Monday, May 20, 2013

The Church of God

In October, 1820, the Rev. John Weinbrenner, of Maryland, became German Reformed pastor of Harrisburg and affiliated congregations, of which Wenrich’s Church was one.  He continued to serve this congregation until April 1826.

As a preacher he was zealous and earnest, but he did have his weaknesses.  He was known for being quite vain and self-centered. During the last two years of his ministry in the Harrisburg Charge, Mr. Weinbrenner began to drift away from the doctrines of the church. He introduced the mourner’s bench, a special seat for mourners and repentant sinners in the front of the church, and feetwashing, both of which were noticed and disliked by those who were well grounded in the religion.  But it was when he rejected Infant Baptism and preached against it that the congregation took action against what they say as a major departure from the standards of the Church.   An election was held in the month of March 1826 to decide whether Mr. Weinbrenner should be allowed to continue as Pastor.  The vote came out against Weinbrenner by one vote.  After the election, Mr. Weinbrenner, while walking out from the church through the graveyard, was heard saying in German: “This Wenrich's Church wants to destroy, and if not let me preach in the houses, so I'm preaching on the street.”  Weinbrenner preached his farewell sermon in April 1826.  80 members followed him from the congregation. After this he preached in the schoolhouses and private houses in the neighborhoods. 

Soon, feeling a need for a formal house of worship, Weinbrenner's followers entered into a land contract with Simon Lingle, Executor of the Estate of Thomas Lingle. The plot of land at the west end of Linglestown was 60 feet wide and 200 feet long with Market St., now Linglestown Rd., to the South.  Construction began on a church building and was completed and dedicated on Christmas Day in 1827.

Rev. Weinbrenner continued to preach to these people, though he had not broken with the German Reformed Church by resignation or the surrendering of his Ordination papers.The church's council, known as the Synod, had a meeting in 1826 at Frederick, Maryland where they received charges of the disorderly conduct of the Reverend. Similar charges were brought before the Synod of York, PA. A committee was appointed to try the charges and Weinbrenner's connections with the German Reformed Church were severed. 

He continued preaching in the Church at Linglestown and feeling that the church should have a name, chose the Bible name of The Church of God.  And so, on June 29, 1829, with the election of five Elders and three Deacons, the church was organized as The First Church Of God.

This church served as the place of worship until 1866 when, under the leadership of Rev. W.L. Jones, a new building was erected on the same plot of ground a few feet from where the old church stood.

In the fall of 1904, shortly after being appointed paster, Rev. J.D. Clark noticed the need of a new house of worship. Rev Clark, who was an architect, submitted plans for a new building at a meeting of the church council. The council decided to build a new church, using Rev. Clark’s plans.
A plot of ground was purchased and they broke ground. The building was completed in1905 and cost $6,500. The building is now the location of the La Piazza of Linglestown restaurant on Linglestown Rd.

The present Linglestown Church of God was built in 1972 less than a mile from where the La Piazza of Linglestown restaurant currently stands.

Click to enlarge

The stained glass at the front of the church, behind the altar, was taken from the third Church of God that is now the restaurant.

The Church of God cemetery is located east of the church. The earliest grave is dated 1801, the first church was built in 1827. The last grave was in 1961.

At least 20-25 stones are missing, mostly worn away by the elements.

Interesting picture COG Harvest Home.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wenrich's Cemetery

Click to enlarge

Wenrich's Cemetery is on the grounds of St. Thomas United Church of Christ and is the final resting place of some of the most important characters in the story of Linglestown.

Thomas Lingle

Thomas Lingle was born in 1742 and died in 1811. His tombstone reads that he was a Pvt. Filbert's Co., PA Vols. Rev War. Born in Berks County, the sixth of eleven children, he came to this area in 1765 and built The Town of St Thomas, later renamed Linglestown.

Francis Wenrich

Francis Wenrich was born in 1750 and died in 1827. He married Elizabeth Krieger around 1769. According to his tombstone, he served at Brandywine and Germantown in the Revolutionary War and on the Frontier against the Indians.  Wenrich Street is just across Linglestown Rd. from the St Thomas Church.

John Eisenhower

John Eisenhower was born February 5, 1774 and died June 21, 1861. He was the half brother of the great grandfather of the 34th President, Dwight Eisenhower. He served in the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolutionary War and the 5th Class Capt. Henry Snevely’s Co. during the Whiskey Rebellion.

George Pletz

On Sept. 17, 1828 George Pletz was only 20 years old when he died in a most unique way. He and his brother, John, invented a flying machine and attempted to fly from the mountain to their Uncle Brickle’s farm in Fishing Creek Valley. The unsuccessful test flight came to an end when they crashed, killing George and leaving John with a broken arm.

Princess White Feather

She was known as Mary Greene, Mary Redd, Mary Taylor, White Feather, and Eagle Feather, and she died on August 24, 1939.  According to her obituary, she was a Native American princess from the Quinabella Sioux Tribe of the Dakota territory, found as a baby by her uncle in the arms of her dead mother after a massacre by the American government.   

Chief Sitting Bull was her second cousin and Chief Iron Tail, the model for the Indian Head Nickel, was her uncle, the same one who found her alive after the massacre.  When she was young, she was sent to the Carlisle Indian School. She was there at the same time as Olympic athlete, Jim Thorpe.  After finishing her education, she chose to stay in Central Pennsylvania. Her first husband was Charles Redd.  Her second husband was Carl C. Taylor, also known as Chief Running Wolf, a member of the Miscelearo Apache Tribe of New Mexico. She was not a member of Wenrich’s Church, but her burial was in the cemetery.

Princess White Feather' s Grave

Princess White Feather's funeral was attended by many Native Americans.  She was buried in full native dress along with a bow, three arrows, and a pipe that was over 100 years old.

The Devil's People

In the early days of the church and cemetery the property was surrounded by a fence. The custom at the time in the area was to bury “the devil’s people” in the land outside the fence.

According to Wenrich 1791 Rules and Regulations of the church, when a person “falls from his Faith”, officers of the church were to go to him 1-2-3 times and then if he falls again, when he died, he was to be buried on the outside of the graveyard with the devil’s people . These people were not even given the respect of having their graves marked.

Slaves' Graves

In the early days of Linglestown, some of the wealthier settlers owned slaves.  When the slaves died, a place was needed in which to bury them.

Fifty feet west of Wenrich's Church, outside the cemetery fence, was the first edition to the old cemetery used for the purpose of burying slaves.  There are no known records to identify the slaves or to tell us how many, but it is thought a large number of slaves were buried here in unmarked graves.  Because there are no records of where the slaves were buried, as grave diggers dug new graves, human remains were discovered.  As recently as October of 1938, a full grown skeleton was found.

It is believed that the slaves were buried there between 1730, when the first church was founded, and 1793-4, when Wenrich's Church was built.  In 1780, An Act for the Gradual Abolition Slavery was passed by the state legislature of Pennsylvania, the first attempt in the western hemisphere by a government to end slavery.  So, it is unlikely that many slaves were buried in Wenrich's Cemetery after 1770.

The Moyers
Nevin and Sarah Moyer are buried in the only above ground tomb on the south hill part of Wenrich’s Cemetery's newer section, across Linglestown Road from the original church and cemetery.

They are still accepting burials.