It has been the misfortune of the Germans who at an early date settled in North Carolina, not to have an historian at a time when it was yet possible to collect the facts relating to their immigration into this colony. At this date it is scarcely possible to make an intelligent or interesting account respecting their coming hither. Records there are few, and only such as may be found in patents and deeds for land in the Department of State at Raleigh, and in the several oldest county records where they located their homes. It seems as if they never supposed that it would be of any interest to any of their posterity, or the general public of the State, to know who they were, whence they came or what part they had in laying the foundation for the future character and greatness of the State. Even the records of their several churches are so scant and imperfect, or by neglect have been lost, to a degree that they afford but little material at this time from which to collect any satisfactory account of their origin, or the names of those who were astir in this work. Most that now can be ascertained is gleaned from lingering tradition that still hovers about the old houses of worship, and over the graves of the venerable dead who in the wilderness reared these monuments to God and their faith. To the work of collecting facts and dates years have been given with only limited success; but, meagre as is the result, what has been rescued is now given to fill a hiatus in the Colonial and Revolutionary History of North Carolina. All diligence has been given as to the correctness of the statements,
The German immigration to America grew out of the fearful results of the thirty years' war that had desolated their native land and made existence there intolerable. After this came the French invasion of the Rhine territory. By this the grand home of the Palatines, who were Protestants, was made a houseless waste. For these sufferers the new world opened an asylum. William Penn gave the heartiest and freest invitation to his colony. Queen Anne of England offered a refuge and means of succour. Thousands left their native land by way of England to reach a home in the wilderness. Most of these were aided to reach the colony of Pennsylvania, which for a time seemed to become largely Germanized. Among them were also Huguenots (French Protestants), who on the revocation of the edict of Nantes had fled to Germany and now came with their co-religionists to America.
This influx of Germans, Swiss and French into Pennsylvania began about 1707. Many had come over previous to this and as early as 1682. During the period from 1727 to 1775 the archives of the colony of Pennsylvania record the names of more than 30,000 persons who landed at the port of Philadelphia. It is from this colony that the German immigrants to North Carolina to a great extent came. A colony of Palatines and Swiss founded New Berne in 1710, whose history may be had in any North Carolina history. We shall confine ourselves to the immigrants from the colony of Pennsylvania to the Carolinas. The most valuable lands in Pennsylvania east of the Alleghanies were taken up. The Proprietors of Carolina offered very advantageous terms to settlers. The resources of salubrious climate and unrivalled fertility of soil, that made it a very paradise, soon attracted these industrious people hither. At this time one-third of the population of the Province of Pennsylvania were Germans. Their overflow into North Carolina was so profuse, that in 1785 the Germans from Pennsylvania alone numbered upwards of 15,000. Of the 30,000 names given in the State archives of Pennsylvania, a very large number can be found to-day among the Germans of North Carolina, and one who goes from the region populated by the Germans in North Carolina to Eastern Pennsylvania will find almost every familiar name in the counties of Berks, Schuylkill, Northampton, Lebanon, Dauphin, etc., in that State.
The territory in which the Germans settled in North Carolina was largely that which is now embraced in the counties of Alamance, Guilford, Randolph, Davidson, Forsyth, Stokes, Rowan, Cabarrus, Stanly, Lincoln, Gaston, Catawba and Burke. Pennsylvania certainly contributed in her German and Scotch-Irish emigrants a valuable population to this Colony. They were a widely different people from those that Germany now sends to our large cities. Morse, in his “American Universal Geography,” in the edition of 1789, in speaking of the Germans of Pennsylvania, says: “The Germans compose about one-quarter of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania. They are most numerous in the north part of the city of Philadelphia, and in the counties of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Dauphin, Lancaster, York and Northampton. They consist of Lutherans (who are the most numerous sect), Calvinists or Reformed, Moravians, Catholics, Mennonists, Tunkers and Zwingfelters, who are a species of Quakers. These are all distinguished for their temperance, industry and economy. The Germans have usually about a fourth of the members of the Assembly, and some of them have arisen to the first honors of the State and now fill a number of the higher offices. Pennsylvania is much obliged to the Germans for improvements in agriculture.” Rupp quotes Governor Thomas as saying: “This Province has been for some years the asylum of distressed Protestants of the Palatinate and other parts of Germany; and I believe it may with truth be said that the present flourishing condition of it is in a great measure owing to the industry of these people; it is not altogether the goodness of the soil, but the number and industry of the people that make a flourishing country.” These are the people that have given a valuable population to the several counties named, and to this day the characteristics of their ancestors are still found in their descendants.
It could be asked, Why is it that such valuable citizens should make so little show in the affairs of the State? One reason is given above—their unobtrusive character, their devotion to agriculture, their industry in making a home. Their ambition did not lie in the direction of public affairs. The ambition to lead, to rule, to mingle in the conflicts of politics did not move in their hearts. But another cause was that they were incapacitated for such public service by their want of facility in the use of the English language, which was necessary for command in the field as well as for efficiency in civil and political offices. They were ready in these stirring times for
As the Germans in North Carolina severally adhered to the German Reformed, the Lutheran and the Moravian Churches, it may be proper here to say that, as the Moravian and Lutheran Churches have their own historians, what may yet be said shall be in the main confined to the Reformed people and their churches. The Moravians are settled mainly in the town of Salem, in Forsyth County, and in the surrounding country. They are a most estimable people. From the beginning of the German settlements in North Carolina the Reformed and Lutherans were very closely allied, and nearly all their churches were union churches, where on alternate Sabbaths they worshipped, and this is still the case in a number of congregations. The members of these churches are also greatly intermarried, so that passing from one communion to the other has never been a difficult question. Indeed, they did not make any account of theCalvin church”—“German Presbyterian church”—as the “Reformed Evangelical church”—as “Dutch Presbyterian,” and “Calvinist congregation.” These Reformed Churches were composed of members of the Reformed Church in Switzerland, Germany and France, who dissented from Luther's doctrine on the Lord's Supper, and were followers of Zuinglius and Calvin on this point of severance, and held to the presbyterial form of government in the church. Their doctrinal symbol is the Catechism of Heidelburg. That these Swiss Palatines and Huguenots were ardently and intelligently attached to their faith and religious customs admits of no doubt. There can yet be found in old Reformed families the bibles, catechisms, hymnbooks, prayer-books and sermons that bear the imprint of publishers in the Fatherland, as also Sauers of Germantown, who so long was the only printer of German books in this country. The early German settlers in North Carolina not only brought their religious books with them, but they had scarcely reared a log cabin and cleared a few acres of land, when there was built in some accessible place a school-house, that also served as a place of worship. After better days a more comfortable house of worship was reared, but hard by it the school-house still held its place, where the children and youth were by the school-master (that ever essential character in every German community), taught the rudiments of education in German, the Fatherland tongue. In those early days this people were better supplied with school-teachers than with ministers of the gospel. In many cases the teacher did duty also
In the civil and political history of North Carolina, for reasons already given, the Germans have not been prominent in the past; and are only now looking up in this respect, as the entire German
At this day the descendants of these men are asserting themselves in all the walks of life in their native State. Thousands of this race are to-day scattered South and West over this great country; and wherever they go their honesty, industry, law-abiding character, tell on the character of the community. Here at home, too, their names are found now among the alumni of the University and our colleges. Among those who represent the State in the Congress of the Unites States and in the Legislature of the State, quite a number whose descent is from these German immigrants may be found. In the roll of the Confederate army, too, were thousands of these sons of the Germans, and among them were those who by bravery rose to eminence as Generals.
It has been mentioned that the Reformed (German) Churches in North Carolina are, owing to their number, weakness and the paucity of ministers, divided into several pastoral charges, and of these we propose to gather what we can of their founders and history.
The immigrants to this region—now making parts of Alamance, Guilford and Randolph counties—came in wagons by the emigrant route of those days from Philadelphia, through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, bringing their household furniture and farming tools, accompanied by young men coming to seek their fortunes in this new country. These came mostly from the counties of Berks, Lancaster and Schuylkill, and a few from Maryland, from 1745 to 1760, perhaps. This was then Orange and Rowan, and these German settlements were made on the waters of Haw River and its tributaries—Alamance, Reedy Fork, Beaver Creek, Stinking Quarter, Sandy Creek, etc. These were the Albrights, Clapps, Fausts, Holts, Sharps (Scherbs), Laws, Graves (Greff), Summers, Cobbs (Kaubs), Cobles, Swings (Schwenks), Cortners (Goertners), Ingolds, Browers, Keims, Staleys, Mays, Amicks (Emigs), Smiths, Stacks, Neases, Ingles, Leinbergers, Straders, Wyricks, Anthoneys, Scheaffers (Shepherds), Weitzells, Trollingers, Longs, Isleys, Shaffners, Foglemans, Sthars, Brauns, Reitzells, with others.
Their first place of worship was in a log building near whereth was had a memorial communion, the largest, till then, ever held in the Clapp church. Fifty-seven were added to its membership. On this occasion the old log church, large as it was, could not hold the congregation, and it had become dilapidated and uncomfortable. In their joy and gratitude the congregation proposed to erect a new frame house of prayer, but at the suggestion of Mr. Riley it was determined that it should be of brick. From thence it was no longer the “Clapp” church, but the “Brick” church of the present day. So harmonious and liberal were the people, that no difficulty was experienced in raising the needed funds for the purpose. This was, perhaps in 1814, and in this church's palmiest days, when Captain Albright, John Clapp, Jacob Clapp, George Clapp, Barney Clapp, Col. D. Clapp, Daniel Faust and Daniel Albright were the leading spirits in the church. Still no permanent ministry could be had, owing to the paucity of preachers, and the churches were dependent on the casual visits of missionaries sent by Synod until 1821, when Rev. John Rudy became pastor of the associated churches in Orange, Guilford and Randolph. After a successful ministry of four years he returned to New York. In 1828, the Rev. J. H. Crawford, of Maryland, was elected his successor. His pastorate lasted twelve years. It was now that the pulpit service was heard in the English language. For the welfare of the church this was none too soon. In 1841, Rev. G. William Welker, the present pastor of the church, took charge of it. It is a large congregation, mostly composed of the descendants of those early German immigrants from Pennsylvania. In the grave-yard, hard by the church, rest in unmarked graves Tobias Clapp and Peter Goertner, who were in the Regulation battle; and there also sleep Capt William Albright and Barney Clapp and Matthew Schwenck, and others, who were soldiers in the War of the Regulation, and the passer-by who stops to read may find other humble graves of noble men, and that of George Goertner (Cortner), who was the civil leader of this community of Germans.
The second church in respect of age in this charge is the “Stoner” Church. It is probable that it was organized soon after 1758, and Rev. Weyberg was the first pastor, and possibly organized the congregation, however he was preceded by one Leinbach, a foreign German. The founders of this church were the Albrights (Albrechts), Fausts, Basons, Ephlands, Gerhards, Loys, Longs, Shaddies (Schades), Steiners, Nease, Trollingers, Sharps (Scheabe), and others whose descendants still people that fertile region on the waters of Haw River, Alamance and Stinking Quarter. These immigrants were mostly from the Counties of Schuylkill and Berks in Pennsylvania, and from Maryland. Their house of worship, in order to be central to the widely scattered settlements, was erected on the point of land formed by the confluence of Alamance and Stinking Quarter streams. The place was very inconvenient of access, and this may account largely for its future decadence. In its earliest days Jacob Albright, Peter Sharp and John Faust were the Elders; Philip Snotherly and David Ephland, the Deacons. This congregation fared as the other Reformed Churches in the colony for want of stated ministerial services, and was dependent on the occasional visits of Loretz, Hauck and others until 1821, when Rev. John Rudy became the pastor of the charge, who was succeeded three years after his dismission by Rev. J. H. Crawford, who in turn was succeeded in 1841 by Rev. G. Wm. Welker. Owing to various causes the congregation for several years was without pastoral ministration, and the house of worship became dilapidated, but in recent years a new church building has been erected in a more accessible place, the congregation reorganized, and may yet renew its youth.
The third congregation in this charge was, as to date of origin, the
in the county of Randolph. The North-east corner of this county was peopled, as Guilford, by Germans from Pennsylvania. At an early day the Reformed and Lutherans built a union church, still known as “Richlands.” Owing perhaps to the same causes that made the separation in the “Law” Church, the Reformed people soon moved to a house of their own, built near the village of Liberty, on the road that led from Guilford Court House to Cross Creek, or Fayetteville. The old log house still stands on a parcel
The other of the several churches that made this charge originally was
This was a union church, and was organized soon after the Brick Church, and probably by the same minister. It was in the present Guilford County, about ten miles North-east of the Brick Church. It was known as “Stahmaker's” church. The Reformed families in this vicinity were the Weitzells, Wyricks, Straders, De Walds, and others, who here were wont to worship until the congregation, by neglect, was, under the ministry of Reverend Crawford, suffered to disintegrate. However, in 1855, under the ministry of Rev. G. Wm. Welker, this congregation of his (the Guilford) charge was reorganized. Gideon DeWald and William Weitzell were chosen Elders; John Clapp, Duncan Troeler and Joshua Weitzell, Deacons. For the convenience of its members the Reformed congregation, after a few years, removed to the neighborhood of Boon's Station, and built a sanctuary of their own, known as Saint Mark Reformed Church.
At a later date there was organized the
This was a colony from the Brick Church and was organized by Rev. John Rudy during his pastorate. It was a union church with the Lutherans. This was a feeble organization and continued so until in 1851, when, under the pastorate of Rev. G. Wm. Welker, the Reformed congregation built a house of worship on the old Martinsville road to Fayetteville on the Upper Alamance and named it Mt. Hope. This was done for the convenience of the members in securing a location central to its territory. This house was of brick, but
Was a Swiss, born May 18th, 1722. His father, in the youth of Samuel, sought a home for his wife and twelve or thirteen children in the new world, where he supposed he would be best able to provide for them. The voyage across the ocean in those days was not short nor always safe and pleasant. The vessel on which this Swiss family sailed was more than four months on its passage, and encountered thirteen severe storms, and being badly crippled was compelled to put into an English port, where it was detained several months for repairs. While here the father and two daughters died and were interred on English soil. The 8th of October, 1739, when the vessel at last hove in sight of the shore, was a terribly cold day. The provisions were exhausted when she encountered the severest storm of the voyage. So weak and exhausted were the passengers that 220 perished before they could be got to land. On the 10th, Samuel Suther, more dead than alive, was brought to shore, where he was taken in care by an Englishman, who nursed him back to conscious life. He alone of his father's family survived the wreck. It is probable that, being a Swiss, he had received in his native land a good education, he being seventeen years old when he left the land of his birth. German school-teachers were in demand in every German community, and Samuel Suther found employment as teacher for some years in the provinces of Virginia, Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland as a teacher. In 1749 he taught the German school connected with the Reformed Church in Philadelphia. In June, 1768, he was preaching in Mecklenburg County, now Cabarrus, N. C. The tradition among his descendants is, that he was ordained in Philadelphia and had a certificate to that effect,
The fertile lands on Abbott's Creek, Leonard's Creek and Muddy Fork early attracted the notice of the German farmers from Pennsylvania. It is on the waters of those streams that we find their log churches of an early date. As in other sections, there were union churches where the Reformed and Lutheran people peaceably worshipped God after their custom on alternate Sabbaths. The Reformed congregations now make two charges in this county. The Lower Davidson consists of four congregations—Beck's, Emmanuel, Mt. Carmel and Jerusalem.
Of these “Beck's Church” is the oldest, and its organization dates back to the first settlement, but no positive dates are to be had. The deed for 53 acres of land bears date 1787, but at that time there was a Reformed congregation in existence and a log house of worship. This church is about six miles South-east of Lexington. The early peace of this union church has of late years been broken by internal troubles and law-suits, and both parties have vacated the old church and built new ones for their separate use. The Reformed house is neat and comfortable. The members of the congregation are largely made up from the families of the Swings, (Schwenks), Hedricks, Smiths, Billings, Millers, Imlers, etc. No records exist to show by whom the congregation was organized, but it is probable that it was
“Emmanuel Church” may be seen on an elevated ground three and a half miles South of Thomasville. The site is a fine one and easily accessible. The house was built in 1814. The congregation was made up from the several older Reformed congregations in the county. Its principal families were the Grimes (Grimms), Meyers, Imlers, Shulers, Lohrs, Leivengoods, Veitches, etc. It was probably organized by Rev. Boger, but had become from neglect disorganized, when in 1835 it was, under the ministry of Rev. David Crook, resuscitated. The property is held in common by the Reformed and Lutherans. Absalom Grimes, David Meyers and Lears Leivengood were the first Elders named in the records. The house of worship has recently been refitted and painted, but is, owing to the growth of the congregation, too small for its comfort.
In 1848, under the pastor of this charge, Mt. Carmel was organized. The remote residences from the old places of worship gave occasion for the Classis of North Carolina to authorize Rev. T. Butler to gather the members of the Reformed communion in that vicinity into a church at this place. It is several miles West of the town of Lexington. The Hedricks, Koontz, etc., are of the active members of this congregation. It is not large in numbers, and the wide field over which the pastor's work extends causes it to suffer for careful oversight.
The remaining congregation of this charge is New Jerusalem, distant some twelve or fourteen miles South-east of Lexington. It was organized by Rev. P. A. Long in 1858 for the convenience of the Reformed members of Beck's Church who were living too far from their place of worship. It is a union church, and the Reformed congregation is not as prosperous as it should be and its membership is small.
The churches of this charge are five, and are mostly on or near the waters of Abbott's Creek. Two of the five are churches whose organization dates with the earliest settlement of that section of Davidson (then Rowan) County. The Germans were attracted by the fertile lands on Abbott's Creek, and there, hard by their own
The Pilgrim Church, about two and one-half miles from Lexington, near the public highway leading to Greensboro, is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, place of worship in the country. The property, containing several acres of land and a neat frame church painted white, is held jointly by the Lutheran and Reformed. Several older buildings had replaced the first log cabin before this new house was recently dedicated to God's service. It is a matter for regret that no records are to be found of the time of its organization or the minister who gathered the Reformed people here into a congregation. It is very probable, that already before the days of Rev. Schneider this was done, who is one, at least, of its earliest pastors. Here it was that the ancestors of the families of Leonards, Berriers, Longs, with others, professed the Reformed faith.
Bethany Church is the other ancient organization in this Reformed charge. It was, in earlier records, known as Fredericktown. Here, at the distance of twelve miles East of Lexington, on the Upper Abbott's Creek, settled the Longs, Lokleys, Beckerdites, Clodfelters (Glatfelters), with other of their co-religionists, who now sleep in the populous grave-yard hard by, and united with their Lutheran neighbors to put up their first place of worship. It is probable that it was organized about the same time, and under the same ministration, as the Pilgrim Church. For want of spiritual ministration, the Reformed people suffered their organization to fall into disuse, but under the ministry of Rev. T. Butler, 1848-'56, it was revived and grew to become a prosperous church.
Sauer's Church was organized under the ministry of Rev. W. C. Bennet, 1834-'37, for the convenience of those whose residences were too remote from the older churches. Yet, it has never been made to prosper as its location and resources would justify.
Beulah Church is another of the small congregations of this charge. It was organized in 1855 by Rev. T. Butler. The Elders elected were Thomas Long and A. G. Long; Deacons, Jacob Thomas and Ephraim Rothrock. The church building is a frame house, painted white, erected on a parcel of land that was donated by Thomas Long. It was near the public road from Salem, in Forsyth
Recently another congregation has been organized in the vicinity of Davidson County Poor-house, by the Rev. Thomas Long, that bids fair to become a prosperous mission. At present it is temporarily connected with the upper Davidson charge. It is an overflow from the Pilgrim and Beck's Reformed Churches.
Perhaps half of the present Rowan County was settled by Germans, whose descendants still make a valuable portion of its industrious and orderly population. The churches composing this charge are two—“Grace” or “Lower Stone,” in Rowan County, and “Bethel” or “Bear Creek,” in Stanly County. The region, of which Grace Church is the centre, was settled, probably about 1750, by German immigrants, mostly from Pennsylvania, among whom were the Lingles, Fishers, Bergers, Lippards, Peelers, Holtzhausers, Bernhardts, Klutts, Rosemans, Yosts, Foils, Bogers, Shuppings. As was common among the Germans of the two confessions in those days, their first place of worship was a union church called “St. Peter's” or “Fulenwider's,” about six miles North-east of the present Grace Church. A separation was soon, however, necessary. The Lutherans builded what is still known as the Organ Church, while the Reformed selected a parcel of ground on the highway from Beatty's Ford to Gold Hill, about four miles West of the latter place. A purchase was here made of sixteen acres of land of Lorentz Lingle for two pounds proclamation money of the Province of North Carolina. The deed bears date 1774 and conveys the land to Andrew Holtzhauser and John Lippard for the use of the Calvin congregation—(the Reformed were, in those early days in this Province, distinguished from all others as the followers of the great Genevan Reformer, John Calvin). The first house was of logs, and was also used as a school-house. This building was soon made to give place to a more substantial structure. There seems to have been some defect in the original title, for the original trustees now make new title to Jacob Fisher and John Casper, and in this deed the church is named “The German Presbyterian congregation on Second Creek in the Dutch settlement.” Already, in 1782, Rev. Samuel Suther, who had removed from Guilford County, the records show, was pastor of this congregation.
It was determined that the new building should be of stone—(hence its common title, “The Lower Stone Church”). Owing to internal dissensions and a mistaken rivalry with the Organ Church congregation, the corner-stone of this stone edifice was not laid until 1795, by Rev. Andrew Loretz, of Lincoln County, Suther having removed to South Carolina. At this time Col. Geo. Henry Berger and Jacob Fisher were Elders. It was so soon after the horrors and destruction incident to the war of the Revolution, that the people were very poor and the work they had undertaken beyond their impoverished means, so they had resort to a lottery, no uncommon means used in those days, to secure funds to complete their house, and it was only after sixteen years from the laying of the corner-stone that it was finished. In November, 1811, it was dedicated to the service of the Triune God. In this service Pastor Loretz was assisted by the Rev. Dr. Robinson, the beloved pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Poplar Tent. We cannot learn who succeeded Rev. Loretz in the care of this congregation, but Rev. Geo. Boger was for many years before 1830 the gentle, patient and laborious shepherd of this flock. In 1830, Rev. D. B. Lerch became pastor, but after a short ministry he now sleeps in the adjoining “God's Acre” in the rear of the pulpit, his memory revered by those who knew him. He was succeeded by Rev. John Lantz in 1837, who left in 1853, succeeded by Rev. T. Butler, who removed in 1869. The present pastor is the Rev. C. B. Heller.
The associated church in this charge is
When this congregation was organized by the Rev. George Boger, in 1806, it was in Montgomery County, but now in Stanly County. It was a union church at its foundation. The Reformed members were a colony from the Lower Stone congregation. Among them were the Bernhardts, Mooses, Heglers, Seitzes. Their first house was a log building on a tract of land donated for the purpose by Christopher Lyerly. The Reformed congregation was few in number and weak in wealth in its early days. A new place of worship has succeeded the old log building. The Lutheran congregation has moved elsewhere. The property is now entirely Reformed. The pastors since Boger's day have been the same as at the mother church. Its first Elder was—Seitz, and its first Deacon John Berger. Both of these congregations, under pastor Heller, are in a
This pastoral charge is composed of three congregations, all in the county of Rowan, and on the left of the North Carolina Railroad as you travel South. The entire region is German in its prevailing population, the descendants of those who erected the early German Churches in that part of the State. Only one,
Mount Hope, dates its origin to an early period in the opening up of this part of the State. The original church was known as St. Paul's, distant about four miles from Salisbury. No records are attainable of this church to the writer. In 1862 the Classis of North Carolina met in this church, and the Rev. T. Butler was pastor. It was also a union church. In order to have the house of God better accessible to the Reformed congregation, they built a new church on a parcel of land donated by Mr. Lingle on the road from Salisbury to Concord, and named it Mt. Hope. This congregation has since been prosperous, and Mr. Lingle has since donated his entire farm to the congregation for its use as the pastor's home. This removal took place perhaps about 1867 or '68.
St. Luke is another of the congregations that make this charge. It is a colony mainly from Grace or Lower Stone Church. Its organization dates about 187—. It was organized by Rev. P. M. Trexler. The house is a convenient frame building. The third congregation of which this charge is composed, is
Shiloh Church. It is on the road from Salisbury to Cheraw, S. C., about two and a half miles from the former place. It was organized in 18— by Rev. —— ——. This congregation is also an offshoot of the Lower Stone and St. Paul's Churches. It has not prospered as the founders anticipated. The chief families in this German Reformed charge are Fishers, Peelers, Rosemans, Lingles, Lippards, Holtzhausers, etc.
This pastoral charge properly consists of two congregations—Mt. Zion, in Rowan County, and Mt. Gilead, in Cabarrus County. These are both in a largely German settlement, where homes have been held by the same families since its first occupation. These two churches in this organization date from the years that immediately
Owing to causes unknown, but possibly the removal of Suther to South Carolina, this congregation was for a time almost extinct, until it was revived under the ministry (1851) of Rev. John Lantz. It did not seem to prosper, the house was old and dilapidated, when, under the ministry of Rev. Dr. Ingold, the congregation moved out on the Salisbury and Concord road, within three miles of the latter place, and built a new brick church and called it Mt. Gilead. During the years 1886-'87 they have found it needful to build a new and larger house of worship that has recently been dedicated to its holy uses. Here it is where the descendants of the Coldwater Reformed fathers still worship God after the manner of their ancestors. Here you may find Foils (Phyles), Heilmans Clines (Kleins), Meissenheimers, Shinns, Suthers, etc., etc.
The Mt. Zion Church is about ten miles south of Salisbury, on the line of the North Carolina Railroad, near China Grove Station. This was, in its foundation, known as the “Savitz” Church, which was a union church, the joint property of the Reformed and Lutheran people. When this church was organized, and by whom, we have no records to show. No doubt a rude place of worship was established
In the year 1782, December 15th, George Boger was born and baptized by Rev. Suther. The sponsors were George Goodman and Rosina Foil, unmarried. I was born and brought up in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, (then Mecklenburg County). My father's name was Jacob, and was born and reared in Maxidonee township, Pennsylvania. My mother was a Loefler, of the same State and county. After their marriage, they betook themselves to North Carolina and settled on so-called Buffalo Creek. There I went some months to a German school when seven or eight years old. The school-master's name was Joseph Hentzler. When nine years old, I went to school again to Martin Schlump, and when eleven years
When I announced this to Mr. Weyberg, he at once assisted me and received me and I was his student. After I had studied seven months and three days, then I, for the first time, preached, at which time I was seventeen years and four months old. I was one year a student under Rev. Weyberg, and God favored and blessed my undertakings. After Mr. Weyberg and I parted, which occurred December, 1800, I returned to my parents, and at times served three to four congregations. In October, 1801, I betook myself to Rev. Storch (Lutheran minister) and was several months under his tuition. After that, in April, 1802, I went to the Rev. Andrew Loretz, in Lincoln County, and was under his tuition something over ten months. He ordained me March the 6th, 1802, at Savitz Church, Rowan County, ten miles from Salisbury (this was the old title of Mt. Zion Church near China Grove), and so, in the name of the Holy Trinity, was I ordained as a Reformed minister, and received permission to administer the Holy Sacrament, so that the Triune God would favor and bless me, and all my labors and undertakings be blessed.
The persons who petitioned Pastor Loretz to ordain me are the following, viz.: William Schmetter, John Shuman, Michael Peeler, Joe Correll, Christopher Loefler, Henry Barringer, Adam Correll, Christian Shuman, Nicholas Shupping, Ludwig Bieber, Jac. Meisenheimer, Henry Caspar, Christopher Lyerly, Jac. Reide and Frederick Siebert.
And when ordained I was twenty years, two months, two weeks and four days old. O Almighty, bless and protect me—grant me a full measure of thy Holy Spirit, so that I may discharge my holy calling acceptably. O Jesus, let thy light shine upon me, and give me strength that I may preach thy word with understanding, power and boldness. O Holy Spirit, lead me, give me strength in weakness,
From a minute diary kept by Mr. Boger, we learn that during the several years he was engaged on his studies before his ordination, he was wont to supply, at irregular intervals, the churches of Coldwater, Crooked Creek, Rocky River, Savitz, Lingle's and Bear Creek. Yet, in the year 1800, he assisted in all the labors incident to a common farm-hand on his father's farm. After his ordination he had charge of the Reformed Churches in that region until he was relieved, in part, by the Rev. Daniel Lerch in the autumn of 1830. The increasing demand for preaching in English demanded this change. Yet Mr. Boger still continued to minister, until eventually, in 1847, he gave up his loved life-long work. He died among his kindred and the people he loved and labored for on Monday, the 19th day of June, 1865, at the good old age of eighty-two years, five months and four days. His work sums up thus: More than thirty years pastor of from four to seven churches; baptized one thousand nine hundred and nineteen children; received six hundred and twenty-seven persons into membership with the church; married two hundred and one couples, and preached three hundred and eight funeral sermons. Of the sermons he preached during his ministry we find no perfect record, but they number at least one thousand six hundred and sixty-three. The life of this humble, incompletely educated pioneer minister in the Reformed Church was not an idle one; and to him, doubtless, the continued existence of the church in Cabarrus, Stanly and Rowan Counties is, under God, largely due.
This charge consists of St. Paul's, St. John's, Newton and Smyrna congregations, all in the present county of Catawba, formerly part of old Lincoln County. This county of Catawba was largely settled by Germans from Pennsylvania. The pioneer of these immigrants was Henry Weidner (Whitner), who, about 1745, came alone to this region to hunt and trap. He lived in peace with the Indians, who still held the soil. He was wont to go back to the civilized world each spring, carrying his pelts, &c., on several horses. The patent for his land bears date 1750. On one of his return trips he brought as a companion of his forest life a young wife, Mary Mull, and a youth by the name of Conrad Yoder, the ancestor of a large and
St. John's is also a member of this charge. It is about six miles North of Newton, in the curve of the Catawba River. It is a colony
Smyrna is also a member of this charge, and was organized in 1832 by Rev. J. G. Fritchey. This, too, was in part an offshoot of St. Paul's. The first Elders were Nathaniel Edwards, John J. Shuford and Jacob Lantz. J. J. Shuford and Isaac Douglas jointly donated eleven acres of land for the church. The old church has recently been replaced by a neat frame building, and better days seem to be in store for this small congregation.
Newton Church. This is the remaining congregation of this charge. Its origin dates with the formation of Catawba County—1845. As said before, its members were almost wholly from St. Paul's. It erected the first house of worship in the town. It is still standing and known as the “White Church.” The Elders on its organization were Abel Ikard and Daniel Rowe. Their successors in office have been Reuben Setzer, M. L. McCorkle, F. D. Reinhartt, S. M. Finger, W. H. Williams, D. F. Moose and H. A. Forney. Deacons: Moses Fry, D. F. Moose, W. H. Williams, J. F. Smyre and D. L. Rowe. The Rev. Dr. Clapp has been pastor since 1878. The congregation is now engaged in erecting a fine, large brick sanctuary in a more accessible place, instead of their former place of worship. This charge having Catawba College in its bosom, an institution of the Reformed Church under the jurisdiction of a Board of Trustees elected by the Classis of North Carolina, has a trust assigned it. It gives fair promise that it will not fail in its duty to the interests of the Reformed Church or Catawba College.
This charge is in old Lincoln County now, as well as in old Lincoln County of Revolutionary fame. A large part of this county was settled as early as 1745-'50, when the Germans found Pennsylvania too straight for them and turned their faces to a sunnier and more fertile clime. In the vicinity of its county
In this charge is also the
Daniels Church.—It may be found about 4½ miles North-west of Lincolnton. It is also a union (Reformed and Lutheran) church. It is one of the older German churches in that region, and dates in origin with St. Paul's. Its members were the Warlicks, Ramsaurs, Coulters, Reeps, etc. No means are found by which to determine who organized this Reformed congregation. Its first permanent pastor was Rev. A. Loretz, who lived quite near, and who sleeps in its ancient and populous grave-yard. A better house of worship is now demanded, and the two parties in the union are about to separate and build their own sanctuaries. The pastors have been the
Salem Church is also a member of this charge. It is about five miles North of Lincolnton, and is a union church also, and has a convenient brick house of worship. It dates only 18—, and was built for the convenience of members of the older and more distant places of worship.
Matthew's Church, about six miles North-east of Lincolnton, was organized in 1837 by Rev. J. G. Fritchey, as a Reformed Church, and was organized from the members of that church on Clark's and Leper's Creeks. The Fingers, Carpenters, Shrums, Boyds, Reinhardt's, etc., are the prominent families.
Within the last year a new Reformed congregation has been organized at Maiden, a thriving village on the Narrow-Gauge Railroad between Newton and Lincolnton. It is quite a promising plant. Its existence is very largely due to the liberality of the Carpenters. Near by is the new parsonage of the Lincolnton charge.
Was born in the city of Chur (Coire) in the Canton of Graubunden (Grisons), in Switzerland, in the year 1761. Little is known of his early history. He received his education at Kaufbeuren in the Kingdom of Bavaria, where he was still in May, 1779. In 1784 he sailed for America, and his passport is dated from Chur (where still reside those bearing his name) bearing the signature of the Burgermeister of that city. After a voyage of three months he arrived at Baltimore, Maryland. From thence he went to Meyerstown, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. About 1786 he married a Mrs. Scheaffer of that place (formerly Miss Lehman, of Hagerstown, Maryland). In the autumn of 1786 or '87 he came to Lincoln County, North Carolina. Here he made a home for himself four and a half miles from Lincolnton, whence he never removed. Why he wended his course hither is not now known. Perhaps the fame of this earthly paradise, that drew hither so many from Pennsylvania, may have seemed to open up an opportunity of doing good. He was the pastor of the then Lincoln County Reformed Church, but he for many years itinerated over the entire territory of North and South Carolina, as far as settled by members of the Reformed Church. To him, perhaps, more than any one man, the existence to-day of Reformed Churches in North Carolina is due. In those days little traveling
He was an educated man and used the German with great fluency and power, while he was also an excellent French scholar and able to use the Latin freely. He was famous wherever he preached as an orator. His discourse at Lincolnton on the death of General Washington is still spoken of in that region as one of transcendent ability. He had gathered, for that age and a new country, quite a fine library of valuable theological works, which, however, after his death, was sold in an unappreciative community for a trifle and scattered to be lost. Those who knew him in the Loretz family circle and at the sick-bed—in the house of mourning—yet speak of his tenderness and of the unction of his prayers as most thrilling and comforting. His extensive labors and his frequent exposures cut off his grand life too soon for the churches, for he died at his home at the early age of 51 years. It was on Sabbath day. He had preached at St Paul's, then rode fifteen miles home to die that evening, as he had predicted he would. He sleeps in an humble grave among his kindred and those to whom he ministered, hard by Daniel's Church. Among his children were three sons whom he fondly hoped to rear and educate for the higher walks of life. One of these sons represented the old Lincoln County in the House of Commons for three successive terms. Judge D. Schenck, in an article in a Lincolnton paper, thus speaks of Mr. Loretz: “He was a man of remarkable energy and great endurance, and zealous in the performance of his duty. He was also a man of more than ordinary talent and well
Is composed of three congregations, Hickory, Bethel and Grace, all on the South Fork of the Catawba River. Of these churches only one is a union church, viz.: Grace. This place of worship is, perhaps, ten miles North-west of Lincolnton, in a community thoroughly German. About here it was the Yoders, Coulters, Reinhardts, Ramsaurs, Warlicks, Shufords, Wilfongs and Weidners had settled. We are not in possession of data as to its organization, but it grew up with Daniel's, St. John's, etc., and was under the same pastors. It was for many years the most prosperous and intelligent Reformed congregation in the State. But owing to removals by death and dismissions to form other Reformed Churches, it has been very greatly reduced in number. Its early house of worship was, as common in this colony, of logs, and it was not until 1851 that this edifice, dear to the fathers, was made to give place to a neat brick house where the descendants of those good men who, in the wilderness, laid the foundation of the State and church, still worship after the fashion of the churches of the Reformation.
Bethel Church is on the South Fork of the Catawba River, about seven miles South of Hickory. It is first reported in the minutes of the N. C. Classis in 1849. It was organized by Rev. J. H. Crawford. It is in the region where Henry Weidner, the South Fork pioneer, located his grant of land. Here the Weidners, Robinsons, Wilfongs, still maintain the ancient Reformed faith. The first house here was an humble place and erected on a site convenient for those remote from the old sanctum. Within the last year a comfortable house of worship has been dedicated in the stead of the old one, and a new impulse has been given the activity of the congregation under the pastorate of Rev. L. Reiter.
The remaining congregation of this charge is the Reformed Church in the town of Hickory. It was organized in 1869 by Rev. D. Ingold of members of the Reformed Churches of the county of Catawba who had removed to this busy and thriving town. Its first
In May, 1831, at the Brick (Clapp's) Church in Guilford County, under an ordinance of the “Synod of the United States,” which met at Hagerstown, Maryland, the churches and Ministers in North Carolina of the Reformed confession were authorized to form a Classis in connection with that Synod. At this meeting four Elders were present, representing four charges composed of seventeen congregations. These Elders were Col. Philip Hedrick, of Davidson County; Col. John Hoke, of Lincoln County; Adam Roseman, of Rowan County, and Col. Daniel Clapp, of Guilford County. The ministers present were Rev. William Hauck, of Davidson charge; John G. Fritchey, Lincoln charge; Daniel B. Lerch, Rowan charge, and John H. Crawford of the Guilford charge. Rev. George Boger was absent. At this date, 1887, this Classis consists of fifteen ministers, nine pastoral charges, thirty-six congregations and 2,313 communicant members. In the Reformed Church each congregation is governed by its Consistory, composed of the pastor, elders and deacons, elected by the congregation. The several congregations in a charge have a General Consistory, composed of the several congregational Consistories. Three or more pastoral charges in a defined contiguous territory make a Classis. Four or more Classes make a District Synod, and all the Classes in the United States constitute “the General Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States.” There are seven District Synods and fifty-two Classes in the United States. The Classis in North Carolina stands in ecclesiastical relation with the Synod of the Potomac.