Rev. G.A. Reichert was born in Durlach, Baden, Germany, Feb. 25, 1796. His parents died when was eleven years of age. He graduated at the seminary at fourteen, studied at the law school in Carlsruhe two and a half years, when he received a license as a government clerk, and on re-moving the Mannheim he held the office of notary public where he remained in Europe. He departed for America May 3, 1817, and arrived at Philadelphia July 28, after a voyage of seventy-six days.
After visiting several places in the vicinity, he heard of the arrival of a clerical friend at New York, where he joined him, and both proceeded to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, where his companion took charge of a Lutheran congregation.
From this point he made two voyages to the West Indies, during the last of which he encountered a heavy storm, and came near being shipwrecked. In referring to this he made the following record in his diary "I was so near death's door that I expected every moment would be my last, and our mate, a rough, hardened sinner, told me, as the waves broke over the vessel, 'Mr. Reichert, tomorrow we'ell all be in hell.' Shortly after this the mate was washed overboard, and was the only one lost." This made such an impression on him that he resoved that if God spared him, he would devote the remainder of his life to His service.
This became the turning point in young Reichert's life. On arriving at lunenburg, commenced the study of theology, and began to teach school. But as the facilities for the proseuction of his studies were limited in Nova Scotia, he returned to Philadelphia Oct. 1, 1820, considerably straitened in his means. Finding no door of employment open, he traveled on foot through Chester, Berks and Lancaster counties, in search of a school. After many disappointments, he as last found one on the Columbia turnpike, three miles from Lancaster, where he taught five months, and continued his theological studies with Dr. Endress, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in that city. In this church he preached his first sermon Oct. 15, and on June 21, 1821, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Ministerium of Pennsylvania. During the succeeding year, he traveled through eastern Pennsylvania. During the succeeding year, he traveled through eastern Pennsylvania, teaching school, and preaching as opportunity offered.
In 1822 he was appointed a traveling missionary, and entered upon pioneer work in the state. The extent of his field and the character of his labors, may be learned from his own account: "With God," says he, "I left Lancaser July 14, 1822, visiting the conties of Lancaster, Perry, Huntingdon, Indiana, Venango and Erie, western part of New York, northern part of Pennsylvania, Tioga, Centre, Columbia and Luzerne, having preached fifty-one times, baptized sixty-one, administered the sacrament to fifty-nine, and traveling 1,320 miles, and occupying three months." His salary was $10 a month, out of which his own exense and those of his horse had to be deducted.
The first Lutheran pastor to preach in the South Bend community was Rev. John Michael Steck, who held his services in an old grist mill of Jacob Frantz. Because of this fact, and because of the land that was donated by Mr. Frantz, this church was known as the "Frantz church" for many years. It is the only name by which the congregation is known on the records of the Ohio Synod, of which body it was a member from 1842 to 1860.
The first regular organization of the congregation was effected May 1, 1823. It was a union church, the Reformed being represented by Rev. William Weinel, and the Lutherans by Rev. G. A. Reichart. On that same day, a communion service was held by Rev. Weinel, in which both Lutherans and Reformed participated. The relations between the two bodies in those days were exceedingly cordial. The rights of each party were respected by the other, and they lived and labored as brethren.
Both denominations, for a long time, conducted their services exclusively in the German language. Rev. Reichart was the Lutheran pastor from 1823 to 1837. On the 22d of August, 1829, he confirmed a large class of forty-two and administered the: holy commurion to eighty-six persons. This indicates that, even at this early date, there was quite a large Lutheran constituency in this community: but it is to be remembered that Lutherans in those days were not afraid to journey many miles in order to hear the gospel and partake of the sacrament.
Rev. Reichert selected as his missionary field the counties of Blair, Indiana, Crawford and Venango. He served six congregations at a time, and it required a month to make the rouds of his disric, where there were now thirty to forty Lutheran congregations.
In 1828 he moved to Kittanning, where he served a number of congregations until 1838. After several years of a pastorate in Philadelphia, he moved to his farm near Kittanning, where he ministered to the Lutheran congregation and a few others in the vicnity, confining his labors during the last two years of his life to Kittanning, where he preached his last sermon three weeks before his death, Sept. 18, 1877, at the age of more than four score years.
Rev. Reichert was married Sept. 16, 1823, to Miss Lydia Tyson, then sixteen years old, one of his first catechumens. She was of English Quacker descent, tall, slender and fair with blue hours and very heavy golden brown hair, said to be a yard and a quarter long. Mr. and Mrs. Reichert made their wedding trip on horseback, riding firty miles to the nearest preacher.
The children of Rev. G.A. Reichert were: Gabriel Amam, Louisa Caroline, Rosena, John Earnest, Theresa (died in infancy), Magdalena, Jacob Philip and Alexandria. Two still survive (Dec. 26, 1913); Philip, residing in the old homesterad near Manorville, and Alexandria.