Wellersburg Lutheran and Reformed Church, Somerset County PA

Wellersburg Reformed and Lutheran Church, Somerset County PA

The photo above is from the book "The Genealogy of Michael Korns, Sr. of Somerset County Pennsylvania" by Charles Byron Korns, Sr., M.D.. That book states "The religious life of the Germans in Southampton Township, Somerset County was not overlooked. Nor was the need for a proper place in which to worship, for the Wellersburg Reformed and Lutheran Church was organized about 1803, among the earliest members were: the Korns, Uhls, Hoymans, Witts, Wilhelms, Reichers, Wingers, and Gaumers. The Reverend Benjamin Knepper had served that congregation continuously for almost half a century. He conducted his service and delivered his sermons in German during the early years, later in English." Michael Korns, Sr. never saw the church building pictured above, as it was built before his lifetime. Click here to read an article about the Wellersburg Lutheran and Reformed Church from the 1918 book "History of the Alleghany Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Pennsylvania".

Page 482 of th 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania" by Blackburn & Welfley states "The Wellersburg Reformed and Lutheran church was organized by Rev. Henry Giesy, about 1803. Among the first members were the Uhl, Hoyman, Witt, Korns, Wilhelm and Reichert Families. Their second meeting house was dedicated June, 1855, and cost $2,100. The first pastor was Rev. Henry Giesy, from 1798. He was succeeded by many pastors, including Rev. Knepper, who served from 1846 for nearly half a century. Formerly he preached in German, but later in English."

Pages 579-580 of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" state "Wellersburg Reformed and Lutheran church was organized by Rev. Henry Giesy, about the year 1803. There is no account of the building of the first church. The principal early members were from the Uhl, Hoyman, Witt, Korns, Wilhelm and Reichert families; later, the Wingert and Gaumer familes were added. The present church edifice cost about twenty-one hundred dollars. It was dedicated June 5, 1857. The church, once large, now has a membership of thirty-five. Most of the members left on account of the lack of employment when the furnace business suspended. The first regular pastor was Rev. Henry Giesy, Reformed, who began his labors in 1798..." For a scan of the rest of the text, click here.

Rev. Benjamin Knepper's notes state "In 1846 I came to Wellersburg, after having received a call to become pastor of the Reformed Church of this place. I was a licentiate at the time. From some of the old settlers I then learned the history of the Wellersburg Church, as being the joint property of the E. Lutheran, and the Reformed Church. I have my information from Henry Hoyman, Daniel Korns, and Barbara Shaffer, who were then old people, and knew all about how the church was started. It was in this way: Land was bought by different persons, to the amount of 17 acres, and then donated to the church. The land was then to be leased for 99 years, after which it would fall back again to the church. Of these lands, 14 acres were bought by members of the Reformed (Refermirte), and given to the Church, and three acres by members of the Ev. Lutheran Church. The old Church record showed that the Reformed (Refermirte) preachers at Wellersburg were: Rev. Henry Giese from 1798 to 1818, J. Keefer from 1823 to _____, H.E.F. Voigt from 1827 to 1829, H.G. Ibbeken from 1831 to 1844. B. Knepper took charge June the 18th, 1846, and is still pastor of the Charge to the present date 1896, now 1901..."

Two of the daughters of Michael Korns, Sr. are buried at the church:

Tombstone of Rebecca (Korns) Witt, daughter of Michael Korns, Sr.

Tombstone of Christina (Korns) Troutman, daughter of Michael Korns, Sr.

In regard to the Wellersburg Zion Church, the 1940 book "Pastors and People of Somerset Classis" indicates that:

  • The first pastor was probably Henry Giese circa 1798, and participated as pastor with the help of others until 1833,
  • The Church began as a Reformed and Lutheran Church, and was still a union Church in 1940,
  • The first and second church buildings were log structures, the second being built circa 1820-1825,
  • A school established by the Church was in operation in 1827,
  • The present brick structure was built in 1856 and dedicated in 1857,
  • The log structure was used as a school by the borough of Wellersburg after the brick structure was built, and
  • Elizabeth Korns took communion there in October 1854, along with a number of other individuals.
  • Based on the above description, the log school sounds like it is probably the building that is pictured in volumes one and two of "A Look At Southampton Township Pennsylvania The Way It Used To Be!".

    Wellersburg Reformed and Lutheran Church

    The above image is a relatively early photo of the Wellersburg Reformed and Lutheran Church. It is reproduced from volume one of the 2005 book "A Look At Southampton Township Pennsylvania The Way It Used To Be!", with permission of the author. According to the book, the bricks were fired on site from local clay. For more information on this church and its early pastors, see the 1941 book "A History of Wills Creek Charge of the Evangelical and Reformed Church".

    In an August 2009 interview, Wellersburg resident Richard Witt told Mike McKenzie of the tradition that the bricks for the brick church and the brick Brinham house in Wellersburg were fired out past the old Cook place. Mike has seen on an old map that there was a fire clay pit out that way. The following photo is an early postcard of the church and the school building.

    Wellersburg school and Reformed and Lutheran Church

  • Click here to see a photo survey of the church building.

  • Click here to see Irene Wilhelm's 1897 membership certificate from the church.

  • Click here to see the pre-1904 church records (6750KB).

  • 1918 history of Zion Lutheran Church, Wellersburg

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