters out of Sherman's Valley, but by far too weak to keep them out.  The Indians became enraged, and threatened summary vengeance.  Hence, to satisfy all parties and obviate all difficulties, the purchase of a large tract of land from the Indians was strongly recommended by Governor Hamilton.  In accordance with this recommendation, all the lands west of the Blue or North Mountains and east of the Alleghany Mountains were bought of the Indians, at Albany, in July, 1754, for the consideration of four hundred pounds.

On the 3d of February, 1755, the Land Office was opened for the unrestricted sale of land in Sherman's Valley and on Juniata River.  During 1755, the applications and grants for land were many, and the influx of settlers from the eastern counties was great.  These pioneer settlers were Scotch-Irish, Germans and a few English.  The new settlements prospered.  In the meantime, most of the Indians west of the Alleghany Mountains, and along the lakes, were brought under the influence of the French, and both did their utmost to prevent the westward extension of settlements by the English.

In July, 1755, General Braddock was defeated by the French and Indians at Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburg), and in a few months after that tragic battle, the Indians fell upon the defenceless frontier settlers, cruelly and mercilessly killing, scalping, and abducting them, burning their houses and cabins, and destroying and wasting everything.  Consternation and dismay filled every heart along the frontier in Pennsylvania.  Those who escaped the stroke of the tomahawk and the keen edge of the scalping-knife, fled to Cumberland Valley, and other places of safety east of the North Mountain.  All the settlements in Sherman's Valley, and on the Juniata, were deserted, and were for some time to the whiteman, "the region and shadow of death."

Though peace had been partially made with the Indians in 1758, they still appeared in marauding parties along the frontier, committing depredations and murder.  Hence, from the fall of 1755 to the latter part of 1761, but little land was entered at the Land Office.  To the surprise of the pioneers, the Indians then retired, and the number of settlers increased rapidly, and much land was located in 1762, and the earlier part of 1763.   The Indians having, however, in the meantime, secretly confederated to cut off all the frontier settlements at one fell stroke, invaded them in 1763, during harvest, and committed the most savage cruelties and wanton destruction.  Such of the people as did not escape were murdered, scalped, or abducted as prisoners.  Sherman's Valley was again deserted.  No land was located in 1764, and the terror of the frontier settlers subsided but little till Colonel Boquet conquered the Indians in November, 1764, and compelled them to sue for peace.

After the cessation of the Indian wars, the best lands in Sherman's Valley and along the Juniata were soon all located and settled, though, as is usual on frontiers, the population was for some time unstable, fluctuating, and erratic.  

So far as we have been able to find, the first references to churches within the precincts of Perry County, are the following two.  The first, in a warrant granted Thomas Ross, and others, it is said:  "Surveyed, April 17th, 1767.  Order dated September 9th, 1766.  Thomas Ross, and others, in trust for the congregation in Tyrone."  The old church was, however, not erected on this parcel of ground in Tyrone Township till 1793, and is now known as the "Centre Presbyterian Church."  The second, in a warrant granted Nicholas Robison in 1766, it is stated that this land "lies northwest of the church."  The tract of land on which this church stood, lies in Miller Township, about four miles east of Bloomfield, and is at present owned by Mr. Abraham Fleurie.  With regard to this church, we are indebted to Colonel John Hartzell, of Newport, for the following information.

"I had a conversation with Mr. George C. Lees, of Ohio, in regard to the old church at Dick's Gap.  He said that he resided in that neighborhood fifty-two years ago, and that the church was at that time already nearly rotted down, only a few of the logs were remaining, and a white oak tree, about fifteen inches across the butt, stood in the inside of the northwest corner of the building.  Mr. Lees said that he understood, from what Mr. Enoch Lewis told him (Mr. Lewis was then an old man), that the church had gone into decay more than one hundred years ago. Mr. Lees thinks it was a Roman Catholic church, built by the French."

The above statement we give as we got it.  We do not think it was a Roman Catholic church; the French never held sway on the east of the Alleghany Mountains.  But by whom or for whom it was built, it is now impossible to say.  It was there already in 1766.  The foundation-marks of the building may still be seen, about twenty by eighteen feet in size.  The graveyard is quite large, and literally in the woods, being overgrown by underbrush and some large trees.  We noticed some trees standing apparently in the centre of graves, which we suppose cannot be less than one hundred years old.  We were told that an old Indian path led through Dick's Gap and close by this place, and that at an early day, white traders among the Indians were the first buried here, and that probably some are Indian graves.  This statements seems to be corroborated by the fact, that some apparently old graves are covered by large heaps of large stones, a thing not practised after the land was settled by the whites.  This is an interesting spot, and the church and graveyard are a mystery.  Besides these two instances, we have not found a single reference to churches in Perry County till 1790.   Nor need we be surprised at this.  The Indian wars had just closed, and order was about being restored, when we have at least two churches alluded to; but then soon after this, the revolutionary agitations commenced, and though the population had considerably increased, many were mustered for the defence of the western frontiers, and some were enrolled in the Continental army.  Many, also, doubtless, cared little or nothing about churches, and the few who felt the want of a preached Gospel were scattered, and generally poor.

A large proportion of the early settlers of the territory now embraced in Perry county were of German origin.  The following are a few of those who located tracts of land, by order from the Land Office:  In 1755, John Fautz, in Fautz's Valley, Greenwood Township; Baltzer Schellhorn, Michael Brocard, Christian Ewig, John Garner; in 1763, Frederick Weiser, Peter Grove, Matthias Karr; in 1765, Stophel Muntz; in 1767, John Bigger, John Conrad, James Verderer, Christopher Mann, John Cirecus; in 1768, Everhart Liedig, Leonard Fautz; in 1772, Frederick Kuhl, Henry Altsbach, George Albrecht (Albright), Martin Waln, John Licht (Light), Jacob Bock (Buck); in 1773, George Bader, Christopher Heyne, Jacob Luckenbihl, Abraham Letcha, Augustus Milligsack, John Miller, Morris Berbeck, Adam Reichart; in 1774, Ludwig Granau, Frederick Hummell, Valentine Hoffman, Nicholas Littig, Michael Wild, Jacob Wild, Samuel Starr, Joseph Jobson, John Ord; in 1775, Matthias Blocker, John Kepler, Samuel Lenhart (Leonard); in 1778, Philip Christian; in 1784, Matthias Hart, David Rapp, Adam Stock, Christian Weirman, John Weirman; in 1785, John Bauer (Bower), Michael Kapp (Capp), John Capp, Adam Eckert, George Grotz, Peter Hoofnagel, Frederick Harter, John Long, Christian Leonard (Lenhard), Jacob Nieman, Peter Schreyer, Zach. Spangel, Jacob Wagner, Michael Winter; in 1786, Henry Bauker, George Albright, John Trostel, John Fred. Langenberg, James Radman, Samuel Utly, John Flach; in 1787, Daniel Diehl, Samuel Diehl, Jacob Lupfer, James Motzer, Christopher Schneider; in 1788, William Delzell; in 1789, John Kepner, Henry Zimmerman.  All these, and many others whose names cannot now be ascertained, entered lands at the Land Office.  The vast majority of Germans, however, bought lands, and generally the best too, at second-hand from the pioneer Scotch-Irish, most of whom moved further westward.  At first, the Germans settled chiefly in clusters or neighborhoods, being no doubt drawn together by a strong national predilection, and the use of a common language.  Thus they formed neighborhoods in Fautz's Valley , on Fishing Creek, at Loysville, at Blain, at New Germantown, and some other localities.  Between them and the Scotch-Irish, feuds were not uncommon in those early days.  Afterwards, the Germans, possessing themselves of some of the best lands, spread gradually over the whole of Sherman's Valley, and along the Juniata, and migled freely with their Scotch-Irish neighbors, so that at this time their descendants constitute by far the larger part of the population of Perry County, and have, with few exceptions, relinquished the use of the German language for that of the English.  The Scotch-Irish yielded up his land, and the German his language.

The majority of these early German settlers were members of the Lutheran Church, the first Protestant church, now numbering in the world from forty to forty-five millions of members.  In common with their fellow-pioneers, they suffered all the hardships and misfortunes incident to border life.  Like others, many of them were driven from their homes, fell bleeding and dead under the murderous tomahawk, were scalped or abducted as prisoners, and subjected to all the horrors of savage cruelty; some heroically defended their lives, the frontiers against the incursions of the merciless Indian, and others, in the revolutionary struggle for freedom, sacrificed their lives on the altar of their country, and with their blood consecrated the soil to liberty.

In their youth, these Germans had been instructed in the doctrines of the Christian religion, as set forth in the Catechism of their church.  Their earliest, most hallowed, and enduring recollections were associated with the house and worship of God.  They could not forget Jerusalem, her prayers and hymns of praise.  Trained as they had been in their youth and former homes, they could not but long for a house of worship, and the ordinances of religion, and to them cling wherever they were, and respect them as long as they lived; for the German is characteristically religious.  And now, living in a new and wild border settlement, destitute of the means of grace, they deeply felt their loss.  Their prayer way, "Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name,"  and the answer was:  "The people which are left of the sword, have found grace in the wilderness."

Tradition informs us that these pioneer Lutherans were occasionally visited by ministers of their own church as early as 1764, and from authentic records, we learn that in 1774, they secured the stated ministry of a pastor residing in their midst.  In the results of these early and feeble efforts on the part of the members, and of the labors of the pioneer ministers, we have in Perry County the rise and progress of the Lutheran congregations, whose history is traced in the following pages.

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