History of Messiah Lutheran Church
Bedford Twp., Bedford County

Messiah Church is unique in being one of the oldest congregations in Bedford County. In E. H. Blackburn's History of Bedford County it is stated that the congregation was organized about 1790. A log church of 30 by 50 feet was erected for worship soon after this date in the same plot of ground where the present building stands. Of interest to many people is the fact that "Indian Eve" is buried in Messiah Cemetery (behind the church). She was Eve Earnest whose husband was massacred by Indians and she and her children were taken captive. After her return she married a Mr. Sammel and lived where the Hinson Farm is now. She cooked the meals for the men building the log church and would hang a red handkerchief on a pole when the meals were ready. Her home was on the next hill in sight of the church. A monument was erected in her memory and appropriate ceremonies held on May 27, 1934. At first this was called the Dunnings Creek or Dutch Corner charge and was no doubt a union church, for the old records show lists of communicants marked Reformed. The first recorded date is October 4, 1812, but part of the page is torn off and the writing is hardly legible. This was a treasurer's record and shows nine entries in two years, so meetings were few and far between. April 18, 1813, is the first recorded Communion date, with 19 members communing and 16 new ones confirmed, J. P. F. Kramer, D. D., officiating. Some of the names listed and still familiar are Fickes, Reigert or Reighard, Earnest, Sammel, Holderbaum, Fetter, Dibert, Zimmers, Smith, and Hengst. On May 3, 1814, officers elected were: Heinrich Stiffler, John Klotz, Adam Holderbaum, and Heinrich Dibert. J. P. F. Kramer, D. D., of the Bedford Academy served this church until 1815 when a Rev. Mockenhaupt is listed. Oct. 16, 1816, Rev. E. H. Tideman held communion and continued until 1819. Next was Rev. Osterloh, 1821-1825, followed by Rev. Yeager (who could only speak in German) 1825-1841. Rev. Reuben Weiser served from 1841-1846. During this time the second church was built. This was a stone building 38 by 52. The date of dedication is not recorded but it was no doubt in 1844. A record of persons subscribing money for the building lists one page of the Lutheran contributors, one of the German Reformed and one of persons belonging to neither the Reformed nor Lutheran Churches. Quite a few contributions were from Bedford and St. Clairsville. The totals were as follows: $802.43 1/2 Lutheran; $162.75 Reformed; $57.75 others. The following is quoted as written: "Articles of Agreement Between the Lutheran and German Reformed Congregations, for the building of a Lutheran Church in Bedford Twp., Bedford County, Pennsylvania, commonly called Dunnings Creek Church. We the members of the German Reformed Church of Dunnings Creek promise to pay the sums opposite our names on the subscription list for the building of said church. And we, the vestry of the Lutheran Church of said place, proomise to let the German Reformed Congregation occupy the church one fourth of the time, i.e., one Sabboth of each month, of each and every year, so long as we do not need the church ourselves, and so long as peace and harmony exist between the congregations. Signed, Eleventh Day of June, 1843. R. Weiser, Pastor of Luth. Church." Part of Treasurer's report of 1844: Collection was taken up by me, Daniel Fetter. Jan. 28, 1844, a cash collection 15c. Feb. 25, a cash collection 11c. March 24, a collection 21c. May 5, by a collection at communion $3.53. By collection 11c. Paid for money bags for the meeting house 62 1/2c. Paid for one candle snuffer 12 1/2c. June 2, collection 16c. June 16, collection 21c. June 30, collection 34c. Nov. 14, paid cash for 2 chairs $1.75. Nov. 15, paid cash for candlestick $1.00. On the 5th day of May 1844, the following Brethren were installed as Church officers: Elders, Abraham Sill, Michael Fetter. Deacons, Henry Stiffler, Anthony Zimmers. The whole number of communicants on this occasion was 94. R. Weiser, Pastor. Succeeding pastors were Rev. Reitmeyer 1846, Rev. Winecoff 1847-1848, Rev. Benedict 1849-1858, Rev. Yingling 1859-1861. In 1860 the St. Clairsville pastorate was formed and Messiah was included in it, so the list of Pastors from that time is the same as those serving at St. Clairsville: Rev. Josiah Zimmerman from 1861-1864 and Rev. Peters from 1865-1871. The third church building was erected in 1869, the cornerstone laid Aug. 25. It was a frame building 36 by 60 feet, with end gallery, windows of stained glass, cupola and bell. Rev. J. H. Zinn served from 1871 until 1882. The church was chartered under the title of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dunnings Creek in 1875. This article shows the signature of Wm. M. Hall, Pres. Judge, and was granted Sept. 18, 1875. Officers at that time were D. S. A. Tomlinson, Henry Sill, Daniel Fetter, F. L. Knipple, W. W. Philips, Michael Zimmers, and Adam G. Dively. Rev. John M. Rice served as pastor from 1883 to 1888. During that time repairs were made to the church and a rededication service held July 5, 1885, at which Rev. J. H. Zinn delivered the sermon. Rev. D. M. Blackwelder was pastor from 1888 to 1895. He was followed by Rev. E. E. Parson 1896-1902 and Rev. J. H. Diehl was pastor from 1902 to 1909. In Jan. 1906 the council began to discuss plans for building a brick church. In April the frame building was torn down and work begun on the new one. A corner-stone laying service was held May 8, 1906 with a sermon by Rev. Hay of Baltimore, Md. The new church was completed by fall and the dedication services held on Sunday, Oct. 28, 1906, with a large crowd present. Service was conducted by the Pastor Rev. J. H. Diehl assisted by Rev. John Zinn of Akron, Ohio. Enough money was raised by voluntary contributions to erase all debts, with $200.58 surplus. The officers at that time were: W. W. Phillips, Job Walter, P. C. Russell, Daniel A. Fetter, Bruce Zimmers, D. E. Zimmers, J. E. Reighard and Frank Walter. Mr. Zimmers recollected that there were eighty-four horse-drawn vehicles at this service. While the new church was being built regular services were held in the tenant house on the Fetter farm. It is interesting to note the difference in building costs then and now. The total cost of the church structure in 1906 was $3,797.57 according to the record. The stained glass windows were $204.75. One could not be replaced for that amount now. The embossed metal ceiling cost $131.35. The carpenter work was done by J. H. Hershberger and sons for $410. William Reighard did the brick-laying for $189.50 and the bricks cost $378.20. The slate roof, $191. Lumber and Hardware, $400. The pews in the church $653. The pulpit, lectern and stand, $143. On the day of the cornerstone laying 108 names are listed as contributing a total of $60.00. On the day of dedication many more names are listed and the offering was $1904.25. During the summer, D. E. Zimmers and Frank Walter solicited funds from the members with most members giving from $50 to $150 each making a total of $3993.15 covering all costs with $200 left over. Rev. H. C. Salem succeeded Rev. Diehl in 1909 and served until his sudden death at the Fetter home on Aug. 10, 1912. Rev. Zinn, who had retired and was living in Osterburg, was called to serve a second time and remained until 1917. Rev. G. H. Middlesworth was our next pastor, until 1923. After his resignation the charge extended a call to Rev. A. C. Curran, who served from Feb. 1924 to May, 1927. Rev. G. L. Courtney was called in the autumn of 1927 and served until April 1930. Our next pastor was Rev. M. A. Lecrone, from 1930 to 1934, and was followed by Rev. C. S. Rudisill, 1934 to 1938. On Oct. 28, 1936, the 30th anniversary of the present church was observed with appropriate services. Revs. J. H. Diehl and M. A. Lecrone were present, with remarks suitable to the occasion. A week of serices, marking the 150th anniversary of the Congregation--1790-1940 was held Sept. 22-29, 1940 under the direction of Rev. C. C. Frazier who was pastor from May 1938 to Nov. 1942. That week of services was (listed). At this time the church officers were as follows: Elders--J. E. Reighard, Grover Hommond, Earl Claycomb and Ross Holderbaum. Deacons--Roscoe Smith, Ellmer Claycomb, Ray Sellers, David Zimmers. The program committee was: Ray Sellers, Clarence Holler, Mrs. Mabel Reighard, Mrs. Helen Claycomb and Mrs. Mary Holderbaum. An anti-climax to this occasion was the death of our pastor's wife, Frances Frazier on Sept. 30 following the birth of a son, who also died. The whole parish was deeply saddened at her passing. Succeedinig pastors were: Rev. Richard C. Rife April 1943-Aug. 1947. Homer Duppstadt served as supply until Rev. H. G. Hohman was called June 1948-Feb. 1950. Rev. C. S. Rudisill returned in Jan. 1951 and remained until Jan. 1954. A coincidence is evident in that he was born Sept. 28, 1906, the date of the dedication of our church and seved as our pastor twice. Rev. F. W. Brandt, D. D. came to us from South Carolina in Dec. 1954 and served until Nov. 1959. Rev. Dwight F. Putman, Jr., became our pastor in May 1960 and is still serving faithfully.

--Church History written by Mary Holderbaum, 8-30-62

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