THE EARLY CHURCHES
Blain Presbyterian | Centre
Presbyterian | Dick's Gap Church | Gap
Lebanon Lutheran | Limestone Church | Loysville
Reformed | Mt. Pisgah Lutheran |
Mt. Zion Lutheran | Middle Ridge Church | St. Michael's Lutheran | St. Peter's Church |
Creek Presbyterian | Shermansdale Presbyterian
| Zion Church at Blain
Also see: Churches
Between The Mountains & List
of Members of the Landisburg Charge
The Blain Presbyterian Church (also known as
the Upper Church) was one of the 3 original Presbyterian Churches in this
area. A committee reported that a church should be erected at Alexander
Morrow's or James Blaine's place, for the residents in the upper end of the
valley. A graveyard was already in existence (prior to April 1766) at
The congregation was organized by c1767; with services most likely held in the
resident's homes. A new church was eventually built near James Blaine's,
near where the 'Upper Church' still stands, adjoining the existing
graveyard. It was a long, low, log building, standing near the
schoolhouse on "Church Hill". Records indicate that the lot on
which the church sat, originally belonged to James Blain.
Membership of the Blain Church eventually declined and by c1920-21, the
organization no longer existed. The property of the church was taken
over by the Church Hill Cemetery Association.
Centre Presbyterian Church was one of the first
three churches organized in Perry County. On September 9, 1766, Thomas
Ross, John Byers, Edward Allet, John Hamilton and Hugh Alexander, in trust for
the congregation in Tyrone Twp., took up lands upon which the church
stands. The incorporating charter was signed on April 17, 1767, by Gov.
The church grounds contained about 7 acres. The parsonage, home of the
sexton and the old Centre school were all contained on this land. The
adjoining graveyard reportedly has old gravestones dating back to
A log church was first erected in 1767. Two services were held on
Sunday. Tradition says that during the early years, while services were
held, men with guns stood guard incase of an attack by the
In 1793, the log church was replaced by a stone church. Reportedly, some
of the logs from the first church, were used when a barn was constructed on
the old Wormely farm. A third church was built in 1850 and
has been remodeled several times.
DICK'S GAP CHURCH:
Dick's Gap Church was reportedly the first
church erected in this area, though much of it's early history remains
unclear. It was located in Miller Township; 4 miles east of New
Bloomfield and 3 miles west of Bailey's Station. Tradition states that
an old Indian trail ran by this church.
It is thought that Dick Gap's Church was erected to serve the lower end of the
portion of Perry County, lying west of the Juniata.
The church was constructed on land which was warranted in 1766, by Nicholas
Robinson. The church was 18x20 and was built using pine logs; with
worshipper's reportedly using tree stumps for seats. This church was
reportedly still in an uncompleted state by 1798, meaning that the spaces
between the logs were not yet filled in and by some accounts, did not have a
It's exact location is questionable. At one time it's location was
described as being in "an unenclosed graveyard, in which trees of great
age are growing near to and even upon graves, and many graves are covered with
boulders, seemingly to prevent ravages of wolves."
H. H. Hain wrote in his book, History of Perry County, Pa., "..consensus
of opinion that the old church stood to the east or left of the present Church
of God, and somewhat nearer the ridge which runs in the rear of the
church." "There is a gap in the ridge known as Dick's Hill,
which probably accounts for the name Dick's Gap. It has long since
ceased to be known by that name, and is now called Pine Grove.."
There are also various reports that this site included a graveyard; where
graves of both traders and Indians are buried. One of the early pioneer's of
this county, Marcus Hulings and his wife, are also reportedly buried
This church was reportedly abandoned around 1803; reportedly standing for
years as an "abandoned pile of logs." The Middle Ridge Church
took its place.
THE GAP CHURCH:
The Gap Church was built around 1780. It
was located in Half Falls Mountain Gap, reportedly near a beautiful
spring. The Church reportedly burned down c1800. In 1880,
Professor Wright, historian, stated that the foundation stones could still be
This church was reportedly used by the residents of Buck's Valley and Watts
A lifelong resident of Bucks Valley, Mr. I.E. Stephens, reportedly went to the
top of the mountain, on the road leading from Buck's Valley to New Buffalo,
and beginning at a large oak tree, took 30 steps due west and then 30 steps
due south and was able to locate the remnants of the old foundation.
LEBANON LUTHERAN CHURCH:
A Lutheran congregation was first organized in
Loysville in 1790 by Rev. John T. Kuhl. The first services were
reportedly conducted in the barns and homes of the area residents.
Services were preached in German until c1850, when Rev. Frederick Ruthrauff
began alternately preaching in English.
In 1794, both Martin Bernheisel & Michael Loy donated 2+ acres of land, on
which a church and school building were to be built. The church
was approximately 30x40 feet. The Church was weatherboard and painted
white in 1808 and was then known as the "white church".
This Church was used until c1850.
By 1828, the congregation here had built a parsonage and purchased an
additional tract of land, containing 15 acres.
By March, 1851 a new Church had been erected, this one being made of
brick. At the time, Rev. F. Ruthrauff was pastor for the Lutherans and
Rev. C.H. Leinbach, for the Reformed.
The congregation was mostly of the Lutheran faith; but those of the Reformed
faith were equal owners. The church(es) was used jointly by
denominations until 1909, when the Reformed purchased the interest of the
Lutherans (Loysville Reformed Church).
At this time, the Lutheran congregation erected a new church, Tressler
& Communion lists of the Lebanon Church at Loysville.
see the section of the book, Churches Between the Mountains, for more
The Limestone Church was also known as 'Sam
Fisher's Church' or the 'Lower Church'. It's congregation was also
formed quite early, by 1766, but the Presbytery refused to acknowledge this
congregation as a separate entity because it was located quite near the Centre
An early Presbyterian church was located at Green Park; on the site of the old
burying ground on the farm of John Garlin. Sam Fisher was the original
owner of the 36-acre lot where the log church was built.
The church was finally accepted as an organized congregation by the Presbytery
on June 24, 1772. Records indicate that the church was abandoned by
LOYSVILLE REFORMED CHURCH:
The early history of the Reformed Church is
identical with the Lutheran Church, as above described as the Lebanon
Lutheran Church, as the two were joint owners of the Old Lebanon
MT. PISGAH LUTHERAN CHURCH:
The Lutheran residents of Carroll Twp.
reportedly worshiped at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church
and also at St. Peter's Church. By 1838, they
held their own services regularly; becoming an organized congregation about a
In 1842, a lot of ground was donated by Abraham Jacobs, for the building of a
church, with the stipulation that when the Lutheran congregation was not using
the building for services, it would be made available for any Christian
denomination to use for services.
A frame church was built and dedicated in September, 1842. The church is
located in Carroll Township, on the southern side of Sherman's Creek, near the
site of Sutch's schoolhouse (b. c1775-80). Also on the site is an old
graveyard where many of the pioneers are reportedly buried.
see the transcribed section of the book, Churches Between the Mountains, for
MT. ZION LUTHERAN CHURCH:
The early beginning of the Mt. Zion Lutheran
Church is identical with St. Peter's Church,
herein described. Together they shared in the old Union church building,
known as St. Peter's Church.
The Lutheran & Reformed congregations separated in 1857; the Lutherans
becoming known as Mt. Zion. They erected a new church of their own and
it was dedicated on 30 May 1858.
Confirmation listings for Mount Zion.
see the section of the book, Churches Between the Mountains, for further
MIDDLE RIDGE CHURCH:
Middle Ridge Church was first organized in 1803
(it replaced Dick's Gap Church). A Church building was erected in
By an Act of the Pennsylvania Legislature of April 16, 1829, this church was
incorporated with two others; the church at the mouth of the Juniata and
Sherman's Creek. The trustees of the Middle Ridge Church were told
to sell the building but were unsuccessful. After a period of no use,
the building was vandalized. Its doors were torn off, pews were torn out
and carried off, even a portion of the roof was taken. Eventually, only
the foundation of the old church was left.
St. Michael's Lutheran Church was regularly
organized c1770-73. It was the 7th Church to do so in the area now known as
Perry County and the first of the Lutheran faith. Baptismal records,
dating back to October, 1774, have been located for this
The land for the church was conveyed by John Pfautz (Pfoutz, Fouts) of
Greenwood Twp. to John Long & Philip Huber and the whole Lutheran
congregation of Greenwood Twp. on a deed dated February 15, 1776.
In the very early days, services were held in the homes of the early settlers,
but the grounds, later belonging to St. Michael's, were used for burial.
It is said to be the only cemetery, at the time, in the valley.
Tradition states that pioneers were tied to a (no-longer standing) Hickory
tree, at the corner of the church grounds, and were used as targets by Indians
and were later buried here; this is reportedly how the graveyard came to
The congregation worshipped in the pre-existing large schoolhouse from 1770 to
1798. The edifice of the new Church building was erected on March 19,
1798. The new building was made of logs and was 35x45 feet, with a
gallery on three sides. The Church was consecrated on May 25, 1800. In
1802, the congregation purchased another acre of ground from John Long.
This building stood until it was replaced in 1847 by a new one.
In April, 1862, St. Michael's became part of the Liverpool charge.
more information, see the section for this church, in the book, Churches
Between the Mountains.
ST. PETER'S CHURCH:
The first date of services for this
congregation appear to have begun as early as 1788. Both the Lutheran
and Reformed congregations were organized here in 1809. Until 1815, both
denominations used an old schoolhouse which stood on the site that now
occupies the St. Peter's Union Church. It is thought that the property
upon which the old schoolhouse sat was owned jointly by both
An agreement dated December 23, 1815, was made between both the Lutheran and Reformed
Congregations It was for the construction of a new church built on lands
given for this purpose, by John Gamber.
The new log church was constructed; measuring about 35x40 feet, with a gallery
on 3 sides and a cup-shaped pulpit mounted on a high post. The Church
was dedicated in the spring of 1817; it was
located in Spring Township. This building stood until 1857, when it was
replaced by the present brick church. The brick church belonged to the
German Reformed congregation; at this time the Lutheran
Congregation also built their own church.
In April, 1824, fourteen acres of land was purchased from Samuel Ickes, for a
parsonage for the pastor of the 'German Reformed Presbyterian Church'.
The land was purchased by: Philip Stambaugh, trustee of the Zion Church
in Toboyne Twp.; Henry Kell, trustee of the Lebanon Church in Tyrone Twp.;
Philip Kell, trustee of St. Peter's Church in Tyrone (later Spring) Twp.;
William Hipple, trustee of the Fishing Creek Church (now in Rye Twp.); Casper
Lupfer, trustee of Christ's Church in Juniata Twp.
Confirmation listings for St. Peter's.
see the section of the book, Churches Between the Mountains, for further
SHERMANSDALE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH:
The Shermansdale Presbyterian Church is also
known as the Sherman's Creek Presbyterian
Church (and in some records is also referred to as Swisshelm's).
The church is known as the "forerunner" of the Shermansdale
Church. The early history and organization of this church are in part,
unclear. The church is first mentioned in the minutes of Presbytery in
the spring of 1778, as "Sherman's Creek" congregation.
The church was located between Fio Forge and Dellville; but the date of
construction is not clear. Records from 1801 report that the church was
moved, first to Boyd's (known as the Matlack farm) and in 1802, "to
Swisshelm's" (later known as Adam Zorger's property). Tradition states
that at the graveyard in Zeigler's field and at Boyd's fording (Matlack's),
there were built small places of worship.
A log church was built in 1804, at Pine Hill, approximately 100 yards
Sherman's Creek. This location is about 2-1/2 miles east of the present
church. This log church stood until c1843. It was dismantled, and
various materials from the old church were used in the construction of the new
one. This church is about a half mile north of Shermansdale; the
lands were donated by William Smiley.
The Shermansdale Church was united with the New Bloomfield Church at one
ZION CONGREGATION AT BLAIN:
On January 10th, 1801 James Adams of Toboyne
Twp. conveyed 2 acres of land for the construction of a German meetinghouse
and graveyard, to Christopher Bower, Henry Zimmerman, Adam Hubler and Peter
Since preachers only came to this area occasionally, the residents traveled to
Loysville for services.
Rev. William Heim organized this congregation in 1815. The first members
of the Lutheran Church Council were: John Sieger and Henry Zimmerman as
Elders and Abraham Bower, Solomon Bower and John Stambach as
The Synod granted the request of the congregation for Rev. Heim to be their
pastor in the Spring of 1816.
The building of the church was financed by subscriptions. In May, 1816,
construction on a new joint German Lutheran and German Reformed Church began
(this church was referred to as the "Old Stone Church"). The Constitution (Church Rules) appears to have been drafted by
Rev. Heim, in German script, and a copy was laid in the Church
corner-stone. The document was signed by: Henry Wentz and John
Zimmerman; as Elders; Jacob Wentz, John Berkir, Jacob Shuman, as Deacons;
Solomon Bower, Jacob Kroemer, Jonathan Faust, Jacob Arnold, as Trustees; Henry
Zimmerman, John Garber, Henry Wentz, George Faust, as the Building
Committee. Other signatures: George Leiby; Daniel Wentz;
Daniel Gutshall; Jonathan Sieger; George Stroup and David Kern.
The church was consecrated by the name of Zion Church, in May, 1817 by Revs.
Heim and Walter for the Lutheran congregation and Rev. Helffenstein for the
The church edifice was made of stone. It was a substantial structure,
measuring 45x50 feet. It had a high gallery on three sides. The
pulpit was high and was ascended by a flight of stairs. The altar,
located in front of the pulpit, was circular, elevated one step from the floor
and entirely surrounded by a balustrade. The building also had a cupola
and bell. The church had the capacity to hold 600 to 800
Rev. Heim preached here regularly, once every 4 weeks, only in the German
language, from 1815-1849. After his death, Rev. Frederick Ruthrauff
began preaching here. Rev. Ruthrauff preached in the English
In November, 1860, the Formula was appended to the Lutheran
Hymn-Book. The Formula was adopted, with some opposition, as the
Constitution of the congregation, being as the old Church Rules or
Constitution had become obsolete long ago. The congregation was also
incorporated in January, 1861.
By 1863, a parsonage was purchased by the congregations. Around this
same time, both the Lutheran & Reformed Congregations were debating on
whether or not to build a new church building. In November, 1865, a decision
was made at a joint meeting, to tear down the old stone church and erect a
brick Church in its place.
The final service in the old stone church was held on June 17,1866; the next
day, the process of tearing it down was begun. The cornerstone of the
new church was laid in the same spot as the older one, on August 26,
The new brick Church was dedicated on February 24, 1867.
In 1892, the Lutheran and Reformed Congregations met to discuss whether their
Union Church should be repaired or if their union should be dissolved, thus
allowing each congregation to build their own churches. Each
congregation met and took a vote: the Lutherans voted to dissolve the union
and the Reformed voted to repair the existing church and keep the union.
By 1897, both congregations had agreed to dissolve their union. The
church was put up at a public sale on December 17, 1897; at which time the
Lutherans bought the building and lot for under $700.
listings for the Zion Congregation.
information on this congregation can be seen here.
information, see the transcribed pages from the book, Churches Between the
Churches Between The Mountains; A History of
The Lutheran Congregations in Perry Co., PA; Rev. D.H. Focht; Baltimore; T.
Newton Kurtz; 1862.
The Story of Zion; Betty Mort Mumper; Blain, PA; Office of Communications of
the Zion United Church of Christ; 1987.
History of Perry County, Penna.; H.H.Hain; Harrisburg, PA; Hain-Moore Co.
Top of Page