CHURCHES BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS
A HISTORY OF THE
LUTHERAN CONGREGATIONS IN
PERRY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
REV. D. H. FOCHT, A.M.
ST. JOHN'S (BEALOR'S) CHURCH
near MARKELVILLE, JUNIATA TOWNSHIP
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In the beginning of the present century a
number of Lutheran families settled in Juniata
Township, as the Beistleins,
Smiths, Lenigs, Swartzs, Crists, Burrels, and others. Most of these
attended preaching at Bloomfield, and some few at Loysville, the distance of six
to twelve miles. After the erection of St. Andrew's (Shuman's) Church in
1831, most of them worshipped there, and the rest at Bloomfield. All
however were deeply impressed with the urgent necessity of having the Gospel
preached in their midst. Hence, in 1839,
Rev. John William Heim,
commenced to preach for them occasionally in
the school-house on the hill near Bosserman's mill, now near Markelville.
At the same time a Sunday-school was also started and held at this
school-house. These visits of Father Heim convinced the members more than
ever of the necessity and advantage of having among them the stated
ministrations of the Gospel and of a suitable house of worship. The
attendance at the school-house was very encouraging. Measures were then
taken to erect, as soon as practicable, a house of worship conjointly with a
sister denomination. The following is a copy of the heading of the
subscription circulated for aid towards the erection of the proposed
"We, the undersigned, citizens of Juniata Township and parts adjacent, in
Perry County, composed of Lutheran and Presbyterian professors, feeling
ourselves in a great measure destitute of the preaching of the Gospel among us,
to obviate which, we do hereby agree to form a union to enable us to raise money
for the erection of a house for public worship in the neighborhood of William
Bosserman's mill on Big Buffalo, and on the land of Marx Bealor, who offers a
piece of land for that purpose as a free donation; and we cordially invite the
friends of religion, both German and English, to join us in this undertaking,
and be sharers in the privileges and advantages of the proposed institution,
believing as we do, that righteousness exalteth a nation, and sin is the
reproach of any people.
"We, therefore, to realize said object, do promise to pay the several
sums annexed to our names respectively, to such person or persons as shall be
hereafter appointed for that purpose. Witness our hands the 7th January,
Messrs. Daniel Swartz and John Bealor were appointed the building
committee. A sufficient amount was soon subscribed to justify the building
committee to proceed in erecting the proposed house of worship. Mr. Marx
Bealor also deeded a piece of land to the use of the congregations as the site
for the church-edifice and the graveyard.* From this deed, we make the
"This Indenture made the 7th day of August, 1840, between Marks
Bealor of Juniata Township, Perry County, State of Pennsylvania, and his wife,
Elizabeth, of the one part, and Philip Myers, Samuel Lupfer, and William
Bosserman, Trustees of a religious society in said township and parts adjacent,
composed of Lutherans and Presbyterians united, now about erecting themselves
into a congregation, of the other part, ---Witnesseth that the said Mark Bealor
and Elizabeth his wife, for and in consideration of the many blessings of the
Gospel among men and in order to secure and promote it in this corner for the
happiness and comfort of themselves, their children, and neighbors, and all
others, and also for and in consideration of one dollar to them in hand
paid by the said Trustees and before the ensealing and delivering thereof, the
receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge and thereof acquit and forever
discharge the said Trustees above named, their successors and assigns, do by
these presents grant, bargain, sell, &c., two and one-half perches over
one-half acre, to have and to hold the said piece or lot of groud, tot he
said Philip Myers, Samuel Lupfer and William Bosserman, Trustees aforesaid,
their successors and assigns forever, for the establishment and support of a
church and suitable pastors for said congregation according to justice and their
articles of association," &c. See Deed-Book, Letter I, p.
272. The above article of subscription and deed were written by George
*On the piece of land offered by Mr. Marx Bealor, and now
embraced in the graveyard adjoining the church, a number of persons were buried
long before the church was built. The tombstone of the first person buried
here, bears the following inscription in German: "Hier ruhen die
Gebeine von Sarah Bealor, Tochter von M. Bealor, Starb 6th August, 1810.
Alter 8 Jahr, 8 Monat, und 26 Tage."
The Lutheran congregation was regularly organized in October, 1840,
by the election and installation of Mr. John Beistlein, Elder, and of Mr. Daniel
Swartz, Deacon. There were the first officers of the congregation.
Rev. Heim composed also the following church constitution in the German
CONSTITUTION OF ST. JOHN'S CHURCH.
In the name of God the Father, of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
God is a God of order, and therefore
everything that is to meet with His approbation and redound to His glory must be
done in the spirit of order, of love and peace. We, the Church-Council and
Church-members, do therefore, on this 4th day of October, 1840, bind ourselves
to observe most faithfully and in as far as in us lies in the following
Of the Church and Graveyard.
Our church, called -------, erected on the
ground given for the purpose by Marcus Bealor, containing eighty-two rods,
situate in Juniata Township, Perry County, and State of Pennsylvania, is and
shall always remain a Union church for the use of the two religious
denominations, namely, the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed, and so
it shall continue until by mutual agreement the one denomination purchase the
right of the other. And in this church no other doctrine shall be preached
and taught than that of the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed
Churches according to the Bible and the Augsburg Confession. One
denomination shall not interfere in the divine worship of the other,
&c. [The remaining part of this Constitution is in every respect the
same as that prepared for the church at Loysville, and therefore we refer the
reader to that.]
To the above constitution, we, the Church-Council and Church-members, herewith
subscribe our names:
John Bealor; Samuel Lupfer; Joseph Bealor; John Sosseman,John Dumm; John Crist;
Joseph Carl; David Bealor; Philip Reamer; George Gibbons; John Leiby; Wm.
Raffinsberger; John Beistlein; Philip Myer; George Carl, John Myer; Samuel
Reisdorff; Daniel Swartz; Jacob Lenig; Frederick Reisdorff; Michael Earhart;
Jonas J. Smith.
The above Constitution has gone into disuse, and each congregation manages its
affairs according to its own Synod's form of government and discipline.
The corner-stone of the new church was laid in October, 1840, when Rev. Heim and
Rev. Fred. Becher officiated. A difference arose among the members
respecting the plan on which the church edifice was to be built. Some were
in favor of a gallery on three sides, and some were opposed to having any
gallery. The question was then put to vote. The majority voted to
have no gallery at all; but for the sake of peace the majority yielded to the
minority, and in this way peace was easily restored and the edifice was raised,
though for a long time some were dissatisfied, and perhaps justly too, with the
three galleries. The edifice is thirty-five feet long by thirty feet
wide. It is a log-frame structure. Inside it has high galleries on
three sides, supported by heavy posts and cross-beams, a high pulpit, high
seats, and is in many respects badly arranged. It seems to have been
adapted on purpose to make preaching go hard. It is truly surprising that
in those days a much cheaper way of building far more convenient church-edifices
did not suggest itself to the minds of the people in Perry County.
The church was dedicated in April, 1841, and called St. John's Church.
Rev. Heim and Rev. Ernst were present and preached on the occasion. The
Sunday-school was now removed to the church.
Rev. Heim preached here once every four weeks, exclusively in the German
language. The members scattered throughout Juniata Township were collected
and much encouraged by having a church and regular preaching in their
midst. The Sunday-school was encouraged and flourished.
After having attended a course of lectures on the Catechism of the Church, on
Saturday, the 2d of December, 1843, the following persons were admitted to
communion by confirmation:
David Titzel; Michael Smith; Jonas Beistlein; Michael Kleckner; Mrs. Ann Mary
Kleckner; Mrs. Margaret Crist; Mrs. Margaret Schultz; Mrs. Mary Weiskessel; Mrs.
Nancy Zollenberger; Lydia Carl; Catharine Frantz; Mary Crist; Sarah A. Burrel;
Susan Beistlein; Margaret Reisdorff.
On Sunday (December 3d), the whole number of communicants was seventy-one,
though it is certain that they were not all members of this congregation.
Rev. Heim had communion here but once a year, and, with the above exception,
always in spring and sometimes on week-days, as follows: Sunday, May 19th,
1844, sixty-three communicants; Sunday, March 23d, 1845, forty-five
communicants; Sunday, April 19th, 1846, forty-nine communicants; Sunday, May
16th, 1847, fifty communicants; Wednesday, April 19th, 1848, forty-nine
communicants; and Wednesday, April, 18th, 1849, catechumens and old members,
fifty communicants. This was the last communion he held here. On
Tuesday previous, namely, the 17th of April, 1849, the following persons were
George W. Titzel; Josiah R. Titzel; Daniel Crist; Jonas Lenig; Edward Kepner;
Peter Beistlein; Rebecca Titzel; Magdalene Lenig; Catharine Beistlein; Margaret
Rev. Father Heim fell asleep in Jesus on the 27th of December, 1849, having
organized and served the congregation as pastor about ten years. As some
of the catechumens could not read the German language, Father Heim attempted
sometimes to explain to them the doctrines of our religion in English, though
this was difficult for him to do and very unsatisfactory to the
catechumens. Preaching in the English language had here become highly
In 1849, the church was roughcast outside and plastered inside, and other
improvements were made.
According to a division made of the charges served by Rev. Heim and Rev. Martin,
at Bloomfield, in February, 1850, this congregation was attached to the
Bloomfield charge, and early in the spring of 1850, the
Rev. Jacob Martin
commenced his pastoral labors here. On
the 19th of May, 1850, he held the first communion at this place, when
thirty-seven members communed. He preached here once every three weeks,
about one-third in the English language. Some of the fathers were very
much displeased at him for preaching in the English language in their
church, --in the church they had built. They thought in an
unwarrantable innovation, a new measure not to be tolerated. But the
fathers were gradually overruled by the pressing want of the sons. The
transition from the German to the English language was slowly but surely going
on. The German-speaking portion of the congregation blamed Rev. Martin for
introducing English preaching, and were offended at him for it. Hence, at
his second communion, on the 3d of November, 1850, only twenty-nine
communed. Time has, however, fully vindicated the course Rev. Martin
pursued in this matter. He did a good work, and prepared the way for his
successors. After Rev. Heim's departure not a single person, has to this
time (1862), come to be catechized in the German language. Thus clearly
showing the folly of resisting the introduction of the use of the English
During the winter of 1851, Rev. Martin instructed a class of catechumens in the
Catechism, and on Saturday, the 22d of March, the same year, the following
persons were confirmed:
William T. Kepner; Mary Ann Burd; Priscilla Jane Boyer; Julian Burd; Susan
Frantz; Mary Frantz; Mary A. Raffinsberger; Hannah Bealor; Mary Beistlein.
On Sunday, the 23d, the whole number of communicants was forty-nine. On
Sunday, the 4th of March, 1852, Rev. Martin held his last communion here, and
also, at the same time, he preached his farewell sermon, having served the
congregation about two years. In June following, he was succeeded by
Rev. William Gerhardt,
who preached here once every three weeks,
alternately in the German and English languages. The Lutheran congregation
bought at this time a church-record, and after this entries were regularly made
of baptisms, confirmations, &c. The young members demanded that half
of the preaching should be in the English language, and the old members could no
longer deny the request. On the 14th of May, 1853, the following persons
George Fleisher; William Titzel; John A. Beistlein; Samuel Beistlein; Ezra P.
Titzel; Levi Smith; John Beistlein; Elizabeth Miller; Lucetta Smith; Mary
Rev. Gerhardt resigned and preached his farewell sermon at this place on the
12th of June, 1853, having served the congregation only about one year.
The Bloomfield charge was then vacant about eight months. Having accepted
a call from the charge, the
Rev. Adam Height
commenced his pastoral labors here on the1st
of March, 1854. Having preached only about seven months in the charge, for
reasons not necessary to state, he ceased his ministry in September of the same
year. The charge was then again vacant about eight months. Having
accepted a call from the congregations composing the Bloomfield charge, the
Rev. D. H. Focht
entered on the discharge of his ministerial
duties in the charge on the 1st of June, 1855, and preached his introductory
sermon at St. John's Church, on Sunday, the 10th of June, from Col. I:28:
"Whom (Christ) we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all
wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
Having been for some time faithfully instructed in the Catechism in the
fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion, on Saturday, the 24th of
November, 1855, the following persons were confirmed:
David Wolf, John S. Dougherty (baptized); Mrs. Eliza Yeager; Caroline Anders;
Elizabeth Anders; Sophia Yeager; Hetta Swartz; Sarah Ann Burrell.
Two of the above have since gone to the eternal world. They died in peace
and the hope of heaven.
"O Lord of hosts, thou
God of grace,
How blest, divinely blest, is he
Who trusts thy love and seeks thy face,
And fixes all his hopes on thee!"
On Sunday, the 25th, the whole number of
communing members was seventy-five. Fifteen others also communed.
This meeting commenced on Tuesday evening previous. The catechumens, who
had hitherto met only once a week, were now met once every day, and
received instruction and engaged in singing and prayer. The Gospel was
preached every evening during the week. These exercises were well
attended, and lasting impressions for good were made and precious souls
converted to God.
On the 10th of April, 1856, Mr. David R. P. Bealor and his wife Nancy were
received as members of this congregation by certificate, and on the 25th of
October of the same year the following persons were confirmed:
Lemuel O. Foose; William J. Foose; Levi Swartz; Isaac Strasser (baptized); Mrs.
Sarah Smith (baptized); Marg. Murphy (baptized); Mrs. Elizabeth Beistlein;
Elizabeth Strasser; Sarah A. Taylor; Eve Smith; Mary Ann Brown; Magdalene Brown.
"The soul that on Jesus
hath lean'd for repose,
I will not, I cannot desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never--no, never--no, never forsake!"
The prayer-meeting and Sunday-school are well
attended and piety and intelligence are advancing among this people.
Surely the Lord has richly blessed the members of this congregation, for which
we are unfeignedly thankful. Having labored another year and diligently
catechized a class of catechumens, on the 28th of November, 1857, the following
persons were confirmed:
Emanuel Whitekettle; Charles Whitekettle; Wm. Henry Flickinger; Levi Hiram
Flickinger; David Beistlein; Mary Ann Crist; Cath. Elizabeth Crist; Lydia Ann
Smith; Martha Kepner; Sarah A. Murphy (baptized).
Two of the above young brethren have since gone to their long rest in
heaven. They fell asleep in Jesus.
"Who, who would live
always, away from his God;
Away from you heav'n, that blissful abode,
Where the rivers of pleasure flow o'er the bright plains,
And the noontide of glory eternally reigns:
Where the saints of all ages in harmony meet
Their Savior and brethren, transported to greet;
While anthems of rapture unceasingly roll,
And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul."
At this time (on Sunday, the 29th),
eighty-two members communed, and on account of sickness and other causes twelve
members were absent. This meeting commenced on Tuesday the 24th, and
closed on Monday evening the 30th. During this time the pastor catechized
the youth once every day and preached every evening and also in the
daytime. The attendance was good, and the Lord was present to bless.
All the catechumens and a number of others professed to have found peace to
their souls in an entire consecration of themselves to God by faith in Jesus
Christ. May they prove faithful to their covenant vow, and let their light
shine by living a godly life!
In October, 1859, Dr. Jacob M. Miller was received as member of this
congregation. After having been instructed in the Catechism about four
months, and being found possessed of the requisite doctrinal and spiritual
attainments, on the 24th of November, 1860, the following persons were
Josiah W. Houanstine; Daniel D. Rey; Mary Kepner; Sarah Ellen Foose; Eliz. Orwan
(baptized); Mar. Orwan (baptized); Sarah Ellen Boyer (baptized); Margaret Burrel;
Elizabeth Whitekettle; Sarah Whitekettle; Catharine Burrel; Barbara Burrel.
"O may my heart, by grace
Be my Redeemer's throne;
And be my stubborn will subdu'd.
His government to own.
"Let deep repentance, faith, and love
Be join'd with godly fear;
And all my conversation prove
My heart to be sincere."
In March, 1861, Prof. George W. Leisher and
his wife Catharine, George Long and his wife, Mary, and John Lyons, were
received as members of this congregation. May the Lord bless these dear
friends and make them abundantly useful in their present church relation!
On the16th of November, 1861, Mrs. Jane G. Titzel was received by certificate as
a member, and on the 22d of March, 1862, Mr. John P. Boyer and his wife Jane Ann
were confirmed. The Lord bless these friends!
The members of this congregation, at this time number about one hundred, are
making commendable progress in the cause of souls and the blessed
Redeemer. The use of the German language in the pulpit will, before long,
be among the things that were. This is the only congregation of the
Bloomfield charge that still requires an occasional sermon in German; but as the
aged pass gradually away, and as the youth all speak the English, the use of the
German language must necessarily pass soon away.
Since the organization of this congregation in 1840, the following brethren have
at different times served it as its officers:
John Beistlein, from 1840-1852
Jacob Lenig, from 1852 to 1859
Jacob Kepner, from 1855 to 1859
David Crist, Esq., from 1859 yet in office
George Fleisher, from 1859 yet in office
Daniel Swartz, Sen., from 1840 to
John Fusselman, from 1841 to 1843
David Crist, Esq., from 1843 to 1844
Jonas J. Smith, from 1844 to 1846
Jacob Lenig, from 1846 to 1847
Jacob Kepner, from 1847 to 1849
Thomas Lenig, from 1849 to 1850
Henry Titzel, from 1850 to 1857
George Fleisher, from 1852 to 1855
James Foose, from 1855 to 1858
Jonas J. Smith, from 1855 to 1859
David R. P. Bealor, from 1857 to 1860
Joseph Flickinger, from 1858 to 1861
Thomas Lenig, from 1859 yet in office
Lemuel O. Foose, from 1860 resigned
Ezra P. Titzel, from 1860 yet in office
John Beistlein, from 1861 yet in office
Valentine Burrel, from 1843 to 1851
Jacob Lenig, from 1851 to 1854
Valentine Burrel, from 1854 to 1860
Jacob Lenig, from 1855 to 1860
James Foose, from 1860 yet in office
Thomas Lenig, from 1860 yet in office
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