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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 appointments."  

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."

Signed by

Daniel Swartz, Sen.                            Barbara Burkepile
John Bowers                                       Catharine Burkepile
John A. Fisher                                    Sarah Burd
Jonas Lenig                                        Jacob Burkepile
John Burrel                                          Margaret Bowers
David Swartz                                      Elizabeth Wentz
John Leppert                                      Dr. Paulus Reccius
Henry Burkepile                                 Mary Swartz
John Cless                                         Mary Ann Swartz
Hannah Burkepile                             Maria Boyd
John Bupp                                         Adam Cless
John Sweger                                    Sophia Cless
George Jacobs                                Catharine Leppert
Sarah Cless                                      Catharine Reisdorff
George W. Swartz                           Jacob Burd
Sophia Swartz                                  Catharine Mahaffie
Elizabeth Bowers                             George Burkepile
Catharine Fisher                               Ann Burkepile
Mary Swartz                                      Margaret Smith
Catharine Carl                                  Mary Bitner
Catharine Burrel

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:

Jacob Stump                                                Sophia Swartz
Daniel Swartz, Jr.                                         Sarah Burrel
Mrs. Sarah Cless (baptized)                       Harriet N. Simonton
Mrs. Margaret Stump                                   Catharine Cless
Mrs. Matilda Jacobs                                    Catharine Reisdorff
Sarah Cless.

"O guide our doubtful feet aright,
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 follows:  

"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, viz:

"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 for.

"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 Christ.

"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 the world.'

"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 meeting closed.

"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' sake.  Amen."

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:

Peter Smith                                                Mrs. Mary Ann Swartz
Abraham Wentz                                        Mrs. Ellen Ann Lenig
Joseph Herth                                             Mrs. Mary Ann Burkepile
George Burkepile                                     Martha Berkley (baptized)
Jacob Burkepile                                       Catharine Turnbaugh
George Burrel                                           Barbara Ann Burkepile
Mrs. Isabella Herth                                    Mary Burkepile

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 grow
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:

William Bitner                                            Marg. Ellen Reisdorff
Mary Ann Reisdorff

"Draw us, O Savior, with thy grace,
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 relation.

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 pebble-dashed outside.

"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 19th, 1860"

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., 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:

John Long                                    Miss A. C. Barnes (baptized)
David Swartz                               Miss Esther Burkepile
Wm. Leinewever (baptized)      Miss Sarah Sweger

"So let our lips and lives express
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 in office.


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 office.

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