THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CONGREGATION IN YORK.
THE first settlements made by Germans west of the Susquehanna were undoubtedly at Kreutz Creek and in the region where Hanover now stands - the circuit of the York congregation was inhabited by white men somewhat later. At first the inhabitants of the whole region from ten to fifteen miles around York composed but one congregation; they now worship the God of their fathers in fifteen different churches.
So early as the year 1733, four and twenty heads of families, who, for the most part had emigrated from Wuertemberg, came here together, and, joining themselves in one fraternal band, formed an evangelical Lutheran congregation. They purchased a baptismal book, which is still in the possession of the congregation, and therein they recorded their names as members to this new association, for the eternal remembrance of their posterity.
Among these venerable twenty-four founders of the congregation, all of whom have long since mouldered in the grave, we find many, whose descendants at the present day may be traced by their names. Such are Christian Groll, Philip Ziegler, Heinrich Shultz, George Schwaab, John Adam Diehl, Jacob Sherer, Mathias Schnieiser, George Schmciser, Martin Bauer, George Adam Zimmerman, George Ziegler, Joseph Beyer, Jacob Ziegler, Valentine Schultz, &c. &c. Other names, less familiar at the present day, are Michael Watch, Carl Eisen, Paul Burkhardt, Henrich Zauck, Gotfried Manch, Christian Kraut, &c. &c.
The first Baptism in the Lutheran church, and consequently in York county, was of two children on the 23d of September, 1733.
From the year 1733, onward, the Congregation was visited by different teachers whose hearts were devoted to the faithful service of their heavenly master. Among these may be mentioned the Rev. Mr. Candler, Dr. H. M. Muhlenburg, Rev. Friedrich Handshuh, and Rev. Mr. Brunnholtz. In its early days, this Congregation was poor, and held divine service but here and there in private houses.
In the year 1744, the first church was built in York, and the material used in its construction was wood. Soon after the completion of the building, the congregation called the Rev. Mr. Schaum to be their settled preacher. Mr. Schaum served the congregation but a few years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Messrs. Hochheirner, Bager and Raus, in the order in which their names are here mentioned.
As in the time of the Rev. Mr. Raus the congregation had increased to a numerous multitude, the old wooden church was much too small for convenience, it was determined to build a new church; and in July, 1760, the corner stone of a building, 67 by 40 feet, was laid. The material of this building was stone - It was finished in 1762, and was solemnly consecrated in October of that year. The congregation at that time consisted of 550 members.
In the stone church, the following persons preached as regularly called teachers:
1. The Rev. Mr. Hornell, in whose time sacramental vessels were purchased.
2. The Rev. Mr. Bager [Baugher] for the second time.
3. The Rev. Nicolaus Kurtz, who served the congregation twenty years with great fidelity, and died as senior reverendi ministerii, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. He was an upright and diligent servant of Jesus Christ.
4. The Rev. Jacob Goering, who administered to the congregation one and twenty years. He was a man of extensive knowledge and of powerful eloquence. Universally beloved by a numerous congregation, he entered into the peace of his Lord in the fifty-third year of his age.
Since the first of August, 1809, the Rev. John George Schmucker has served this congregation, in Connexion with a number of others in the country. As the old stone building was fast going to decay, the corner stone of a new brick church, (the one now standing,) was laid on the 2d of July, 1812. This church was not long afterward completed and consecrated. Its dimensions are 75 feet in length by 60 in depth.
The Rev. Mr. Schmucker has now served the congregation 25 years, during which period it has greatly increased in numbers and in wealth, embracing many of the most respectable and wealthy families in the county.
Since the year 1831, the Rev. Jonathan Oswald has preached to this congregation in the English language, Dr. Schmucker officiating principally in the German language.
THE ENGLISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF ST. JOHN'S IN YORK.
The year 1765 is the first certain date we have with respect to this church; for though before that time divine service had been performed here according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England yet it was not till the above date that measures were taken for the erection of a house of worship. In that year Thomas Minshall was appointed to receive subscriptions towards building a church; some gave money, some timber, and others offered labour. On the 15th February in the same year, the General assembly of the province kindly lent their assistance. They authorized the raising, by way of lottery, of the sum of 3003 pounds and fifteen shillings to be supplied towards the payment of the arrears of debt due for finishing St. Peter's and St. Paul's Episcopal churches in the city of Philadelphia; and towards finishing the Episcopal church at Carlisle, and building an Episcopal church in each of the towns of York and Reading, and repairing the Episcopal church at Molattin in Berks county, and the Episcopal church in Huntingdon in York (now Adams) county; and for repairing the Episcopal churches at Chester and Concord and purchasing a glebe for the Church of Chester, in the county of Chester. The time limited for drawing the lottery was afterwards, in 1776, prolonged. By the lottery, 315 pounds was to be applied towards building the church in York, but as all the tickets were not sold, the sum raised for that purpose, was but 257 pounds 5 shillings.
In the year 1776 the Rev. Doctor Peters obtained, upon application to the proprietors, a lot of ground in York, 80 feet in front and 250 feet in depth, for the site of the church and a burial-ground, at the yearly rent of 1 shilling sterling, if demanded. The warrant for the lot was granted to Samuel Johnston, Thomas Minshall and Joseph Aldum, trustees for the congregation.
The sum arising from the lottery being by no means sufficient to defray the expenses of building the church, the members of the congregation solicited their friends in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and elsewhere, from whom they received somewhat more than 150 pounds. Mr. Johnston received the money arising from the lottery and from the subscription of some of his particular friends; the subscription of the people in York county were received by Mr. Aldum, and those in Philadelphia and Baltimore by Thomas Usher. The subscription made by different attornies at law, were received by Thomas Hartley. Out of the money collected by Mr. Usher, the silver communion cup was purchased.
A second and third subscription were afterwards opened among the members of the congregation. But the sums received being still insufficient, the Rev. John Andrews, then missionary in York and Cumberland counties, from the society for the propagation of the gospel, went to Philadelphia, and by subscription in that city, obtained 57 pounds and 6 pence. By means of this subscription, and of a collection made at the first opening of the church, the debts contracted for the completion of the building were nearly discharged. In a short time afterwards every demand was satisfied; and thus by unwearied and praiseworthy exertions this church was at last built.
The ladies of York made the hangings for the pulpit and desk, of crimson Damask, which they had purchased of their own generosity.
The Church being completely finished, the seats were yearly hired at a half yearly rent for the support of the minister of the church for the time being, all subscriptions for him having then been discontinued.
During the revolutionary war, (with exception of a short interval) there was no divine service held in the church: it was for some time used as an arsenal. Being very much out of repair, through violence, and through long disuse, it was after the revolutionary war fitted for a place of worship.
A petition that the church might be incorporated was presented to the legislature on the 13th December 1786; and the legislature granted the petition on the 20th of September, 1787.
In the fall of 1810, (the sum of 1300 dollars having been given for the purpose by the friends of the church) the inside of the building was repaired and very much altered. The pulpit* and reading desk were removed from the north side of the west end of the building; a door was made at the east end, and in the place of the former door in the south side was made a window. A gallery was erected. A chandelier was likewise purchased in the city of Baltimore (for the sum of three hundred dollars) principally given by gentlemen who resided in that city. In this year a small house was erected near the church for the use of a sexton,
There have been a great many divines connected with this church: the name of the Rev. Mr. Andrews has already been mentioned, but besides him there were a number of others who preached here occasionally, and at irregular intervals. The first regular preacher whose name is mentioned in the records, was the Rev. Daniel Batwell. His residence was at the parsonage house in Huntingdon, now belonging to Adams county, but he preached statedly to the congregations in York. He was a missionary from England and commenced his services in this country, a short time before the revolution. His feelings, with respect to that event, all conflicted with those of the people in this neighborhood. Having come from Huntingdon township, he preached at York on the sabbath, and on Monday following was seized by some rude and boisterous friends of liberty, by whom he was at three several [separate ?] times ducked in Codorus Creek. Being freed he set out on his return to his dwelling house but he had hardly arrived there when a company of armed men from York roughly seized him, and, returning, confined him in the public prison**. After some time Mr. Batwell was released, when he returned to England. Though his political views did not coincide with those of Americans, yet it is due to his worth to say that he was an accomplished scholar and a good man. After his return, he obtained a church preferment in the county of Kent, where he ended his days.
There was no divine service performed now for about five years. In the year 1778 or '79 the Rev. Dr. John Andrews, late Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, came here and continued to preach somewhat more than a year. The church was then vacant until 1784, when on the 6th of July in that year, the Rev. John Campbell accepted of an invitation to come to York, and administer to the spiritual concerns of the congregation. He continued here until the year 1804, when lie went to Carlisle, at which place he died in May 1819.
The church was now vacant until the 1st of April 1810, when the Rev. John Armstrong became the regular minister. Mr. Armstrong continued here until May 1818, when he accepted of an invitation to settle in the vicinity of Fredericktown. Soon afterwards the Rev. Grandison Aisquith came here, who continued however but about one year.
The Rev. George B. Shaeffer was elected minister of the congregation on the 6th of March 1821. He shortly afterwards came to York, where he continued until the fall of 1822. His successor was the Rev. Charles Williams, who was invited in June 1823, and who shortly afterwards accepted of the invitation. By an account which he took of the congregation on the 1st of January 1824, it was found to consist of 153 souls.
The Rev. Mr. Williams was elected President of Baltimore college in 1825. On the 5th of March he preached his farewell sermon to his congregation and on the 29th took leave of York for Baltimore.
After a vacancy of one year, the Rev. Richard D. Hall was called and chosen Rector of St. John's church, by the vestry, his call bearing date and his services commencing on the 16th of April, 1826.
Mr. Hall's successor was the Rev. John V. E. Thorn, of Carlisle, who was elected on Easter day in 1828. Mr. Thorn continued, during his ministration, to reside in Carlisle, and to appropriate the services of every second or third Sunday to the church in York. He resigned the charge of the congregation here on the 1st of January, 1831, since which time there ha~ been no regular ministration to the spiritual wants of the congregation, though service is held occasionally in the church, by clergymen visiting this portion of the vineyard.
The number of members at present belonging to the congregation is very small.
Before we close this article, we may mention an incident connected with the early history of St. John's church, which has just come to our knowledge:
About the year 1774, Queen Caroline of England sent three church bells as presents, one for York, one for Lancaster and one for Carlisle. The bell intended for the Episcopal church in York, weighing 500 pounds, arrived safely, and was deposited before the house of Joseph Updegraff, Esq., on the pavement; and as there was no steeple or cupola in which to place it for the use of the church, it remained there for some time. At length it was taken without any ceremony, or any opposition on the part of the vestry (if, indeed, there was such a body in existence at that time,) and placed in the steeple of the court-house, where it remains to this day. It now belongs to the County by the law of seizibus bellorum et bungupibus in cupolarum - (see ~'Old law Book," vol. 76, p. 6592) - and is further secured to the county, by the fact that it is non comatibus in alto. The congregation have, however, the use of the bell, as it is used to indicate the time of meeting whenever service is held in the Episcopal church.
YORK PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATION.
Several families of the Presbyterian denomination resided in York as early as the year 1750, yet they formed no congregation and had no place of separate worship. After the building of the Episcopal Church of St. John's, the presbyterians worshipped in it, for some years, in common with the members of the Church of England.
About the year 1789 the present Brick Church was built in which from that time onward they held separate worship. The first stated preacher to the congregation was the Rev. Robert Cathcart, who was ordained and installed pastor of this and of the Hopewell congregation by the presbytery of Carlisle, in October 1793. The congregation at the time of his ordination contained about twenty-five families, at present it consists of about thirty families, with between thirty and forty communicants.***
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT "SLATE RIDGE," IN PEACH BOTTOM TOWNSHIP.
This congregation is of ancient origin. The first church was built near Muddy Creek, sometime before the year 1750. This church was afterwards burnt, and a second temporary building was then erected about three miles further south. The latter church was soon deserted, and a new and third house of worship was erected at a still different place, viz. the place where Slate Ridge church now stands. In the year 1762, a new and better and fourth church was built of squared logs on the same site. In or about the year 1800, the log church was burnt by an incendiary, when a fifth church was erected, it being the third one built on the same ground. This fifth church is a large stone edifice; it is still standing, and is uniformly known by the name of the "Slate Ridge Church."
The first preacher in the first of these churches was the Rev. Mr. Whittlesay. As the population was very small when he commenced his labors, he administered unto the spiritual wants of those who inhabited that tract of Country which is now included within the townships of Chanceford, Lower Chanceford, Fawn, and Peachbottom. As the population increased, other congregations and churches arose. Even during the time of Mr. Whittlesay, his infant congregation had so increased, that those, who at first worshipped in one church, worshipped in two. For during his time and under his direction a church was erected in what is now Lower Chanceford, which church by the way was a building of about 60 feet by 30, was always called the "frame meeting-house" and stood until about the year 1800, when it was removed, and the present stone church was erected on the same ground. How long Mr. Whittlesay laboured with his people cannot now be ascertained; but he did previous to the year 1750. It was during his time that the church was erected.
After the death of Mr. Whittlesay but before the year 1750, came the Rev. Mr. Morrison, an emigrant from Scotland. It was in his time that the second church was erected.
After Mr. Morrison's departure, this congregation jointly with that of what is now Lower Chanceford, was blessed with the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Black. During his time the third church was erected.
The successor of Mr. Black, was the Rev. John Strain, who was, in 1760, installed joint pastor of this and of the Lower Chanceford congregation. In his time the fourth church was erected. Mr. Strain died in March 1774. He was a man remarkable for his piety, and was distinguished for his zeal and fidelity in his holy office. His labors were much blessed; and, after he had ceased from the earth his memory was affectionately cherished.
The Rev. Mr. Smith then preached to this and the Lower Chanceford congregation for two years.
The Rev. John Slemons was then settled the joint pastor of both congregations. At Slate Ridge, he preached about ten years, and then resigned that part of his charge on account of the infirmities of age. He continued to labour in Lower Chanceford about four years afterwards.
The Rev. Dr. Samuel Martin then became the Pastor of the Slate Ridge congregation. When, in four years afterwards, Mr. Slemons resigned his situation in Lower Chanceford, Mr. Martin became the joint pastor of both congregations. Mr. Martin left these two congregations in about the year 1812 and in about eighteen months afterwards he became the pastor of the Lower Chanceford congregation: about the same time Mr. Parke became pastor of the Slate Ridge congregation: Each of them continues until the present time.
In the above account we have spoken of the Lower Chanceford congregation. Chanceford township was erected while York was a part of Lancaster county: it was divided in the year 1807, when Lower Chanceford was erected. Consequently the "frame Meeting-house" until 1807 was in Chanceford; and has since that time (by division of the township) been in Lower Chanceford. We preferred designating the congregation by the present name of the township, rather than by its former and (until 1806) right name, in order to avoid obscurity, and apparent inconsistency. In like manner the church-building at Slate Ridge was until 1817, in Fawn township; and since that time (by the division of Fawn) has been in a newly erected township, called Peach-bottom, from a ferry in that place which had long borne the same name. The Slate Ridge Church and the Lower Chanceford Church are about eight miles apart. The first church was built at the junction of Scott's run**** with Muddy Creek, it being east of the former, and south of the latter. The second was over the Maryland line on land then owned by Michael Whiteford. The present site of the Slate Ridge church is but about three-quarters of a mile from the Maryland line, the congregation consisting of people from both states.
THE GERMAN REFORMED CHURCH IN YORK.
The German Reformed Congregation is without exception one of the most ancient religious associations in the county. The exact year when the congregation was first formed, is not known; but it had existed some years before it was blessed with the instruction of a stated teacher. As the congregation, in its infancy, was not extensive, it was unable to support a settled minister; but it fast increased in strength.
On the 12th of August 1744, the elders of the church, viz. George Meyer, Philip Rothrock, &c. sent a written invitation to the Rev. Jacob Lischy to be their settled minister, Mr. Lischy declined accepting the invitation but, in the words of the Church-book, so hat die ganze Gemeinde ihn, im Nahmen des dreyeinigen Gottes, noch mal ihrem Prediger berufen." Mr. Lischy accepted the second invitation which was made on the 29th of May 1745; and coming to York he preached his sermon of introduction on the text in the first six verses of the second chapter of Ezekiel; and upon the same Sunday administered the Sacrament.
Soon after Mr. Lischy had come here, the trustees for the congregation, viz. Jacob Welsch and Samuel Welsch took up a lot of ground in the town of York for a meeting house. This lot No. 91, was laid out and surveyed by Thomas Cookson Esq., for the use of the congregation, on the 11th of March 1746, and is described in a draught thereof, made shortly afterwards, as "containing in front on High Street, 65 feet, and in depth, to a twenty-foot alley, 230 feet:
Bounded on the east by a lot now in the occupation of John Hay; on the south; by the said alley; on the west, by a lot of Zachariah Shugard; and on the north, by High street aforesaid."(5*) It was on this lot that the first church, which was of wood, was erected.
In the year 1750, Mr. Lischy, having received a number of invitations from another congregation, wished for a dismissal, and was about to leave York; but by a new and earnest request from the people of his charge, dated the 31st of December he was induced to remain with them yet a few years. In the year 1754 he again desired his dismissal, and at last preached his farewell-sermon from Acts, 20th chapter, and 21st verse. But he was again hindered in his design, for the congregation eagerly entreated him not to forsake them, and more warmly exhibited marks of fond affection:
In Mr. Lischy's own words da die Gemeinde neuen Ernst und Eifer und Liefe bezeigle und versprach, bin ich in meinem Verhaben gehinderet, und, durch einen abermaligen neun Beruf, bewogen worden die Gemeinde fernerhin zu bedienen."
Mr. Lischy continued but a short time longer to administer to the congregation; and upon the cessation of his ministry, the church was for a season vacant.
The attention of the congregation was now devoted towards obtaining a successor to Mr. Lischy. Their thoughts were finally directed to the Rev. Johann Conrad Wirtz, who was born in the town and canton of Bern, in Switzerland, and was then pastor of the Churches of Rachor and Fally in Jersey. The congregation sent him a letter by the hands of Baltzer Spengler, desiring him to come to York, and preach a few sermons with the expectation that he might become their clergyman. He received the letter on the 21st of August 1761, and on the 30th, he left Jersey in company with Mr. Spengler for York. He arrived at York on Saturday the 5th of September, and preached his first sermon to this congregation, on the Sunday following. The congregation being pleased with Mr. Wirtz, gave him an invitation to become their pastor, which invitation was signed by the elders and members of the Church, and was dated the 13th of the same month in which he had arrived. Mr. Wirtz accepted the invitation on condition that he could obtain the permission of his congregations in Jersey, and of the English Presbytery, at Braunschweig (Brunswick) by which he had been ordained to the ministry. Returning to Jersey, he obtained the permission of the Presbytery on the 24th of October, and afterwards of his congregations; and on the 5th of May 1762 he again arrived in York, and on the following Sunday (viz. 9th May (6*)) preached his inaugural sermon from the 10th verse of the 10th chapter of Revelations.
In Mr. Wirtz's time the congregation had considerably increased. By an account contained in the Church book dated the 1st of January 1751 it appears that there were but eighty-seven members of th several congregations, viz, those at York town, Kreutz creek, Codorus and Bermudian creek, over which Mr. Lischy then presided. From an account made by Mr. Wirtz on the 13th of May 1762, it appears that seventeen new persons had been lately added to the Church of Yorktown alone, arid from another account dated the 24th of May 1763, it appears that there were fifty-six persons belonging to the same church.
The old church of wood, was, in this state of the congregation, too small for convenience: it was accordingly removed, and on the 24th of May 1763, the corner stone was laid for a new edifice. This church of stone was completed, in the following year, Christian Wamppler being the architect.
Mr. Wirtz did not long continue a minister to the congregation; for he died on Wednesday, the 21st of September 1763; and was buried on the following Friday.
There was now a vacancy in the church for about two years; the Rev. William Otterbein commenced his labors in September 1765, and continued to administer unto the congregation for about nine years.
In May 1774, the Rev. Daniel Wagner became the minister of the congregation, and such he continued until the year 1786, when he removed to Tulpehockin in Bcrks county.
The Rev. Mr. Stock and the Rev. Mr. Droldenier then administered to the congregation.
In October 1793 the Rev. Mr. Wagner returned to York, and again took the pastoral charge of this congregation.
During the ministry of Mr. Wagner, the congregation suffered a great loss, for on the night of the 5th of July 1797, the church, with all its contents, was destroyed by fire. The congregation immediately took means for the erection of another building. This third church, which is built of brick, is much larger than that one which was burnt, and is erected on the same site. It was solemnly consecrated on the 11th of May 1800.
It is 65 feet in front and 55 feet deep.
The Rev. Mr. Wagner removed from York, on the 1st of October 1802, having received an invitation to settle in Fredericktown, Maryland.
After an interval of about eighteen months, the Rev. George Geistweit became a minister to this congregation in May 1804; and he continued as such until about Whitsuntide 1820; when he resigned his charge. Mr. Geistweit still continued to preach occasionally, until the close of the year.
The Rev. Lewis Mayer, was the next minister of this church. He arrived in York on the 8th of January 1821, and presided over the spiritual concerns of a numerous congregation until April 1825. Having accepted the office of professor in the theological institution at Carlisle erected by the members of the German Reformed Synod, Mr. Mayer preached his farewell-sermon at York on Sunday, the 3d day of the above-mentioned month. He left York on the 4th, and was inducted into office at Carlisle on Wednesday, the 6th of April.
Mr. Mayer was succeeded by the Rev. James R. Reily, who preached his introductory sermon on the 1st of April, 1827, the congregation having been without a regular minister for two years after Mr. Mayer left it. Mr. Reily continued to preside over the spiritual concerns of the congregation until July, 1831. His health had been feeble for a long time and at length he found himself so seriously affected, that he was induced to take leave of his congregation, in order to have time and opportunity to take measures for its restoration. He accordingly preached his valedictory sermon on the 20th of July in the above-mentioned year.
After Mr. Reily's resignation the congregation was without a regular pastor until the 1st of October, 1832, when the Rev. John Cares, in compliance with a unanimous call presented to him in the spring previous, took charge of it. During the period between the termination of Mr. Reily's and the commencement of Mr. Cares' duties as pastor, the congregation was occasionally supplied by the professors and students of the theological seminary.
Mr. Cares continues to have charge of the congregation.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
On the 17th of April, 1750, John Moore entered his name for a lot marked No. 295 in the general plan of the town of York, "bounded & situate on the east side of Beaver street, containing in bread/h north and south 57 feet and 6 inches, and in length to a 20 foot alley, 230 feet." On the 20th of June in the same year, Moore assigned his right to Casper Stillinger who shortly afterwards erected a stone dwelling house on the lot and made other improvements. Casper died intestate, leaving as heirs, and children Michael Stillinger, Richard Stillinger, and Barbara then married to Joseph Wirt. From these three heirs by virtue of three deeds, the date of two of which is in August 1775, and of one on the 4th of May 1776, the house &c. passed into the hands of Joseph Smith, who purchased it for the use of the Roman Catholic congregation, and presented it unto them.
The former dwelling-house of Casper Stillinger now underwent alterations and repairs, by means whereof it was converted into a Roman Catholic Church. This building continued a place of divine worship until the year 1810, when, as through time and use it had lost the "glory of its first estate," it was torn down, & a second building, the present brick church, was erected on nearly the same site.
For many years there was no stated preacher to this congregation that resided in York, but preachers came to administer unto them at stated times, - at first on every sixth and afterwards on every fourth week, - from the Catholic society established in Conewago township, Adams County, distant four miles from Hanover.
The first settled Catholic preacher who resided in York was the Rev. Lorence Huber, who came here in December 1819, and continued about six months. The second was the Rev. George D. Hogan, who came here in the summer of 1820. The third preacher was the Rev. P. J. Dween, who came here in the summer of 1822, and has continued until the present time.
The right name of this church is "Saint Patrick's Church."
THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, IN YORK.
The first methodist preacher who visited York was the celebrated Freeborn Garretson, who preached in the neighborhood of York on the 24th of January, 1781. The house in which the first conversion to methodism was made in this vicinity, was then known as Worley's tavern, about one mile from the borough. From that time onward the progress of methodism was continual, but not rapid, for several years. The congregation was without a place especially designed for public worship for some years after Mr. Garretson's visit. We know little of the precise condition of this society, farther back than the year 1819, at which time Andrew Hemphill was stationed here, and the congregation numbered 111 white and 11 colored members.
Mr. Hemphill was succeeded, in 1821, by the Rev. William Prettyman.
In 1822, the Rev. Robert S. Vinton and the Rev. Tobias Rely were appointed, by conference, the former to York station, the latter to York Circuit.
In 1823, the Rev. Jacob Larkin was the methodist clergyman here.
In 1824, the congregation numbered 146 members, and was supplied by the Rev. Charles A. Davis.
In 1825, the Rev. Basil Barry was the clergyman of the congregation here, and was re-appointed in 1826.
In 1 827, the Rev. Andrew Hemphill supplied this congregation, which at that time, numbered 208 members. Mr. Hemphill was re-appointed to this station in 1828.
In 1829, the Rev. Henry Smith and the Rev. James Brent, were sent to York station. In 1830, Mr. Smith was here alone.
In 1831 and '32, the Rev. John A. Gere supplied this station.
In 1833, conference fixed upon the Rev. Edward Smith, to take charge of the station - and at their session in 1834, re-appointed the same Rev, gentleman.
The society has been somewhat increased in number during the last year.
THE MORAVIAN CHURCH.
The Evangelical Moravian Congregation in York town, had its origin in the year 1750. The number of the members of the congregation at that time was about seventy and some odd. Their first preacher was the Rev. Philip Maurer. During the first six years of this congregation, they held divine service in a private dwelling-house.
In April 1756, the corner stone was laid of the old Moravian church. The building still stands, though it is no longer used as a church. In 1827, a neat brick church was built near the old building, the latter being now used as a parsonage.
During the first 84 years of this congregation, it had upwards of twenty different preachers, including the present pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dober.
In conclusion of this brief account we would observe, that since the commencement of the congregation to the present time, 312 members of it have been called hence to another world; their mortal parts repose in the burying-ground adjoining the church. "Our fathers - where are they?"
THE YORK COUNTY ACADEMY.
On the 31st of July, 1777, Conrad Leatherman obtained a ticket for lot No. 638, in the town of York. He continued to be the owner of the lot until the 28th of February 1785, when he sold it to the Protestant Episcopal Church of St. John's.
The Rev. John Campbell then journied throughout Pennsylvania, and the neighboring states, and obtained from the generosity of individuals, the sum of about 5000 dollars towards building a school-house or academy on the above-mentioned lot, and a parsonage house on a lot adjoining. The building of the academy was immediately commenced, and towards the close of the year 1787, although it was not fully completed, instruction first commenced. The building, as soon afterwards completed, was (and it stands the same at present) a large and convenient two-story brick edifice, having forty feet in front, and 60 feet in depth, with three spacious rooms on each floor.
The general assembly of Pennsylvania on the 20th of September 1787, incorporated the Episcopal Church to which this institution was then attached. Under the incorporation, as far as regards the academy, Thomas Hartley was the first president, Robert Hetrick the first secretary, Henry Miller the first treasurer, and Messrs. James Smith, David Grier, William Harris, and the Rev. Mr. Henderson, the first visiters. The first instructors were two, viz. James Armstrong of the English language, and Robert Fletrick, of the Latin and Greek languages. The first official meeting, particularly with respect to the academy, recorded in its archives, was held on the 28th of February 1788.
From the small number of Episcopalians belonging to the church, and from the want of proper funds, the corporation was "unable to uphold and support the academy." On this account a petition was presented to the legislature on the 13th of March 1797, the object of which was to surrender the building to the state on condition that it be used as a school-house for the county of York, and that such a sum of money be granted as would be sufficient to support it. The legislature accepted this offer of surrender, and on the first of March, 1799, incorporated and endowed the "York County Academy."
The first trustees appointed under the new charter, were James Campbell, Jacob Goering, Daniel Wagner, John Black, Robert Cathcart, William Paxton, Thomas Hartley, James Smith, John Edie, John Clark, Jacob Hay, Jacob Rudisell, Elihu Underwood, William Ross of Chanceford, John Barnitz, Michael Schmeiser, Conrad Laub, William McLean, William Scott, Philip Gassier and George Bard. The first President of the board of trustees was the Hon. James Smith, Esq: he was elected at the first meeting, but on account of his age and infirmaties he resigned on the 8th of March 1800, when John Edie was elected his successor. The first instructor under the first incorporation was Mr. Robert Hetrick.
In the year 1811, endeavors were made to obtain a repeal of the act which incorporated the "York County Academy." On the 11th of January the rector, church-wardens and vestrymen of the Episcopal church of St. John petitioned the legislature for that purpose. On the 22nd, the trustees of the academy, and some inhabitants of the borough of York remonstrated to the legislature against the above petition. On the 30th, a number of inhabitants of the borough and county petitioned. The legislature having taken the subject into consideration, resolved on the 26th of February that the petition of the rector &c. could not be granted.
In April 1817, the rector, church-wardens, and vestry-men of the church of St. John brought an action against the trustees of the Academy, in order to obtain the repossession of the lot and building. This action is still pending.
The male and female departments of this institution are now under the superintendence of excellent teachers. The Rev. Stephen Boyer, a gentleman of extensive literary attainments, has charge of the male department - and Mrs. Young is at the head of the female department.
THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT YORK.
This institution was founded by an act of the Synod of the German Reformed Church at its session at Bedford in September 1824, and commenced its operations in Carlisle on 17th of May, 1825, the inauguration of the Professor having previously taken place on the 6th of April. It was removed to York in October 1828 in pursuance of an act of Synod at its session at Lebanon in September of the same year. The institution has a library of between 3000 and 4000 volumes, chiefly in the German language, among which are some rare works. There are two professors, viz., L. Mayer, D.D. Professor of Dogmatic Theology, and Rev. F. A. Rauch, D. P. Professor of Sacred Literature.
A Classical School under the auspices of the Synod of the German Reformed Church was founded by a resolution of Synod at Harrisburg in September 1831. It was commenced in May 1832. Mr. William A. Good, of Reading, Pa., now pastor of the Reformed congregation in Hagerstown, Md., was appointed Teacher. In September 1832, the Synod at Frederick, Md., appointed Dr. F. A. Rauch Principal of the Institution and Professor in the Theological Seminary. Rev. John H. Agnew formerly Professor of Languages in Washington College, Pa., was subsequently appointed Assistant, and upon his resignation in September 1833, the Board of Visiters elected Rev. H. Miller his successor. Rev. Charles Dober, pastor of the Moravian church in York was also engaged as assistant in May 1832, and in the Spring of 1834 on the resignation of Mr. Miller, Mr. Samuel W. Budd A. B. was appointed to the vacancy.
The Teachers at present employed in the school are Rev. Dr. F. A. Rauch, Principal, Mr. Samuel W. Budd and Rev. Charles Dober, Assistants. The number of students in the two institutions at present (July 1834) is about 80, who are generally from a distance.
* In removing this Pulpit, several pounds of powder were found concealed under it: it was probably placed there at the commencement of the revolution by some one who had evil designs upon the Rev. Mr. Batwell.
** On the 2d of Oct., 1777, a memorial from Mr. Batwell was read in Congress. It sets forth "that on a charge of being concerned in a conspiracy to destroy the continental magazines in this state, he was in custody of the keeper of the jail of York county, by virtue of a commitment, until Congress or the supreme executive council of this state should take further order touching him or until he should be otherwise discharged according to law." It appeared to Congress "by the certificate of Dr. D. Jameson that the memorialist was so much emaciated by a complication of disorders that his life would be endangered unless he was removed from the said jail." Congress however, referred the memorial to the president and supreme executive council of the state, in the mean time permitting him to remove from jail, and receive every Indulgence, yet still remaining in safe keeping.
*** In Connexion with the York congregation may be mentioned that of Hopewell, formerly that of "Round Hill." The Hopewell congregation was formed between the years 1768 and 1770, when a log house was erected as a place of worship. In 1790, a larger church was built in a more central situation. In the year 1793, a connection was formed between the Hopewell and the York congregation, at which time the Rev. R. Cathcart was installed their joint pastor. Previous to 1793 they regularly had preachers sent them by the presbytery, several of whom remained with them for one year. A few years ago an elegant brick church was erected, it being the third one built by this congregation.
In 1825 the congregation consisted of about fifty families, and a hundred and fifty communicants.
**** So called from Mr. Scott, who died about the year 1828, aged nearly 100 years. This man, who lived nearly a century, furnished most of the facts contained in the above narrative.
(5*) At this early period, the congregation purchased lot No. 84 to erect a house on for their minister for the time being. The lot was originally surveyed for George Schwaab, George Meyer, Henry Wolf, Joseph Welshhans, Jacob Obb, and George leak, as trustees for the congregation. It is described by George Stevenson, In a certified plan thereof made on 25th January 1753, as bounded on the west by Beaver Street, on the north by 1ot No. 83, on the east by a twenty foot alley, and on the south by another twenty foot alley.
(6*) On the said 9th of May 1762, the first election was held, that is recorded in the churoh books; though there had been regular officers for many years before that time, yet their names are not now to be found, The officers elected on the above mentioned day were Jacob Hock, Johannos Gugges [Coockas], Martin Danner and Joseph Welshhans, as Elders John Schultz and Jacob Scheib as Deacons, and Michaef Schwaab as Secretary.
Source: Page(s) 27 - 47, History of York County From its Erection to the Present Time; [1729-1834]; New Edition; With Additions, Edited by A. Monroe Aujrand, Jr.