Fink's German Reformed Evangelical Lutheran Church

Fink's church page.

The two 2009 photos below were provided by Mike McKenzie. They show the remains of a church along the Glencoe Road, about two miles from Route 160. It was Mike's father that informed him in 2009 that these remains were those of a church building. The remains are on the left side of the road, about 30 to 40 feet off the road. The photos show the rear of the foundation, which has fallen over. Mike reports that were was not any mortar used in the foundation. The stones were mostly flat field stones and in Mike's experience, if stacked properly such stones are very stable. The sides of the foundation are still there, but are not in the photos.

Mike positioned the remnant of the brick chimney on the rocks so that it would show up in the photo. From Mike's father's description, the map below, and information found elsewhere, we have determined that this is the remains of Fink's Church (Fink's German Reformed Evangelical Lutheran Church, previously known as the Savage Run Church). According to the 1940 book "Pastors and People of Somerset Classis", this church ceased operation circa 1905/06. According to the Mother Bedford website, the records of this church are located at the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County. According to Mike's father, the apparent reason the church had been named "Savage Run" is because the tributary of Wills Creek known as Savage Run. It begins along Glencoe Road, and runs along the left side of Glencoe Road (driving away from Route 160) down to where it crosses the road in the vicinity of Knott's Road, then heads down towards Will's Creek .The beginnings of Savage Run ( basically a ditch) is behind the remains of Finks church, down in the bottom, approximately a couple hundred feet away.

Mike reports that the foundation was higher at the rear and, had very few rocks at the front, just as shown in the Fink's church photo on page 127 of the book "Pastors and People of Somerset Classis (summarized below). Mike also noted that the hill at the back of the foundation is the same as in that book's photo, and the size of the church in the photo definitely fits the foundation remains. The photo that shows the chimney part up close was taken from the east side looking towards Route 160. The other photo that shows the fallen tree is from the west side facing towards Glencoe. the fence posts in the background are right along the road. Mike suspects that the brick chimney was a later addition, because the bricks and the mortar didn't appear to be nearly as old as the structure would have been.

The following church description is excerpted from page 580 of the 1884 "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania": "Savage Run Reformed and Lutheran church, commonly called Fink's church, was organized by Rev. B. Knepper in 1849. The house of worship was erected in the fall of the same year at a cost of about nine hundred dollars. The fist church officers were: Michael Fink, elder; Israel Shumaker, deacon, for the Reformed; Michael Moser, elder; George Tressler, deacon, for the Lutherans. Other original members were: Jacob Fink, Jonathan Bittinger, M. Bittinger and A. Wessner. The present membership is thirty-one. Services are held both in English and German. Rev. B. Knepper has ministered to this congregation from its organization to the present date.". Click here to see a 1915 map that shows the location of Fink's Church.

Church along Glencoe Road

Church along Glencoe Road

The map below shows the location of the church remains, and the nearby Mountain School.

Map showing location of the Mountain School and the nearby church

Mike McKenzie provided the annotated 1939 aerial photo below. It shows the location of the Mountain School and the nearby church remains that are shown above.

1939 aerial photo showing location of the Mountain School and nearby church

The church is also described on pages 127 and 128 of the 1940 book "Pastors and People of Somerset Classis". Some of the highlights from that article are summarized here:

  • Fink's church was also known as the Savage Run Church.
  • German Reformed minister Benjamin Knepper began giving sermons every four weeks at Moser's Schoolhouse (schoolhouse no. 9) on Dec. 6, 1847, as a preaching point.
  • Church council members were elected on August 16, 1849, and were installed by Benjamin Knepper on November 12, 1849.
  • The church was located about one and one half miles from Pleasant Union, and was always a union church.
  • On November 13, 1849 ten Lutherans and thirteen Reformed participated at the first communion service.
  • Church membership was always small, and many of the members transferred to White Oak circa 1905/06.
  • In 1904, a significant portion of the membership were Petenbrink family members.

    The following two 2009 photos (provided by Mike McKenzie) show the Fink Cemetery. Someone has cleaned it up a lot from when I visited there ten or so years ago. At that time, it was just a bunch of tombstones right out in the unbroken woods, and I certainly don't remember any identifying sign. Mike reports that Bob Cessna, who lived right across the road, was buried in Fink's Cemetery in 2008. In A 2010 phone call to Nancy Thoerig, Dale Horwath (who made the bows and arrows for the 1992 movie "Last of the Mohicans") says that the cemetery location was one of the largest Indian ceremonial spots in the eastern part of the country, and reported that there is a huge rock near there that is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes.

    Fink's Cemetery, 2009

    Fink's Cemetery sign, 2009

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