Seventy Years History


Rittersville, PA
Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

With Complete Records of All Members of Both Congregations and Sunday Schools

Dedicated to the sacred memory of those who sleep silently in the adjoining cemetery.

Presented by
Pennsylvania Trails History and Genealogy

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Seventy years history of a church is of such significance to a community, that it should even at this late date be put into permanent form for the perusal and benefit of the present and future generations. Present generations would fail in their duties to posterity unless they performed their part to keep green the memories of their forebears and the spiritual home in which they worshipped. The growth of these congregations in their early years was somewhat tardy but the progressive spirit of the community at this time is equally evident in the congregations both from a spiritual and material standpoint. These sentiments have prompted the publication of this little volume.

The following persons constituted the Historical Committees: Reformed, Rev. J. S. Bartholomew, Walter C. Arndt, chairman; Printon Hoch, Clayton Heiney, and Wilson H. Ehret. Lutheran, Rev. I. B. Ritter, Dr. R. B. Klotz, Harvey, Billheimer, O. F. Walter and Robert Reichart.

These committees of both congregations gratefully acknowledge the efficient and valuable services rendered them by Mr. William J. Dietrich, of Allentown, Pa.

History of St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Church
Rittersville, Pennsylvania

The church records of this union church contain the following facts, which translated read as follows:

The inhabitants or citizens of the surrounding country, who are at present members and jointly worship God in this, St. Peter's Church, were formerly members of surrounding congregations. But as the population increased, and the churches were so far distant, they felt the necessity of having a church of their own. On the second Tuesday in January, 1842, a meeting was held at the home of Michael Ritter where the matter of building a church of their own at Rittersville was discussed and favorably considered. Subsequent meetings were held, when they finally concluded to try, and if possible, build a church. An organization was effected, and the following committee was appointed Jacob Bast, Michael Ritter and Solomon Flores to find a suitable tract of ground for a church building and cemetery. They soon found a suitable strip of land, located on the property of the Michael Ritter estate then held by his son, Thomas, where the church now stands. The committee reported to the members who were all wellsatisfied with their selection. Mr. Ritter then withdrew as a member of the committee and Samuel Knauss was appointed in his place. They were instructed to purchase the land, if possible, which they later did for thirty ($30.00) dollars. The following gentlemen, viz., Isaac McHose and Floritan Hoehle, were then appointed as a committee to secure subscriptions for a building fund. After the committee had seen the majority of the people in the community, they reported that a sufficient sum had been subscribed to warrant them to commence building operations.

A union organization was then effected for the erection of a union church. A building committee was then appointed, consisting of Leonard Laubach, Isaac McHose, Chas. Ritter and Samuel Knauss, who awarded the contract for the erection of the church to David Minnich for one thousand and sixty dollars ($1060.00). The materials were gathered and building commenced. They were soon ready for the laying of the corner-stone. At a meeting held the last Tuesday in March, 1842, a dispute arose concerning the naming of the church. One man contending it should be named St. Solomon's, another desired that it be called St. Peter's. The following evening it was decided by a vote of seven to six to call it St. Peter's. From this time the name Solomon entirely disappears from the history of the congregation. The day was decided upon and several ministers were invited, all of whom presented excuses, except the Rev. Joshua Yeager, a Lutheran preacher of Allentown, Pa., who therefore, officiated alone, and thus the corner-stone was laid on Sunday, May 8, 1842. The building committee continued its work with renewed vigor and in about three months the church was completed, and preparations were made for its dedication, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28, 1842. Several pastors were invited and all accepted. On Saturday forenoon, the Rev. I. T. Hecht, a Lutheran clergyman from Easton, Pa., officiated, and in the afternoon the Rev. I. C. Becker, D.D., a Reformed clergyman from near Kreidersville. On Sunday morning, the Rev. Mr. Eberman, of the Brethren Church (Moravian) from Bethlehem, Pa., and in the afternoon, the Rev. J. S. Dubbs, Reformed pastor from Allentown, Pa., officiated.

The church building being completed, the congregations were in need of pastors and choir leader. At an election subsequently held, the following persons were elected: Lutheran Church Council : Elders, Michael Ritter and George Reichert; Deacons, Jacob Stump and Charles Colver; Trustee, Jacob Bast. Reformed Church Council: Elders, Isaac McHose and Jacob Keiper ; Deacons, Manassas Quier and John Laubach ; Trustee, Leonard Laubach; Treasurer, for both congregations, Charles Ritter. Lutheran pastor, Rev. Joshua Yeager, and Reformed pastor, Rev. J. S. Dubbs; Chorister, Jedidia Weiss, of Bethlehem, Pa.

Both pastors and the chorister received a salary of forty ($40.00) dollars per annum, until 1856, when the Lutheran pastor received an increase of ten dollars per annum. In 1858 both pastors received forty-five ($45.00) dollars and the organist, Owen Leopold, forty ($40.00) dollars.

In 1855 the congregations purchased their first organ. A Hughes & Hale cabinet organ, for which they paid two hundred ($200.00) dollars. During the previous years the only instrument used was a violin, which was always used by the Chorister, Mr. Weiss, in leading the singing. After the organ was purchased, Mr. Weiss resigned, and the first organist elected, was Owen Leopold, who later entered the Lutheran ministry, and served several country parishes in Lehigh County. At the time of his death, June 10, 1904, he was the pastor of the large Fogelsville charge. After O. Leopold, the following served as organists for both congregations: E. J. Reinhard, Charles Transue, C. Ronthaler, Alfred Fatzinger, Mr. Unger, Joshua Hendricks, G. C. Souders, Milton T. Reichart, John M. Diefenderfer, Isaac Bartholomew, Florence Brobst, and Edwin P. Laubach, who is still (1907) serving as organist for the Reformed congregation. In 1906 each congregation organized its own choir, and the Lutheran congregation elected Horace O. Warmkessel, who is the present organist (1907).

The following clergymen served as pastors of the congregations:


Rev. J. S. Dubbs, D.D., 1842-1856.
Rev. D. F. Brendel, D.D., 1856-1865.
Rev. Isaac K. Loos, D.D., 1866-1889.
Rev. Tobias Kessler, 1889-1892.
Rev. J. De Long, D.D., 1892-1900.
Rev. W. H. Erb, Rev. T. O. Stern, 1900-1902 (supply).
Rev. F. A. Moyer, 1902-1905.
Rev. F. A. Guth, 1905-1911.
Rev. J. S. Bartholomew, 1911-.


Rev. Joshua Yeager, 1842-1887.
Rev. A. R. Home, D.D., 1887-1903.
Rev. E. H. Eberts, 1903-1904.
Rev. A. O. Ebert, 1904-1906.
Rev. I. B. Ritter, 1906- .
In 1899 the old church was remodeled and an addition built to the south side, making it an L church. The contractor for building the L addition was Mr. Charles Ritter, who was paid $1,023. The interior of the old church was also renovated and the small square windows torn out and larger and more modern windows inserted.

The services were almost all conducted in the German language until about the year 1897, when we note that an English pulpit Bible was purchased from T. H. Diehl, Allentown, Pa., for five ($5.00) dollars. The same year electric lights were installed by Contractor U. H. Wieand for $30.00.

Both congregations prospered and grew rapidly under the joint regulations. But it was felt that both congregations would be mutually benefited if each would conduct its own affairs, hence the joint relations exclusive of property was dissolved and in 1893 each congregation adopted a constitution governing its own affairs and joint rules and regulations governing the St. Peter's Union Church and Cemetery were ordered printed and adopted August 16, 1903.

The Sunday-school was organized as a union school and remained such until January, 1906, when it was unanimously resolved to organize two schools, a Lutheran and Reformed, thus enabling each congregation to conduct their school on denominational lines, using the literature provided by its publication board.

The first communion services held in the present church was on November 20, 1842, by the Reformed congregation, when the following persons communed: Leonardand Maria Laubach, Manassas and Julia Quier, Jacob and Catherine Keiper, Elizabeth and Sarah Deily. Peter and Magdalina Minnich, Isaac and Elizabeth McHose, John Laubach, Hannah Albright, Katie Fatzinger, Margaret Ritter, Daniel Keiper, Abraham Hackman, Elisa Hower, John Knoll, Solomon Keiper, Joseph Moll, Abraham Minnich, Lydia Sliter, Aaron Mack, William, Charles and Sarah Noll, Elizabeth Frey, Lydia and Margaret Minnich. Total, 31.

The first Lutheran communion services were held on April 19, 1843, when the following came to the Lord's Table: Jacob Bast, Michael Ritter, Samuel and Eliza Knauss, George and Lydia Reichert, Miss Reichert, Henrietta Reichert, Carl and Magdalina Colver, Conrad and Sarah Frey, Maria Hose, Jacob and Rebecca Stump, Heinrich and Margaret Gable, Nickolas and Catharine Wenner, Thomas Ritter, Florentine Hoehle, John and Catharine Eberhard, Carl and Dianna Ritter, Henrietta Miller, Jonas Albright, John, Dorothea and Lucretia Hower, Adam and Lucinda Walter, Josie and Maria Herbel, Joseph Deily, William and Sarah Meyer, Carl Deily, Joseph Florey, Susan Clader, Rosina and Louisa Hoehle, Elwina Baumgartner, Catharine Bast, Mesilie Hower, Elizabeth Hillman, Margaretta Flory, Maria Moll, Elizabeth Quier, Henrietta Fenner. Total, 52.

The first class confirmed by the Rev. J. S. Dubbs, D.D., Reformed pastor in November, 1844, consisted of the following:

Nathaniel Moll, Owen Albright, William McHose, Josiah B. George, John Diehl, Benjamin Keiper, Matilda Albright, Sarah Ann Bush, Maria Brader
The first class confirmed by the Rev. Joshua Yeager (Lutheran pastor), December 25, 1844, consisted of the following:

Lydia Ann Snyder, Lydia Ann George, Henrietta Snyder, Kittie Licht, Susanna Macks, Elizabeth McHose, Henrietta Musick, Sarah Clader, Charles Hower, Franklin Ritter, Henry Moyer, Paul Reichart, Charles Dickson, Paul Fatzinger, Charles Harvey, Henry Eberhard, Marv Beidler, Mary Ritter, Dianna Knauss, Rebecca Beidler, Sarah Bauer, Lucy A. Kramer, Dianna Flory, Sarah Moll, Mary Sterner, Amelia Ritter.

Rev. J. S. Bartholomew, President
Tilghman Moll, Vice-President
Walter C. Arndt, Recording Secretary
Printon Hoch, Financial Secretary
Allen Schultz, Treasurer
John M. Snyder, Trustee
Elders Tilghman Moll, David Poe. Deacons: Wilson H. Ehret, Jerome Brader, Clayton Heiney, Henry Siegfried. Board of Trustees Walter C. Arndt, Robert Flores, Frederick Schiffert


Elders: Edmund Walter, Henry Eslinger. Deacons: Thomas Renner, Dr. R. B. Klotz, Harvey Billheimer, Reuben Krause. Trustees: Milton T. Reichart, O. F. Walter, Treasurer: Edmond Walter, Secretary: O. F. Walter. Financial Secretary: Harvey Billheimer.

St. Peter's Union Sunday School

The St. Peter's Union Sunday-school, at Rittersville, Pa., was organized on the 13th day of May, i860. The following were elected to serve as officers : E. J. Reichard, Superintendent. E. T. Trice, Assistant Superintendent. Samuel Krause, President. Christian Gross, Secretary. Asher T. Ritter, Treasurer. A. C. Roth, Overseer on Male Side. Lafayette Colver, Overseer on Female Side. At the same meeting the following teachers were also elected:

Christian Gross
Thomas Baumgardner
Charles Wonderly
A. C. Roth
Asher T. Ritter
Oliver Walter
Martin Hackman
Charles Moyer

Diana Moyer
E. Amelia Walter
Fayette Colver
Mary Baumgardner
anna M. Stump
Sophia Stump
Diana Ehrig

Since the organization of the Sunday-school, the following have also served as superintendents of the Union school. , Francis Lehr, Robert Spinner, Edwin Osenbach, for twenty-three years, his brother Tilghman succeeding him and served for ten years, after which Oliver Walter served until the separation in 1906 into two denominational Sunday- schools, namely, Lutheran and Reformed. Present officers, teachers and members of St. Peter's Reformed Sunday-school : President, Printon Hoch. Vice President, Alfred Hoehle. Superintendent, Wilson Kichline. Assistant Superintendent, Oliver Texter.

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