CHURCHES BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS
A HISTORY OF THE
LUTHERAN CONGREGATIONS IN
PERRY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
REV. D. H. FOCHT, A.M.
LUTHERAN CONGREGATION AT MANSVILLE,
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Mansville is a small village of recent
origin, in Centre Township, about six miles west of Bloomfield, on the main road
leading from Bloomfield to Ickesburg. At and in the vicinity of Mansville
a number of Lutheran families settled at the close of the last century and the
beginning of the present, and their number has been gradually increasing ever
since. They attended preaching at that time at Loysville and Bloomfield;
afterwards some attended St. John's (Bealor's), some to Ludolph's (Germany), and
others continued their membership at Bloomfield. But as they had far to go
to any and all of these places, they remained scattered and in some measure
destitute of the means of grace. Some of the more aged members and heads
of families were clearly convinced of the necessity of preaching in their midst
not only for the sake of convenience, but especially for the sake of the rising
generation. Hence, some of the members requested the
Rev. D. H. Focht,
pastor of the Bloomfield charge, to visit
them, and at his convenience preach an occasional sermon for them. With
his consent an appointment was accordingly announced, and he preached for the
first time at what is generally known as Markel's School-house (not the
new, but the old school-house, now used as a private dwelling), about one mile
southeast of Mansville, on Saturday evening, the 19th of January, 1856, in the
German and English languages, from Rev. 3:20. The attendance and attention
were encouraging. Another appointment was made, and he preached the second
time at the same place on Sunday afternoon, the 3d of February, from Matt.
6:33. After this, he preached regularly at this place once every three
weeks on Sunday afternoon till June following, when the congregation was
regularly organized in the new school-house shortly before erected at Mansville.
Much encouraged by these pastoral visits, and desirous to be regularly organized
in a congregation in order to secure the stated preaching of the Gospel, the
members appointed Messrs. John A. Fisher and George W. Swartz a committee to
meet the different church-councils of the Bloomfield charge, at their Annual
Convention at Bloomfield, on Saturday, the 26th of April, 1856, to request of
said church-councils to be received in connection with said charge as soon as
the Mansville congregation should be organized. At the above time those
two brethren met the church-councils in convention, when they made their
request. After considerable consultation on motion, it was unanimously
"Resolved, That the Lutheran
congregation, soon to be organized at Mansville, be admitted as part of the
Bloomfield charge and that our pastor may preach there whenever and as often as
he finds it convenient and has ability to do so; Provided, however, that
such arrangement does not interfere with our regular
In accordance with this resolution, the pastor of the Bloomfield charge agreed
to preach for the congregation at Mansville, after its organization on the 7th
of June following. He engaged to preach for the congregation once every
three weeks, his pastoral year to commence on the 1st of June.
On Saturday, the 7th of Juen, 1856, at 2 o'clock, p.m., the congregation
assembled at Mansville at the new school-house, built and owned by Mr. John
Bowers, when and where the pastor preached a sermon from Matt. 28:19, 20.
After the sermon was delivered, the following declaration was read and
subscribed by the members:
"We, the undersigned, now regular members of good standing in the different
neighboring Lutheran congregations, living at and in the vicinity of Mansville,
Centre Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania, feeling deeply the necessity of
having the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ preached statedly among us, of having
our children instructed in the doctrines of the Christian religion and brought
into fellowship with the Church of Christ, and of having the sacraments
administered according to the word of God,--and further, having obtained the
permission of the Bloomfield charge to organize ourselves into a congregation,
and having been admitted as part of said charge, do, on this day, being
Saturday, the 7th of June, Anno Domini 1856, in reliance on the great Head of
the Church, organize ourselves into an Evangelical Lutheran congregation
by electing an Elder or Elders and Deacons, by adopting the Formula of
the General Synod of the Lutheran Church in the United States as the rule for
our government and discipline, taking the Bible as our only infallible rule of
faith and practice, and adhering to the fundamental doctrines of the word of God
as they are set forth substantially correct in the Augsburg Confession, and held
and taught by the General Synod of the Lutheran Church in the United
States. All this we do with a view to the glory of the Triune God, Father,
Son and Holy Ghost, for our present and eternal good, the good of our children
and that of the community at large. Looking to Almighty God for his
blessing on this our humble and sincere undertaking, we hereunto subscribe our
names as members of Mansville Evangelical Lutheran congregation, praying
God that his word may among us have free course, run, and be glorified in the
conversion and final salvation of many souls, and that this congregation may
prove a great blessing to many and be perpetuated from generation to generation
till time shall be no more, through Jesus Christ. Amen."
Dr. Paulus Reccius
Mary Ann Swartz
The congregation proceeded then to elect officers. The following brethren
were elected and installed on the same day, viz.:
Daniel Swartz, Sen., Elder
John A. Fisher, for 1 year, & Jonas Lenig, for 2 years, Deacons
Thus the congregation was regularly organized and constituted. May the
Lord prosper it! This (Saturday) evening the pastor preached from Mark
5:20. On Sunday, the 8th at 2 o'clock, p.m., he preached from Exod. 33:14,
and baptized five infants. After the sermon was preached, the young
people, and all others who could attend, were catechized about an hour. A
class of catechumens was formed immediately and instructed carefully for about
three months. The week previous to their confirmation the pastor
instructed them daily and preached in the evening. Found possessed of the
requisite doctrinal and spiritual attainments, by a vote of the church-council,
on the 30th of August, 1856, the pastor confirmed the following persons:
Mrs. Sarah Cless
Harriet N. Simonton
"O guide our doubtful feet
And keep us in thy ways;
And while we turn our vows to pray'rs,
Turn thou our pray'rs to praise."
On Sunday, the 31st, the Lord's Supper was
administered here for the first time. The whole number of communicants was
fifty-three. The Rev. Conrad Kuhl, then agent for the Illinois State
University, assisted the pastor on this interesting occasion.
Only an occasional sermon in the German language is required by this
congregation. In a year or two, none will be needed in that
language. In the spring of 1857, the congregation commenced a
Sunday-school, which has since been kept in regular and successful
operation. A weekly prayer-meeting was also started, which has thus far
been well attended, and is conducted by the officers of the congregation.
In January, 1858, the pastor commenced instructing another class of
catechumens. After a large number of families had been visited and prayed
with, it was considered proper to hold a protracted meeting. The best
account we can give of the progress of this meeting will by by transcribing from
the church-record book the daily entries made at the time, as
"Commenced a protracted meeting at the school-house at Mansville, on Monday
evening, the 8th of February, 1858, and closed the meeting of Wednesday evening,
the 17th of the same month. During this time the pastor preached nine
sermons, catechized, instructed the anxious, and prayed with fifteen families,
"February 8th, Monday evening, preached from Rev. 3:20. There were five
anxious inquirers. Directed them to Christ.
"Feb. 8th, Tuesday, visited and prayed with six families.
Preached this evening from Matt. 1:21. Ten persons requested to be
remembered in the prayers of God's people. They were instructed and prayed
"Feb. 10th, Wednesday, visited, instructed and prayed with three
families. Catechized at 2 o'clock, p.m.; and had anxious meeting.
This evening preached from Isa. 55:6. Eleven persons asked, 'What
must we do to be saved?'
"Feb. 11th, Thursday, the pastor had to be absent. The officers and
leading members conducted the meeting this evening. Twelve awakened
souls sought forgiveness by the exercise of repentance and faith in Jesus
"Feb. 12th, Friday evening, preached from Luke 13:1-9. Thirteen
persons were desirous to be prayed for by the people of God and to be directed
in the way to peace and life. They were prayed for and directed to Jesus
as the only way.
"Feb. 13th, Saturday, visited, prayed with and instructed four
families. At 2 o'clock, p.m., had catechization and anxious meeting.
This evening preached from Luke 15:18. Eleven awakened souls asked
for instruction and to be remembered in the prayers of God's children. The
desired instruction was given and the prayers offered.
"Feb. 14th, Sunday evening, preached from Jer. 6:16. Seven
persons were led to see their lost condition, and cried out, 'What must we
do?' They were directed to 'the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of
"Feb. 15th, Monday evening, preached from 1 Kings 18:21. Six souls,
convinced of sin, sought pardon in Jesus' blood.
"Feb. 16th, Tuesday evening, preached from Exod. 32:26. Three
or four persons were awakened and sought peace.
"Feb. 17th, Wednesday, visited and prayed with two families.
At 2 o'clock, p.m., catechized and had anxious meeting. This evening
preached from Jer. 8:20. There were three seeking souls. The
"As God alone know the heart of man, so he alone knows the number of those
who were truly converted to him during the continuance of this meeting.
Time will clearly show the real results of this protracted effort. May all
prove faithful to the end! To God belongs all praise and glory for the
good accomplished at this meeting. May he continue to pour out his Holy
Spirit abundantly, revive his people, confirm the wavering, convert sinners to
himself, and get to himself a great name among this people, for Jesus'
Those who professed a change of heart were then for a time instructed and
established in the doctrines of our holy religion, and after being examined by
the Church-Council and by vote of the same, on Saturday the 10th of April, 1858,
the following persons were confirmed:
Mrs. Mary Ann Swartz
Mrs. Ellen Ann Lenig
Mrs. Mary Ann Burkepile
Martha Berkley (baptized)
Barbara Ann Burkepile
Mrs. Isabella Herth
One of the above, Mrs. Mary Ann Swartz, has since gone to her rest. May
all be ready to depart at any time!
"From day to day, O may they
In faith, in hope and love,
And walk in holiness below
To holiness above."
On Sunday, the 11th, the Lord's Supper was
administered to seventy-three communicants, of whom fifty-six were
members of this congregation. On account of sickness and other causes, six
members were absent. May the Lord bless this people graciously and among
them establish His kingdom gloriously!
On Saturday, the 18th of December, 1858, Mr. Daniel Shoemaker and his wife
Sarah, and Mr. Jeremiah Burkepile and his wife Mary, were received as members of
this congregation, and the following persons were confirmed:
Marg. Ellen Reisdorff
Mary Ann Reisdorff
"Draw us, O Savior, with thy
And lift our thoughts on high,
That we may end this mortal race,
And see salvation nigh."
On the 26th of November, 1859, Mr.
Christopher Fisher and his wife Hetta, and Mrs. Gustavus Bolze and his wife
Sarah, were received as members of this congregation. May they prove
faithful as good soldiers of Christ.
On the 31st of March, 1860, Mr. John M. Smith and his wife Mary Ann, and Miss
Mary A. Zollenberger, and, on the 17th of November of the same year, Mrs. Rachel
Mogel, were received as members of Mansville Lutheran congregation. May
these persons enjoy God's blessing and be useful in their present church
The school-house in which the congregation has hitherto worshipped is too small
to accommodate all who attend preaching here, and is in many respects ill
adapted as a house of worship. Hence, the need of a suitable
church-edifice has for some time been deeply felt. A meeting was therefore
called to take into consideration the propriety of erecting a church. The
proceedings of this convention read as follows:
"In accordance with previous announcement, the following brethren, viz.,
Daniel Swartz, Sen., John A. Fisher, David Swartz, George W. Swartz, Henry
Burkepile, John Leppert, Jeremiah Burkepile, Adam Cless, George Burkepile, Peter
Smith, John Bupp and Jacob Burkepile, met at Mansville on the 19th of November,
1860, to make arrangements for the building of a church. The pastor called
the convention to order, the 499th hymn in our Hymn-Book was sung, and then he
led the brethren in prayer to God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the
blessing of heaven on the proposed enterprise. The object of the
convention was then clearly and fully stated. After mature consideration
the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
"Resolved, 1. That in reliance on the aid and blessing of God
and for the promotion of His glory we will build a church.
"Resolved, 2. That the church be called Mansville
Evangelical Lutheran Church.
"Resolved, 3. That the church be erected at Mansville on the
corner lot, which Mr. Daniel Swartz, Sen., offers for the purpose.
"Resolved, 4. That the church-edifice be thirty-five by
forty feet in size, frame and plastered inside and plastered and
"Resolved, 5. That a building committee of three be appointed
and that Daniel Swartz, Sen., Henry Burkepile, and George W. Swartz be said
committee, and John A. Fisher be Treasurer.
"Resolved, 6. That the building committee see to it that the
above church-edifice be erected in a manner as good and yet as cheap as
possible, and superintend its erection.
After the passage and adoption of the above resolutions as a whole, the
following heading of a subscription was drawn up, and upwards of two hundred and
fifty dollars were subscribed:
"We, the undersigned subscribers, promise to pay in money, labor or
materials, the respective sums opposite our names towards the erection of Mansville
Evangelical Lutheran Church at Mansville, Centre Township, Perry County,
Pa. Said church to be used for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
in purity, and by the unanimous consent of the whole Church-Council other
orthodox denominations may be allowed to preach in it a funeral sermon or an
occasional sermon; Provided, such occasional sermon does not cause
disturbance or interfere with the appointments of the church. November
The convention then adjourned with prayer by the pastor. The brethren,
also, at the same time selected a suitable spot of ground for a graveyard on Mr.
Daniel Swartz's land, about half a mile west of Mansville. Thus initial
steps were taken towards the accomplishment of a much-needed and glorious
end,---the erection of a house of worship.
From the deed of conveyance we will add the following extracts:
"This Indenture, made the 26th
day of July, 1861, between Daniel Swartz, of Centre Township, Perry County, and
State of Pennsylvania, and Sophia his wife, of the first part, and Daniel
Swartz, George Swartz and John Leppert, Trustees of the Lutheran congregation
and church, worshipping and located at Mansville (otherwise called Phoenixville)
in said township, and their successors in office, of the second part---Witnesseth
that the said Daniel Swartz and wife, for and in consideration of the sum of one
dollar to them in hand paid by the said Trustees, &c.,...do give, grant,
bargain, sell,...unto the said Daniel Swartz, George Swartz and John Leppert,
Trustees as aforesaid, and their successors in office, in trust for the Lutheran
Church located as aforesaid, to be used for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ in purity, from time to time, to the congregation worshipping in said
church according to the discipline and usages of the said church; but by
obtaining the unanimous consent of the whole Church-Council, other orthodox
denominations may be allowed to preach a funeral or other occasional sermon in
it; Provided, that such occasional sermon does not cause difficulty or
interfere with the appointments of the said Lutheran congregation,...the
following described pieces or lots of land bounded as follows and situated in
Township, County, and State aforesaid, to wit: The first lot
beginning at corner, &c,...containing twenty perches neat measure. The
other lot, situate as aforesaid, bounded as follows: beginning in
road leading from Mansville &c.,...containing twenty perches strict measure,
which latter lot is to be for the use of the church aforesaid for burying ground
or graveyard to bury their dead. The two above described lots of ground
sold &c.,... unto the said Daniel Swartz, George Swartz, and John Leppert,
Trustees aforesaid, and their successors in office, in trust, and for the use of
the Lutheran church aforesaid, to the only proper use and behoof of the Trustees
for the use aforesaid, and their successors in office forever,"
&c. See Deed-Book T., vol. i, pg. 394.
The lumber and other material for the new church-edifice is nearly all taken
out; but the war in which our country is involved induced the members to defer
erecting the building until more auspicious times shall return. It is
however thought that in the fall of 1862 and the beginning of '63, the edifice
can be put up and completed. It is very much needed, and we trust it will
in the course of a year be erected.
On the 24th of March, 1861, Miss Sarah Turnbaugh was received as a member by
confirmation. May she follow Jesus truly till the end!
On Saturday the 9th of November, 1861, after being instructed for some time, the
following persons were admitted to membership by the rite of confirmation:
Miss A. C. Barnes (baptized)
Miss Esther Burkepile
Wm. Leinewever (baptized) Miss Sarah Sweger
"So let our lips and lives
Thy holy Gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine,
To prove the doctrine all divine!
"Thus shall we best proclaim abroad
The honors of our Savior God,
When the salvation reigns within
And grace subdues the pow'r of sin."
Little Charles Stump, who died on the 17th of
November, 1861, aged 1 year, 5 months, and 13 days, was the first one buried in
the new graveyard belonging to the congregation at Mansville.
At this time (June, 1862) the congregation numbers sixty-eight members.
Since the organization of the congregation, six years ago, forty-six
members have been added by confirmation and certificate, six have departed this
life, and thirteen have removed and fifty-two infants were baptized. What
is now most wanted is the church-edifice.
Since the organization of the congregation in June, 1856, the following brethren
have at different times served as its officers:
Daniel Swartz, Sen., ...from June, 1856 yet
John A. Fisher, ... from June, 1856 to 1857
Jonas Lenig, ...from June, 1856 to 1858
George W. Swartz, ... from June, 1857 to 1859.
David Swartz, ... from June, 1858 to 1860.
John A. Fisher, ... from June, 1859 to 1861.
John Bupp, ... from June, 1860 yet in office.
John M. Smith, ... from June, 1861 yet in office.
Daniel Swartz, Sen., ...from July, 1861 yet in office.
George W. Swartz, ...from July 1861 yet in office.
John Leppert, from July, 1861 yet in office.
John A. Fisher, ...from June, 1856 yet in
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