CHURCHES BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS
A HISTORY OF THE
LUTHERAN CONGREGATIONS IN
PERRY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
REV. D. H. FOCHT, A.M.
THE CONGREGATION AT NEWPORT.
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Newport, known for many years as Reiderville,
was laid out by Mr. Daniel Reider in about 1814. Its growth was very slow
till the canal was made in 1830. After that it improved gradually.
The town is located on the west bank of the Juniata, and the canal and
Pennsylvania railway pass through it.
At the beginning of the present century a number of Lutheran families settled
along the Juniata and in the vicinity of Newport. These attended preaching
at Bloomfield, a distance from five to ten miles, as they had no church of their
own nearer at hand. As early as 1830, the
Rev. John William Heim
preached for them occasionally on week-days
in school-houses and private dwellings. In 1835, a number of persons from
near Newport were confirmed at Bloomfield. The town having grown and the
number of members increased, after this Rev. Heim preached regularly at Newport
once every four weeks in a brick school-house. He preached exclusively in
the German language. In 1842, when he was requested to preach also in the
English language, he told his hearers: "Now I will come no
more." He did not organize a congregation here; this was only one of
his preaching stations. The members went to Bloomfield on occasions of
communion, and there the young people were also catechized and confirmed.
Rev. Heim however collected the members here, and thus accomplished good.
In the fall of 1843,
Rev. Levi T. Williams
who had located at Petersburg, now Duncannon,
as a sort of missionary for that neighborhood, was invited by some of the members
at Newport to visit and preach for them. He accepted the invitation, and
in November, 1843, he preached for the first time at Newport, in the old brick
school-house, from Acts 10:29, "Therefore came I unto you without
gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for. I ask, therefore, for what intent
ye have sent for me?"
With but few exceptions, Rev. Williams preached in the old brick school-house
till he resigned in September, 1745. He preached once every four weeks,
and only an occasional sermon in the German language. After he had
resigned, the German was required by the members no more.
The congregation was regularly organized on the 14th of January, 1844, when the
following brethren were elected and installed as its first officers:
Daniel Reider, Sen., Elder
Godfrey Lenig & Henry D. Smith, Deacons.
Early in the spring of 1844, near the canal, a filthy brick warehouse was fitted
up to hold in it a protracted meeting. When the time for holding the
meeting had come, the use of the Methodist Episcopal meeting-house was
generously offered for the purpose and the meeting was then held here with
The first communion was held on the 2d of June, 1844, in the Methodist
meeting-house. On Saturday previous, the 1st of June, after having been
duly instructed, the following persons were confirmed:
Christian Long, Sen. (baptized)
David Deardorff (baptized)
Mrs. Ann Loug
Miss Sarah Smith
Mrs. N. Horting (baptized)
Miss Rebecca Hobble (baptized)
The second communion was held on the 17th of November, 1844. On Saturday
previous, the 16th of November, the following persons were confirmed:
Mrs. Priscilla Reider
Miss Sarah Ann Nailer
Miss Margaretta Bell
Miss Catharine Zigler
Mrs. Anna Klink (baptized)
Miss Sarah Miller, by certificate.
For want of a church the congregation labored under great disadvantage.
But as the membership was as yet comparatively small, they formed a union with
others to build a Union church. The materials for the proposed church were
nearly all collected during the latter part of the summer of 1845. Rev.
Williams resigned and preached his farewell sermon in September, 1845, from 1
Cor. 16:23, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."
Rev. Lloyd Knight
took charge of this congregation on the 1st
of October, 1845, and served it in connection with Bloomfield. He preached
here once every three weeks in the old brick school-house until the new church
was completed. On Saturday the 10th of January, 1846, the following
persons were confirmed:
Miss Catharine Smith
Mrs. Cordelia Henning
Mrs. Ann Horting
Miss Eve. E. Brown
On Sunday, the 11th, at the first communion Rev. Knight held here, the whole
number of communicant members was twenty-nine.
The building committee, appointed to superintend the erection of the church,
consisted of Messrs. Christian Long, A. Ziegler, and A. B. Maxwell. A deed
for a lot of ground was executed. From this deed we give the following
"Know all men by these presents, that we, John Wiley of the Borough of
Newport, Perry County, and State of Pennsylvania, and Barbara his wife, for an
in consideration of seventy-five dollars, to us in hand paid, at the ensealing
thereof, by A. B. Maxwell, Jacob Loy and John Fickes, Trustees of the Church,
named and styled, The Union Church of Newport, the receipt of which is
hereby acknowledged, do grant, bargain, sell &c.,...to the Trustees
aforesaid,...a certain lot of ground,.... for the purpose of erecting a church
thereon, to be called by the name, style and title of The Union Church of
Newport," &c. This deed was acknowledged on the 1st day of
May, 1846. See Deed Book, Letter L, p. 446.
The corner-stone of the church was laid on Tuesday the 12th of May, 1846, at 2
o'clock, p.m. Rev. Messrs. Knight and Shull were present and officiated on
the occasion. The church was consecrated to the service of God on
Whit-Sunday the 23d of May, 1847, as The Union Church of Newport.
Rev. Messrs. Knight, Weaver and Shull participated in the exercises of this
occasion. The church-edifice is a frame structure, forty-two by forty-six
feet in size, surmounted by a steeple and bell. It has one end gallery and
the internal arrangement is convenient and judicious. The cost of the
church was about twelve hundred dollars.
Having been instructed for some time in the Catechism, on the 24th of October,
1847, the following persons were confirmed:
Mrs. Mary Troup (baptized)
Having served the congregation as pastor about three years and a half, Rev.
Knight resigned in June, 1849, and was succeeded, on the 1st of July following,
Rev. Jacob Martin,
who served the congregation in connection
with Bloomfield, preaching here regularly once every three weeks. In a
letter, Rev. Martin says: "During my pastorship of the Bloomfield
charge, I confirmed between 125 and 150 persons. Their names and the time
when they were confirmed, I am not able to give." The congregation
had as yet no church-record book. After considerable inquiry we found that
on the 20th of April, 1851, the following persons were confirmed:
Rebecca E. Loy
Mrs. Mary Ann Smith
Mrs. Susan Martin
Mrs. Eliz. Holly, by certficate.
Having collected and instructed another class of catechumens, on the 26th
of October, 1851, Rev. Martin confirmed the following persons:
Mrs. Rebecca Crist
Mrs. Mary E. Ziegler (baptized) Mary Eliz. Ziegler
Mrs. Rachel E. Heims (baptized) Catharine Yohn
Mary Ann Wolf (baptized)
At this place the pastoral labors of Rev. Martin were signally blessed by
the Lord. Through his instrumentality many souls were made savingly
acquainted with Jesus as their Savior, and with gratitude to God they dwell on
the name of their former pastor. To the sincere regret of this
congregation, Rev. Martin resigned on the 1st of April, 1852, having served it
about two years and nine months. The
Rev. William Gerhardt
took charge of the congregation in June of the same year, and
served it in connection with Bloomfield. He preached here once every three
weeks, alternately in he forenoon and afternoon. A church-record book was
now bought, and hereafter entries were regularly made of baptisms,
confirmations, deaths &c.
On the 25th of September, 1852, Mr. George M. Miller and his wife
Catharine, and in March, 1853, Mr. Francis M. Mickey and his wife Elizabeth, and
Mr. George Mickey and his wife Mary, were received by certificate as members of
After having been faithfully instructed in the doctrines of our holy
religion, on the 22d of April, 1853, the following persons were confirmed:
Sarah Ann Horting
Rebecca Cath. Horting
Having served the charge about one year, Rev. Gerhardt resigned in June,
1853. The charge was now vacant about eight months. A call was then
extended to the
Rev. Adam Height,
and accepted by him. He entered on his pastoral labors in
the charge on the 1st of March, 1854. Here he preached once every three
weeks. He instructed a class of catechumens; but before they were
confirmed and for reasons not necessary to record here, having preached for
about seven months, in September, 1854, he ceased his ministry.
The congregation then requested Rev. J. Martin to confirm the persons who
had been instructed by Mr. Height. With this request Rev. Martin complied,
and on the 10th of December, 1854, the following persons were confirmed:
Harrison A. Kepner
Mary Jane Kepner
Catharine A. Smith
At the same time Rev. Martin held the communion, and preached a series of
sermons for the congregation. The charge was again vacant about eight
months. Having accepted a call from the Bloomfield charge, the
Rev. David H. Focht
commenced his pastoral labors in the charge on the 1st of June,
1855, and preached his introductory sermon at Newport on the 10th of June, from
A protracted meeting was commenced here on the 22d of January, 1856, and
closed on the evening of the 31st of the same month. During this time some
thirty persons professed to have found peace to their souls by the exercise of
repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of these, some
were members of the Church, some belonged to other denominations, and some were
catechumens. Every day the catechumens and anxious persons were met for
prayer and instruction, and every evening there was preaching. To God be
given all the praise and glory his this display of his abounding and saving
On the 6th of March, 1856, Mr. George Dunbar was admitted to membership
by baptism, and as the result of the above meeting, on the 19th of April
following, Mrs. Mary Ann Smith and Mrs. Sarah Tinney were received by
certificate, and the following persons were confirmed:
Julian Zigler (baptized)
Margaret Jane Zinn
Mrs. Magdalene Horting
Mary Jane Asper
Mrs. Martha Ann Armstrong
Mary Jane Zigler
(baptized) Ann Clouser.
Soon after his baptism, George Dunbar fell asleep in the arms of death in the
sure hope of heaven.
"Great God! on what a slender
Hang everlasting things!
Th' eternal states of all the dead
Upon life's feeble strings."
On the 15th of November, 1856, Miss Sophia
Singer was received by certificate, and the following persons were confirmed:
J. Don L. Gantt, Esq. (baptized)
Miss Amanda Jane Wolf
Miss Martha Clouser.
One of the above young females has since gone to her grave. May the rest
be also ready to depart!
"Peaceful be thy silent
Peaceful in the grave so low:
Thou no more wilt join our number;
Thou no more our songs shalt know."
On Saturday, the 2d of May, 1857, Mrs.
Isabella Musser was received by certificate as a member, and the following
persons were confirmed:
Abraham K. Long
Ann Maria Smith
Daniel L. Zigler
Martha Jane Smith
Since their confirmation, the last named of the above class has been removed
from time to eternity.
"Tis well when Jesus calls,
From earth and sin, arise,
Join with the hosts of virgin souls,
Made to salvation wise."
On Saturday, the 7th of November, 1857, after
having been instructed in the Catechism in the doctrines of our Christian
religion, the following persons were confirmed:
Margaret R. Smith
Mrs. Jennie D. Smith
"Let thoughtless thousands
choose the road
That leads the soul away from God;
This happiness, dear Lord, he mine,
To live and die entirely thine."
On the 24th of April, 1858, Mrs. Mary Harman,
and on the 26th of March, 1859, Mrs. Sarah Crist, were received by
certificate. At the latter date, Mrs. Martha Ann Wilson was received as a
member by the sacrament of baptism. May the great Head of the Church
richly bless these members!
In the fall of 1859, an unusual degree of religious interest was clearly seen
among the people of God in particular, and in the community of Newport in
general. A class of catechumens was formed and instructed for some
time. A meeting was held in December, when many souls were awakened, and,
as we humbly trust, truly converted to God. On Saturday, the 10th of
December, 1859, Mr. Joseph Anderson was received by certificate, and the
following persons were confirmed:
Benjamin F. Clouser
Eliz. Jane Smith
"Stand fast upon the solid
Of the Redeemer's righteousness:
Adorn the Gospel with your lives,
And practice what your lips profess."
Immediately after the above persons were
confirmed, a large number of others were found willing to attend the lectures of
the pastor on the Catechism. They were regularly instructed. The
awakening deepened and extended until it became quite general. Never,
perhaps, was there such a wide spread and genuine work of divine grace at
Newport before. In February, 1861, a meeting was commenced, which lasted
about two weeks. On this occasion the pastor was some time assisted by the
Rev. P. M. Rightmyer. Many souls were awakened by the truth, and directed
to Jesus as their only Savior from sin and death eternal. We would do violence
to the truth, and the sincere promptings of our own heart, were we not to refer
in this way to a work so precious and gracious, so full of glory and power
divine, and long may we praise and bless the Lord for a favor so distinguished
and full of love and mercy to poor sinners! We will not attempt to
describe the awfully solemn, deep, and moving scene. The sigh of the
penitent, the tears of sorrow and joy, the melting prayer, and the sweet song of
praise to God,--all, all tended to make it a holy place and good to be
there. To God alone belongs and be given all the honor and glory!
On Saturday, the 3d of March, 1860, Mr. Philip Zigler and his wife Ann Eliza
were received by certificate, and the following persons by baptism and
Eliz. Harper (baptized)
Julian Horting, "
Sarah J. Horting, "
John H. Horting
Adaline Horting, "
Mary Jane Smith
Edward H. Mehrle
Mary Jane Horting
George W. Eckard
Lydia Ann Super
Mary Ann Fleisher
(baptized) Eliza Jane
Nydia Super, (baptized)
"Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by thy help I've come,
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
"Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand'ring from the fold of God;
He, to save my soul from danger,
Interpos'd his precious blood."
On Sunday, the 4th of March, the whole number
of members who communed was one hundred and twenty-three; also sixty-three, who
were not members of this congregation, communed; thus at this time the
whole number of communicants was one hundred and eighty-six. On account of
sickness and other causes, about ten members were absent.
On the 10th of November, 1860, Mrs. Martha Mahaffey and Thomas and Alexander
Mahaffey were, by certificate, received as members of this congregation, which
numbers at this time (1862) about one hundred and thirty-five members.
During the seven years the present pastor has had this congregation in charge,
seventy-nine members were added to it by confirmation and certificate.
There is connected with the congregation a well-conducted and flourishing
Sunday-school. The weekly prayer-meeting is regularly kept up, and is
generally well attended. The members generally supply themselves with the
literature of the Church, and their piety is consistent and intelligent.
Their annual contributions to the various causes of benevolence in the Church
are liberal, owing, doubtless, to their knowledge of the wants of the Church,
derived from the reading of the Lutheran Observer.
Owing to the largeness of the charge, no pastor has been able to preach here
oftener than once every three weeks. This is to be regretted very
much. The congregation ought to have preaching at least once every two
weeks, and if possible every Sabbath. We sincerely hope that, before long,
some arrangements will be made to secure this much-needed and desired end.
On the 22d of March, 1862, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson and Mrs. Jemima Fleisher
were received as members by certificate, and at the same time Peter Wolf, his
wife Susan (baptized), Miss Levina Huggins, and Miss Mary Ann Ackley were
received by confirmation. Dear friends, be faithful to the end, and you
shall receive the crown of life.
Since the organization of the congregation on the 14th of January, 1844, the
following brethren have at different times served as its officers:
Daniel Reider, Sr., from Jan. 1844 to 1846
Benjamin Horting, from 1846 to 1855
John Wilson, from 1855 yet in office.
Jacob A. Wolf, from 1857 yet in office.
Godfrey Lenig, from Jan 1844 to 1846.
Henry D. Smith, from Jan. 1844 to 1846.
John Wilson, from 1846 to 1849.
Jacob C. Smith from 1846 to 1849.
Michael Smith, from 1849 to 1852.
Abraham Horting, from 1849 to 1857.
Henry D. Smith, from 1852 to 1857.
Stephen B. Holly, from 1857 to 1858.
Michael Smith, from 1857 to 1859.
Henry L. Smith, from 1857 to 1860.
George Fleisher, from 1858 to 1861.
John Horting, from 1859 yet in office.
Peter Brown, from 1860 yet in office.
John Fleisher, from 1861 yet in office.
Jacob Loy, from 1845 to 1857.
Christian Long, Sr., from 1857 yet in office.
Daniel Reider, from 1857 to 1861.
Christian Long, Sr., from 1861 yet in office.
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