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German Churches


From the Muskingum Valley Review, Sunday, August 2, 1998:

German churches aided settlements, by Diana McMahan

            In the middle of the 19th century, the arrival of many German families enriched the small communities, such as Matamoras, and the rural areas beyond.  Many were merchants and craftsmen, others were farmers. 

            These new families made great contributions to the communities [was typed as commities, but I believe she meant communities].  They were all hard-working people; they added German foods to the hill culture as well as their skilled handwork and Teuton ideas.  Where enough of them lived together, they built solid churches with the old gravestones that were more often in German script and carried valuable information about their native homeland. 

            In the northeast end of Washington County, several German churches were formed for the many immigrants who settled in this area.  It has been suggested that the heavy forests and the wide river reminded the newcomers of their native Rhine Valley and the Black Forest. 

            The German organized church nearest to Matamoras was the German Methodist Episcopal Church on Alloway Road.

                                                Church Organized About 1860

            The location of this church was on Township Road 14, a short distance after it turns off County Road No. 9 at the Stonerock home.

            The congregation organized about 1860 and land for the church and cemetery were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Kollman, great-great-grandparents of Bradley Alloway, his brothers and sisters. 

            Many remember the small church that stood by the road in the middle of the cemetery.  Many feared it would be destroyed, a victim of time.  However, the church building was purchased by former resident, Gale Motz, and moved to the Mill Creek Road, where the owner has done much toward restoring it.

            Among the first members of this church were Peter Englehardt, Anna M. Englehardt, John Killmer, Mrs. Kollman, John Singmaster, Philip Newman and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Neun. 

            First minister of the church was Rev. Reinhart, and class leader was Jonas Neun.  The first list of trustees included John Neun, Peter Englehardt and Tunis Neun.  In 1881, trustees were Peter Englehardt, Conrad Miller and John Kellneer (Killmer).

            A list of early pastors included Henry Henkey, Frederick Schimmelfenig, Carl Melitzer, John Kupp, J. G. Reiber and Rev. Moehring.  Sunday School was held every Sunday and church whenever the pastor could get there. 

                                                Other German Churches

            Williams History of Washington County, 1881, mentions several other German congregations.  Regarding the old log German church on Bell Ridge, the Independence Township sections states,

            “By the year 1847 or 1848, the German element in this vicinity had become strong enough to establish the German Lutheran Church.  The first members of this were Adam Yost, Martin Sippel, Henry Goodballet (Gutberlet), Christian Hanselman, John Kinsel, John Wagner, William Saelick and their wives, also Mrs. Huffman, a widow, and others.  A church building was erected on land given by Messrs. Yost and Holstein.  The first preacher was the Rev. Bairnes.  The present minister (1880) is Rev. Wintrin.”

            Hardesty’s 1882 History of Monroe County tells the history of churches in Brownsville, located about five miles from Matamoras.  “The sixth church organized was the German Evangelical Church, at Brownsville, Aug. 30, 1856.  They bought a lot with a house on it, which they remodeled and used as a meeting house.  In 1866, they built a new frame church edifice, 24-by-30 feet, present pastor Rev. R. Leuscher, membership twelve families.  A treasured 1870 record book of the “Zion Evangelical Church of Brownsville” was given to the Matamoras Area Historical Society by Ernest Thode.  Beautifully written in German script, this book contains members’ names: Schmidt, Kraft, Reinherr, Dornbusch, Gross, Machetanz and others.  Ernst Waernecke, who lived at Archers’ Fork, was a member. 

            In Lawrence Township, “The first German Society in the township was organized in 1845, as the German Methodist Church.  A log building was put up and a burying ground laid out on the ridge in the northwest corner.  This house is still standing and services are still held in it at regular intervals.”

            Newport Township also had a German Church.  “A Methodist Church known as the German Church was organized at an early day, and a little log church erected on the west bank of Newell’s Run, in the northwest part of the township.  It was occupied until about 1873, when its society passed its membership to the Pine Ridge Methodist Episcopal Church in Lawerence Township.”