History of Bedford and Somerset Counties
THE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
In 1884 Berlin Lutheran church comprised four congregations ---Berlin; St. Michael's. at Pine Hill; St. Matthew's and Stony Creek. There appears to have been both Calvanistic and Lutheran congregations founded in this locality as early as from 1775 to 1780. The supreme council of Pennsylvania granted to Jacob Keffer (in trust) for the Calvinistic and Lutheran congregations, for the support of schools, forty acres of land at the headwaters of Stony Creek, where the Lutherans and Calvinists had laid out a town called Berlin. The record shows that Rev. Michael Hey was pastor of the Berlin charge from 1789 to 1793, and was succeeded by Rev. Frederick William Lange, who began in 1794. During the above pastorates this congregation worshiped in a log school house located near where the Sunday school building later stood. In 1800-1801 a log church was erected on the northeast corner of the Lutheran burial ground. Rev. Lange continued until 1813, and was followed by Rev. Ernest H. Tiedman, continuing until 1819. He was followed by Rev. Jacob Crigler, who served until 1824. Other pastors in successions have been Revs. George Leiter, Charles Reese, Louis Geistiniani Jesse Winecoff, Charles Young, Eli Fair, Philip Sheeder, Jesse Winecoff (second time), A. M. Strauss, J. W. Poffinberger, C. B. Gruver, S. J. Taylor and R. S. Patterson. In 1846 a brick Sunday school building was erected. It is noteworthy that two sessions of Sabbath school have been held there each Sabbath for sixty years. Jacob Zorn built, as a contractor, a church for this congregation in 1853 for the sum of $2,100. The church for some years past has been an independent charge. In 1890 a fine brick house of worship was built at a cost of $12,000. Berlin is one of the strongholds of the Lutheran church, its membership being 414. The present pastor is Rev. J. J. Rudsill.
Trinity Lutheran church of Somerset
The first Lutheran minister known to have preached in Somerset county was Rev. M. Steck, Sr., who was pastor at Chambersburg, and who visited and preached to the scattered members of the church dwelling west of the Allegheny mountains. This may have been as early as 1785, or even earlier. The congregation was organized by Rev. Frederick William Lange, and probably as early as 1795. Among the original members are said to have been Adam Schneider, John Kurtz, Sr., Frederick Neff, Sr., George Pike, Sr., Frederick Biegle, George Chorpening, Jacob Schneider, Harry Schneider, and their wives. The first place of worship was a log house in the cemetery lot, and was also used as a school house. Some time after 1810 a frame church was built on Union Street. This church was destroyed by fire about 1824. On August 28, 1825, the cornerstone of a new church was laid. How long this church was being completed is not altogether known. The building was quite a large one of brick. Its dedication is said to have taken place in June 1832. The church was burned during the first pastorate of Father Heyer, and had a debt of $500. Father Heyer took a charge at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but in 1832 he returned to Somerset, and to aid his struggling congregation in completing their church he served it as pastor for one year without salary. He said: "As I left the church in 1828, so I found it in 1832." It is still standing on lot No. 82. In 1858 a new church was built on the southwest corner of Main Cross and Union streets. The building on lot No. 82 was sold in 1866, and has since been converted into a dwelling. The third church edifice was destroyed in the fire of 1872. The present imposing church, which stands on Main Street, on the second lot west of the public square, was completed in 1874, at a cost of over $20,000, during the pastorate of Rev. A. M. Whetstone. In 1905 the building was enlarged and greatly improved. A fine pipe organ has also been installed. The pastors since the time of Rev. Lange have been Ernest H. Tiedmann, 1813-18; John C. Rebenock, 1819-20; P. Schmucker, 1821-24; Charles F. Heyer, 1824-28; D. Heilig, 1829-31; C.F. Heyer, 1832-36; Peter Rizer, 1832-47; William Uhl, 1848-52; Augustus Babb, 1852-56; Charles Witmer, 1857--59; Leonard Gerhart, 1861-66; J. P. Hentz, 1866-71; Amos M. Whetstone, 1872-82; Rev. Jacob F. Shearer, 1882-91; Jacob S. Harkey, 1891-97; D. Stuart Hoover, 1898-1902. The present pastor if Rev. Robert L. Patterson. The present membership is 453.
Friedens Evangelical Lutheran church, is one of the historic Lutheran churches of the county, was organized between 1780 and 1783. Its earliest know members were Frederick Mostoller, Andrew Woy, Casper Swank, Henry Shaffer, Sr., Simon Shaffer, Jacob Swank, Thomas Swank, Jacob and Peter Barnhart, Joseph Miller, John and George Mostoller, Michael Mowry, Christian Spangler and Jacob Zerfoss. The first church was built in 1783 by Lutherans and Reformed, rebuilt in 1829, and again rebuilt in 1858. A new building is contemplated in the near future. Its pastors have been Rev. Father Steck, 1783-92; Frederick William Lange, 1793-1808; supplied to 1820; Peter Schmucker, 1820-23; Charles F. Heyer, 1823-28, and 1829-35; Daniel Hielig, 1828-29; Henry Haverstick, 1836-38; Peter Rozer, 1839-43; Samuel B. Lawson, 1844-49; J. T. Williams, 1849-50; Jacob K. Miller, 1851-57; Peter Sahm, 1858-61; John Tomlinson, 1861-74; John J. Welsh, 1874-1901; H. D. Hoover, 1902-04. The present pastor is Rev. Charles Lambert. Father Heyer was the first missionary sent to India by the General Synod. He and Rev. J. J. Welsh sleep in the Friedens burial ground. The church membership in 1906 is 330. Hon. Oliver P. Shaver has been superintendent of the Sunday school for more than thirty years. This Sunday school is the banner school of the church in the county in the amount of its contributions to benevolent purposes.
The Wills Evangelical Lutheran church, five miles east of Somerset, was organized in 1837 by Rev. Charles Reese, of the Berlin pastorate. The church was built in 1839. Daniel Will and Michael Weyand were the first elders, and William Will and D. A. Rhoads the first deacons. Since about 1844 this congregation has been part of the Friedens pastorate, with the same ministers.
Mizpah Lutheran church, located neat Pugh postoffice, was organized in 1902, by Rev. J. J. Welsh. Its first elders were Joseph Mostoller and Harrison Zerfoss, and the first deacons J. L. Trent and J. T. Long. Its church was built in 1902, at a cost of about $2,000. The membership in 1906 is 94. The Sunday school has 130 scholars. This congregation is also a past of the Friedens pastorate. The present pastor is Rev. Charles Lambert.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Salisbury dates back to about the same time as the Reformed congregation of the same place, and its early history is about as hazy. Tradition has it that early ministers from the east visited the settlement from time to time, preached to the people at private houses, and baptised their children. Who these ministers were is no longer known. There is a very little doubt but that Rev. Michael Hey, who preached at Berlin in 1789, also preached here at times. Frederick William Lange is the first Lutheran minister that can be positively connected with this congregation, and that as early as 1794, if not earlier. There were no old records in existence. These, whatever they were, were kept for many years by Peter Welfley, and were lost by fire in 1868. Here arises the question: Did the Lutherans and Reformed keep their records in the same book? Their relations were so close for nearly a hundred years that this at one time may have been the case, and if this is so then the baptismal record escaped the flames only to be destroyed in another way. The St. John's Reformed church has a translation of such a register that contains the names of several Lutheran ministers, and also the baptismal records of children of known Lutheran parents. In 1809 the two congregations jointly built a church in the east end of the village, in which they worshiped until 1853, when they built the brick church now owned by the Brethren. It is said that Rev. Lange's field was practically all of Somerset county. It is supposed that the Lutheran ministers at Berlin also preached at Salisbury. Revs. Jacob Crigler, George Leiter, Charles Reese and Charles F. Heyer are all known to have preached to this congregation. Rev. Philip Muckenhoupt also preached here, and exercised the ministerial office. For a further account of him the reader is referred to the Addison congregations. It is also very likely that the ministers named did not preach here regularly. There certainly was a long period during which the congregation was dormant. The older Lutherans during this period worshiped with the Reformed congregation, while still adhering to their early faith. Many of their children as they grew up entered the Reformed church. In the fall of 1848 a reorganization of the congregation was effected, with Peter Welfley and Josiah Dively as elders. The members then were: Josiah and Lydia Dively, Peter and Eva Welfley, Casper and Catherine Leochel, Henry and Elizabeth Brewer, John Rosenbaum and wife, Christopher Wahl and wife, John Stein and wife, Edward Dively, Michael Dively, Polly Livengood and Elizabeth Dively. In the spring of 1849 Rev. Samuel R. Lawson became pastor, remaining three years. His successors were Matthew F. Pfahler, 1853-65; John Forthman, 1865-67; Matthew F. Pfahler, 1857--72; J. A. Koser, 1872-78; J. Milton Snyder (one year); Reuben Smith, 1879-85;Ozias F. Harshman, 1885-88. Then there was a brief pastorate of Rev. W. Cribbs, who was succeeded by Rev. E. S. Johnson, who severed his connection with the church in 1906. Its membership in 1906 was 112; in Sunday school, 80 scholars.
The Greenville Lutheran church dates back about as far as 1810, or earlier. It is supposed that the first preaching was by Rev. Hunger, at the house of Peter Deal. A log building was erected about that time in which the Lutheran and Reformed congregations worshiped. It is known that Dr. Philip Muckenhoupt preached here occasionally between 1815 and 1830. Rev. Christian Lepley had charge of the congregation about 1845. In 1849 it became a part of the Salisbury charge, since which it has had the same pastors. The membership in 1906 was 90.
St. Paul's church is in Elk Lick township. It worships in the old Mennonite church, which was purchased in 1893. It is a part of the Salisbury charge, with 52 members in 1906.
Centre Evangelical Lutheran church was organized May 17, 1849, by Rev. Samuel B. Lawson, in Elk Lick township. Its first officers were: Elders, Godfrey Wiltrout and John Burkholder; deacons, Benjamin Bockes, Christian Christner and Jacob Swarner. The house of worship was completed in 1850. The pastors have been the same as those at Salisbury. In 1890 it was decided to rebuild, and the old house was sold and the present edifice dedicated January 11, 1891. It is a neat structure, built chiefly of brick and handsome ornamented with stained memorial windows. In 1906 it had 99 members. Up to 1889 it belonged to the Salisbury charge, and had the same ministers. It is now a part of St. Paul's charge (Garrett). Revs. M. L. Young and W. H. B. Carney have been the pastors since 1889.
Zion Evangelical Lutheran church of Meyersdale was organized buy Rev. Eli Fair, in 1852. The original members were Joseph and Elizabeth Keim, Alexander and Catherine Walker, John I. Hicks, Catherine Geary. Mary A. Albright, Harriet Hicks, Catherine Olinger, Peter Kessler, Christ Shiver, Margaret Sheetz, Barbara Yorty, Mary E. Yorty, Wilhelmina Swearman and Catherine Herring. The first house of worship, a union meeting house, was erected in 1854, costing about $2,600. It was called Amity Lutheran and Reformed church. The Lutherans dedicated a church of their own, July 29, 1877, costing $2,500. This served the congregation until 1900, when a second edifice was dedicated, the cost of which was about $15,000. It is of fine red pressed brick. The tower is over eighty feet high. The seating capacity of the auditorium is 350. The following have served as pastors: Revs. Fair, Philip Sheeder, Jesse Winecoff, John Forthman, M. F. Pfahler, I. B. Crist, D. Earhart, J. A. Koser, J. Milton Snyder, M. L. Young, Ph.D., J.W. Beyers, D. D. and B. B. Collins.
Christ's (Casebeer) Lutheran church was organized in 1844 by Rev. Peter Rizer, with the following officers: Philip Maurer and Jacob Baker, elders; John Casebeer and Samuel Miller, deacons. John Casebeer, then living on the Somerset and Johnstown turnpike, five miles north of Somerset, donated the land upon which to build the church, which was completed November 30, 1845. Rev. Rizer remained until 1847 and was succeeded by Rev. William Uhl, who served until 1851. Since which time the following have served as pastors: Rev. A. Babb, 1851-57; Rev. C. Witmer, 1857-60; Rev. G. M. Pile, 1860-61; Rev. L. Gerhart, 1861-66; Rev. J. F. Shearer,, 1882-90; Rev. E. Manges, 1890-93; Rev. C. F. Gephart, 1893-97; Rev. D. Stuart Hoover, 1897-1902; Rev. Robert L. Patterson, 1902. The church now numbers about 300 and the Sunday school has a membership of 240. The old church gave way to 1903 to a modern edifice, built of brick, which is amply large for the ever increasing congregation.
The Garrett charge of the Evangelical Lutheran church consists of these congregations: St. Paul's, St. Michael's, Mt. Tabor and Centre.
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran church, of Brothers Valley township, was organized May 4, 1842, by Rev. Charles Reese, with fifty-eight members. A church building was erected in 1842 at a cost of $900. In 1875 another was built of brick, two stories high, with tall spire, bell and stained glass windows. The cost of this was $8,600. It has a present membership of 115.
St. Michael's Evangelical Lutheran church, located at Pine Hill, Brother's Valley township, which now is part of the Garrett charge, has always been a part of the Berlin charge. A book giving the members' names is dated 1790. The list shows that sixty then belonged, and it is believed that the congregation had worshiped there several years prior to that date. Prior to 1798 this people worshiped in school houses. It is believed that the first church edifice was built in 1798 at Pine Hill and worshiped in until 1848. Among the documents of the church is one dated February 9, 1818, granting to the "German Lutheran and German Presbyterian congregations" a tract of twenty-three acres. In 1848 the old brick church, later used by the Missourian Lutherans, was jointly erected by the Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed congregations at the cost of $1,400, and was used until 1856, when the Reformed erected a house for themselves. In 1860 the Lutherans erected their church at a cost $1,100, and this was used until they occupied their present edifice, built in 1904. This is a brick structure, costing $8,000. One feature of beauty about this edifice is its large stained windows, reproducing celebrated Bible scenes. The following is a list of pastors serving from 1789: Revs. Michael Hey, 1789-93; William Lange, 1794-1813; Ernest Tiedeman, 1813-19; Jacob Creigler, 1819--34; George Leiter, 1834-35; Charles Reese, 1835-40; Dr. Lewis Gustiniani, 1841-42; Charles Reese, 1842-43; Jesse Winecoff, 1843-46; Charles Young, 1846-51; Eli Fair, 1852-56; Philip Sheeder, 1856-64; Jesse Winecoff, 1864-72; A. M. Strauss, 1872-75; J. W. Poffinberger, 1875-85; C. B. Gruver, 1886-93; M. L. Young, 1893-1902; W. E. Brown, 1902-04; W. H. Bruce, 1904. The present membership is eighty-five.
The Mount Tabor church is also a part of the Garrett church and has a membership of 122.
The date of the first organization of Messiah Lutheran church is the village of New Centreville is not known. About 1813 the Lutheran and Reformed congregations united in building a church, a log structure built under the supervision of John Carbaugh. It was not completed until 1819. In 1877 the Lutherans built a fine brick church at a cost of about $9,000. Rev. Lange is supposed to have been the first who preached in the old church. The writer recalls Rev. Josiah Zimmerman as a pastor in 1867, and Rev. Reuben Smith about 1871. John Unruh and John H. Zinn preached here later on. The church forms a part of the Glade charge, and in 1906 had 171 members. Rev. A. B. Miller is the present pastor of the Glade charge.
St. Paul's Lutheran church, in Middle Creek township, was organized by Rev. William Uhl about 1850 and a church was built. There was, however, preaching in the Putnam school house for five or six years prior to that time. The first church officers were Diedrich Kregar, William Moore, George Pile and Frederick Uphouse. It belongs to the Glade charge and has the same pastors.
A Lutheran church was built at Kingwood in 1852. The first pastor was Rev. M. F. Pfahler. This is now Mt. Zion church, of the Glade charge, and has but twenty-five members.
Samuel's Lutheran church, three miles southwest of Somerset, is one of the oldest Lutheran organizations in the county. It is said to be even older that the Somerset church, which certainly dates to 1794. Its early records, written in German, are still preserved. From these records we learn that upon profession of faith Rachel, a negress belonging to Peter Ankeny, was received into the church by baptism, and that Elder Peter Ankeny and Deacon Henry Stahl were her sponsors. It is to be supposed that its pastors up to 1846 were the same as those of the Somerset church. It is the parent church of Mt. Calvary (Lavansville) Lutheran church, and for a time was a part of the same charge. At the present time it is a part of the Glad or New Centreville charge and has 100 members.
The early history of the Lutheran congregation at Lavansville is somewhat obscure. It would appear as though the Lutherans there were of the Samuel's church. It almost looks as though they were that church. This much is certain: In 1846 they determined to build a church in Lavansville, and in the following year adopted the name of Mount Calvary Evangelical Lutheran church. The church was built in 1848 and was served by pastors of Trinity church of Somerset until 1872, when it was formed into a charge with the Bakersville and old Samuel's churches. It pastors since 1872 have been Revs. Jesse Winecoff, D. H. Earhart, L. S. Seiber, J.F. Kulhman, E. H. Manges, Calvin Gephart and S.A. Zimbeck. During Rev. Gephart's pastorate a fine brick church was built. This membership at present is eight-four.
The Bakersville Lutheran church was organized by Rev. Peter Rizer in 1842, but there had been Lutheran preaching in school houses for about three years prior to that time. Jacob Lenhart and George Mull were the first elders of this church. A frame church was built in 1849. It has a membership of 165. Its ministers have been the same as those of the Lavansville church.
The early history of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran congregation, of Addison, is involved in obscurity, the records having been lost in the burning of the house of John Stein. Rev. Dr. Philip Muckenhaupt was among the first who preached for the Lutherans here, but it is not certain that there was any organization. Philip Muckenhaupt in many ways was a remarkable man. The stories and legends that have been related of him would fill a volume. It is denied by some that he was anything more than an imposter, but a nephew of the preacher's wife, himself a Lutheran, has said that he was a duly licensed preacher. Be this as it may, he certainly preached in Addison and also a Salisbury and in Greenville as early as 1815. Many acts of unministerial conduct are charged against him. Among other things he had a weakness for the cup that inebriates. This at least, cannot be denied, that he was often seen when under the influence of liquor. Worse things are said of him about Petersburg. He was well known at Salisbury; there we have never heard more than that he at times gave way to his appetite for liquor. He knew his weakness, and it is said that he nearly always ended his sermons by saying to the congregation that they should follow his counsels, but not his example. Mr. Muckenhaupt also preached medicine, and died in 1832. Aside from the preacher doctor, Rev. Jacob Crigler, of the Berlin pastorate, is the first Lutheran minister known to have preached here. On June 15, 1832, the cornerstone for a church was laid, but it was not completed for several years, and before this was done a half interest was sold to the Reformed church. The first trustees were Peter Augustine and Henry Miller. In 1853 a brick church was erected, which served its purpose until 1891. The pastors since 1832 have been Jacob Crigler, Charles Reese, M.F. Pfahler, Michael Snyder; John W. Trusster, 1860-63; John Beaver, 1863-66; Peter Green, 1866-72; William Friday, 1872-74; D. T. Koser, 1874-77; A. M. Smith, 1877-78; A. B. Felton, 1879-80; W. G. Gettle, 1881-83; S. J. Taylor, 1844-85; E. L. Folk, 1886-90; J. P. Hawkins, 1891-93; Henry M. Petren, 1894-97; James E. Yerger, 1898-1901; William H. Hilbish, 1903-04. Rev. Moses Grossman is the pastor. The congregation has 100 members.
Confluence Lutheran church was erected by the Evangelical Lutheran denomination in 1870-71. It was a frame house, costing $3,500. This was used until 1903, when a new edifice was commenced. It is a brick structure, doing credit to the congregation. This church was formerly a part of the Addison charge, but since 1902 it is an independent charge. The present number of members is 106. Present pastor, Rev. W. H. Hilbish.
The Ursina Lutheran congregation was organized by Rev. Peter Gheen, September 22, 1866, with John Davis and Israel Welfley as elders. It stated with twenty-nine members, who worshiped in the Crossroad school house. A church was completed in 18744 at Ursina. This congregation is in the Addison pastorate, and is served by its ministers. At this time there are ninety members.
St. Paul's Lutheran congregation (Ringers) was organized June 28, 1854 by Rev. Michael Snyder. The church was dedicated in November, 1854, which served its purpose until 1906, when a new edifice was erected. Membership, 60. The congregation has always been a part of the Addison pastorate, and has had the same ministers.
Mt. Carmel Lutheran church: In 1842 Rev. Christian Lepley, of the Wellersburg pastorate, began preaching in a school house standing along the old plank road east of Wittenburg, and about 1844 organized Mt. Carmel church. In 1847 a frame church was commenced, and Rev. William Uhl, of Somerset, preached the sermon at the cornerstone laying. The building was a one-story frame house, costing $1,000. In 1890 a new building was planned, and dedicated February 1, 1891. It is a modern edifice and beautified by memorial windows and stained glass. The tower is sixty-six feet high, and within it hangs an 836-pound bell; the building is heated by furnace. Rev. S. B. Lawson, of Salisbury, was a pastor in 1849, and was succeeded by Rev. P. S. Nellis, C. Witmer, C. Lepley, Alex. Cupp, Isaac Augustine, J. H. A. Kitzmiller, M. F. Pfhaler. L. Young came as a supply in 1890. The congregation is a part of the Wellersburg charge, with 97 members. Rev. E. S. Johnson is the present pastor.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran church of Shanksville was organized in 1848, by Rev. P. Sheeder. Its early ministers were the same as those of the Berlin church. Its first church was built in 1852, at a cost of $800. A fine brick church was built in 1852, at a cost of $800. A fine brick church was built in 1877 at a cost of $7,000. This edifice was struck by lightning July 4, 1903, and burned to the ground. A new church has since been built. Its present membership is 50. Rev. L. M. Daubenstick is its present pastor.
St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran church, situated at Roxbury, was a part of the Berlin circuit, and was formed with thirty members, in 1882. Their house of worship was built at a cost of $1,100, and was dedicated in 1882. It has forty members in 1906. It is a part of the Shanksville charge, which in addition has the St. Paul's and Glade congregations, each having a membership of forty, the Glade congregation is supposed to date back to 1820.
Stoyestown Evangelical Lutheran church was organized in 1806, by Rev. Henry Gerhart. The first edifice was erected about 1810, and the next building was erected in 1846, at a cost of $800. A fine brick church edifice was built in 1889. Its membership in 1906 is 199. Its pastors have been Revs. Gerhart, Schmucker, Heyer, Haverstick, Rizer, Williams, Lawson, J. K. Miller, Peter Sahm, John Tomlinson, J. J.Welsh, J. W.Ryder, A. K. Felton, Sell, Johnson, Fleck and J. S. English.
Hoffman Lutheran church, near Jenner Cross Roads, was organized November 20, 1814. The first members included Jacob Hoffman, Simon Shaffer, Michael Cover, John Kummer, Peter Friedline, Phillip Hoffman, and Conrad Keyser. The pastors have been the same for many years as the Friedens church of Somerset were served by. The original church was built in 1814, at a cost of $75. In 1871 a more spacious edifice was erected at the cost of $3,500. In 1879 this church severed it connection with Friedens, and thereafter connected with the Stoyestown, Horner and Hoffman congregations. Its present membership is ninety-eight. The Hoffman Lutheran church is also a past of the Stoyestown charge, and has a present membership of ninety-nine.
The Jennerstown charge of the Lutheran church is composed of five congregations: Jennerstown, St. James, Mt. Zion, Stanton's and St. Andrew's, the latter a supply. The writer has no information as to when any of these congregations were organized. Of the St. James, he has personal knowledge that goes back fifty years. At Jennerstown there is a large Lutheran church edifice that may have been built as long ago as that of St. James. The church at Stanton's is probably of a much later date, and the same may be said of Mt. Zion. St. Andrew's is located at Boswell, and can date no further back than 1903. The charge had been under the pastoral care of Rev. J. F. Stabley for some years, but he has recently resigned. The membership is as follows: Jennerstown, 66; St. James, 70; Mt. Zion, 64; Stanton's, 26; St. Andrew's 24.
Davidsville Lutheran church was organized in 1852, and a church built the same year. It was a frame house, costing $1,100. The first pastor was Rev. J. K. Bricker, and the first officials were Joseph Hoffman, Henry Umburn, elders; Daniel Hoffman and Daniel Border, deacons. This church is a separate charge, with 120 members in 1906. It present pastor is Rev. C.M. Wachter.
Mt. Zion Evangelical Lutheran church was organized in 1856, by Rev. L. J. Bell. In 1857 a church was erected at a cost of $500. This congregation is located in Paint township. This church is a past of Scalp Level charge, with 190 members in 1906. Rev. D. S. Hafer is the present pastor.
St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran church was organized in 1874, by Rev. A. J. Nunner, with twenty-nine members. The house of worship was erected in 1874, and cost $500. This church is a part of the Davidsville charge, and has a present membership of 110.
Graef's Evangelical Lutheran church was formed in 1871, by Rev. J. Tomlinson. John Graef and Philip Reitz were chosen first elders. The first pastor was Rev. J. K. Bricker. In the same year a church was built at an expense of $1,650. This is now a part of the Hooversville charge, and in 1906 it has sixty-seven members.
The Ben's Creek Lutheran church has a present membership of forty. It is part of the Davidsville charge.
All of the Lutheran churches that have so far been named adhere to the general synod. In 1906 there are 51 congregations, with 5, 567 members: 52 Sunday schools, with 582 officers and teachers, and 4, 967 scholars. In addition to these churches there are also three Lutheran Churches that are connected with the Synodical conference (Missourians). These are at Pine Hill, Johnsburg and Glen Savage. In 1890 they had 160 members. There is also a Swedish Lutheran church in Windber.
The Reformed church in Somerset county had its origin in Brothers Valley township, the Berlin congregation being the first. Ministers visited this point from the eastern part of the state as early as 1770. The congregation was organized in 1777. The records show that in that year it was resolved to build a school house, which was to be the common property of the Reformed and Lutheran societies. For a time this served both as school and meeting house. The first ministers in Somerset county of this domination were doubtless pastors of congregations in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, and journeyed on horseback to this distant region to preach to the settlers. The first record of baptism was October, 1777, when Sophia, daughter of Heinrich Glessner, was baptized. Among the first members and officers of this pioneer congregation are mentioned: Jacob Keffer, John Nicholas Foust, John Gibler, Peter Cover, Valentine Lout, Peter Loebley, Jacob Fisher, Francis Hay, Walter Heil, Jacob Glessner, Henry Glessner, Frederick Altfather, Peter Sweitzer, Michael Berger and Godfried Knepper. The first pastor was Rev. John William Weber, who May 1, 1782, was appointed to visit the congregations west of the Alleghenies, in "the back part of Pennsylvania." He resided, while pastor at Berlin, in Westmoreland county. He was succeeded by Rev. Cyriacus Spangenberg from 1788 to 1794. Rev. Henry Giesey was his successor, and served twenty-three years as the only Reformed minister in Somerset county. He was pastor at Berlin for over thirty-five years. He was followed by Revs. Siegmund, Ringier, Denius, Conrad, Edmunds, William Rupp, S. R. Bridenbaugh, A. R. Kremer and Skyles. The old church, erected in 1777, was a log building. Two edifices have since been erected. The third was built in 1843, costing $3,000. The present church was erected in 1883-4 at a cost of more than $20,000, and is, indeed, a fine structure.
St. John's Reformed church, Salisbury: Some among the earliest settlers of Elk Lick township were of the Reformed faith. No date can be assigned for their organization into a congregation. It is to be assumed that before this took place visiting ministers came into the settlement occasionally, who preached at the house of some member and baptized the children of Reformed families. It is a well attested fact that preaching was done at the house of Solomon Glotfelty, near Salisbury. There can be no doubt whatever that when the congregation at Berlin had settled pastors that they also preached occasionally at Salisbury. The first known minister at Berlin was Rev. John William Weber, in 1782. Salisbury was a part of the Berlin charge until about 1846, but when it first became a past of it is not known. A translation and transcript of the baptismal record is the only written one that has come down to our own time. From this record we obtain a date at which church records began to be kept. John Philip, son of George and Elizabeth Meyer (or Moyer), was baptised May 13, 1789; Margaretta, daughter of William and Martha Findley and John, a son of Adam and Maria Fadeley, were also baptized the same day. It is quite possible that this record was a common one for both Reformed and Lutherans. The name of Rev. Frederick William Lange, a Lutheran minister, certainly appears on it, and also that of Rev. G. F. Langenderfer, whom we are not able to connect with the Reformed church. There are also baptismal entries of children of known Lutheran parents. It is to be regretted that but a single leaf of the original has been preserved. Rev. Henry Giesey, who succeeded the notorious Spangenberg as pastor at Berlin about 1704, is known to have ministered to this congregation. It is also probable that Spangenberg may have preached here. We also know that all of Mr. Giesey's successors except, perhaps, Rev. Denius, up to 1846 preached to this congregation. Rev. H. E. F. Voigt, whom we cannot connect with the Berlin charge, also preached here. Among the early Reformed families were the Engles, Dursts, Glotfeltys, Findleys, Deals and Faidleys.
In 1809 the Reformed and Lutherans jointly built what for those days was a commodious church. It was a log house, but as we ourselves remember it, it was weatherboarded on the outside and lined on the inside, with a gallery on three sides. In 1853 the Reformed and Lutherans again joined hands and built a brick church on a part of Henry Brewer's lot on the then lower end of the same street. Its cost was $3,000. The Brethren church now owns this house. In 1896 the congregation erected the fine brick church at the corner of Grant and Ord streets, Salisbury. It is an edifice that would do credit to any congregation in the county.
Rev. William Conrad was the last of the Berlin pastors to preach here. About 1846 a new charge was formed, of which Rev. Henry Knepper was the first pastor. Rev. Knepper's successors were Revs. John McConnell, George A. Fickes, who came about 1856; A. B. Koplin, William A. Grisey, about 1862; A. B. Koplin, about 1867, a second time; Calvin U. Heilman, J. M. Evans, D. H. Leader. The present pastor is Rev. Homer S. May. St. John's congregation is the parent of the St. Paul's congregation.
St. Paul's Reformed congregation was organized October 22, 1859, by Rev. A. B. Koplin. Benjamin Wilhelm and David Hay were the first elders, and Reuben Kretchman and Peter Wilhelm the first deacons. In 1869, during Rev. Koplin's second pastorate, a fine brick church was built at a cost of $14,000. Although a country church, it was up to that time the most costly house of worship that had ever been built in the county. The larger part of the money for this church was contributed by Peter and Benjamin Wilhelm and others of that family. St. Paul's remained a part of the Paradise (Salisbury) charge until about the close of Rev. J. M. Evan's pastorate, in 1893, when it became a separate charge. Rev. E. S. Hassler then became pastor, serving the church until March 1903. The present pastor, serving the church until March, 1903. The present pastor is Rev. S. C. Stover. This is one of the most prosperous of the Reformed congregations in the county. There is a beautiful cemetery connected with the church, which is about three miles from Salisbury.
The records of St. Paul's Reformed church of Somerset have perished in the numerous fires by which the town has been scourged. Its history, therefore, must rest on such traditions as have come down to us. The congregation is supposed to have been organized about 1810, by Rev. Henry Giesey. He had, however, been preaching here for several years prior to that time. A stone church was built in 1810 in conjunction with the Presbyterians. There were two lots of ground, Nos. 161 and 162, on West Patriot street, attached to the church, which were used as a cemetery. The two congregations must have passed through unusual vicissitudes, for the church property was eventually sold at a sheriff's sale, but its purchasers eventually resold it to the churches. It is also said that the lots of ground were donated by Peter Ankeny. It is certain that they are marked as church and burial ground on the original plan of Somerset, made in 1795, and which is still in existence. These congregations may, therefore, date back earlier than is usually supposed. In 1845 the two societies were incorporated, the Reformed and Presbyterians each having two trustees. The church eventually passed entirely into the lands of the Reformed. In 1855 the stone church was torn down, and a good frame church was built, in which the congregation worshiped until 1889, when a lot was purchased on the northwest corner of West Union and West streets, on which a brick church edifice was erected that is a credit to the congregation, which numerically is not very strong. In 1903 a pipe organ was installed in this church. A good frame parsonage has also been built on the adjoining lot. Among the earliest known members of this congregation were the Ankenys, Michael and Elizabeth Hugus, George and Rosanna Shaver, Daniel Stahl and wife, Peter Huston and wife, and Henry Keller and wife. Early pastors were Revs. D. J. H. Kieffer, H. G. Ibbecken, D. B. Ernst, C. F. Hoffmier. Of a later period were Revs. George Johnson, A. E. Truxel and Hiram King. Rev. King has served the congregation for upwards of twenty-five years, which, in these days of change, is alike creditable to the pastor and his people.
We are not able to say when the Reformed congregation in New Centreville was first organized, possibly it was at about the same time that the church at Somerset was organized. In 1813 a good church edifice for those days was built jointly with the Lutherans. Here the congregations worshiped until 1876, when they built a new house of worship for themselves at a cost of $9,000. Its ministers up to this time were the same as those of the Somerset church. The pastors since 1884 have been Res. W. W. Deaterick, Robert O'Boyle, Christian Gumbert, H. F. Keener, J. Shockey Wagner, S. C. Long, J. F. Balliet, W. H. Landis.
The Rockwood Reformed church was formed prior to 1880, and services were held in school houses, but in that year a church was erected at a cost of $1,600. The trustees at that date were J. M. Wolfersberger and B. F. Kimmell. It is a part of the New Centreville charge, as is also the church at Sanner's.
The White Oak Reformed church is on the old Plank road, about one mile east of Wittenburg, in Larimer Township. It is probable that Rev. H. E. F. Voigt and H. G. Ebbekin preached here occasionally between 1818 and 1843. On June 18, 1846, Rev. Benjamin Knepper began preaching here with eleven members. A church was being built at the time - probably a union church of Lutheran and Reformed members. Rev. Knepper ministered to the congregation until 1873, when the Wills Creek charge was formed, of which this and the Greenville congregation became a part. Its ministers since 1873 have been Revs. L. D. Steckel, S.T. Wagoner, Lewis Robb, J. B. Steinseifer, C. H. Reiter, A. S. Glessner, A. C. Snyder, J. F. Bair and J. D. Hunsicker. A new church was erected in 1900.
The Greenville Reformed church was organized in 1920 by Rev. D. J. H. Kieffer. Among the first members were: Christian Lint, Jacob and John Lint, Peter Engle and Jacob Garlitz. Later they worshiped in a rude log house which was burned, and in 1848 a new church was built jointly with the Lutherans at a cost of $1000. In 1883 this congregation numbered over 100. Since 1873 this congregation is a part of the Wills Creek charge. For its ministers, see the White Oak Church.
The Wellersburg Reformed and Lutheran church was organized by Rev. Henry Giesy, about 1803. Among the first members were the Uhl, Hoyman, Will, Korns. Wilhelm and Reichert Families. Their second meeting house was dedicated June, 1855, and cost #2,100. The first pastor was Rev. Henry Giesy, from 1798. He was succeeded by many pastors, including Rev. Knepper, who served from 1846 for nearly half a century. Formerly he preached in German, but later in English.
Comp's Reformed and Lutheran church, in Southampton township, is an old congregation, dating from about 1810. The Comp, Troutman and Leidig families were the chief factors in this congregation. The first church was erected about 1809; another was built in 1880.
Gladden's Run Reformed church, with that of the Lutheran, commenced with six members in Hoyman's school house in 1846, and in November, 1872, was regularly organized by Rev. B. Knepper. A church was erected at the cost of $2,000 and dedicated in 1872. Originally preaching was altogether German.
Savage Run Reformed and Lutheran church was organized by Rev. B. Knepper, in 1849, and was known as Fink's church. A nine-hundred-dollar church was provided the same year. Michael Fink was the first elder and Israel Shoemaker the first deacon.
These four churches are in Southampton township and Wellersburg. It has not been uncommon for Reformed and Lutheran congregations to join hands and build churches for their use, but here it would seem that the congregations were first organized of a mixed membership. The Lutheran
ministers who have preached here, or at least to some of these congregations, were Revs. Hunger, Finkel, Schlegel, C. F. Heyer, Christian Lepley, C. Witmer, S. P. Nellis, A. Cupp, H. J. Kitzmiller, A. M. Strauss, Crebs, M. F. Pfahler, D. Stuff and John Nunner. Some of these also preached at White Oak (Mt. Carmel) and Greenville. Reformed ministers were Revs. Henry Giesey, H. E. F. Voigt, H. G. Ebbeckin, and Benjamin Knepper. There have been some long pastorships in Somerset county, but that of Benjamin Knepper would stand out as a remarkable one in the history of any denomination. Entering the ministry in 1846, he became pastor of the charge of which Wellersburg was the natural center. Although his career as a minister continued for forty-nine years, he never had but this one charge, serving it until he had almost become a nonogenarian. During this long pastorship he baptized 2,329 persons, confirmed 945, married 466 couples, and officiated at 768 funerals. Rev. Knepper was born in 1816 and died in 1906.
Beams Reformed church history dates back to 1831, when Rev. H. J. Ibbeken preached Rhoades school house. In 1836 a mixed congregation was organized in the school house, where services were held once in four weeks. This good minister was learned in both Lutheran and Reformed branches, and used both catechisms in instructing the young. The Heidelberg catechism was finally adopted by him, and this did not meet with the approval of both sections of the church. In 1844 Rev. Ibbeken died, and was buried in the Somerset cemetery. Shortly before his death, however, Rev. W. Conrad, of Berlin, concluded the lectures already started, confirmed the class, and formally organized the congregation in January, 1844. October, 1844, Rev. D. B. Ernst became pastor, being connected with the Somerset and other congregations. A church long in building was not dedicated until June 7, 1847, and the long disputed question of the name was finally settled, and it was called the Beams Reformed church, as it was located on the Beam farm. April 1, 18522, Rev. C. F. Hoffman became the pastor, continuing until 1856, and was followed by Rev. F. K. Levan. The charge was divided in 1859, when Beams, Friedens, Union and Calvary constituted the Beam charge. Rev. Conrad was called in 1859, serving until 1868, when Rev. A. J. Heller became pastor. He was succeeded in 1870 by Rev. H. F. Keener, and in 1873 the present brick church was erected. Rev. Keener left the charge in 1877, and was followed in 1880 by Rev. Bates, Rev. I. N. Berger, Rev. ____ Diffenderfer, Rev. L. T. Lampe, Rev. S. C. Long and Rev. J. F. Kerlin, who served up to 1906. In 1900 the old brick edifice was greatly improved and the society freed from all debt.
St. Peter's Reformed church, in Somerset township, was organized from Beams church at Jenner, by Rev. William H. Bates, in 1880. Its original members were: George Geisel and family, Levi Berkey, John Freidline, Jonathan Miller, Samuel Berkey and John F. Rhoades and their families. William H. Bates, the first pastor, was followed by Rev. Moses Deffenderfer. A church building was erected in 1882 at a cost of $1, 700. It is a part of the Beam pastorate.
A new congregation was formed at Jennerstown about 1898, and a house of worship built in 1899. This is also a past of the Beam charge.
Calvary Reformed church was organized by Rev. F. K. Levan, in 1858. The church building was erected in 1871, costing $2,000. This is situated in Jenner township. This congregation is a part of the Beam pastorate.
Hays (Mt. Zion) Reformed church: This congregation was first detached from the Berlin Reformed church, and became a separate organization March 20, 1848, and for ten years worshiped jointly with the Lutherans, in the brick church (still standing at Pine Hill) which was erected the same year. October 10, 1858, the Mt. Zion Reformed congregation dedicated their first church at Hays-a frame structure- and in it they worshiped until November 13, 1898, when they dedicated their new building, which is thoroughly modern and seats 300 persons. Many memorial windows grace the building.
Frieden's Reformed church (first in union with the Lutherans) was organized by Rev. D. B. Ernst and Rev. J. D. Gackenheimer, in 1846. The church building first belonged to both denominations, but now to the Reformed. A thirty-acre tract of land belongs with the church property.
Shanksville Reformed church was formed in 1848, by Rev. William Conrad. The house of worship was erected by both the Lutheran and Reformed people, but in 1877 was purchased by the Reformed church, who added to and made repairs on the same. Excepting church Revs. L. B. Leasure, James Grant and Joel W. Alsbaugh, its pastors up to 1884 were the same as those of Stoyestown church.
Mount Zion Reformed church, in Brothers Valley, was organized March 30, 1848, by Rev. William Conrad. The first church edifice was built of bricks; it was erected at Pine Hill in 1848. A better house of worship was built in 1858.
Amity Reformed church at Myersdale, was organized about 1851, by Rev. Henry Knepper. Among the first members were: Elder C. M. Hicks, Samuel Foust, Eliza Hicks, A. M. Sheetz, Elizabeth Sintrock, Harriet Miller and Levi Heckert. The first house worshiped in was a union building erected
for the Lutherans and Reformed congregations. In 1875 it passed into the hands of the Reformed church. In 1883 the congregation had a membership of 237. In 1886, during the pastorate of Rev. J. M. Shick, a handsome brick building was built by this congregation. In 1902, during the pastorate of Rev. A. E. Truxel, the church was enlarged, the interior walls frescoed, several large memorial windows were added, and everything about the church put in a complete state of repair, and the church then rededicated. The frescoing of the interior walls was done at the expense of C. W. Truxel, one of the members of the church. Revs. William Rupp and A. E. Truxel have been the successors of Rev. Shick, and the church has greatly prospered under their ministry.
St. John's Reformed and Lutheran church, near Lambertsville, was organized by J. K. Bricker, in 1857. Most all of the first members were from the Sipes family. The church was erected in 1849 at a cost of $700. The Lutheran pastors up to 1885 have been Revs. J. K. Bricker, J. Beaver, J. B. Crist, A. R. Height, R. Smith, J. H. Walterick, I. L. Miller, J. B. Shoup and J. N. Unruh. As nearly as can be ascertained the Reformed pastors have been the same as a Stoyestown. The Lutheran congregation is now the St. John's congregation of the Hooversville charge, with 51 members.
St. Paul's Reformed church, in Brothers Valley township, was organized in January, 1860, by Rev. F. A. Edmonds. A house of worship was built in 1860 at a cost of $600. The first to serve as officers were Jacob Hauger and Nicholas Smith, elders; F. R. Knepper and William Hauger, deacons.
St. Luke's Reformed church, situated on the top of the Allegheny mountains, in Deeter's Gap, was organized January 15, 1861 by F. A. Edmonds. The church edifice was erected in 1861, costing $1,000. The first to serve as church officials were Elder Jacob G. Glessner, and Deacons Jacob B. Hillegass and Jeremiah Glessner.
Jennerstown Reformed church was organized in 1899 by Rev. S. C. Long. The first officers were: John O. Rauch and Levi Shaulis, deacons; Isaac Friedline and Benjamin Enos, elders. Coupled with this congregation are the churches of Beam, Calvary and Edie.
Christ's Reformed church, at Davidsville, was organized by Rev. W. H. Bates, May 4, 1879, with 16 members.
The Stoyestown Reformed church comes among the first in point of age. The exact date is not known, but from baptismal records it appears the Rev. H. Giesey was pastor in 1979, and was such to 1835. The congregation formerly worshiped in the old log church (Reformed and Lutheran) situated in the cemetery east of town. Later they provided themselves with a building holding about 300 persons; it had a steeple, bell and an organ. Since 1835 the pastors have been William Conrad, 1835; J. Hoyman, 1853; A. B. Kopin, 1857; D. H. Reiter, 1859; A. J. Heller, 1865; H. F. Keener (supply), 1870; W. H. Bates, 1876; J. S. Wagner, 1879; W. D. Lefevre, 1883; later Revs. Wetzel and Rebert.
Glade Reformed church, of Stony Creek township, held its first service in 1812. Rev. Henry Giesey was among the first ministers. At first they worshiped in a rude log house. Among the first members were Abraham Landis, Jacob Ziegler, Joseph Glessner, and Eli Altfather. The church building is jointly owned by the Reformed and Lutherans. Most of the time it appears to have been a past of the Stoyestown charge, with the same ministers.
St. Mary's Reformed and Lutheran church was the first church organized in eastern Stony Creek township. A house of worship was provided in 1820. The pastors were the same as the other churches already named.
Shade Reformed and Lutheran church, in Shade township. On the old Hooversdale charge, was organized by Rev. Heyer in 1835. A church was built under the ministry of Rev. Schmucker. Prior to the organization, the interests of this people were care for chiefly by Hon. John Statler, Jacob Moses, Samuel and Frederick Statler. In 1884 the society numbered about 140.
The Reformed and Lutheran church known as Mt. Tabor was organized by Rev. H. G. Ibbeken about 1835, during which year a church edifice was erected. In 1872 another was built at a cost of $4,000.
Salem Reformed church, at Lavansville, Somerset township, was organized by Rev. Charles Hoffmire. A house of worship was provided in 1856 at a cost of $1,500. Among the first members: Levi Knepper, David Lavan, John Heminger, Israel Herring, George Kimmell, John Thompson, Levi Boucher, Simon Chorpenning, Henry Hay, and their wives. This church is a part of the Somerset pastorate.
The reader will have noted that a number of the churches were first built through the united efforts of the Reformed and Lutheran congregations. But at the present time the congregations of the two denominations in nearly every instance occupy and own their own churches. But the writer has not in every case been able to say when they separated their interests. In Greenville the two congregations still worship in the same church that they built sixty years ago. There may possible be two or three they built sixty years ago. There may possibly be two or three other churches in the county that are used in the same way. In 1905 the Reformed church had in Somerset county 14 ministers, 38 congregations, and 3,485 members. There were 29 Sunday school, with 2,474 teachers and scholars.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH
Turkeyfoot Baptist church, located in Lower Turkeyfoot township, is remarkable for several reasons. It is more commonly known as the "Jersey Baptist church," as many of the early settlers who were among the first membership came from New Jersey, and were of the Roger Williams stripe of Baptists. It is without doubt the oldest Baptist church west of the Allegheny mountains, and is also the oldest of all the churches in Somerset County, and it is believed to be the oldest of any in southwestern Pennsylvania. For many years after its organization Maryland and Virginia settlers were among its members, while Sandy Creek Glades, Virginia, formed a portion of its parish. It is the parent of all the Baptist churches in this region. Page 7 of the minutes of this church reads: "On Wednesday, the 14th of August, Anno Domino, 1775, the Rev. Mr. Isaac Sutton and John Colby
met this church at the house of Moses Hall, in Turkeyfoot, and after a sermon on the occasion, they solemnly constituted a church in these places jointly a community consisting of the following members, as subscribed in the succeeding covenant: Robert Colburn, Jacob Rush, David Rush, John King, Benjamin Conard, James Mitchell, Nathaniel Skinner, Reuben Skinner, Nicholas
Hartzell, Richard Skinner, Abraham Wortman, David Roderick, Abraham Mitchell, Margaret Rush, Lucy Jones, Elizabeth Mountain, Sarah Skinner, Frankey Ketcham, Rebecca King, Abigail Wortman, Eleanor Colburn, Jane Williams, Mary Hyatt, Jacob H. Williams, Mary Rush, Mary Coventon, Mary Rush."
Among the early baptisms were those of William Blain, April 5, 1789: united with the church July 4, the same year. The first church building was erected January 1788. It was a two-story log structure with a gallery; was used as a school house, and tradition says as a blockhouse. Early settlers
brought their rifles, and some stood guard at the corner of the church until service had ended.
The second house of worship was a frame structure erected in 1838: this cost $820, and was completed within three months and ten days by John Rush, a member of the church. In 1877 the third building was provided at a cost of $2,500; over one-half of this amount was paid by Mrs. Jane Brooks and her daughter, Mrs. Mary A Forquer. In 1862 Rebecca King bequeathed $2,000 to the
use of the society, and in May 1881. Mrs. Jane Brooks donated $1,000 to be as a perpetual fund, the interest to be applied to paying the minister's salary. The first church officers name in the record are: Robert Colburn and Isaac Dwire, elders, in 1795; Reuben Skinner was succeeded by Jacob Rush in 1796. The officers at an early day were pastor, elders, deacons, clerk, treasurer, trustees and "singing clerk." The last named was chorister: his seat was near the minister and the minister passed the hymn book to him, when he would rise to his feet and "raise the tune," singing and reading two lines at a time, alternately, to the end. Lewis F. Sanner, E. Jackson and James H. Rush were among the early person to thus act. The following have served as deacons: Reuben Skinner, Jacob Rush, John Rush, David King, John Hyatt, Lewis F. Sanner, John Brooks, Otho Ream, Jackson Colburn, Jacob H. Rush, Michael Bailey, John McMillen, Z. T. Tannehill and Balaam Younkin. The following have served as pastors: Present at the organization, 1795, Isaac Sutton, John Corbley; 1799, Nathaniel Skinner, Jr.; John Cox, 1817-19; James Fry, 1820-32; William French, 1826; John Thomas, 1832-39; Isaac Wynn, 1839-42; Garrett R. Patton, 1842-45; William Hickman, 1845-47; Cleon Kees, C. Gilbert, Isaac Wynn, 1848; William Hickman, 1849; John A. Pool, ordained 1849; G. Lanham, 1852-4; John Williams, 1854; William Ellis, 1854-57; J. Williams, 1857; B. F. Brown, 1860; J. Williams, 1861; J. R. Brown, 1866; J. R. Brown 1868-72; William Barnes, 1872-73; J. E. Walter, 1874-77; Frank Cunningham,1878; W. P. Fortney, 1879-80; J. R. Brown, 1880-1886; N. Hart, ___; J. Z. McEndo was ordained 1894--98; James Miller, June 1, 1899-1900. The missionary spirit led this church to send her pastors "to the regions beyond," which resulted in the establishment of branch churches at Indian Creek, in July 1798; Little Kentucky, April 24, 1834; Judson church, at or near the Cross Roads, in 1849.
The Somerset Baptist Church - In 1800 Rev. Morgan John Rhees and his wife, Ann, became residents of the town of Somerset, he having been appointed prothonotary of Somerset county. Mr. Rhees was a minister of the Baptist church, his wife also being a member. It is not known that he attempted to organize a Baptist church here, but during their stay of two or three years he and his wife formed friendships and associations with other residents of the town that eventually led to the forming of such a church.
In 1812 Elder William Brownfield, a Baptist minister of Uniontown, baptized Mary Ogle by immersion at the old stone mill, a mile and a half south of Somerset. In 1813 Rev. Charles Wheeler baptized Mary Morrison. These two women were the two first members of what afterward became the Baptist church of Somerset. With them was associated Mary Graft, who at that time had not been immersed. About 1815 Elder John Cox was induced to locate at Somerset. John Graft was the first male baptized under his ministry.
In 1817 Professor Charles Wheeler and Rev. Dr. Estep organized a church of immersed believers at Somerset. This was the Baptist church of Somerset. So far as is known, its charter members were Mary Ogle, Mary Morrison, Mary Graft (the three Marys), Jacob Graft, Isaac and Elizabeth Husband, Samuel Trent, Catherine Carr, Jonas and Martha Younkin, George Probst, Alexander and Nellie Hunter, Susan Stewart, Peggy May, Betsey Kimberly, Sallie Lichtenberger, Dr. Norman and Eliner Bruce, Peter and Barbara Loehr, Jacob and Nancy Sayler. This church as organized continued as a Baptist church until September 20, 1829, when it was reorganized as a Disciples of Christ, or Christian, church, and it is one of the very oldest church organizations of that denomination.
THE CHRISTIAN, OR DISCIPLE CHURCH.
Somerset church has a unique history. It is that child of three mothers in Israel, the "Three Marys" - Mary Ogle, wife of Alexander Ogle; Mary Graft, wife of Jacob Graft, who carried the first mails from Philadelphia through Somerset to Pittsburgh; and Mary Morrison, wife of Attorney Abraham Morrison - women of unusual ability and devotion. It organized the first Sunday school in 1815. It was an independent Baptist church in 1818, rejecting human creeds, and was reorganized as a full Disciple church in 1829, by Thomas and Archibald Campbell. Alexander Campbell also frequently
preached here. It is one of the oldest churches of the denomination. Intellectual giants, prominent in state and nation, lawyers with few peers, were members of this church-Chauncey Forward, Democrat and Mason, preacher and legislator; Charles Ogle, anti-Mason, author of the famous "spoon speech," a Whig and real father of the Republican party; Jeremiah S. Black, local and state supreme judge, and member of Buchanan's cabinet, who continued a member of this congregation until the time of his death; Judge F. M. Kimmell, and others. It has to its credit quite a list of noted
pastors, leaders in scholarship and pulpit ability, and educators like Prof. Joseph Stutzman, President W. H. Woolery and president Charles L. Loos. The first church was built in 1845; present one in 1873. Present membership is about 400. The Ridge church, Scott's or Morrison's school house, was organized in 1834 by Chauncey Forward and Dr. P.G. Young. Early in the seventies it removed and reorganized. New Centreville (Glade) has a fine church building; membership about 80. Hooversville, organized in the thirties, on the hill a mile away, was built and located in the village in 1884. Membership about 50. Petersburg, the home of the late Dr. Hiram A. Hartzell, is now weak; the chapel was built in 1878. Rock chapel was also built by Dr. Hartzell in 1885. Confluence bought a chapel in 1883,and built a better edifice in 1897; membership 70. Meyersdale was organized in 1886, and built a chapel later; membership 165. There are unorganized groups at Windber, Garrett, Allendale and other points, removals from above churches, and from points like Berlin and Kuhn, where the chapels burned down.
THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
Methodist had its birth in Somerset county in the last years of the eighteenth and the first decades of the nineteenth century. About 1786, George Johnson, the founder of the church at Berlin, emigrated from Shepherdstown, Virginia. He was then a member of the Reformed church, but was always friendly to the Methodists, and frequently opened his house for them to hold meetings in. The Methodists met with much opposition, and the more ignorant and superstitious believed that they had the power of bewitching people. After the execution of Spangenberg, a Reformed minister,
Johnson united with Methodist church in 1799. He became a class leader and local preacher, and services were held in his home for many years. After he had abandoned his trade (hatter), he converted his house into a place of worship, about 1822, and there meetings were held until about 1835. In 1834 James Platt donated to the society land on which to build a meeting house. Through Johnson's efforts $400 was raised, with which a small church was erected. The trustees consisted of George Johnson, Frederick Garey, Daniel Landis and Daniel Weyand. Mr. Johnson died in 1837, aged 73 years. In 1881 the old church was sold to the Disciples, and another was erected for $2,000 on land given by Mrs. Sarah Platt. The church has had a hard struggle, but has steadily progressed.
Hopewell Methodist ranks next to the oldest in the county, dating from several years prior to 1827, when their first church was erected. Its founder was Moses Fream, a Methodist from Maryland, who settled within a mile of where this church was built. The date of his settlement was 1792. He built a large log house, and in this he taught the first school of the township, and in the upper story accommodated the itinerant Methodist ministers. This was used until the church was built in 1827, two miles north of Quemahoning. This was built of hewed logs, lined with boards and shingled. John Hare and William Dalley were the first trustees. The lot deed bears date of May 31, 1827, and the consideration was $5. In the spring of 1851 the log church was burned and a new one built of planks, plastered inside and weatherboarded: it cost was $800.
Newbury church was organized in Addison township at a very early date. Among the leading members were Edward and John Kemp, John Heston and John Forshey. A house of worship was erected in 1812, and occupied until 1834, when it was torn down. Among the preachers were: Revs. Roberts Hanna, John White, James Wilson, John Everhart, Robert Boyd, Jacob Snyder, and others.
Upper Turkeyfoot church, the pioneer church in Upper Turkeyfoot, was a log building, built by the Methodist at Paddytown in 1816. Rev. Jacob Gruber held the first quarterly meeting and preached the first sermon in this church. Rev. James Wilson was the first preacher in charge. A new meeting house was erected in 1874, costing $1,400. The first minister here was Rev. M. D. Lichliter; class leader, Samuel Phillippi. In 1880 the record shows the society numbered 45.
Wesley chapel, situated in the northern part of Upper Turkeyfoot township, was erected in 1863 at a cost of $1000. The first ministers were Revs. Wilkinson and Williams. The trustees were John Lanning, Messimer Cramer, John C. Phillippi, Norman B. Lichliter, David Lichliter, Jeremiah Pile and Joseph Critchfield.
The Somerset church: Nothing positive can be said concerning the date of founding the Methodist church in the borough of Somerset more than that its first members included Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Elder, Mrs. Phythian and Mrs. McCarty, who held meetings in private houses several years. The first four ministers in charge were: Revs. Tudor, Little, Coleman and Keismiller. The first quarterly meetings were held about 1823, when Presiding Elder Monroe officiated. One of these quarterly meeting occasions was followed by a revival, at which many additions were made to the church. This meeting was held in the old stone church, owned jointly by the Presbyterians and the
Reformed societies. The manner in which the meetings were conducted did not the suit the other churches, and they were compelled to move to the court house. Later they held services in the Masonic Hall. The first attempt at building a church was after the great fire of 1833, and the building erected then served its purpose until 1876, when a new church was built, the old one being sold to the Evangelical Association. In 1833 the pastor was Rev. Thorne, and Somerset was a station on the Somerset circuit. With the fire of 1872 the records were all lost, and no further data are now obtainable of the early church.
Silbaugh Methodist church was the next of that denomination to be formed in the county. A class was formed between 1825 and 1830, by William Silbaugh, James Boardman and a few others, and worship was had at private houses and at school houses, until 1879, when a frame building was erected at a cost of $900, under the ministrations of Revs. J. B. Taylor and B. F. Murray.
The Petersburg Methodist church was built in 1839, and indicated by Rev. F. M. Miller of Baltimore Conference, minister in charge. The first officers were Henry Ringer, Andrew Ryland, John A. Mitchell, Samuel H. Brook, Joseph Hendrickson, John N. Luddington and Moses A. Ross. By 1881 the church had grown to a membership of 180.
Somerfield Methodist church was erected in 1842, a frame structure costing $1,000. The first minister was Rev. John L. Irwin. The first trustees were Dr. William Fry, James Black, Zalmon Luddington, Joshua Johnson, Joseph S. Hagans, Rev. John Bowlin and John Easter.
Stoyestown Methodist church was organized some time prior to 1843, but the exact date cannot be given, as the records were lost. Among the original members were A. S. H. Young, Henry and David Little, Joseph Johnson, and Samuel W. Pearson. Rev. Jamison was pastor in charge in 1843, when the church was built. In 1874 a beautiful church was erected at a cost of $4,500.
The New Centreville Methodist church was erected in 1850, but a society was formed several years prior. It has long since ceased to exist. In 1880 the church edifice was sold to the Christian church, which denomination has since worshiped in it.
The Harnedsville Methodist church was organized about 1855 by Rev. A. J. Endsley, the first preacher in the place, and under whose labors a house of worship was erected at a cost of about $500.
Draketown Methodist church, in 1882, had a membership of 30. The first trustees were A. S. Hyatt, Eli Conn and Thomas Ream. A. S. Hyatt was the first class leader, and the first pastor was Rev. W. P. Hutchinson. In 1880 a neat edifice was erected at a cost of $1,100.
Listonburg Methodist church, known as "Trinity," was erected in 1872 at the cost of $2,000. The first pastor in charge here was Rev. L. W. Hazlep. The first trustees were Thomas Liston, Hiram Mitchell, Jesse Liston, Alfred Mitchell and George Wass. The first class leader was Jesse Liston.
Garrett Methodist church: Here a class was formed about 1881, and the following year a neat frame building was erected after the Gothic style, costing about $1,000. This was erected under the pastorate of Rev. A. Freeman. The first class leader and Sabbath school superintendent was T. S.
Hepplewhite, and the trustees were Dr. H. Garey, Nicholas Clemens, William Brown, Thomas Price, Jr., John Hocking, Sr., and Thomas S. Hepplewhite.
The Meyersdale Methodist church was organized in 1870 by Revs. S. T. Mitchell and D. J. Dana, with about fifteen members, with the following trustees: James S. Black, John T. Hocking, John L. Curley, John Hocking, George J. Black, George W. Case, Dr. G. W. I. Brown and Dr. W. C. Hicks. A two-story brick church was built, costing $8,000; it was commenced in 1873 and dedicated in 1875, by Bishop Edward Ames. The last church debt was paid in 1882, when the society numbered about 100 members. Having outgrown their church building, in 1903 a beautiful structure was erected on the site of the old one. The present membership is about 300. The following ministers have served this church: Rev. J. C. Castle, 1876-78; J. J. Moffat, 1878-79; Warner Long, 1879-81; George S. Holmes, 1881-83; G.C.L.E. Cartwright, 1883-86; George Orbin, 1886-90; W. C. Weaver, 1890-95; W. J. R. Moore, 1895-1900.
The Ursina Methodist church was formed about 1869, and a building provided in 1871 at the cost of $3,000. Rev. Wesley Davis was the fist pastor, and the first class leader was Norman B. Lichliter.
The Confluence Methodist church was built in 1872, under the pastorate of Rev. Wesley Davis; it cost about $4,000. The first class-leader was Job M. Flanagan, and the first trustees were Jonathan Frantz, A. G. Black, Daniel Mickey, William Pullin, Sebastian Tissue and Andrew Hyatt. The history of this society begins with 1871, when Dr. Silas T. Mitchell, presiding elder of the Blairsville district, was invited to hold services in the neighborhood. The history of this church is on of steady growth. Its membership outnumbers any in Confluence, and in 1906 was 164. A new and more spacious edifice was found necessary in 1905, and the contract was let to a local builder - J. W. Clouse - to erect a buff brick church, which cost in excess of $10,000, and was dedicated March 18, 1906, by Bishop Earl Cranston, D. D., of Washington, D. C. The building is one of elegance, and is finished in oiled oak and stained windows. The following have served this church as pastors; Revs. Silas T. Mitchell, S. W. Davis, C. A. Emerson, H. J. Hickman, Theodore J. Shaffer, O. W. Hutchinson, H. B. Tannehill, C. L. Cartwright, W. A. Rutledge, W. F. Hunter, J. A. Youngkin, J. S. Duxbury, Albert R. Maxwell, J. R. Fretts, G. H. Flinn, J. G. Hann, O. J. Watson, W. L. Cadman, J. S. Potts, J. C. Brown and Thomas Charlesworth.
The Salisbury Methodist Episcopal church was organized August 8, 1884, by Rev. Homes. Its first stewards were John Meager and David Enos. It seems to have been organized with 29 members. In 1898 it had 145 members, including those on probation. John Meager was the first superintendent of the Sunday School. The church was built in 1892.
The latest statistics of the Methodist church in the county available are those of the census of 1890, which give 16 congregations, 1,011 members.
The African M. E. church has a church and congregation at Meyersdale. The church was dedicated in May,1902, and is a credit to the colored people of the town.
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH
In October, 1869, the Rt. Rev. John B. Kerfoot, D. D., LL. D., bishop of the Pittsburg diocese, and Rev. Richard S. Smith, of Uniontown, visited Somerset county for the purpose of establishing an Episcopal church. June 8, 1870, Rev. A. A. Kerfoot and Rev. R. S. Smith interviewed Peter Meyers, at Meyers Mills, and decided to establish a mission at that point. Two lots were obtained, one by donation, and a church was completed thereon in the autumn of 1871, the same being consecrated May 22, 1874, by Rt. Rev. J. B. Kerfoot. This building cost $2,000. Among the pastors serving have been: Rev. H. B. Hartman, G. W. Easter, Thomas White and W. G. Stonex. The clear toned memorial bell on this church was donated by S. H. Kerfoot, brother of the bishop, and bears this inscription: "The sound will make glad the surrounding hills and the sight of them gladdened his heart."
An Episcopal congregation was organized at Somerset about 1876. Among the first members were John I. Scull, E. V. Goodchild, James L. Pugh, Sarah Scull, Mary E. Meyers, Frank J. Meyers and Bertha Kiernan. Rev. Thomas White was the first minister. In numbers the congregation has probably never exceeded a dozen members, but it has been kept alive and worships in the Odd Fellows' hall.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES
The first Catholic church in Somerset county was that at New Baltimore, which dates back to 1824, and is known as St. John's. In that year Rev. Th. Hayden visited and continued to supply the congregation several years. There was no resident priest until about 1850, when Rev. Joseph Theresia Gezowsky became stated pastor. One section of the church was erected in 1825; in 1870 it was greatly enlarged and in 1880 a spire eighty feet high was added. Among the original members of this congregation were Anthony Luken, Francis McGirr, Jacob Riffle, Michael Hughes, Patrick Rice and their families.
The Meyersdale Catholic church was erected in 1849. There was no resident priest there at the time in attendance. The original members were Joseph Staub, Ambrose Breig, Matthias Suhrie, Dennis Wetmiller, Michael Smith, Daniel Breig, Joseph McKinzie, John McKinzie and Patrick McKinzie. The first priest stationed at Meyersdale was Father Patrick Brown. In 1882 this congregation had reached a membership of 300. A new church was built in 1887, on Centre street, also a parsonage.
There is also a Catholic church at West Salisbury. A church has been built at Listie and there is one, if not two, at Windber. With the last ten years there has been a large influx of Catholics, mostly foreigners.
Perhaps the earliest attempt to form a Presbyterian church in Somerset county was about 1790, on the farm of James Wilson, in Milford township. A rude log structure was built by this denomination together with the Lutherans. Rev. Steck, of the Lutherans, was perhaps the first to preach in this improvised house of worship, which was about 1785.
Somerset Presbyterian church history is somewhat obscure, for lack of sufficient records. It does appear that some Presbyterian ministers preached and at Jenner (then Quemahoning), as early as 1797. It also appears that the Presbyterian and Reformed people erected a stone church building together in 1810, yet Rev. John Ross was not installed pastor (and he seems to have been first) until July, 1817, which probably was about the date of the formation of this church. Among the early members of the society were Andrew Stewart and Jacob Glessner, elders; and Messrs. John Armstrong and Abraham Morrison. A Sabbath school was organized in 1817 by Messrs. Stewart, Morrison, Ross and Mrs. Ogle. About1850 the Presbyterians built a house of their own, at a cost of $2,500; this was destroyed by the fire of May 9, 1872, and in 1876 the present church edifice was built at an expense of about $7,000, the same being among the best in the county. Rev. S. Howell Terry was made pastor in 1830, and continued until 1833. The next regular pastor was Rev. L. Y. Graham, who remained until 1866, and was succeeded by others, including Revs. William Edgar, S. S. Bergen, C. B. Wakefield, C. C. B. Duncan, ------- Beatty, T. G. Bristow, ------Kreusch and -----Illingsworth. The church at Jennerstown was for many years a part of the same pastorate. In 1837 the Presbyterians formed a society in Addison township, under the ministry of Rev. Joel Stoneroad, but finally lapsed. A Presbyterian church was built at Boswell in 1905. There is also a Presbyterian church was built in the town of Windber.
THE GERMAN BAPTIST OR TUNKER CHURCH
This denomination has been a leading element in the religious life of Somerset County from the first years of its settlement. Not a few of the early pioneers were its adherents. Known among themselves by the quaint German name of "Die Brueder's Leute." they gave to the valley between the Allegheny and Negro mountains, in which they settled, the name of "Brueder's Thal" (Brothers' Valley), by which name this region was known in eastern Pennsylvania for many years.
Among other traditions of the church is one that their Stoneycreek congregation began under George Adam Martin, about 1762. This date, however, can only be approximately correct. Pontiac's war came on in 1763. From the accounts that we have of the condition of affairs along the Forbes road at that time, it can hardly have been possible that these people could have been in Stoneycreek in 1762 or '63; it must have been several years later. In 1770 the number of members is given as seventeen, viz.: Elder George Adam Martin and wife, Henry Roth (Rhoads), wife and daughter, Henry Roth Jr., and wife, George Newmyer, Abraham Gebel and wife, Philip Kimmell and wife, --- Wildbarger and wife. There is certainly other evidence that some of these people were here about that time, and if the tradition is correct otherwise, it would make the Stoneycreek congregation the oldest in the county. Elder George Adam Martin had in some respects a remarkable history.
In the spring of 1783, John Keagey, a young Tunker deacon, settled a couple of miles south of where Meyersdale now is. There were, however, scattered members of the church living in that part of the county when Keagey came in. Among them were John Burger, whose farm is now in the south side of Meyersdale. In the fall of 1783 several ministers from the east visited Keagey. The members of the church were looked up, and a love feast was held at the house of John Burger, the first ever held in that past of the county. A congregation was organized. Keagey was promoted to the ministry, and someone else was elected deacon. Peter Livengood, Christian Hochstetter, Michael Buechley and John Olinger, some of whom had been living in this part of the county as far back as 1772, were of the Amish church, but shortly after the organization of this Tunker congregation they united with it, and the three first were presently set apart for the ministry. Livengood and Hochstetler lived near Salisbury. Elder Keagey was made bishop about 1790, and Michel Meyers was ordained elder, being the second person to hold this position in the congregation. Peter Kober, said to have been born a few miles west of Berlin about 1775, was also an ordained elder, and is about the first preacher of whom there is very much known. Francis Stump lived in Elk Lick township as early as 1784. In a deed on record his styles himself, "Minister of the Dunkard Society." Other early preachers were John Forney, born in 1777, and John Livengood, a contemporary; it is not known when they were called to the ministry; John Buechley, Jacob Lichty, John Berkley, Jacob D. Miller, Samuel Berkley, David Buechley, David Livengood, Elias K. Buechley---all were well known among the preachers of the church long before 1853. Conrad G. Lint and William M. Horner were called to the ministry in 1855. These early preachers here named were not what would be called an educated ministry. Their book learning was only such as they could obtain in the schools of their day, or in their own homes. All of them had made the scriptures a matter of earnest study, and were able to preach the word acceptably to their people. Up to 1849 the entire county may be looked upon as having been a single charge, with preaching places at different points. These old-time preachers rode from place to place, often from one end of the county to the other, preaching for their people wherever they could be gathered together. Their's was not a paid ministry. There were no church houses---their "Roi fersamlings" being held at the houses of their members. Often in the summer time the preaching would be barns. It was also customary, as many had come a considerable distance, that a meal was served to all after the preaching was over.
A church edifice was built in Brothers Valley township, near Berlin, in 1845. This is the first and therefore their oldest church house in Somerset county. The second church was built at Summit Mills, in 1846. This is a frame building, 46x110 feet, and seats 1,200 persons. The church at Meyersdale was built in 1851, the one at Berkley's in 1850. While preaching was still kept up in private homes and barns, from this time on the number of church houses continued to increase. On the margin of Edward L. Walker's map of Somerset county, published in 1859, there are drawings representing ten churches of this denomination. These, in addition to those already named, were the Glade Pike, Milford, Quemahoning (Jenner), West Salisbury, Somerset township, near David Berkey's, in Paint township, and Middlecreek. It is claimed that the congregation in Conemaugh was organized as early as 1810. In 1849 a conference was held in the church near Berlin to consider the needs of the church in the county, and a committee was appointed to divide the church, or rather the county, into districts. This committee was composed of Elders Peter Long, Andrew Spanogle and John Holsinger, of Pennsylvania; Joseph Arnold and Jacob Byers, of Virginia; George Hoke and Henry Kurtz, of Ohio. They probably received their authority from the yearly meeting. They divided the county into five districts, each to be presided over by a bishop: Quemahoning, John Forney, bishop; Middlecreek, Jacob S. Hauger, bishop; Indian Creek (at that time partly in Somerset county), Jacob Berger, bishop; Berlin, Peter Kober and Michael Meyers, bishops; Elk Lick, John Berkley and Jacob Lichty, bishops; assisted by Samuel Berkey and John B. Meyers. Up to 1855 the preaching was almost entirely in the German tongue. About that time Conrad G. Lint and Peter Berkley, who had been called to the ministry in 1855, began to preach in English. Others among the younger ministers followed their example, until now the preaching is mostly in the English language.
In 1867 Rev. Conrad G. Lint was ordained as bishop, and had charge of the Elk Lick churches for several years. In 1877 the Elk Lick district was divided, Bishop Lint remaining at Meyersdale. Summit Mills was made a district, with Rev. Jonas Lichty as bishop. He was succeeded by Rev. Joel Kneagy. The new Elk Lick district, consisting of the Salisbury and Maple Glen (Peck) congregations, was the first presided over by Bishop Jonathan Kelso. Bishop Kelso is a son of Rev. James Kelso, who came in Elk Lick township in 1824, and was also a minister of this church.
The Salisbury congregation first worshiped in a church at the upper bridge, where West Salisbury now is, but having outgrown this building, a large and commodious frame church was built in Salisbury at a cost of $3,200. Rev. Silas C. Keim was one of the elders of this church, as was also Rev. Nathaniel Merrill. Rev. John N. Davis, still living, was called to the ministry about 1864. The word congregation in the church government of this denomination does not always have exactly its usual meaning. A congregation may have two or three churches and preaching places. There was a preaching place at Peck's school house, belonging to the old Elk Lick district. It must have been a preaching place as early as 1850, or even earlier, and was supplied by the district ministers. In 1880 a church was built here at a cost of $1,200. In 1887 they were organized into a congregation known as Maple Glen, with Elders john N. Davis and Lewis A. Peck as ministers. The present membership is 75. Its Sunday school was organized in 1876. Joseph B. Sell was it first superintendent.
The Greenville church was built in 1856 at a cost of $400, on land donated by George Klingaman. Among its earlier members were the Klingamans, Hochstetlers, Beals and Arnolds. It is a part of the Meyersdale congregation. Edwin K. Hochstetler is the resident minister.
According to the census of 1890, in the entire county the denomination has 2,097 communicants. The seating capacity of its churches was 10,749. The congregations of the county in 1904 were as follows: Berlin, with churches at Garrett and Beachdale; Brothers Valley, with churches at the pike, Pleasant Grove and Salem; Elk Lick, with church at Salisbury, and one preaching place without a church; Maple Glen, one church; Meyersdale, with churches there and in Greenville; Middle Creek, with churches at Middle Creek, Pleasant Hill, Kimmell, Fairview, Pletcher, Summit, and one preaching place without a church; Quemahoning, with churches at Maple Spring, Hooversville and Sipesville. The Quemahoning congregation, however, has a total of seven churches. Shade Creek congregation has churches at Scalp Level. Berkeys, Rummell, Cross Roads, Ridge and Windber, with two preaching places without churches. Summit Mills has churches there and at the Cross Road. The names given here must be understood as being the local names by which churches are known. In the entire county there are 34 church edifices, 39 preaching places, and 26 Sunday schools, with 140 teachers and 2,159 pupils enrolled.
THE BRETHREN CHURCH
Like other churches, the German Baptist church has had it dissensions. These reached the acute stage in 1881, and culminated in a division of the church. Somerset county was one of the centers of these dissensions, and Rev. Henry R. Holsinger, a man of great ability as a preacher, who then resided in the county, was one of the leading actors, perhaps the leading one, in the movement which led to the division of the church. The trouble mostly grew out of the stringency with which the church authorities attempted to enforce the principle of the nonconformity with the world, the progressive element chafing under these restrictions of the church.
The initial step in the division of the church took place at Meyersdale, in January, 1881, when twenty-six members withdrew from that congregation. They do not appear to have wished to withdraw from the church, and made an application to be received into the Berlin congregation, which was accepted, and they were called the Meyersdale branch of the Berlin congregation, or church. On February 3d Rev. Henry R. Holsinger began to preach for them in a rented hall. When the division of the church finally came, they cast their fortunes with "the Brethren," which was the name chosen by the new organization. A church was built in Meyersdale. Rev. A. D. Gnagey was one of the preachers there. The present pastor is Rev. John H. Knepper, who has been in charge of the congregation since 1899.
The Berlin church (meaning a single congregation) retained the organization intact in the reconstruction which followed, holding the church property and endowments. It entered the new organization. A church was built in the town of Berlin, which was dedicated December 4, 1881.
The Brethren church at Salisbury was organized November 17, 1895, with thirty-two members, by Elder John C. Mackey. It had its beginning in a preliminary meeting held on November 6th of the same year, at the house of Samuel L. Livengood, those present being Mr. Livengood and wife, Stewart Smith and wife, Mrs. Peter L. Livengood and Mrs. Annie Wagner. The congregation bought the brick church that had been built by the Lutheran and Reformed churches in 1853. There is a membership of upwards of 100. Elder John C. Mackey was its first pastor.
"The Home Church," located on the farm of J. G. Kimmell, in Stony Creek township, is also a Brethren church. It was dedicated September 25, 1881, in a service conducted by Henry R. Holsinger and S. H. Basher. Among its pastors have been J. L. Kimmell and J. H. Knepper.
The Summit Mills Brethren church was organized in the fall of 1883, in the Miller school house, by Elder P. J. Brown. It began with seven members, who were John A. Miller, wife and daughter: W. H. Miller and wife, S. P. Meyers and Albert Meyers. In 1884 a church was built at a cost of $1,000. A Sunday school was organized in 1884, with 80 children attending in 1891. Membership about 100. Rev. A. D. Gnagy was the first pastor. Rev. John H. Knepper is the present pastor. John A. Miller is the elder.
There is also a Brethren congregation near Listie, but we have no other information about it. The entire membership in the county is supposed to be about 500.
FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCH
There is but one church of this communion in Somerset county. In the spring of 1826, Rev. Charles Fithian, of Fayette county, came into Jenner township and preached about a week in private houses. In the fall of the same year Elder Samuel Williams and Rev. Joshua Newbold organized a congregation of six members, who were William C. Griffith, Susannah Griffith, Abraham Sanborn, Sarah Sanborn, Elizabeth Cable and Rebecca Metzler. A church was built soon afterwards. About 1868 a new edifice was erected on the same ground. Early ministers were Elder Samuel Williams, James Williams, Joshua Newbold, David Lowe, D. C. Topping and P. Reardon. The membership is about 70.
The history of the Mennonite church dates back almost to the first settlement of Somerset county. Jacob Saylor, who settled on a farm on the west side of the Castleman's river, and in full view of Meyersdale, about 1773, was a member of the Amish church, but becoming dissatisfied about some now unknown matter, he withdrew from that church. A Mennonite bishop (as the Saylor traditions say) came out of Lancaster county and ordained him to the Mennonite ministry. In his will, probated about 1796, he calls himself a Mennonite preacher. After being set apart for the ministry he organized a small congregation who worshiped at the houses of the members. An aged minister of the church who was a descendant of Jacob Saylor once told the writer that Joseph Gundy and Peter Fahrney also preached for these people. From a reference in Jacob Saylor's will to Christian Kneagey, it may be inferred that he also was a preacher of this church. The most of the early members lived in Elk Lick and Summit townships. In 1808 Mr. Gundy withdrew from the church, and for a period of about forty-five years there does not seem to have been any resident minister, or until about 1853. During this interval the congregation was served by visiting ministers, among whom were Nicholas Yantz, Joseph Bixler and Joseph Longenecker, of Fayette county; John D. Overholt, Henry Yother, Martin Louks, Christian Stauffer and Christian Shirk, of Westmoreland county; Jacob Blough, Sr., Jacob Blough, Jr., and Samuel Blough, Sr., from Conemaugh township. These ministers traveled on horseback from forty to sixty miles to serve these people. On September 6, 1853, Henry H. Blough, Jr., was ordained to the ministry, and the church was reorganized with 22 members. Rev. Blough served the congregation until incapacitated by age. For a time they worshiped in the German Baptist church at West Salisbury, which they had helped build. The church at Keim was built in 1859, at a cost of $535. In 1893 it was sold to the Lutherans. The pioneer members of the church after its reorganization were John Folk, Samuel Folk, C, P. Livengood, John, Jacob, and Henry Keim and Jeremiah Harshberger. The Folk church was built in 1878. Sunday schools have been maintained for thirty years. Since 1890 the church has had a phenomenal growth. Its present ministers are Bishop David Keim and Ministers D. H. Bender, G. D. Miller, H.M. Gelnet and Edward Miller, who also preach to two congregations near Grantsville, Maryland.
The Blough church is in Conemaugh township, about eleven miles south of Johnstown, and was organized about 1800. The earlier members were of the Blough, Keim, Speicher, Harshberger, and Gindlesperger and Foust families. The earlier ministers were Jacob Blough, Jacob Blough, Jr., and Samuel Blough. The present pastors are Samuel Gindlesperger, Levi A. Blough, Simon Lehman and Stephen D. Yoder. The present membership is 146. The first church was a log house, used also as a school house, built about 1836, which is now used as a dwelling house. The present edifice is a frame structure, built in 1860, with a seating capacity of 600. The Sunday school was organized in 1890, with 43 scholars. Levi A. Blough was the first superintendent.
The Thomas church is in Conemaugh township, and was organized about 1870. The earlier members were the Saylors, Alwines and Thomases. The pastor is James Saylor. A former pastor was Cyrus Harshberger. The congregation first worshiped in the Thomasdale school house. In 1874 a frame church was built. This was remodeled in 1905; size of church, 36x40 feet. The present membership is 96. The Sunday school was organized in 1900, with 61 scholars. Jacob Saylor was first superintendent.
The Stahl church is also in Conemaugh township and was organized in 1882. The first members were of the Livingstons, Kaufmanns, Stahls, Saylors and Weaver families. S. G. Shetler has served as pastor from the time the congregation was first organized. The first place of worship was the Miller school house, but a church was built in 1882 at a cost of $800. In 1902 it was rebuilt. It is a frame building, size 44x66 feet. The Sunday school was organized in 1895. The first superintendent was Levi Blough.
THE AMISH CHURCH
Like the Tunkers and Mennonites, the Amish were among the pioneer settlers of the county. They have always been most numerous in Elk Lick and Conemaugh townships, although there is a sprinkling in Brothers Valley and Stony Creek, and some other townships. They have adhered more closely to their ancient customs and barb than either of the two other denominations.
There are no church records, but according to the traditions Rev. Christian Yoder, of Stony Creek, was the first resident bishop. In Elk Lick township, Peter Livengood was of the Amish church, and is said to have been a preacher, but it is also said that later on he became a Tunker. His son, Christian, was a strict member of the church, but so far as we know he was not a minister. Jacob Miller, who lived on the upper waters of Tub Mill run, was a minister of the church. He came from Berks county prior to 1787. His son, Benedict Miller, born in 1781, was also a minister. He was called to the ministry in 1809, and ordained as a bishop of the church in 1837. His co-ministers were Peter Miller and Yost Yoder. Rev. Jonas Beachey succeeded Miller as bishop. The time of his calling is not known, but Joel Beachey, his brother, became a bishop of the church in 1853. Both have long since passed to their reward. Moses B. Miller, a son of Bishop Benedict Miller, born in 1820, was also an Amish preacher, but removed to Cambria County. He, however, frequently preached in the county. Daniel Harshberger, and later Manasses J. Beachey, were also among the Elk Lick preachers. Jacob Stutzman, of Stony Creek, father of the "Grammar King" whose ministry must have dated as far back as 1785, also preached for the Elk Lick Amish.
These old preachers were not a paid ministry. It was a matter of duty with them. They were mostly farmers, who, on being called to the service of the church, answered the call as best they could, and no doubt often to their great inconvenience and temporal loss. It meant long rides on horseback an in all kinds of weather. Then preaching was always in German, and at houses of the members. A meal was always served by the owner of the house before the people went home, and, as the oftentimes several hundred persons were present, all of whom were welcome to come to the tables, whether members of the church or not, it is easy to see that to have preaching at one's house was quite a tax on the resources of such as were so honored. But all this was in accordance with their notions of hospitality, and it was cheerfully borne.
In Elk Lick this is somewhat changed now, for about 1882 they built themselves a church, near the Cross Road school house, in which their worship is held. In Conemaugh township a church was built in 1875, largely through the influence of the late Isaac Kauffman, who was a member of the denomination. This church is known as the Kauffman church.
THE CHURCH OF GOD
The Church of God has six congregations in Somerset county. Its membership in 1890 was 275.
The old Bethel church in upper Turkeyfoot township was organized about 1850. The first members were Josiah Gross and wife, John F. Kregar and wife, Jonathan Dumbauld and wife, A. W. Faidley and wife, Henry Kregar and wife, Andrew Schrock and wife, and Susan Younkin. A church was built in 1856, at a cost of $1,600.
The congregation at Ursina was organized in 1872, and a church was built in the following year. Its cost was $900. The first pastor was William Davis, who was succeeded by Miles Pritts.
The congregation at Draketown was organized in 1876, and the Union Bethel was built about 1880. Rev. William H. Long was the first pastor. The first deacons were John Rush and Frederick Kregar. A congregation was organized at Fort Hill in 1877, but worshiped in the school house until 1898, when a union church was built.
The Kingwood congregation of this denomination was organized in 1876, by Rev. John Hickernell, and a church was built in 1878, the cost of which was $1,800. Among the first members were C. H. Kregar and wife, Jacob Kregar and wife, and William Gerhart and wife. Its pastors have been W.B. Long, S. Woods, J.G. Bartlebaugh, J. W. Bloyd, T. S. Woods, John Gallatin, J. R. Campbell, G. D. Statler, J. W. Whistler. The present pastor is Rev. J. C. Cunningham. This church has had a Sunday school since 1878.
The Milford Church of God was organized in 1889, at Weimer's school house. In 1891 a church was built near the John Sweitzer farm, in Milford township. The charter members were Peter Dumbauld and wife, John Gahring and wife, Perry Schrock and wife, Austin Yutzey and wife, and F. B. Gahring. The pastors seem to have been the same as those of the Kingwood church.
THE UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH
The denomination, somewhat similar to the Methodist Episcopal church, is made up of "Charges" and "Appointments." Somerset county is divided into six charges at the present date (1906). They are as follows: Somerset Charge, with appointments at Somerset borough, Shanksville, and St. Johns, Rev. J. W. Wilson, pastor; Rockwood Charge, with appointments at Rockwood, Castleman, Mt. Zion, Mt. Union and Milford, Rev. G. A. Sparks, pastor; Fairhope Charge, Rev. G. W. Emingheimer, pastor; Hooversville Charge, with appointments at Hooversville borough, Otterbein (Shade township), Jenner (Jenner township), Sprucetown (Quemahoning township), W. R. Dillen, pastor; Bethel Charge, with appointments at Bethel borough and Foustville (Paint Creek township), Rev. M. L. Wilt, pastor; Windber Charge, with one appointment at borough of Windber, Rev. Cora Prinkey, pastor. The church conference minutes of this denomination for 1905 show a total membership and church building valuation, in the several charges, to be as follows for that year: Somerset Charge, membership, 329; valuation, $7,200. Rockwood Charge, membership, 302; valuation, $7,200; Fairhope Charge, membership, 173; valuation, $1,800. Hooversville Charge, membership, 271; valuation, $6,200. Bethel Charge membership, 108; valuation, $3,100. Windber Charge, membership, 71; valuation, $3,500.
The Shanksville United Brethren church was organized in 1845. The original members were Daniel Spangler, Perry Spangler, Jefferson Spangler, Franklin Spangler, Christian Shank, and their wives. The first pastor was Jacob Ressler. In 1882 this society had a membership of 125, with 100 pupils in the Sabbath school. The first church building was erected in 1857, probably the first of this denomination in Somerset county. The membership is now 190. A new church was built in about 1888, costing $3,000. It is built of brick.
The United Brethren church at Jenner Crossroads was organized in 1847, by Rev. William Beighle. Among the first members were Jonas Ankeny and wife, Deborah Johnson and the Cooper family. The first pastor was John Sitman, succeeded by Rev. William Beighle. A good meeting-house was built in 1849 at a cost of $1,000.
Bethel United Brethren church in Paint Creek was organized by Daniel Shank, in 1858. The first members were David J. Lehman and wife, William Dempsy and wife, Philip Moyer and wife, John Livingstone and wife and John D. Blough and wife. The earlier pastors were Revs. Daniel Shank, Joseph Potts, Joshua Reynolds, William Long, Daniel Brinkel, John Felix, William Beighley, Cicero Wartman, Justice Pershing, David Speck and A. E. Fulton. In 1874 a house of worship was erected at a cost of $700.
Otterbein United Brethren church of Shade township, was organized in 1858 by Rev. Daniel Shank. The first members were Joseph Lohr, Conrad Moyer, Benjamin Lape, Henry Lohr, Ephraim Lohr, Jacob Dull, John Wagner, Austin Lohr, Pierce Lohr, Adam Berkabile, together with their wives. The house of worship was erected in 1871 at a cost of $1,000.
The Rockwood United Brethren church was built in 1873, at a cost of about $1,400. Rev. Jon Felix was the first pastor, and was succeeded by John Buel, William Zook, J. N. Munden, B. F. Noon and others. The parsonage was built in 1882.
The Somerset United Brethren church was formed in 1888-89, and held services for a time in the Presbyterian church, but in 1890 a good brick edifice was built and dedicated in the month of June, 1891. Its cost was about $3,500. The present membership of this church is 103. In 1899, Rev. J. W. Wilson became the pastor, and is still serving on the Somerset Charge acceptably and well.
About 1848 there was a small congregation of this denomination at Salisbury. Rev. William Keyes was the minister. Among the members were Benjamin De Haven and wife and Malvina Greenawalt, with perhaps a half dozen others. It has long since ceased to exist.
EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA.
Emanuel church of this denomination, belonging to the Somerset circuit, was organized in 1815 by Revs. A. Hennig and M. Walter. Among its original members were the families of the Emmerts, Boyers, Pauls, Metzlers, Zimmermans, Cobaughs, McQuillions, and Ferners. The church was built in 1848, and was served by three preachers at the same time.
Pleasant Hill church, of the Somerset circuit, was situated three miles east of Somerset, and in 1870 a church was built at an expense of $1,000. No record shows the first membership.
Mt. Zion church, two and one-half miles northeast of Somerset, was built in 1863. In 1881 it was repaired at an expense of $1,500. Many years prior to the building of this house devotional services were held at private houses.
St. James church, of the above circuit, located three miles southwest of Somerset, was provided with a church in 1873, at a cost of $650.
Somerset church, located at the borough of Somerset, was formed in 1877 b7 Rev. I. A. Smith. Among its first and active members were Jacob Lenhart, William and Henry Shaffer. Their house of worship is a very old one. It was purchased from the Methodist Episcopal Church and remodeled in 1879 at a cost of $1,200. The regular pastors of the Somerset charge have served it.
Garrett Evangelical Association church was erected in 1882 during the pastorate of Rev. R. P. Van Meter. The building cost $1,200.
Harnedsville Evangelical Association church was built in 1876 at a cost of $600. The first minister was Rev. Mr. White, and Noah Bird the chief church official.
St. John’s Evangelical Association church, the oldest in the Ben's Creek circuit, was built in 1875, during the pastorate of Rev. T. Eisenhower. Its cost was $1,700.
The Centennial church, erected in 1876, at a cost of $1,500, is located in Conemaugh township.
Mt. Tabor church was built in 1881, one mile west of Jennerstown. Its cost was $1,100. Revs. A. S. Bumgardner and E. F. Dickey were the founders. The earliest members on the Ben's Creek charge were Jacob Cover, Solomon Emert, Daniel Schneider, Samuel Lenhart, Elizabeth Lenhart, George Ray and Mr. Gonder.
The Wellersburg Evangelical Association church was erected in 1852, at a cost of $800, by Jacob Albright.
Salem Evangelical Association church was probably organized in 1843. Among the first members were Daniel and Adam Sorber. The first church cost about $1,200, and was remodeled in 1874-5.
The Salisbury Evangelical Association church was organized by Rev. Jacob Boas in 1836. The first class leader and Sunday school superintendent was John Smith. The church was erected in 1851 at the cost of $700.
Memorial Evangelical Association church, in Quemahoning township, was formed by Rev. J. Portch in 1880, with six members. Their house of worship was dedicated in October, 1882, by Bishop H. S. Bowman, of Cleveland, Ohio. Its cost was $1,500.
When the troubles in the Evangelical Association culminated in a division of the church, all of these congregations went into the new organization, known as the United Evangelical church. The old organization, however, held all the church property. In a few cases it sold the property to the new organization, but in most of the congregations they built themselves new houses of worship. Among others there were new houses built at Somerset and Salisbury. At Salisbury enough of the members adhered to the old organization to enable it to keep up a church there.
[Source: The History of Bedford and Somerset Counties by Blackburn and Welfley, published in 1906. Transcribed and donated by Batha Karr.]
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Last Revised: July 9, 2008