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Some of the earliest settlers in Fishing Creek Valley were Lutherans, and many of their descendants still form a large portion of the population of Rye Township.  As early as 1763, John Rankin located land "at Candennan's Gap it Kittatiny Hill;" Israel Jacobs settled on Fishing Creek in 1766, and John Jacobs in 1768; Adam Reigart in 1773 and Samuel Starr, "on the waters of Fishing Creek," in 1774, and George Albright (German, Albrecht) located land in 1786.  These pioneer settlers were soon joined by others from the eastern counties and Cumberland Valley, among whom were the Reibers (German, Raubers) in 1790, the Foulks (Volks) in 1795, the Ensmingers in 1797 and then the Sloops, Finicles, Kimmels, Hinkels, Billows (German, Billoch), and a number of others.  These all settled on Fishing Creek along Gherman's Creek and in Pisgah Valley, so that at the beginning of the present century a considerable number of Lutheran families was scattered through that region over an extended territory on the northwest of the North Mountain.  Before they had a church in their midst, these members attended preaching at Carlisle, a distance from ten to fifteen miles, by a rugged path over the North Mountain.  Rev. John G. Butler was pastor of he Lutheran Church at Carlisle from 1780 to 1788, and it is thought that he occasionally visited and preached for the scattered members on this side of the mountain, especially so as their number was considerable, and he was noted for looking up the destitute members of the Church.  Rev. Butler resigned at Carlisle in 1788, and in 1790 the congregation at Loysville secured as pastor, the

Rev. John Timohty Kuhl,

who preached statedly for "the Germans in Sherman's Valley," and occasionally, if not regularly, also for the members "on the waters of Fishing Creek,"  until 1796, when he left Sherman's Valley.

Rev. John Herbst

pastor of the church at Carlisle, in 1797, commenced to preach at Loysville regularly once every four weeks.  On his way to and from Loysville he usually stopped with the members of Fishing Creek and preached for them.  In 1801, Rev. Herbst resigned at Carlisle, and in 1802 he was succeeded there by

Rev. Frederick Sanno,

who, from 1802 to 1809, on his way to and from Loysville, preached frequently in Fishing Creek Valley.  Some of the aged members still remember his preaching, and also, that he instructed a class of catechumens, whom he confirmed in Mr. Philip Foulk's barn, where he had communion at the same time.  When this was, and whom he confirmed, cannot be remembered.  It was probably in 1808 or 1809.  In winter he preached in private dwellings and in summer in barns and sometimes in the woods.  On such occasions the members all around from six to ten miles assembled to hear the word of life.  Excepting the single instance just referred to, the young people always went to Carlisle to attend catechetical instruction, and so did the members on occasions of communion.  On their way to and from Carlisle, they crossed the North Mountain at Sterrett's Gap.  In those days the people were surely willing to deny themselves in order to hear the word of God.  Who in Sherman's Valley would now walk ten or fifteen miles over a high and rugged mountain to hear the Gospel preached?  Carriages and the means of easy and speedy conveyance were then unknown, and if they had been known, they would have been useless, as the mountain was crossed by a narrow path, leading over high rocks and deep gorges.  In 1809, Rev. Sanno ceased to preach in Sherman's Valley, and then the 

Rev. John Frederick Osterloh

took charge of the congregations in said valley. He resided in Saville Township on a small tract of land of his own, but now belonging to Mr. Henry Fleisher.  At Fishing Creek he preached regularly once every four weeks, in summer usually in Mr. Kimmel's barn and in winter at different places in private dwellings and school-houses.  He preached also about six miles west of Fishing Creek neighborhood at Reiber's Church or school-house on Sherman's Creek.  This church or school-house (for it was used for both purposes), now in Carroll Township, was built by the early settlers.  It stands yet, an ancient-looking structure, and a large graveyard adjoins it.

In June, 1811, as delegate of the charge, Mr. C. Geiger of the Fishing Creek congregation accompanied Rev. Osterloh to Synod, then held at Philadelphia.

When this congregation was regularly organized does not appear; it is however highly probable, from all we can learn, that it was about the year 1811.  

In the spring of 1813, at Reiber's Church or school-house, Rev. Osterloh confirmed the following class of catechumens--the only class he confirmed among this people:

Philip Hinkel; George Hinkel; John Shearer; John Reiber; Matthias Finicle; Mrs. Mary Finicle; Susan Ensminger; Catharine Kimmel; Margaret Kimmel; Barbara Kimmel; Susan Shearer; Elizabeth Jacobs; Susan Jacobs; Elizabeth Reiber; Catharine Losh. *

*For these names we are indebted to Mrs. Susan Billow, whose maiden name was Ensminger, and who is the only survivor of the fifteen catechumens that were then confirmed.  She is a truly pious mother in Israel.

The members were scattered over an extensive territory, and were therefore easily beguiled by the influence of straggling preachers.  Hence, from the minutes of Synod, June, 1813, we learn that a letter was addressed to Synod "by a part of the congregation in Rye Township, Cumberland (now Perry) County, in which the signers state that they have employed Mr. G. Preissler as their preacher, and they pray therefore that he may be received as a member of this Ministerium." Thus the spirit of schism was rife among the members in Fishing Creek Valley. "In regard to Mr. Preissler, it was, on motion, Resolved, That the Ministerium can at present have nothing to do with him, and that the President, in the name of the Ministerium, fraternally admonish him to cease exercising the functions of the ministry."  It seems Mr. Preissler alienated a part of the congregation by intruding himself as a minister.  Such self-constituted preachers have always done mischief.  Who, and what Mr. Preissler was, we do not know.  No doubt Synod had good reasons for the action it took in his case.

In the summer of 1815, Rev. Osterloh resigned his congregations in Sherman's Valley, and moved to Cumberland Valley.  The Fishing Creek congregation was then vacant.  In June, 1816, a petition from this congregation was read before Synod, praying that body to send them a minister.  On motion, Synod "Resolved, That the pastor of Carlisle be requested to serve this congregation."  Thus the congregation was again attached to Carlisle and served from thence.

Rev. Benjamin Keller

was then pastor of the Lutheran Church at Carlisle, and, in accordance with the resolution of Synod, at once commenced to preach for the congregation in Fishing Creek Valley.  He labored with great zeal, and encouraging success attended his pious efforts to do good.  Among the first things this indefatigable and faithful minister of Christ did, was to collect the youth for catechetical instruction and to make arrangements for the erection of a suitable house of worship.  In the Lutheran Observer, August 14th, 1857, he says:  "I preached every fourth Sunday afternoon in Sherman's Valley (crossing at Sterrett's Gap), in the second story of a new log house, belonging to a Mr. George Albrecht (now written Albright), until we had a church built, which was consecrated by the Rev. George Lochman, D.D., then pastor of the Lutheran congregation at Harrisburg.  After the church was built and consecrated, I gave it up to the Rev. J. W. Heim."

The corner-stone of this church was laid some time in July, 1816; but we cannot ascertain who the building-committee were, or who the ministers were in attendance on this occasion.  About ten years ago, by some "lewd fellows of the baser sort," this corner-stone was forced out and robbed of its contents--a few coins, books and documents.  We have found no traces of a congregational constitution.  Probably none was adopted.  The church-edifice was speedily erected and completed, and on Sunday, the 14th day of August, 1816, it was consecrated with appropriate ceremonies and received the distinctive title, Mount Zion Church.  The Rev. Dr. Lochman preached the dedicatory sermon and consecrated the church.  The edifice was built of hewed logs, and is about thirty-five feet by forty in size.  It was a high structure, and had inside high galleries on three sides, and a high pulpit against the wall.  A few years ago the building was lowered, the galleries were removed, the pulpit was rebuilt and in all respects the internal arrangement of the church was rendered more convenient and comfortable than it had been before.  The church is located in Fishing Creek Valley ,Rye Township.

At this time (1816) and for a number of years after, the Church-Council consisted of the following persons:

Christian Ensminger & Philip Foulk, Elders
Anthony Kimmel & Peter Foulk, Deacons

Under the efficient labors of Rev. Keller the congregation revived and attained a high degree of prosperity.  He was beloved by the people, and his efforts to do them good were appreciated by them and blessed of God.  But we need not proclaim his praise; the large number of accessions to the congregation, under his ministry, speaks more effectually than anything we can say.

Soon after he had taken charge of the congregation, Rev. Keller commenced instructing a large class of catechumens in the Catechism of the Church, and at the first communion he held here, on Sunday, the 10th of November, 1816, the following thirty-five persons were confirmed:

John Reiber                        Maria Shade
Daniel Ensminger              Elizabeth Shade
John Kimmel                       Catharine Bender
Conrad Hinkel                    Barbara Finicle
David Shade                       Lydia Billow
George Shade                   Anna Foulk
Henry Bender                     Elizabeth Foulk
John Foulk                          Maria Musser
Solomon Finicle                 Margaret Yoh
John Shade                        Catharine Richter
William Messinger            Catharine Schlang
Jacob Messinger               Barbara Jacobs
Solomon Schlang              Maria Gamber
William Musser                  Catharine Sahrin
Henry Bradley                     Anna Shade
John Jacobs                       Maria Bradley
Elizabeth Ensminger         Susan Bender
Catharine Foulk

On the same day, with the above catechumens, the following thirty-six members communed:

Christian Ensminger                Henry Jacobs
Regina Ensminger                   Maria Jacobs
Anthony Kimmel                       Elizabeth Jacobs
Barbara Kimmel                      Susan Jacobs
Bernhardt Schlang                  John Richter
Justina Schlang                       Susan Myers
Philip Foulk                              John Ensminger
Eve Foulk                                 David Ensminger
Philip Kimmel                          George Billow
Peter Kimmel                           Susan Billow
Catharine Kimmel                   Peter Foulk
Barbara Kimmel                     Catharine Foulk
Anna M. Reiber                       John Focht
Anna M. Reiber                       Margaret Billow
Magdalene Cornman             Margaret Swartz
Peter Finicle                            Catharien Souder
Elizabeth Finicle                     Susan Heckendorn
William Messinger, Sen.        Elizabeth Albright.

In all seventy-one members communed, being about the numerical strength of the congregation at that time.  Nearly all whose names are given above have since gone to the eternal world.

The first person buried in the graveyard at Mount Zion Church was John Stoufer, on the 20th of May, 1820, aged fifteen years and fifteen days.

As Rev. Keller's charge was very large, he preached here only once every four weeks, usually on Sunday afternoon.  On such occasions the members came together from a great distance all around, and seemed to appreciate the preached Gospel very highly.

Nearly four years had now passed away, when Rev. Keller met and instructed another large class of catechumens in the doctrine of our holy religion.  This was the last class he instructed here.  On Monday, the 22d of May, 1820, when the Lord's Supper was also administered, the following thirty-two persons were confirmed:

Abram Jacobs                        Anna M. Ensminger
John Miller                               Salome Richter
Peter Foulk                              Maria Richter
Samuel Foulk                          Margaret Losh
John Foulk                               Elizabeth Losh
Joseph Bender                       Elizabeth Kimmel
Isaac Shade                            Maria Stankey
Abram Jacobs                        Susan Messinger
George Jacobs                       Sarah Messinger
David Reiber                           Margaret Messinger
George Reiber                        Catharine Miller
George Bender                       Elizabeth Miller
Martin Swartz                          Magdalene Billow
George Nevinger                    Susan Foulk
John Stankey                          Susan Finicle
Barbara Ensminger               Julia A. Fair.

At this time (1820), deducting removals by death, letter, & c., the whole number of communing members was eighty-three.  The congregation seems to have been in a flourishing condition.  Rev. Keller served this congregation as pastor till he resigned at Carlisle, late in the fall of 1827, and in February, 1828, he took charge of the Lutheran congregation at Germantown, Pa.  Besides those whose names are given above, we do not find that he confirmed any others here.  Whilst pastor he preached to this congregation exclusively in the German language.  It appears that in the spring of 1829, the

Rev. L. H. Meyer

took charge of this congregation and served with it great acceptance for about one year.  We have not been able to learn why Rev. Meyer served this congregation only so short a time, or with what other congregations he served it in Cumberland County.  Our impression is that he served it only as a temporary supply.  The aged members speak of him with affection and the highest terms of regard, and regret sincerely that he left them so soon.  Immediately after Rev. Meyer had resigned, in the spring of 1829, the

Rev. John William Heim

of Loysville took charge of the congregation and served it as pastor, in connection with his other congregations in Perry County, until he was called to the eternal world, in December, 1849.  This indefatigable herald of the Cross labored in this congregation with great acceptance and success, and the number of accessions, under his ministry, to the membership was large.  Soon after he had become pastor of the congregation, he met and instructed a class of catechumens in the Catechism, and when he held the first communion here, on Sunday, the 30th of August, 1829, the following forty-one persons were confirmed:

Francis Mickey;                            Anna M. Hair
Joseph Ensminger                       Catharine Fair
John Finicle                                   Susan Stouffer
Joseph Foulk                                 Catharine Bowman
David Sloop                                   Sarah Sailer
Jacob Billow                                   Margaret Sailer
Baltzer Beistlein                             Sarah Spahr
Henry Gamber                               Eliza Mickey
William Davis                                 Mary A. Mickey
John Shade                                    Rosanna Ensminger
William Sloop                                 Sarah Foulk
Conrad Fair                                    Elizabeth Billow
Nehemiah Reed                             Sarah Smeigh
Jacob Hair                                      Sarah Mahaffey
Levi Hair                                          Elizabeth Roth
Peter Hair                                        Elizabeth Shade
Joseph Hair                                     Elizabeth Souder
John Hair                                         Elizabeth McCord
David Smeigh                                 Elizabeth Finicle
William Smeigh                               Rebecca Finicle
George Smeigh

At this time the congregation numbered one hundred and sixteen members.  Daniel Yoh was Elder and David Shade Deacon.

Rev. Heim catechized here once every four or five years, and as the congregation at that time embraced a large territory, the number of catechumens was usually large.  On Sunday, the 25th of May, 1834, the following twenty-three persons were confirmed:

Abram Jacobs                            Catharine Hauk
John Sloop                                  Susan Hair
William Ensminger                     Elizabeth Hair
Benjamin Finicle                         Maria Kunkel
John Finicle                                  Elizabeth Souder
Jacob Fair                                   Maria Dunkelberger
William Hair                                 Sarah Finicle
Thomas Hair                                Elizabeth Foulk
Daniel Low                                  Hannah Foulk
Martin Swartz                              Susan Mickey
John Dunkelberger                     Charity Richter
John Kunkel

The whole number of communicants was at this time eighty-eight.  This was, however, by no means the whole number of members.  Rev. Heim's labors were signally crowned with God's blessing.  He cold not but be encouraged to prosecute his calling with joy and holy delight, when everywhere so many were found willing to unite themselves with God's people.

Having been for half a year carefully instructed in the doctrines of the Christian faith, on Sunday, the 22d of April, 1838, the following twenty-six catechumens were confirmed:

George Finicle                            Elizabeth Messinger
John Finicle                                 Maria Shade
Henry Finicle                               Elizabeth Foulk
Solomon Low                              Maria Foulk
George Shade                            Margaret Jacobs
Jacob Shade                               Catharine Meyer
David Sidel                                 Louisa Meyer
Daniel Jacobs                             Susan Sloop
Henry Leppert                             Elizabeth Sloop
Hannah Sidel                              Maria Yoh
Catharine Souder                       Magdalene Wick
Frances Low                               Elizabeth Reed
Maria Messinger                        Mary A. Reed

So far as the increase of members were concerned, the congregation was evidently in a prosperous condition.  What the state of piety was we are not informed.  We must suppose, however, that the preaching of the word was not without effect.  In his preaching and catechetical lectures, Rev. Heim sought to do immortal souls good.  A few years had again passed away, when a large number were found willing to attend lectures on the Catechism, and on Sunday, the 18th of April, 1841, the following twenty-seen persons were confirmed:

Daniel Jacobs                            Sarah Finicle
Christian Finicle                         Anna M. Noss
William Finicle                            Susan Noss
Henry Ensminger                        Rachel Billow
David Ensminger                        Sarah Foulk
Adam Billow                                Hannah Foulk
John Yoh                                      Mary A. Messinger
Daniel Sweger                            Sarah Jacobs
Jacob Reed                                Mary A. Sloop
George Yoh                                 Catharine Sloop
Solomon Yoh                               Margaret Fair
David Yoh                                    Catharine Hair
Samuel Noss                               Maria Reed
Henry Koup

At this time the number of communicants was one hundred and eleven.  The congregation had hitherto been constantly increasing by large accessions to the membership.  But about this time the want of preaching in the English language began to be deeply felt.  Hence, some of the members united in forming Mount Pisgah congregation, about five miles west of Mount Zion Church.  The Rev. John Ulrich of Carlisle organized Mount Pisgah congregation in 1839, and preached to it in the English language.  Thus a large number of members were drawn off from Mount Zion congregation.  Rev. Heim, however, continued his labors with success and on Sunday, the 13th of April, 1845, the following twenty-four persons were confirmed:

David Billow                                Susan Billow
George Mickey                           Regina Ensminger
John Souder                                Caroline Ensminger
John Sweger                               Mary A. Ensminger
Samuel Sweger                          Maria Jacobs
Jacob Mickey                              Rebecca Hartman
William Finicle                             Elizabeth Siesholtz
George Messinger                      Christiana Hair
David Messinger                         Susan Hair
David Shade                                Maria Light
William Reed                               Anna M. Gamber
Anna Foulk                                   Elizabeth Gamber

In June, 1846, the St. David's or Billow's congregation was organized by Rev. Lloyd Knight, about four or five miles north of Mount Zion Church, to which most of the members of the new organization had belonged.  Thus, Mount Zion congregation was considerably reduced in numbers by the organization of Mount Pisgah in 1839 and of St. David's in 1846.  In the fall of 1846, Rev. Heim met another class of catechumens for instruction in the Catechism, and on Wednesday, the 6th of January, 1847, the following twelve persons were confirmed:

Levi Sweger                                Susan Reed
William Finicle                            Susan Albright
William Ensminger                     Sarah Noss
Solomon Ensminger                  Regina Gamber
Julian Mickey                              Barbara Fleisher
Catharine Smeigh                      Hannah Messinger

This was the last class of catechumens Rev. Heim confirmed at Mount Zion Church.  He continued, however, to preach here till he was removed by the hand of death in December, 1849.  He was pastor of the congregation nearly twenty-one years, during which time he confirmed at this place one hundred and fifty-three persons.  He preached exclusively in the German language and opposed the introduction of the English.  Hence the formation in part at least, of two congregations, one north and the other west of Mount Zion; and hence, too, the reason why Mount Zion congregation is not now what it might be, and what it once was in point of numerical strength.

At the formation of the Petersburg charge, in February 1850, by the convention of delegates held at Bloomfield, the Mount Zion congregation was attached to said charge.  After Father Heim's death, the congregation had no preaching for about ten months.  In November, 1850, the

Rev. John P. Hiester

accepted a call from the Petersburg charge, and commenced to preach at Mount Zion; but as he could not preach in the German language, the German-speaking portion of the congregation became dissatisfied and were on the point of seceding from the charge in order to get preaching in their own language.  In September, 1851, the congregation sent Mr. Messinger, as commissioner, to Synod, in order to secure German preaching for the congregation, or permission for it to withdraw from the charge or to call another man.  After considerable discussion of the subject in question, it way by Synod

"Resolved, That the Fishing Creek church be recommended to remain in the charge of Brother Hiester, and that he use his endeavors to procure the aid of his neighboring clerical brethern to supply them as frequently as possible with German services."

For the want of German preaching and from other causes, as well as the formation of the two congregations referred to above, the Mount Zion congregation had dwindled down very much in the number of members, so that when Rev. Hiester held communion here the first time there were only forty communicants.

During the summer of 1852, a number of persons attended the catechetical lectures of the pastor, and on the 11th of August, 1852, the following were confirmed:

John Fleisher; George Reed; William Reed; Simon Finicle; John Gamber; Catharine A. Ensminger; Sarah Messinger; Sarah Reed; Elizabeth Fleisher; Jane Hartman.

These were the only persons, so far as we can learn, who were confirmed whilst Rev. Hiester was pastor of the congregation.  At Synod in September, 1852, Rev. Hiester reported "that he had made efforts, but unsuccessfully, to secure German preaching for Fishing Creek Church."  Thus the wants of the German part of the congregation remained unsupplied, and more or less dissatisfaction was continued by them.  It is to be regretted that they were not supplied, at least for some time, with preaching in their own language.  The transition from all German to all English was too abrupt and complete for the congregation, and, as might be expected, called forth strenuous opposition, and much dissatisfaction. Only time can reconcile the Germans to English preaching.  Having served the congregation as pastor about three years, Rev. Hiester resigned in November, 1853.  The charge was then vacant about six months.  A call was then extended to the 

Rev. George A. Nixdorff

and accepted by him, and he commenced his pastoral labors here in June, 1854.  He held the first communion here on the 22d of April, 1855, when the following twelve persons were confirmed:

George Ensminger; David Sloop; Jacob Hartman; David Gamber; William Fleisher; George Snell; Isabella Ensminger; Elizabeth Ensminger; Sarah Reed; Rachel A. Reed; Rebecca Finicle; Susan Messinger.

At this time (1855) the Church-Council consisted of John Sweger, Elder, and George Messinger and William Ensminger, Deacons.  On the 19th of April, 1857, Moses Waugh was confirmed.

Rev. Nixdorff resigned in May, 1858, having served the congregation as pastor about four years.  A call was then extended to the

Rev. William Diven

and accepted by him, and on the 22d of August of the same year he commenced his labors as pastor of this congregation.  He preaches here once every two weeks.  Some prejudice against English preaching is still entertained by some.  In January, 1859, the following persons were confirmed:

William Ensminger; George Albright, James White, Mary J. Grier, Nancy Kleckler; Magdalene Finicle.

For want of documents, the above is the fullest sketch of the history of Mount Zion Church and congregation that can be given.  Since the death of Father Heim in December, 1849, no German has been preached here.  It is hoped the congregation will gradually gain its former position as to number of members.

At the desire of some friends of the church, we will conclude by subjoining a full list of the members of this congregation on the 1st of June, 1862.  This list may be of interest to those who shall come after us.  There are fifty-seven members, viz.:

Daniel Ensminger                            Barbara Messinger
Susan Ensminger                            Susan H. Messinger
Joseph Ensminger                          Barbara Messinger
Elizabeth Ensminger                       Mary A. Messinger
William Ensminger, Sen.                John Reed
William Ensminger, Jr.                    Hannah Reed
George Ensminger                         Susan Reed
Margaret Ensminger                       Anna M. Reed
Isabella Ensminger                         Sarah Reed
Sarah J. Ensminger                        Daniel Comp
Susan Ensminger                           Daniel Sweger
George Albright                              Susan Sweger
Rosanna Albright                            John Sweger
Elizabeth Albright                            Elizabeth Sweger
William Finicle                                James White
Rebecca Finicle                             Margaret White
Helena Finicle                                Anne Grier
Sophia Bensel                                Mary J. Grier
Henry Gamber                                Susan Fleisher
John Gamber                                  Barbara Fleisher
David Gamber                                Sarah Smeigh
S. E. Gamber                                  Jacob Smeigh
Mary Gamber                                  Peter Low
Maria Gamber                                Elizabeth Hummel
Regina Gamber                             Catharine A. Sloop
Elizabeth Gamber                          Elizabeth Noss
William Messinger                         Susan Meyers
George Messinger

"Our souls, by love together knit,
Cemented, mix'd in one.
Our hope, one heart, one mind, one voice,
'This heav'n on earth begun."

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