OF EGYPT CHURCH
Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
By Chalres Rhoads Roberts
As found in the
Proceedings and Papers Read Before the Lehigh County Historical Society, Vol. I
Published Allentown, PA, 1908
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The Egypt Reformed congregation possesses a documentary history which runs back one hundred and seventy-four years, making it the oldest Reformed congregation in Lehigh county, the Great Swamp congregation, of Lower Milford township, coming second. The year 733 has generally been accepted as the date of its organization, but we have no proof of the correctness of this date. The accurate historian must depend upon documentary evidence to substantiate any statement he may make, and we have no such evidence as to when the congregation was organized. The majority of the first settlers in this immediate vicinity were natives of Switzerland and members of the Reformed church. It was natural, therefore, that upon their settlement here, they should organize a congregation of their own faith. It was in the year 1733 that the majority of the early settlers at Egypt arrived in America, and it may be that in this year an organization was effected. It was not, however, until July 1, 1734, that any land warrant was secured, when Jacocb Kohler, who is supposed to have settled here about 1730, obtained a warrant for one hundred acres of land.
The principal source of information regarding this congregation is the old baptismal record, the oldest record book of a Reformed congregation in this county. It is a small volume bound in leather, with strips of buckskin serving instead of clasps. The earliest entry in this book is dated September 23, 1734, and was made by Rev. John Philip Boehm, recording the baptism of David, born July 27, 1734, a son of Peter Traxel. The sponsors were Nicholas Kern and his wife Mary Margaret Kern. The fact that Rev. Boehm made this entry in 1734 points to the existence of a congregation at that time, as it is doubtful whether he would have opened a baptismal record had there not been an organized congregation.
Boehm's report to the Holland Synod, written October 18, 1734, in the Dutch language, does not mention this congregation. He mentions, however, the needs of "Macungie, Maxatawny and Great Swamp, where, notwithstanding their being scattered very far apart, yet a considerable number of people can come together." The name "Macungie," then included a large territory, and the inhabitants of this region, in a petition to the Court in 1752, for the erection of a new township, which was later called Whitehall, styled themselves, "residents of the back parts of Heidelberg and Macungie."
In the same report, in speaking of the district of the minister needed at Goshenhoppen, Boehm says: "He might conduct services there every three weeks, and use the rest of the time to feed the poor sheep at the end of the wilderness, in the above mentioned Saucon, Macungie, Maxatawny and Great Swamp, who thirst for the hearing of' God's word as the dry earth for water. Many people from these regions have already been to see me in great sadness, and complained of the pitiable state of their souls. There were also some, who being able to make the journey, have come at various times to communion in the congregation entrusted to me at Falkner Swamp, a distance of certainly twenty-five to thirty English miles, and brought children for baptism, which journey, however, is impossible for old persons and weak women, so that it is not to be wondered at (especially when one remembers that there are children who for lack of a minister can not be brought to baptism until they are several years of age) that my heart breaks and my eyes are full of tears about this condition. But I can not accomplish this work alone, for my years are beginning to accumulate, and my poor body is also getting feeble, since I must not only make long journeys and preach, but also, because these poor people are not able to support me, I must support my large family with manual labor."
The second entry in the church book was made October 26, 1736, by John Henry Goetschius, recording the baptism of John, son of "the respectable Peter Traxel, church censor of the Reformed congregation here," and his wife Juliana Catharine Traxel. The sponsors were Nicholas Kern, John Egender and Margaret Egender. This is the first mention of a congregation here and also the first mention of Goetschius in the book. Directly above this entry he wrote: "Getauft durch H. Pfarrer Goetschi." As Goetschius did not arrive in America until 1735, this record could not have been made in 1733, as has been often stated.
It is in this year, 1736, that we find the first mention of the name, "Egypt," applied to this vicinity. On the title page of the record book of New Goshenhoppen, Goetschius states that he served the congregations at Skippack, Old Goshenhoppen, New Goshenhoppen, Swamp, Saucon, Egypt, Macedonia, Mosillem, Oley, Bern and Tulpehocken. Rev. Prof. William J. Hinke gives 1736 as the date when this inscription was written by Goetschius.
The third entry is in the handwriting of Goetschius, and is the baptism on July 27, 1737, of Peter Roth (the writer's great great grandfather), son of Daniel and Anna Margaret Roth. The sponsors were Peter Traxel, deacon of the Reformed congregation and his wife Juliana Catharine.
The fourth and fifth entries are dated March 22, 1739, when Goetschius baptized Anna Barbara, daughter of Abraham and Anna Margaret Wotring and Catharine Elizabeth, daughter of Michael and Eva Catharine Hoffman. The sponsors of the Wotring child were Ulrich Burghalter and his wife Anna Barbara, and of the Hoffman child, Peter Traxel and Catharine Elizabeth Kern, the wife of George Kern.
On this same day he wrote the inscription on the fly leaf of the baptismal record; viz, in Greek, "Nothing without writing;" in Latin, "All for the glory of God and the salvation of our souls;" and in German, "Baptismal Record of the Congregation on the Lehigh, in which are recorded the names of the children baptized, the names of their parents, and also the names of their sponsors. Commenced March 22, 1739. J. Henricus Goetschius, M. (Minister). Helvetico Tigurinus." (A Swiss of Zurich).* This date is corroborated by two eminent authorities. Prof. Wm. J. Hinke says: "The church record at Egypt has always been supposed to have been opened by Goetschius in 1733, but on closer examination the date turns out to be 1739." Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Dubbs says in "The Reformed Church in Pennsylvania"; "The inscriptions on the title pages of church records, which have led to so much misunderstanding, are easily explained. Goetschius found the books already in existence, containing a number of entries of baptism; but the first page was in each case unoccupied, and he took a boyish pleasure in putting his name there, sometimes adding a few sentences in Greek or Latin. The inscription at New Goshenhoppen was not written before 1736, though on the next following page there is the record of a baptism solemnized in 1731 by some earlier minister. The inscription at Egypt turns out to have been written in 1739, and the one at Great Swamp alone is legibly dated April 24, 1736."
This is precisely what happened at Egypt, for Rev. Boehm made the earliest entry in 1734, leaving several pages blank. Goetschius did not appear until 1736, when he baptized the second Traxel child. In 1737, he baptized the Roth child and in 1739 wrote the inscription on the fly-leaf.
These pioneer organizers of this congregation deserve more than passing mention. Peter Traxel, or Drachsel, and his wife Juliana Catharine, were natives of Switzerland and came to America in 1733, with two sons, Peter and Daniel. (*These records, from 1734 to 1834, translated by tne writer, w1ll appear in the Sixth Series of Pennsylvania Archives.)He settled at Egypt, where he appears to have been the most prominent of the church members, being mentioned as censor in 1736 and 1741, and as deacon in 1737 and 1741. A few years later he removed a few miles westward and secured large tracts of land along the Jordan creek, some of which is still owned by his descendants, one of whom is James Troxell, residing near the Iron Bridge.
Nicholas Kern, one of the earliest settlers of Whitehall township, owned large tracts of land near what is now Guthsville, which he sold in 1739 to Lawrence Guth, and removed to the site of Slatington.
Daniel Roth, a native of Switzerland, where he was born about 1703, came to America in 1733, and in 1737, settled at the Jordan at what is now Sherersville. He died in April, 1737, in the same hour in which his son Peter, baptized at Egypt on July 27th following, was born. This son became prominent as a Revolutionary patriot, and was the first President Judge of Northampton county. An elder son, Daniel, born in Switzerland in 1724, was the ancestor of many of the Roth families in Whitehall to-day.
Abraham Wotring was born July 11, 1700, and came to America in 1733, with his wife and four children. He died in 1752, leaving eight children to survive him.
Ulrich Burghalter, also from Switzerland, arrived in 1733, on the same ship with Abraham Wotring, accompanied by his wife and six children. He died in 1762. His only son, Peter Burghalter, was prominent in the Revolution, and is buried here at Egypt.
Michael Hoffman came to America in 1732, and settled along the Coplay creek. He died in 1786. John and Michael were his sons.
George Kern, in whose. house the congregation often worshipped, arrived in this country in 1737, and bought land adjoining the Kohler and Burghalter families. He was the father of George Jacob Kern and Mrs. Philip Jacob Schreiber.
On April 16, 1739, Goetschius baptized Christian and Juliana Margaret Traxel, twin children of Peter and Juliana Catharine Traxel. The sponsors were Christian Brengel, Peter Traxel, Salome Gut, John Bertsch, Catharine Elizabeth Kern and Mary Margaret Newhard. On May 13, 1739, he baptized Jacob, son of Jacob Bricker and Catharine Eva, daughter of Clementz Arndt. These are the last of his entries in the book.
John Henry Goetschius, or Goetschi, was the son of Rev. Moritz Goetschius, of Saletz, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland. His father left Zurich on October 4, 1734, at the head of four hundred persons, including his wife and eight children, intending to go to the Carolinas. After many trials they arrived at Rotterdam, where the father was persuaded to change his destination to Pennsylvania and was promised a salary of 2,000 gulden, for the first year, to organize and superintend the churches of Pennsylvania. He accepted the offer and after a terrible voyage of three months, in which the passengers suffered greatly, they arrived at Philadelphia on May 29, 1735. On the arrival of the vessel, the elders of the Reformed congregation of Philadelphia came on board to greet him as their pastor. He was very ill,, but responded heartily. The next day he was taken ashore to a house, but his wife and family remained on the ship. While carrying him up the stairs to a chamber on the second floor, he expired. On the third day after, he was buried in the churchyard of the principal Presbyterian church in Philadelphia with elaborate ceremonies.
His eldest son, John Henry, was then seventeen years old, and a student for the ministry. When the people saw the certificate of his studies, they were delighted, and insisted on his preaching. He was, therefore, as Rev. Dr. Good says, the boy preacher of the early Reformed. He preached to them every Sunday twice and had catechization twice. The first Sunday he preached at Philadelphia morning and evening, and after service he had catechization. On the second Sunday he preached at Skippack in the morning, then had catechization, and in the afternoon he had service and catechization at Old Goshenhoppen. On the third Sunday he preached at New Goshenhoppen and had catechization in the morning. In the afternoon he preached at Great Swamp, in Lehigh county, where was a large congregation. Here, at Great Swamp, he opened the church book on April 24, 1736.
Goetschius continued preaching until 1739, when he went to Bucks county and studied under Dorsius. On September 24, 1740, he paid a farewell visit to New Goshenhoppen and bap tized eight children. Rev. Boehm says in his report in 1744, that Goetschius went to Long Island in October, 1740, where he was irregularly ordained by Revs. Dorsius, Tennant and Frelinghuysen in April, 1741. The classis of Amsterdam was very angry at this act of Dorsius in ordaining Goetschius, as he had no authority from them to do it, and he was censured. Goetschius was finally examined and ordained in 1748, when he became pastor at Hackensack, N. J. He died in 1774.
The next three entries in the book were probably written by Rev. Boehm, who preached here occasionally until his death in 1749. The first of these is dated June 12, 1739, and is the baptism of Anna Barbara, daughter of Martin and Sara Kocher. The sponsors were Barbara, wife of Ulrich Burghalter and Nicholas Saeger. On June 27, 1739, George, the son of Ulrich and Lucia Flickinger, was baptized. His sponsors were George Kern and Juliana, wife of Peter Traxel. The last of these three entries is the baptism on September 30, 1739, of John Peter Sensinger, son of Ulrich and Catharine Sensinger. The sponsors were Peter Traxel and wife Juliana, Anna Mary, wife of John Traxel, and Nicholas Kern.
Ulrich Flickinger came to America in 1733. The family lived here many years, but later removed from the vicinity.
John Traxel, whose wife was a sponsor, came to America in 1737. His son, John Peter Traxel, built in 1756, the house in which the congregation frequently worshipped.
Then follow three entries of the baptism of children in the Saucon church, on September 23, 1740, by "Inspector Peter Henry Torschius."
House built by John Peter Traxel in 1756. in which church services were held.
The first of these is that of John Michael Lorentz, son of Frederick and Margaret Newhard. The sponsors were Lorentz Guth, Michael Newhard, Juliana Catharine Traxel and Engel Trumer. The second is that of John Michael, son of John and Anna Mary Weber. The sponsors were Michael Weber and wife. The third is that of Mary Barbara, daughter of John Nicholas and Eva Schneider. The sponsors were Peter Traxel, Paulus Paillet, Mary Margaret, wife of Nicholas Kern, and Anna Barbara, daughter of Nicholas Saeger.
Frederick Newhard owned 203 1/2 acres of land along the Coplay creek, which he sold to Adam Deshler, and removed to near Allentown. He came from Zweibruecken in 1737.
Michael Newhard, brother of Frederick, was born in 1713, and died in 1793, He and his wife are buried in the Egypt graveyard. He was the ancestor of the Newhard families of North Whitehall.
Lorenz Guth came from Zweibruecken in 1738. He afterwards founded the Jordan Reformed church.
Paul Balliet was born in Alsace in 1717, and came to this country in 1738. He married a daughter of Abraham Wotring, and died in 1777. He was the father of Col. Stephen Balliet, a. Revolutionary officer.
Rev. Dr. J. I. Good says, in his "History of the Reformed Church," that Rev. Dorsius was a native of Meurs, Germany. He studied at Groningen and Leyden, and was ordained in Holland in 1737. He came to America October 5, 1737, and was pastor of the Dutch church at Neshaminy, Bucks county. He had been asked by the deputies in Holland to correspond with them and to answer certain questions concerning the German Reformed churches in Pennsylvania.
The next entry in the record book states that the following five children were baptized on July 28, 1741, by Rev. Mr. Boehm. These children were George Frederick, son of Peter and Juliana Catharine Traxel, whose sponsors were George Kern, Frederick Newhard, Salome Gut, wife of Lorentz Gut, and Susanna, wife of George Ruch; Catharine Elizabeth, daughter of George and Catharine Elizabeth Kern, whose sponsors were Peter Traxel, church censor, Roland Schmidt, Mary Barbara, wife of Michael Newhard and Luce, wife of Ulrich Flickinger; Catharine Barbara, daughter of Ulrich and Luce Flickinger, whose sponsors were Christian Brengel, single, Juliana Catharine, wife of Peter Traxel, and Catharine Elizabeth, wife of George Kern; a child of Ludwig and Eva Knaus, whose sponsors were Nicholas and Mary Margaret Kern; and George Jacob, son of Frederick and Anna Mary Schneider, whose sponsors were George Jacob Kern, son of George Kern and Anna Barbara, daughter of Nicholas Saeger.
Rev. John Philip Boehm was born at Hochstadt, Germany, Nov. 25, 1683. His father, Philip Lewis Boehm, was the pastor there. John Philip Boehm taught school at Worms from 1708 to 1715, and at Lambsheim from 1715 to 1720, after which he came to America. He settled in the Schuylkill valley above Philadelphia and there held religious services without salary in the capacity of a "reader." As no Reformed minister was to be had, the people finally prevailed on him to become their minister, and in 1725, he first administered the communion at Falkner Swamp, Skippack and White Marsh. He formulated a. church constitution which was adopted by seven congregationsó the three above mentioned, Conestoga, Tulpehocken, Philadelphia and Oley. Later he also founded a congregation in Whitpain township, Montgomery county, still called Boehm's church. He was ordained Nov. 23, 1729, in the Reformed church of New York city. He died suddenly at the house of his eldest son, April 29, 1749, after he had on the previous day administered the communion to the congregation at Egypt. This house is still standing at Hellertown. As Rev. Dr. Good says, he worked on virgin soil, and should ever be honored as the founder of our church.
Again referring to the church book, we find this notice: "1742. Children were baptized by Peter Traxel and George Kern. Commencing 1742, were baptized by myself. John Conrad Wuertz. V. D. M. Helvetio Tigurinus."
John Conrad Wuertz, or Wirtz, was born Nov. 30, 1706, and was a brother-in-law of Goetschius. He became schoolmaster at old Goshenhoppen, and later began preaching, though not ordained.
He baptized twelve children here at Egypt, dating from Sept. 17, 1742 to Dec. 21, 1744.
Michael Schlatter, the Missionary Superintendent, also visited Egypt in June, 1747. He says in his Journal: "From Wednesday to Saturday, the 24th, 25th and 26th, I visited the congregations in Manatawny, Magunchy, Egypt and on the Lehigh, a circuit of 45 miles and came near to Bethlehem, a location of the Moravians."
In September, 1747, the first Coetus of the Reformed church was held in Philadelphia, and the delegate from Egypt was Abraham Wotring.
From 1744 to 1752 there are no entries in the record book. Schlatter says in his journal, on Nov. 8, 1748: "I received a call for a minister from the congregations called Egypt and Heidelberg. They desire to have a permanent pastor, and obligate themselves for forty-two pounds, or two hundred and eighty Dutch guilders, as salary:" In the same year he states that the charge, composed of the Heidelberg, Egypt, and Jordan congregations, is without a regular minister.
In the minutes of the second Coetus, held in 1748, is the following: "The delegates from Egypt and Heidelberg, in Bucks county, and from Little Lehigh, have asked for a regular minister, and have received as a unanimous answer from the Coetus that if at least fifty pounds of Pennsylvania money can be raised, then Coetus will send a request to the Venerable Christian Synods to obtain a minister for them."
It was at this same session of Coetus that the marriage fee was fixed at 7 shillings and 6 pence, and the fee for a funeral sermon at 5 shillings, but no renumeration was to be asked for baptism.
In the minutes of a special Coetus held at Philadelphia on August 10 to 13, 1752, Rev. Michael Schlatter in his report to the Holland Synods says that with the approval of the brethern, he placed the newly arrived six ministers, among them Domine Wissler at Egypt. At the Coetus held October 18 to 24, 1752, at Lancaster, John Jacob Wissler, of Egypt, was present.
In the minutes of a special Coetus held at Philadelphia on December 12, 1752, occurs the following: "As regards Domine Wissler, located at Egypt, at no great distance from Dos. Weiss and Leydich, he is more of a friend to Dos. Steiner and Rubel than to us, and we are also afraid that he will not come up to our expectations. Neither did he come to this meeting, but sent in writing the following excuses; viz., 'That he had an engagement to preach, and to marry a couple, that he had to visit the sick and had house visitations on hand, nor could he leave his wife alone, and that he had no money for the journey.'"
In the church book in 1752, after the text, Matthew, 19: 14, occurs the name, "John Jacob Wissler, Dillenberga Nassauicus, pastor of Egypt, Jordan and Heidelberg."
Rev. Wissler was born at Dillenberg, Feb. 23, 1727, and was the only one of the six young men who came with Schlatter who was married. He seems to have been the first regularly appointed pastor of Egypt congregation. His salary in 1753 is recorded as 35 pounds. The first entry written by Rev. Wissler was on Sept. 24, 1752. Of the sixteen entries of baptism made by him, seven related to Egypt, seven to Heidelberg, and two to Jordan congregation. He also recorded the confirmation here in 1753 of fourteen boys and seventeen girls, and in 1754 of two boys and two girls. Of the earlier ministers, he was the only one who recorded any deaths, of which there are two, Abraham Wotring, on Nov. 28, 1752, and Elizabeth, daughter of the late Henry Roeder, of Heidelberg, on May 10, 1753. He recorded also two marriages, one on December 12, 1752, in Heidelberg, the very day on which Coetus met, showing that, one, at least, of his excuses was true.
In the Coetus minutes of October 30, 1754, mention is made of his death, "a month ago, after a sickness of two months," and his widow was given ten pounds. In 1756, Coetus gave his widow six pounds; in 1757, six pounds; and in 1759, two pounds, eight shillings. In a letter written by Rev. Stoy, dated Sept. 30, 1757, referring to the Indian troubles, he says: "The place where Domine Wissler labored, when living (Egypt), has been pillaged and robbed of its inhabitants."
From 1754 to December, 1764, Egypt was without a pastor. Who preached here is unknown. Although there are many records for these years in the church book, there are no names of ministers recorded. Two baptisms are recorded on Oct. 5, 1755, very poorly written, evidently by a layman, and one on May 2, 1756. Then the handwriting improves, and there are two recorded on June 6,1756; two on July 15,1756; two on August 15, !756; and one on November 7, 1756. In 1757 there are five records, and in 1758, six; in 1759, one; in 1760, three; in 1761, six; in 1762, one; and in 1763, three. The last, on April 12, 1763, and the last in the old church book, was a daughter of John and Margaret Snyder, all three of whom were killed by Indians on October 8, 1763, about a mile northwest of here.
In the minutes of Coetus of 1763, is the following: "A call was presented to us by the three congregations in Weythall (Whitehall) township and Northampton county, in which they earnestly desire to have a regular pastor, for whom they are willing according to their ability to contribute fifty pounds, Pennsylvania currency, per annum. If it were possible to raise this sum to fifty pounds sterling, we would humbly beg your Reverences to secure a pastor for them. But as this sum (fifty pounds Pennsylvania currency) is too small properly to support an honest man, we dare not venture to do so. However, should the Reverend Fathers know of a way to increase that sum, the increase would be accepted with cordial gratitude."
In the minutes of 1764 it is stated that "Lancaster, Reading, York, Tulpehocken, Whitehall, Easton, Goshenhoppen, important places for preachers, request, beg and pray through us for help." In 1765, Rev. Weyberg, President of Coetus, reported having visited several congregations, among them Whitehall, and found them in good order.
In the minutes of the Coetus held at Lancaster on May 9, 1765, is stated that one, John Daniel Gros, a well-educated man, who came over with Rev. Hendel, was received into the Coetus. The minutes then continue as follows: "The time in Holland being too short, on account of the departure of the ship, he could not further address himself to the Rev. Synods and await their decision. Therefore he at once desired our assistance here. We were obliged to take him from the ship, because several sheperdless congregations wanted to take him, engage him, and receive him as their pastor. To stop and prevent all disorder, we examined him in theology and languages, and found him exceedingly well versed. His delivery was defective, but his credentials from Marburg and Heidelberg were genuine and fine. Mr. Hendel's testimony to his conduct and diligence at the University of Heidelberg as long as he knew him there, was of very great weight with us. In this manner we ordained him and located him at Whitehall, where he is serving four congregations with zeal and praise. We trust that this worthy man will be accepted by your Reverences, and that our action, demanded by the state of affairs, will meet with approval."
Further on we find the following: "At Whitehall Domine Gros found 94 members in the one congregation, Egypt; from the middle of December to May, baptized 7 children, received 13 members."
According to the inscription on the fly leaf of the record book of the Reformed church at Unionville, December 20, 1764, is the date Rev. Gros took charge of the four congregations of Allentown, Egypt, Schlosser's and at the Jordan. In 1766, Rev. Gros reported 31 families at Egypt, 12 members received and 7 baptized.
The first baptismal record written by Rev. Gros at Egypt was dated April 28, 1765, and is the first entry in the second church book. This book contains the following inscription: "Church Book of the Congregation in Egypt, begun in the year 1764, under the care of Rev. Daniel Gros, Reformed Minister." On the fly leaf is the following memorandum: "The Egypt church. The Reformed congregation was founded Anno 1733. The first was a log church, built in 1764. The second was of stone, 40 by 50 feet, and was built in the year 1785. The third is of brick, 50 by 65 feet, and was built in 1851. It cost in money expended $7,383.00, and including the work, cost about $11,000."
From other memoranda we learn that Nov. 8, 1765, George Jacob Kern, who had the custody of the alms money, paid £2. 4s. 8d. to Jacob Mickley, the elder, his successor. On December 17, 1766, Jacob Mickley paid £1. 6s. to his successor as almssurveyor, John Schadt. On the same date, the church account was examined, and no claims were found against the congregation, but all debts were paid. This was signed by Adam Deshler, Michael Newhard and Rev. Gros.
In 1767 the four congregations purchased a house and six acres of land, situated in what was called "Moyer's Valley," for use as a parsonage. The cost of this was one hundred and fifty-two pounds, Pennsylvania Currency ($345.67). Egypt's share was one-fourth, or thirty-eight pounds. In addition to this there was spent upon the parsonage £31. 13s. 4d., of which Egypt's share was £7. 18s. 4d. Adding to this 2s. 6d. for writing the agreement, made the total for this congregation amount to £46. 10 d. From an old account book of the congregation we find that this amount was made up as follows:
The above was signed, May 29, 1771, by J. D. Gros, Abr. Blumer, Michael Neuhart, Jacob Mickly, Jacob Miller and Nicolaus Marck.
In this year, 1767, Paul Balliet represented this charge as a delegate at the meeting of Coetus, and it is recorded that ten shillings was paid him to ride to Coetus, presumably for his expenses.
In 1768, Rev. Gros was Secretary of Coetus and reported a membership of twenty families at Egypt, having baptized nine, and confirmed 41 in the four congregations. He adds; "In each congregation is one winter school. Two congregations are served every Lord's Day."
In 1769, Rev. Gros was President of Coetus. In that year, quoting from the minutes, is the following: '' Domine Gros, who is much beloved by the Reverend Coetus as well as by his charge at Whitehall, this year received a regular call from two large congregations at Saucon and Springfield, which last year already were commended to the Reverend Fathers. Domine Gros showed considerable inclination to accept this call, and complained especially on account of the unfitness of his present dwelling at Whitehall. He lives in a very poor building, also at a place where no wholesome water can be had: which to a minister in this country, who has nothing to drink but water, may be a chief cause for complaint, especially in the hot summer days, when through bad water one's health can easily be impaired. The delegate from Whitehall (who was Peter Roth, of Allentown) was questioned concerning this and replied, that the congregations at Whitehall, were well satisfied with Domine Gros, and that they would be sorely grieved, if they were forced to lose him. We resolved to leave this matter to the decision of Domine Gros, that he may determine for himself whether he could leave the charge which he has hitherto had, and accept the call to Saucon and Springfield. Do. Gros thereupon declared, that the separation from Whitehall would be very hard for him, because he well knew that his ministry among them had been blessed by the Lord to the good of many souls, and for the future even more was to be expected; that therefore he could not leave these congregations unless Coetus would recommend to them in his place the first capable minister whom the Reverend Fathers might send over. This request was granted in the hope that the congregations at Whitehall would see to it that their future pastor need not make such complaints."
Rev. Gros is reported in 1769, as living with his family at Whitehall, and having a membership of 34 families and baptized 16 at Egypt, and confirmed 30 in the whole charge.
In the Coetus records of 1770, it is stated that the resolution of the previous year in regard to the four congregations served by Domine Gros was confirmed. The resolution is as follows: "That, because Domine Gros goes to Saucon and Springfield, the congregations which he leaves shall be supplied by the first capable minister who may be sent to us by the Christian Fathers, in order that this vineyard, so prone to turn into a wilderness, may not again, from want of cultivation, be entirely destroyed and become unfruitful."
In 1769, it is recorded that the share of Egypt congregation towards the pastor's salary was 18 pounds, 15 shillings ($50.00). In 1770, Rev. Gros reported at Egypt, 36 families, 10 baptized, and 45 confirmed in the whole charge. His salary was 70 pounds.
Rev. John Dan1el Gros, D. D.
John Daniel Gros was born at Webenheim, in the county of Zweibrucken. He attended the Universities of Marburg and Heidelberg, went to Holland to arrange to be sent to America by the deputies, but found the ship ready to sail, and came over without waiting for them. He took the oath of allegiance at Philadelphia, Dec. 4, 1764. The Coetus located him in Whitehall, where he labored must successfully, and the people became greatly attached to him. In 1769, he was called to Saucon, but so great was his attachment to his charge that he would not give them up until they had a pastor, as already mentioned. For a time he served both charges, although quite a distance apart. He would preach in his old charge three Sundays and the fourth Sunday in Saucon and Springfield. But in 1770, he left his old charge, giving his entire time to Saucon. In 1772, he complained to Coetus that his congregations did not pay his salary. Because of their want of love, stubbornness, neglect of church worship and failure to pay his salary, he therefore accepted the next year, a call to Kingston, N. Y., where he was pastor from 1773 to 1783. He was pastor of the German Reformed Congregation in New York City, from 1783 to 1795. He became Professor of German Languages at Columbia College, 1784-1795; of Moral Philosophy there, 1787-1795; regent of the University of New York, 1784-1787. Columbia College gave him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1789. He died May 27, 1812. He published the first great book published in America on moral philosophy, entitled "Natural Principles of Rectitude, a systematic treatise on Moral Philosophy," Philadelphia, 1795.
Rev. Abraham Blumer succeeded Rev. Gros as pastor of the Egypt congregation.
Rev. Abraham Blumer.
Abraham Blumer was born at Grabs, then in the canton of Glarus, Switzerland, December 14, 1736. (Old Style.) At his baptism on December 19th, his sponsors were Magistrate David Hildy, Captain General John Hildy, Catharine, wife of High Bailiff Schmidt, and Anna Blumer, wife of a relative. His father was John Jacob Blumer, minister at Betschwanden and Grabs, Switzerland, who died in 1746, and his mother was Salome Shindler, of Mollis. His grandfather, John Henry Blumer, was Deacon at Shwandi and Pastor at Grabs, and his ancestors held offices of distinction in Switzerland for generations, the genealogical tablets of the family running back to Othmar Blumer, who was Church Steward at Shwanden, in the sixteenth century. Of his four brothers, three died in military service, one as Major, one as Ensign, and one as cadet, and one died on his voyage to America.
Abraham Blumer matriculated at Basle, August 1, 1754. He was ordained June 8, 1756. He became chaplain of a Swiss regiment, in the service of the King of Sardinia, July 11, 1757, remaining in it until 1766, when, according to Rev. Dr. Good, he entered the teaching profession in his canton. He became vicar to a sickly minister and also private tutor. Rev. Mr. Planta, the pastor of the German Reformed church at London, wrote a letter, June 26, 1770, to the deputies, strongly urging his appointment. He appeared before the deputies August 22, with Rev. Charles Lewis Boehme, and also before the classical committee, August 27, 1770. He left Amsterdam, September 6, 1770. He arrived at New York the latter part of January, 1771. He appeared before the Coetus in February, and in that month took charge of the four congregations in Whitehall charge, one of which was Egypt. In the records of Unionville church, he wrote the date of his taking charge of the congregation February 17, 1771. His first baptism at Egypt was on June 2, 1771. In October, 1771, Rev. Blumer attended the session of Coetus and reported a membership at Egypt of forty families. In 1782 he reported 38 families at Egypt, 14 baptized, 12 conf1rmed and one school, with 53 pupils. In 1785 the report was very full, and gave at Egypt 44 families, 23 baptized, 14 confirmed, and one school, with 46 pupils. The yearly salary is given as one hundred pounds, with twenty pounds perquisites, and ninety-five pounds expenses.
Rev. Blumer was a well-educated man and was possessed of considerable ability and scholarship. In 1774, he received a call from the French Reformed church, of New York City, which he declined in a letter written in the French language. (See Dubb's Reformed church in Pennsylvania.) He was clerk of Coetus in 1773 and 1784, and president in 1774 and 1785. In 1785, he purchased a tract of 195 acres along the Jordan at the present "Iron Bridge," on which a house built by him still stands. He was pastor here for thirty years, until May, 1801, when old age compelled him to resign. He retired to his home where he died April 23, 1822, at the age of 85 years, and was buried at the Jordan Reformed church. During his pastorate he baptized 2517 children and confirmed 1137. The last entry in his handwriting in the Egypt records is dated May 17, 1801.
During Rev. Blumer's pastorate, the second church was built. The cornerstone was laid June 13, 1785, and the church was dedicated June 4, 1786. The cost was ,6893.0s. 3^d. ($2,381.73). At the same time an organ was installed into the church at a cost of £ 154. 2 s. 9 d. ($411.04).
Facsimile of Rev. Blumer's signature.
The two congregations, prior to erecting the new building, entered into an agreement, of which the following is a translation: "This 18th of April, Anno Domini, 1785, we, the members of the Evangelical Reformed and the Evangelical Lutheran congregations, belonging to the parish of Egypt, in Whitehall township, Northampton county, in the State of Pennsylvania, have bound ourselves and agreed to erect a new stone church, 50 feet long and 40 feet broad, for joint use, and we herewith give to our joint architects, chosen for that purpose, namely, Peter Kohler, Esq., Samuel Saeger, Philip Jacob Schreiber, Adam Zerfass, Jacob Mickly and Nicholas Saeger, Sen., full power to place the above-mentioned church upon one of the most suitable spots on our joint church lands. We also bind ourselves and each other to contribute to the requisite and necessary expenses according to our ability, until the said church is built and completed, which we hereby certify to with our own signatures, on the above-mentioned day and date."
The laying of the cornerstone of the new church took place June 13, 1785, at which time sermons were preached by Revs. Blumer and Shellhard, before a large assemblage of people, and a copy of the following resolutions was placed in the cornerstone: "As we, the Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed congregations in Whitehall township (otherwise called Egypt), have agreed to build a house of God for our common use, therefore have we drawn up the following articles:
No minister shall be admitted into the church, who is erroneous in doctrine, or is scandalous in conduct, or who was not lawfully called to the ministry.
Both congregations shall have an equal right and share in this church.
In order to guard against misunderstanding and dispute, it is established, with the approbation of both congregations, that none shall obstruct the other in the service of God, but each shall hold justly to its alternate time.
All repairs, which shall become necessary to this house of divine worship, shall be paid jointly.
The consistories of the congregations, and the pastors chosen, shall conduct the congregations to the best of their abilities, and keep in order the accounts pertaining to the church.
Done this 13th of June, 1785, and signed with our own signatures, by us, the Architects, Elders and Deacons of both congregations, on the day on which the cornerstone was laid."
The treasurers of the two congregations, Peter Burkhalter, Esq., and Samuel Saeger kept accurate and detailed accounts of all receipts and expenditures. An assessment was laid upon each member, according to his means, which amount he was required to pay. The members of the Reformed congregation were assessed as follows:
Peter Kohler, Esq., £ 29; Peter Burkhalter, Esq., £ 29; John Hoffman, £ 25; Jacob Mickly, £ 22; Jacob Kern, £ 22; Adam Deshler, .£22; Elizabeth Steckel, widow of Peter Steckel, Henry Steckel and John Steckel, £ 22; Philip Jacob Schreiber, £ 20; Jacob Kohler, £ 18; Peter Kern, George Remely and Jacob Miller, Sen., each £ 16; Martin Mickly and John Schad, each £ 15; Nicholas Traxel, £14; Peter Deshler, Peter Newhard and Philip Roth, each £ 13; Frederick Newhard, George Schad and Henry Biery, each £ 12; Michael Newhard, Jun., John Moritz and Jacob Flickinger, each £ 11; George Flickinger, .£10; Christopher Kern, £ 8, 10 s.; Peter Meyer, £ 8; Andrew Siegfried, £ 7, 10 s.; Adam Traxel, Daniel Kern, Engelbert Hoffman and David Newhard, each £ 7; John Groband Jacob Hartman,each .£5, 10 s.; Michael Newhard, Jacob Steckel and John Kocher, each £ 5; Peter Hoffman and Sebastian Miller, each £ 4; Martin Meyer, £ 3, 10 s.; Jacob Meyer and Martin Graff, each .£3; Christian Traxel, £ 1. 10 s.; George Hartman, £ 1. 2 s. 6 d.; Jacob Geiger, £ 1; John Kern, Abraham Hartman and Andrew Keck, each 15 s.; Philip Faust, 7 s. 6 d.; and Adam Kern, 3 s. The total contribution of the Reformed members amounted to £ 545. 2 s. 6 1/2 d.
The members of the Lutheran congregation were assessed as follows:
George Koehler, £ 25; Samuel Saeger, £ 22; Christian Saeger, £ 22; Lorenz Ruch, £ 14; Conrad Leisenring, £ 12; John Meyer, £ 11 ; Nicholas Saeger, Sen., £ 10; Adam Zerfass and Andrew Fox, each £ 9; Adam Scheurer, £ 8. 10 s.; Caspar Ritter, Christian Bertsch and Theobald Herzog, each £ 8; Jacob Laub's Executors and Adam Miller, each £ 7. 10 s.; Michael Ringer, Sen. and Jacob Kretschman, each £ 7; Nicholas Saeger (son of Christian Saeger) and Andrew Jehl, each £ 6; Nicholas Herzog, Jacob Saeger,George Helferich and Jacob Wolf, each £ 5; Henry Ruch, £4; Henry Jehl, £ 3, 10 s.; George Jacob Schneck and Michael Deiber, each £ 3; William Laury, Peter Reng and Jacob Shantz, each £ 2; Sybilla Leisenring, widow of Conrad Leisenring, Sen., contributed £ 2; Philip Knappenberger, £ 1. 17 s.; Michael Ringer, Jun. and George Miller, each £ 10. 10 s.; Michael Zellner, £ 1. 2 s. 6d.; Margaret Meyer, widow of Nicholas Meyer, contributed £ 1; Michael Miller, John Schantz and Philip Kurtz, each 15 s.; Jacob Fischer, 10 s.; and George Hausser, 3 s. 9 d. The total contribution of the Lutheran members amounted to £ 262. 17 s. 4 d.
These assessments were paid in installments, and interest was collected upon overdue installment?. Upon the occasion of the cornerstone laying, on June 13, 1785, there was collected,£11. 12 s. 4 d. On June 16, 1785, ten pounds alms money was received from the Reformed congregation. Contributions from non-members were received as follows:
On June 4, 1786, at the dedication of the church, there was collected £ 26. 2 s. 6 d.
In addition to this, the Reformed congregation collections (Allmosen) amounted to £ 8. 17 s. 8 d.; that of the Lutherans to £4. 11 s. 5 d.; and nails were sold amounting to £ 5. 1 s. 2 d., thus bringing the total receipts to £ 893. 3 1/2 d.
The expenditures in building the church were as follows:
The board and lodging of the carpenters, masons, quarrymen and mortar-carriers at 15 pence per day, the account of which was kept by Conrad Schneider, the schoolmaster, and which was furnished by Jacob Mickly, Henry and John Steckel, Peter Kohler and John Hoffman, amounted to £ 117. 3 s. 2 d.
The master joiners, John Miller and George Jacob Newhard, agreed to do the carpenter work for £ 200, Pennsylvania Currency. The total cost of the carpenter work, including interest on the payments, amounted to £ 224. 11 s. 3 1/2 d.
Nicolaus Ott, of Allentown, agreed to do the mason's work for £ 89. 5 s., Pennsylvania currency. The total paid him, including interest, was £ 90. 9 s.
The smith's work was done by Peter Kern, of Whitehall township, at the rate of 14 pence per pound. The total paid him for iron supplied, tools sharpened and interest, was £ 88. 11 s. 10 d.
The shingles were purchased from Eyre and Wever, of Philadelphia, and cost £ 38. 5 s. 6 d.
The boards were of white fir, pitch fir, white pine and oak, and were purchased from Christian Wirth, Jacob Mickly, John Hoffman, Michael Strohl, Michael Ohl, of Penn. township, Abraham Duffield, George Gilbert, Abraham Sterner, John Moritz and Peter Schneck, and the total cost was £76. 19 s. 9 d.
To the following quarrymen, mortar carriers and laborers, namely, John Merkel, John Schanz, John Hoffman, Solomon Ringer, Dietrich Hartman, Christian Kaesebauer, John Meyer, Abraham Hartman, John Loeser, Jacob Hauck, Daniel Roth, Jacob Kraft, Michael Zoellner, Conrad Naas, John Kern and John Kohler, at three shillings per day, was paid £57. 19 s. 1 d.
The nails were bought of Wister & Co., in Philadelphia; Gottfried Roemelt, in Bethlehem; Wm. Gibbs & Co., in Philadelphia; John Richards, in Philadelphia; Christian Heckewelder and Abraham Levering, in Bethlehem; and Peter Rhoads, in Allentown, and cost £ 31. 18 s. 3 d.
The paint was purchased from Henry Epple and others in Philadelphia, and cost £ 14. 18 s. 11 d.
The glass, bought in Philadelphia and Bethlehem, cost £ 24.
The lime, bought of Samuel Saeger and Theobald Herzog, cost £ 2. 13 s. 4 d.
For hair, bought of Philip Roth, Adam Zerfass, Simon Dreisbach, Samuel Saeger and Thomas Mowharter, was paid £ 1. 2 s. 6 d. ,
For the sawing of wood by Peter Kohler and Jacob Shantz, and of laths, by Frederick Beck, of Lehigh township, was paid £ 22. 4 s. 2 d.
For brandy, was paid .£14. 12 s. 6 d.
Among the miscellaneous expenses, were; 3 s. 9 d. for a white pint bottle, put in the cornerstone; £ 2. 16 s., for 1600 bricks of .Charles Colver, of Bethlehem; £ 1. 15 s. 9 d., for travelling expenses of Henry Epple, of Philadelphia, son-in-law of Peter Burkhalter, Esq., who painted the pulpit, altar, &c., without charge; £ 1. 2 s. 6 d., to Andrew Leisenring & Co. for the customary "Trinkgeld," for the carpenter apprentices; for Linseed, £ 11. 14 s.; to Jacob Strein, for keeping all the accounts, . £ 5. 3 s. 10 d. Total £ 87. 11 s.
The total expenditures amounted to £ 893. 3 1/2 d.
On August 9, 1801, the accounts were closed and signed by Rev. Abraham Blumer; Peter Burkhalter, Trustee, Elder and Treasurer; Philip Jacob Schreiber, Trustee, Elder and Architect; Jacob Mickly, Architect; Peter Kohler, for his father Peter Kohler, deceased; and Michael Neuhard, Nicholas Kern and Jacob Meyer, Deacons, for the Reformed congregation; and by Rev. John Casper Dill; Nicholas Saeger, for his father Christian Saeger, deceased, a former Trustee; Nicholas Seeger, Trustee; Nicholas Seeger, for his father Samuel Seeger, deceased, Architect and Treasurer; Adam Zerfass and Nicholas Seeger, Architects; Nicholas Saeger and Caspar Ritter, Elders; and George Ringer, John Saeger, George Keim and George Smull, for the Lutheran congregation.
The Reformed congregation contributed to the cost of the organ, £ 71. 8 s. 2 d., which was contributed by the same persons who contributed to the cost of the church, with the addition of Peter Burkhalter, Jun., John Kohler and Peter, son of Jacob Kohler.
The Lutherans gave £ 28. 15 s. 4 d., contributed by the same members previously mentioned, with the addition of George Smull', Adam Knappenberger and Jacob Musgenung.
Others who contributed were: Gottfried Knauss, Daniel Roth, John Roth, Jun., Conrad Marcks, Peter Schoener, John Roth, Sen., George Frederick, Nicholas Fox, Michael Kolb, George Schreiber, Stephen, Frederick and Henry Snyder, David and Adam Deshler, George Miller and George Yund, of the Northampton parish (Allentown); George Seem, Frederick Hauer, Sen., Daniel Schwarz, Simon Dreisbach, George Riess, Andrew and George Lilly, Adam Heckman, Conrad Kreider, John Siegfried, Michael Bieber, Adam Schoener, Frederick Kleppinger, George Edelman, Christian Hartman, Anton Kleppinger, Michael Keiper, George Haas, Frederick Kratzer, Henry Beil, Philip Faust and Adam Laubach, of Allen township; Nicholas Balliet, Jacob Wirth, Jacob Fenstermacher, Henry Beyer, John Baer, Martin Andreas, Michael Remaly, Peter Siegfried and Jacob Baer, Jun., of Union parish; Jacob Buchman, Conrad Herman, John Seeger, John Bachman, John Alspach, Conrad Reiswig, Abraham Leyenberger, John Heuckly, Peter Mufly, Valentine Ahnewald, Theobald Schaeffer, Peter Kuntz, Adam Sold, John Schneider and John Gann, of Lehigh township; John Miller, Anton Schaeffer, Caspar Hunsicker, John Wassum and John Keck, of Heidelberg township; William Meyer, George Meyer, Peter Traxel, Jun., Daniel Traxel, Adam Heberly, John Meyer, George Frederick Knauss, John Lehr, Peter Lehr, Michael Schneider, Lorenz Guth, Nicholas and David Meyer, Peter Guth and John Helferich, of Jordan parish; Nicholas Bachman, of Lynn township; Peter Mertz of Longswamp; Peter Ealer, Sheriff, and Conrad Ihrie, of Easton; John Balliet, Jacob Dinky and Leonhard Fischer.
The total cost of the organ was £ 154. 2 s. 9 d., of which .£ 145 was paid to the builder, Dannenberg, of Lititz, £ 3 to his son Samuel, for the usual "Trinkgeld," and the balance for the hauling of the organ from Lititz, board of two organbuilders, postage, etc.
In 1787, a schoolhouse was built, costing £ 100. 6 s. 2 d., to which the Reformed side contributed £ 71. 10 s. 8 d., and the Lutherans, £28. 15 s. 6 d.
John Hartman, of Upper Milford, received £ 2. 10 s., for building the cellar walls; John Heyberger, of Upper Milford, received .£8. 10 s. for the mason work; George Jacob Newhard, of Allentown, received £ 24. 18 s. 3 d. for building the two-story log schoolhouse; John Leyenberger, of Lehigh township, received £ 8 for the shingles; the boards cost £ 22. 8 s. 9 d.; paint, glass, nails, etc., £ 10. 11 s. 1 d.; lime, £ 1. 16 s. 2 d.; linseed-oil,£ 1. 9 d., and miscellaneous expenses were £8. 12 s. 10 d.
Out of 124 feet of lumber, 100 feet of which was bought of John Moritz and 24 feet given by Jacob Mickly, a writing table and two benches, for the schoolroom were made, without charge, by Philip Jacob Schreiber and Peter Deshler.
When the first schoolhouse at Egypt church was built, or who the first schoolmaster was is unknown. From the records we find, however, that John Carl Shribeler, was schoolmaster from 1774 to 1776. Conrad Schneider was schoolmaster and led the singing in 1785, but as he was no organist, he was requested to resign in 1786, and Jacob Strein became organist and schoolteacher. He resigned in 1804 and removed to Lancaster. His successor was Henry Hemsing, of Hamburg, who served until 1810, when Adam Gilbert succeeded him. He was succeeded in 1822 by Theodore Storb, who served several years and then removed to Montgomery county. He was followed by John Daniel Eisenbraun, who served till 1829. Christian Schick then served until 1836, when John Bernd became organist and schoolteacher. He resigned in 1846 and was succeeded by Francis G. Berndt, who served for 41 years, until 1887. He was succeeded by Robert A. Benner, who died in 1901. His successor, William H. Snyder, was elected February 9, 1902, and still holds the position.
In 1801 the four congregations sold the parsonage and land purchased in 1767 and bought a house and 25 acres of land from Michael Kern.
Rev. John Gobrecht.
Rev. John Gobrecht, son of Rev. John Christopher Gobrecht, who became the successor of Rev. Blumer, was born in Lancaster county, December 10, 1773. He studied under Melsheimer, Stoeck and Hendel. He is said to have been of a peculiarly mild and affectionate disposition, and was greatly beloved by all who knew him. He lived on a farm but a short distance from here, on the road to Ballietsville. He was pastor at Egypt for thirty years. The last entry in the record book in his handwriting is dated February 15, 1831. He died March 5, 1831, and is buried here in the churchyard.
His first wife was Hannah Troxel, who died March 12, 1819, aged 32 years, 5 months and 7 days, leaving eight children. He married a second time a Mrs. Hall, with whom he had two children.
His successor in the pastorate was Rev. Joseph S. Dubbs.
Rev. Joseph S. Dubbs, D. D.
Joseph S. Dubbs was born October 16, 1796, at the family homestead, in Upper Milford (now Lower Milford) township, Lehigh county, Pa. He was the youngest son of Daniel Dubbs and his wife Elizabeth, a daughter of Martin Schwenk, of Montgomery county. His grandfather, Jacob Dubs, a native of the parish of Birmansdorf, near Zurich, came to America in 1732 and secured from the Penn family a tract of land on one of the branches of the Perkiomen Creek, where he erected a small forge and engaged extensively in the manufacture of guns and agricultural implements. His wife, Veronica, was the eldest daughter of John George Welker, who appears to have speculated extensively in land. The business which Jacob Dubs founded, was enlarged by his only son, Daniel, who in course of time erected a group of rustic industries. Besides the forge he owned a mill, saw mill, oil mill, cutlery (schleifmuehle), tannery and a large farm. He was the first to build a brick house within the limits of Lehigh county, the brick for the building being manufactured on his own land. He was for many years an elder of the Great Swamp Reformed church, and of his six sons five became elders and one was a minister of the Gospel.
Joseph, the subject of this sketch, early acquired considerable mechanical skill, but also manifested talent in other directions. He took naturally to music and learned to play on several instruments; so that he was able to earn a part of the expenses of his education by conducting singing schools. For some time, he attended a Quaker school in Chester county, for the purpose of becoming more familiar with the English language.
Having determined to prepare himself for the ministry, he placed himself under the care of the Rev. F. L. Herman, D. D., who prepared many candidates for his profession. The school which he conducted was popularly know as the "Swamp College." For four years, he was under Dr. Herman's instruction, and in 1822, was licensed to preach the Gospel, with special authority to administer the sacraments. In September, 1823, he was regularly ordained.
During this period occurred the division, which led to the organization of the Free Synod of Pennsylvania. Though ordained by this body he always regretted the division and took the lead in the measures which led to reunion. In 1836, he was the chairman of the commission by which this work was accomplished.
His first charge consisted of the Windsor and Weiss churches, in Berks county, of which he assumed the pastorate in 1822. In 1824 the Eppler's church, and in 1826 the Hain's church were added to the field.
Dr. Dubbs was warmly attached to his first charge, but it proved exceedingly laborious. His churches were situated almost in a straight line for a distance of almost thirty miles. In reaching his most distant appointments he was compelled to cross three streams, the Schuylkill, the Antelauny and the Tulpehocken. There were no bridges over these streams in those days, and in winter he was often compelled to cross them at the peril of his life.
In 1831, he accepted a call from this charge in Lehigh county, consisting of the Allentown, Egypt, Union and Jordan churches. There had been four candidates for the pastorate of this charge, and at first there was some disagreement, particularly in Allentown, where a second congregation was organized, which after three years returned to the parent body. The first baptism recorded by him at Egypt is dated August 28, 1831. Dr. Dubbs, remained pastor of the entire charge until 1861, assisted in Allentown, in later years, by his son, Alfred, and the Rev. C. R. Kessler. At various times, he also preached at Rittersville, Cedarville and Morgenland. After retiring from the Allentown church in 1861, he continued to preach to the other congregations of his charge until 1868, when he resigned and removed to Allentown, where he lived in retirement until his death, which occurred April 14, 1877.
The honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him in 1866, by Franklin and Marshall College.
Dr. Dubbs was twice married; the first time to Susan Getz, a daughter of Nicholas Getz, of Berks county; the second time in 1837, to Mrs. Eleanor Murphy, a daughter of David Lerch and his wife Eleanor Jones. By the first marriage he had three children; Alfred, who became a minister and is well remembered, and two daughters who were respectively married to Owen L. Schreiber and James O. Shimer. By the second marriage he had two sons, Joseph Henry, who has been for many years a professor in the college at Lancaster, and a prominent historian of the Reformed church, and Silas, who died in childhood.
A leading trait in the character of Dr. Dubbs was supreme regard for the demands of duty. Nothing could induce him to miss an engagement and he kept the records of his ministry with the utmost care. He preached over eight thousand sermons; baptized 7,065 infants and adults; attended 2778 funerals; and solemnized 2,176 marriages. In the general affairs of his denominations, he took a profound interest; and at a meeting of the Classis of East Penna. prepared and offered the resolution which finally led to the preparation of the "Order of Worship." In an extant letter the late Dr. Schaff calls him "the father of the German hymn book" because he first suggested its publication. Socially he was unusually genial and for many years was the friend and adviser of his people in secular no less than in religious affairs. Few ministers have been regarded and remembered by their people with such profound affection.
Rev. Samuel A. Leinbach, A. M.
On the 22nd of September, 1867, Rev. Samuel A. Leinbach, A. M., preached his first sermon in Egypt church, and in 1868 was elected pastor of the congregation. Rev. Leinbach, is the youngest son of the late Rev. Thomas H. Leinbach, of the Tulpehocken charge, in Lebanon county, who had been a fellow student and a life-long friend of the Rev. Joseph S. Dubbs, D. D. Rev. Leinbach was educated in the public schools, the Myerstown Academy, Swatara Institute, Franklin and Marshall College, where he graduated in the class of 1864, and the Mercersburg. Theological Seminary, where he completed his course in the spring of 1867.
"Father Dubbs," as he was fondly called by his parishioners, had served the Egypt Reformed congregation for a period of 37 years, when, on account of the infirmities of age, he resigned, recommending Rev. Leinbach as his successor, and giving him his kindly help and hearty support. On the 2nd of February, 1868, Rev. Leinbach preached his introductory sermon, selecting for his text Hebrews, 13th chapter and 17th verse. A committee appointed by the East Pennsylvania Classis, consisting of Revs. Drs. J. S. Dubbs, Strassburger and Loose, installed him into the pastorate, in the month of May, the latter preaching the sermon. Rev. Leinbach was then in his twenty-fourth year.
Services were now held regularly, every two weeks, instead of every four as had been the custom, but Rev. Leinbach having two vacant Sundays in a month, and eager for more work, was requested by the Classis to preach in the Public School Building, in the growing town of Slatington, with a view of gathering material for a congregation in that place. After one year's service he retired to make room for another brother, by whom an organization was effected, which soon became self-supporting and is now in a very flourishing condition.
For a number of years he also assisted the Rev. Dr. Wm. R. Hofford, in preaching to an unorganized congregation in the Public School Building at Coplay, the place of his residence. Largely through his labors, with the aid of B. S. Levan, Superintendant of the Lehigh Valley Iron Company and Owen L. Schreiber, a son-in-law of Rev. Dubbs, a congregation was organized and Rev. Leinbach chosen as its pastor. A neat church was erected and dedicated on June 15, 1873, and being a daughter of the Egypt church, it was added to the charge. In the year 1869 he also held services in Laury's schoolhouse, and succeeded in organizing a congregation, of material mostly belonging to the Egypt church. This congregation was organized on the 12th of May, 1872, and on Sept. 14, 1874, the so-called Miller's church was dedicated. This congregation was also added to the Egypt charge, so that it consisted of three congregations, which Rev. Leinbach served to the end of his pastorate, preaching his last sermon in the charge on December 23, 1883.
After having served the charge for a period of sixteen years, he resigned January 1, 1884, to accept a call from the Leesport charge, near Reading. During his pastorate in Egypt, he baptized about six hundred, officiated at 356 funerals, married 146 and confirmed 384. Twelve of those confirmed by him became ministers of the Gospel, and five others were influenced by him to study for the ministry. There are comparatively few congregations, if ^ny, from which such a large number of ministers of the Gospel have come. During his pastorate in 1874, the church building was remodelled and re-dedicated on November 11, 1874. Rev. Leinbach now resides in Reading.
Rev. Wm. R. Hofford, D.D.
The late Rev. William R. Hofford, D. D., was elected pastor on December 15, 1883, and entered upon his duties January 1, 1884. Rev. Hofford, the son of Joseph and Sarah Hofford, was born May 8, 1833, in Upper Saucon township, Lehigh county, and confirmed October 12, 1850, in Zion's Reformed church, Allentown. His preliminary education was obtained in the public schools,. qualifying him to become a teacher in a district school.
In 1851, he was admitted as a scholar in the Allentown Seminary; in 1855, he was graduated in Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster; and in 1857, in the Theological Seminary, at Mercersburg, Pa. After his graduation, he accepted the appointment of teacher of Latin and Greek in Cumberland Valley Institute, Mechanicsburg, Pa., which position he held for several years. He was licensed May 12, 1858, to the Gospel ministry. For one year he filled the position as teacher of Ancient Languages in the Allentown Seminary. He subsequently became principal and continued in this service to 1864. He was ordained and installed February 1, 1863, as pastor of Lower Saucon congregation. In the following year, Williams township congregation was added to his charge, and he continued to serve these two congregations until 1869. He supplied the congregation at Freemansburg, from May 1, 1869 to September 29, 1872, and also South Whitehall, from May 3, 1863. In 1867, he was elected professor of Latin Language and Literature in Muhlenberg College. In 1868, he was elected President of Female College in Allentown, which he filled with credit to himself for five successive years. In 1883, he was called to the Egypt charge, which he served until the close of his life, a period of seventeen years. He preached his last sermon on the 5th of November, 1900. After suffering several years, with rheumatism, his ailment finally culminated in apoplexy. He died January 31, 1901, at the age of 67 years, 5 months and 23 days. The funeral service was held February 4th, and his mortal remains were buried in Union cemetery, Allentown, Pa.
Rev. George P. Stem, A. M.
Rev. George P. Stem, a son of the late William and Eliza Kemmerer Stem, was born at Cherryville, Northampton Co., Penna., and spent his boyhood at Stemton, Pa., now a part of the Borough of Alliance, where his father was interested in the Stemton Car Works.
He received his early education in the public schools of 'Stemton, the Weaversville Academy, under Prof. Edward Kummer, and the Preparatory Department of Muhlenberg College. Entering the College as a freshman, September, 1882, he continued his studies here until the end of the Junior year, entered the Senior Class of Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa., September, 1885 and graduated in June, 1886.
He engaged in the profession of teaching, and for two terms taught the Grammar School, at Slatington, Pa.
He entered the Eastern Theological Seminary at Lancaster, Pa., the opening of the fall term, in 1888, graduating in May, 1891, and was examined and licensed by Lehigh Classis. Having received and accepted a call from the Littlestown charge, Gettysburg Classis, he was ordained and installed as pastor on the evening of July 5, 1891, by a committee consisting of Rev. J. C. Bowman, D. D., Rev. W. E. Krebs, D. D. and Rev. F. C. Lindaman. His pastorate of nearly eight years marked an increase in church membership, benevolent contributions and improvement of the parsonage and church building.
Rev. Stem became the assistant to the late Dr. W. R. Hofford, by whom he had been confirmed at the Mickley's church, and upon his death became his successor of the Egypt charge, consisting of the Egypt, Miller and Cementon congregations. He was installed as pastor, Trinity Sunday, June 2, 1901, by the Rev. S. G. Wagner, D. D., Rev. A. R. Bartholemew, D. D., and Rev. T. J. Hacker, D. D.
During the pastorate of Rev. Stem, the evening communion and English services were introduced, as also th'e envelope system, and 100 hymn books procured for the use of the congregation. The offerings of the charge for benevolence were doubled. The extensive church improvements are described in detail under another head.
In June, 1891, he married Elizabeth Laubach, daughter of the late Adam and Caroline Laury Laubach. Three children were born to them, Laury George, Karl Kemmerer and Caroline Laubach Stem.